GARY D. GADDY
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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Christian extremism in action
 
This is a column that I didn't publish at the time of a horrific event in Pennsylvania five years ago.  I am not sure why I didn't but I thought I would share it now on the occasion of the anniversary of this tragic yet heartening day.

AGAIN THIS WEEK violence and religion have converged.  After month after month, year after year of Sunni Muslims killing Shia Muslims, and vice versa in Iraq, of Hindus and Muslims killing each other in India, of Arab Muslims killing African Christians in Dafur, you would think we had seen it all.  But no, religious violence took a new twist this week in Pennsylvania. 

You probably already know the story.  On October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts, a milk-truck driver, entered and took over the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School in Georgetown, Pennsylvania, and shot ten young Amish girls, killing five.  The explanations for Roberts' acts vary from his having been molested as a child to he himself molested small children as a boy to he hated God because Roberts' own child died in infancy.  The only thing that is clear in all of this is that the children he shot, and apparently had planned to molest, had nothing to do with any of this.  They were true innocents.

As the story unfolds, it turns out they were better than innocent.  One of the girls who died in Pennsylvania's Amish schoolhouse massacre, Marian Fisher, age 13,  is reported to have asked the killer to shoot her first because she thought it might allow younger girls to survive.  Fisher's 11-year-old sister, Barbie, appealed to Roberts to shoot her next, according to Rita Rhoads, a nurse-midwife.

"It was very courageous of the girls to offer themselves," Rhoads said. "God was really present to give the girls that kind of courage."

An Eye for an Eye

The bumper sticker says:  "An Eye for an Eye Leaves the Whole World Blind."  A good sentiment, but not really a good exegesis of this particular Bible verse.  Mathematically, it is two eyes for an eye that will leave the whole world blind.  An eye for an eye leaves two people with one eye.  This Old Testament teaching can be seen as one of proportionality as a means of preventing an escalating sequence of revenge.  The teaching of "an eye for an eye" says the punishment should fit the crime: for example, the death penalty for first-degree murder, prison time for assault, no cutting off a hand for stealing a piece of candy.

Jesus also taught proportional response -- but in reverse -- and he lived it out.  Jesus knew the teaching of "an eye for an eye" but preached a higher way.  "If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also.  If someone takes your coat, let him have your sweater as well," taught Jesus.  His proportions were to reverse the flow of hate, not just to stem it.

The Amish, quaint in their old-fashioned ways, would hardly seem to be role models for the modern world -- but they are.  The Amish don't normally take charity.  (More of their out-moded ways, I guess.)  In this case the Amish community in Georgetown decided, albeit reluctantly, to accept outside donations.  At the behest of Amish leaders, a fund was set up for the gunman's wife and his three children.   Reports were that half the people paying respects at Charles Roberts' funeral were Amish.  Wonder where the two Fisher girls might have gotten their ideas about sacrificing their lives for the others?

Our Daughters in Heaven

For many of us the Golden Rule is our goal:  that is, to love our neighbors as well as we love ourselves.  But for many of us "loving our neighbors -- and hating our enemies" is the highest ideal we strive for.  Jesus said, "But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."  If we can't learn from Jesus, maybe we can learn from the Christian extremists in Pennsylvania, those Amish girls.  As Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

 
Gary D. Gaddy would hope to be considered this kind of Christian extremist.
 
A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Sunday October 2, 2011. 
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 
 
 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:19 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:13 PM EDT
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Friday, August 12, 2011
Anchors aweigh, or, winning the lottery for real

MANY AMERICANS DREAM about winning the lottery.  Some of them so much so that they are willing to buy lottery tickets to try to do it – which indicates that they are not all that smart and apparently are unaware that they have already won – and won big.  How do I know that when they apparently don't?  Well, I've traveled a tad and I can tell you that the least people in America live far above most of the rest of the world.

So what do we Americans do with our valuable citizenship?  We give it away through birthright citizenship – even those who act illegally to obtain it.

Since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment to the constitution in 1868, the citizenship has been controlled by its citizenship clause, which states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United State."  So, being born in America, this clause is interpreted as saying, makes you by birthright a U.S. citizen.

 This passage is so broadly construed that even babies born on planes flying over the U.S. or its territories acquire U.S. citizenship – regardless of the plane's country of origin.

But the phenomenon is bigger than even that suggests as these children can then become so-called "anchor babies" when they reach legal majority and may then sponsor their parents who came here illegally to gain legal permanent residency, then citizenship.

So, what's this citizenship we give away worth?  What birth tourists – foreign women who travel to America to give birth and leave with their American babies – are willing to pay may give one hint.

The Chinese-language website USANYBABY.com offers a service facilitating pregnant Chinese women in coming to the U.S. to give birth by arranging lodging and hospital stays, and helping the birth tourists apply for birth certificates and then U.S. passports for their American babies.

While customs agents do have discretion to turn away very pregnant women, pregnancy is not an immediate reason to deny someone a visa to visit or work in the country.  Still, to minimize such problems, at the center promoted by USANYBABY.com most women spend at least four months – three before delivery and one after.  The total cost of American citizenship per baby comes in at $21,000 to $36,000.

Another birth-tourist program, catering to affluent Turks, offers a birthing package that runs about $45,000.  Both programs are, as we will see, a real steal of a deal.

Several countries sell a lesser commodity, permanent residency status, to foreigners, though they usually package it as something less crass. Canada, for example, offers permanent residence to "foreign investors," requiring applicants to illustrate they have a net worth of at least $1.68 million and to make an active investment in Canada of at least $840,000 (at current exchange rates). Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand have similar programs.

What you might not know is the U.S. also has a parallel program, the EB-5 visa, where foreign individuals must actively invest at least $500,000 (one million dollars if not in a "targeted" area), creating at least 10 jobs. (The EB-5 is clear proof that the U.S. is less elitist than these other countries, as it has no net worth requirement, not caring whether these investors are rich or not – as long as they have lots of money.)

Another way to estimate the value of permanent residency is expected-lifetime-earnings differential.  In the United States the average resident has a per capita annual income of $47,200.  In Mexico the average resident has an income of $13,900.  (Note that the average Canadian resident has an income $39,400 – which three numbers explain, in part, why we have big immigration influx from our south and not much of one from our north.)

This large income difference implies a much larger difference over an adult lifetime of say 50 years and a great enticement for a young Mexican to cross illegally into the U.S.  For example, a Mexican making an average income in Mexico, who then made an average U.S. income in the U.S., would make $1.65 million more during his life.

Given a huge number such as this, you would expect that like illegal immigration in general, birthright citizenship might also be a frequent occurrence.  Well, it is.  In 2008, it is estimated, four million children became U.S. citizens after being born to immigrant parents on U.S. soil illegally.  (Birth-tourist babies would not be included in this number.)

If we wish to get control of our immigration process, we might want to end birthright citizenship for tourists and immigrants here illegally – like Britain did in 1983 – because as long as we are giving away winning lottery tickets to every one who sneaks in, we will never get immigration under control.

And while I am sympathetic to immigrants here illegally, and the children they may have brought with them, the DREAM Act, which would legalize children brought here illegally, would only make things worse by giving more incentive for others to do likewise, an incentive we cannot afford.

 

Gary D. Gaddy briefly considered taking his pregnant wife to England in 1977 so his son could have dual citizenship.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August 12, 2011.

Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy
 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:14 PM EDT
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Friday, August 5, 2011
Which are they, voter-owned or tax-payer-extorted elections?

CHAPEL HILL CALLS its "clean-elections" local ordinance "Voter-Owned Elections."  Who could be against that?  Somebody?  Anybody?  OK, if none of you will volunteer, I guess that leaves me.

Advocates of "election reform" demonize the voluntary contributions of those of means to the candidates of their choosing as "legal bribes." That wouldn't bother me so much if they didn't at the same time sanctify confiscations from those same individuals, glorifying them as "public funding."

To avoid partisan bias, I will quote the co-founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, Thomas Jefferson, who spoke very directly to this issue, in my view, saying, "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Perhaps you don't think that you agree with me – or Jefferson – on this matter.  It may help if you imagine the worst worst-case scenario for your own political leaning.  How would you like to have your money expropriated and used to fund the political campaign for Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Hitler, or even Ronald Reagan?  Wouldn't you find that "sinful and tyrannical"?  I would – even if it went to Ronald Reagan.

Principles of freedom say that I get to choose which person, party or particular ideology I support with my time, talent and treasure.  It is no more defensible to confiscate my money to promote a candidate whose politics I disbelieve than it would be to compel me to write or pass out tracts in that same candidate's defense.

Imagine, I ask again, if your money was used to fund Jesse Helm's re-election campaign, would you be happy?  How would you feel if, in addition, you weren't allowed to vote?  That's how "voter-owned" elections work – and that's not their only problem.

Here's a simplified rendition of how Chapel Hill’s "voter-owned" elections are supposed to work.  A candidate may choose to run using either their own campaign donations (but by local ordinance only up to $200 per donor) or by collecting a required number of signatures and campaign donations each between $5 and $20.  In 2009, candidates running for mayor needed to collect a total of between $1,500 and $4,500 from at least 150 small-dollar donors.  After qualifying, a mayoral candidate gets thousands of dollars plus rescue funds if an opponent spends more than 140% of what the “voter-owned” candidate has spent

This is supposed to "level the playing field," and "reduce the influence of outside money," and, one would assume, reduce spending overall – or else what would be the point?

