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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Anniversary!

So today I was at a loss for something to blog about.  I had several ideas that I filed under either "too much work" or "copyright infringement" of one sort or another.   But then it struck me-  Bobby G is celebrating his 20th year of wedded bliss today!!!

Here you can see he and I amongst our fellow Time Lords, with he at bottom left and myself at bottom right.  And I would have dearly loved to use the 20th anniversary pic his lovely wife posted on FB, but, "copyright infringement", like I said.  So I decided to look around what else happened that fateful day.

- According to one source, the one-man play by Rob Becker, Defending The Caveman, closed this day after 671 performances.  As it was "A hilariously insightful play about the ways men and women relate, " it seems appropriate to the occasion- as I'm sure the lovely Missus would agree that Bob CAN be a caveman, lol!  HOWever, since another site said the play- the record holder for a one-man play on Broadway- lasted 702 shows, IDK if it quite is accurate.  But we're going with it nonetheless.

- And on this day, the WNBA made its debut as the New York Liberty defeated the host Los Angeles Sparks 67-57.

Penny Toler made the first basket... AND the first free throw.

-Derek Bell had three hits and 3 RBIs to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-3 win over the Cubs, which stretched the Astros lead over the Pirates in the NL Central to 2 1/2 games- quite a feat since they were still a game UNDER .500 at the time.

-Milwaukee got ten inches of rain in 30 hours.  The Brewers game was cancelled because of 2-3feet of water on the field, and Mr and Mrs Bob sadly cancelled a honeymoon trip to the Schlitz Brewery.

- Texas Raceway had more noise than a Nascar event:

On June 21, 1997, the massive stadium hosted Blockbuster Rockfest starring '90s rock radio powers Bush, No Doubt, Collective Soul, Matchbox 20, Jewel, Wallflowers, Sugar Ray, Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows and even local folk-rock darlings Jackopierce.

That's a hell of a concert.  WTH were you going to Milwaukee for, Bob?

-Nobody that was both famous AND known to me was born or died that day, at least not on this planet!

And with that we close this look at the amazing wedding day of a very special couple.  So to both of you from all of us...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Well, I could...

...I could rant about all the stupid things everyone's ranting about, North Korea and Russia and Washington.  But who needs it?  Here's some pics from the last walk of the spring!

Parents:  Wanna know where the kids sneak off to to drink the beer they stole from the garage fridge?  Look in the hedge on the south side of Ground Hog Road..

Scrappy gets another chance to go leashless into the dens!  And he's off... the woods instead, again.

So those little spikey things blossomed into this- still no idea what they are, though...

Backlit woods- so pretty

Someone looted the remains of the Leaning Tree...

Remember calling these "doggie buttons" when we were kids.  Actual name:  fleabane.

Damn hot in the sunshine.  Tried to tell him to wait for overcast.

"Yeah, this crap's getting too high to go sniffin' through.  ACHOO!"

Checking in on the "Lennon Sisters"

Wonder what's gonna hatch out of this...

Hey, Scrappy?  Wanna go play in the creek?   ZOOOOM....

A frog jumped in to join him...

...but he was already on his way to new adventure.

Winding around rarely glimpsed territory on the far side of the big mound, he found his way out- right across from the ravine trail!

Wild raspberries in fruit.  The black ones were really good, I ate a mess of 'em!

First time in years I saw fish by the bridge.

And while we were in the creek, overcast came.  But only for a couple of minutes.

Oh, this is new- the barn lost two doors, got replaced by new aluminum ones!

"This door smells like ground hog..."

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Lutheran Health Network issue, at last

Being a somewhat savvy news-listener and a frequent listener of the Pat Miller show on WOWO, I have watched the unfolding drama of the Lutheran Health Network attempted buy out.  For non- locals, the gist goes like this:  Lutheran Health Network is a for-profit hospital chain in our area.  Recently, a group of doctors frustrated with lack of investment in the network by parent Community Health Systems out of Tennessee (which is rapidly gaining the status of a dirty word), put together a $2.4 billion bid to buy the system back from CHS, to which CHS responded with a "thanks but no thanks" and firing the two top local executives in what appears to be a big fit of pique for daring to challenge them.

