GARY D. GADDY
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Friday, December 31, 2010
The sentimental cynic: New Year's resolved

THIS IS WHAT I SAID: "My New Year's resolution this year is to have no New Year's resolution."  Well, that didn't work.

All the major American holidays have some bad traditions associated with them.  For example, gluttony is associated with . . . hmmm . . . all the major American holidays.  Penitence and subsequent penance often follows shortly thereafter — when the cumulative impact of Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's comes home to roost, usually on my belly.

Like my friend Dave! Ward, I say:  "I would be willing to do anything to have a fit and muscular physique — except diet or exercise."
 
* One year I resolve to lose weight.
* The next year I resolve to diet.
* The next year I resolve to get more exercise.
* The next year I resolve to use the treadmill more often.
* This year I am going to resolve to sell the like-new treadmill.

I don't know about yours but all my resolutions end up dissolving like a North Carolina snow -- quickly.

My resolution to this conundrum?  This year I am resolute to be resolute in whatever I resolve, if I resolve anything at all.  For now, it is just to provide the news you can't get anywhere else.

 

New Year refusing to come in

NEW YORK — For the first time since the year-change from 1929 to1930, the New Year is refusing  to come in. Chronologists at Columbia University's Department of Dimensional Studies say this will leave the Old Year to serve another term — which bodes for another disastrous year for the planet Earth.

"People often think of the New Year as innocent as a new-born babe, and that is how he is commonly portrayed, but he's been watching things incubate for nine months so he has gained a little perspective — and he doesn't seem to like what he's seeing," said Dr. Milbourne Tique, an expert in astrometrics.

"We have had Old Years that wanted to stick around, sort of like football coaches Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, when everybody else knew their time was up, but it is pretty rare for a New Year to balk like this.  But, to tell the truth, who could blame him," added Professor Tique.

"I guess we will just have to wait for the ball to drop to see what happens," said Tique.

 

Fruitcake reveals “old earth”

ATLANTA — Scientists at the Georgian Institute of Technology have discovered a wrapped and uneaten fruitcake that was carbon-dated at 8.4 billion years old, pushing back estimates of the earth's age by nearly four billion years from the previous estimate of 4.54 billion years.

A combination of fingerprint and DNA analysis suggests that the fruitcake, which was discovered in house of one of the researchers’ Aunt Mildred, was passed repeatedly among a relatively small family and friendship circle, and may be one of the earliest known examples of the now-common practice of re-gifting.

                                    ***

Advice to my New Year's Eve readers

Do not spend New Year's Day with a hangover.  (Taking this advice, of course, begins on New Year's Eve.)  I know I won't start the New Year with a hangover because I don't drink much of anything alcohol laden, especially champagne.  (Taking care with champagne is a lesson learned from an episode in my younger years [circa 1976] in which I got into a champagne drinking contest with an Austrian.  I don't remember who won, but I do know who lost.  I also don't remember whether I had 13 glasses or 17 glasses of champagne — but it seems like it was a double-digit prime number.  The fact of the matter is I don't remember much of anything from that afternoon or night — but I do remember the next morning — and it makes my head throb just think about it.)

Note to my everyday readers

Regarding an earlier column, which referenced "questions you never want to be asked," my lovely, talented and clever wife explained how I should respond if she were ever to ask me: "Do I look fat in this?"  She says I should simply reply: "Do I look stupid?"

 

Gary D. Gaddy, according to a reputable source, doesn’t look stupid.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 31, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:29 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 8:44 PM EST
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Friday, December 24, 2010
The Christmas Story, the North Carolina edition

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON, I thought I would share my column space with my wife's cousin, Bobo Herring, who is from Traphill over in Wilkes County up in the Brushy Mountains.   Bobo likes to tell the Nativity Story.

                                                                          ***
Now here's the story how the Baby Jesus got to be the Baby Jesus.  His momma, Mary Lee, was plannin' to marry Uncle Joe, but they weren't hitched yet when Mary Lee found out she was in a fam'ly way, even though she hadn't been messin' 'round with Joe — nor anybody fer that matter.  Mary Lee tolt Ol' Joe about it and he was kindly notioned enough not to want to make a spectacle of it all and thought maybe he would send her quiet-like back home to her fam'ly.

But that was 'fore Uncle Joe had a dream where an angel appear'd to him, sayin', "Brother Joe, don't be a-feared to take that little woman for thy lawfully wedded wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost, and thou shalt call that baby Jesus, 'cause that's who he's gonna be."  (Angels, they talk like that.)

And came to be 'bout that same time, a call went up outta Raleigh that ever'body oughta be counted and taxed.  So, ever' fam'ly had to go back to their home place to pay their tab.  So, ol' Uncle Joe packed up from Robeson County down Lumberton way and drove over to Mecklenburg to the city of Charlotte ('cause he was of uptown folks) in his Pinto, so he could pay his taxes.  And Mary Lee, his wife-to-be, was 'bout fit to bust.  While they was up to Charlotte, Mary Lee had that young'un, her firstest one.  It was a cold December, so she wrapped that boy up in shop towels, and lay him in a tool chest in the garage where they was sheltered, 'cause the motels were all full up.

Just outside the city limits, there were mechanics rummagin' through a junkyard that night, when a light came a-shinin' on them, and they were sorely a-feared.  But then a voice said to them: "Do not be a-feared!  This here is good news we's a-bringin' you and all the folks, 'cause today, in the Queen City of the South, a chile's been born, which is gonna turn out to be Jesus, the Lord of the Whole Universe.  If'n you don't believe us, just wait, 'cause when you see the little rascal he'll be layin' in a tool box all wrapped up in grease rags."

Then, pow! there was a whole choir a-voices a-singin' and a-sayin': "Glory here!  Glory there!  Glory be to God up in the air!  Peace be to men!  Good will ever'where!  Glory be to God up in the air!"

But just as quick as that choir showed up, they was gone.  And them mechanics looked smack at one 'nother and said, all right at the same time: "Let's go up to Charlotte and see what in heaven's name they is talkin' 'bout."  They went a-speedin' into town in Zeb's Mustang and found Mary Lee and Uncle Joe in a garage and the little baby layin' in a toolbox all wrapped up in grease rags, just like that choir tolt'em.  Zeb and Zeke and all the rest of them mechanics was fit to be tied what with all they had seen, and was tellin' ever'body they bumped into what the choir tolt'em and that Baby Jesus was in that garage shed just like they said.

A little later and little bit further down the road, three sharp-witted fellers from down east came lookin' for the Baby Jesus.  First thing them sharp fellers did was cruise up to Raleigh in
their Expedition to the history museum and ask where a Baby King Jesus oughta be born, and they was a-tolt that Charlotte was the royal city 'round these parts.  So, these fellers follered the highway 'til they got down to Charlotte and found Mary Lee and Joe livin' in a mill house with Joe's kin.  Those sharp fellers gave the baby gifts from Goldsboro, Franklinton and Murfreesboro, and worshipped him like he was the Baby Jesus, Son of God and Saver of Ever'body.

So, thanks be to Mary Lee and ol' Uncle Joe and the lil' Baby Jesus, that's how we get to have Christmas.


Gary D. Gaddy wishes all his readers a Merry Christmas!

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 24, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 4:41 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, January 2, 2011 8:18 PM EST
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Friday, December 17, 2010
All the news that fits -- and then some

These News-in-Briefs© highlights are brought to you by Fruit of the Loom® brand undergarments, whose collections feature classic and contemporary styling with comfortable cotton fabrics and carefree cotton blends.

Chernobyl visitors bring back glowing reports


MOSCOW — The first visitors to the
Ukraine's hottest new tourist destination, the moth-balled Chernobyl nuclear plant, are just back in the United States.  The glowing reports to their friends and neighbors from these inaugural visits, Ukrainian tourism officials hope, will set off a chain-reaction of new visitors.

Kick the Can new national sport


WASHINGTON, D.C. — In unanimous bi-partisan action, Congress voted today to make Kick the Can the new national sport.  Each successive Congress is expected to extend this unfunded mandate.

The Stimulus!  The Sequel!  


HOLLYWOOD — Billed as a 21st century Fantasia, "The Stimulus! The Sequel!" will initiate casting this week, said Walt Disney Productions.  Insiders expect an extended cameo featuring Dumbo, along with leading roles for Bacchus, the god of wine, and his horned donkey, Jacchus.

