Guest Column

Items of notes and interest from the web.

Most Recent Articles by Guest Column:

I’ll give Kanye credit for bravery and setting an example to young people

May 7, 2018 — Guest Column

I never liked Kanye West or his music. I found the words vulgar and rap just isn’t my thing. But I’ll give the man credit for bravery and setting an example to young people, especially black youth. In his recent nod to President Trump and in his thoughts about black people having a herd mentality rather than being independent thinkers, Kanye took some risk. But, he spoke the truth and has possibly opened the door a crack for meaningful dialog that could result in real change. Some say it was hype to launch a new album. I say it doesn’t matter if it achieves results. I hope that people like me will embrace the attempt to shed light on one of this countries biggest and longest problems. It isn’t necessary to agree with the messenger all the time. It is necessary to admit when they are right.

John Kerry is way out of line meeting Iranian officials to discuss the Iran Nuclear Deal

May 7, 2018 — Guest Column

Unless he was asked by President Trump to do so, John Kerry is way out of line meeting Iranian officials to discuss the Iran Nuclear Deal.

He seems to know that too because he is negotiating in secret. Imagine if all past Secretaries of State were running around trying to manipulate
our foreign policy and influencing potential deals, there would be even more chaos than already exists. When it comes to international diplomacy, only the current administration should be in charge.

Furthermore, is Kerry motivated by what is best for the United States or by preserving his own legacy? Remember he played a large part in crafting the deal.

Condoleezza Rice is right on! Paying college athletes will make matters worse

May 5, 2018 — Guest Column

Condoleezza Rice is right on! Paying college athletes will make matters worse
EDGEWATER, Maryland — In its recent report on college basketball, the special commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made several long overdue recommendations aimed at dealing with the sport’s “crisis of accountability.”  But, wisely, it stopped short of suggesting that players be paid.

In largely keeping intact the NCAA’s core rule of amateurism, the 14-member commission reaffirmed the notion that while compensating players might sound attractive in this era of huge professional contracts, it would only lead to ever more problems down the road.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship program for low income students

May 2, 2018 — Guest Column

‘60 Minutes’ aired a segment this past Sunday on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship program for low income students.
The laudable goal of the program is to get low income kids into college where they will earn a degree and with it the ability to earn more money and lift their families out of poverty. Some 20,000 students have benefited from the program and most used the opportunity wisely. Colleges are helping with the program by giving preferential admission to kids simply because of their economic status. Why wouldn’t they? A Gates scholarship is money in the bank for a college as well as a guaranty of a high rate of completion.

As is usually the case, middle class families and students are the ones who suffer. To qualify for the program, family income must be below $65,000. Where is the advantage for a family with 2 blue collar workers who brings home $80,000 and pays all their own bills? Shouldn’t it be weighted to include the social service benefits the poorer family receives? How many kids lost a rightfully earned acceptance in order to accommodate the poor kids? If I was a family earning over $65,000,  with a bright student, I’d think about lowering my income. A 4 year college degree costs much more than what some families bring in above the $65,000 threshold.

What happens to total economic picture of the country if 20,000 poor kids get a degree and 20,000 others do not?

I have no problem with programs that lift the poor out of poverty. I do have a problem when it is at the expense of hardworking middle America.

If you are considering buying a home…

Apr 27, 2018 — Guest Column

If you are considering buying a home, you should plan about 35% of your pretax income for total housing cost: mortgage, insurance and taxes.

That is the model that most lenders use. So the proposal by HUD Sec. Ben Carson to raise the minimum payment for subsidized housing from 30% to 35% of adjusted income seems in line with accepted norms. He also proposes raising the minimum rent, that charged to the poorest families, from $50 to $150. That also doesn’t seem unreasonable. These changes follow the Trump plan of lifting people from welfare to work.

He is also looking to simplify the burden on housing authorities for outdated calculation methods and onerous regulations. Dr. Carson said, “Today we begin the necessary conversation about how we can provide meaningful, dignified assistance to those we serve without hurting them at the same time.”

This should be a concept that people on both sides of the aisle can embrace. For far too long, we have held down our poorest citizens and in doing so, did great damage to the black community.

