Monday, August 28, 2017

Happy B-Day To Me

More just as a placeholder than anything else; the old blog has been pretty moribund for a while and no reason anybody would stop in...

But today is b-day 63 for me, notable because another hurricane is flooding the hell out of the upper gulf...last time that happened it was birthday 51 and I was moving my son up to Cherokee County in north Georgia. Even that far from ground zero in New Orleans that trip was some very surreal shit; very end-of-the-worldly vibe, scarce gas, and of course I was leaving my good 21 year old boy up there with his fiancé's pretty cliché to say, but it sure is a deja vu thing, pardon my French :)

Anyway, I felt old then, but now? Hell I'm just numb to it. The world is no better off after the devastation wrought by Bush's war fuckups and a decade of the zero...there is some hope now but it's going to be an exhausting and unhappy process. If it weren't for not wanting to leave such a mess for my babies and grandbabies, I'd be about ready to shuffle on off this morbid, mortal coil.

Anyway yeah, happy birthday to me...I'm a lot better off than many, with a loving family and a comfortable life; I just hope they can say that too when they are where I am now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We never learn...

This letter from one of the most brilliant economic advisers ever to the then drug czar Bennet could be retitled "An Open Letter to Jeff Sessions and President Trump" with no other changes other than to note that the problem has only worsened in the decade since I re-posted it as a comment in a thread regarding rampant no-knock warrants and the tragedy that often this case it was related to the killing of an inoocent elderly black lady in Atlanta. And of course as the piece notes the situation had already radically worsened in the nearly two decades before that...leftists and elites are not the only ones to repeat the mistakes of the past over and over expecting a different result...the old saying is that is the definition of insanity. Not sure about that, but this is indeed insane.

An Open Letter to Bill Bennett
by Milton Friedman, April 1990

In Oliver Cromwell's eloquent words, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on "Prohibition and Drugs." The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, "crack" would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man's lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, "be forever for rent," but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes "on suspicion" can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Reprinted by The Pawnbroker on April 6, 2008 at 11:53 PM

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jeweler to The King

What a good, kind, and unassuming man Lowell Hays is. I caught this recent story in a trade journal

and on this 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis, I had to tell my own tale of a decent and inspiring man who was not just his jeweler, but his dear friend. I do hope Mr. Hays reads the article and my comment there so he will know the impact he had on my son...

In 2005 I sold my Sebring, FL jewelry and pawn store and let the refrigerator sized TL-30 safe go with it. My son had wanted it for his planned move to near our vacation place in North Georgia to open his own store at age 21. So in early 2006 I found an awesome ISM TRTL vault, 7ft by 4ft by 3ft, for sale on eBay along with some miscellaneous bench tools. The safe did not attract many bids I am sure because people knew the difficulty and expense of transporting it.

Then I noticed the small wording saying the seller might deliver a short distance. It was in Memphis, we were an hour north of Atlanta. On a chance, I made contact and asked about delivery and they said yes...they would make the more than 400 mile delivery, included in the very reasonable price! I don't remember at what point I found out who the seller was, whether through research at the time of sale or when it was delivered; there was no mention on eBay that this was the store safe of the Jeweler to the King, I think due to Lowell's low-key approach and reluctance to try to capitalize on his friend's memory, although later he realized those stories needed to be told and starting publishing them online...and they are amazing. But who it was was Lowell Hays and his son who had decided to discontinue the historical jewelry business and concentrate on I think land development. Father and son both made the trip in a dually pickup truck and a goose-neck flatbed trailer...I think as a chance to be together on a road-trip adventure. I had rented a forklift capable of 8000 pounds and it struggled to lift that safe off, but the younger Hays adroitly stood it up, lifted it, and set it beside our building. Afterward they graciously chatted, took some pictures, and I asked for an Elvis story, but nothing bad. Lowell said he didn't have any bad stories about Elvis, that he was the kindest most decent man he ever knew. And then they loaded up and headed back the 400 miles to Memphis.