Carrboro tops for flashbacks


CARRBORO — In its December issue, High Times magazine named Carrboro the top town in America for experiencing flashbacks.  In response, the Carrboro Board of Alderpersons passed a one-word resolution: "Groovy!"

Local invention to spark recovery

CHAPEL HILL — Local inventor Gerald Sensanough says his proposed innovation "will spark a nationwide economic recovery."  Sensanough was understandably coy about divulging too many details about his new product, described it as "an electric fork" specifically designed for consuming pork.

UNC study predicts procrastination


CHAPEL HILL — A new study from the University of North Carolina shows that individuals who are late for their own funerals were often late to earlier events.  Evan De Bolivar, a chronologist in the school's Department of Anthropology, said a follow-up study will examine the same relationship for post-term babies, that is, those who are late for their own births.

***

Some things I hope you never hear


From your boss: "I can give you a good reference."
From your real estate agent: "Think double-wide."
From your neighbor: "Actually meth labs are pretty safe."
From your accountant: "So, I was a few zeros off?"
From your lawyer: "So, how would you feel about jail time?"
From your surgeon: "Let's go in there and look around."
From your flight attendant: "You may want to use your seat cushion as a flotation device."
From your wife: "We need to talk."

Questions you never want her to ask

"Do you know what day today is?"
"Notice anything different?"
"Do I look fat in this?"

***

Department of Corections

Due to some confusion by compositors in the typesetting department who were acting with a heightened sense of urgency due to deadline pressure, last week's column referring to WikiLeaks linked to an entirely distinct website, an internet discussion group for urologists specializing in the treatment of urinary incontinence, Wiki-Leaks.org.   We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused our readers.

 

Gary D. Gaddy sometimes wears boxers, sometimes briefs.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 17, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:22 AM EST
Updated: Friday, December 17, 2010 11:12 AM EST
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Friday, December 10, 2010
UNC players Austin and Quinn reinstated for bowl

CHAPEL HILL — In an unprecedented decision, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has reinstated former University of North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin and defensive end Robert Quinn, who had both been previously ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for collegiate play, so that they can appear in the Bowl Championship Series Championship Game on January 10, 2011.

Austin and Quinn, who were ruled permanently ineligible for violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules, did not in any games for UNC this season.

Austin is expected to start at nose tackle for the Auburn University Tigers.  Quinn is slated to start at defensive end for the University of
Oregon Ducks.

The NCAA's head of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, said that the decision reinstating Austin and Quinn was made in light of its decision to reinstate Auburn University's Heisman finalist quarterback Cam Newton, after a one-day suspension.

Newton began his college career at the University of Florida, but left there, according to the Orlando Sentinel, amid allegations of academic fraud and following an arrest in which he was found with a stolen laptop which he threw out the window when police arrived.  Newton then transferred to Auburn.

After the NCAA determined that Cam Newton's father, Cecil Newton, actively marketed his son to at least one other university in a pay-for-play scheme amounting to $180,000 before the younger Newton signed with Auburn, he was held out of one practice before being reinstated.

"Since these violations [by Austin and Quinn] occurred while these student-athletes were enrolled at UNC," said the NCAA's Lach, "it seemed reasonable that they also should be allowed to play with other, championship-potential, teams."  

"With Austin and Quinn, the process took longer than it did with Cam because, although both are projected as first-round picks in the upcoming NFL draft, neither is viable Heisman trophy prospect — and we had bigger fish to fry," said Lach.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: As defensive players, neither Quinn nor Austin was considered a likely candidate for the Heisman, which is awarded annually to "the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football," which is clearly understood by Heisman voters to mean most outstanding offensive player, as no strictly defensive player has ever won the award.]

The NCAA, Lach wanted to emphasize, had no part in the punishment meted out this season to Oregon's Heisman finalist running back LaMichael James.  According to The Oregonian, police in Springfield, Oregon, arrested James outside his apartment last February, after an argument with a former girlfriend escalated.  James was charged with with one count of strangulation, two counts of fourth-degree assault and two charges of physical harassment.. He pled down to physical harassment and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 24 months of probation.

As a result of this criminal conviction, Oregon suspended James for one game, the season opener versus New Mexico — which Oregon won 72-0.  Lach said the NCAA was considering sanctions against Oregon for their punishment of James.  The game, Lach noted, was regionally televised on the Oregon Sports Network.

Lach also said that the NCAA had not reinstated the five other UNC players, defensive end Michael McAdoo, receiver Greg Little, cornerback Charles Brown, safety Brian Gupton or safety Jonathan Smith, who were all ruled ineligible to play for the entire season by the NCAA.  Lach said the NCAA would not do so until the NCAA received more complete information from Nielsen Media Research about those players' Q scores and viewer name recognition.


Gary D. Gaddy, it is reported by the Chapel Hill Herald, has provided false information to his column's readers despite "multiple opportunities to correct his assertions."

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 10, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010 9:21 AM EST
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Friday, December 3, 2010
Wit and wisdom attributed to Winston Churchill

THIS WEEK, 136 YEARS AGO, on November 30, 1874 to be exact, one of the great men, historians and wordsmiths of the past century was born.

Winston Churchill served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when, closely following the Allied forces victory in Europe, the voters summarily rejected him and his Conservative Party.   That moment, I would argue, marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire.

Churchill won the Nobel Prize in literature, and was the first person to be recognized as an honorary citizen of the United States.  See if you don't agree with me that the gentleman still has some relevance today.  

[Note: Each of these quotations has been attributed to Churchill thousands of times, but given how rapidly error proliferates in the cut-and-paste era, I still wouldn't be too sure about some of them myself.]

Ideas

Churchill kept to his own ideals about ideas.

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.”

“You must look at the facts because they look at you.”

“Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.”

Democracy

Like many of us, Churchill had a love/hate affair with democracy.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth . . . but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

“It would be a great reform in politics if wisdom could be made to spread as easily and rapidly as folly.”

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government . . . except all the others that have been tried.”

Government
 
Churchill was a governor who wanted to limit his own governing power.

“Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”

“There is no such thing as a good tax.”

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

Socialism

As I read him, Churchill was not a socialist.

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

“Christopher Columbus was the first socialist: he didn’t know where he was going, he didn’t know where he was . . . and he did it all at taxpayer’s expense.”

“Socialism is like a dream.  Sooner or later you wake up to reality.”

Speech

The very quotable Churchill spoke as he thought speech should be spoken.

“Old expressions are the best, and short ones even better.”

“The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.”

[On the U.S. and the U.K.] “Two nations divided by a common language.”

“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read a book of quotations.”


Gary D. Gaddy thinks it is good thing for the educated to read columns of quotations too.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 3, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:20 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 23, 2010 6:25 PM EST
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Friday, November 26, 2010
TSA gropes to balance traveler safety and satisfaction

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing to grope for an answer to the conundrum of how to provide enhanced security against terrorists who are targeting airline travel while it tries to satisfy the traveling public, the Transportation Security Administration today announced a set of initiatives and refinements to existing policies and technologies.

"We're feeling our way through this sensitive process," said transportation security chief John Pistole.  While he wanted to make clear that the changes in protocol are "still being massaged," Pistole enumerated a series of policy adjustments being put into place immediately.

Those who are offended, or might potentially be offended, by the revealing visual full body scans, may use lead aprons like those used during dental X-rays.  For others less sensitive, 9x12 glossy prints suitable for framing will be made available at a nominal cost.

In order to reduce delays caused by those opting out of the body scans, passengers will no longer be allowed to request repeat pat downs, said Pistole.

The TSA will change its hiring criteria. "Using licensed masseurs and masseuses for the manual body screenings seemed like a good idea at the time, but we are re-thinking it," he added.

Passengers will be pre-sorted before passing through the security portal according to threat level, but, to avoid profiling, the passengers will self-assess.  The preliminary categories will be labeled "Not a Terrorist at this Time," "Incompetent Terrorist" and "Competent Terrorist."

Said Pistole, "We expect to spend the most time with the 'Not a Terrorist' and the 'Competent Terrorist' categories as our current screening and detection protocols have been shown to work well with incompetent terrorists."

Pilots, flight crew members as well as passengers traveling commando will no longer be subject to underwear searches.