Well, in Chapel Hill's mayoral battle in the pre-voter-owned 2007 election, challenger Kevin Wolff spent something over $2,200, while incumbent Kevin Foy spent $3,800.

In the 2009 voter-owned election, incumbent mayor Mark Kleinschmidt spent a total of $18,000 on his campaign, $9,000 of whichcame from the city's public election fund after he collected the requisite 150 small-dollar contributions.  He received an additional $4,000 in public "rescue funds" once his opponent Matt Czajkowski raised 140% of that. Czajkowski, who raised campaign funds the traditional way, that is, from his supporters, spent $36,000.

So, that’s $6000 for the two candidates in 2007 and $54,000 (including $13,000 in tax dollars) for the top two candidates in 2009.  Not much of a reduction, I would say.

And, it is said, "clean election" laws are supposed to keep out big donors paying "legal bribes." Well, the state Board of Elections confirmed that former Town Councilman Cam Hill (whom now-mayor Kleinschmidt’s campaign ads listed as a supporter) was responsible for a late-in-the-campaign bulk mailer sent in support of Kleinschmidt’s mayoral bid.  Hill's $1,700-plus mailing – far exceeding the $200 per donor limit – was legitimized by a political action committee created after the fact.

The voter-owned-election ordinance also has been criticized as an "incumbent protection program" – probably because it is. Candidates for town council in 2009 only needed to get 83 donors to give them $10 a piece to qualify, encouraging non-viable candidates to run – thus diluting the opposition vote for all incumbents.

As a council member in 2008 Kleinschmidt voted for "voter-owned" elections, then as an incumbent Chapel Hill council member Kleinschmidt used the program to finance his successful mayoral bid in 2009.  Kleinschmidt has said. “Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to give to candidates.”  But with the "voter-owned" elections ordinance in place, Kleinschmidt and the other council incumbents did.

Then there's the pesky unconstitutional part.  In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a provision of that Arizona's "clean elections" law was unconstitutional. "Specifically, the Supreme Court rejected so-called 'matching funds’," said Daren Bakst of the John Locke Foundation, referencing a component of the law clearly parallel to Chapel Hill's voter-owned elections ordinance’s rescue funds.

But, not to worry, the N.C. General Assembly only approved Chapel Hill's pilot program to operate for two election cycles – the second of which will be this November – and renewal is questionable at best.  For my tax dollar, it can’t be gone soon enough.

 

Orange County resident Gary D. Gaddy cannot vote in Chapel Hill but his property and sales tax payments were used to finance candidates he would never support for any office with his vote.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday August  5, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy

 


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 15, 2011 3:15 PM EDT
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Friday, July 29, 2011
How a gracious Jeff Saturday found the light

LIKE THE PURLOINED LETTER in the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, offensive linemen like Jeff Saturday are hidden in plain sight. Every snap of the football that goes to Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning comes from center Saturday's hands.  And that is rarely acknowledged – unless the exchange is muffed.

In an era of bad news locally, UNC alumnus Saturday gave Tar Heel football fans this week a reason to be proud of one Tar Heel's off-field behavior.  For a nation mired simultaneously in two seeming irresolvable stalemates, one trivial (the National Football League's owners' lockout of the players following failure to come to a collective bargain agreement) and one consequential (the looming possibility of a first-ever national fiscal default due to the impasse on setting the parameters for raising the federal debt ceiling), the resolution of the trivial gave hope for the consequential.

Saturday's role was as a player representative for the Indianapolis Colts and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Football League Players' Association, which made him a key negotiator. Afterwards, Saturday was acknowledged as being instrumental in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement between the players and the owners.

Given one brief moment in the spotlight, Saturday turned the focus away from himself and on to the wives of those involved in the negotiations, including his own, but with a touching tribute to the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Saturday made note of her contribution even as she was dying.  Said Saturday, “A special thanks to Myra Kraft, who even in her weakest moment, allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out,” Saturday said at a joint news conference to announce a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done.  He is a man who helped us save football. We’re gracious for that.”

What followed was a brief but warm embrace between Kraft and Saturday that marked the symbolic end to the lockout – and a moment of human decency following seriously adversarial negotiations.

So, how did Saturday get to that moment?  And how is it that someone who works in relative anonymity came to deflect the glory to others in his moment of recognition?

A talk earlier this year by Jeff and Karen Saturday in Anderson, Indiana, reported by Abbey Doyle of the Herald Bulletin, may shed some light.

Jeff and Karen met when Karen was a high-school freshman and Jeff an eighth-grader in Atlanta. Both said religion wasn’t strong in their lives growing up. Jeff joked that his mother, “a prayer warrior,” spent a lot of time on her knees praying for him as he was being a “knucklehead.”

The first interaction between Karen and Jeff was after Karen’s friends pointed out the “handsome, flirtatious, outspoken” boy.

“They said, ‘You have the same eyes, you should go up to him and tell him you are going to have his children some day,’” Karen said, laughing. She did, and Jeff’s quick reply was, “You want to practice?”

Later, the two dated for seven and a half years and have been married for 12.  They have three children.

The turning point for Jeff’s faith journey, he said, began when he wasn’t drafted right out of college.  A two-time first-team all-conference selection in 1996 and 1997 and part of two of the winningest teams in Carolina history (10-2 and 11-1), Saturday expected to be drafted; despite his UNC business degree, he had no backup plan. When the draft was over and he hadn’t seen his name flash across the screen, he was devastated and called his mother – expecting a sympathetic ear.

“She said, ‘The reality is, God gave you a gift and you didn’t give anything back to him. He’s going to take it back from you,’” Jeff recalled. “It hit me right between my eyes.”

As an undrafted free agent Saturday signed with the Baltimore Ravens only to be cut two months later. Out of football for six months, he signed midseason with the Indianapolis Colts in 1999.  There his pro career began to flourish.

But, personally, Saturday said he was still searching for an identity amongst the success and lifestyle of the NFL. An encounter with a teammate, Mark Thomas, resulted in Saturday attending a team Bible study, where Thomas challenged Saturday on his motives and desires.

The ultimate question: What defines you as a person?

"The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't have an answer," recalls Saturday. "But, Jesus did. I did not have to come up with an identity for myself. Christ had created me with my identity already intact. All I had to do was step into it."

Saturday has had success (five Pro Bowls, twice picked as AP NFL All-Pro First Team, named one of the "Top 10 Undrafted NFL Players of the last 20 Years" and he owns a Super Bowl ring), but Saturday's greatest moment was one of gracious other-directed kindness.  I'll bet his momma is proud.

Now let’s send Kraft and Saturday to Washington.

 

Gary D. Gaddy is proud today to be a Tar Heel fan.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 29, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2011 12:25 PM EDT
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Friday, July 22, 2011
Pluggin' in in 2011: Can electric cars save the planet?
 
THE OTHER DAY my tennis buddy Bob Clark and I went to Raleigh to Plug-In 2011, a conference on electric and hybrid electric vehicles.  We carpooled in his Jetta SportWagen TDI because his diesel is more efficient than my gasoline and electric hybrid.  While we were there we saw a Ford Escape Hybrid with a plug-in feature, a beefed-up plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius, a serial-hybrid Chevy Volt and several true all-electrics including the Ford Focus Electric and the Nissan Leaf.

I wish I could say I saw some cars that will save our planet, but I can't.  While electric cars can be quiet, clean, fast and efficient, alone they won’t notably reduce our carbon-footprint on the world for several reasons.
 
A while back as we were walking on to the tennis court at Hollow Rock, I told Bob that I had heard that he was going to be buying a Chevy Volt.  He looked at me with a very puzzled look.  I then added, "I didn't say you were going to get to drive it.  I just said I heard you were going to be buying one.  And, actually, it'll be more than one and I'll be buying them with you."

None of these vehicles, you see, is price competitive without the current large and unsustainable tax-payer-subsidized rebates.  And while all of these vehicles run "clean" at street-level, in terms of greenhouse gasses they are little better than similar-sized new, and much cheaper, gas- and diesel-powered vehicles.

As astute observers have noted, given our current national electric power generation system, electric cars could be called coal-powered cars, since half of U.S. electricity comes from coal.  Coal, almost everybody agrees, is environmentally unfriendly, producing lots of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and lots of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, the air pollutants that bring us respiratory ailments and acid rain.

Per unit of energy delivered to a car's tank or battery, on a national average, electricity is 1.7 times as planet-polluting as gasoline, says environmental scientist John DeCicco.  Only the electric car's efficiency makes replacing a gasoline mile with an electric mile even sensible, cutting its global warming gasses in half.  Comparing a gasoline-powered Cooper Mini to the electric Mini E charged using purely coal-generated power, the electric version is a tiny bit cleaner than gasoline per mile driven, says DeCicco.
 
Solar- and wind-generated electricity isn't the answer either -- until we can get the sun to shine and the wind to blow when we need our cars charged.  And while natural gas is carbon-friendlier than coal or oil, to get it in quantity we would have to "get crackin' on frackin'," as the controversial gas extraction process of hydraulic fracturing is known.  (And don't think of horses, donkeys or mules as an answer either as they produce abundant amounts of methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.)
 
