The Gross National Debt

Friday, January 13, 2017

Never mind

She watched from the highest point on the castle, if it could truly be called a castle, until the entourage disappeared around a bend.

She pulled the poorly-tanned hides closer to herself, a bare defense against the shilling win that rocked through the crags and even less support against the gaping invisible wound that she knew would never heal.

Never mind she knew this day was coming.

Never mind she believed it needed to happen.

Never mind she'd done much the same herself those 20 years ago.

Never mind that within her own home, she had a look at the white-hot pain.

This was personal. This time it was her experience.

That last glimpse of her daughter disappearing below the rise was the last time she'd see the young woman. Ever.

The daughter was now gone forever. Riding off to be a part of her new husband's family.

She turned and went back into what was once a home and now was just an organized rock pile.


Today, Susan, emergency backup daughter Savannah and I toured Mercer University. They toured. I tagged along because I was invited (and would pick up the tab for lunch). The day had to come.

This is the first concrete step by my reckoning that my daughter is on her way to true independence. She'll soon be gone.

Yes, she'll come home, unlike the daughter of the medieval lady above.

It will never be quite the same.

She'll always have her own home to go to, even if it is literally next door. Her home could be on the other side of the planet. My adopted community has natives that live everywhere these days.

I want this to happen.

I don't want this to happen.

Yeah, parents around the world experience the same thing every day. Some of them, like the lady above, never see their children again. Never hear their voice, see pictures or know if they ever have grandchildren.

But that is them. This is me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Product review - Viking motorcycle bag

If you ride you know that storage space is at a premium. Saddle bags can hold a lot, but if you really want to maximize storage, get saddle bags and biker luggage.

When Viking Bags contacted me about doing a product review, I jumped on it. They sent the Viking Large Studded Leather Motorcycle Sissy Bar Bag. It's listed as a medium bag. If this is medium, some families could live in the large ones.


The website description says lockable. It's not by my definition. Lock means something that opens with a key or a combination dial. The only way I can see to lock the bag down is by strapping cables across it.

The bag. The studs are chrome. Bad lighting makes them look black
The specs say 3247.5 cubic inches of storage. If that doesn't mean anything to you, the pictures here should. They are taken with a standard yardstick to give you perspective. If you need exact measurements - 16.5" x 19" x 7"  and the top roll bag is 13" x 9".

It comes with mounting hardware and, YAY!, a rain bag to stretch over it for riding in rough weather. If you don't ride in the rain, you don't ride. The website has a PDF with mounting instructions and an installation video.

You can probably get by without a luggage rack on the back, but that means the bottom of the bag is sitting on the rear fender. You can mount it to the front of the sissy bar if you don't have a passenger or on the back if you want someone to ride with you.
Top roll bag on its side. Attachment loops shown.

If you mount it to the front side, you will need something to sit between you and the bags if you want to lean back. The studs and buckles will get annoying really fast.
Both come with handy carry handles. It also includes a detachable shoulder sling. That's something ALL bike luggage should have.


The interior of the big bag has a zipper on the liner. I don't understand why. You might be able to slide a few papers in there. It's definitely not a false back for hiding important stuff. The top tube has a Velcro seal for the interior liner. Again, why? Not much room for anything but very thin items.

Interior view. Can't explain central zipper.
The inside has a big mesh web on the front and two smaller mesh holder areas on each side. Your stuff can be held very securely.

The sides of the big bag open out for maximum storage. Zip them up to make it as compact as possible.

The main bag has pockets, four on the outside and one pocket with a top access into a pouch on the inside of the big bag.

The top roll bag is detachable.

You can pack enough in here for a decent stay at most any rally.


The zippers are plastic. You will need to tuck the edges in when zipping them up.

The website calls the construction Viking leather and Cordura. The Viking leather is a man-made material, not dead animal hide. The material does feel very durable.

The top tube and the main bag have lightweight plastic insert shells. This bag will not fold down.

The sewing appears to be good enough. If you bought "diamond plate" leather gear, then know this sewing job is much better.

Strategic points are reinforced with heavy canvas straps.


