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your crazy uncle
Many of us love a good conspiracy theory. Some of us, though, love them more than others. It’s no surprise liberals are more likely to buy into a conspiracy theory critical of the right, or conservatives are more likely to believe one critical of the left. The data supports exactly that, proving we often dare research the obvious. Here I’m going to discuss four specific conspiracy theories, two from each side of the political spectrum, and sketch what a national sample of over 5,000 U.S. adults tells us about who does, and does not, believe in them.
30% tax credit
A big part of the future of Gwinnett may be happening right now, and most people don’t realize it. Already underway at the current 168-acre excess land of the OFS fiber optic cable plant (the former Western Electric site) at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Interstate 85, is filming of a major motion picture. It’s to be called Fast and Furious Seven, an action-crime-thriller, and is a $300 million blockbuster being produced by Universal Studios, entirely in Gwinnett County. It stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson.
compare two experiences
You may have seen a series of reality shows on TV recently about two survivalists set down in hostile territory sans clothes, food, matches, water or shelter, and required to survive for 21 days. Each week a man and woman who had never previously met, removed their clothes and shook hands in a jungle, or on a beach, the Serengeti, a desert island, or wherever that episode was filmed by an unseen two-man crew. The fact that in the course of the episode participants each lost about 20 lbs. in weight and were seen eating maggots…
When I was a child, I had a purple Crown Royal bag filled with all manner of marbles. We collected them, admired them, competed with them, and crowed about who had the most or “rarest.” There was something deeply satisfying about the heft of the bag, and the “aggies, beauties, cats-eyes, clearies, steelies, tigers and swirlies” within. We gathered friends in the same ways: through an arcane process of admiration, competition and number-building.
moronic public displays
Everything is indeed bigger in Texas, and now that slogan can also apply to moronic public displays of intimidation. The New York Times reported today on an armed protest outside a suburban restaurant this past weekend. From NYT: “A small meeting of a group seeking tougher gun laws was interrupted Saturday at a suburban Dallas restaurant when the woman who helped organize it saw something outside that startled her: at least two dozen men and women in the parking lot with shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s…
kings bay naval base
For reasons unknown to me, I recently got an invitation to attend a Friday conference at the Kings Bay Naval Base at St. Marys, Ga. Three local journalists were there, and I was the only outside interloper. I had never heard about the gathering, to be on the nuclear deterrence of our country. The invitation had another caveat: invitees were offered a two-hour tour of an Ohio Class submarine.
The sub tour grabbed me.
walk on the wild side
Reading The Soundtrack of My Life, the second memoir by record label executive Clive Davis, brings to life a period when Davis was in at least his second chapter as music mogul. It was the mid-70s, when Davis emerged from the messiness of being canned as President of Columbia Records. There were allegations of Davis using company funds of up to $94,000.00 to feather his own nest while covering such expenses as his son’s bar mitzvah.
elegance from another era
The cab driver deposited our luggage on the sidewalk in front of the Gare de l’Est train station in Paris where the uniformed porters didn’t blink at the two huge suitcases, the carry-on bag, the hanging garment bag, and several shopping bags. We followed the two pillbox-hatted young men through the station crowd, beneath the sign announcing: Train spécial – VSOE Istanbul, onto the carpeted area on the platform cordoned off by a red silk rope where we showed our papers.
Between the commemorative magazines at grocery checkouts evoking “Camelot” and the early-bird TV specials – JFK: The Smoking Gun, Killing Kennedy and Capturing Oswald, to name just three – it’s hard to miss the fact that the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is fast approaching. By midnight on November 22, there will have been more than 20 newly produced assassination specials, including a History Channel offering that promises to be “definitive.”
The green envelope in the photo is only one of 12 new forms necessary to qualify Texas voters (or make their vote “provisional” if they don’t have identical photo ID).
Yesterday I was an elections judge on the Northside suburbs of San Antonio (read: big houses). This was not a heavy voting day, since there were no candidates on the ballot, so the polls were visited primarily by the faithful. Still, it provided insights into what we can look forward to in the future.
preserving the family recipe
Legends develop themselves throughout the years, in various forms and fashions to become part of our everyday life. But many of us may wonder, “Exactly what constitutes a legend and how does one reach a status of that nature?” There are many people who feel you must lead an exemplary life to fall in this category, however, the focus of this particular legend doesn’t play out in quite this manner, but it perhaps one of the most interesting subjects you will read about. The name of this legend is none other than Albert “Ab” Jackson, Moonshine King of the Tri-County area.
love them once again
We were enjoying bar food and cold drinks at an East Columbia establishment. College football was on every hi-def TV and the place was buzzing with good vibes. The lady sitting across from me, one of my favorite people; was trying to keep the night from becoming a bummer while attempting to come to grips with the recent death of a young friend.
Her partner’s favorite nephew had lost his best friend to suicide. It was a bad combination of alcohol, overreaction, PTSD, and having a pistol handy.
Seeing no Visa sticker on the door and having all of two dollars in my wallet, I had to ask the tall moon-faced man in faded Carhartts, who’d just shaken my hand: “Y’all take plastic?”