But maybe coal isn't so bad.  A group of climate scientists led by Robert Kaufmann propose to explain why the predicted global warming isn't happening as fast as they thought given the massive array of recently built, Chinese coal-fired power plants.  The ironic answer may be that while burning coal releases carbon dioxide which traps heat from the sun and thus raises temperatures worldwide, the same burning coal emits particles of sulfur that block the sun's rays and thus cool the earth.  It's like fighting fire with coal-fueled fire.  (Unfortunately, the sulfur particles won’t last as long in the atmosphere as the carbon dioxide.)
 
If man-made global warming is occurring at a damaging pace, geo-engineering (manipulating nature at the level of the planet) looms before us.  One earnest geo-engineering suggestion for countering global warming is to send coal-fired power plant exhaust into the stratosphere, where the sulfur particles would act like a high-altitude shade.

Historical instances of massive volcano eruptions, like the one in 1883 on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa, clearly indicate stratospheric atmospheric pollution can change global climate.  Average global temperatures fell by as much as two degrees Fahrenheit in the year following the Krakatoa eruption and did not return to normal until 1888.  But, as a caution, consider that weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years after the eruption.  A geo-engineered climate fix might not cause weather chaos -- or it could be a lot worse and last a lot longer.

To save the planet, I want a nuclear-powered car.  Thanks to the Shearon Harris Nuclear Generating Station, if I ever get a plug-in electric vehicle, I would have one.  Nuclear energy produces little carbon dioxide and no sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide.

Now, I understand the recent earthquake/tsunami-caused nuclear power plant disaster in Japan has taken the glow off nuclear energy, so to speak.  But besides hydro-electric power (which is only feasible in limited number of locales), smaller, modular and factory-constructed nuclear power plants with higher safety factors currently are the best, even if not perfect, solution to our energy needs.


Gary D.  Gaddy drives an SUV, an Escape Hybrid.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 22, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:57 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:15 PM EDT
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Friday, July 15, 2011
Affluenza pandemic has abated, but may recur

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. The recent pandemic of affluenza which swept across America, as well as major parts of western Europe, may have abated, but, University of North Carolina experts warn, could recur.
 
Researchers at the UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health's Department of Epidemiology say a new wave of affluenza could emerge at any time.  As long as pockets of affluenza remain, a new pandemic is possible, even probable, given time, the researchers said.
 
"As we learned from the dot.com bubble of the nineties and again from the real estate bubble of the last decade, affluenza is highly contagious, not even requiring direct human contact.  We have seen cases where it spread through a neighborhood, from one family to another, even though the individuals had never met or so much as spoken. Just looking at the house across the street seemed to be sufficient. Keeping up with the Joneses is more than an annoyance, it can be a major health hazard," said UNC epidemiologist Jackson Obergeld.
 
Affluenza, despite the etymological connection to the word influenza, sits quite distinct in its symptomatology and in its population distribution from the major strains of influenza.  Obergeld notes that influenza strikes across the demographic spectrum but hits hardest on the youngest, the oldest and the poorest among us.  Affluenza, in contrast, concentrates on the upwardly mobile and, of course, those who have already arrived.
 
This up-scale bias has one good side effect as treatment for affluenza can be very expensive, said Dr. Benjamin Brinkmann. "It is one of few naturally occurring sliding-scale diseases," said Brinkmann, an infectious disease specialist at UNC's School of Medicine, referencing the fact that affluenza costs more to treat in wealthy patients than poorer ones.  Often, he said, a full cure costs even the wealthiest clients their entire fortunes.
 
Often caricatured as a disease of the handsome, Brinkmann, who has treated some of America's elite for the ailment including some of his own colleagues and administrators, notes that is not always so.   Unlike UNC's Brett Sheridan, M.D., affluenza victims don't all look like Dr. Doug Ross on the long-running medical drama ER.  Balding anesthesiologists, says Brinkmann, can also get affluenza.
 
According to Dr. Lincoln LeGrande, author of the seminal work "The Etiology, Treatment and Prognosis of Affluenza," the poor in rich countries, who are generally not actually poor, can also suffer from affluenza.
 
"You know a society has been hit hard by affluenza when the average poor household has a car, a DVD player and a cellphone, gets cable TV and has too much to eat," said LeGrande.
 
Although the full etiology of affluenza is not well understood at this time, researchers say that there are clearly both genetic and environmental components to the disorder.  For example, if both parents have or have had the disease, a child's chances of getting it are increased eight-fold as compared to a child with two disease-free parents, according to UNC biostatistician Grant Fundet.  Likewise, if your spouse has the disease your chances are quadrupled, he said.  And, curiously, in cases where your spouse is not initially infected, but his or her siblings or in-laws are, your odds increase 16-fold, said Fundet.
 
The rule of thumb in detecting affluenza, according to LeGrande, is girth (as measured by the footprint of the residence, the wheelbase of the SUV and the circumference of the abdomen) with each dimension being a clear indicator of affluenza.
 
Early diagnosis of affluenza is essential to a timely cure. One of the first symptoms in males is a gross thickening of the wallet, which is paralleled in females by handbag growth, said LeGrande.
 
Once the primary early psychological sign of the initial onset of affluenza, susceptibility to imaginary wealth has greatly diminished lately but could arise again. "Beware when someone tells you 'Your tract house is worth a half a million dollars' and your first response is to say, 'That is ridiculous' and your second is to take out a home equity line worth a couple of hundred thousand bucks; this could be the start of the next wave of affluenza," said LeGrande.
 
While new treatments for affluenza are under development, the crude, but tested and proven method remains the surgical removal of embedded plastic deposits.  Although many need qualified professional help to perform this procedure, some desperate and uninsured spouses have successfully used kitchen shears, said LeGrande. 
 
*** 
 
The assistance rendered in this column should not be considered legal, financial, medical or psychological advice.  All readers are advised to obtain qualified professional guidance before diagnosing or treating their own or others’ affluenza.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy, who briefly lived next door to the Gillings, currently lives across the street from the Joneses.
 
 A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 15, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 6:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 8:48 PM EDT
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Friday, July 8, 2011
Renewed McCarthy, revived Bergen back in limelight

DECATUR, Mich. – For years fans have wondered what happened to Charlie McCarthy, the mischievous dummy who paired with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen in a long and successful career on stage and screen.
 
"Many people, I am sure, have wondered what I have been doing since my 'retirement' over 30 years ago; well, it's a long story," said McCarthy, whose dapper demeanor appears undiminished by the years.
 
McCarthy said his prolonged career slump began with the release of the1964 horror film Devil Doll, which featured an evil ventriloquist, The Great Vorelli, and his dummy Hugo, who looked suspiciously, McCarthy thought, like him.
 
"Devil Doll totally wrecked the sub-teen audience for me," said McCarthy ruefully.
 
In 1978, following Bergen's death in his sleep just three days after opening at Caesar's for a two-week engagement that was to be part of the ailing Bergen’s farewell to show business, the monocled and top-hatted McCarthy was sent, it was widely said, to "an institution in Washington" for what was rumored to be a "nervous breakdown."
 
McCarthy says that rumor was a distortion.  He was, in fact, sent to an institution – but as a research fellow at the Smithsonian. Still, the innuendo had done its damage. Top billings disappeared.  McCarthy was reduced to working rundown rural Nevada lounges doing blue routines with Woody the Woodpecker while living in a dive just outside Laughlin.
 
And this time wasn’t the first, or the last, bump in the sometimes rough career road for the image-conscious McCarthy.
 
"During Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist heyday, there was quite a bit of confusion – and lost audience. I hate to say it, but the general public apparently couldn't tell me from Joe McCarthy," said a dismayed Charlie McCarthy (no relation).
 
"I wish I didn't think it but my so-called Hollywood 'friends' are the ones that I resent the most. I don't want to say there was a reverse blacklist but a lot of phone calls never got returned after the Army/McCarthy hearings – which we had nothing, nothing to do with," McCarthy said with a wistful look in his good eye.
 
“Then, right when I thought those creepy images from Devil Doll had faded, the film was featured on a 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000," said McCarthy.
 
"That MST 3000 show just about killed any hope of my making a career comeback," said McCarthy.  This last career collapse crushed McCarthy's spirit.
 
"The low point came when I started snorting Lemon Pledge," said McCarthy.  McCarthy said he lived like a nomad in rustic homeless camps for almost a decade before he got his life together after finding a discarded Gideon's Bible in a dumpster, behind a now-defunct grocery in the Colorado River town of Needles, where he was scrounging for food.
 
"I just thank God that there aren't any termites in the desert, or I would have been sawdust long ago," said McCarthy.
 
The openness of other public figures to telling their personal lives has helped McCarthy open up his life to the public as well.  Since the publication of former-vice-president Dick Cheney's book, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir," McCarthy said he felt freer to talk about some previously hidden parts of his own past.
 
"I was a consultant to Cheney and [Karl] Rove for eight years," McCarthy said in a stage whisper.
 
McCarthy announced recently his plans to launch a reunion tour in which he will partner with a revived Edgar Bergen, and is scheduled to hit major North American venues this summer.
 
If the M-c-B "Mac is Back!" Revival Tour is as successful as he hopes, McCarthy said he plans a return to radio, where he originally honed his craft in the 1930s, with the objective of having, along with Bergen, his own Sirius/XM late evening adult-oriented show.
 