When Viking asked me to review their stuff, I specifically picked the bag with the chrome studs because biker.

It looks good. It feels good. It feels durable.

My chief concern is my daughter will see it and take it away. She'll use it as her book backpack when she heads off to college in the fall.


If you need luggage, this is a buy. In case you're worried about plunking down your hard-earned cash, don't be. "We believe in great customer service – even when you don’t like something and want to return it. Our return policy is fast and easy but there are still some ground rules to follow." Get the list of return rules, which are simple, here.

You can see the full list of bags here This is the one I got:

About that press conference

The POTUS-elect is taking considerable heat over what he did at the most recent press conference.

Not here to argue whether or not the attacks are justified. Am here to say Trump has only brought completely into the open what's been going on for more than 200 years.

As one of the "common taters" on NPR said yesterday, Trump's relationship with the press is directly proportional to how favorably the individual outlet reports on him.

Pardon or don't the next bit of language, but No Shit, Sherlock. That's the way it works, the way it has worked and the way it will continue to work where the POTUS is concerned. You want to get up close and personal with any POTUS, you better be on his good side.

Didja ever see Obama appear on a Brietbart show? Didja ever see him sit down for a long talk with Alex Jones? Nope. How many times did Obama hit the studio with Rush Limbaugh? Aaight then, how often did Hillary Clinton sit down for a chat with Pat Buchanan?

With whom did Obama siddown and talk? Media outlets that were friendly toward him. Check the history. You'll see this throughout. Arsenio Hall made no bones about not having Bush on his show after Clinton made an appearance.

Pay attention. This is The Way of Washington. Trump just makes it so obvious that everyone can finally see it.

Understand this. The press and the government have never gotten along. Witness the negative side of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson's mixed bag of comments about the press. "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper," he wrote in 1807. "Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day."


"Our printers raven on the agonies of their victims, as wolves do on the blood of the lamb," he wrote to fellow Virginian and future president James Monroe in 1811. Five years later, he wrote: "I rarely think them [newspapers] worth reading, and almost never worth notice."

There were some halcyon days in the relationship, like during Kennedy's reign when his philandering was overlooked. Even there, the Prez and the media were like a pair Titans warily circling each other and waiting for one to show the slightest sign of weakness.

Where was the bitching when Obama did the same thing? Where was the outrage when Bush II did it? Why didn't people scream and shout when Clinton was doing it? Bush I got away with it. Hellfire, Ronnie Raygun called the press "sonsabitches" and people laughed. Oh. I found it!

Here's a fact that you can find it you look hard enough: Presidential press conferences are staged. The prez & staff pick out reporters ahead of time. Their questions are answered. If you are not one of the pre-selected, you can shout your question, but it won't be answered.

Here's another fact you can find if you look hard enough: If you want to join the Presidential junkets and get on the plane, you better behave, which means reporting what he says and NOT asking the hard questions. You start getting into hardball journalism and you don't get invited to press conferences, you don't get an invite to tag along on trips and so on. In short, play nice. If you don't, all of a sudden you're the fat kid at recess whom no one picks for the kickball team.

Scream and holler about Trump and how he treats the media all you wanna. He is doing the same thing Obama and all the previous presidents did. He's just obvious about it. He's ripped the rose-colored glasses off the face of so many.

There is one thing different about that conference, One thing that was buried amidst the invective. One thing that should stand out, but won't.

Trump didn't have a pre-selected list of reporters. He took questions from whoever.

Obama never did that in a press conference.

Welcome to reality. If the truth hurts, yer living wrong.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This ain't writing advice: it's about the mechanics

Up front - writing advice sucks. Period. With the exception of advice once given by the late Kirt Vonnegut:

Don't listen to people telling you how to write. Go write.

So, writing is one thing. Mechanics is quite another. Some people say it is one and the same, but not to me. YMMV.

So here's your lesson in writing mechanics, which this sentence violates.

Do not use contractions.

Yeah, we use 'em in speech, our writing and everyday conversation. Contractions are almost second nature for many of us word slingers.

Don't do it. (See, done dood it again).