“No, but we take green,” smiled Jeffery Vassel. “Green’s always welcome. And the gas station down there has a cash machine.”
you can't make this up
You can drive by a place 1,000 times and be unaware of its history. Such was the case for a small country store on Highway 378 in Edgefield County. Over the years I’ve passed the little store you see with this column 1,000 times and not once did I stop. That changed Sunday, October 13. I did pass it but I turned around, curious to see what the price of gas was on the old rusty pump, leaning like an old man with a cane.
in perpetuity for a while
Word that the North Georgia Methodist Conference might dispose of its 227-acre Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center in Peachtree Corners, fronting the Chattahoochee River, raises several questions.
Foremost in the mind of many is what will be the effect of future donors putting restrictions on property they give to non-profits. After all, the intent of Miss Ludie Simpson, who gave the property to the Methodists, was to keep the land intact.
coming to terms
In Rabbi Joe’s class this week on Mussar, the Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe, I heard the words of the author Anne Tyler echo in my ears. In her book The Beginner’s Goodbye, she startles the reader right off by having the main character say,
“I have a couple of handicaps. I may not have mentioned that.”
standing room only
These days I’m single, live alone in a comfortable bungalow in central Virginia. Despite moving house thirteen times in four different countries, I keep in touch with those I want to by letter, internet, telephone, Christmas cards and recollection. Many friends held dear I’ve not seen in years, but the ones I love, I cleave to; special souls are hard to find. With some it’s almost telepathic. Most of my loved ones are alive and kicking, although distant. The world’s not as small as I’d like it to be…
was i dreaming?
Whether I was subject to the zeitgeist of debt ceiling brinkmanship or pickles for supper, I had a bad night. I dreamed that Ted Cruz was running for president with Sarah Palin for VP. There are doubtless worse combinations, like Russ Limbaugh and the Donald (what a power struggle that would be, which would be Vice?). My nightmare made me sit up and tremble.
Having seen cultural changes from moon-in-June to hip hop heavy rotation slam rap…
think mother tiger
Last night I got a phone call about 8 o’clock on a dark, wet evening in Virginia from the “Nine-One-One Center,” an automated voice telling residents to “Lock all doors and windows, stay inside and don’t answer the door to anybody while the police are engaged in an incident at the (named) nearby park.” I live about two hundred yards from a 34-acre wooded park, normally considered an asset to our community.
I’ve lived through more threatening situations than you would credit…
southern gothic on speed
If you are tired of the same fluff reading that the major publishing houses try to shove down your throat each month; if you want something with some guts, some fortitude; if you want to read books that feel like a gravel road, backwoods stomp, happy hour at a honky-tonk, guiltless crime spree, then grit lit is the trailer park bar-b-que you need to find yourself posted up at. There is a new breed of gunslinger in town. The good news is their work pays respect to the Doc Hollidays and the Wyatt Earps who taught them how to shoot.
a changed man
When you grow up with a hooligan in the neighborhood, you learn quickly to stay alert and to fight back or forever be a patsy to his terrorist tactics. I have Frank to thank for my first bloody nose and other important lessons in life, such as how to handle a hard grounder to third base. But he was a tough kid and a bully.
colors against the shadows
The American marten’s body this morning had lost its lustrous sheen my wife Jody and I had marveled at yesterday when our dogs found it in the woods just off our drive. In the eighteen years I have lived here, this is only the second marten I’ve seen. I only got a glimpse of the first one years ago as he darted down off a rock and disappeared alongside the stream. We have no idea what killed this one, although we have coyotes and fox here who are natural predators.
I must have been around eight when Uncle Carroll handed me a shard of metal. I couldn’t believe what was in my hands. That jagged piece of silver metal, the skin of an aircraft, was about the size of a postcard but in my mind it was big. Really big. A jet had crashed in northeast Georgia and Uncle Carroll had retrieved a piece of it. Holding a remnant of a fighter jet in my hand was one of those moments I’d carry the rest of my life. That torn metal might as well have come from an alien spacecraft. I held it and marveled. “It came from a wing,” I thought.
crossing in style
The driver called for us in Georgetown just before eight and delivered my wife, Arlette, and me to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal a little after noon, where the Queen Mary 2, flagship of the Cunard Line, waited for our transatlantic crossing. The comfortable point-to-point, or more precisely door-to-port, limousine presaged a magnificent trip.
the night life changed
People talk about life-changing events and most of the time it’s a dramatic event: An accident, a religious conversion, marriage, the onset of illness, the birth of a child, and such life changes generally affect people right away. Sometimes, though, it’s an event whose life-changing implications lie far off in the future. You just can’t know the path fate has chosen for you. And sometimes the change targets a select group of people.
living the past
From the lieutenant’s cap I had drawn a “4.” So they killed me about forty yards shy of the wall. Hoke, my neighbor’s son, was in his first fight and also had a “4”; he got a little further but inevitably, he too, was mown down. Jackson, a clever Florida boy, is also at his first reenactment: He had drawn a highly coveted “5.” He could go all the way to the wall or choose to surrender –– his call. Our captain, Matthew, a veteran of many battles, also drew a “5.” He had died here on this very ground back in 2008 and on many other fields since, but he had never before made it to the wall … he never surrenders.
forgo any stumbling
Finding an old friend after all these years, sitting down for coffee with an ex-lover after an accidental meeting on the street, reconciling with a family member after a period of silence so long that neither of you can remember why your worlds went quiet, how lovely to know there are second chances.
The overlapping of love and laughter is perhaps all I really want from this life. I recently read the words of the poet W. S. Merwin who said,
“One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time.”
Worthy of Comment
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