Tarheeltalker

I guess I am just ignorant

… of the law that is. It looks much more impressive in Latin though. Ignorantia juris non excusat which of course expands our  definition to mean that ignorance of the law is no excuse. I will confess to having often applied this concept to others while rarely if ever including myself. After all, the small( fortunately)  number of tickets that I  have received were for things that were indeed legitimate.

But we ( Mrs THT) and I this week discovered that we were in violation of  a city ordinance of which we had no clue. The scenario went something like this. I moved our car out of the driveway  so that we could drive the truck on that holiest of grail searches for  a guy, the search for a new lawnmower.

I parked the car  partly in the street and partly in the front yard to lessen its chances of being hit. In the very short time that ensued before I could swap places ( truck for car) in the driveway, an unexpected thing occurred. There was  a knock on the door which my wife answered. From hearing her side of the conversation, I was quite confused about the person with whom she was speaking. Meeting her at the door,I saw a local police officer returning to his vehicle. Having no clue about what we had done wrong  I asked her what he said. Seems that by parking the car partly in the road and partly in the yard, I had violated a city ordinance. This last is the kicker though. He told her that we needed to move the vehicle because we want to keep our  city beautiful. Huh?

I can think of many things that would make  enhance our city’s appearance. But  nowhere on the list could I find positioning my vehicle completely in the street or driveway versus partly in both, as such a reason. Now, paranoia being what it is I wonder if there are other beautification ordinances that  I am violating . After all Earth Day is April 26 and I certainly want to do my part. Never know if Al Gore ( aka algore) is watching.

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March 27, 2011 Posted by | Legal system | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Confused about Libya? Me too!

And just think what the people in the Ivory Coast must be wondering when they see us involved  in Libya, but not in their country. After several days of air strikes,cruise missile launchings, actual reports of French jets hitting  their  targets, do we have  a clue about the final outcome and even why we are involved? Why are we involved actually is what I have wondered all along + why the President did  not consult with the Congress before beginning whatever this is.

Of course this “adventure”  of ours  stems from what to all intents and purposes is  a Libyan civil war, between forces loyal to Hugo Chavez’ best friend, Col Gaddafi, and those intent on recreating the Egyptian experience of just a few weeks ago. Unlike the events in Egypt, there is a much stronger force intent on maintaining the status quo. So, of all sources to ask us, among others, to intervene, the Arab League called for the imposition of  a no fly zone to prevent the Libyan air force from massacring those opposing the Colonel.

So, American, French and British set out to do just that, ground the Libyan air force. What would be almost amusing, were it so deadly serious, is how quickly the Arab League got more than it expected. Libyan planes were shot down, antiaircraft guns were silenced and some people were killed. I  have no intention of poking fun at all, but how exactly did the Arab League expect a no fly zone to be established?  Just ask the Libyan pilots nicely to stay on the ground?

Anyway, the no fly zone was established and then what ensued? Gaddafi’s forces have continued to fight, NATO nad its allies are bickering and whatever we and our NATO  allies are doing goes on, with no specific end or goal.

And, if you missed it while watching events in Libya, not all that far away in Syria, there are anti government protests, accompanied by a government crackdown. Just ask yourself, at what point do we intervene there? Who will have to ask and how much turmoil will have to ensue and how will the decision be made? Will Congress  have  a voice next time;when there is  a next time? Mr President, the people of the Ivory Coast  are on line one.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japan’s Cruel Ironies

Pacific Ring of Fire

Image via Wikipedia

Things seem to be going from bad to worse and even beyond in Japan. I skimmed an article today written by Cynthia Tucker that emphasized a point that I have  made in talking to others. That would be the dependence upon and even faith that we have in technology. Her article drew an analogy between the tragedy in Haiti and the three-pronged tragedy that has occurred in Japan. In an underdeveloped country such as Haiti, one would somewhat expect a natural disaster to cause the  enormous devastation that took place. But, one of, if not the most technologically advanced  countries in the world, with all of its preparation has still incurred enormous devastation of its own from the tsunami and earthquake. This holds a   lesson  for other advanced countries, particularly one that has a significant population  in the Pacific Ring of Fire( Hint, hint, San Francisco,etc).

But there are still other ironies that are hard to ignore.Japan , of course, is the only county ever to suffer the effects of a nuclear attack. Now, it is incurring  an as yet undetermined effect from damaged nuclear power plants. I think that there are some points to be made vis-a-vis Japan and its reliance on nuclear power to generate its electricity. One would almost think that Japan is the mpst nuclear dependent country in the world.  Japan’s 54  reactors produce about 30% of its electricity. That figure puts  the country as the 15th most nuclear dependent country, far behind both Lithuania and France,both of which get over 75% of their electricity via the  nuclear route.