We had to remove the front door and plate glass to get that monster safe inside, and it took my son and I most of a day to inch it on pipes to the back corner of  the store. The door was like a bank vault, heavy and slow to open, but when you locked it up and walked out the door at night you had no worries. A few years later son and his fiancée called it quits and he sold the business and moved back to Florida. It would have been a major expensive undertaking to take the safe back out, transport it to Fla, and since we didn't have a new store yet to put it in, we'd have had to store it and then pay again to move it into place when we did start a new we left it.

We did a new jewelry store for him in our little central Fl town (and the gold boom had kicked in so I stayed on to help with that) from '08 to '12 and by then son had honed his skills, become proficient with his  LaserStar, and was ready for the upscale custom, repair, and estate jewelry business in Palm Beach Gardens where for five years now his skill, personality, and a lifetime of experience since he was a toddler have made him and his business The Jewelry Doctor one of the most highly rated and reviewed shops in an area full of high-end chains. He's even had some celebrity clients including Susan Lucci whose mom's estate he purchased, Miss Florida Brie Gabrielle, and a ranking military attache to Ronald Reagan whose WH presentation jacket buttons he repaired with his laser.

It would be wonderful to have Mr. Hays vault in his store, on display as where some of the most iconic custom jewelry ever made had been secured, along with the original molds for some of them, and just as importantly the place where one of the most talented, famous, and gentle artists of the trade had kept his creations, but that was not to be.

Still, I am convinced that the contact and transaction with those gentlemen was an inspiration to my son, and that the traits and trust that Lowell Hays embodied in his career and in his dealings with us, have helped guide my son in how he runs his business and serves his clients, famous and not-so-famous alike. Thank you and God Bless you, Mr. Hays.

And God Bless you too, Elvis were an imperfect man like all of us, but God knows a good soul and no doubt yours is residing with Him now, along with your beloved Mama, and with all the fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches you want, weight be damned!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Bubbles gonna's what they do."

From a way too long comment at another blog mocking the Republican party for not living up to its hype and rep as the "party of smaller government":

One aspect of the POSG is true to type, what Tam at VFTP finally admits is a “Gun Glut”. She’s even partly right about its cause.

But while the expectation of The Beast in the big chair was a driver of producers, wholesalers, and retailers gearing up and stocking up, that’s been going on for the better part of a decade. The tendency of the market to put supply ahead of anticipated demand has indeed glutted the market for much of that time but actual demand absorbed enough supply that all those three prongs of the industry kept expanding in a perverted version of “irrational exuberance”.

Until now. To riff on the commercial, “bubbles gonna bust, that’s what they do.” I took some heat for calling this more than a year ago, but I was seeing it from the inside of the retail prong, and even though the prospect of an anti-gun anti-Constitution anti-deplorable prog prez with balls to replace the one without them was a driver (and HEAVILY touted by the supply side), inventory levels had already started backing up with more buildup of the three prongs every day. And with the actual market largely satiated (have you SEEN that 10-year NICS chart?), it was a textbook example of the pendulum of actual as opposed to anticipated suppy/demand and the bubble pop would have happened albeit to a lesser and less immediate degree, even if the bitch had gotten the nod as expected.

Now as I’ve also said before, changes in regs and rules are pretty certain to up the market for heretofore artificially stunted materiel and a whole new supply/demand cycle will ensue, but cans can’t (heh) help absorb the millions of ar’s and glock clones that cram the warehouses and showcases right now…only reduced prices and disappearing profits will do that. And it will, there’s a demand for anything even when in oversupply if it’s cheap enough whether it’s guns or houses…which will take care of the glut in firearms themselves and through what will certainly be an accelerated attrition, the glut in the supply chain too…only the strongest will survive.