McCarthy said Bergen's foresight made this all possible.  "Advanced embalming technologies were used on Mr. Bergen which have helped him keep a life-like appearance.  It also did not hurt that his Las Vegas mausoleum was climate controlled," said McCarthy.
 
McCarthy said he hopes his old fans will accept his new look as he has "lost the monocle."  That change was part image, part practicality, explained McCarthy.  "You cannot believe how freeing contacts are," he added.
 
Bob Klaus, the General Manager of the Durham Performing Arts Center, said that Nederland, one of the nation’s largest, most experienced and successful operators of prestigious entertainment facilities in the world, is currently in negotiation with the McCarthy/Bergen management team to book a late summer appearance at the DPAC.
 

 
Gary D. Gaddy, who followed the career of the wise-cracking McCarthy and the dapper Bergen as a child, always thought the dummy was the smarter one.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 8, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:21 PM EDT
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Friday, July 1, 2011
Happy birthday, America! Happy birthday to you.

There are many ways to celebrate freedom, but none more appropriate than a list of great quotes enunciating a number of viewpoints on what true freedom is and of what real patriotism consists, some gloriously correct and some quite wrongheaded.
 
Patriots and patriotism
 
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” Mark Twain (American writer and social critic)
 
“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”  Clarence Seward Darrow (American lawyer and civil libertarian)
 
“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” Bill Clinton (U.S. President) 
 
“Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”  Calvin Coolidge (U.S. President)
 
“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.” George Bernard Shaw (British author and cynic)
 
“We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us.”  Francis John McConnell (Methodist pastor)
 
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Howard Zinn (American dissident, of course)
 
“Guard against the impostors of pretended patriotism.” George Washington (U.S. President, and actual patriot)
 
Liberty: What it is
 
“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”  Louis D. Brandeis (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)
 
“There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought.” Charles Kingsley (English priest and historian)
 
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.”  Mohandas Gandhi (Indian leader of its independence movement)
 
“Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.”  Harry Emerson Fosdick (American clergyman)
 
“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.”  Robert J. McCracken (American clergyman)
 
Liberty -- and losing it
 
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”   Elmer Davis (American author)
 
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  Thomas Paine (English-born author and American revolutionary)
 
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”   Franklin D. Roosevelt (U.S. President)
 
“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”   William Faulkner (American author)
 
“It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.”  Attributed to M. Grundler
 
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  Benjamin Franklin (American founding father)
 
“Most people want security in this world, not liberty.”  H.L. Mencken (American author and cynic)
 
“Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.”  Attributed to Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President)
 
On Independence Day
 
“It is sweet to serve one's country by deeds, and it is not absurd to serve her by words.”  Sallust (Roman historian)
 
“That which distinguishes this day from all others is that then both orators and artillerymen shoot blank cartridges.”  John Burroughs (American naturalist and essayist)
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy would like to thank every person whoever served this nation in defending its freedom.  (Go to GaryGaddy.com to read past columns.)
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 1, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:14 AM EDT
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Friday, June 24, 2011
Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics: Facts that speak for themselves

EVER WONDER WHY THE RECOVERY from this current recession is taking so long?  Historically, sharp economic declines are followed by steep bounces back up.  But not this time. 

The other night I was listening to the Mark Levin Show on the radio, which I do sometimes, even though he is often so strident that it is hard to hear the substance.  This particular night the substance trumped the stridency.  I caught his talk in the middle so I was not sure but I thought he was reading something written by someone else.  A little research via Levin’s website showed he was.  He was reading an article entitled "Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics: Facts and Figures" by Peter Ferrara published in Forbes magazine.  My column this week is little more than a summary of Ferrara's.

Here is Reagan's four-point economic program: Cut tax rates, reduce government spending, restrain money supply growth and deregulate the economy.

What was the result?  The Reagan Recovery (which started in November 1982 and lasted 92 months, the longest peacetime expansion ever).

What happened during the Reagan Recovery?  The economy grew by almost one-third as nearly 20 million new jobs were created and the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in seven years, and as this happened rich and poor and middle class benefited together, with the poverty rate declining every year from 1984 to 1989 (dropping by one-sixth from its peak), while the stock market more than tripled in value from 1980 to 1990.  Further, inflation, the bane of every man, collapsed not to revive for decades.

Meanwhile, what has been Obama's economic program?  (These policies may sound familiar, in an inverted sort of way.) Raise tax rates (on the rich mostly), increase government spending (the Stimulus), increase money supply growth (quantitative easing) and re-regulate the economy (e.g., healthcare reform, financial industry regulation, oil drilling moratorium).

What about the Obama Recovery?  History will show the Obama Recovery never happened.

As economist John Lott has said, “For the last couple of years, President Obama keeps claiming that the recession was the worst economy since the Great Depression.  But this is not correct.  This is the worst 'recovery' since the Great Depression.”

Is this non-existent recovery all President Obama's fault?  No, Ben Bernanke and John Maynard Keynes deserve some of the credit as well.  (Not to mention the Democrat-controlled Congresses of 2007 to 2010.)  Presidents are always given more blame and more credit for cyclical macro-economic events than they deserve -- but government actions do matter.  Policies do have an impact.

This is true with local business climate.  (Ask any business person who ever tried to do business in Chapel Hill/Carrboro.)  This is true with state business climate.  (If you were paying attention back then, you may have noticed that North Carolina avoided to a large degree the recession that preceded the Reagan Recovery.)  And it is clearly true with the economic influence of our current, massive federal government.

While Obama isn't solely responsible for the Obama Non-Recovery, isn't it interesting that opposite policies do appear to correspond to such distinct economic trends?  Personally, I don't blame Obama or the Democrats.  I blame the Republicans -- for not nominating anyone who held firmly to Reagan's economic philosophy since they last nominated Reagan.



Gary D. Gaddy recommends reading the original Ferrara article on which this column is based, which may be done by Googling "Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics facts and figures" and by Googling "Editorial: A Tale Of Two Recessions" to see clear illustration of some of these data.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 24, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:58 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011 8:03 AM EDT
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Friday, June 17, 2011
Extemporizing on temporary taxes, North Carolina edition
 
THE LAST TAX, THE LATEST TAX, the next proposed tax, is, as always, "just."  (By "just" I don't mean justified or righteous, I mean "mere" as in "just one cent.")
 
If a "one cent" increase in the North Carolina sales tax sounds like just a tad or smidgen, consider that it could have been just as accurately be called a 22% increase as it went from 4.5% to 5.5%.  Further, it is difficult to call "small" any tax that took into the state government coffers an estimated additional $800 million in one year.  Money that would otherwise go into the private sector, increasing revenue, profits and jobs.
 
On October 1, 2009, the North Carolina sales tax was increased "temporarily" to 5.75%, set in the same law to return to 4.75% on July 1, 2011.  (Notice that the extra 0.25% that was added along the way cost taxpayers "just" $200 million more a year.)
 
A "one cent" increase in the sales tax does sound innocuous, but just as each little straw adds little to the camel's burden, if they are always being added and never being removed, one day one little straw will break the back of the strongest camel.  Right now, just as it was in October 2009, North Carolina's economy is not a healthy camel, it is one sick puppy.  While there is no good time to raise taxes in terms of strengthening an economy, in the midst of recession is the worst possible time -- with one exception, which North Carolina has already tried.
 
I read the local newspapers for information.  Happily, thanks to letters to the editor, they sometimes include some.  
 
We owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Leonard of Smithfield (who wrote in to the News and Observer recently), for teaching us that of North Carolina's current 5.75% sales tax, 4.25% was enacted as various "temporary taxes."  (For you skeptics, Mr. Leonard's facts are confirmed in a report by Cindy Avrette of the Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly made in November 2009.)
 
In 1931, in the midst of what became the Great Depression, the state enacted a temporary sales tax of 3.0% as "an emergency measure." In 1939, that tax was made permanent.
 
In 2001, the legislature enacted another temporary sales tax of 0.5%, which was extended, eventually cut to 0.25% and made permanent.
 
Finally, in 2009, the state imposed a third temporary sales tax of one percent.  This temporary tax is set to expire soon -- although the governor's budget had proposed extending three-quarters of it ("just" 0.75%), at what would have been a cost to the state's private economy of $600 million a year.
 
As Leonard points out, each of those cases has one thing in common: When the economy is down, the state raises taxes and generally does not reduce them when the economy improves. Instead, these "emergency" measures are used to fund ever-increasing levels of state spending.
 
As Leonard put it, "We have a spending addiction; it is time to face it."
 
Taxes proposed as being for brief and limited time periods to raise money for supposed emergencies end up being imposed for decades -- sometimes in perpetuity -- because we taxpayers are suckers for believing politicians' promises.
 
Of course the local news media have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of politicians who have broken their campaign promises (if they are Republican anyway). Governor Beverly Perdue, on the other hand, has excoriated the Republican majority in the legislature for keeping one of the promises they ran on -- not to raise taxes, which raises would include extending a temporary sales tax set in law to expire.
 
But at least she's consistently inconsistent. The News and Observer reported that in October 2008 then-candidate "Perdue declared 'I don’t believe you can raise taxes in an economy with folks struggling the way they are.'  Much was made about Perdue’s commitment to avoid tax hikes during a down economy, but the campaign promise didn’t survive the new Governor’s first year."
 
