GARY D. GADDY
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Friday, August 28, 2009
Not anywhere in the vicinity of common sense

IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY OTHER WEEK I am writing about the latest local outbreak of NIMBYism.  I hope you are not tiring of my writing about "Not in My Backyard" because I sure am tiring of having NIMBYs living in mine.

I have neighbors against having neighbors. Their protests and lobbying efforts got your tax dollars and mine to buy them a park along New Hope Creek instead of a new neighborhood.  Neighborhoods are fine, apparently, as long as they are in someone else's neighborhood.

I have neighbors against neighborhood schools.  (I'm not making this up.)  Their protests got the proposed high school at Cornwallis and Erwin roads cancelled.  I am sure they would say that they are not against "neighborhood schools," just a particular school on a particular parcel of land -- which coincidentally sits in their backyard.

Now it's the Sunrise Road people on their fourth, by my count, NIMBY campaign of the last three decades.  First they opposed the route of I-40, which they wanted near someone else's neighborhood.  Happily, for everyone else in North Carolina, they were unsuccessful.

Next they say, "In 1995, BellSouth . . . applied to build a 169-foot tower behind the Wesleyan Church at the corner of Sunrise Rd and I-40, but local residents organized successful efforts to oppose the towers."

Later the Sunrise Coalition opposed a Sunrise Road Habitat for Humanity housing project, greatly delaying it, managing to make it smaller, much more expensive, and thus helping poor people get, someday, what most everybody else in Chapel Hill already has, houses that cost way too much.

Question. If poor people can't live near people who aren't poor, where can they live?  Near other poor people?  We've tried that; they're called ghettoes.

Now, Sunrise Road is repelling another Attack of the Dreaded Cell Phone Tower, by spawning the Rural Buffer Defense Group which is "made up of the owners of all 10 properties immediately adjoining the Tower site, plus over 20 other families . . . [in the] neighborhood."

I don't want to judge any one individual's motives. They may be pure, but ain't it a coincidence these NIMBY groups are always opposed to things in their own neighborhood -- even when they have, do or will use the service this annoyance may provide.  In this respect NIMBY is really I-SELFY, In Somebody Else's Front Yard.

Now understand, the Sunrise Road cell tower opponents are not against cell phones. As their ugly sign next to the proposed cell tower says: "Cell Service? Yes. Ugly cell tower? NO."

Of course, there are explanations for why the group doesn't want to allow a neighboring landowner to lease a space on his 10-acre wooded lot to put a 149-foot cell phone tower for AT&T and other providers which will serve local citizens, including them, service that could have been available for 15 years if not for their earlier opposition.

One argument they offer is that the property immediately adjacent to the tower site is a “Tree Farm whose mature timber is due to be harvested in the near future," thus making the tower more visible.  My suggestion is to not cut down the 32 acres of trees.  It will become a forest not a farm.  Then let your neighbor do what he legally may with his forest.  It's his, you know, just like yours is yours.

I don't like telephone and power lines going by my house -- but I do like my neighbors and I like having telephones and electricity.  I don't like the road that goes by my house -- but I sure do like  that we all can drive our cars where we wish, so I put up with it.

And because I want to be a good neighbor to the Rural Buffer Defense Group, here’s some helpful advice for their upcoming court hearing.  My wife, who is an attorney, says so as not to get on the wrong side of the judge, before you enter the courtroom, make sure to turn off your cell phones.


Gary D. Gaddy is, coincidentally, an AT&T cell phone subscriber.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 28, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 8, 2011 8:32 PM EDT
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Friday, August 21, 2009
Talking health care reform in Carrboro

LAST TUESDAY NIGHT I was having a drink on the patio outside Panzanella in Carr Mill Mall following a meeting at Club Nova intended to help the board catch a new vision of the future of a great organization.   I have the privilege of serving on the board of this program which works with people with severe and persistent disabilities.  The other board members are some very smart, well educated and earnestly caring people; how I got on this board, I have no idea.

This group confounds one observation I believe generally holds true (often attributed to Winston Churchill):  "Anyone who is not a liberal when they are young has no heart.  Anyone who is not a conservative when they are old has no brain."

As we sat in the warm evening air, we discussed the sad state of care for those with mental illness before the conversation moved on to the current debate on health care reform.  I tried to stay out of the amicable agreementfest that was substituting for a serious discussion of the troubles reform was having but only could do so for so long.

I began my comments by saying I really didn't want to get into a political discussion because I doubted that any one of them would agree with me on much of anything.

In 1992, when Hillary Clinton was given the task of reforming our health care system, I observed, she blew it by following a faulty, secretive process.  The country was ready then for real change but not for change imposed from the top from behind closed doors.

The current effort, I noted, trying to hurry through Congress a 1,082-page bill that many of those sponsoring it hadn't read, and certainly didn't understand the implications of, wasn't a process that would have been used to implement so much as a new rule on snack bar hours at Club Nova, where members and staff diligently work together to make things work in genuine consensus.

My explanation for why so many ordinary people now felt like someone was trying to sneak something by them was simple: someone was trying to sneak something by them.

We also talked about spiraling medical costs, after it was mentioned how in our personal experience so many seemingly unnecessary medical tests get ordered these days.  I asked, "Do you know why that's so?  I'll give you a hint: My wife is a lawyer."  I then added that any reform effort that claimed to contain costs but did not include tort reform was not serious -- which was a kind way to word it.

In my next statement I might have been a little more diplomatic if we hadn't just spent 30 minutes talking about how Medicaid rations care via strangulation administered with bureaucratic red tape.  In that context, I had a hard time not rebutting our table's consensus that further nationalizing health care will solve all our problems.  "Correct me if I'm wrong," I asked, "but Medicaid is a federal government program, isn't it?"

One person pointed out that she gets her Social Security check every month.  My response was that collecting money from taxpayers and writing checks were things that government was very good at.

At that point the guest speaker at our board meeting pointed out that one individual at one of the health care town hall forums had asked, "The government runs Medicare and it’s going broke.  The government runs Medicaid and it’s going broke.  The government runs Social Security and it’s going broke.  Tell me why I should trust the government with my health care?"  Then he added, "It was a good question."

It was a heartening moment for me, a meeting of the minds, suggesting that perhaps real health care reform is possible.

Coming soon, maybe, a new column: Fixing what is broke without breaking what isn’t in American health care.

 

Gary D. Gaddy has a private health insurance policy with a $20,000 deductible and pays his doctor bills from a Health Savings Account.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 21, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:24 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 4:07 PM EDT
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Friday, August 14, 2009
The Reverend Ike dead and gone, but not forgotten

AMERICA'S LEADING "Green Evangelist" died last month.  No, Al Gore is doing fine -- as far as I know.  It was the Reverend Frederick Eikerenkoetter II who passed from this life.

Eikerenkoetter, "known as Rev. Ike to a legion of followers here and across the nation to whom he preached the blessings of prosperity while making millions from their donations, has died,” reported the New York Daily News.

The Rev. Ike is gone and I am going to miss him.  Your ordinary run-of-the-mill charlatan is mildly amusing for a while.  The Rev. Ike never got old.

One of my favorite Rev. Ike quotes is "My garages runneth over."  In 1976, according to the Los Angeles Times, his church owned 16 mink-appointed Rolls-Royces.  One thing you could not accuse the prosperity-gospel preacher of was hypocrisy.  At one point he alternated among six homes.   The Los Angeles Times once reported that he wore a gold watch, a silver-and-diamond tie pin, a silver bracelet and a large gold ring studded with more than a dozen diamonds.

His ministry reached its peak in the mid-1970s, when his sermons were carried on 1,770 radio stations to an estimated audience of 2.5 million.

Preaching from the stage of a former New York City Loews movie theater that was transformed into the United Church Science of Living Institute, Rev. Ike would tell thousands of parishioners to "close your eyes and see green . . . money up to your armpits, a roomful of money, and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool," said the New York Daily News.