That’s just how capitalism works, and it’s ultimately a good thing. But don’t tell that to my buddy Tom, who after his 30-yr. retirement from LE sunk everything he had and everything he could borrow into a brand new 7000 sf state-of-the-art facility with a 2500 gun inventory, opening for business in October 2016. I did try to dissuade him for the whole year prior, much as I tried to tell blind investors in 2011 to stop having me order them 500-oz “monster boxes” of silver eagles when the crazed market had pushed them to over $50 per. Not that I’m any kind of guru; I in 40 years in those businesses never speculated or anticipated because there is way too much manipulation in every market. But I would have had to be blind not to see that something wasn’t right and was bound for “correction” as it were. Some lessons just have to be learned the hard way.

Anyway. “Gun Glut”. Regardless of the whens and whys, it’s a fact.

Friday, June 9, 2017

happy happy birthday baby...63!

Today my baby turns 63...

Eight years ago I did a little pic post on her 55th with granddaughter Grace at her dance recital.

Then last week she and Grace, now 15, recreated the pose after her last recital.

Fran seems to have found Ponce's elusive fountain; not me, even though she's a couple months older she looks twenty years younger..I'm a lucky guy to have her going on 46 years, and not just for her young looks either, but because all of those things I said in that prior post are even more true now than then.

BTW, I said this was Grace's last dance recital and that's not just for this year but altogether because although she loves it and excels, she has discovered that her true love and very strong plan for her future, involves dancing in air...this is her first lesson; she plans to have her private pilot license before her driver license and is sure she wants to be a commercial pilot! And without the dance makeup she looks even more like her beautiful Nana.

Monday, January 16, 2017

An Irish Reflection on the 2016 Election in the Colonies

By: Ian O'Doherty,  columnist for the Irish Independent

Tuesday November 8, 2016 — a day that will live in infamy, or the moment when America was made great again?
The truth, as ever, will lie somewhere in the middle. After all, contrary to what both his supporters and detractors believe — and this is probably the only thing they agree on — Trump won’t be able to come into office and spend his first 100 days gleefully ripping up all the bits of the Constitution he doesn’t like.

But even if this week’s seismic shockwave doesn’t signal either the sky falling in or the start of a bright new American era, the result was, to use one of The Donald’s favourite phrases, huge. It is, in fact, a total game changer.
In decades to come, historians will still bicker about the most poisonous, toxic and stupid election in living memory.
They will also be bickering over the same vexed question: how did a man who was already unpopular with the public and who boasted precisely zero political experience beat a seasoned Washington insider who was married to one extremely popular president and who had worked closely with another? The answer, ultimately, is in the question.

History will record this as a Trump victory, which of course it is. But it was also more than that, because this was the most stunning self-inflicted defeat in the history of Western democracy. Hillary Clinton has damned her party to irrelevance for at least the next four years. She has also ensured that Obama’s legacy will now be a footnote rather than a chapter. Because the Affordable Care Act is now doomed under a Trump presidency and that was always meant to be his gift, of sorts, to America. How did a candidate who had virtually all of the media, all of Hollywood, every celebrity you could think of, a couple of former presidents and apparently, the hopes of an entire gender resting on her shoulders, blow up her own campaign?
I rather suspect that neither Donald nor Hillary know how they got to this point.

Where she seemed to expect the position to become available to her by right — the phrase “she deserves it” was used early in the campaign and then quickly dropped when her team remembered that Americans don’t like inherited power — his first steps into the campaign were those of someone chancing their arm. If he wasn’t such a staunch teetotaler, many observers would have accused him of only doing it as a drunken bet. But the more the campaign wore on, something truly astonishing began to happen: the people began to speak. And they began to speak in a voice which, for the first time in years in the American heartland, would not be ignored. Few of the people who voted for Trump seriously believe that he is going to personally improve their fortunes. Contrary to the smug, middle-class media narrative, they aren’t all barely educated idiots. They know what he is, of course they do. It’s what he is not that appeals to them.

Clinton, on the other hand, had come to represent the apex of smug privilege. Whether it was boasting about her desire to shut down the remaining coal industry in Virginia — that worked out well for her, in the end — or calling half the electorate a “basket of deplorables,” she seemed to operate in the perfumed air of the elite, more obsessed with coddling idiots and pandering to identity and feelings than improving the hardscrabble life that is the lot of millions of Americans.
Also, nobody who voted for Trump did so because they wanted him as a spiritual guru or life coach. But plenty of people invested an irrational amount of emotional energy into a woman who was patently undeserving of that level of adoration.