The Air Travel Liquid ban, which was initiated by the TSA in 2006 after British police foiled a plot to blow up airliners with liquid explosives and which limits Americans to bringing only 3.4-ounce-and-smaller bottles in plastic baggies through the security gate, has been relaxed to allow non-clear liquor in mini-bottles, as it has been determined to be forbidden under Sharia law.

Printer toner cartridges in general will no longer be banned from carry-on luggage, as they were immediately following the incidents on Oct. 29 in which bombs crafted from laser printer toner cartridges were discovered on flights from Yemen to Canada and the United States.

"Careful further examination of those bombs shows that they all were constructed from Canon products, and from a limited range of models.  To reduce the burden on the public, especially those who like to print hard copies while in flight, we will only exclude model numbers CRG-104, L104, 104 and 104-compatible cartridges," said Pistole.

Following a careful analysis of the attempt by “Shoe Bomber” Richard C. Reid to blow up an American Airlines flight out of Paris on Dec. 22, 2001, Pistole said the TSA will limit its requests to remove shoes to those wearing Bass "Weejun"-type cordovan loafers of men's size 11 wide.

Further, Pistole said he had followed up on the recent report of an ABC News employee traveling through Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning, who said that the TSA officer who checked her "reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around." Pistole said the report was verified and the TSA employee has been charged with practicing medicine without a license.

Per a  request made by Pistole as he concluded this interview, all travelers are asked not disburse information on these new procedures to any known or probable terrorists regardless of competency as the TSA would like to keep them secret for as long as possible.


Gary D. Gaddy likes to make jokes about almost everything to just about anyone -- but not around Transportation Security Administration employees.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday November 26, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:26 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 5, 2010 7:48 PM EST
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Friday, November 19, 2010
State of California to be sold to China to pay debt

Apologies again to my readers.  Due to preparations for an upcoming family reunion, I have not had the time or energy to write my regular column.  In its place, I did find an interesting news article from ABloombergNews.com that I thought my readers might appreciate.  My regular column may return next week.

***

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a move that analysts are calling a brilliant combination of fiscal and political calculus, the United States has agreed to sell the state of California to the People's Republic of China for a portion of China's U.S. federal debt holdings.  The selling price was not released.

According to one political scientist, Georgetown University's Holden Cardwell, this sale was to be expected in its general direction but not in its scope. "This is unusual in that foreign creditor nations typically buy up debtor nations piecemeal, one major corporation, one sizeable real estate holding at a time," said Cardwell, "but not in a chunk as large as a state like California."  California's economy is the largest of any U.S. state, and would be, if it were a country, the eighth largest economy in the world, said Cardwell.

The sale of California will solve one looming crisis for the federal government.  As it is financially insolvent, it was only a matter of time before California went bankrupt and came to the federal government for a handout, a bailout or in receivership, said Cardwell.

California, to use a real estate term, is under water, said former Bear-Stearns government securities analyst Mortimer Grist. "Completely submerged," said Grist, "with little likelihood of getting its nose above the surface anytime soon.  The entire crew of Baywatch couldn't rescue this puppy."

According to BusinessInsider.com, California currently faces an estimated $25 billion shortfall and red ink for as far as the eye can see.

Because of the state's massive debt obligations, particularly public employee pension funds, the sale of the state will bring in relatively few dollars to the federal treasury, but will prevent a major default in state issued bonds and relieve the federal government from assuming responsibility for these obligations.

[Editor's note: In 2006, California’s local government employees were paid on average $60,780 annually.  Under one California law, Three-for-Thirty, public employees get a pension of 3% of their salary for every year they work, so that after 30 years of work, with a retirement age as young as 51, an employee could receive 90% of his or her final year’s salary. As a result, in 2009, for example, about 3,000 former public school teachers received pensions of more than $100,000 per year, some collecting more than $150,000.]

President Barack Obama supported the move on a political as well as financial basis.  "It will free me from my friend Nancy [Pelosi], who lost me the House I had won," Obama is said to have said, according a well-placed White House source.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, for the first time in the Obama era, worked with the president.

"Giving him one bipartisan victory was worth it to McConnell and the Republican House majority leadership," said a source within the Republican caucus, "if only to get rid of Hollywood."

"I would have been willing to give up the whole Pacific Time Zone not have to listen to Sean Penn testifying in front of one more Senate hearing on God knows what," said Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

The sale itself did not surprise some economic observers but China as the buyer did.  Financial analysts had long thought that the best offer was likely to come from one of the major Mexican drug cartels.  Rumor had it that drug lord Rafael Muñoz Talavera of the Juárez cartel made a lucrative cash and in-kind offer that was being seriously considered before the emissaries from Beijing arrived on the scene.

Early polls of California residents show a split on support for the Chinese takeover.  A majority, especially high among those from the Bay area, support the sale.  Those opposed, most of whom are clustered in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, expressed disappointment that the reputed offer from Venezuela had not been more seriously considered.


Gary D. Gaddy has a North Carolina state government pension due to him -- some day -- but it won't be worth writing a column about.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday November 19, 2010.

Copyright  2010  Gary D. Gaddy 
 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 2:44 PM EST
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Friday, November 12, 2010
Gonna make herself welcome wherever she goes

I AM NOT SAYING I had anything to do with it but . . . I am hard pressed to say it was a coincidence. (Especially since I don't believe in coincidence.) Two weeks ago I drove to Pittsburgh to pick up my lovely, talented and now grandmotherly wife who had flown up to see the precious little Adrian Gray who was born on the same day that my niece Kristina was moved, to everyone's great joy, to the cancer ward. As my brother said at the time, "everything is relative." When you have been in the intensive care unit, the cancer ward is a move up. Only Kristina's news could have beat out Carson and Nathan's birth announcement for sheer joy.

Anyway, when I stopped by Morgantown on Wednesday, October 27, where Kristina was being treated in the West Virginia University Hospital, I gave her a gift I had bought at Lil John's Mountain Music Festival. It was small handmade rosin dispenser (with aged rosin), like a fiddler might be wont to use. As I gave it to Kristina, I quoted to her from one of the all-time greatest old-time songs, Jack of Diamonds (which is also known as Rye Whiskey or the Drunkard's Hiccups), which quote I hoped would be an inspiration to her:

Gonna take down my fiddle;
Gonna rosin up my bow;
Gonna make myself welcome
Wherever I go.


Then on Saturday, November 6, 2010, her dad asked this question in the following edited CaringBridge post:

Anybody know of a fiddlers' convention with a category for "Best-fiddler-with-IV-line-attached (old-time)"? Kristina's practicing. [See the photo on left for Kristina's new therapy regime.  Picture a fiddle hanging on an IV tree.]

Yes, here she is, finally got her baby back in arms. We walked around the halls and found an empty room, where Kristina gave me (her dad Cliff) and Mike (her artist boyfriend) a little concert.

As you can tell, Kristina's in great spirits. As the doctors have said, all the staff talk about how much they enjoy coming into Kristina's room, because they know she'll be smiling and joking.

Oh, yes, why does Kristina have an IV line attached at all? We are pretty sure it is like a Martha Stewart-style ankle bracelet. They think it may deter her from escaping again.


End Post.

Below is from his CaringBridge post from two days later:

[Note: My brother is not a caps-lock kinda guy. (When he once seriously considered graduate study in linguistics, my thought was that he would specialize in punctuation.) But there are days that demand the caps lock be turned on and left on. (But, let's be honest, he could have used more exclamation points!!!!)]

KRISTINA'S OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!

I [her dad] just received a phone call from Kristina -- she's in the car leaving Morgantown and on the way to Elkins! She and Kerstin [her very Swedish mom] will spend the night there, and then it's on to Kensington tomorrow.

Yes, she was officially discharged. The white cell counts zoomed upward over the past two days, so the doctors cut back on the antibiotics and antifungal medicines and released her.

It's hard to believe. It was four weeks ago, almost to the minute, that she was admitted to West Virginia University Hospital's cancer unit and then diagnosed with acute leukemia. It was only a little more than two weeks ago that she was on life support in the intensive care unit. And now she's going home. It's really a miracle. Thanks to everyone at that hospital who helped save her life at all the different critical stages. And thanks to all of you who gave her such strong moral support all the time.