Saturday morning, I read an article from a dude associated with the AF of L who made several good points (and one shockingly bad one) about the whole thing, which got me curious enough to dig into the whole thing.  In no particular judgment or order, here's some of what I learned.

1995- the 34 Lutheran churches that ran LHN were looking for a way to secure resources in order to build them into a true regional chain.  Along comes Quorum Health Management, a consulting firm who buys the network up.  They begin to grow, eventually building Dupont Hospital up north to compete with the palatial goliath that is Parkview North (a non-profit that is doing quite well thank you.)  At this point, I pose the union dude's first assertion (which he made by saying he wasn't going to spend time making it), that one should call into question why a hospital or network should be a for-profit in the first place.  With the deteriorating insurance situation, the tons of property taxes that you are paying and Parkview North isn't, etc., it doesn't follow that running a for profit health network would be especially profitable.  And this will come a bit clearer as we go on.

Now we move to 2006.   Quorum has been bought out by a group called Triad, and now Triad is looking for a buyer.  Along comes CHS, which, despite being half again bigger than Triad, is actually pulling in almost a billion less a year.  The two merge to become the biggest incompetently run health enterprise in America.  Now, Chris, was that nice?  Okay, maybe I should have said illegally run.

Because CHS has a long history of having to pay out for fraudulent practices, most of them related to forcing docs to admit patients who don't need admitted in order to screw Medicare.  Since 2014 they have paid out over $184 million in DOJ fines and lawsuits- and in response to the first of these, they were required "to enter into a corporate integrity agreement that required the Company to participate in compliance efforts."  More than half the payouts have come SINCE then.

So now we get to recent times, and the company has lost over 70% of stock value since 2000.  We already have disproved Union Guy's second thought, that having a doctor's union to represent LHN against CHS, because one of the Triad acquisitions, McKenzie-Willamette's healthcare workers' union, SEIU, Local 49, claimed that workload increases, slashed benefits, and staff reductions had lowered the quality of both patient care and quality of life for employees. The union, in its "Profits Before Community" campaign against the hospital, continues to highlight that profits have tripled while charitable care and employee benefits have steadily decreased since the hospital moved from a non-profit to a for-profit enterprise under CHS.  And yet, CHS was still doing the same thing to LHN 7 years later, so the union is doing a helluva job collecting dues, and not much else.

But CHS still of a mind that acquisition was the best way out of the growing financial mess they were in.  Along comes Health Management Associates, another national hospital parent company with a record of crooked dealings comparable to CHS's- even landing a feature on 60 Minutes.  They were under attack from a group led by Glenview Capital Management CEO Larry Robbins, who was buying up shares in spite of a "poison pill" voted in by the board that converted common stock into rights to purchase pieces of preferred stock at 5 times the price.   Robbins won and forced HMA to accept CHS's buy offer.  Robbins thought at the time that CHS would give them the resources he needed to make a profit out of the struggling hospitals in the HMA group.

He was wrong.  And by 2016, Robbins sold ALL his interest in HMA and CHS, saying he saw no way to fit the 30 hospitals profitably into the CHS system.  And why would this be?  Well, for one, the only thing CHS had been growing in this time was a mountain of debt far outstripping that of similar systems- in the $15 billion range as we speak.  So now, CHS decided that they would have to take drastic measures.  They spun off Quorum's management and consulting services- which didn't lighten the load by much but nearly halved their income.  Then, they began jettisoning selected hospitals- about 38 of them by this point.

And then, enter Tianqiao Chen.

Chen, the 98th-richest man in mainland China, made a fortune designing online gambling platforms.  Now, he is an opportunist who hunts for bargains and becomes a passive stockholder, patiently hoping things will turn around- unlike Robbins, who wants a seat at the table to turn things around.  Chen began buying bigger and bigger chunks of CHS common stock in the fall of last year.  And a bargain it was indeed- a stock that cost $40 just a year before got demoted to $10 a share by this point.   By October, he had a 13.8% stake- by quite a bit, the largest, larger than Robbins ever had.  At which point, CHS voted in their own poison pill, to be triggered if Chen (or anyone else) tried to gain more than 15% of common stock.  Chen, for his part reiterated, "which I have said to CHS management many times", that he no interest in taking over the group.