In June 2009, Perdue asked the legislature to come up with between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in new taxes, in the end approving more than $1 billion in new taxes when she signed North Carolina’s fiscal year 2009-2010 state budget. The one-cent increase in the state sales tax accounted for more than $800 million of the tax hike.
 
When asked why voters should trust that the taxes would be temporary, the N&O reported, Perdue said, "Because I'm the governor."
 
If voters decide that taxing our way out of recession really doesn’t work, she may not be able to say that for long.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy has been a serial state government employee and has always been a faithful taxpayer.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 17, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:58 PM EDT
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Friday, June 10, 2011
Crime and pun-ishment: There oughta be a law

This week's column is taken straight from local agency reports.
 
Orange County police blotter
 
UNC campus police report that a graduate assistant doing a large-scale experiment with caustic liquids was trying to solve a chemistry problem when he fell into the vat and became part of the solution.
 
Hillsborough police were called to a Tot Spot Daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.  No charges filed.
 
A patron called to report to Chapel Hill Police that a three-legged dog hobbled into He's Not Here, slid up to the bar and announced: “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.”  The matter is under investigation.
 
Orange County Court reports
 
The Norwood family mutual domestic abuse trial continued today in Hillsborough with a variety of reports from the Norwood's tumultuous, on-again / off-again marriage.  Here are some of the highlights:
 
• Jon Norwood said his marriage  to Jan had started off on firm ground but when they bought a water bed, the couple started to drift apart.
• Jan Norwood admitted she did have an affair with an old boyfriend with a wooden leg, but said she broke it off.
• Jon said he remembered clearly an earlier assault Jan had made on him, saying:  "I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me."
• Jan testified that money had been a long-standing problem and a source of mounting familial frustration: "You feel stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it."
• Jon, who confessed to a drinking problem, said he knew Jan, who hails from Wilkes County, was a bootlegger when he met her, but he loved her still.
• Jan said Jon was eating some Cap'n Crunch for breakfast again when she called the cops to report a serial killer.
• Before the case went to the jury, Judge Allen Baddour warned the jury to take care in considering testimony as: "Often a criminal’s best asset is his lie ability."
 
At press time, the jury was still out on this case.
 
More local blotter
 
Following a report of a ghost at the Franklin Hotel, the Chapel Hill police called for an inn spectre.
 
In what may be a related case, Judge Joe Buckner informed a citizen before his court that "If you don’t pay your exorcist, expect to get repossessed."
 
The Orange Correctional Facility is warning local residents to be on the lookout as the diminutive fortune-teller who escaped this weekend from the county prison was a small medium at large.
 
Officials from the state department of corrections, who investigated this breakout, say this never should have happened since prison walls are never built to scale.
 
UNC Hospital reports
 
UNC Hospital's Emergency Department also reported several notable incidents this week.
 
• A two-year-old Eland boy swallowed several coins and was taken to the UNC Children's Hospital. Family are waiting for an update in his status, but nursing staff report no change yet.
• The worker at Mebane Furniture Refurbishing who fell into an upholstery machine last week was discharged fully recovered.
• A Durham optician working for LensCrafters who was pulled into the lens grinding machine made a spectacle of himself.
• A staff psychiatrist from UNC Neuroscience was called into Hamilton Hall to observe the behavior of an emeritus professor of Middle Eastern history and language.  He determined there was no problem, saying "Ancient orators tend to Babylon."
 
Other agency reports
 
Following several recent kitchen incidents, the Carrboro Fire Department is warning residents, "If you leave alphabet soup on the stove and then go out, it could spell disaster."
 
Anito Bryant, the Cedar Grove man who was fired from the Orange Juice Factory for lack of concentration, has filed an appeal with the NC Labor Relations Board.
 
And, finally, the UNC Campus Police Department's Frauds and Scams Division reports that an undergraduate student emailed ten different puns to all his friends, in the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. Sadly, the police report, no pun in ten did.
 
Author's note: These stories could be considered plagiarized -- but can't since you can't plagiarize what no one will take credit for.  I am, therefore, I think, exonerated before the fact.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy has been advised by his attorney/editor/wife to state unequivocally that Jim Huegerich of the Chapel Hill Police Department had no part in the creation of this column except for his punspiration. 
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 10, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 6:52 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:14 PM EDT
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Friday, June 3, 2011
Think you have problems? My wife left me for a younger man

A FEW WEEKS AGO my wife left me for another man.  (I know what some of you who know her are thinking, but no, it was not Earl Scruggs – though she certainly would have had he extended an invitation.)  She left me for a younger man, a much younger man who lives up in Pittsburgh.  His name is Adrian.
 
I should been alerted by the signs.  Even before Adrian came along, in a restaurant I would see her gazing into the eyes of some cutie at a neighboring table.  Yes, she has been heading in this direction for a while.  Then, two days after the sixteenth anniversary of our marriage, she got on a plane to go to Pittsburgh “for a few days.”
 
I will give her this much, she is very upfront about the relationship.  She doesn't make up stories about business trips or banjo workshops and such, like many women who try to keep their other relationships secret.  I knew she was going to see Adrian because she told me: "I'm going to see Adrian."
 
Her honesty, if you want to call it that, goes even further. She shows me pictures of him: stills, color and black and white, and videos too.  After she first met him in person, she brought home a little book full of his pictures.  She would probably be showing me 3-D videos if she could get them.  As I said, she is thoroughly smitten.
 
I used to accept that I was fourth place in her heart (behind her Gibson Mastertone, Stelling Bellflower and Deering Goodtime banjos), but now I realize I have fallen off the chart.  For Adrian she would jump up from picking along with a YouTube video of Earl Scruggs playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown together with Jens Krüger, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck – even if it was just to catch a glimpse of Adrian’s gaze on FaceTime on her Mac.
 
As if going to visit him wasn’t enough, she had Adrian come visit her at our home.  Although it was awkward at times, I have to admit I liked the guy.  He is a real charmer.  Cute as can be.  Sharp as a tack.  I am beginning to doubt I'll ever get my fourth-place spot back.
 
I know Sandra loves me but so much as a vague smile from Adrian sends her into paroxysms of joy. Everything he does is unbelievable, if you listen to her, which I have to do if I want any kind of life with her at all.
 
“You should hear him play the piano app on the iPad!” she chuckles with delight.  And, “Listen to him trill!  What a beautiful voice!” she exclaims.
 
Still, I see some problems in their relationship – but I am not about to bring them up with her.
 
[Just between you and me, he is quite immature.  For goodness sake, he still lives with his parents!  He's never held a job.  Sure he's smart but he hasn't finished high school.  (My wife has three graduate degrees.  What kind of relationship can she have with someone without so much as a high school diploma?)  You would think my coveted University of North Carolina Ph.D. would count for something, wouldn't you?  Not compared to the sparkling eyes of her new-found love.]
 
[Beyond his financial situation, I am more than a little worried about Adrian’s relationship with his mother.  He brought her along when he came to North Carolina to visit Sandra.  At some point, he’s got to stand on his own two feet, wouldn’t you think?]
 
I could hope one of these days she will see the light, maybe wake up to the unmanageable age difference, and she would bring her heart back to me – but I am not counting on it.  The longer this thing goes on, the clearer it becomes to me it is not just an overnight fling.
 
Sandra says, and I have to believe her, that based on the seven months they have been in a relationship, that it really is everything people say it is, this being a grandmom.  Watching Sandra and Adrian together, I would have to agree.


Gary D. Gaddy is the proud step-grandparent of little Adrian Gray, the smartest and cutest baby ever born.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday June 3, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy   

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, June 3, 2011 9:06 AM EDT
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Friday, May 27, 2011
A real emergency in North Carolina mental health
 
NOT LONG AGO, I was at the North Carolina General Assembly as part of the Coalition 2000 Advocacy Days looking for legislators to lobby about improving the current sad state of services for those with mental illness.  In the process, I stumbled into a mental health subcommittee hearing where administrators and doctors from two hospitals, Randolph in Asheboro and Moses Cone in Greensboro, made presentations about the crises in their emergency departments caused by the backlog of mental health admissions at state hospitals.

So, why should you care about mental illness and emergency rooms?  As I have often said as I prepared to talk to one of our state legislators about providing better and more humane treatment for those afflicted with mental illness, I feel confident that the facts will persuade anyone, at least anyone who has either a heart or a brain, that they should care.

If you have a heart you will care for those already troubled by mental illness being made to needlessly suffer a loss of freedom without purpose and you will be troubled by the failure to give them proper treatment for their illness. As a human, you will care about the welfare of another human.

If you have a brain you will care because you will see that neglect of proper treatment of mental illness is wasting your tax dollars and jeopardizing the health and safety of not only those who enter our medical system through your local hospital's emergency department -- which is quite likely to be you and your family -- but our society as a whole.

How big a problem are mental health admissions for North Carolina emergency departments?  During the 2009 fiscal year, 135,536 people in mental health crises were seen in emergency departments statewide, according to the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

A decade or so of reducing mental health beds at the state level, without replacing them with appropriate facilities at the local level, has led to a growing queue of patients who need mental health hospitalization and who are left languishing in hospital emergency departments across the state to the detriment of all involved.