Neither of these candidates is Native American. Warren is flat out deceitful and Ayyaduria is playin

Apr 27, 2018 — Guest Column

I wish I could say, “Only in Massachusetts” but I’m not sure that is as true as it once was. There you have it: Elizabeth Warren is again, running for the United States Senate. One of the things on which she hangs her hat, is her unverifiable Native American roots. Oh, it gets better. Warren is being challenged by Shiva Ayyaduria who is using his Indian heritage as a campaign slogan, calling himself the real Indian candidate.

It seems that Ayyaduria doesn’t understand the difference between Native American and Indian. Or, more likely, he thinks the voters don’t know the difference.

Neither of these candidates is Native American. Warren is flat out deceitful and Ayyaduria is playing with perceptions. It will be fun to watch how this game of Indians and Indians plays out.

We have every reason to be very proud of our First Lady

Apr 26, 2018 — Guest Column

It is such a ray of sunshine to see a White House State Dinner being held with grace and class. In her quiet way, Melania Trump has rid the occasion of Hollywood heavy hitters and put it back where it belongs, as an event for foreign dignitaries and for building relationships. And she has stepped up to take the reins in planning the event. I have no doubt that the First Lady knows more about protocol and etiquette than any firm or person she could hire. By her involvement in the planning, she is demonstrating the importance of the event and its messaging.

We have every reason to be very proud of our First Lady.

A princely name

Apr 25, 2018 — Guest Column

I hear that Arthur is one of the possible names for the new Prince. I am sure ‘Arthur Daley’ the prince of entrepreneurs would be pleased to hear this.

Celebrate all births

Apr 24, 2018 — Guest Column

The safe birth of a healthy baby is a cause for celebration everywhere. There are about 350,000 babies born worldwide and about 2000 in England each and every day although only one made the front page of most papers around the world and was a leading item on the news on April 23.

It is time to celebrate all people and to remember it is not who you were born that makes you worthwhile but what you make of your life and the opportunities you take up. The Royal family has done much with Prince Philip’s ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ awards and Prince Harry’s work with disabled soldiers with the Invictus games. It is time to value not just the individual but all births.


Stop waffling on about guns

Apr 23, 2018 — Guest Column

It is interesting that the latest sad mass murder occurred at a ‘Waffle’ shop given that the US Government is waffling on about gun control.

It’s not the citizen’s right to bear guns that is the problem although the people’s right to be safe should be the paramount concern. Some people by their prior actions, character or mental health should be precluded from access to guns.



Throwing a political hand-grenade

Apr 22, 2018 — Guest Column

Kim Jong Un has stated on Saturday that ‘…we no longer need any nuclear tests…’ but it’s a political promise so I would trust him as far as I could throw a nuclear bomb.

Phone a friend? - no, hang up on Facebook!

Apr 20, 2018 — Guest Column

I did what Facebook said and downloaded all my data and what did I find - everything. It had about 200 numbers, including the washing machine repairer. It had every email address I seem to have used on the phone and every phone call including the recipient, date and duration.

Why would anybody want to know how long I spoke to the washing machine repairer? It’s time for Facebook to provide some answers rather than 457 pages of data.

Bring back Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Apr 19, 2018 — Guest Column

There are many people who prefer the old ways over the current with George Bush Sr. wanting life to be ‘more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons’ and if we look to the past with the tv show ‘The F.B.I.’ staring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. we see that the F.B.I. were the ‘good guys’ (the 60s were sexist and racist on tv) and nobody doubted their character or actions.

Now we see a President describing the past F.B.I. Director, James Comey, as a slime ball and saying that he lied under Oath. Although the world of TV often includes fictional components - including the 1998 WrestleMania hosted by Donald Trump - nearly all people in the real world see the F.B.I. and its leadership as honest and unbiased. There have been mistakes and corrupt people but rarely in the leadership.

We still need to believe in the F.B.I. and the people who protect us.

Social media is uncharted territory that has the potential for great good and great evil

Apr 18, 2018 — Guest Column

Social media is a product of our generation, it is uncharted territory that has the potential for great good and great evil. Sorting out the different pitfalls and fixing them will be tiresome and difficult. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the Senate warm, not hot, seat this week as he was questioned mainly about protection of privacy and bias within the company.  One of the problems for users is the lack of competitive options. The other is that we are mostly old dogs for whom even this one new application came hard.