By his track record, I believe him.  I think that CHS might be better served worrying about the other extreme- what happens when Chen decides this dog is indeed dead and pulls out?  It wouldn't take much of a loss on his part to ruin them at this point.

Which brings us to the doctor's bid- which several valuations agree was at least $1 billion too low.  Plus the group is undercapitalised, and CHS rightly refused the bid on the basis that they couldn't commit to the half-billion of investment in LHN that CHS says they are going to make.  But here's the pregnant question- if CHS is $15 billion in debt, how can THEY commit to the investment?

And at the end of the circle, we come back to that old truism, now directed at the Lutheran Church whose desire for growth kicked this all off in the first place- be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday message- what is 'holy'?

Have you ever hit a word that struck you as odd or unusual in a place, did a word study on it, pulled it out to this great and complicated thing- and then discovered the lesson from it was so simple?  I do that a lot.  And I did it this week at the beginning of Psalm 86:

Psa 86:1  A Prayer of David. Bow down Your ear, O Jehovah, hear me; for I am poor and needy. 
Psa 86:2  Preserve my soul; for I am holy; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You. 

The word, in this case, was holy- what did David mean by it?  Well, I fell into a word study on 'holy' and found that there are 6 Hebrew words translated thus in the Old Testament, and four in the new.  I want to start with the lesser points before I get to the bigger picture.

The majority of these words stem from the Hebrew qadash- meaning to be or to make clean.  The prime example of this specific word comes in its very first use, in Exodus 30:8, saying that the sabbath shall be kept holy.  All but one of the Hebrew words are derived from this one in some way.  The most used version- in fact, the very first version used- is the word qodesh, referring to a place or more usually to an item that is sacred- for example, in that first use, Exodus 3:5, the Holy ground at the burning bush where Moses was told to remove his sandals.

A place that is more formally consecrated might be indicated by the word miqdash, which is first used in Psalms 68 describing "the holy places".  Examples given in my concordance include a chapel or a palace- or, perhaps, a temple.

Now the NT words are an interesting story.  All but 9 of the many places holy is used in the NT are from the word hagios, which the concordance notes carries the concept of being purified from defect.  Twice, the word hieros is used- in 1 Corinthians 9:13 and 2 Timothy 3:15- both times denoting items that have been formally consecrated- which makes it basically the same as the Hebrew qodesh. One word- hagiazo, which as you might guess comes from hagios, is used only once- in Revelations:

Rev 22:11  He acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly. And the filthy, let him be filthy still. And the righteous, let him be righteous still. And the holy, let him be holy still. 

This denotes someone who HAS been sanctified or purified.

But now that leaves us two more concepts- the most important ones- to look at.  One of them is the concept of a personal, like God holiness- captured by the Hebrew word qadowsh  and the Greek hosios- for which the description under the Greek nails it best:  to be right by divine character, as opposed to human means or formal consecration.  In other words Holiness that means you are walking in the character of God.

The other is encapsulated in the Hebrew word that David used in our opening verse, chaciyd.  This connotes being pious, kind, or godly.  In other words, being the kind of person that would make others say, "That feller's a real saint."  But take it one step farther.  Chaciyd derives from the word chacad, a word that had a very telling description:  to bow the neck, as a courtesy to an equal.  Get that?  That is the whole concept of considering others greater than oneself.