But don't stop now. Kristina will now begin, almost immediately, follow-up chemo treatments designed to rid her of this disease completely. We can later give you more information about what's in store, but we know that it will last continuously for about four months. At least in the beginning she'll be [home] in Kensington and going to a hospital or clinic for out-patient chemo treatments.

That's it for now. I'm sure there will be more to write once we settle down a bit.


End Post.

And little Adrian’s doing great too. He's sleeping like a baby. [See the photo on right for proof. Imagine a photo of a week-old baby sleeping on a table.] (And yes, his dad was standing right by in case Adrian moved – but they know this boy sleeps like a rock.)


Gary D. Gaddy has requested that Kristina work on the fiddle part for Jack of Diamonds.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday November 12, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 9, 2010 8:20 AM EST
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Friday, November 5, 2010
I'd like for you to meet my friend Skipper

WHEN I WAS YOUNG, maybe three or four years old, and our family was living on Marshall Terrace in Danville, Virginia, my best friend was named Paul. (We called him Skip, and his mother always called him Skipper.) Our families were neighbors and our mothers were best friends. Our mothers did lots together as they were both, unremarkably for the era, stay-at-home moms with multiple kids.

Skip's mom, Jane, was a force of nature, even then. My family has a slide show of the Fourth of July parade that Jane organized for our street, which was essentially one long block. You can see Skipper and me on our festooned tricycles. As I remember it, the parade also had a pony, and Uncle Sam, and various wagons decorated as floats. Those were the days.

I recently got re-acquainted with Skipper myself. If you haven’t already, you will probably be acquainting yourselves with him as well. Before Tuesday, it had been, as you may have heard, 112 years since the Republican Party had control of the North Carolina state legislature.

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake) has a good chance of becoming the next Speaker of the our state's House of Representatives. I may be biased, but Skip Stam will be a good one: open, honorable, honest and forthright (which is more than we can say about some of his predecessors). And as his mother told me long ago, when he competed in anything, he always knew the rules and played by them.

He is, not just in my opinion, one of the best, if not the best, legislator in the legislature. While he was in the minority, Democratic legislators, even very liberal ones, would go to Rep. Stam for help in crafting bills. He knows how to construct bills that make good laws – and he is constructive enough to take even what he thought was a bad bill and make from it a better law.

I will tell you how good he is. For this election cycle, the News and Observer endorsed him – one of the more conservative members of the legislature. (I will note, cynically, that the N&O editors were probably well aware that he was a shoo-in for re-election in his race.)

It was, in my opinion, time for this election's outcome. After a hundred years of one party calling the shots, I would say it's time another gets at least one. Here are some reasons why.

Our state's schools are failing a large number of our students. Read any comparison of the states in terms of elementary and secondary education – keeping in mind that the country as a whole is failing in comparison to other school systems in the developed world. Competition could help change that. Even Oprah supports charter schools, and Stam proposes to eliminate the cap on charter schools.

Corruption is as endemic in our state government as it is in almost any Third-World country’s. (Read the newspaper on any given day.) Stam commits to pass a law requiring a valid photo ID to vote, to end pay-to-play politics and to limit government power by passing an eminent domain constitutional amendment to protect private property from government confiscation for private development.

Stam commits to balancing the state budget without raising tax rates, then making our tax rates competitive with other states, while reducing the regulatory burden on small business. It won't be easy, but Stam says they will try.

But there is, in my mind, one reason sufficient to not be dismayed at Stam and the Republicans being given a chance to run our state's legislative branch. Next time you look at a map of this election's U.S. congressional races, don't look at who won and who lost, just look at the shapes of the districts.

These reptilian entities are an abomination to every principle of reasonableness, fairness and common decency. Elbridge Gerry would be embarrassed looking at them. These are the unconstitutional products (as determined by repeated decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court) of our Democratically controlled legislature. These districts run down highway medians and follow along the banks of rivers picking up voters of a particular hue and political stripe to create districts that will vote dependably one way. They are an anathema to true democracy.

As Chris Fitzsimon of the liberal advocacy organization North Carolina Policywatch says, "Politicians shouldn't choose their voters; voters should choose their politicians." Maybe the next year will see principle placed over politics and have redistricting done by an independent redistricting commission, one that operates in a way that promotes democracy rather than incumbency. Stam has supported the creation of one for more than a decade.

I don’t know about you, but if Stam accomplishes even some of this, I will be happy about this election.

 

Gary D. Gaddy voted early but not very often – though he could have.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday November 5, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy 
 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 11:36 PM EDT
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Friday, October 29, 2010
I wuz robbed! (Yeah, and so wuz the robbers!)

I was in a convenience store recently when it was robbed.  Even sitting here at my computer I can see the frightened look in your eyes.  No, it wasn’t a robbery like that.  It was shoplifting.  It was, however, a real robbery -- and a lot of people really did get robbed.

I was heading home from Fuquay-Varina north on Hwy. 401 toward Raleigh when the road started looking unfamiliar so I decided to stop and make sure I hadn't already driven past I-40 without noticing. (Yeah, I could do that.)  I stopped at a gas station convenience market on South Saunders Street, in one of the poorer Raleigh neighborhoods, to buy something, mostly as an excuse to ask the clerk for directions.

As I entered a group of four or five adolescents entered with me, one of whom was displaying several dollar bills in his hand.  As we entered the store the clerk was coming out from the back of the store.

These kids quickly dispersed throughout the store's cramped aisles between the high display racks.  One, who I watched put a pack of Twinkies in the kangaroo pouch on his sweatshirt, was blocking my view of the Danish pastry display.  He asked, politely, if he was in my way.

In a few moments they were gone from the store with their takings.  I am not sure that any of them paid for anything.  Most got the five-finger discount for their selections.  I can't really say but my guess is that the group of them took $10 or $20 worth of goodies.

The store clerk, I think, knew what was happening but did nothing.  What could he do?  Even if he had a shotgun behind the counter, like in some Wild West saloon, he likely wouldn't have pulled it out.  One of them could have had a gun too -- and who's going to die for $20 while working a slightly above minimum wage job?  Given the neighborhood, I have a suspicion this was neither the first nor the last of such coordinated robbings.

So, who got robbed?  The owners of the store, of course.  Theft comes straight out of profit.  I was robbed, along with any other customers present and future.  Higher prices pay partially for "inventory shrinkage."  The people who live in the neighborhood of the store will be especially hit by that -- and will be hit even harder if stores in the neighborhood all decide the price of doing business there is too high.

So, who else got robbed?  Their friends, that is, the guys who live down the street, who go to their schools, the guys who look like them.  Guys who will be looked upon with suspicion everywhere they go.  As you may have assumed already, these teens were African-American.

These were not, based on their good manners, thugs.  But, I predict reluctantly, they will be.  Here's why.  They were young and black and learning, wrongly I would say, that crime does pay.  The taste of the Twinkies will tell them that, a sweet savor that will last but a moment -- while the trajectory of these smallish misdeeds will last much longer.

Based on their dispositions as they rummaged through the store, they thought crime was fun.  But that fun feeling won't stay with them for long, as eventually, the statistics say, they will get caught.  Among males, blacks are six times more likely than whites (28.5% vs. 4.4%) to be admitted to prison during their life, which leads to this sad statistic:  In America more black males are in prison than are in college.

African-American males are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males. Add a notable criminal conviction to your resume and you aren't unemployed, you're unemployable, which leaves panhandling -- and criminal activity -- as about the only ways to make money.

Oh, yeah, I got my directions.  I hadn't missed I-40.  But I did have to make a U-turn to get there, something I hope that some of these kids will do too.


Gary D. Gaddy briefly worked as the weekend night desk clerk at the Econo-Lodge Motel in inner city Norfolk which is not too far from south Raleigh.

 

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 29, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy 



Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, October 31, 2010 3:32 PM EDT
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Friday, October 22, 2010
Kristina takes leukemia to the pitch

KRISTINA ISN'T OUT OF THE WOODS YET. (She couldn't be because she is still in West Virginia.) And she hasn't climbed her last mountain either. (Well, she couldn't have done that either because she is still in West Virginia). But if I were the woods or the mountains, I'd be stayin' outta her way.

Ten days ago, you see, my niece Kristina was diagnosed with leukemia. But if personality and will power have anything to do with it, this leukemia doesn't stand a chance.