As payback for his spiritual inspiration, Rev. Ike asked for cash donations from the faithful -- preferably in bills not coins.  In addition to his refreshing honesty, he also had rhyming and timing.  "Change makes your minister nervous in the service," he would say.  He regularly told his listeners to "never mind that pie in the sky, in the sweet bye and bye, when you die, you need money now, honey."

Rev. Ike was a one-man anti-poverty program.  "The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them," he preached.  “No one has a right to be a parasite,” he added.

The critics who called Rev. Ike a con man, saying the only point of his ministry was getting rich from the donations, wouldn't know a con man if they saw one.  One commentator said, "Reverend Ike was . . . a snake oil salesman of the first order."  This woefully understates Rev. Ike in his prime.  He could have sold snake oil for sure.  He could have sold it to the snakes.

But fakes resort to fakery.  Not Rev Ike.  He was completely transparent.  I remember watching television sometime back in the early 70's and being impressed by one of his commands: "If you think that money is the root of all evil, then send yours to me!"

Con artist, no; extortionist, yes.  One of the Rev. Ike's reported fundraising techniques was to send a letter containing a sliver of a prayer rug. The letter told the recipient to mail it back the following day with a donation -- at least $20 -- so that Rev. Ike could bless it.  Failure to return it, with a donation, could have dire consequences, the letter said.

Not to treat the man too casually, he was a heretic -- by traditional Christian standards -- putting love of money in the place of the love of God and the love of man that Christ commanded.  Rev. Ike taught that “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

And finally, "If it's that difficult for a rich man to get into heaven, think how terrible it must be for a poor man to get in.  He doesn't even have a bribe for the gatekeeper," said Rev. Ike.  Here's hoping Rev. Ike took some of his with him.


Gary D. Gaddy is worried about how to get a camel through the eye of a needle.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Friday August 14, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:13 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 4:11 PM EDT
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Friday, August 7, 2009
Cash for Clunkers wildly successful, sort of

I WAS SO GLAD TO HEAR that Cash for Clunkers, the Congressional program where ordinary citizens are given thousands of dollars to trade in their old wasteful, noxious-gas-spewing clunkers for new thriftier, cleaner replacements, was working so well that they are thinking about expanding it.  I was very disappointed, however, when I found out it wasn't a program for buying new congresspersons to replace our old ones.

Of course the actual Cash for Clunkers program is wildly successful.  Loose cash blowing down the street has always attracted an eager crowd.

Government at its best is a blunt instrument.  At its worst its power appears to be an instrument wielded by those who have suffered from blunt force trauma to the head.  Let us think for a moment about this program -- something few of our congresspersons did before they voted for this junker.

Here is how it works.  Officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System, the CARS program allows individuals to trade in a vehicle which must be less than 25 years old and get 18 or fewer miles per gallon in exchange for $3,500 to be used to purchase or lease a new vehicle which gets at least 22 miles per gallon, or $4,500 if the new car gets five or more miles per gallon more than the trade-in.

Of course, the actual program is more complicated than this.  (I did say it was a government program, didn't I?)  Trucks, for example, have smaller mileage improvement targets.

According to the government, CARS is designed to help consumers buy or lease more environmentally-friendly vehicles which will "energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation's roadways."

It will do these things, but at what cost?  One billion dollars -- to start with.  (More billions if it is extended and expanded.)

Showing that economic ignorance knows no party line when the proper state lines are involved, one Michigan Republican, Congresswoman Candice Miller, says, "There can be no doubt that the Cash for Clunkers program is a complete success given the fact that the entire $1 billion allocated to the program was expended in less than a week."

True, but one thousand Brinks trucks with their backdoors left open each with one million dollars in loose 20s driving our highways and byways would stimulate better -- and faster.

Consider that the real value of the discounts to consumers is $3,500 to $4,500 minus the value of the trade-ins, which must be destroyed.  This means only relatively low-value vehicles will be traded, otherwise it makes more sense to keep them.  That is, cars with little useful life left in them, thus big costs for small returns.

If the trade-ins are not of low value, vehicles with useful lives will be destroyed.  In both cases these discounts will assist wealthier buyers, people who had a car and could afford or almost afford a new one.  Meanwhile, the vehicles destroyed represent an implicit tax on poor people as a result of decreasing the supply of low value cars and trucks -- unless, of course, Congress repealed the law of supply and demand at the same time they passed this one.

What about energy savings?  Until the trade-ins and replacements are tallied we can't know precisely, but I estimate that it is likely to be only a little more than five or six miles per gallon per vehicle improvement.  Let’s assume that over each trade-in vehicle's remaining life when it would have been junked anyway, it would hang on, optimistically, 25,000 more miles. With a government-estimated 25.4 mpg for the new vehicles versus 15.8 mpg for the old clunkers, each trade-in will save about 600 gallons of fuel.  This equals, at an average $4,000 discount, a cost in the neighborhood of $6.67 per gallon saved.  Make sense to you?  Not for my money.

 

Gary D. Gaddy owns a used first-generation Prius that he bought with his own money -- sadly.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 7, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:07 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 4:25 PM EDT
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Friday, July 31, 2009
140 characters to twittering success

IN THE CHANGING MEDIA LANDSCAPE, we must change or die.  I ain't ready to die.  So, I guess I have to learn how to twitter.  So, I’ll start
***
I forgot. Twitters must be brief. You can only use 140 characters for any one twitter. This is great for readers with really short attention
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Sorry, I’ll try to stay focused. You need to when you are twittering. And to think some people were impressed with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Addr
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Terse Ol' Abe? His address is 1494 characters! That's 10 tweets. He may have been ahead of the curve then. The ol’ boy sure ain’t there now.
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Twitter, they say, is ez. A column on tweets of tweets wld b harder. A whole column of tweets exactly 140 characters long, that wld b fun!!!
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Twittering helps communicate concisely.  For example, doing it isn’t called twittering, it’s called tweeting.  This saves two whole characte
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I'll get the hang of this. What we should do, tweeters say, is to use more abbreviations and special tweeting shortcuts. Let us learn a few.
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Now, 4 u tweeting novices, some meta-tweets, ie, tweets about tweets. These self-reflexive tweets will help u twitter much more efficiently.
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IRL = In Real Life. What’s true on Twitter may not be true IRL, believe it or not.  IRL things are borrrrrring, unlike life in Twitter land.
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IMHO = In My Humble Opinion. IMHO usually indicates that: "This is an op-ed tweet, not a factual assertion." It is very rarely humble, IMHO.
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BTW = By The Way. BTW is an easy way to add an aside. It’s Twitter’s version of a segue.  BTW, few twitters would know the meaning of segue.
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F2F refers to meeting in person, IRL, ie, face to face. Can mean at a tweetup or other occasion where you might encounter another Twitterer.
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NBFF = New Best Friend Forever. A nu type of deep relationship that can b established through the nu media like Twitter.  4ever is relative.
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TWD = Tweeting While Driving. Xciting twittering xercise where you ndanger others while tweeting with your NBFF u just met while a-tweeting.
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YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary. In other words (IOW), what’s true in my experience (IMX) may differ from yours. Especially if you tend to TWD.
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b/c = because. Not the blind carbon copy (BCC) used in email. Why’s b/c mean one thing in one place and something else in another? Just b/c.
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Now let’s add more abbreviations to the mix.  (Ever wonder why the word abbreviation is so long -- and there’s no good abbreviation for it?)
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Starting with the B's, let us learn some fun nu twitter abbreviations:  btw = by the way, b4 = before, bfn = bye for now, br = best regards.
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c itz ez:  btw, b4 i go, fyi b/c u were l8 itz 2 l8 now 4 me. plz, cld u c me l8er?  ru free this pm?  wld b gr8. Thx a mil. bfn & br 2 jack
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c, itz ezier than u thght. u can do it, so can i. dont need apostrophes or capitals or gramer or speling. Itz gr8 4 passing notes n my skool
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BTW IRL IMX meeting a NBFF F2F stinks b/c IRL people r borrrrrring, IMHO YMMV but IMX twitter columns beat Local Voices ez ez. Cu l8er NBFF.