That’s why we’ve witnessed such fury from her supporters — they had wrapped themselves so tightly in the Hillary flag that a rejection of her felt like a rejection of them. And when you consider that many American colleges gave their students Wednesday off class because they were too “upset” to study, you can see that this wasn’t a battle for the White House — this became a genuine battle for America’s future direction. And, indeed, for the West. (Emphasis mine)
We have been going through a cultural paroxysm for the last 10 years — the rise of identity politics has created a Balkanised society where the content of someone’s mind is less important than their skin colour, gender, sexuality or whatever other attention-seeking label they wish to bestow upon themselves. In fact, where once it looked like racism and sexism might be becoming archaic remnants of a darker time, a whole new generation has popped up which wants to re-litigate all those arguments all over again. In fact, while many of us are too young to recall the Vietnam War and the social upheaval of the 1960s, plenty of observers who were say they haven’t seen an America more at war with itself than it is today.

One perfect example of this New America has been the renewed calls for segregation on campuses. Even a few years ago, such a move would have been greeted with understandable horror by civil rights activists — but this time it’s the black students demanding segregation and “safe spaces” from whites. If young people calling for racial segregation from each other isn’t the sign of a very, very sick society, nothing is.

The irony of Clinton calling Trump and his followers racist while she was courting Black Lives Matter was telling.
After all, no rational white person would defend the KKK, yet here was a white women defending both BLM and the New Black Panthers — explicitly racist organisations with the NBP, in particularly, openly espousing a race war if they don’t get what they want.

Fundamentally, Trump was attractive because he represents a repudiation of the nonsense that has been slowly strangling the West. He represents — rightly or wrongly, and the dust has still to settle — a scorn and contempt for these new rules. He won’t be a president worried about microaggressions, or listening to the views of patently insane people just because they come from a fashionably protected group. He also represents a glorious (middle finger) to everyone who has become sick of being called a racist or a bigot or a homophobe — particularly by Hillary supporters who are too dense to realise that she has always actually been more conservative on social issues than Trump.
That it might take a madman to restore some sanity to America is, I suppose, a quirk that is typical to that great nation — land of the free and home to more contradictions than anyone can imagine.

Trump’s victory also signals just how out of step the media has been with the people. Not just American media, either.
In fact, the Irish media has continued its desperate drive to make a show of itself with a seemingly endless parade of emotionally incontinent gibberish that, ironically, has increased in ferocity and hysterical spite in the last few days.
The fact that Hillary’s main cheerleaders in the Irish and UK media still haven’t realised where they went wrong is instructive and amusing in equal measure. They still don’t seem to understand that by constantly insulting his supporters, they’re just making asses of themselves.
One female contributor to this newspaper said Trump’s victory was a “sad day for women.” Well, not for the women who voted for him, it wasn’t. But that really is the nub of the matter — the “wrong” kind of women obviously voted for Trump. The “right” kind went with Hillary. And lost.

The Irish media is not alone in being filled largely with dinner-party liberals who have never had an original or socially awkward thought in their lives. They simply assume that everyone lives in the same bubble and thinks the same thoughts — and if they don’t, they should.

Of the many things that have changed with Trump’s victory, the bubble has burst. Never in American history have the polls, the media and the chin-stroking moral arbiters of the liberal agenda been so spectacularly, wonderfully wrong.
It was exactly that condescending, obnoxious sneer towards the working class that brought them out in such numbers, and that is the great irony of Election 16 — the Left spent years creating identity politics to the extent that the only group left without protection or a celebrity sponsor was the white American male.