I remember the first time I discovered that Kristina, cute and seemingly delicate little Kristina, would do just fine in this tough world. She was about two years old and her brother, older by two years and bigger than her by more than that, came flying at her from across the room. I wanted to intercept him but I was too far away, so all I could do was watch. Right before Benjamin got to her, Kristina stuck her arm out like a crossing guard signaling "Stop!" His forehead ran straight into her palm, leveling him. It was a stiff arm that an all-pro wide receiver would be proud of.

While her brother ran off to his mom, Kristina just shrugged and walked away. I remember thinking, "We don't need to worry about her." So, as you might expect, Kristina took up rugby. (Her favorite rugby match was played in the mud. By the time the match was over all the players on both teams were the same color: brown.)

If playing rugby suggests she's tough, that's just the start. While she was doing a semester abroad in Valparaiso, Chile, Kristina was competing on a rugby pitch when she hurt her hand. She didn't just finish the match, she scored a goal -- while having, it turns out, several fractured bones in her hand. This pretty thing with her stunning red hair and beautiful blue eyes could eat nails for breakfast (as long as they were vegetarian).

When our fiddle-playin' Kristina was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, she was immediately hospitalized at West Virginia University Hospital in Morgantown where she is expected to be hospitalized for a month during her chemotherapy. The good news is that this is an acute myelogenous leukemia that "is associated with the highest proportion of patients who are presumably cured of their disease."

Some progressive physicians like for their patients to take charge of their treatment. Let's hope Kristina's WVU doctors are quite progressive. Here's an updated and abbreviated version of her father's Wednesday posting under "My Story" telling about Kristina's doings this week.

***
On Tuesday we (her mom and dad) got a call from the ICU saying, don't worry, Kristina's in no danger, but she removed "the tube." It wasn't until after hanging up that we realized they didn't say what kind of tube -- IV tube, feeding tube, breathing tube, what?

When we were allowed to return, we found out it was the breathing and feeding tubes. She had removed them herself. Rather than replace them, the doctors decided to see what happened when they were out. In fact, it turns out that she was able to keep them out for the night.

So what really happened with this tube? Here's her story: "I woke up and found myself strapped down on the bed. I had this horrible tube in my throat. I heard and saw people walking around. I wanted to tell them to take the tube out. But I couldn't talk. I felt like the Hulk. So I just used all my strength and lifted my arms up and took away the tube."

We and she are not sure that's exactly what happened. The fact is, she was strapped down. But who knows? Maybe she did break the restraints, or stretch them.

During her "break" from the breathing tubes, Kristina is half-lying, half-sitting up in bed, talking, joking. (I wish I had room to write some of the things she said last night as she was awakening. But some are best kept private. Whatever they gave her would make a good truth serum.)

She is really looking forward to getting back up to the cancer ward (that sounds funny -- but everything's relative), where, in contrast to the ICU, you are allowed to use iPhones and computers. Because then she can read all your messages. And maybe it won't be long before this really turns into MY story -- she'll write herself about her progress.

Gary D. Gaddy is praying for Kristina's recovery -- and hoping the cancer ward is a fiddle-friendly zone.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 22, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:59 AM EDT
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Friday, October 15, 2010
Names in the news: Orange community spotlight

Due to comments from my editor, Dan "Oh, by the" Way, "suggesting" that I was not putting enough "Local" in my Local Voices column, this week's column is entirely local. Unless he would like more of this, my regular column should return very shortly.

***

Doug and Phil Graves invite the public to the dedication of a new memorial garden at Cross Roads Cemetery this Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

On Saturday at noon, Purple Crow Books LLC will have the first public reading offered by Hillsborough's own Rhoda and Rita Buch of their new biography of literary forger Warren Peace.

The interior design firm Roomscape's Shanda Lear says that Roomscape will be adding antiquities to its current offerings with two new sales consultants, Art Sellers and Anne Teake.

At Red Wolf Awards Night at Cedar Ridge High School, physical educator Jim Laucher, traffic safety teacher Rex Easley, art instructor Chip Stone were briefly honored as teachers of the week, before the big guns were rolled out with the fall student awards. "Band" was taken by Claire-Annette Reede, "Music Theory" was shared by Bea Minor and Dee Major, "Traditional Music" Amanda Lynn, "Dance" Corey O. Graff and "Musical Direction" Barbara Seville.

Meanwhile at Orange High, volunteers of the year Seymour Butz and Sawyer Heinie were given the "Big Black Bag" for leading in-game cleanup during football season. Also honored were the Orange-You-Glad Teachers of the Year physics instructor Annie Madder, English teacher Reid Enright and music teacher Paige Turner.

Carolina Vision Associates' chief optometrist Dr. Kenny Look is proud to announce the addition of optician Kent C. Strait, who just completed his studies at Iowa Central University's optics program. Dr. Strait finished first in his class at ICU.

Family Centered Health Care has greatly expanded its staff, making it the largest medical practice in the county, adding anesthesiologists Drs. Moe Gass, Les Payne and Estelle Hertz, gastroenterologist Dr. Emma Royds, general practitioner Dr. Lance Boyle, gynecologist Dr. Sy Hymen, medical geneticist Eugene Poole, neurologist Dr. Sarah Bellum, orthopedist Dr. Hugh Morris, pediatrician Dr. Tad Hurt, psychologist Dr. Ophelia Payne, sleep specialist Dr. Constance Noring, and urologist Dr. Uriah P. Freely.

All this week dentists Drs. Phil Ling and DeeDee Kay, DDS, are celebrating the career of Les Plack, "dental assistant extraordinaire," for his 30 years of combined service with their practices.

The personal injury law firm of Faison & Gillespie has acquired the firm of Moore & Moore (general partners Tad Moore and Morris Moore). Moore & Moore, perhaps not coincidentally, recently announced the hiring of Soo Yu as an associate.

Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass says the Orange County Sheriff's Office will be shuffling their its following the resignation of Deputy Pat Downe from the force following allegations of sexual harassment during traffic stops with the promotion to lieutenant of Deputy Marshall Law and to captain of Lieutenant Lauren Norder.

Eaton Wright and Liv Good of Food Choices have added a weight-loss specialist, Anna Recksiek, to what they smilingly call their "growing shrinking business."

After 18 years of business, Max Groady Clean-Up Services is closing its doors. Max will be retiring to Whynot in Randolph County.

The Bargain Bin's Lois Price and the Happy Factory's Barbee Dahl are mulling collaborating with local entrepreneur Ferris Wheeler to provide outdoor as well as indoor amusements. Watch for more details.

CPAs and tax advisors, Owen Moore and Owen Bigg, the Owens, as they are commonly known to their friends and associates, are expanding Moore & Bigg to encompass institutional financial consulting in their service array. They will be working with Robin Banks and Robin Moore-Banks of Banks and Moore-Banks who just added Phillip D. Baggs to their partnership.

Sunny Daze Plants is expanding its staff by hiring Raynor Schein, Douglas Furr, Russell Leeves, Rose Gardner and Pete Moss to their installation division.

Saratoga Grill wishes pasta chef Al Dente well as he leaves and welcomes on board new prep cook Russell Sproutt and dessert chef Sue Flay.

Siblings Winsome Cash and Owen D. Cash of Prospect Hill in Caswell County were the final $1 million winners in the N.C. Education Lottery's Cash Splash Millionaire Raffle. The ticket was sold at Ken's Quickie Mart on N.C. Highway 86 North.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Chapel Hill Police Department has asked that it be duly noted that Jim Huegerich, its crisis human services manager, gave no assistance in the compilation of this column.


Gary D. Gaddy is, currently, an Orange County local.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 15, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 8:50 PM EDT
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Friday, October 8, 2010
Unemployment needed at the Unemployment Office

I KNOW THE OFFICIAL NAME is the Employment Security Commission, but everywhere I have ever lived, everyone, without a hint of sarcasm, calls it the Unemployment Office – because that is what it is. It is where you go when you are unemployed.

Recently, in one of the latest installments in a bewildering series of incompetencies, malfeasances and corruptions uncovered in our state's government, we learned that the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina overpaid tens of thousands of the unemployed workers in our state by tens of millions of dollars – and then, to rectify the problem – demanded full repayment or it was going to severely cut their checks – with barely any notice – for a problem not of their doing.