Why? Non-native English readers. Contractions make the words harder to read and leads to confusion on their part. You may say whyinhell should I be worried about what non native English speakers can and cannot read. Aside from the fact that a majority of the world is NOT a native English speaker, there is another reason.

But that reason falls into writing advice, so I shall not explain.

Try eliminating contractions from your writing.

I am betting you will see a difference.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

In search of the roots of evil

This is not about religion, but it discusses religion.

The Bible says love of money is a root of evil. It's that "love" and "a" part that most people leave out. Nonetheless, money may not make the world go round and it may not buy happiness, but try living without money and see how well you fare.

So the pursuit of money is a reason (please note I stated "a") I write. The other reasons I write are irrelevant to this post.

So among the things I've written are the following books. For reasons of money, Evan Jacobs tracks how well the following books are doing on Amazon. He wants money for the full report.

Why someone would pay for a report to know how well their book is selling — well, they have too much money and need to send some to me.

My books, according to Mr. Jacobs, bounce up and down in the ranks more than a female porn star on a trampoline. The highest any book ever got, as I remember is somewhere in the low hundred thousands. For some reason, I think one book broke into 50K ranks, but I'm probably mistaken.

Anyway, this list tracks books on Kindle. I don't get ebook readers I tried one. I found it more annoying than listening to a presidential speech.

Another reason I don't like ebooks is listed below. Despite a half-million point jump in the ranks, I ain't seen a penny from an ebook sale. Amazon apparently lets Kindle readers "borrow" an ebook. I have no idea if anyone is "borrowing" any of these books. For all I know, Mr. Jacobs is making up the rankings just like Congress makes up the federal budget.

I do know I ain't getting many reviews.

I ain't selling any hard copies either.

But really, that's OK. These are books I wrote for my own edification. If someone gets one and reads it, cool. If not, still cool. If someone reads one of these books and it helps 'em  become a better person, well, can't ask for more.

Ennyhoo, here's the rankings.

Hello Ben,
Here is the activity summary for your books for the past 7 days.
Old Testament Jesus
#827,094 in Kindle ( 457,958)
A Christian minister's take on Gay Marriage
#2,148,817 in Kindle ( 17,785)
#2,686,281 in Kindle ( 603)
My Mountain Won't Move
#2,725,848 in Kindle ( 2,130)
Lessons I learned in State Prison - Freedom
#3,463,787 in Kindle ( 15,066)
Evan Jacobs, Founder
P.S. You can unsubscribe or change the frequency of these emails on your account page

In search of rational thinking

Running a newspaper is often too much fun. The most fun part is getting the demands to publish stuff from the fringe element. My all-time favorite so far is stuff from the United States Grand Jury Foreman. That's all I get for identification. In one of the first missives, the GJF "ordered" all newspapers in the United States to publish his manifesto.

I wrote back and suggested he carefully review the First Amendment.

The next manifesto I got was a "request to publish" the information.

Of course, I did not.

Now I get one that's Georgia-based. Here ya go-


More and more the good people of Georgia need to back a Prohibition Amendment to stop the escalating deaths and crimes of various kinds since the people were foolishly led to legalize alcoholic drinks placing the making of money above the safety of the people, especially the children. Crime, especially murder, attends the use and sale of alcoholic drinks. The anti-Christian atmosphere in the federal government, the democrat and republican parties, and the news media perhaps has helped alcoholic drinks to take rule over the nation. The people should return to placing a perimeter of life around each child that can not be penetrated by any evil force on earth.

The attempted robbery of a store in Jasper and the robbery at the Waffle House attest to the fall of our towns to crime. Cherokee County inundated in alcoholic drinks outlet stores has almost a crime a day. Alcoholic government officials need to drop their addiction to alcohol and their defense of it. They need to place human lives first and stop the addiction of children. Merchants need to place their love for their neighbors and children first over their greed for money.

Billy Joe Xxxxxx
Georgia Prohibition   

So, I replied-

Been thinking on this for a while. I have some questions:

Given the failure of prohibition of all kinds, how would you enforce this? Can you do it without raising taxes?