So, what is being holy?  When you look at these main two definitions- divine character and deference to others- you can see it was the same question that was asked of Jesus in Matthew 22:

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

And THAT is what it means to be holy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Time Machine co-ordinates VIVII43461663

Today we go to June 16th, 1963- the day that Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, orbiting the earth 49 times in 3 days on a trip that COULD have sent her spiralling out into space, had she herself not caught the mistake in the control program.  She would go on to be a factor in both Soviet and Russian politics (“The Soviet Union was important for more than one generation. I am not ignoring the mistakes, the highs and the lows, but as a whole … It is wrong to paint it only in dark colours. There was a lot of good as well.”), and only four years ago- when she was 76- she volunteered to lead a mission to Mars, "even if it is one-way".

Yuri Gagarin and "the female Gagarin"

Welcome to this week's Time Machine, where we have, after weeks of runaways, a run-OFF in the Panel this week; yet another 6D that becomes a "who did it" instead; and our POTM shows up- with the #101 song this week...  and a few other things to entertain and delight you!

And first up, I mentioned a few weeks back that I knew there was a vast difference between the songs on the UK best sellers of all time, and the songs that win the polls of the best UK songs of all time.  Radio X does a yearly vote of their subscribers, and the 2017 version contained only ONE of the best sellers- Bohemian Rhapsody, which was third on the best sellers but #1 on the poll.  I actually know (or have at least heard) 34 out of the top 100;  the old boys did a bit better too, as the Beatles collected six, the Stones five, and the Who 3.  But the big winner- not unexpectedly in this era- is alt-band Oasis (which never truly hooked me).  They landed 11 in the 100, and 2 (Live Forever), 3 (Wonderwall), 4 (Don't Look Back In Anger), and 6 (Champagne Supernova) in the top ten!  Aficionados of the Martin Era would recognize David Bowie's Heroes at #9, but not a lot else.


And about that wacky Panel:  We had a whopping 47 stations playing this week, and they netted us 12 candidates for next week's President of TM- and for a change, they were ALL on the week's national chart from Cashbox!  HOWever, 32 of those 47 votes went to just 2 songs- and they split them evenly!  So for a change, here are the also rans in chart order- since it was one and two that fought it out for the prize!

Bill Justus, who made his career in America, had a #1 in Australia (and thus his presence here), with the song Tamoure- which sat this week at #124.

Kirby St. Romain, whom I found little about, got a #1 with his song stuck at #97 with Summer's Comin'.

On the climb at #50, and gathering 5 votes, Jan and Dean's Surf City.

A song that my son loves, unusually, Essex with Easier Said Than Done, which was at #21 on the way down.

Little Peggy March, who will be back in a bit, with I Will Follow Him, on it's trip downward at #18.

Bobby Darin had 18 Yellow Roses at #13.

Bobby Vinton had the only other multi-vote tune with Blue On Blue, at #11.

Barbara Lewis with one of my faves no matter who sings it, Hello Stranger at #10.

Whispering Bill Anderson with Still, at #7.

The Crystals with a song famously destroyed by Sean Cassidy, Da Doo Ron Ron, at #4.

And that leaves us with the two 16-vote winners:  the national #2, Leslie Gore's It's My Party, and the #1, Kyu Sakamoto's Sukiyaki.  So, who won by getting the most SECOND place votes?  Tune in at the end- even IF the rest puts you to sleep!


Washington State's Fleet Foxes join the M10 this week, with an ethereal single from their latest lp, Crack Up.

They hop the train at #10.


So it happens that our POTM this week, Ray Charles, has his finger in a couple of features this week!  He sits at #101 with a 2-sided hit.  The first side was called No One, and it peaked at #21.  Stopping at #29 was a somewhat more famous tune, Without Love (There Is Nothing).  This tune had a few trips into the hot 100:  Clyde McPhatter in '57 (#19), of course Tom Jones in '69 (#5)- and at #90, Oscar Toney, Jr.  Who?  Well, he was a more UK based bluesman, but the interesting thing here is that during his UK tour he insisted on a backing band called Merlin Q.  And the thing about Merlin Q is that they became the core of Edison Lighthouse (Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes)!