That it was the white American male who swung it for Trump is a timely reminder that while black lives matter, all votes count — even the ones of people you despise. You don’t have to be a supporter of Trump to take great delight in the sheer, apoplectic rage that has greeted his victory. If Clinton had won and Trump supporters had gone on a rampage through a dozen American cities the next night, there would have been outrage — and rightly so. But in a morally and linguistically inverted society, the wrong-doers are portrayed as the victims. We saw that at numerous Trump rallies: protesters would disrupt the event, claiming their right to free speech (a heckler’s veto is not free speech) and provoking people until they got a dig before running to the media and claiming victimhood.

But, ultimately, this election was about people saying enough with the bullshit. This is a country in crisis, and most Americans don’t care about transgender bathrooms, or safe spaces, or government speech laws. This was about people taking some control back for themselves. It was about them saying that they won’t be hectored and bullied by the toddler tantrums thrown by pissy and spoiled millennials, and they certainly won’t put up with being told they’re stupid and wicked just because they have a difference of opinion.

But, really, this election is about hope for a better America; an America which isn’t obsessed with identity and perceived “privilege;” an America where being a victim isn’t a virtue and where you don’t have to apologise for not being up to date with the latest list of socially acceptable phrases.
Trump’s victory was a (middle finger) to the politically correct.
It was a brutal rejection of the nonsense narrative which says Muslims who kill Americans are somehow victims. It took the ludicrous Green agenda and threw it out. It was a return, on some level, to a time when people weren’t afraid to speak their own mind without some self-elected language cop shouting at you. Who knows, we may even see Trump kicking the UN out of New York.

Frankly, if you’re one of those who gets their politics from Jon Stewart and Twitter, look away for the next four years, because you’re not going to like what you see. The rest of us, however, will be delighted. This might go terribly, terribly wrong. Nobody knows — and if we have learned anything this week, it’s that nobody knows nuthin’. But just as the people of the UK took control back with Brexit, the people of America did likewise with their choice for president.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Very cool...and very proud.

My son, having grown up in the estate jewelry and firearms businesses, is now at 32 a very accomplished custom bench jeweler (The Jewelry Doctor) in Palm Beach Gardens FL. He’s had several semi-famous customers come to him in his unassuming but highly reviewed shop for difficult or intricate repairs (Miss Florida2016, Susan Lucci, Dr. Ben Carson, several well-known golfers) and crap-tons of loaded retirees tooling up in their Bentleys, Aston Martins, even a 70-year old hottie in her hubby’s new Lamborghini, many with rings or watches worth as much as a house, he schmoozes ’em, they love him, and they entrust their high-value heirloom pieces to him for repairs and restoration. But today…

Today a customer brought him a button. Not even a gold button. Just a stylized brass button that had its attaching loop broken off, because son uses a high-tech laser welder, mostly becauses it’s pinpoint fusion won’t transfer heat that can harm fragile gems, but also because unlike the traditional jewelers torch, it easily handles the properties of platinum, silver, and non-traditional metals…like brass.

And this particular brass button is pretty special, from the jacket presented by Ronald Reagan at his inauguration to Richard Feldman, a Reagan adviser and appointee to the Commerce Dept. and then later Executive Director of the American Shooting Sports Council, former National Rifle Association Regional Director, and author of the widely acclaimed book – Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, and now President and CEO of the Independent Firearm Owners Association and legal advisor to Global Digital Solutions, heavily involved in the guidance of high-tech cyber arms manufacturing.

The button is embossed “Inauguration of President and Vice President Reagan and Bush.” Here's the text and picture that he sent me a few minutes ago to share with y’all. It doesn't have any real monetary value, but like I told him in reply, “It’s as precious a thing as you’ve ever had entrusted to your care in your shop.”

Like I said, very cool. I’m pretty proud of him, that such a figure would have been referred to him and personally bring such a treasured thing to him to repair, but even more so that he recognizes and appreciates the significance of what it represents, and spent time talking to and enjoying a conversation with Mr. Feldman

. At his age, that’s pretty rare I think, and perfectly in line with the understanding and sentiment of the text he sent me late on election night: “Wow, we might have just been given a new chance to help save America and the world.”