Where in the Bible did Jesus use secular authority to enforce sacred edicts? Where did Jesus force religion and its edicts on anyone?

Give the following passages, how is secularly enforced prohibition Biblical? 
Isaiah 1:22
‎1 Timothy 5:24
Proverbs 31:6 
Proverbs 31:7
John 2:1-11
Ecclesiastes 9:7
Psalm 104:14-15

I am aware of the passages wherein it says strong drink is not for rulers and the other passages that warn against being drunk. The issue there is drinking too much. Also know Romans 14:21. I point you to 1 Corinthians 10:27 in response.

I may be wrong about this, please correct me if so, but Jesus led by example. The Bible speaks a lot about leading by example. I can't find any passages that say we should create secular law to enforce religious requirements. How is prohibition leading by example?


And I got a reply. I trust you are savvy enough to deconstruct this one.

James Xxxxxx' address:Jim Xxxxxx<>, Bill Xxxxxxx's address: Bill Xxxxxxx <>,
Rick Xxxx's address: Rick Xxxx <>

Prohibition is for the protection of people and for the guidance of children who deserve to live and inherit the nation. If we love people enough, Prohibition is common sense.

According to more expert people in the Prohibition Party, Prohibition did not fail. They can give you statistics to back them up. You can contact Bill Bledsoe of Florida, James Hedges of Pennsylvania, and Rick Knox of Georgia who is running for Secretary of State for Georgia. They convinced me that the opinion that Prohibition failed was not true. There were a lot of top politicians and business people who were addicts to alcohol. They failed Prohibition. Prohibition did not fail. They had the skill and talent to manipulate propaganda and use mind control. They had control of the newsmedia and the glamorous addicts and talented script writers of Hollywood and could shift people's thinking the way they wanted to do it.

One of the myths that come from the people that hated Prohibition was that it caused crime because of the gang wars. But look at Chicago today that leads in deaths and murders. 762 murders in 12 months in AD 2016. This is just one city. The cities simply are not safe for women and children. People addicted to alcohol and just greedy never think of women and children. Their deaths have no meaning. 10,265 men, women, and children were killed in AD 2015 by DUI. 290,000 were injured. These enormous numbers are not as sensational as two bootlegging gangs blazing away with Tommy Guns. The gang clashes happen at one time and are frightening to look at and experience. But the alcohol deaths are spread over the whole nation and happen throughout the year. They are not all seen at one time and are not as scary to us although they kill many times more than the St. Valentine's Day massacre. A terrorist attack at one time that kills maybe about 30 like the one in Turkey is more frightening than the death of 10, 265 people killed by DUI to us.

Enforcing and taxing would take careful study by experts so as to prevent causing unjust damage to anybody.

Jesus came into the world to bring truth to men. He respected the sovereignty of every individual and did not abuse or use his power to violate another person's sovereignty. He respected those in authority over him and advised that people should respect that authority. Roman law and soldiers protected the roads of the empire from bandits and enabled safe travel for people and the movement of vital goods. The Roman Empire roads were the safest in the world. Bandits were quickly dealt with and punished often cruelly. Jesus and his apostles carried a sword. Peter cut off a man's ear when they came to arrest Jesus.

There is no telling how often Peter used his sword to chase off bandits. If Christ allowed Peter to defend the Apostles can we not do the same to the women and children of the nation. Are we to keep abandoning them to be slaughtered by those people that have no love for them? Prohibition is a type of political sword with which we defend our friends, families, and neighbors from those debased and drunken people that have no love for them and who do not care if they die. One of the great seductions controlling the American people today is that we love vice ridden celebrities more than less attractive and humble sober neighbors and family members.

Jesus was not of the secular world which he admitted. He made himself equal to his countrymen. He took authority over gravity, storms, diseases, and demons, and death itself when he raised Lazerus from the grave.

The Bible does not condemn what we put in our mouths but only what comes out of it. Prohibition is Peter's sword that protects us from what comes out of the mouth and mind of the drinker of alcohol. When 10, 265 people are killed by the alcohol user in one year, then the need for Prohibition is seen to protect people and stop the slaughter.


Billy Joe Xxxxxx