 

Gary Douglas Gaddy, who isn't really that tweet proficient, yet, did manage to make this bio line precisely140 characters long, more or less

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 31, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:25 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:02 PM EDT
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Friday, July 24, 2009
The incredible shrinking newspaper


I HATE TO WRITE AN OBITUARY for something that isn't quite dead yet -- but the American newspaper is in a death spiral.  I hate to write its obit in the very newspaper in which I am published -- but I can't figure out where would be a better place to put it.  And I figure I may not have long to publish it.

I have seen this coming for quite a while – forty-four years to be exact.  I have been in the newspaper business for some time.  In 1965 I was a paper boy for the Danville Commercial Appeal, a weekly newspaper.  Danville also had a healthy daily paper, and not long before had an evening daily as well -- before Walter Cronkite and his ilk killed it and the nation's other afternoon newspapers off.

I remember thinking, one morning as I walked my paper route: "This is a crazy way to get people the news."  I came up then with a solution: use fax machines, which existed then but were not common, to send readers articles on things they were interested in.  Four decades later, reality finally caught up with my lazy adolescent brain, only now they call fax machines computers, the Web, the Internet -- that kind of stuff.

But you haven't had to be an expert to see some of this.  It has been pretty obvious for quite a while that any major industry built on the backs of 13-year-old boys didn't really have a good business model.  Now the Internet really is jeopardizing the future of the remaining morning daily papers as both readership and ad revenues continue to shrink.

Many newspapers are shrinking -- literally.  One local paper, which I will not mention by name because I am writing for them right now, looks positively anorexic sitting in their single-copy sales boxes made for a larger format paper.  And either my arm is getting much stronger or newspapers are getting notably thinner as well.

But, as Philip Meyer, UNC professor and the former head of research for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain, has said, as paraphrased by me, the response of newspapers in general to these tough economic realities is dismayingly stupid.  What mom and pop restaurant which was losing business would cut portion sizes, reduce quality, cut staff, raise prices and then expect to stay in business another week?  (Answer: none.)  So, what makes newspapers think that they can do the equivalent of that and survive?  Professor Meyer doesn't know and neither do I.

To compound things, readers are dying – literally.  As readership declines, it also is rapidly aging.  If you don't believe me, just find a twenty-something who subscribes to a daily newspaper -- and see if you don't have a real oddball on your hands.

As long as news is free tonight from news-aggregation sites such as Google News, it will be increasingly hard to get anybody to pay for papers delivered the next morning.

In the meantime, Craigslist has been eating up the business of the classified ad section -- which was once the most profitable part of the newspaper.  (Free will beat paid, any time, any where.)  And targeted web ads, such as those that come with Google searches, beat vague collections of ads or stacks of inserts all day long.

I don't know if I am part of the problem or part of the solution.  Working for nothing, as Local Voices columnists are wont to do, certainly doesn't help the circumstance of the paid journalists we may displace, but certainly we may help the circumstance of the failing newspapers we prop up.

But do understand, while newspapers may be going away, news is not.  Rest assured, someone, somehow will provide it.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who was the owner of the Forest Hills neighborhood Commercial Appeal paper route from 1966 to 1968, holds a doctorate in Mass Communication Research from the University of North Carolina and taught journalism and mass communication at the University of Wisconsin--Madison for a while.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 24, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:45 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 4:55 PM EDT
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Friday, July 17, 2009
A very third-personal column

GARY GADDY is going to miss Roland Burris.  In case you missed it, Roland Burris is the Illinois politician who took Barack Obama’s senate seat after being appointed by another Illinois politician we all will miss: former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.  In the past week Roland Burris said that Roland Burris will not seek election when his appointed term expires.

But rather than using this as an occasion to mourn, it something to be celebrated -- with National Week of the Third Person.

Get to know illeism

Roland Burris has often talked about himself in the third person, saying "Roland Burris" thinks this and "Roland Burris" will do that.  Some people find that egotistical.  Gary Gaddy does not.  If nothing else, Roland Burris’ work has helped expand all our vocabularies.

  • lleism: Reference to oneself in the third person, usually to excess. (This definition is taken from the Logophilius blog. You gotta love words to appreciate Logophilius.  Frankly, it’s Greek to me.)

One famous illeist was Richard Milhous Nixon.  The classic example of a Nixonian illeism ("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore.") was made on the morning of November 7, 1962 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles as Nixon gave what he called his "last press conference."  Unfortunately for us all, the press did have Nixon to kick around anymore.  This was not his last press conference.

But, let us not forget Roland Burris, if for no other reason than Roland Burris wouldn’t want us to.  Roland Burris is not just a person who speaks of himself in the third person.  He is much more than that.

According to Deanna Bellandi and John O'Connor of the Associated Press, in 1984, when Roland Burris ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, he once mused, "Illinois is the Land of Lincoln. Maybe someday it will be the Land of Burris."  He named his children Roland II and Rolanda.

"In addition to constructing a big mausoleum, he etched it with practically his entire resume, recording, among other things, that he was the first black Southern Illinois University exchange student to the University of Hamburg in Germany," said Bellandi and O’Connor.  And this is a notable accomplishment that II venture will never be duplicated by any person black, white or any other color.

“This is Rickey.  Calling on behalf of Rickey.”

But enough of Roland Burris.  Could it be a coincidence that Roland Burris was seated in the United States Senate during the same week that Rickey Henderson got voted into the Hall of Fame?

According to Wikipedia, baseball player Rickey Henderson was famous as an illeist.  Teammates reported seeing him standing naked in front of a mirror before a game, practicing his swing, and declaring, "Rickey's the best! Rickey's the best!"

It is also reported that during one off-season, Henderson left this message for Padres general manager Kevin Towers: "Kevin, this is Rickey. Calling on behalf of Rickey.  Rickey wants to play baseball."  This is, unequivocally, illeism at its highest.

Again, according to Wikipedia, in 2003, Rickey discussed his illeistic tendencies, saying, "People are always saying, 'Rickey says Rickey.' But it's been blown way out of proportion. I say it when I don't do what I need to be doing. I use it to remind myself, like,`Rickey, what you doing, you stupid . . . .'  I'm just scolding myself."

A sports reporter once asked Rickey if Rickey talked to himself, “You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”  And as to the degree of his illeiacal proneness, Rickey does use the first person, as when he defended his position during a contract dispute: "All I'm asking for is what I want."

But we should be careful of the facts on Rickey Henderson.  It is quite possible that the Wikipedia entry on Rickey Henderson was written by Rickey Henderson on behalf of Rickey Henderson.

Happy Illeism Week!


Gary D. Gaddy would like to thank Gary D. Gaddy for his assistance on this column which helped GaryGaddy.com to win the National Society for the Advancement of Illeism’s Blog of the Decade.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 17, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:14 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, July 9, 2011 7:17 AM EDT
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Thursday, July 9, 2009
My wife and my life: An Internet investigation

THE INTERNET IS GREAT!  You can find out all kinds of things with it -- without even getting out of your pajamas.  (Traditional journalists are often derisive of bloggers "blogging in their pajamas."  This leads me to a question:  How do these "real" journalists even know the bloggers wear pajamas?  Investigative research is my best guess -- using the Internet.)

Recently, after having been married to my lovely wife and sometime editor for 15 years, I realized that I knew almost nothing about her except what she told me.  It used to be that you would have had to hire a private investigator, someone like Magnum, P.I., to look into her supposedly unsordid past.  Now, I can just Google her.

Let me tell you just some of the fascinating facts about her that I found out in my investigation -- none of which she had seen fit to tell me herself.

The first thing I discovered was that in 1972 my wife, who then went by Sandra Lynn Herring, was not only Miss Portland but Miss Oregon and a winner of a "Non-Finalist Talent Award" in the Miss America contest.  She never told me any of this.  She brags about second place in a bare bow archery contest with two contestants, but doesn’t mention this?  Odd, don’t you think?  (Coincidentally, she also never said anything about living in Oregon.)

But beyond bald facts, the Internet can tell you how to manipulate those essential pieces of data to entertain yourself.  For example, the website www.isthisyour.name will tell you the "Top 5 Facts for This Name."