This problem, and its problematic solution, had been brewing for a while. The U.S. Department of Labor said this week that it notified the ESC of the programming errors last November, almost a year ago, after a routine review it conducted with all states. State auditors found that the ESC was making numerous mistakes when calculating benefits, particularly for those receiving federal stimulus dollars, said Dennis Patterson, a spokesman for the state auditor's office.

"It was a whole pile of different things," Patterson added, providing an image evocative of a smell emanating from a cattle yard.

Originally, auditors discovered about $190,000 in overpayments after looking at a sample of about 4,500 cases. The ESC told auditors it knew about the problem and was working to rectify it. Patterson said state auditors did not know the scope of the overpayments until last week when the ESC announced about 38,000 recipients had been overpaid $28 million.

The ESC’s Information Services Section, which originally programmed the errors, is also responsible for programming the fixes to halt the overpayments to long-term unemployed workers, said Patterson.

Although I am aware that our state's unemployment rate is quite high, I think it should be higher as some of those currently employed at the Employment Security Commission should instead be availing themselves of its services – after being terminated from their jobs there.

This week Governor Beverly Perdue announced the repayment of these overpayments would be waived. Maybe she has the authority to forgive these overpayments, but I don’t know where it comes from. Just for the record it is not her money, it is yours and mine.

It is reported that the ESC is continuing to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Labor about how to resolve the funding for the overpayments. I can tell you this: it will be repaid with tax dollars, one way or the other, so get out your wallets.

"I'm going to find out why something so ludicrous happened," said Perdue.

"I've got to fix the system,” Perdue is also quoted as saying. "I've got to fix the leadership team to be sure we have people in place who can do what they need to do," she said. "I'm not at all reluctant to ask somebody to leave my administration,” she added.

Personally I think that the governor is on the right track. To get to the bottom of all of this, the governor should go to the top.
Given the all the recent revelations concerning the poor, pathetic and/or perverse performance of her administration (including, but not limited to, the State Bureau of Investigation, state parole office, state board of elections, state mental health services, state Highway Patrol, state Department of Transportation, state Alcoholic Beverage Control, state School for the Deaf, and state’s UNC-TV – not to overstate things – but also adding the fines levied after the “hasty” investigation of her state gubernatorial campaign for undeclared contributions-in-kind in the form of 42 unreported, privately funded flights), maybe Governor Perdue should consider asking Governor Perdue to resign.

Gary D. Gaddy used to work for the state of North Carolina before he had to let himself go. 

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 8, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy
 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:54 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, February 7, 2011 12:56 PM EST
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Friday, October 1, 2010
The News in Briefs --The Mass Media Edition

Progressive media in national OCD clinical study 

BETHESDA, Md. — The National Institute of Mental Health announced today a $7.7 million grant to fund a collaborative study with the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine and Georgetown University's Center for the Study of Media and Politics to examine a widespread strain of obsessive-compulsive disorder which is especially prevalent among progressives in the media. Researchers have dubbed the syndrome SPOB, or Sarah Palin on the Brain.

The genesis of the study was a report that estimated that 58% of Palin's Twitter account readers are left-leaning journalists and progressive political consultants who are trying to figure out why apparently educated people would be so stupid as to spend their days reading a political non-entity's every frivolous thought. This study hopes to answer that question.

The OCD/SPOB study will be a double-blind study in which both the progressive media and Sarah Palin will be unaware of their status.

Being Marvin Austin!  The first Twitter-based musical

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — University of North Carolina football player Marvin Austin, who is unable to play football while various allegations regarding activities which may have rendered him ineligible for play in NCAA-sanctioned sporting contests are being resolved, is making the most of his new-found freedom, teaming up with rapper Rick Ross to create the what is thought to be the first Twitter-based musical: "Being Marvin Austin!"

Known for his nimble footwork and prolific tweeting, Austin will star in the musical, which will feature extended sequences of mime as well as song and dance. "Being Marvin Austin!" is slated for opening during the PlayMakers Repertory Company's spring season.

Law & Order SVU/SBI to come to NC

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue announced on Thursday that the North Carolina Film Office's Film Incentives Program will be providing tax inducements to Universal Media Studios, which produces the Law & Order franchise, to bring production of a new television series "Law & Order SVU/SBI" to North Carolina.

The dramatic series will cover the special victims of the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab unit.

"We were going to be re-doing dozens if not hundreds of criminal trials because of the SBI crime lab unit's malfeasance and fraud anyway so we thought we might get a little mileage out of them," said state Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Even though the Law & Order SVU/SBI series will incorporate factual content, Governor Perdue said that she believes that this tax incentive will not fall under the program's exception for news broadcasts since recurring reports of corruption, incompetence and cronyism in North Carolina state government are no longer considered news.

 

GARY GADDY WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE for being unable, again, to produce his weekly column due to his busy schedule last week at the Solatido Workshop, a five-day retreat for aspiring and seasoned songwriters, held at beautiful Wildacres near Little Switzerland. In its stead, his crack staff has collected several media-related news stories even his attentive reader(s) may have missed. His regular column should return shortly. [For those who think that Dr. Gaddy is spending too much time in frivolous pursuits should consider that Solatido is a lot like college only with less drinking and more singing.]


Gary D. Gaddy has a doctorate in Mass Communication Research, otherwise known as a Ph.D. in TV.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 1, 2010.

Copyright 2010  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, December 27, 2010 5:29 PM EST
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Friday, September 24, 2010
Dinner for Ten: A Parable of Tax Cuts

THE FOLLOWING PARABLE has floated around the Internet in various versions for a while. The author is in question but may be one Don Dodson, who submitted a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune printed on March 4, 2001. My slightly adjusted take stands apropos to the current debate on the expiring federal tax cuts.

Over lunch two friends discussed the proposal to extend the Bush-era federal government tax cuts. "I'm opposed to those tax cuts," the college professor declared, "because they benefit the rich. The rich get much more money back than ordinary taxpayers like you and me and that's not fair."

"But the rich pay more in the first place," his businessman friend argued, "so it stands to reason that they'd get more money back." He could tell that his professor friend was unimpressed by this argument, still contending that the "rich" get a free ride in America.

Then the businessman told this parable: Suppose that every evening ten men go to a restaurant for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. They paid the bill the way we pay our federal taxes. The first four men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $17. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $60.

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 3 + 7 + 12 + 17 + 60 = $100 cost of dinner

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve. "Since you're all such good customers," the owner said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." Now dinner for the 10 would only cost $80.

The first four are unaffected; they still eat for free. So, how are we to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share? Divided among the six equally, $20 is $3.33 each, but if we subtract that from each share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner worked out the amounts each should pay by using reductions proportional to what they were paying. Now the first four still paid nothing, the fifth man paid 80 cents, the sixth pitched in $2.40, the seventh paid $5.60, the eighth paid $9.60, and the ninth paid $13.40, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $48 instead of $60.

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + .80 + 2.40 + 5.60 + 9.60 + 13.40 + 48.00 = $80 reduced cost of dinner

Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I just got a measly 20 cents out the $20," complained the fifth man, pointing to the tenth, "and he got $12!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the sixth man. "I only got sixty cents. It's unfair that he got twenty times as much as me!"

"That's true," shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $12 back when I got less than $3? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor."

0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + (-.20) + (-.60) + (-1.40) + (-2.40) + (-3.40) + (-12.00) = (-$20) savings on dinner

Then the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something: they were $48 short!

And that, boys, girls, and college professors, is how America's progressive tax system works. Those who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table any more.

After all, there are lots of good restaurants in Monaco and the Caribbean.


Gary D. Gaddy has figured out who the rich are -- everybody who has more money than he has.  

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 24, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy
 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:31 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:18 AM EDT
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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Here's a different lesson on taxation: A reply to a reply

BELOW IS A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Chapel Hill Herald written by North Carolina State Senator Eleanor Kinnaird in reply to the column above: "Dinner for Ten: A Parable of Tax Cuts."  It is a classic liberal response:  all heart and no head.  Although Ellie is as sweet as can be, her malign characterization of how the wealthy diners in her parable became wealthy makes me want to beat them up too.  Any chance any of the wealthy got there by making good personal decisions, studying diligently, working hard, investing their resources well or taking prudent risks on good business ideas, all of which benefited not just them and their families but their communities and their countries as well?  Didn't think so.  (And as for the primary point of the column, that if you cut taxes it will be the people who pay taxes who will get their money back, is there any reason that there are no observations on that point?)