Still, users hold the power, if we are concerned about how we are treated by Facebook we can close our accounts. We also can check information and shine a light on stuff that is untrue. We are able to use Facebook for free because, like radio,  there are advertisers. Someone has to pay the bills. I do like the idea of having the same disclosures for political ads that we see and hear on radio, TV, and print material. I think voters need to know who is paying the tab.

And I for one, do not like the ad by Senator Bill Nelson regarding Facebook. It is just the sort of thing that causes division and strife and prevents honest conversations, solutions and compromises to happen.

Is there still a need for this job?

Apr 18, 2018 — Guest Column

At a community carers forum today there were people from a number of related medical and carers groups, some politicians but also a representative from the LGBTQI support and protection services. It seems sad and that the world has a long way to go when there is need for such services - especially protection.

We cannot ignore a dangerous situation

Apr 16, 2018 — Guest Column

Let’s say your neighbors have a volatile relationship. Usually they fight, scream, slam doors but one day you hear him threaten to kill her or you see him punching her. At what point do you have a responsibility to take action? Most of us probably think that how they live is their business until such point as someone is physically harmed or harm is imminent. And there is always the possibility of retaliation. One or both could turn on you for interfering.  Still, we cannot ignore a dangerous situation. In fact, the shooting in Parkland is a stark reminder of the outcome of ignoring clear and present danger.

If you take those lessons further, 6000 miles to Syria. How Syria (and other Countries) run their business is exactly that-their business. Democrats at one time and Republicans don’t want us to be the policemen of the world. But, for years the world has prohibited to use of chemical weapons. They are a horrific weapon with horrific results. How can the rest of the world look the other way? Syria crossed a line. Can you justify their actions in your mind? Can you pretend that this is ok?

“Evil prevails when good men do nothing”.


I’m sorry (that I got caught)

Apr 15, 2018 — Guest Column

After hearing and reading a number of recent apologies that basically said - I’m sort of sorry if you think I did something wrong although this is not an admission of guilt - that I thought I would make some suggestions for the spin doctors to use.

The following might give some starting points and you can circle the words that apply.

I did…

This was wrong/illegal/immoral.

I ‘m sorry I did…(not just sorry that I got caught).

I will fix it by…

I won’t do it again/I won’t get caught next time.

Yes, I am an idiot/politician/sports person.

Time to rewrite the book

Apr 14, 2018 — Guest Column

The Bible includes the quote ‘An Eye for an Eye’ and this seems to be the current solution to the problems in Syria but there should be some consideration of the rest of that quote ‘…But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’ and the Koran adds ‘But whoever gives charity, it is an expiation for him’.

There is already too much sadness from the bombings as no matter where or for what reason, innocent people - often children - are injured or killed. It is still time for talking and diplomacy even if it takes a long time. Many leaders and tyrants have found you cannot beat people into agreement only submission.

We must all keep looking for peaceful solutions.


Facing up to saying NO!

Apr 12, 2018 — Guest Column

The solution to the Facebook Privacy dilemma is easy - set it, by law, as a default NO! or maybe NYET! at the start and reset every 3 months.

There are many forms that ask for information and in most cases you have to tick to accept their emails and often emails from ‘Third Party’ groups which are generally advertising. As part of the sign up process you could choose which options you want and that could include the following;

  • I am happy to share with everyone except for that weird kid in second grade.

  • I am happy for Facebook to make billions out of my data - It makes me feel valuable.

  • I am happy to share with the Russians - especially those nice women who write to me all the time.

  • I am happy to help the Russians elect Donald Trump.

  • Who cares - I am so boring nobody would be interested in my shopping preferences.

  • (Tick any or all that apply to you)

    The only other option seems to be to not sign up or never use it again.



    Wrong Clue

    Apr 10, 2018 — Guest Column

    The clue in a recent crossword was ‘Abnormally fat’ with the answer ‘obese’ but unfortunately it’s not abnormal but becoming normal. It’s time to stop doing the newspaper crossword, get out of the chair and go for a walk.