1. How well envoweled is Sandra Herring?  For this name, 31% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names, 74% have a higher vowel make-up.  This means you, Sandra Herring, are modestly envoweled.

2. In ASCII binary Sandra Herring is:  01010011 01100001 01101110 01100100 01110010 01100001 00100000 01001000 01100101 01110010 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111

3. Backwards, Sandra Herring is Ardnas Gnirreh.

4. In Pig Latin, Sandra Herring is Andrasay Erringhay.

5. In what is my favorite isthisyour.name Top 5 Fact: "Sandra Herring, your Power Animal is the Common Mule."

And in the most hidden part of her life, she never said a word about being the performing artist Sandra Herring on "Everybody Wants My Body: Remix."

But these facts about others are just the tip of a massive but highly informative Internet iceberg. You can find things out about yourself, things that even you didn't know.

I remember graduating from George Washington High School in Danville, Va., (class of 1969), but had forgotten about my stints at Parkway High in Bossier City, La., (class of 1975) and Henderson High in Henderson, N.C., (class of 1964).

I remember being in the Furman University classes of 1973 (projected) and 1975 (actual), but I didn’t remember my time at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., (class of 1974).

I had thought that I didn't play golf, but with the help of the Internet, I find out I was Larkhaven Golf Club (N.C.) Four Ball Champion in 1986, 1998 and 1999; Greenville County (S.C.) Amateur Champion in 1991; and on the Montclair (Va.) Men's Golf Association Fall Classic tournament winning team (net score) in 2008.

While I knew that I had once played JV football, I did not know that at Hay High in Buda, Texas, I am the JV Blue Coach, an assistant coach with the varsity, and, of course, a PE/Health Teacher.  And last year I was the JV girls basketball at East Hall High in Hall County, Ga., as well.

I also find, besides being a self-employed "writer,"  I am a bus driver with the Lincoln, Mo., School System, a director at Sunny Level Baptist Church in Ringgold, Va.; and in 1996 was named Principal of the Year in Beaufort County, N.C.

But, I would like to caution you, sometimes the Internet information you find can be misleading.  For example, in a lot of places they have misspelled my name as Garry Gaddy.  So, be careful out there.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is, according to the Internet, the author of this column.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 9, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:59 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 10:26 PM EDT
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Thursday, July 2, 2009
Very Briefly: The News in Briefs

This week’s local, state, national and international news pre-digested for your consumptive pleasure.

Carrboro to star in network TV series.

CARRBORO, N.C. -- The mid-season replacement television show The Goode Family, an animated comedy by  Mike Judge, the creator and star of the hit animated television series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, will be moving its locale to Carrboro for the fall season, ABC announced today.

While the current program does not directly reference Carrboro or list it in the show's credits, those knowledgeable about the show and Carrboro say the parallels are far too numerous to be coincidence, and moving the show to the small North Carolina town will enhance its gritty reality.

***

Easleys hire Burris and Blagojevich

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Former N.C. governor Mike Easley and his wife, former N.C. State University administrator Mary Easley, have hired Roland Burris, the U.S. senator holding Barack Obama's former seat, and ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, to advise them on managing their public images.  As Dr. Zach S. Kennagachi, a professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Communication, noted succinctly, “It can’t hurt, now can it?”

***

Obama to appear on Letterman

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama will be making an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to apologize for appearing on Letterman’s show, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  Gibbs said Obama's proposed Top Ten Apologies list is still being drafted.

***

Court protects melanin deficiency disorder

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In one of its last decisions before Associate Justice David Souter leaves the court, the Supreme Court ruled today by a five-to-four margin that melanin deficiency is a legitimate disability eligible for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Melanin deficiency disorder (MDD) is characterized by a series of superficial symptoms, including most commonly pale to pasty colored skin.  Ruled eligible under ADA are a series of medical interventions which may ameliorate if not reverse the MDD condition, including ultraviolet treatments, lower extremity strengthening therapy and group cotillion.

In a related case, several close court observers say that had the Supreme Court not ruled in favor of the 19 white New Haven, Conn., firefighters, they may have had to void the outcome of the recent National Basketball Association championship.

According to Professor Claude H. Hinkle of the Tufts University School of Law, the criteria used in the firefighters' job promotion examination were no more valid than the statistics of points, rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers used to select starters for those games.

***

UN: Next North Korea resolution to be bolder

NEW YORK -- The United Nations vowed today that if North Korea persists in developing and testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry them, the next resolution that it passes will be even bolder.

"We have been working with typography experts and typeface designers to find the look that says, most clearly and cleanly, we are serious this time," said United Nations troubleshooter Ibrahim Gambar.

"We were very disturbed to discover that our last four resolutions were in Arial Light, which, obviously, has no heft or gravitas, and without a doubt, contributed to the North Korean response, which was, according to our envoy, in three cases to ball them up and throw them back in our envoy's face.  In the fourth case, Kim Jong Il lit a cigar with it -- and not a very fancy one at that," said UN's Kwang Trig.

Experts say the next resolution’s print will be much larger than used on any past UN resolution of any kind.  "We are examining the fonts to determine which one makes the most dramatic statement.  At this point we are leaning towards Bodoni Extra Bold, which expresses a sincere earnestness without being combative.  We want to come across as unwavering but we don't want to seem strident," said Trig.

Gary D. Gaddy was a journalist, briefly.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday July 2, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:14 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 5:53 PM EDT
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Thursday, June 25, 2009
A mediated political pop quiz

TEST YOUR POLITICAL IQ to learn what you may not have learned from the massive mass media.

1) In the first apparent action by the Obama administration which might lead to overt hostilities where none existed before, a U.S. Navy Aegis guided-missile destroyer shadowed the Kang Nam, a North Korean vessel suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear material, as it headed down the Chinese coast, perhaps on its way to Myanmar.  The name of the ship is (hint: it is the same ship whose sonar array collided with a Chinese submarine on June 11th, 2009):  a) The USS Theodore Roosevelt.  b) The USS Ronald Reagan.  c) The USS Harry S Truman.  d) The USS John S. McCain.  Answer, ironically, is:  d), the ship named after admirals John S. McCain, Jr. and John S. McCain, Sr., father and grandfather of the current Senator John S. McCain.

2) Under whose presidential administration was "extraordinary rendition" (that is, sending terror suspects to other less scrupulous countries for "interrogation") invented?  a) Richard Nixon.  b) George H. W Bush.  c) Bill Clinton.  d) George W Bush.  Answer is:  c) Clinton.

3) Under Reagan, the largest federal annual deficit was $208 billion.  Under Bush, the deficit hit $482 billion for the 2008-09 budget year.  These were both reported in the media as big problems.  The predicted deficit for 2009 is $1.2 trillion, perhaps more, but is not now widely reported as a problem because:  a) Those deficits were Republican deficits which are bad.  b) The current deficit is a Democrat deficit which is good.  c) The whole national debt will be paid off easily in a couple of years using Zimbabwean dollars, which will be worth more than American dollars after the coming deficit-driven hyperinflation.  Answer:  All of the above.

4) The most embarrassing acting vice president (based on his first 100 days in office):  a) Spiro T. Agnew.  b) Dan Quayle.  c) Richard M. Nixon.  d) Joseph Biden.  If the question had been the last 100 days in office, the answer would be obviously:  a) Agnew, as being booted out on your way to the jail cell especially reserved for Maryland ex-governors is hard to top.  If it were based on media coverage alone, the answer would be:  b) Quayle, who offered potatoe as the spelling of potato and questioned the value of celebrity role models promoting voluntary single parenthood.  Actual answer is:  d) Biden, who, so far, hasn’t gone a week without saying something that doesn't need to be retracted, clarified, glossed over or "qualified" by the White House press staff.