For Randolph Hospital for the month of April 2011, over 25% of their 24-bed emergency department capacity was used for "mental health holding," that is, warehousing patients in mental health crises until they can be evaluated and transferred for treatment when a bed opens in an appropriate facility. This use of ER capacity caused increased risk for other patients who also then experienced their own lengthened waits. Other impacts include increased staff dissatisfaction and turnover as well as exposure of other patients, visitors and staff to extreme behavior problems and even violence -- all while they trying to deal with other medical emergencies. 

The cost of this mental health holding area (nurses, security guards, attendants, medications, and support services) was estimated at $1,000,000 annually, at Randolph alone, "for a service that is little more than a waiting room for those in need of transfer.”

On several occasions Randolph Hospital needed multiple law enforcement officers to control patients who were in the midst of long waits for transfer. As an example, one potentially dangerous patient spent six days waiting in its ER without a psychiatrist. "It is a pattern that dangerous patients have longer waits because they are harder to place," the administrators said.

This example is not an aberration. At Moses Cone Hospital the average time spent in the emergency department waiting for placement at Central Regional Hospital last year was 5 1/2 days.  I will repeat, in a hospital with a mental health unit, patients deemed needing a higher level facility for treatment spent 5 1/2 days, on average, waiting in an emergency department.  For some it was longer.

On some days Moses Cone had as many as 19 mental health patients in an emergency department with seven bays for patient holding.  Mental health patients left in limbo are straining staff resources, delaying treatment for patients with medical emergencies, and disrupting the entire emergency department.

A difficult environment is made so uncomfortable that some people who come for treatment elect to go home without receiving care.  Unsurprisingly, the "left-without-being-seen" rate increases when the emergency department is holding mental health patients.

The goal of emergency departments is to stabilize patients and transfer them to the next level of care as quickly as possible.  As a Moses Cone administrator said, in a wild understatement, "The emergency department is not an effective milieu for psychiatric treatment."

Reducing state hospital beds didn't make mental illness go away.  The evidence is it made its impact worse for all parties involved.  State hospitals need more beds, not fewer, and community hospitals need greater capacity and the resources to admit more patients, so the state hospital admission delays can be reduced.  Doing so would not just save money but help us regain an important portal to our medical system -- and maybe a little bit of our own humanity.


Gary D. Gaddy is a member of the board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- Orange County.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 27, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:32 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011 8:37 AM EDT
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Friday, May 20, 2011
Pick your apocalypse; don't wait 'til it's too late
 
WE LIVE, I WOULD CONTEND, in the era of the apocalypse, meaning the end of life as we know it. Whether one will soon come to pass, of that I am hardly certain, but that this era is populated with more apocalyptical possibilities than ever before offered to humankind, of that I am sure.
 
An apocalypse (Greek: Αποκαλυψις; "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind.  It is commonly understood as a catastrophic end to life on earth.
 
For the last several millennia we have been living in the "last days," with many expecting the imminent "end of the world" or the "end of the age"  In the first century, many a Christian expected, and called for (Maranatha!) the return of Christ in their lifetime. The year 1000 A.D. was also widely expected to bring the Lord's return.  (For the record, it didn't happen.)
 
But the meaning of imminent has long had a notable caveat in Christian eschatology, as the apostle Peter wrote in the first century: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." (II Peter 3:8)
 
So, any day now has meant any millennium now for the last couple of thousand years.
 
But imminent just got imminenter.  You may or may not have read (I saw it on a billboard on I-40) but Judgment Day! is coming on May 21, 2011.  (If you are reading this after that date, it probably didn't happen.)  This is a prediction propounded by Harold Camping, the head of Family Stations, Inc., a non-profit, non-commercial Christian radio network.  Camping also predicts that the End of the World is coming on October 21, 2011.  (So, belated readers, if you missed out on Judgment Day!, perhaps you can still get in on this.)
 
But Mr. Camping is hardly alone in such predictions.  New Age authors have great expectations for December 21, 2012, the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, as calculated by various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae.
 
One New Age interpretation of this transition postulates that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, marking the beginning of a new era, or, alternatively, marking the end of the world. Suggested scenarios include the arrival of the next solar maximum, or Earth's collision with a black hole or a passing planet called "Nibiru."  Take your pick.
 
One recent technological apocalypse, Y2K, didn't really turn out to be that apocalyptic.  And the turn of the last millennium, dated variously December 31, 1999 and December 31, 2000, wasn't, in either case, really all that notable -- except as two chances to party down on New Year's Eve.
 
An older sign of the technological apocalypse, the Doomsday Clock, which once represented the threat of global nuclear war, has been ticking along since 1947.  As of May 2011, this clock stood at six minutes to midnight.  (It seemed much closer to me in 1962 when my classmates and I at Forest Hills Elementary were sticking our heads in our lockers as "nuclear fallout shelters.")
 
Since 2007, the Doomsday Clock has also reflected climate change and "new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm."
 
As for global warming, I don't need to say much as the pages of every news outlet are filled with the intimations of imminent catastrophic climate change.
 
As for "life sciences" apocalypses, I remember reading when I was in high school Gordon Rattray Taylor's 1968 book, The Biological Time Bomb, which heralded the rise of biotechnology, and the possibility of its massively destructive impact on human life.  The biological time bomb hasn't gone off -- but it is still ticking.
 
The chances of a nanotechnology apocalypse seem miniscule to me.
 
But even the ever-upward-looking astrophysicists are pessimistic -- long term.  The universe, as seen from earth, eventually will go totally black, they say.  To put a date on this end of the world, take the year "one" and add 200 zeroes.
 
Seriously, I have attended a number of funerals lately. So, I can say this confidently, the end of our age has always been imminent. So, consider that you may wish to live every day as though it were your last.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy doesn’t think that “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” is really a good philosophy of life.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 20, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:56 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 11:18 PM EDT
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Friday, May 13, 2011
High class, low class or no class: A quiz

The high-class, low-class or no-class quiz, also known as the Chapel Hill, Carrboro or Northern Orange County location test, is presented today to help my readers assess their social standing and/or social siting.
 
1) You've ever been kicked out of the zoo: a) For drinking pinot grigio which you purchased to complement your Southern Season picnic lunch; b) For being part of a PETA protest; c) For heckling the monkeys.
 
2) You think the Star Spangled Banner: a) Has too wide a vocal range for the non-trained voice to properly perform; b) Should be replaced with something less jingoistic; c) Ends with "Gentlemen, start your engines."
 
3) You don't like shopping at Wal-Mart Superstores because: a) The stores are too big; b) The Wal-Mart corporation exploits workers here and abroad; c) You'd rather just run around the corner to the Dollar General because you don't like getting dressed up to go shopping.
 
4) The centerpiece on your dining room table is: a) An original work of abstract expressionist sculpture which exhibits an anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic point of view; b) A hand-thrown pot from a local pottery which you purchased at the Festival for the Eno; c) Signed by Craig Hall, taxidermist.
 
5) You think "The Nutcracker" is: a) One of Tchaikovsky's lesser works; b) The best Winter Holiday show the elementary school ever put on; c) A high dive your brother Buford once did off the cliff into the lake at the rock quarry.
 
6) You are moved to tears every time you hear: a) Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat (which is commonly known as "Eroica"), especially the first bars of the second movement; b) Any song by Sorry About Dresden; c) Dolly Parton singing "I Will Always Love You".
 
7) You have a complete set of salad bowls: a) But you never use them because they are Waterford crystal; b) You made yourself when you were a potter/artist; c) And they all say "Cool Whip" on the side.
 
8) You've ever hit a deer: a) With an automobile with a book value of more than the average American family's annual income; b) While bicycling; c) With your truck -- deliberately.
 
9) Your school fight song: a) Includes the phrase: "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum"; b) My school would not have had something as militaristic as a "fight song"; c) Was the double-banjo rendition of "Dueling Banjos."
 
10) Your neighbors started a petition over: a) The county's plan to build a neighborhood public library in your neighborhood; b) Your 12-foot by 40-foot Kucinich for President yard sign; c) Your Christmas light display. (They want you to get a special commendation from PEMC for beautifying the county.)
 
11) You've ever financed: a) A graduate degree with some of the proceeds of your last IPO; b) A tattoo; c) A tattoo.
 
12) Your wife's hairdo has ever been ruined: a) By discovering she used the same hairdresser as John Edwards b) By "wife," you mean live-in partner, I suppose. Hard to say, dude. c) By a ceiling fan.
 
 13) You think "loading the dishwasher" is: a) Something the hired help are hired to do; b) Environmental abuse of the lowest order; c) Getting your wife drunk.
 
14) Every year in December you get a card in the mail that says: a) "Seasonal greetings from your investment counselor at Goldman Sachs." b) "Your subscription to High Times is about to run out." c) "Merry Christmas from Red Man Chewing Tobacco."
 
15) You have refused to watch the Academy Awards since: a) American film making has become so banal and hackneyed as to render any such awards risible; b) 1973 when Sacheen Littlefeather refused to accept the Best Actor Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando for best actor in "The Godfather"; c) 1978 when "Smokey and the Bandit" was snubbed for best picture.
 
***
Scoring: If you got all A's, you would rather be in Chapel Hill; if you got all B's, you are in Carrboro; and if you got all C's, you are in northern Orange County but you should consider moving to southwest Chatham County where you will be even more at home.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy is the epitome of classlessness.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 13, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:10 PM EDT
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Friday, May 6, 2011
Viagra and blue M&M's in unprecedented joint recall

McLEAN, Va. -- In an unprecedented joint-recall announcement Mars and Pfizer Incorporated have requested that consumers return to the place of purchase all blue M&M's and Viagra® tablets bought between December 25, 2010 and February 14, 2011.
 