Now, back to Ray:  This single was a non-album disc in between his much bigger hits, Take These Chains From My Heart (#8) and Busted (#4).   And Take These Chains was the highest charting UK song on the US chart this week- with it sitting at #8 there, and #31 here.  Which prolly makes you wonder, so which Elvis Song is #1 in the UK this week?  Well, jokes on you- it was someone else mighty big over there at the top, and it wasn't Cliff Richard, either!  I'll let you in on who in a bit.


Next up, the second debut at #9.  This song almost got in two weeks ago, and again last week.  This time, Nashville's Moon Taxi finally joins the M10...


Now, out of the 31 songs on this week's chart I knew, time to focus on two of them.  First is the 6D song, which got ignored by the Panel at #3- Al Martino's I Love You Because.  This tune was written by a gent we looked into a while back- Leon Payne, who also wrote Hank Williams, Sr's Lost Highway.  Payne took it to the top of the C&W charts in 1949. Though Payne and Martino had the biggest hits with it, they were not alone.  Ernest Tubbs (#2 country) and Clyde Moody (#8 Country) hit in 1950; Johnny Cash took it to #20 country in 1960.  Jim Reeves, a former POTM, had a #5 hit in the UK with it in '64- and 12 years later, he grazed the country charts here.  Carl Smith, who was unknown to me but was a early country HOFer- 32 top tens and 5 #1s from 1951-67- had one of his last hits with it, reaching #14 on the country charts in '69.  And Roger Whitaker of The Last Farewell fame, took it to 91 country as recently as 1983.

The other song is our #63 in '63- and it is our other mention of Little Peggy March, who held the spot with I Wish I Was A Princess.  LPM didn't have a lot of luck on the US charts- this song, which peaked at #32, gave her two of her three T40s along with I Will Follow Him.  HOWever, she did tremendously well in Germany.  From 1965-80, Peggy racked up 23 top 40s there, 3 top tens, and the #1 Romeo Und Julia.

And speaking of "over there", that UK #1 was- the Beatles with From Me To You, which was just under 8 months away from its American debut.  And the highest US song on the Brit chart?  Brenda Lee's Losing You, which was #14 here and 21 there.


And that brings us to the M10:

Flogging Molly slides down to #8 with The Days We've Yet To Meet.

Wet Wet Wet moves up three to #7 with Love Is All Around.

Once again, POWERS is Closer to the top this week- Closer moves up one more notch to #6.

Springtime Carnivore moves up a quick 4 to #5 with Midnight Room.

PVRIS' two week reign at the top is over- Heaven slips to #4.

Northern Faces are up to #3 with Messin' With Me.

Beach House makes it three weeks at #2 with Chariot.

And the #1s?   M10 says...

...Kidsmoke- And Mine Alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, who was it one the titanic tie at the top?  Well, by a 13-9 margin on #2s, it goes to...

...Kyu Sakamoto with Sukiyaki!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Next week, 1964!  The great Beatles' first wave is over- who is left standing?  Find out next week!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why the Tower was an inferno

While the rest of this country is focusing on who the shooter voted for and what the victim voted for, I have been looking at the other big news story that you aren't paying attention to- the fire in Grenfell Tower in England.  You can look up the deaths and stuff yourself.  I want to talk about what happened.

First. this is a building wherein the residents are told their flats are fireproofed, so that you "could completely burn out a flat, and the other flats on the floor wouldn't be affected."  In fact, they honest to God tell residents to stay in their flats if another flat catches fire.  Never mind that they had complaints as late as 2013 that fire extinguishers hadn't been checked in a YEAR, that the recent remodeling did not (and was not REQUIRED to) add a sprinkler system, and residents complained about the lack of access emergency vehicles has to the building.

Second, after a similar fire a few years back in which more people were killed and the owners were given a huge fine for negligence, the main fire safety organization turned over to the pertinent government bureau- which was then headed by PM Theresa May's current right hand man- that a report was needed, going through fire regulations, which hadn't been revisited since 2003, to see what needed to be updated as a result.  They are still waiting on that report, and the only word from the responsible government agency is "we are not sitting on a report."

So next, I look at the building plan- six apartments per floor nestled around a central stairwell system.  "Ah-ha, thought I, that may well explain why the fire climbed 20 stories in next to no time."