5) Which president invoked Jesus more often in his speeches and public pronouncements:  a) George W. Bush or b) Barack Obama?  In a contest that is no contest:  b) Barack Obama.  In the first year of his presidency, Bush mentioned Jesus several times -- but always in almost required contexts, such as an Easter proclamation, a Christmas message and in announcing “Salvation Army Week.”  Obama has invoked Jesus frequently in his first four months in office while talking about all kinds of topics including abortion, the Middle East and even the economy.

6)  Whose quote is this?  "In this dedication of a nation we humbly ask the blessing of God.  May He protect each and every one of us.  May He guide me in the days to come."  a) George W. Bush.  b) Ronald Reagan.  c) Jimmy Carter.  d) Barack Obama.  Answer:  None of the above.  These were the final words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address.

 If you scored five or below, you should seriously consider changing your news sources. (This column excluded, of course.)

 

Gary D. Gaddy got a 99 and 1/2 on Mr. Olson's final exam on 20th century history in 1968 -- and is still sure he got robbed on the 1/2 point deducted.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday June 25, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:17 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:11 AM EDT
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Thursday, June 18, 2009
I write the songs; really, I do

ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, one of my putative readers (who would really admit to such a thing?) has said to me, and I paraphrase, "I like your column because it sounds just like you talking."  Honestly, I am offended -- though I am not sure if these supposed readers are maligning my conversational style of writing or my literary mode of speaking, or both.  I do not write like I speak.  (And you will thank God, atheists and believers alike, that neither are anything like my way of thinking.)

For example, the other day while reading the newspaper I was thinking about waterboarding, wondering why it raises so much brouhaha when my brothers and I used to waterboard as children every summer.  It was quite enjoyable way to spend a day at the lake.  A great way for a kid to get started, heading into the more challenging art of water skiing.

Then, my thoughts of summers at Buggs Island Lake were interrupted with the subsequent fantasy thought in which my wife says, "It's not the same kind of waterboarding, darling."  (She usually calls me darling, or sweetie, or some other term of endearment whenever I do or say something knuckleheaded.  This may be the reason we are such an affectionate couple.)

My next thought following my wife's kind reprimand is that I need to apologize to my readers before I go on.  Sorry, guys.

Anyway, I definitely do not write like I think.  For example, my thinking rhymes more frequently.  Sometimes I transcribe my thoughts and they come out as song lyrics, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

OK, I know what you're thinking at me now (which is probably a lot like what you would write to me if you were to write to me which many of you do not -- assuming, of course, that I have more than two readers -- which is not well established at this point.)

Anyway, what you are thinking is this: "What goofy kind of song lyrics would this loon write if he did actually write song lyrics, which I doubt he actually does?"

A very good question, which asks for, if not demands, a very good answer.  Sorry, don't have that but I do have some sample (rejected) song lyrics, however, which may answer the aforementioned question implicitly but not explicitly -- because I don't do rap.

***

                  Didn't Write Songs
                                           
Didn't write songs, but he did write song titles.
Didn't worship rock stars, did keep them as idols.   
Didn't have a band -- but thought up band names.
Didn't play an instrument but tried to play the music industry game.       

Had lotsa great ideas; very few, if any, deeds;
Could talk his way into anything that he might need.
Life for him wouldn't have been so very hard,
If it coulda been lived on four-by-six index cards.   
                   
     The would-be lyricist wrote lotsa words --
     Swore they were lyrics to his songs.
     But that assertion had to be inferred --
     Until some notes came along.

He was writing a musical, or at least that’s what he’d say.
Didn't like musicals, but wrote music-less ones anyway.
His life was very complicated -- and quite incomplete.
Spent lotsa time in bed -- but never did get much sleep.

No one understood him -- but, hey, neither did he.
This would-be lyricist, well, you guessed it, he would be me.

(Lyrical Copyright © 2009, Gary D. Gaddy   All rights reserved -- for what, God only knows.)

***

Now, you tell me, actual readers, could Barry Manilow write anything more authentically “me” than this?  I, and I wrote the song, or at least the lyrics, don’t think so.


Gary D. Gaddy really did write this "song."

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday June 18, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:31 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009 8:39 AM EDT
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Thursday, June 11, 2009
Now introducing . . . the Albatross!

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Congress today ordered General Motors to begin producing "as quickly as feasible" a brand new model for its Cadillac line of passenger vehicles, the Albatross.  The large, powerful, yet green, Albatross will be the first American-made automobile to come supplied with a driver and a full contingent of passengers.

"Redundant systems are the key to future of the American automobile which will be made, built, designed, engineered, created and assembled right here in the U.S. of A., the United States of America," said Sen. Dick Durbin, Senate majority whip.

"The Albatross will come with a government-supplied chauffeur and also a government-mandated designated driver and a government-employed backseat driver, in case the government-supplied chauffeur or designated-driver fails in some form or fashion to fulfill his or her navigational obligations," said Durbin.

The vehicle will be powered by a hybrid propulsion system of highly compressed thermally enhanced natural atmospheric gasses and combined with methane produced from bovine solid waste material.  Outside consultants were at first skeptical of the practicality of the drive system until government engineers demonstrated for them a similar but more primitive system of hot air and gas that has been harnessed to heat the United States Capitol for several hundred years.

One minor problem with the Albatross yet to be resolved is tailpipe odor.

As a flex-fuel vehicle the Albatross can also run by burning straight cellulose in what GM engineer Duncan Klein calls reverse ATM mode.

The massive Albatross uses the principle of buoyancy using human biologic systems to heat the atmosphere within the inflated cabin of the vehicle.  The same principle is employed to fill each of the Albatross' 100 naturally heated airbags.

Stylistically the Albatross has “aerodynamic lines reminiscent of the Von Hindenburg airship,” said Norma Slick of the NewWave AutoDesign Team.  At present, the Albatross is scheduled to be available in a single tint which GM calls Greenback Green.

President Barack Obama announced he is leading the way by adopting the Albatross as the new presidential limousine.  White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel said the first official use of the Albatross will be to ferry Obama to a speech to Congress tentatively entitled “Freeing Enterprise for the Twenty-First Century.”

In related news, the Department of Transportation announced today that in order to reduce costs to the government a $10,000 rebate will be given on all federal government purchases of any General Motors car.  The Government Accounting Office said that they expect this purchase incentive will save the U.S. Treasury more than $250 billion over the next ten years as the rebates revert to the federal government on planned purchases of more than 25,000,000 cars.

****

NC goes on Easley Plan


RALEIGH -- North Carolina Senate Majority Leader Senator Tony Rand of Fayetteville announced today that the state will be placing on a legislative fast track the "Easley Plan," a state stimulus package "for the ordinary taxpayer."  Under the proposal, every taxpayer in the state of North Carolina will receive an "Easley-like deal," worth $170,000 per year for the next five years.

Given the state’s constitutional restriction requiring a balanced budget, some legislative analysts had been skeptical of the practicality of the plan.  However,  following federal budget guidelines analysts in the legislature calculated that the total tax revenue generated by the Easley Plan payouts including income, sales and excise taxes, when combined with an economic impact factor multiplier, will exceed the cost of the payouts.

As with the original eponymous Easley Plan recipient, taxpayers receiving this stimulus payment will not be required to perform any useful work in return for their payments, and so the plan should not displace any of the currently gainfully employed workers left in the economy.


Gary D. Gaddy once owned a General Motors automobile and had a pre-Easley Plan job at the University of North Carolina, a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Carolina state government.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday June 11, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:07 AM EDT
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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Palindrome, spelled backwards

ADAVEN, Nevada -- Even as the Conservation Laboratory for Palindromes, plc, (CLP plc), a private-public partnership which seeks to preserve the palindrome for posterity, petitions Congress to add the palindrome to the Endangered Species Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. R. A. Barnes, Sen. Y. A. Haynes and Sen. O. J. Jones is working its way through Congress.

According to Bob "Otto" Bob, who holds the top spot at CLP plc, since the palindrome is neither flora nor fauna, the classification of the palindrome as endangered would break new taxonomic ground.  But, as Otto put it, "Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?"

To look into the inner workings of the Conservation Laboratory for Palindromes, GaryGaddy.com sent two crack reporters, Lee Keel and Lisa Basil, to listen to what gets said inside of one of America's top linguistic think tanks.  