 

The Letter:  Here's a different lesson on taxation

Gary Gaddy in his column posits a tax lesson using an example of 10 friends who go to dinner together weekly and split the bill in increasingly uneven ways. Those who end up paying the least push the balance onto the unlucky few, who, as a result, abandon the dinner altogether and find restaurants in Monaco and the Caribbean and presumably another group willing to split the bill evenly.

I will posit a different set of friends going to dinner together. Two are hedge fund managers who specialized in collecting mortgages lent to poor people who didn't understand the devastating terms of the loans. Two are industrialists who closed their U.S. plants and moved them off shore where they can pay low wages and ignore safety and environmental standards. Two are factory workers who lost their jobs when the factories closed. Two are single women whose husbands took off and left them with children to raise by themselves. Two work for fast-food restaurants at minimum wages.

In the beginning, they can all split the bill evenly. But after a while, the factory workers run out of unemployment payments, those with the balloon payments on their mortgages are losing their homes to foreclosure, the single women no longer get support payments and the fast-food workers' cars blow up, leaving them without a way to get to work. (There is no transit in their town.)

In the meantime, the hedge fund managers get $10 million bonuses, the industrialists buy homes in Monaco and the Caribbean, and all four stop going to church, where they are commanded to take care of the poor and love their neighbors as themselves.

Eleanor Kinnaird
Carrboro

This letter to the editor was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Wednesday September 29, 2010 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:20 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:44 AM EDT
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Friday, September 17, 2010
How I met my wife: The true story finally revealed

WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME how I met my wife I usually respond with a question: "Do you want the story we told our parents or the true story?" Or, if I am in a hurry, I say "On a tennis court" (which is true – and is the short version of what we told our parents). You, my loyal readers, deserve better: the unexpurgated, the unadulterated, the unabridged, and only slightly edited story of our romance.

We did meet on a tennis court. This is true. The first time I ever saw Sandra was in the parking lot of Cedar Falls Park on the way to the tennis courts – for a match with her. Saying "we met on a tennis court," of course, does not explain how we both came to be there.

This is the part that we weren't so sure our parents would understand, so we kindly left out. (Now that they are all over 80 years of age, we think they can handle it. I guess shortly we will find out if we are right.) The true story is we met through a personal ad.

Do understand that personal ads weren't quite as sleazy in 1994 as they are now. Normal people could meet normal people through an Independent classified then. I would like to say it was through the ad that I ran – but she never responded to mine. (I am not sure which part of my ad may have dissuaded her from contacting me: "Looking for a Cindy Crawford/Mother Teresa mix," or the reference implying I enjoyed listening to Barry Manilow, or the final "No navel rings!" line – or perhaps it was because she never read it at all.) But the truth of the matter is we met when I responded to her ad.

This is shocking, isn't it? Shocking that I would have to stoop to reading personal ads to find a mate. Shocking that my lovely and talented wife would have to stoop to running a personal ad to get a date. Shocking that the ad was a fraud.

I wish I could find the original ad so I could quote it verbatim. I tore it out of the paper and kept it for a long time – and I remember it pretty well. Here are some of the key phrases: "Uptown girl looking for a downtown guy" and "Over-educated white female" and "Not fat, not skinny" and "Is willing to lower her standards, this once, just because she needs a tennis partner." She sounded perfect to me.

I fell for the person who wrote that ad – and here’s the fraud – she didn't write it. She didn't even submit it to the Independent. Her good buddy Bill – her regular tennis and squash opponent – who was a professional single (he once ran a dating service, probably to get dates), and a con man extraordinaire, "helped her write it" and "ran it for her."  

But after a while – that is, the first moment I saw her smile as she greeted me in the Cedar Falls parking lot – I was falling for her, too.

Need some proof? Here are some song lyrics (which are still looking for music after all these years) that I wrote just days after we first met.

***

Perfect For Me

My eyes are open. I'm looking too.
I'm still falling in love with you.

I can see flaws, imperfections and lots of scars,
And I feel I know a lot about who you are.

I'm not looking at perfection. I still like what I see.
You're not perfect. You're just perfect for me.

(Written May 8, 1994.)

***

But, of course, over time things change. Just the other day, I wrote in one of my ubiquitous little notebooks, this sentence: "When I met my wife, she was perfect – but since then she's gotten better." It wasn't a joke.

Gary D. Gaddy lost 6-0 and 6-0 to his future wife on their first-date tennis match, and is still looking for proper tennis revenge.

 

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 17, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy

 

****

Special addendum for my on-line readers

Following my post, my California friend Jerry Meadors commented on Facebook:

Such a charming story -- and then you brought her to Richmond and came through the front door of my house and introduced Sandy to me from a great height -- that was because I was up on a ladder in my living room. And I was thrilled to meet her and certain she was a perfect mate for the likes of you. Of course, your referring to yourself in the personal ads article as "normal" still has me thinking! Sorry, you are far too eccentric to be reduced to "normal."

Then Florida friend Jan Wilhelm added:

lol....would have to agree with Jerry. Has anyone ever called Gary normal?

These multiple comments seemed to require that I defend myself thusly:

Sorry if I implied that I was normal. Not in this lifetime. After Richmond we went to Sandra's 20th Sweet Briar reunion. I wrote "Gary Gaddy" on my name tag. Underneath my name I put "Acme Dating Service." I spent most the night I apologizing for it, saying, "Sorry, but I had to, it's company policy." As I said, "Not in this lifetime."


Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:50 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:22 AM EDT
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Friday, September 10, 2010
NCAA and UNC football inquiries end as players cleared

CHAPEL HILL -- The ongoing internal and external investigations of the University of North Carolina football program came to an abrupt end Thursday as the NCAA acknowledged that both prongs of inquiry, the first into alleged "improper agent contact and inappropriate benefits" and the second into to alleged academic improprieties, were both the results of gross misunderstandings.

"Several UNC players," said Lissa Broome, UNC's former faculty athletics representative to the NCAA, "readily admitted to 'improper academic assistance' when being interviewed by NCAA investigators -- but we failed to clarify that this was not assistance received but assistance given."

Further, when UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin traveled to a party in Miami, supposedly sponsored by a registered agent for professional athletes, it had been assumed that when Austin had said that "a financial contribution was involved," that that meant that the agent had funded his attendance at the party. In neither case, the NCAA now realizes were the original assumptions of improper conduct valid, according to Broome.

In an exclusive interview over dinner at Provence in Carrboro, the embattled Austin explained how the misunderstandings arose -- and what actually happened.

Austin began by saying, "Jeanine [Editor's note: This is apparently the previously unnamed tutor implicated in the investigation into improper academic assistance] was struggling in her graduate-level English class, and we (teammate Greg Little and Austin) felt, given all the help she had given us in organizing our study time and properly allocating our efforts preparing for examinations, that the least we could do would be to help her in return."

"Writing comes easy for me, as is evidenced by the 2400 tweets I posted on my Twitter account before Coach (Butch Davis) asked me to shut it down," said Austin, "so it was not hard for me to help her get off the schneid with her writer's block."

"Now, we didn't write the paper for her; we just helped with some ideas and some clever phrasing," said Austin. "It is clear from the spelling, if nothing else, that she didn't just cut and paste verbatim passages from my work," Austin said.

"I actually don't know that much about medieval characterizations of chivalry -- but I do know knights had bling. That I do know about. Greg and I have got the Black Knight thing going on, for real," Austin added as he straightened the collar on his meticulously pressed pink shirt.

As for receiving assistance from current pro and former UNC football player Kentwan Balmer this summer, Austin said, "I sold two of my nicest gold neck chains to pay for trainers to work with Kentwan in the off-season. We (Austin and former UNC player Cam Thomas) just came along to help guide the workouts. Kentwan was struggling from paycheck to paycheck at the time. If helping a friend is an NCAA violation, then so be it."

Austin, as he fiddled with his mesclun and arugula mix, also explained the purpose of the hundred or so texts and phone calls made last fall between recently resigned associate head football coach John Blake and Gary Whichard, the agent implicated in the now discredited accusations against the UNC players.

"A lot of the phone calls between Coach and Gary were to make sure that I didn't cross any lines that the NCAA has established for contact between amateur athletes and their professional counterparts," said Austin.