Industry analysts say the recall is a result of a steady stream of consumer reports that both products were working much better than advertised.
 
"Best New Year's Day I ever had," said Emilene Snutter of East Chester, Pennsylvania. "Earl actually put down his remote at the end of the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl with Wisconsin driving to tie the game.  At the time I thought it was the jalapeño dip but during NFL playoffs it became clearer.  After my sister-in-law, Earlene, came over for bridge last Saturday night, I figured it out for sure.  She won't touch a blue M&M.  Very traditional, you know."
 
"Anyway, after Earl emptied the candy dish," added Mrs. Snutter, "he was frisky as a squid on Sunday morning.  We barely made it in time for the sermon."
 
Others caught in the mix-up had a quite different experience.  Viagra user Robert McCann said, "I didn't get anywhere with Hilda, but I didn't care, the tablet just melted in my mouth not in my hand.  You woulda thought it was a dark Belgian chocolate not sildenafil citrate."
 
Neither media-savvy Mars execs nor the PR-meisters at Pfizer could provide an adequate explanation for the embarrassing snafu.
 
"We cannot comprehend how this could have happened.  While we share the same blue-dye manufacturer and the same trans-shipper, we do not understand at all how our products could have become interchanged," admitted Pfizer chief executive officer Ian Read.
 
"We are understandably very concerned, as both companies may lose millions in potential revenue," said Ryan Bowling, Director of Public Relations for Mars. "For this to happen just as consumers were beginning to accept blue M&M's as unobjectionable is very poor timing," he added.
 
"Blue M&M's, as many of you know, are manufactured at a separate location from the traditionally colored M&M's and some distance from the packaging facility," said Bowling.  "But that doesn't explain how they got switched inside the bags and blister packs."
 
Pfizer Incorporated, which is headquartered in New York, said that its Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Research and Development Division is warning M&M consumers about priapism (πριαπισμoς), a painful condition which can last for more than four hours, and has been reported among some Tollhouse cookie consumers.   To avoid long-term injury, it is important that the cookies be allowed to cool at least 15 minutes before eating.
 

The battle for the University of New Jersey
 
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University filed a suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina which asks that Rutgers University "cease and desist from referring to itself, or any of its constituent entities," as "The University of New Jersey." Duke's suit says that this is necessary in order to prevent confusion by the public between the two schools.
 
In its reply Rutgers University made its case for being The University of New Jersey by noting that it launched in the past semester a two-year initiative called Project Civility, which is aimed at getting Rutgers students and faculty to treat people better.
 
The Rutgers' program's organizer Kathleen Hull jokes that the program's name could be, "Project Civility: You got a problem with that?"
 
Rutgers' student government president Yousef Saleh says he'd like for students to be more thoughtful on the university's buses, especially with their cell phones, and to stop slamming their textbooks closed before class is over.
 
Off the record several Duke administrators said such a civility program was unlikely to be offered at Duke since if it were effective it would mark the certain end of the Cameron Crazies.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy, on principle, refuses to eat blue M&M's.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday May 6, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 15, 2011 4:53 PM EDT
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Friday, April 29, 2011
Cisco/Crisco merger to produce slickest high-tech yet

SAN JOSE, Calif. and ORRVILLE, Oh. -- Cisco Systems®, the leading supplier of networking equipment and Crisco® Oils and Shortenings, a spin-off from the J.M. Smucker Company, announced today the world's first merger between a fat-based-food-products company and a silicon-and-glass-fiber information technology hardware firm.
 
John Chambers, über-geek and Cisco Chief Executive Officer, is enthusiastic about the up side on the tech side.  "Together we will produce the slickest hardware geekdom has ever seen," he said. 
 
Experts from the food and food preparation industry, however, remain skeptical about the touted "synergy" of the deal.
 
"Different products, different markets, different supply chains.  I don't see how this helps either of them," said Barry Halzer, an analyst for a leading consumer and retail market research firm, the NPD Group.
 
"Although high-fiber products have been hot in food consumables for a while, I personally am not sure how customers will respond to glass-fiber-enhanced foods.  The food consumer is generally conservative, and people are really used to cellulose-fiber-based products.   Maybe, just maybe, the techies will go for something this cutting-edge, and, historically, they have consumed a lot of partially hydrogenated-fat and lard-based foods," said Bailey Barnes, a food-industry analyst at the financial services conglomerate Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
 
Tech industry analysts were generally more positive in their outlook.  "Cisco will provide the heft, the bulk if you will, needed to produce regular favorable earnings reports, while Crisco will grease the internal systems of both companies increasing higher product throughput," said JupiterResearch analyst Tom Dole.
 
Industry observers do think that the technical expertise that Crisco brought to bear to produce Simple Touch™ Sprays could help Cisco on some of its stickier human-machine interface problems.  The Simple Touch Spray features an innovative "Click & Go" nozzle for its oil-dispensing products that eliminates the lid and allows for one-hand operation -- and generally leaves no sticky mess to clean up later.
 
"Similar solutions for Cisco router box interfaces could definitely help increase market share," said Joellene Wilcox, a Loehmann Brothers technical analyst.
 
One tech industry insider said he thinks such speculation is baseless. He said he's seen a similar cross-industry hybrid technology like this before. "I remember back in 1999 when Novartis tried to implement Lin-Lax X, their Ex-Lax-enhanced Linux boxes, to increase throughput on backbone routing. All they ever produced was a bunch of crap," said Uttam Kumar, a design engineer with Bharati-AirTel.
 
Wall Street adopted a wait-and-see attitude on the merger announcement with the new combined Cisco Slick Systems adding just 8 cents to close at 19.93.
 
 
Department of Corections
 
In this space, as well as cyberspace, I recently reported that prospective UNC athlete Michael McAdoo was former UNC athlete Bob McAdoo's nephew. One of my alert and knowledgeable readers -- thanks, Alan -- kindly and correctly corrected me.
 
Michael McAdoo was a UNC football player, and is not, by any known report, related to former UNC basketball player Bob McAdoo.  Michael McAdoo is one of seven North Carolina football players who missed the entire 2010 season, having had his eligibility permanently stripped in November for receiving a little over $100 in impermissible benefits and too much help on a single paper. McAdoo's family continues, however, to fight to have Michael's eligibility restored in time to play the 2011 season.
 
James McAdoo is the highly touted UNC basketball recruit. It also turns out that James is not, as has been often reported, Bob McAdoo's nephew either. While James is related to former Tar Heel Bob McAdoo, who played one season at North Carolina, and led the 1972 team to a Final Four berth before "going pro early," he is not Bob's nephew.
 
As reported in the Raleigh News and Observer, "I call him my uncle, but he's really my dad's second or third cousin," James McAdoo said.
 
But speaking of "going early," James was far enough ahead academically last year that he could have graduated high school a year early by taking a summer-school course in 2010, and then he could have played for the Tar Heels this past season. He and his parents gave the matter thought, but he decided to stay at Norfolk Christian and graduate from high school as scheduled.
 
"I've never regretted that," McAdoo said. "It's really been fun being a kid. People say your senior year is one of the best of your life, and I know that's true now."
 
Tar Heel fans can only hope that he and Harrison Barnes will be saying the same thing again in couple of years.
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy, a consumer of Crisco consumables since the early 1950s, cruises the Internet on Cisco supplied hardware daily.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 29, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, April 23, 2011 7:07 AM EDT
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Friday, April 22, 2011
Cuba's Castro undergoes deathbed conversion, reports say

HAVANA and MIAMI – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has become a capitalist, close aides report.  Lying on what appeared to be his deathbed, the former communist dictator reflected on his days on earth and came to the conclusion that it had been a life misspent, the aides said.
 
"It was as if a light came on in his head," reported one aide who asked to remain unnamed.  Castro realized, the aide said, that the best thing that had ever happened to Cuba was the bed he was laying on -- a space-saving convertible sofa bed imported from New York in the mid-1950's.
 
"Only capitalism with its system of monetary incentives and rewards could have brought us the Castro Convertible," the dying dictator said.  "Why couldn't I see this before?" he asked.
 
"Of course, furniture that could switch between sitting and sleeping modes existed before the Castro Convertible Couch," noted Castro.  "Such convertible furniture had been around at least since the 1600’s -- but it was usually expensive and clumsy," he said.
 
"The davenport, which was still somewhat popular in the late 1940's, was difficult to open, and it looked like a bed even when folded up.  But the Castro Convertible Couch, which unfolded to become a bed with a strong but light metal frame, featured a 'featherlift' mechanism that made it much easier to operate," he observed.
 
"It's Bernard Castro who will be remembered by history, not me," Castro sighed.
 
Even as demonstrations celebrating the greatly exaggerated reports of his demise continued in Miami, Castro's conversion confounded his critics, deflating their joy at his impending death.
 
"That infernal deuce!" said one Cuban expatriate carrying a placard which read, "Better Dead and Red."  Another protester groused, "His death now will be no more satisfying than Ken Lay's" [referring to the chairman of the board and chief executive officer for the now-defunct Enron who died before being sentenced following a securities fraud conviction in 2006].
 