***
As we toured the CLP plc campus, nestled in a valley sidled against the Humboldt National Forest, we eavesdropped, recording a small handful of the exchanges we overheard.

According to the CLP plc's Dr. Awkward, one of the institute's first projects was a history of the world in palindrome, beginning with the first instance ever recorded, "Madam, I'm Adam," (addressed to Eve, of course).

But, according to British historian Sir Roman A. Morris, while the fall of the palindrome began with the first mom and dad, it continues to this day.  As Morris noted, "Dennis sinned," and, shortly thereafter, "Dennis and Edna sinned."

As observed by Morris, other historically significant palindromes include Napoleon's unequivocally Napoleonic declaration ("Able was I ere I saw Elba!"), which inspired many more, notably Wake Forest University sophomore Bodo Beer's sophomoric boast: ("Remarkable was I ere I saw Elba Kramer!")

Dr. O. F. Mumford told us that the engineer of the lock-design for the first artificial inter-oceanic waterway John Frank Stevens was rightly immortalized with "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!"  But he also explained that others expanded on
Stevens great life work: "A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal, Panama!"

In a conference room we witnessed this fragment of a theological debate between Dr. Allan Allard and the Rev. A. E. Deaver.
Deaver quoted the Devil: "Reviled did I live, said I, as evil I did deliver."
"Devil never even lived," replied Allard.
"Evil, a sin, is alive," responded Deaver.
Looking out the window, Allard exclaimed, "Aha!"  Then he asked, "Do geese see God?"

In one lecture, stats maven Dr. Ari Girard said that palindromic numbers, strangely, are "Never odd or even."  Then Girard whispered to us: "I prefer pi."

Overheard between two cubicles.
"Was it a car or a cat I saw?" asked Leon Noel.
"Racecar, a Toyota racecar," answered Ned Den.
"Civic?" queried Noel.
"A Toyota," responded an exasperated Den.
After Noel looked quizzically, Den added: "A Toyota. Race fast, safe car. A Toyota."
"I did, did I?"   Noel, then shrugged his shoulders, noting: "A Toyota's a Toyota."

In the break room, Lena H. Chanel was musing.
Lena: "If I had a hi-fi . . ."
"Abba?" asked Blake DeKalb
"Oh, no! Don Ho!" responded Lena.
Then the tattooed Blake said: "Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!"

As we left, Bob Otto Bob told us the laboratory's next big project is finding a cure for aibohphobia (the fear of palindromes), a condition which strikes 11 out of every 121 Americans.

***
Did you know?  Emordnilap, the antonym of palindrome, is a word which spelled backwards is palindrome, which is a word which spelled backwards is the same as the word spelled forward, which emordnilap is, or is not, depending on how you look at it.
____________________________________

The first reader to identify all the palindromes of three letters or more in this column will be eligible for a drawing for an all-expense paid 7-day voyage on Cannard Cruise Line's flagship vessel, The Red Herring.


Gary D. Gaddy, oddly, isn't close to a palindrome

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday June 4, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 6:57 PM EDT
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Thursday, May 28, 2009
My love/hate affair with Thom. Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON AND I are both from Charlottesville, so that would make us natural allies -- or perhaps rivals.  I really admire the guy, though I think that if we had ever argued about anything for long, I am not sure a discussion would have ever broken out.

Thomas Jefferson had the chutzpa to make up his own version of the Gospels -- excising the miraculous.  Once, in a Barnes & Nobles bookstore, I looked through a copy of the rumored work -- a bowdlerized version of Jesus' life and teachings.  Hey, but that's ol' Thom.  Religiously, Jefferson was a precursor to the most modern of religions: "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

Like the most interesting among us, Jefferson was a tangle of contradictions.  So, I present to you, in the interest of free speech, Jefferson with no comments but his own, for the thoughtful among you to meditate upon in the light of modern times.

On Government

I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government.  It is always oppressive.

That government is best which governs the least.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

On Media

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.  

The Republic

The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at . . . war with the rights of mankind.

Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail . . . to be rightful . . . the minority [must] possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.  

On Liberty

Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.

Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.  

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself.
 
On Religion and Religious Liberty

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.  

Some Jeffersonian Prophecies

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.  

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.  

If God is just, I tremble for my country.

Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have.


Gary D. Gaddy really was born in Charlottesville, which may shortly be known as the birthplace of Gary D. Gaddy.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday May 28, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:53 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:58 AM EDT
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
What a waste! And its transfer

I AM A RESIDENT EXPERT on waste disposal landfills.  I used to live next to one.  My apartment complex abutted the Chesapeake, Virginia, city landfill.  My building sat closer to the working landfill than my current house does to my neighbor's house across the street.  My then two-year-old son used to spend his time looking out the window watching the bulldozers work.  He enjoyed the landfill.

The mountains of garbage appeared to reach higher than the tops of the apartment buildings.  And when I say mountains, I mean mountains -- like Mount Trashmore, the highest point of elevation above sea level in Virginia Beach, a city bordering on Chesapeake.

When watching the trash dump next door grow grew boring, sometimes I would take our family to play on one: Mount Trashmore, the 165-acre recreation area with hills 60-feet high and over 800 feet long.  Mount Trashmore was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil.

Mount Trashmore Park includes multiple playground areas, 15 picnic shelters, a basketball court, four volleyball areas, a skateboard park, multiple walking trails, and two lakes where fishing is permitted.  Ready for this?  Since its opening in the 1970s, it ranks as the most popular park in Virginia Beach, with attendance of over one million visitors a year.

My point?  Trash dumps, landfills as they are euphemistically known, are not all that bad. Carefully engineered and managed, they are not public health hazards when in use and can be assets afterward.  What is a public nuisance, public health hazard and waste of time, energy and money is sending our garbage to someone else's community so they can take care of it.

The real waste of a waste transfer station is not where it is placed -- but that we are planning to build one at all.  It's our trash, let's take responsibility for it.  I once studied a map of Orange County -- and there's lots of land here.

I have often said that Chapel Hill is in favor of every good thing -- somewhere else.  The wasted transfer site is another great example of that.  The only explanation I can think of describes many decisions by the town of Chapel Hill in dealing with things we all wish we didn't have to deal with:  Here, take this money and build your (fill in the blank) -- just not in my backyard.  We would love an AIDS hospice -- somewhere else.  We would love a clubhouse for those with mental illness -- somewhere else.  We would love a place for the homeless -- somewhere else.

What's the point of all this?  Chapel Hill and Orange County don't need to be debating about waste transfer sites.  We don't need a waste transfer site.  We need a new landfill and one in our county -- and energy, efficiency and safety say it should be in or close to Chapel Hill -- just like our old one.

I suggest that a new county landfill be placed inside of Chapel Hill -- given that a majority of its trash comes from Chapel Hill.  And given that a good fraction of Chapel Hill's garbage comes from the University, I have a radical, and not altogether jesting, proposal.  The new landfill should be built on the proposed Carolina North tract.  There is plenty of space there, nearly 1000 acres.  Such a landfill site wouldn't prevent Carolina North from being built, but would make use of some of the property in the meantime – before the landfill is turned into a nice park.

This would make lots of people happy:  those opposing the proposed waste transfer sites; those living near the current landfill; those who don't like the Horace Williams airport; and those in Orange County who think that Chapel Hill should keep their garbage to themselves.

Given the common sense of this proposal, I am sure all parties involved will easily agree to it.


Gary D. Gaddy really did live next to a landfill once, and lived to tell about it.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday May 21, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:49 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 10:35 AM EDT
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Thursday, May 14, 2009
The burdens of being a Local Voice

I AM A LOCAL VOICE.  It says so right here in the paper.  Look, up at the top of this column.  It’d be nice if I could be a disembodied voice, but they had to go putting my picture in the paper.  It's sorta like a mug shot.  Has the same kind of effect.

Once, while in Amante's Pizza in Carrboro, I was minding my own business, ordering a pizza, which is, I would think, what someone should do in Amante's Pizza in Carrboro.  The order-taking guy looked at me kinda funny and then said, "You're the guy in the paper, aren't you?"  I said, "Maybe," not being certain where this might lead. 