"Gary really knows exactly where all those lines are," added Austin.

Austin said he and Little did make a trip to Miami, but it was a field trip as an applied component of Austin's oenological studies, according to Austin. In addition to his regular full course load in the spring, Austin was enrolled in a correspondence course in Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration entitled "Wines and Spirits," which develops finer aesthetic appreciation for various libations, and which was highly recommended to him by several former UNC athletes, including football player Julius Peppers and basketball player Rasheed Wallace.

“I did attend a South Beach affair," said Austin, "but only while acting as a volunteer sommelier for this educational event. I personally brought along a full case of wine with an array of lesser-known Finger Lake appellations, but drank only two small carafes.”

"I know I am a big boy [Editor's note: The official UNC football roster lists Austin as 6'3" and 310 pounds] but I'm sorta the opposite of that scrawny little Kobayashi dude who can eat 50 hot dogs and he's just getting started," said Austin as he sipped his pinot noir. "With me, a couple of tasting glasses of petit chablis and I'm like totally tipsy and tweeting the stupidest stuff you ever read," said Austin.

Gary D. Gaddy noticed that the LSU game on Saturday night really went south for UNC right after Marvin Austin was featured on the screen.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 10, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy
.


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:00 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 25, 2010 10:57 PM EDT
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Friday, September 3, 2010
Dear Anne Marie: a thank you note to my niece

DUE TO MY HEAVY INVOLVEMENT in my niece's wedding this past weekend, I did not have time to write a column. In lieu thereof, I am publishing a copy of my thank-you note to her. My regular column should return next week.

***

Dear Anne Marie,

First off, I would like to thank you for hugging me right after your Uncle Cliff finished singing the song I wrote. (Well, me and Earl Scruggs, but you know what I'm talking about.) As you approached me, I will admit, I experienced a little trepidation. I confess that I thought you might slug me instead of hug me. In light of that I was working on a defense of my words -- but I am glad I didn't need to use it.

[Note: Defamation, which is, according to Wikipedia, also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for published words), communicates a claim of fact, express or implied, that cast an individual in a negative light. To be defamation, this claim must be false and communicated to someone other than the person defamed. Truth is often the best defense against a charge of defamation.]

After everything you had done to make for a perfect wedding (six beautiful bridesmaids, six handsome groomsmen, stunning you and suave John arriving in a horse-drawn carriage all adorned with flowers, flower petals strewn down the grassy aisle, and a romantically lit and decorously decorated reception hall), I clearly knew that you wanted a storybook ceremony and reception. So, I probably could have anticipated that hearing bass and banjo playing the theme music to the Beverly Hillbillies was not quite what you had in mind just after the cake cutting. (After looking over your single-spaced, three-page "Timeline for Anne Marie and John's wedding weekend," I can see that there is no entry labeled "Be embarrassed by aunt and uncles performing corny hillbilly music.")

We understand that Pachelbel's Canon in D was more what you had in mind. As for the Ballad of Anne Marie, I certainly did not intend to make any comparison between you and Jed Clampett, express or implied. I am sure you understand that that song simply provided the musical and lyrical framework by which a story might be told.

Please consider that you did become a vegetarian -- while living in a household of omnivores -- by your own decision when you were in kindergarten and have remained so ever since. This is well established, as are your dad's stories about having to order McDonalds Cheeseburger Kiddie Meals for you -- then telling them to "hold the burger."

Reliable sources at that first first-grade parent-teacher conference also state that your teacher claimed that when she tried to teach you to write your name "correctly," you said to her, and I quote, "Well, that's how you make your 'A,' this is how I make mine."

I am sure you realize that the story of your secretly feeding Daisy chocolate when you were both just pups only shows your giving nature. Sorry if any unpleasant memories of the cleanup afterward were evoked.

Also, I am sure that John understood that when our song told him that he should learn to say "Yes, ma'am," "I'm sorry" and "You're right again, honey," that is sound marital advice for any husband. (At least, that's what Sandra tells me -- to which I always reply, "You're right again, honey.")

And, despite the rhyming "gloat" and "thank-you note" lines in the song, I wouldn't really expect you, or anybody else, to write a thank-you note for what we added to your perfect wedding -- though your dad already has.

And, another thing, even though I was standing right next to the bucket of sparklers when they exploded sending all of the wedding guests scrambling and setting off the fire alarm, it wasn't my fault. Really.

Hope you and John are enjoying St. Lucia.

With love,

Your Uncle Gary

p.s. The cheeseburgers at the rehearsal dinner were really good. Tell John that I said thanks.

Gary D. Gaddy is very proud of his favorite (for this week at least) niece who is almost as hardheaded as her favorite (before this week anyway) uncle and just about exactly twice as sweet and thoughtful.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 3, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy
 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:33 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 3, 2010 10:33 AM EDT
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Friday, August 27, 2010
It's time for a timely yet timeless column

SOMETIMES I LIKE TO WRITE timeless columns. Now many authors have written timeless works, like Mark Twain writing Tom Sawyer, or Tolstoy writing War and Peace, or Shakespeare writing one of those plays he wrote. My timeless columns are not like that. They are the columns that I write before I go out of town, or for when I get lazy, columns which deal with eternal questions of truth and beauty, and as such are not tied to mundane day-to-day events, so they can run anytime. Like today.


U.S. brands Rolling Stone a terrorist organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a sniper affiliated with the periodical took out the commanding general of United States forces in Afghanistan with a single shot, the U.S. State Department has added Rolling Stone magazine to its official list of terrorist organizations.

"The End of History" sequel released

NEW YORK – Francis Fukuyama, the author of "The End of History," released today the much awaited sequel. In a radical departure for modern literature, the book, "The End of Mathematics," will have no page numbers.

Gaddy enters Times bestseller list at one

NEW YORK – While the literati have long debated the many reasons the literary works of Gary D. Gaddy have never appeared on any of the New York Times Bestseller Lists, the most obvious is obvious: he doesn't write for the narrowly defined categories to which the Times confines all literature, namely fiction and non-fiction.

Writing what would best be described as non-faction (which is a post-post-post modernist genre in which the socio-cultural boundaries are repeatedly erased and redrawn until the paper disappears and only the essence of the inter-subjective reality of reader-author mutual delusions remains), Gaddy entered the newly unveiled Times non-faction list at number one this week. There were no other entries.

Budget deficits come to halt as red ink runs out

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal deficit ceased growing this week for the first time in almost two decades as spending temporarily ground to a standstill while Congress seeks to find a new source of red ink.

"The printing presses are fired up and ready to roll out currency. That's not the problem. We have plenty of green ink. What we don't have is enough red ink to print Office of Management Budget charts," said Fred Pfundmaker, head of the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving.

Experts say the shortage occurred as the People's Republic of China works to corner the market in red inks, dyes and tints, to be used for its printing of a new edition of the world map.

Congress All-a-Day Holiday bill to end recession

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the recession continuing on and unemployment still at or near a 70-year high, Congress acted decisively today to boost the economy by declaring every day of the year a paid holiday. Sponsors of the All-a-Day bill say it will stimulate the travel and tourism industries, help retail sales with the greatly increased number of holiday sales and reduce congestion from rush-hour traffic.

"A Monday off every now and then is fine but it wasn't the continuous push the economy needs at this time," said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Also under consideration as a recession-busting measure is a special sales tax on items on sale.

NOW sues Mensa to allow womyn members

NEW YORK – The National Organization of Womyn has filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to force Mensa, the international society which limits membership to those with high IQs, to take womyn as members.

"We are puzzled by the suit frankly – and we're not puzzled by much," said Mensa president Leopold Leuchtend. "We always have allowed women – which is, by the way, spelled with an "e" and not a "y". In any case, we are, as a result of this suit, reviewing our entrance requirements and may not in the future," said Leuchtend.

The NOW suit also asks the court to require that Mensa change its name to Mynsa.

Elvis impersonators charged with identity theft

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – A nationwide sting operation has led to the arrest of over 25,000 individuals for a massive scam involving the systematic theft of the identity of Elvis Aron Presley. Despite extensive efforts, this column's reporters were unable to reach Mr. Presley for comment.


Gary D. Gaddy thinks this column may have been written by a Gary D. Gaddy impersonator.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 27, 2010.

Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy


 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:03 AM EST
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