But I was wrong, the culprit was OUTSIDE.

In the renovations last year, one of the big features was a complete exterior re-cladding, which was tied into the circulation systems and the brand new energy-efficient windows.  This cladding was an aluminum composite filled with polyurethane spray-foam.

When "expertly fitted, and the insulation is fully encapsulated", the fire safety board says that it is perfectly safe.

The installing contractor said he didn't know what the insulation was made from, but he followed all applicable regulations.

Now let me take you back to that monstrous fire in that Dubai skyscraper a while back.  That fire shot up the cladding as well, and it was a brand new building.  Grenfell Tower was built 43 years ago.


How well do YOU think it got installed?  How well do you imagine it COULD be installed?

What energy efficient window do YOU see holding back that inferno?  Those people were told to stay put in the center of a big fricking match.  And why did they turn it into a match?

From the proposal for the renovations:

Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation
Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east. The changes
to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from
the surrounding area. Therefore views into and out of the conservation areas
will be improved by the proposals in accordance with 'saved' policy CD63 of the

"We want to make it pretty to it's neighbors."

Nice job.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Newspage go!

Okay, so let's see if I can find some fun headlines like last week.  Gotta be better than outclassing antagonistic commenters who don't know when they're well off, right?

From Fox News

NY Dem: 'Every racist in America voted for Donald Trump'

I have 1,000 words to say to that:

Wyoming woman caught shoplifting claims she's studying kleptomania

Now, THERE'S a brilliant excuse.  Prolly a Berkeley prof, yes?

Shark sightings on the rise? What you need to know

I live in Indiana.  I need know nothing.  Unless they've changed the stocking rules at Lake James.

From the BBC:

'Facebook blasphemer' given death penalty

See what happens when you mouth off about Zuckerberg, people?

From CNN:

Why Jeff Sessions says he can't talk

How can he say it if he can't talk?

Opinion: Will any Republicans halt Trump's march toward autocracy?

Which is not only funny for its premise, but when you combine it with the header just 2 lines later:

Katy Perry says he's the 'one who got away'

"Damn straight I did!"
Trump follows Bill Clinton playbook

Hence the sexual harassment charges.

Oprah is definitely not running for president

Well, thank Bob!  I was so worried....

From The Guardian:

Professor trampled to death by cattle in East Sussex

A spokescow said, "Blame US for global warming, will you?"

From Xinhua:

Flood hits northern India due to continued rainfall

Well, that makes more sense than "famine due to continued rainfall," I guess...

And since you can't directly get on the North Korean news agency website anymore, how about some of their tweets:

DPRK News Service‏ @DPRK_News  11h11 hours ago

 Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un mediation of international Qatar crisis delayed by arrival of eminent personage Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang.

Oh, well, hey you gotta make time for Dennis...

"Mummy," by US senator from Canada Ted Cruise, is named worst film of already horrific film career.

How many errors do you spot here?

(BTW: this is NOT made up.  I've go to follow this stuff!)

DPRK News Service‏ @DPRK_News  Jun 10

 Adam West is pronounced leading Bat Man of modern era, due to rigid ideological correctness and wholesome demeanor with children.

Holy rigid ideological correctness, Batman!

DPRK News Service‏ @DPRK_News  Jun 9

 DPRK Programmers develop algorithm predicting paths of large objects through atmosphere.

US Programmers model physics of women's breasts.

And which would YOU want to subscribe to?

DPRK News Service‏ @DPRK_News  Jun 9

 Noted Impotent Russophile Donald Trump feebly attempts to twart investigation by volunteering to defiantly perjure himself in US Show Trial.

HOW on earth do you TWART an investigation?  By covfefe, of course!

This feed is just loaded with laughs... let me pick just one more good one for tonight.  But I think I may have just found a new regular feature...

DPRK News Service‏ @DPRK_News  Jun 9

 After incorrect statistical prediction in UK Election, English Idiot Piers Morgan derided as a filthy hog, eating from its own buttocks.

Nothing but class, these guys...