He turned around and came back with a copy of the Chapel Hill Herald.  He looked at the editorial page, then at me.  I was afraid it was the edition with "Hooters' Carrboro encounter," my news report on a new restaurant coming to town, or perhaps the edition that included "Carrboro proclaims June ‘Bathe French Month’."  I didn't know.

Fortunately, the pizza turned out to be tasty and non-toxic.  Still, as you can tell, authoring this column can be harrowing.

As another example, a Local Voice may be accosted in the halls of the Dean Dome by fervent fans. OK, it was one fan and not all that fervent.  Still, it can be awkward having someone laugh while telling you that he really "likes" your columns -- "especially the sarcastic ones."

Well, let's get this straight, I do not write sarcastic columns, any idiot could see that.  So, obviously, Greg is not any idiot.  I write spooferic columns in which I juxtapose an artificial reality with actual reality to see which is sillier.  Often they come to draw.

But we should cut Greg some slack.  He works for OWASA, our local governmental sewer authority.  (I won't embarrass Greg unduly with his co-workers by repeating his name, 'cause he's a nice Feller.)

Greg says I should publish a book of my columns.  How quaint!  Words in ink on paper.  Something like those tomes they keep in archival repositories for future historians to examine.  Get with the 21st Century, Greg!  I write my words with electrons!

Now why would anybody want to cut down a beautiful conifer or a flowering poplar to make paper, polluting the environment (sorry, Chapel Hill Herald), when he, she or it could log on to GaryGaddy.com and, using electrons (saving numerous protons and neutrons) to read my collected columns, especially when the same trees could be used to make Charmin® with Absorbent Cushions™ (So You Can Use Less!)?

If I haven't made my point already, a little while back I found out something very disturbing.  They read my column in Danville, Virginia.  (This is one under-reported problem with the World Wide Web.)  George Davis, George Washington Davis, to be more exact, who went to elementary, junior high and high school with me, reads my column -- and pays attention.  Think about it.  This means some of my facts now have to be more factual.

Finally, I get putative readers suggesting, "You could put me in your column."  No, Moody, I cannot.  I cannot put every Tom, Dick and Moody Smith in my column just because they ask me too.  (Moody, you may or may not recall, is the person who wrongly accused me of wrongly claiming to have beaten Ludwig Wittgenstein in chess -- which I most certainly did.)

Moody thinks that bringing my attention to a great Mark Twain quote, one that I probably will use in my column sometime if I can figure how to do it, as it speaks volumes about the cultural ethos of the high art of this age ("Wagner's music is better than it sounds."), will get him a columnar citation.

Sorry, Dr. Smith, Twain said it, not you.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is a Local Voices columnist.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday May 14, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:16 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:43 AM EDT
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Thursday, May 7, 2009
Gaddy to be replaced as columnist

DURHAM, N.C. -- Higher management of the Durham Herald-Sun announced today that, effective with today's column, Gary D. Gaddy has been replaced as the Chapel Hill Herald's Leading Regular Thursday Columnist. 

Herald insiders say that current Chapel Hill Herald editor Dan Way and former CH Herald editor Neil Offen both opposed the move.  One source who asked not to be named said Way and Offen fought against the outsourcing on the grounds that Gaddy "was so easy to work with, such good company and often picked up lunch tabs."

This source said the Herald-Sun management made the move because, from their perspective, Gaddy is very difficult to work with, sometimes publishing odd columns that no one on the Durham editorial staff understood.  "At times we weren't even certain whether his columns were fact or fiction," said an editorial staffer who asked to remain anonymous for "professional reasons."

"The columns are supposed to sappy, local puff pieces, and he's running hundred-year-old song lyrics, fictitious restaurant reviews and transcripts of Larry King interviewing God.  It's very disorienting," the unnamed staff editor added.

Taking Gaddy's place is a contract ghostwriter working under the pseudonym of Gary D. Gaddy.  Herald-Sun management expects that readers will not notice the difference.

"Once we inadvertently re-published a column run six months before -- and nary a complaint crossed the transom, don't see how anyone will notice a replacement writer who is slightly less witty and insightful," said Offen, currently the Durham Herald's Metro editor, in a frank admission that his opposition to the move was primarily personal.

One expert believes the H-S management team is correct on reader obliviousness.  "What management did, before they made a permanent change, was to study the impact of this possible switch over the last several months by alternating actual Gaddy brilliance with ghostwritten boiler plate.  No one even noticed -- based on the absence of reader feedback," said University of North Carolina journalism professor and one-time gubernatorial candidate Philip Brown.

Even Gaddy's wife and sometime editorial assistant, who also asked not to be named, said she thought the "other stuff" was just about as good as Gaddy's.  "Maybe not as funny, but the spelling was better and the syntax easier to follow," she said.

Gaddy, who was reported to be very disturbed at first about the change, came to see it in a different light upon reflection.  “When I was first informed, I was very insulted,” said Gaddy, “then I realized it was nothing to be miffed about.  Just the opposite, it's quite an honor.  Nobodies don’t have ghostwriters.  Major industry figures, U.S. presidents and top Hollywood celebrities, they have ghostwriters.

"Think about this: even the least ghostwriter-supported author, Barbara Bush's dog Millie, made the top-ten best-seller list -- and probably had a higher approval rating than George H. W. when he left office," said Gaddy.

Biden treated for foot-in-mouth disease

WASINGTON, D.C. -- The C1B1 virus has claimed its first prominent victim as Vice President Joseph Biden was admitted today to Bethesda Naval Hospital for treatment of a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease.  Because it took so long for Biden to receive initial treatment, doctors say it is not clear when, or if, he will recover.

Not everyone, however, is unhappy with Biden's poor prognosis.  The National Association of Comics and Comedians said a slow recovery for Biden would be a good thing for them.

"Without Biden, we won't have a single notable white male to deride.  Talk about the Great Recession, the auto industry has  had a cakewalk compared to us. You ought to try writing nightly standup comedy without George Bush to kick around," said Sander Sandersson, chief monologue writer for the Tonight Show.  "Biden has been a godsend," he added.

Genetically similar to swine flu, foot-in-mouth disease originated in an animal host, spreading from the jackass to humans.

 

***

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: You might be a redneck if . . . you have ever said, "You might be a redneck if."


Gary D. Gaddy may or may not be the author of this column. (Go to GaryGaddy.com to see past columns.)

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday May 7, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:27 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2009 7:37 AM EDT
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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Suit filed against Chapel Hill nuttiness

CHAPEL HILL -- The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) has filed suit against the Town of Chapel Hill, demanding that they "cease and desist all acts and activities which promulgate the use of the phrase 'another nutty Chapel Hill idea.'"  In its suit the PCA says that "another nutty idea" is its registered trademark phrase.

"While we acknowledge that Chapel Hill was having nutty ideas long before we were even incorporated, they never made the effort to protect that phrase as intellectual property.  We have," said Dean Kleinschmidt, an attorney representing the PCA.

The PCA suit does not demand that Chapel Hill cease having nutty ideas, merely that they "stop labeling them as such," Kleinschmidt added.

Peanut Corporation of America is a peanut-processing business founded in 1977 and headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia, which was forced to seek protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2009.

 

Court orders Gaddy on to NBA roster

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a rare adjudicated case of height discrimination, the United States Supreme Court today ruled that Gary D. Gaddy must be added to the National Basketball Association's roster of active players. 

Justice John Paul Stevens, usually a reliable liberal, penned the 8-1 majority decision in favor of Gaddy, who the court said was discriminated against on the basis of height, or, more precisely, heightlessness.

Former NBA great and University of North Carolina alumnus Michael Jordan filed a pair of large amicus briefs in favor of Gaddy.  "I did it because I was cut from the varsity my sophomore year in high school so I can empathize with the guy.  Just because I grew after that, and he didn't, it doesn't seem fair I'll be in the Hall of Fame and he'll never get a minute off the bench," said Jordan.