Crowds of confused men, women and children wandered the streets of Havana upon hearing the conversion report.  One little boy asked, in Spanish, "Will we still be allowed to go barefoot when shoes are available?"  No one could answer.
 
 
UNC's Sullivan to have jersey honored
 
CHAPEL HILL -- Former University of North Carolina basketball player Pat Sullivan will finally have his jersey hung in the rafters of the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center, the place where he spent so much of his life.
 
"We had to alter the criteria somewhat to include Pat, but we felt his longevity, if nothing else, merited recognition.  When we looked closer, we saw that a great injustice had been done to Pat not honoring his long service to UNC's storied basketball program," said UNC's athletic director Dick Baddour.
 
Sullivan is to this day the only player in NCAA history to have played on three national championship teams in three different decades.
 
Sullivan, a 6-8, 220-pound small forward, was a deep reserve on the 1957 team which beat the Wilt Chamberlain' Kansas team in double overtime.  He was a sub on the 1982 team with James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan.  And Sullivan was the player who missed the free throw that set up Michigan's Chris Webber infamous time out call at the end of the 1993 national championship game.
 
The jersey-raising ceremony will take place on Sullivan's birthday, February 29, 2012, during the halftime of the Clemson game, over half of which's record 55-consecutive Chapel Hill defeats occurred during Sullivan's tenure with the Tar Heels.


Gary D. Gaddy thinks he remembers seeing a billboard promoting the Castro Convertible when he went with his family to New York City to the 1964 World's Fair.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 22, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:13 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 9:08 PM EDT
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Friday, April 15, 2011
Wins and losses: The woos and woes of "going pro"
 
NOW THAT BASKETBALL PLAYING SEASON is over (no, the NBA doesn't count), for fans of the top teams, it is a season of sadness and helplessness, as the college basketball fan watches and waits to see which of his players are "going pro early."
 
With gazelle-like Tyler Zeller, a junior, and Spiderman-clone John Henson, a sophomore, having announced that they are staying, TarHeeldom awaits the word of freshman phenom Harrison Barnes.  While I wait I meditate on "going pro."  I'll share my thoughts (and actual facts) on Tar Heels who have "gone pro."
 
For some players there is a right time to "go early."  University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith had the temerity to advise players to go pro.  Not give them his blessing.  Not attend their press conference announcing their decision and act like he was happy being there, but to personally recommend to them that the time was right for them to go. (It is little wonder he won so few games, with him thinking of his players' good before his own.)
 
In 1972 Bob McAdoo, a junior-college transfer, became the first player coached by Smith to go pro early.  (Side note: His nephew James McAdoo arrives in Chapel Hill this fall. If Michael is as good in ACC play as he looked in the McDonald's All-American Game, McAdoo II will be "going pro early" in a few years too)
 
For Bob McAdoo I would say 1972 was the right time.  He won the 1973 NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his first season, earned the first of three consecutive NBA scoring titles in his second, and was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in his third.
 
Likewise for James Worthy, 1982 was the right time. Worthy, who shared national Player of the Year honors with Virginia's Ralph Sampson, waited until fellow junior Sampson announced he was staying to announce he was going.  "Big Game James" was the first player taken in the 1982 draft -- ending up with the Los Angles Lakers, a perennial championship contender, rather than with the worst team in league as usually happens.
 
In 1984, some guy named Mike went early. Michael Jordan had been the national player of the year after his sophomore and junior seasons.  My recollection is “going pro early” didn't seem to hurt his pro career, or the fondness of the memories for him in Chapel Hill.
 
(Pop quiz: Michael Jordan was drafted third, who were the players drafted ahead of him?  Think for a minute.)
 
(Answer: The first pick was Hakeem Olajuwon, which was not stupid as he is now in the NBA Hall of Fame.  The second was Sam Bowie, who is, you might ask, who?  He is the answer to this question: “Who was the worst pick in the history of pro sports drafts?”  Bowie, who had missed two full seasons in college with a recalcitrant leg fracture, had an injury-laden 10-year career as a journeyman pro player.)
 
For some players there is no right time to "go early."  After the Tar Heels lost in the national championship game in 1977 to Marquette, Smith recommended to junior Phil Ford that he go pro.  According to Art Chansky, Ford said no by asking, "Who's going to tell my mother?"  Apparently, even Coach Smith didn't have the nerve to do that.  Mabel Ford valued a college degree over money.  Ford graduated and went pro after his senior season, was the second pick in the draft, and was named NBA Rookie of the Year.
 
Not "going early" is sometimes bad: case in point, Donald Williams.  Williams received the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award when UNC won the 1993 championship, and did not go pro early, did not get drafted as a senior, never made it to the NBA, and, at last report, was an assistant coach for the varsity girls basketball team at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh.
 
And some who "go pro early" did no such thing. When, as a junior, national player of the year Antawn Jamison "went pro early," he had met all the academic requirements for graduation, except for one: the swimming test.  
 
"I can't swim at all," Jamison admitted. "You'll probably never see me in a pool over six feet," Jamison is quoted as saying. "They had a tutor with me the whole four weeks of the class. It was probably the hardest subject I faced in college, but I finished it," he added.
 
But, in any case, stars "going pro early" make life hard for the fans of their teams. I remember one year, following a batch of player graduations and early entries in the pro draft, a fellow Tar Heel fan was moaning to me about our team's losses, and I sympathized: "Yes," I said, "We're down to our last seven McDonald's All-Americans."
 
 
Gary D. Gaddy is going pro just as soon as he finds a sport someone will pay him to play. 
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 15, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  
 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2011 9:15 AM EDT
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Friday, April 8, 2011
Puff (the Magic Dragon) busted on possession charges

LONDON -- Puff (the Magic Dragon), who had disappeared from the public eye following the last Peter, Paul and Mary Reunion Tour, re-appeared in a London courtroom today.  Puffy, as he is currently known, was arrested in Heathrow Airport after drug-sniffing dogs alerted customs officials to a suspicious smell.

Puffy MD, as he was promoting himself, was on the way to the first leg of a series of now-cancelled hip-hop house concerts slated to begin next weekend in Amsterdam.

The barrister representing Puffy, the Honorable Lord Beaverbrook, said that his client was "absolutely, undeniably, unequivocally innocent of all charges and claims against him."  According to Lord Beaverbrook, Puffy hasn't done any "illegal substances" since he entered treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1989.

"In his prime Puffy toqued his dope, just like we all did back in the day, but now he won't even touch out-of-date cottage cheese," said Beaverbrook.

It's a simple case of mistaken olfactory, Lord Beaverbrook contends.  "The dogs smelled smoke, without a doubt, but he's dragon for God's sake!  What's next?  Arresting Topo Gigio coming through Gatwick for having Limburger on his breath?" asked Beaverbrook.

Regarding the "green vegetable matter found on Mr. Puff's person," Lord Beaverbrook argued that this was "an herbal preparation Mr. Puff used to treat his glaucoma."  This eye condition, which is an issue in a civil suit filed by Puffy against Warner Brothers, was, according to briefs filed earlier in Los Angeles, "induced by overexposure to the fine print on record industry contracts."

In the late '60's Puffy was indicted and tried twice, but convicted neither time, on drug smuggling charges.  Accusations of jury tampering and witness intimidation were never proven.  One key government witness disappeared just before he was scheduled to testify.  Ashen remains found shortly thereafter could not be identified.

Inside sources at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency continue to be convinced that Puff was the linchpin in the Hanah Lee-Los Angeles drug connection.

Puffy is currently being held in HMP Canterbury, a men's prison holding foreign nationals who are expected to be deported.  Located in Canterbury, Kent, England, Canterbury Prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.


Lassie named Poet Laureate; produces doggerel

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Stormy confirmation hearings ended late last night as former television actress Lassie was narrowly confirmed by the United States Senate as Poet Laureate of the United States.  As has become the norm for Senate confirmation hearings of late, both sides went nuclear with Lassie's qualifications for the office being disparaged, while Lassie's opponents found themselves being vilified.

Fellow poet Snoop Doggy Dogg, supported by a contingent which included Ice-T, Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice and Milli of the pop duo Milli Vanilli, defended Lassie's nomination.  "If a bad actor can be president, I don't see why a bad actress can't be poet laureate. The Gubernator used stunt doubles too, you know," noted Dogg.

A pivotal moment in the hearing came when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shifted positions.  PETA, which originally opposed Lassie's nomination because of her public position on carnivorism, were won over by Lassie's tail-wagging pledge to eat only tofu-based dog food during her tenure as poet laureate.

While trans-species activists hailed the appointment as "ground breaking," a spokesperson for the Coalition Advocating Traditional Sense said that "while some of our best friends are dogs; this is a slippery slope.  What's next?  A lab-coated chimpanzee as surgeon general?"

Some observers thought a swaying moment was Lassie's own concluding statement to the confirmation committee which featured a reading of one of the poet's most beloved poems, "Trees . . . and Hydrants."  Through an interpreter, Timothy Martin, Lassie recited the poem's most poignant verse: "I think that I shall never see a tree on which I cannot pee."

The final vote followed strict party lines, except that all of the Democratic females crossed over the aisle to vote for Lassie's confirmation.


Gary D. Gaddy came through Heathrow Airport once, in the fall of 1971, without a whiff of trouble.
 
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday April 8, 2011.
 
Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy  

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:55 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 4:21 PM EDT
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