But, having said that, what still nags at me the most  is that of  which I spoke at the onset. Technology is not the cure-all and science  does not nor will it ever have all the answers. Yet, we( meaning the United States primarily, but others to be sure) think that if we throw enough money or scientific knowhow out there, that anything is possible. Sometimes, it makes me to just want to unplug, sorta the human equivalent of acoustic music, huh?

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Technology, Weather | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where do I send the thank you note?

For many years it was proper etiquette  for the recipient of a gift or service to send  a  written thank you to the giver. This was particularly true on special occasions. I can remember the importance of thank you notes at significant times in our lives. Those times that readily come  to mind would include our wedding, the births of our children and the deaths of  parents. By the same token it was meaningful for us to receive a thank you note when we have somehow reached out to another whether by a gift or some other means. I am still quite partial to the written (mailed) thank you since it is good business for the Postal Service. ( Always remember the Arthur Godfrey admonition.) Alas, along with many other”proper” forms of behavior, the thank note in almost any form is becoming somewhat rare.

But, something has occurred over the 3-4 weeks that has  created a strong desire to send a thank you note. My problem lies in knowing to whom and where it should be sent.

I have noticed that over this  period there has been a significant increase in gasoline  and heating oil prices. One local statin that I frequent has shown an increase from $3.09/gallon to $3.55/gallon, unless it went  higher today. That included one impressive pice hike of 10 cents per gallon in the space of one hour. The price of home heating oil, which we use, has gone from $3.47/gallon to $4.06 /gallon in even less time.

My problem is in determining where to send the note or notes. Do I send one to local gas station and my local heating oil provider, another to Exxon and BP( the respective brands) another to Gadhafi in Libya for all the turmoil he continues to cause  ( at great harm to his own people, I must say) and isn’t BP a British owned company? Where  would their note go? And least we will not need heating oil to next season, so I have time to work on that note.

Suggestions from anyone versed in the proper etiquette  will be welcomed. Wonder if Emily Post’s website has an answer?

March 13, 2011 Posted by | economy, Energy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two very different headlines

The nation of Japan has been struck by a  massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest on record in that country. The tsunami spawned by that quake has compounded the death and destruction that the Japanese will have to face. Estimates of those who lost their lives have already topped 1,000. Sadly, I expect that figure to rise considerably. Reports  from people in Japan speak of  tremendous destruction to roads, buildings, homes etc. A major nuclear power has also suffered damage adding yet another element to what must an almost surreal scene.

For a country already reeling economically, this natural disaster has presented the country with quite a difficult challenge to overcome. Our country is already providing help and people can take part through the American Red Cross and probably other agencies as well.

But what seems to be the biggest news story in our country today? Why, of course it is the ongoing struggle between the NFL owners and the NFLPA  which is basically the players labor union. Extended negotiations broke off  today as the union voted to decertify, thus tossing the ball into the legal system. Who will prevail and when is anyone’s guess. There will ultimately be a settlement and both the players and owners will  do well. Unfortunately, if there is a work stoppage, those most likely affected will be those who depend on the league for their livelihoods. I actualy have almost no sympathy for either side and the angst that many of  the pepople involved ( especially the players)  seem to be feeling and trying to gert us to feel.

On one side, there are themega rich owners and on the other are the  players;many of whom are make quite  a hefty income. Admittedly, the average career is relatively short but the average incomes are large. But they will never be large enough, I guess, since a 2009 study by Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players will go bankrupt in their lifetimes. Guessing that is higher than in most other occupations. Chew on this additional piece of info. The NFLPA has distributed a booklet to each of its players  with advice on to cut costs if the lookout materializes. One of  those pieces of advice, cut the size of your entourage.

It is sort of hard for me to balance these labor issues with the stark reality facing the Japanee people. For them, we must pray.

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Sports, Weather | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Always on the grid?

Several years ago there was an episode of NCIS where then Director Shepard( Lauren Holly) made a clandestine  trip to Moscow in search of information that would either clear her father or help her in capturing ”  la grenouille” . During that time she went off the grid as was bluntly called to her attention by good ole Leroy Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon) , once she returned to Washington.

For my purposes, the key element in that scene was the grid to which Gibbs referred. In this case it was not the electric power grid that  is  somewhat well publicized, but  a different kind of grid.  Holly’s character was the head of an armed federal agency and as such could not  become incommunicado. And in our story she did that very thing.