Chief Justice John Roberts said, "The statistical arguments were compelling, but it was Gaddy's loquacious phrasing that swayed the court. I especially liked: 'One Muggsy Bogues doth not a tendency make.'  That was sheer poetry."

Per court order, Gaddy has chosen to go to the NBA's Eastern Division's leading team, Cleveland Cavaliers.  Gaddy hopes to help the team at non-shooting, off-guard position.  Gaddy's salary will be the mandatory league minimum of $457,588.

Gary D. Gaddy, 58, is not to be confused with Abdul Gaddy, 18, who played in both the McDonald's and the Jordan Brand Classic all-star games for top-rated high school seniors this year. The six-foot-three-inch Abdul Gaddy, no relation, has signed a grant-in-aid scholarship with the University of Washington.

 

Madonna adopts Botswana

HOLLYWOOD -- Following widespread media reports that celebrity actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had adopted an entire orphanage in Zimbabwe, pop songstress Madonna has decided to adopt the country of Botswana.

Madonna, who was born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan and has two natural children, a daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, and a son, Rocco John Ritchie, by separate fathers of differing ethnicities, was also quoted as saying, “Top that Octomom!”

 

Roy's instant oxymoron

CHAPEL HILL -- Language experts were stunned by comments made by Roy Williams following the April 6, 2009 national championship game. "Roy Williams and Dean Smith don't fit in the same sentence," Williams was quoted as saying.

A linguistic expert in UNC's Department of Linguistics, Morley Leslie says Williams is wrong.  "It is very common for sentences to have a compound subject, and sentences of that length or longer are hardly rare in modern English."

UNC's rhetorician in residence Lyle Sprecher says he thinks that Williams may have been speaking metaphorically.  "Clearly they will fit in the same sentence, since the sentence Roy used to say that they won't fit in the same sentence uses them both in the same sentence.  Perhaps he meant they shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath, but I don't know, because apparently he did not say what he meant.  Or vice versa," said Sprecher.

 

Gary D. Gaddy does not belong in the same bio line as Roy Williams except, maybe, one that says he doesn't belong in the same bio line. 

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 30, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:13 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:28 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Fascists and free-speech fiascos

I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH news coverage it received, but on Tuesday April 14th, my wife and I attended an event on the University of North Carolina campus.  We came to be informed but the students were so loud often we could barely hear the person speaking -- even though when we were just few feet away.  It was a wonderful experience.

We were at the Undergraduate Scholarship Dinner, held to recognize UNC scholarship donors and recipients.  The happy noise was mostly that of undergraduates excitedly telling scholarship donors about classes they were taking, majors they were considering, planned summer jobs and internships, and where they hoped to study abroad.  Strange thing, students excited about learning.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we were missing an event over at Bingham Hall.  There former Republican congressman and one-time presidential candidate Tom Tancredo was trying to give a speech on his views on education and illegal immigration.  In short what happened is his talk never happened as he was shouted down, chanted over and bullied off the dais and out of town.

The protesters who did this think that Trancredo is a fascist.  Personally, I don't know – and neither does anyone else who hasn’t heard him speak or read what he has written.

Tancredo thinks these protesters are the fascists.  As he is quoted as saying afterwards, "A fascist is a fascist."  I don't know what else he might be right about but he's sure right about that.  Actions, in this case, certainly spoke louder than words from protesters' bullhorns ever could.

This event was not a "free-speech fiasco" -- as it has been termed by one newspaper -- at least not according to the primary organizer of the protest action, a UNC graduate student in Romance languages who heads the reincarnated Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

He said he regretted the broken window but not silencing Tancredo. "He was not able to practice his hate speech," said the student, who I will not name because I'm not contributing to his fame.

Despite SDS's post-event press release, I will say this is exactly what they hoped for. This is exactly how they operate.  This is, as they call it, direct action.  Getting police to "over-react" is part and parcel of it.

Before their protest, we knew the protesters were opposed to the lecture’s sponsors, Youth for Western Civilization.  After listening to their taunts ("Western civilization killed my ancestors"), we find out they are opposed to Western Civilization itself. And after watching their acts, we now know they are opposed to civilization altogether.

Another of their chants ("Yes, racists, we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!") makes that abundantly clear.

But I may be completely wrong.  UNC geography professor Altha Cravey is reported to have joined protesters in chanting the names of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus.  Perhaps this whole event was a geography field trip.

Another protest banner said, "No dialogue with hate."  This, obviously, is really what they are about -- because they weren't listening and don't want anyone else to listen either.

Lizette Lopez of the Carolina Hispanic Organization deserves credit for vainly admonishing the crowd inside the hall to be quiet. "We'd like to hear what he has to say," she said.  "Honestly, we were the ones who had more at stake" than the vocal protesters, said Lopez, calling it "depressing" that freedom of speech lost the night. 

Chancellor Holden Thorp, you have said the right things -- now please act decisively to make sure the right things get done.  There are students, and maybe even faculty, who were at Bingham Hall who need to be suspended, expelled and even charged with crimes -- and lots of photos and videos showing who they are.

And, Chancellor Thorp, please respond quickly so that the students like the ones I was having dinner with still want to apply to UNC, and so the donors sponsoring scholarships still want to give their money to the University they still want to love.

 

Gary D. Gaddy studied at UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication where they teach their students how to think, speak and write, but not how to keep others from doing so.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 23, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Airlift to stem EU population collapse

BRUSSELS -- In the wake of the crisis meeting of the European Union's Population Board, EU ministers have called on the United States to begin an emergency airlift of "population uncontrol" measures to the European Union's shrinking native populations.  European historians are likening the crisis to West Berlin's cry for food and medicine following the Soviet blockade in 1948.

In a unprecedented bipartisan agreement, the United States Congress voted nearly unanimously to fund and supply shipments of Viagra and oysters, which wil be air dropped using NATO aircraft, to key areas of thirteen European countries where native Europeans are at least still sizeable minorities.

"The logistics of the drops are key," said General James L. Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and the Commander of the United States European Command, who will head the mission, code named Operation Oyster, speaking from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

"If we inadvertently supply immigrant populations instead of actual Europeans we will exacerbate rather than ameliorate the problem. The way I read it that would be bad," said Jones.

"The latest demographic analyses are graphic: without outside assistance Europe as we know it will cease to exist within the next 50 to 75 years -- just a blink of the eye in the context of the storied history of 'old Europe,' which is, not uncoincidentally, becoming 'old Europe' even as this report is being written," Wolfgang Lutz of the Vienna Institute of Demography, a part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The EU Population Board is also calling for the Roman Catholic Church to take the unusual step of extending its ban on artificial birth control beyond its own adherents to "lapsed Catholics, unbelievers and infidels."  Although the Board says it recognizes that this measure may have limited impact, it feels it may help create "an uncomfortable atmosphere regarding birth control use among the general population," which it thinks may have some utility in increasing birthrates.

Air drops are necessary, rather than standard military truck convoys, demographics experts say, because of residential patterns in most European urban areas as well as the necessity of hitting remote rural areas.

"Most native European populations are essentially held hostage inside their old cities ringed by large complexes of subsidized housing filled primarily with immigrants, legal and other than legal," said Belgium's Louvain-la-Neuve University professor and demographer Michel Loriaux.

"As the French riots in 2007 showed, traversing these areas in land vehicles can be extremely hazardous," said Dr. Loriaux.

"It's funny how this whole thing has turned three sixty. The feared population bomb of the 1970's has turned out to be a dud.  Now the military that used to bring us wars as a primitive form of population control is being asked to use its bombers as storks flying in the babies," said demographer Loriaux.

The countries receiving assistance are Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In an extremely rare instance of Franco-American military cooperation, the French will prepare the oysters for eating by sautéing them in a light sauce béarnaise. The French are also providing a supply of barrel fermented off-dry Chardonnay, which is nicely balanced and complex, and works well with Viagra.

 

Gary D. Gaddy was a German major in college who studied in Austria and has in-laws from Sweden.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 16, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:56 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:59 PM EDT
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