Friday, May 31, 2013

Letter from former Illinois public official

Posted at the Post Dispatch Forum: 26 May 2013 18:58 pm
Dear friends,
As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of "The Land of Lincoln" state.
After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. But enough is enough. The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can't continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here.
I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4th of our population. Don't blame the weather, because most of us love the 4 beautiful seasons of Illinois. Illinois just sold still more bonds, and our credit rating is so bad we pay higher interest rates than junk bonds. Junk Bonds!
Illinois is ranked:
• 50th for fiscal policy
• 47th in job creation
• 1st in unfunded pension liabilities
• 2nd largest budget deficit
• 1st in failing schools
• 1st in bonded indebtedness
• Highest sales tax in the nation
• Most judges indicted (Operations Greylord and Gambat)
Five of our last 9 elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together! Then add 32 Chicago Aldermen and (according to the Chicago Tribune) over 1,000 state and municipal employees indicted.
The corruption tax is a real cost of doing business. We are the butt of jokes for stand-up comics. We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county, in the most corrupt state in America . I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire policemen and firemen!
Our Crook County corporate tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman, who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House (Speaker Mike Madigan), and the most senior alderman in Chicago, each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their clients’ tax assessments.
Cook County 's property tax system is a disaster: The assessed value of our Chicago home was 50% higher than the sale price. Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20%, and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes more than 20% next year.
The Illinois system is unfair and incompetent. In the Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio ) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for, and the property taxes are a third of what they are here.
We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax, while Illinois just went up 67%. Texas sales tax is half of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, taxpayers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.
I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us.
I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent, and cost- effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets.
Our best wishes to all of you.
Roger and Tina Keats

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Goose Tatum

The clown prince of negro league baseball.

And ... the clown prince of basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Numbers Stations

There was a movie out recently by this name. I haven’t seen it and hear it isn’t very good. However, I’ve always been interested in the phenomena itself if for no other reason than the fact that they’ve been around possibly since at WWII, and all anyone can guess about them is that they carry various kinds of coded messages used by various governments. These stations number in the hundreds.
Do you own a short wave radio? If so, you may have noticed that from time to time you can tune-in to a station that has no other on-air activity except to have a tape recording of someone repeating a pattern of numbers (sometimes with letters mixed in) over and over and over. You’re undoubtedly thinking, “Boy, that sounds just like the woman’s repeated broadcast from the island on the TV show Lost.” You’d be right. That tidbit in the show was based on numbers stations.
But are they secret coded messages? If so, are they really something that various countries use for espionage purposes? There are some very odd things about them if that is the case. One of the strangest things The Internet Archive has ever been associated with is collecting recordings from numbers stations and posting them at their website in something they call the Cornet Project. (In fairness I should also point out that they sell some CDs of the recordings too.) Here are some of the questions they pose:
One might think that these espionage activities should have wound down considerably since the official end of the cold war, but nothing could be further from the truth. Numbers Stations (and by inference, spies) are as busy as ever, with many new and bizarre stations appearing since the fall of the Berlin wall.
Why is it that in over 30 years, the phenomenon of Numbers Stations has gone almost totally unreported? What are the agencies behind the Numbers Stations, and why are the eastern European stations still on the air? Why does the Czech republic operate a Numbers Station 24 hours a day? How is it that Numbers Stations are allowed to interfere with essential radio services like air traffic control and shipping without having to answer to anybody? Why does the Swedish Rhapsody Numbers Station use a small girls voice?
These are just some of the questions that remain unanswered.
Here's a video from a news broadcast in 2006 on the subject and on the Cornet Project:

For more see The Internet Archive’s Cornet Project.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Don’t Be Still, This Heart of Mine

I’ve been going back and forth to the VA Hospital(s) for tests for several months now, and I still have at least three more to go. At least I finally know the source of most of my problems now. Turns out I have an enlarged heart chamber. (I don’t know which one.) It accounts for all my symptoms—extreme fatigue at odd times for no apparent reason, chronic cough, shortness of breath, swelling of lower extremities (but not the happy zone dang it!)
The treatment is as simple as taking blood pressure medicine and water pills to push out the excess fluid buildup. Unfortunately, the doctor put me on atenolol, a common blood pressure medicine. It normally works pretty well for most people, but it swelled me up even more and I put on 25 pounds in about 6 weeks. My feet looked like something floating over a Thanksgiving day parade. I was swollen all the way up through my thighs it was so bad.
So she took me off atenolol and put me on a water pill. I didn’t know this, but not only will a water pill help to eject the fluid build-up from edema, but they also make a pretty good blood pressure pill substitute. They take out excess fluid from around the heart too. I lost the 25 pounds (though not overnight), and my feet look like feet again. I still have some swelling in my legs which you can easily see when I take my socks off. There’s that telltale ring-around-the-ankles look. But overall I’ve been feeling much better.
I still get tired some days, but not like I used to. I think a lot of this may be tied into diet. I used to eat a ton of lunchmeat sandwiches and fast foods. I started eating more fresh meat, mostly pork steaks and chops along with baked potatoes, egg beater, oranges, apples, green beans, peas & carrots, and corn. Yes, there are leaner cuts than chops and pork steaks, but I like them, and pork cooks easily in the microwave. This past week I went back to my old lunchmeat and fast food ways and started feeling very tired right away. I mean REAL tired just like before. A lot of it may have to do with all the salt they put in lunchmeats. Well, no more of that.
Some of my tiredness may be the result of working too hard also. I can put in a hard day, but then I’m dead for the next two or three. The doctor says that I also cannot exercise strenuously. Absolutely no weight lifting or hard basketball playing until my heart gets back to normal—if it gets back to normal. Even if the enlarged chamber doesn’t shrink all the way down, I may still live to be ninety. However, I may never be able to play sports again. It’s true what the say—it’s hell getting old.
The good news is that my eBook formatting business is doing well. I’ve been able to cut down on my other job and sit at home one or two days per week working on books. I hope to do it full-time one day, or something like it. What I should really do is write the great American novel and never work again!
I'll leave you with my masterpiece (perhaps one day I'll say it and mean it!), Eleanor Rigby played on acoustic guitar with a Boomerang looper pedal. You can see I had already gained a lot of weight a couple of years ago in this video. My face is like a giant walnut. But I get more response from this video than any other I've ever upload. 229 thumbs up and counting! Perhaps I should don some fat man attire and take my act on the road....