I was reminded of that  upon seeing a segment of the Today Show that dealt with the death of the telephone. The part that I saw interviewed at least two people  in the know about such things, one of them from Wired magazine, who opined that the telephone was dead and it was about time. His feelings are most definitely shared by  outsidethebeltway.com writer James Joyner. He wrote an article on July 31, 2010  expressing how annoying and terribly intrusive a telephone call actually is. And he made this point that really ties in to the point I am trying to make. The current generation hardly ever makes phone calls because they are in constant  lightweight contact, defined as texting, instant messaging , tweeting, etc.

So, its it a good or necessary thing to be in constant contact. to be always on the grid, so to speak? The majority of us do not need to be always available via  a tweet or Facebook or hundreds or thousand of  daily text messages. I   share Mr Joyner’syner that this is,generally speaking, lightweight communication. Surely a part of my inclination is that I am from  a generation that has not always been  totally wired, but I think/hope it is more than that.

My wife and I have shared many times with one another in  a phone call the  words that” I just wanted to hear your voice” . We do text, but for us, it will never be an adequate substitute for the voice of the one person who means more to  you than any other.

Perhaps, Mr Bell’s invention is on the way out.  But from my  perspective, I hope that it takes the long way.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Media, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning a Yarn-Textile Style

 

My Dad explaining his job as a warper tender-from 1940s or 50s

The majority of my working life was spent  in the textile industry, although not actually in the plant. However, during  a span of several years. I worked next to 2 of our plants and visited the plants from time to time.

As is the case with almost all the textile industry in the United States, my company ( Fieldcrest Mills to Fieldcrest Cannon to Pillowtex)  is no more, having bit the dust in 2003 via the bankruptcy courts. The plants were scattered all over the southeastern U. S. but primarily in North Carolina, are no more.

This is still a bit poignant for me since  several my family members were employed at the company at one time or another, including my parents who were production workers in the Fieldcrest Mills Blanket Mill for  many years.

What is quite interesting to me is  that  the company is gone but the brand names live on, having ben purchased by various entities. One in particular  that comes readily to mind is Royal Velvet. I suppose that it would be correct to say that it was the flagship brand of the Bed and Bath Division. The towels sold under the Royal Velvet name were made in  aslant located in the small Virginia town of Fieldale. To say that this was a quality product would be a bit of an understatement. We are still using Royal Velvet products that were  purchased a number of years ago. The irony to me is that to get a towel equal in quality today, one would be required to spend a significant amount of money. The same holds true for bedding products( sheets, comforters, etc) .

Now, about all the former textile giants have in common is bankruptcy and imploded plants. But, as do many others, I remember some of those days when cotton went from the Card Room  to the Spinning Room to Yarn Preparation ( where my parents worked)  and finally to the Weave Room where a recognizable product surfaced.

It is in truth an industry that is gone but that will always be with us.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Family, History | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Train Wrecks are never a pretty sight

This holds true whether there is an actual train involved or if  one is describing  a person whose life seems to be spiraling out of control. Sadly we seem to be seeing one of the later before our very eyes in the case of Charlie Sheen. I have not followed his career all that closely although I did enjoy the  movie Major League several years ago.

Most of us are more familiar than we care to be with his bizarre behaviour of late accompanied by interviews and statements that are perhaps even more bizarre. Of  course the tabloids and celebrity magazines such as People and Us are having a field day. I  can hardly imagine the wealth of material that all this is providing for Letterman, Leno and O’Brien. Sheen is proving a gold mine for all these media outlets.

I read one quote from Sheen that basically said if I am insane I have no problem with that. This is not an act. Another one that is already becoming too popular is the reference to himself as having tiger blood. But are those statements any more disturbing in the long run that  people saying they know they shouldnt be watching this but cannot turn away? Or how about the 1 million people who become his followers on Twitter within hours after his account was opened? Are there that many folks who  care that much about what outlandish thing Sheen might do next? And if there are, why do they care?

Perhaps even more disturbing is that this latest batch of actions is something that could almost have een predicted. If one looks back at his  past actions, it is not too hard to see a pattern. Or maybe one could just have asked Denise Richards. And just think about his children. I doubt that they will say about their father what almost inexplicably Martin Sheen  said about his son, you are my hero.

One can only hope that as much as he has recently trashed programs and methods of help that Sheen will actually avail himself of competent , professional help, away from the media glare, far away. And mercifully may the third or fourth time for such treatment actually work.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Entertainment, Media | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment