Phones

We got our first phone when I was in the eighth grade. Of course, it was a marvel, but slowly we began to realize it had its drawbacks. Ours was a “party line”, meaning we shared the line with six other families. When you wanted to make a call you had to pick up the phone and make sure no one else was already on it. Since you had no clue who had picked up the phone while you were on a call, people could anonymously harass you by picking up and replacing the receiver every few seconds just to get you off the line. Folks could listen in on your calls too if you were not paying attention.

party line phone

All phones in those days were rotary dial, so you had to crank the dial around and wait for it to spin back to the start position. I never thought that much of a problem until touch tone came into vogue.

The big break through for me happened when they came out with car phones. At the time, business for us was booming and my biggest customers were Sears Payment Systems and Discover Card headquartered in Chicago. We lived in the Oconomowoc, WI area, a two hour drive to their offices. These two customers demanded a lot of attention and I found myself driving down two to three times per week.  That four hours of driving per day chopped a big chunk out of my work week. The car phone turned that dead time into productive time.

car phone

These early mobile phones were pretty clunky. A box a bit bigger than a loaf of focaccia bread resided in the trunk with a wire leading to an antenna screwed to the lid of the trunk. A speaker perhaps 4” X 5” X 5” sat on the hump between the passenger and driver foot wells and a microphone was mounted on the driver’s visor. The phone itself (weighing about two pounds) resided on a bracket within easy reach of the driver. Result…. you could do hands free talking and with speed dial not a lot of looking down from the road. My drive time became productive time for I could make, return and receive calls.

These car phones were not common at the time and many people had no idea they existed. This made for some funny incidents. Chicago, in its wisdom, had decided to collect its highway tolls $.35 at a time by erecting toll booths every few miles around the city. During busy travel times this inevitably created traffc jams as people slowed down to drop their change into the bucket or get change from the vendors. One day as we inched towards the toll booths I was on the phone and gesturing and laughing. I happened to glance over at the car in the lane next to me. There were three black kids peering out the window at me with expressions on their faces that said, “Now there’s one crazy white dude!” They clearly thought I was having a jolly old time talking to myself.

say what

Telephone technology made incremental improvements as a communication device providing phone and texting. (Remember the Blackberry?) Then Steve Jobs introduced the frst iPhone on June 29,2007. It represented a paradigm shift in telephone technology. He added a microprocessor to the phone that already had a screen and a keypad and, voila’ you’ve got a computer! The rest is history.

Bill Melton, the founder and visionary of VeriFone created a similar paradigm shift in credit card terminals when he decided to put memory in VeriFone’s terminals ushering in data capture and eliminating the need to process all those paper credit card slips.

I, too, realized that a phone could be a computer back in the early ’90s…although not for portable phones. At the time we were representing VeriFone, the market leader in credit card terminals. My biggest customer, as I said, was Discover Card and SPS. VeriFone manufactured a smart (chip) card reader and my company had a relationship with a chip
card company in France.

While ubiquitous in France and throughout much of Europe, chip cards had failed to catch on in the US. VISA and Mastercard were balking at the cost of outftting all the merchants with smart card enabled terminals, and without them, it was diffcult to fnd a compelling application that would justify the cost.

There are two kinds of chip cards: Simple cards that can store a PIN number and do basic functions, and memory cards with a more sophisticated microprocessor and memory capabilities.

Those were the days before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket and ATT had hundreds of thousands of pay phones around the country. These phones had a small (4” x 4”) screen and, of course, a keypad. I reasoned that if they had a VeriFone smart card reader, a customer with a microprocessor card could insert the card and turn that phone into….. wait for it….a computer. The data, however, would be stored on the card.

Every traveling businessman, like myself, had a phone list in his briefcase and a fistful of frequent flier cards, frequent hotel cards and car rental cards. None of these represented anything more than a number stored in a computer somewhere. I reasoned that all of these numbers could be stored easily on a memory chip card and lighten the load of the business traveler. At that time, if you wanted to make a long distance call from a public phone you had to manually enter your ATT billing number that would then be charged to your home or business phone.

My idea was to have Discover Card come out with a smart chip card that they would offer to their “premium” customers. This card would store their ATT billing number, their phone list and their list of frequent user numbers. Discover would then be able to charge an annual fee for this card, something not done at the time for any card.

ATT, for its part, would begin to retrofit all its pay phones with VeriFone smart card readers to accept these cards. As the cards became commonplace, smart card reader-enabled credit card terminals would be available at check in desks of hotels and car rental agencies. At least, that was the dream.

This sale would be complicated. I had to convince not only Discover Card, but more importantly, ATT. I got Discover interested and they agreed to bring the ATT guys in for a meeting. On the day of the presentation I walked into the big conference room at Discover headquarters and there were about 20 big shots sitting around the massive table. The presidents of Discover and Sears Payment Systems were there, plus a bunch of VPs from Sears and ATT. I got up in front of the group and made my presentation. I thought it went well. Lots of questions and head nodding. At the end of the meeting, as I was walking out, a guy came up and introduced himself as the sales rep for ATT who handled the Discover and SPS accounts. He said, “I’ve been the rep here for a year and a half and I never even met half of the guys in this meeting! How the Hell did you manage to get all these guys together?” I had no answer, except that I had been there at the beginning and simply knew them all.

As it turned out, the idea fizzled in the wheels of bureaucracy. People in corporate culture do not get rewarded for taking chances. If they succeed, the higher ups take the credit. If they fail, their career is over or it’s back to the mail room.

Now, twenty years later, the credit card companies in the US are finally beginning to put chips on their credit cards and install chip card reader terminals at the points of sale. It’s still not fully implemented although it has been in Canada for the last ten years and in Europe since the 80’s.

Go figure.

Footnote:
While the new smart phones are amazing with cameras, email, video, WiFi and internet access, I am not sure they are a blessing. They have an addictive quality and touches of escapism. You see couples having dinner and each have their noses buried in their phones. I guess it avoids the messy business of conversation. Groups of teens siting together all working their phones with fashing fngers. They’re texting each other while sitting side by side. Impersonal interaction. And, of course, there’s the issue of being unable to turn the damn thing off while driving and the addiction of playing games on the device instead of reading a book. As I said, it’s all good.

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Kill the Heretics!

“… environmentalism is the religion of choice for urban atheists…”
Michael Crichton 9/15/2003

Robert F. Kennedy, an environmental activist, regrets that there are no laws on the books to punish global warming skeptics. Adam Weinstein, a writer for Gawker.com, said, in part, “Those deniers should face lawsuits. You should be punished for your self-serving malice.” David Suzuki, a Canadian climate change activist, said on PBS’ Moyers & Company, “Politicians skeptical of man made climate change should be thrown in the slammer.” With or without benefit of a trial Dave?

On another tack Jaqsdish Shukla, a lead author for the IPCC and a George Mason professor, inspired 19 other scientists to join him in a letter to Obama urging him to start a RICO (racketeering) investigation into climate skeptics. It then came out that ol’ Jaqs had paid himself and his wife $1.5 million for part time work in the last two years out of government funds designated for him to study global warming. He did it through his personal foundation. No wonder he didn’t want the money to stop flowing and for the skeptics to shut the hell up!

But it was Professor Parucutt of the U of Graz in Austria who came up with the topper. He called for the death penalty as “the appropriate punishment for global warming deniers.”

This stuff lends a lot of credence to Michael Crichton’s assertion in 2003 that environmentalism is a religion. Religions all require blind faith and are often cruel to those who stray from the accepted path. Recall the inquisition? People suspected of heresy, or someone who’s property was desired by the priests, were arrested. Their property was immediately confiscated and they were put on the rack and tortured until they confessed to heresy. Then they were generally burned at the stake as an example to others.

The Islamic version of this is for the mullahs to issue a fatwa on the apostate and then any Muslim who finds it convenient can simply kill the guy. Remember Salman Rushdie who’s book was critical of Islam? He was in hiding for years after a fatwa was declared on him and more recently the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo. They published a cartoon making fun of Mohammad so some Muslim shot up their offices killing 12.

The climate police have not yet started knocking down doors in the middle of the night and hauling skeptics down to the town square for burning at the stake but it may be coming.

Dr. Roger Pielke who testified before Congress that extreme weather events…. tornados, hurricanes, droughts, etc. have not increased in the last 100 years, recently said that “Climate McCarthyism has been practiced for awhile.” He should know. Even though he’s not a denier of global warming he has been attacked, vilified and harassed personally for publishing his results. The harassment has been so intense that he has stopped doing climate research. The same thing happened to Dr. Lennart Bengtsson who published his research that showed the oceans are not rising any faster than since the end of the last ice age. The hateful pressure was so great that he resigned his position on a global warming advisory organization because of concerns about his health.

As Dr. Pielke said in an interview published in WND on 3/21/15, “Militant climate change alarmists are backed by the media, most educational institutions and powerful lobbies in Congress. These formidable allies control most prevailing information disseminated to the public and use smear tactics to silence dissent. Critics of man-made climate change face professional and person slander.”

The question is…..WHY? Why would the genteel world of science behave like a bunch of high school “mean girls”. The answer is…. as my liberal friend likes to say…. “Follow the money”.

Billions… multiple billions…. is being thrown around for climate research each year. Between the GAO and the Congressional Research Service they estimate the total at about $112 billion in the US alone since 2003 to 2012, and it’s growing. Fat research grants are being handed out like free samples at Safeway. The benefits are many: Nice salaries on top of the ones being paid by their universities, travel to pleasant places for confabs with other like minded climate change enthusiasts and side income for speaking engagements and book deals. Why rock the boat? And, why let anyone with a dissenting opinion get in the way?

Professor Harold Lewis (1923-2011) Emeritus Professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, put it bluntly in his resignation letter in October of 2010 to the American Physical Society where he had been a member for 67 years, ”…I am forced with no pleasure at all to offer you my resignation from the society. It is, of course, the global warming scam, with the literally trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted scientists, and has carried the APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who doubts this should be forced to read the Climategate documents, which lay it bare.” “ I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay any scientist can read that stuff without revulsion.” Gee, a man of principle, imagine that.

There are many other scientists who agree with Professor Lewis but often they are reluctant to speak out because they know they will be attacked personally and professionally by the climate McCarthyites. A sad statement about science and the UN.

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Bits and Pieces

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Einstein.

Those of us who actually pay attention know that Obama’s commitment to the truth is weak indeed. But, this post is dedicated to some commentary on a number of items in the news recently. I can get in to his lack of honesty later. Here are a few things that have dominated the headlines of late:

1). Cecil the lion. The killing of Cecil aroused world-wide condemnation of the US dentist who offed this apex predator and it really went over the top. The lion was routinely called “beloved” by the press. Really? I doubt few ever heard of the beast. Nonetheless, the method used to lure him out of the protected National Park and take him was a bit sketchy on the “fair chase” hunting ethics scale and certainly the responsibility of the guide who organized the hunt. Part of the horror at poor Cecil’s “murder” stems from most people’s belief that Cec is like the lion in the Lion King and The Wizard of Oz, gentile beasts just trying to get along. He was a subject of research and not a pet. I am a hunter but I do not understand the desire to shoot a lion. Notwithstanding, it is legal and he paid a big sum to do it. I think death threats on the dentist from all over the world is craziness.

2). Greed. The Seattle Teachers Association decided to go on strike last week, the day classes were supposed to start. This is typical union behavior, designed to put the maximum pain on parents who have to scramble to find day care for the kids. Let’s also remember that it is ILLEGAL FOR TEACHERS TO STRIKE in the first place. The union is supposed to fined $100,000 per day but what usually happens in these deals is that the fines are forgiven in the settlements and the teachers receive their pay for not teaching during the strike. The teachers were already scheduled to receive a 3% raise from the additional funding granted to education but the teachers are demanding an additional 18%. They also want less evaluations of teachers and less testing of students. They don’t want their failure to be exposed and they don’t want their monopoly challenged. For example, the legislature authorized charter schools in the state. The local and national teachers union sued and the Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional. Turns out that the 9 justices had all received the maximum contributions from the teachers unions for their election campaigns. Coincidence? I think the governor and the superintendent should open the schools with volunteers and non-union teachers and jail the top officials in the teachers union until they accept the generous offer they already have on the table. Starting pay for teachers in Seattle is $50,000 and the average salary is $67,124. The median salary for Seattle residents is $40,000.

3). Black Lives Matter. This outfit that is promoting violence against the police is an offshoot of the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot movement which stemmed from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The rumor that Brown had his hands up and was in the process of surrendering when officer Wilson shot him is a lie. The Justice Department’s investigation certified that fact. As that realization took the steam out of the HUDS movement the more radical of the group morphed into the Black Lives Matter group. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty jumped 89% from 2013 to 2014. This war on the police promoted by the BLM movement has resulted in the police withdrawing from active policing in the high crime ghetto areas of major US cities. The tragic outcome of that is the murder rate in 35 cities has skyrocketed with Milwaukee leading the way with a 76% increase. ( St. Louis 60% and Baltimore 50% all according to the NY Times.) Of course, these are mostly blacks shooting other blacks. If black lives really matter why does this group promote the killing of police officers and not the epidemic of blacks shooting each other?

4). Hillary’s Email Scandal. Why did the supposedly “smartest woman in America” think she could get away with conducting State Department business on her personal email system? Answer: Because she’s been getting away with this shit for decades. It’s not clear if she can bob and weave enough to survive and become the Democrat nominee for President. It was once considered inevitable but now the power brokers may decide she’s too damaged and opt for Biden instead. I doubt that they will permit Sanders to get it. He seems like a wild haired, spittle flinging lunatic grandfather that somehow escaped from the attic.

5). Obama’s Trip to Alaska. This photo op visit was to sell the global warming myth via the press in advance of the Pope’s visit and to drum up support for the World Climate Summit to be held in Paris in late November and early December. Exhibit A on this litany of impending doom was a visit to the Exit Glacier and how it has been receding. True enough. Missing from the discussion, however, is the fact that it has been doing so since 1815. Obama and the press did not visit the Hubbard Glacier that has been growing and increasing in mass for decades or any of the other eight Alaskan glaciers that are doing the same. Nor was there talk about the Mendenhall Glacier and the U. of Alaska’s finding perfectly preserved massive trees that have been exposed as that glacier recedes. Similar evidence of a much warmer period are found in the retreating Tschierva Glacier in Switzerland’s Alps where evidence of huge trees has been found. Evidence reported in Spiegal Online suggests that 7,000 years ago the Alps were entirely glacier free and it’s likely that when Hannibal crossed the Alps in 218 BC he never saw one. Many true believers in global warming will say, “See, it’s getting warmer. This proves it.” No, what it proves is that over time it gets warmer and colder with no help from man and will do it no matter what we do. It’s plain stupid to destroy the economy to try to prevent it. Besides, many scientists point out that the sun has gone into a very inactive phase and that means we are entering into what may be a long term cooling phase.

6). The Iran Deal. The question that comes to my mind is “Why is he doing this?” Despite the BS coming out of the White House, this deal makes absolutely no sense. How can you trust the ayatollahs that run the Iran dictatorship? Even as Obama was out selling the deal to the public, they Iranians were in the streets chanting “Death to America!” The terms of the deal are absurd. The sanctions will be lifted upon its signing, not on verification that they are actually abiding by the terms. They will receive $100 billion dollars immediately so they can buy conventional weapons from Russia and continue to fund world-wide terrorism. It guarantees they will have a nuclear weapon within 10 years or sooner and will likely rule the middle east in the near future. Quite a large number of people believe that the reason Obama did this deal and much of his other behavior comes from his Muslim beliefs. What is really baffling is why the Democrat senators are backing the deal. Chuck Schumer gets no credit for voting against it because the partisan Democrats knew they had the votes to pass it without him. History will judge them harshly when the Iranians start brandishing their missiles. No, Mr. President, climate change is not the greatest threat to humanity; it’s rogue nations armed with nuclear weapons and ruled by crazy dictators. Example one is North Korea soon to be joined by Iran.

7). The Syrian refuge crisis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are invading Europe. Yes, invading. And the Muslim invasion is going to hasten the demographic collapse of European societies. The cause of this mass migration is the civil war in Syria and the rise of the barbarian ISIS war in Iraq and Syria. The root cause of this is the failure of Obama and the Europeans to band together and stamp out the dictator Assad for his mass killing of those who opposed his regime and the half-hearted war on ISIS. Obama drew a red line on Assad …. he warned if he used chemical weapons on his own people that the US would act. Nope. Obama did nothing. The massively destructive war against the Syria people continued and they started to flee. In addition to the monumental task of absorbing all these destitute people and the consequences of a huge Muslim influx changing the demographic character of their society, a vast number of these refugees are young Muslim men who may be sent by the terrorists. It’s a huge risk and I applaud PM Harper for resisting those who call for allowing massive numbers of these migrants into Canada without knowing who these folks really are.

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Energy Poverty

Energy poverty is the term der Spiegel Online, a German weekly, gives to the situation many of Germany’s poorer citizens find themselves as a result of Chancellor Merkel’s “energy revolution”. After the tsunami caused the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan the German government decided to get rid of nuclear power and coal and substitute wind and solar. (The last tsunami to hit Germany was in 1760 so it’s not exactly a common threat). The result has been a doubling of energy costs and reliability issues forcing some high energy consuming industries to shut down during shortage periods. Worse, when the sun fails to shine and the wind stops blowing, coal power plants have to be fired up to keep the grid from going down and to make-up the shortfall. The result is that German emissions of C02 have actually gone up since the implementation of this policy.

Did Obama’s EPA learn anything from the German experience? No, of course not. To the liberals/progressives ideology always trumps experience and common sense.

Obama’s EPA is doing exactly what he promised he’d do when campaigning in 2008. He said his plan would bankrupt anyone attempting to build a coal fired power plant and that electricity prices would sky rocket. Now, of course, he claims his Clean Power Plan
will lower costs for consumers. Maybe the American public is gullible enough to fall for that one. Considering he made the same claim: that Obamacare would lower the cost of health insurance by an average of $2500 per family. That turned out to be a laugher so people should be skeptical.

The Clean Power Plan calls for states to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030. The only way to accomplish that is to close existing coal fired plants and replace them with natural gas or renewables. According to an article in the WSJ (“The Price Tag for Uprooting America’s Electric Grid” August 9, 2015) The Energy Information Administration expects coal plant closures will reach 90 gigawatts by 2020- that’s enough to deliver reliable power to 73 million Americans.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp, a regulatory body that studies the US and Canadian power grids, has reported that some areas of the US are already operating at dangerously low levels of reserve margins and have an increased likelihood of experiencing brown outs or blackouts during high usage periods. This is caused by taking coal fired plants out of service and replacing them with natural gas and renewables in response to previous EPA restrictions. The CPP would take an additional 33% of electrical productive capacity off the grid. According to the Washington Free Beacon that’s 48% of the coal fired plants. That is, before considering that the regs also require that CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) technology must be installed in coal plants that continue. This technology is new, unproven and likely prohibitively expensive.

The contention by Obama that energy cost to consumers is going to go down under this plan is ludicrous on its face. Many of the coal fired plants that will be shuttered have not been paid off yet and power companies are going to have factor in those losses in the construction of new power plants.

Also, one has to consider the raw cost of producing electricity by different methods. For example: Existing nuclear facilities produce electricity at a cost of $29.60 per megawatt hour. Hydro power comes in at $34.20, coal at $38.40 and natural gas at $48.90. New natural gas plants produce power at $73.40 per megawatt hour while wind power comes in at $106.80. The high costs reflected in these new facilities demonstrate the added expense of building the infrastructure to support them, such as pipelines and transmission lines. A lot of places where the sun shines and the wind blows are not near population centers . Also, in the case of wind and solar, when the wind is not blowing and/or the sun is not shining, gas or coal plants have to be fired up to supply electricity to the grid. These numbers are provided by the Energy Information Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These are government bodies not industry organizations.

One thing different from the German plan and the CPP is the support for nuclear and indeed, the Obama Administration has licensed the construction of several new nuclear facilities. Whether these actually get built and functioning by 2030 is another matter. The environmental fanatics hate nuclear only slightly less than evil carbon. The irony is that nuclear is the least expensive and produces zero carbon.

The bigger joke is that for all its cost and misery the plan will have zero impact on global warming. Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Weather Bell, a weather consulting firm, estimates that, fully implemented, the CPP will prevent .01 degree C in warming. That is smaller than the margin of error in measuring temperature. IOW, it won’t do shit even if you believe that carbon-dioxide has that big of an effect on climate.

Closing coal and nuclear facilities massively raised costs and disrupted availability in Germany putting hundreds of thousands of people in “energy poverty”. Why would the US think that a similar plan to get rid of coal power plants in the USA would turn out differently for them?

As Einstein famously said: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

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Unlikely Justice

Detective Superintendent Ian Cudney lowered his bulky frame into his deck chair and slipped his can of cold Molson Canadian into a foam cozy. He sighed as he propped his pale, bare legs on a stool and gazed with satisfaction at his freshly mowed back lawn. His wife, Lois, slid back the screen door and poked her head out. “Ian, take it easy on that beer or you’ll be asleep before the second inning. Judy called and they’ll be here in about half an hour.”

Cudney stood 6’4” in his black dress socks and tipped the scales at an easy 250. He shuffled stooped over and, more than anything, resembled a bear shambling through the offices of the London police force. Behind his back they called him Columbo for his gentle style of interrogation, although he could be a scary bastard when the situation warranted.

“Alright,” he growled. Judy, their only daughter, was visiting for a Sunday barbecue. She and her husband, Craig, would bring along their two children, Ian and Lois’ only grandchildren.  Conner, the oldest at eight, planned to watch the Blue Jays game on TV with grandpa.

Ian took a satisfying pull on his beer when the phone rang inside. ‘Uh oh,’ thought Cudney. Sure enough, moments later Lois stepped on the porch and handed him the phone and said with a frown, “It’s the duty officer. Tell them to send someone else.”

Ian grabbed the phone. “This is Cudney!” he shouted.

“No need to scream, Ian. We have a perfectly good connection,” replied Assistant Chief Halstrom.

“Oh, sorry, Chief. Didn’t know it was you. What’s up?”

“I know it’s Sunday and all, Ian, but they just discovered a body over in Springbank Park and I want you on this case.”

“Can’t someone else handle it? I can get Traci on it. I know she’s home this weekend.”

“Get her out there, too. This is a clear homicide and it’s one of your favorite pedophiles. The newsies are going to be all over it and it’s going to be political.”

“All right, Boss. I’ll get a hold of Traci and beat feet out there. Springbank Park…. That’s off Commissioners Road, right?”

“Yeah. Call me on my mobile when you get a look and don’t let anyone make a statement to the press.”

“Got it.” He was about to dial Traci’s number when he noticed Lois standing there with her hands on her hips and a big frown on her face. “Got a murder and it looks to be sensitive. The Chief insist I’m on it. I gotta go.”

Lois shrugged with resignation, “Well, at least change out of those ridiculous shorts. If anyone gets a picture of you in those, it will be on the front page of every paper in Ontario.” Cudney glanced down at his blue, pink and white checked Bermuda shorts and replied, “I don’t know. I think these are quite becoming.”

“Yeah, and the black socks with the white runners are a nice touch.”

Detective Traci Whitequill slept peacefully with the hot afternoon sun sneaking through a
gap in the drawn curtains and doing battle with her aging air conditioner. Her shining black hair spilled over her pillow and her slender arm draped over the broad bare chest of her equally relaxed “friend” Pete Gerard.

Traci’s phone began to vibrate and ring like an old alarm clock on the coffee table in the adjacent living room. She groaned and threw back the sheet and headed for the phone. Pete rose on one elbow and admired her naked ass as she strode across the carpet. She glared at the screen and then answered the phone with a crisp, “Whitequill.”

“Yeah, Traci, this is Ian.”

“Hey, Ian.”

“Murder over at Springbank Park. It’s gonna be a big deal with the newsies and Chief insists it’s you and me, girl.”

“I’m without wheels, Ian. My car’s in the shop for a few days.”

“Have Gerard give you a ride. He’s there, right?”

After an awkward pause, “Ah, yeah,” she admitted.

“OK, soon as you can make it.”

She set the phone on the table and looked up at Pete who stared at her with a smile. “Up and at ‘em cowboy. I need a ride.”

Pete smiled at her. “You got a great ass, Whitequill. Are you sure you’re an Oneida? Looks like an Irish ass to me.” She stooped and grabbed her running shoe and flung it at his head. He ducked and it sailed harmlessly overhead.

“Get your hairy butt out of bed and get dressed. I got a murder to solve and I need a ride.” Pete swung his legs to the floor and grabbed his jeans.

Pete glanced over at Traci while they maneuvered their way through the downtown London traffic. He could not get used to her stunning beauty or that she would be interested in him, a beat up spec ops vet twelve years her senior. The blood of her First Nations ancestry gave her an exotic look that only enhanced her beauty.

Feeling his gaze she turned and said, “It’s not an Irishman who can take credit for my ass; my great-grandma married a Frenchman.”

“Ah.” Pete replied. “I should have known by the way you wiggle that thing that it was French. That and the small boobs. Still Celt, though.” Traci glared at him and then gave him a sharp punch to the shoulder.

He slalomed his five year old F-150 up the narrow park lane until stopped by a uniformed London cop. The officer peered in the window and spotted Traci in the passenger seat.

“Hey Traci. Ian said you were coming.” He pointed, “You can park over there. Follow that hiking trail until you see a yellow tape tied to a branch. Take a right. The body’s back in the bush about 20 meters.”

Pete followed Traci down the trail despite her assurances that Ian would be pissed. He said, “I was rudely awakened from a nap and conscripted to drive out here, at least I should see what all this is about.”

Traci called out to Ian when they started into the brush off the trail. She wanted to make sure not to trample evidence at the crime scene, but Ian assured them that the people that found the body had already made a mess of it. As they carefully approached the crime scene, Ian looked up and frowned at Pete. “You’re not supposed to be here.” Ian was willing to cut Pete some slack for he was a genuine hero in the military as a member of the JTF2, the Canadian equivalent of the US Delta or Navy SEALs. Also, he had taken out a disturbed young man who was committing mass murder, shooting up Christmas shoppers at a crowded mall last year.  Pete’s role in killing the shooter was not widely known.

Pete just shrugged and looked down at the body. It was pretty clear that the victim had been bashed in the back of the head. A large pool of blood had gathered on the leaves and was now attracting a swarm of blue bottle flies. The victim lay on his back and his trousers and undershorts were pulled down exposing his wrinkled genitals. He had a pair of high powered binoculars hung around his neck.

Traci peered through the trees and brush and found herself looking at a school with the playing fields between the woods and the school. Ian followed her gaze and remarked, “Middle school. I’m guessing he was spying on 11 and 12 year olds and masturbating while he did it.”

“Spanking the ol’ monkey. Looks like he’s been here before,” offered Pete as he pointed to several wads of discarded tissues in the nearby bushes.

Traci wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Who is this asshole and how did anyone find this body tucked back here in the bushes?”

“We received an anonymous tip is what I was told on my way over here. His name is Joseph Rafferty, age 46. He has multiple pedophile convictions. Been in and out of prison numerous times and was released three months ago.”

Traci stared at Ian. “You know this guy?”

“I put him away five years ago for molesting at least seven minors between the ages of five and eleven, although there were probably more.”

“Well,” Pete observed, “Looks like somebody decided to fix his problem for good.” Ian gave him a sharp look and Pete responded, “Hey, don’t look at me. I’ve got an airtight alibi.”

With little more Traci could do at the scene, she and Pete headed back to Pete’s truck leaving Ian to deal with the media. As they approached the parking lot they could see that the TV people had been kept well back but a few of the print media folks had slipped through. A skinny bottle blond with a skin tight outfit, unnaturally white teeth and a poised notepad stepped forward blocking their way. Aggressive, and clearly looking for a career move up from the weekly “Londoner”. Noticing Traci’s badge she tried to engage her with questions and received a terse, “No comment” for her efforts.

Spotting Pete in his casual clothes she slid in front of him, thrust out her augmented chest and insisted, “Who are you?” Pete ignored her and brushed past. The reporter hurried after him and stepped into his path again, repeating the question. Exasperated, Pete responded, “P.W. Reese.” Traci glared at him in alarm.

“And, what do you do for the London Police, Mr. Reese?”

“I’m Detective Whitequill’s chauffeur.”

The reporter hurried along beside them as Traci tried to tow Pete to the F-150. “And why, Mr. Reese, does a detective require a chauffeur?”

Traci was now officially panicked as Pete casually responded, “It’s part of the First Nations Assistance Programme.”

In the truck at last Traci was furious. “You asshole! What are you doing?!”

“Ah, don’t worry. I was just pulling her chain. No editor would be stupid enough to publish that bilge.” Pete, as it turned out, was mistaken about that.

Ian sat at his desk with a newspaper open in front of him, beet red and furious. He growled, took a deep breath and rubbed the stubble on his chin. Traci sat on a chair in front of him with her hands in her lap like a school girl caught cheating on an exam. Ian’s cursing and raging had run its course with an impressive string of expletives. Finally he said, “The editor of the ‘Londoner” was madder than a scalded bobcat. I’m not sure if he was more pissed at us or his dumb reporter for publishing that phony story without his approval. Every print journalist and TV anchor in town has phoned me wondering about the mythical ‘First Nations Assistance Programme’. God, that poor reporter is going to be writing for her college newspaper again.” Cudney chuckled and then, trying to stifle a laugh, broke into a hearty belly laugh. They laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks. Ian choked, “Tell that damn Gerard to keep his big mouth shut! Jesus, Pee Wee Reese!” He burst into laughter again. “Shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s!”

After they calmed down, Cudney observed, “It seems pretty likely that whoever bashed Rafferty is a friend or relative of one of his many victims. First thing Monday get that researcher, Mary, working on compiling a list. You and the new guy, Acting Detective Kelly, can start interviewing them and see if we can come up with some suspects…somebody with enough hatred for the guy to be willing to bash his head in.”

“That could be most of the parents of the victims,” observed Traci.

“True, but they would also have to be capable of following him out there and actually committing the act. By tomorrow we should have the autopsy report and anything the crime scene people come up with. When we get an idea of the time of death I can go over to the school and see what was happening at the school that turned Mr. Rafferty on.”

Pete sat at a table in the Tim Horton’s across from the police building sipping an iced tea and reading the sports section of the Sunday paper. When Traci emerged from the station, he dropped some cash on the table and joined her at his pickup. “All done for the day?”

“Yeah.  Not much more can be done until we get the coroner’s report and compile a list of all Rafferty’s victims.”

“Good. I need a shower and something to eat.”

Ian hung up the phone as Traci walked into his office at 10:00 the next morning. She dropped a sheaf of paper on his desk and said, “Did you know that 435 sexual offenders live in and around London, Ontario?”

“Is this all of them?” he asked, thumbing through the list.

“No. This is just the ones convicted of local pedophile offenses and free and living in the community. I just used the Ontario Sex Offender Registry since the public can’t see the private info on the RCMP’s national registry.”

“I remember the battle back in 2000 over Christopher’s Law. Six years of legal bullshit…. All the way up to the Supreme Court to get the right for the public to see the registry.”

“Yeah, we studied that in criminal justice class. Lots of heated debate. Seems like the privacy folks who opposed it have a point; we have a dead pedophile on our hands. Anyway,” she continued, “Mary found seventeen released S/Os living locally. The families who were victims of the S/Os are on the second set of sheets. Mary cross referenced the names with the DL and tax database for the current addresses and phone numbers.”

“Good work. Tell Mary I appreciate it.” Ian rumbled. “I just got off the phone with the principal of the school. He’s emailing me a schedule of who is using the playing fields during the weekends.”

“Ah, I forgot to mention that the preliminary time of death has been set at 1:00 pm.” Ian turned to his computer to check his email. “Yep, here it is. 12:30 to 2:00, junior girls field hockey. Bunch of little girls running around in short skirts. Enough to keep Rafferty’s attention while somebody snuck up behind him with a baseball bat.”

“Ah jeez, Ian. I hate this case already and we just started.”

“That’s why you’re getting the big bucks, Traci. Now get Kelly off his ass and start interviewing the families. I want alibis for Sunday and you guys make a judgement as to the ability and motivation to do it. Rank them zero to five. Zero is no chance in Hell. Five is guilty as sin.”

“Got it, boss.” She turned and marched out.

Cudney shook his head. He had been against making Traci a detective because he thought she was hired because of her looks or was a minority hire. She had slowly brought him around though. She was smart, hard working, and had unusual insight into human nature for someone so young. He could not understand, however, what the Hell she was doing with that nut, Pete Gerard.

He had a thought and grabbed the phone. When answered, he asked, “Mary, is there any way to know who might have accessed the OSOR? I mean, is there any record of that?”

“Hmmm. I don’t know about that, Ian, but I do know a guy over at Ontario Corrections in their computer section. He probably knows.”

“Call him. Get back to me.” He dropped the phone in the cradle.

Traci and Kelly organized the list of families by geography to avoid running back and forth across the city. John Kelly had made Acting Detective only three months previously. He was slender and stood just under 6 feet tall. Dark haired and quite handsome, the rumor that had followed him from the uniformed force was that he was hung like a donkey. Traci felt certain that he was gay. Heterosexual men behaved in a certain way around Traci. John Kelly was polite and displayed friendly humor around her, but was decidedly uninterested in her charms.

The first five people they interviewed so far all seemed to have good alibis for Sunday afternoon.  A minimal amount of follow-up would prove them out. Mary had thoughtfully included a short description of the crime and while individually tragic and traumatic for the victims, did not seem sufficient for a brutal murder in retribution. Traci had rated them all a “one”.

The next family on the list, the Kalcowskis, looked more serious. Ten year old Linsey Kalcowski had been grabbed off the street and thrown into a van. She had been vaginally and anally raped before being dumped at a suburban mall. Although Joseph Rafferty was the prime suspect, they did not have enough evidence to convict him. Linsey had been too traumatized to identify Rafferty, and there was no forensic evidence to link him to the crime.

Mary had added a hand written note at the bottom of the Kalcowski’s info sheet: “I added this family because two years after this incident, Linsey hung herself in her closet. Her father found her and has been known to have threatened Rafferty.

With Traci in the passenger seat, John Kelly pulled his battered unmarked police cruiser to the curb in front of a forty year old clapboard home in sad need of a paint job. The lawn showed the same neglect with weeds and brown patches. They climbed the steps and Kelly rang the bell. They saw the curtains move on the front window but nobody answered the door. He opened the screen and pounded on the scared inner door. “Open up, police!” he shouted.

The door opened to the security chain and a ruddy face peeked out. “Let’s see some ID.” She demanded. After examining the ID she unhooked the chain and swung it open.

Traci stepped forward and asked, “Mrs. Kalcowski, my name is Detective Traci Whitequill and this is John Kelly.  We’re from the London Police.  We’d like to speak with you. Can we come in?”

She backed away from the door and the two officers entered the drab and littered living room. A sagging chesterfield fronted an aging television and the scared coffee table held a pile of magazines, an overflowing ashtray and a half empty bottle of red wine. She motioned toward the couch and some wine slopped over the glass that she held in her hand. “Have a seat.”

“No, thanks.” Traci responded. “We just have a few questions.”

“OK.” Mrs. Carol Kalcowski was a tall woman and what would be referred to as ‘big boned’. Heavy, but not exactly obese. If anything, she reminded Traci of an aging Russian shot putter. She wore a shapeless, wrinkled dress and her shoulder-length dark hair, striped with grey, hung in greasy strands.

“Is your husband at home, Mrs. Kalcowski?” Kelly asked.

“Ha. He hasn’t been home in a couple of years.”

“Can you tell us where he lives now?”

“Sometimes he sleeps at The Mission. Sometimes on the street.”

“What’s the best place to find him?” Traci asked.

“Well, any of the bars around The Mission. His favorite is Gorky’s. You can probably find him there.” She glanced at the clock. “Too late though. He’s likely drunk by now.”

Traci glanced up from her notebook and asked, “Mrs. Kalcowski, can you tell us where you were yesterday around one o’clock?”

With eyes shifting from Traci to Kelly and back she responded, “Right here, watching Oprah.”

“All right, Mrs. Kalcowski. Thanks for your help.”

As they settled into the unmarked car, John exhaled and said, “Wow! That woman really needs a shower.”

As John started the car and pulled from the curb, Traci said, “Let’s take a ride down to Gorky’s and see if we can run into Mr. K.”

A dozen or so patrons hunkered over their pints at the bar and three gray haired men in their 60’s sat at a table playing dice. Conversations died out as the customers became aware of the neatly dressed and handsome young couple as they strolled in and approached the bar. The frowsy bleach blond bartender sauntered down and stuck out her ample bosom when she spotted the stunning Traci. “Help you?” she asked.

Traci flashed her ID and said, “We’re looking for a Mr. Stanley Kalcowski. We understand he hangs out here from time to time.”

“Stanley? Sure. He’s down there.” She nodded toward the end of the bar.

Traci strolled up to Stanley and stuck her ID in Stanley’s face and introduced herself. He turned with blood shot eyes and stared with confusion, back and forth between Traci and her ID. “What?” he slurred.

“Mr.Kalcowski, we’d like to ask you a few questions.” He wavered on the bar stool and nodded.

“Can you tell us where you were yesterday at one o’clock?”

“Hmmm. Yesterday….” He licked his cracked lips and scratched his week old scraggy beard. “Can’t say I remember.”

“Have you got a car, Sir?”

“Car?” he snorted. “I don’t even have a license anymore.” A bit of saliva escaped the corner of his mouth and disappeared into his beard. He swayed on his stool and closed his eyes, threatening to fall over. Traci gave him a gentle shake and Stan’s eyes popped open. Further questioning seemed pointless so the detectives returned to John’s car and decided to call it a day. They agreed to continue to interview the people on the list in the morning.

Traci opened her apartment door and was greeted by the tantalizing spicy aroma of Pete’s spaghetti sauce as it bubbled quietly on the stove. Pete emerged from the kitchen as Traci kicked off her heels and he handed her a glass of red wine. “Pasta night tonight, Sweetbuns. This fine chianti is the best $15 bottle they had.”

“Sweetbuns?”

“Simply a term of endearment. How’d it go today?”

She slumped in a chair and sighed, “Not great. We thought we had a solid possibility with a guy whose daughter committed suicide after being molested by Rafferty. But he’s such a hopeless alcoholic that he’s lucky to be able to button his fly let alone plan and commit a murder.”

“Well, it’s only day one. Go hop in the shower. I’ll start the noodles.”

After lunch the next day, Traci and John trooped into Ian’s office and dropped into chairs opposite his desk. “Well?” Cudney asked.

“Nothing.” Traci responded. “We interviewed all seventeen families and see no reason to bring any of them in for further questioning. Kinda at a dead end. The forensics guys come up with anything?”

Cudney responded, “Sorta. They determined that Rafferty’s skull was fractured by a round object about the size of a baseball bat.”

“Geez, there’s a breakthrough.” Traci muttered.

“They also confirmed the presence of semen on his hands.”

“Well, at least there is some justice in the world.”

“I’ll just pretend I did not hear that politically incorrect comment, Whitequill.”

“What comment, Ian? Here we have a dead scum and no murder weapon and no suspects.  What’s your next suggestion for this investigation?”

“Keep digging and get the Hell out of here.” Kelly scurried and Traci strolled to the door before turning.

“You know Ian, we are not going to figure this out until our culprit strikes again. This is not a one-off murder.” Ian waved her off in dismissal.

Paul, aka Pablo Zimmer, slowly maneuvered his three year old Lincoln Navigator through
the downtown traffic of London, Ontario. He was feeling quite full of himself. As a drug dealer and part time pimp, he had the best of his world… cheap cocaine and lots of young pussy. This life was way more profitable and fun than his previous job as a teacher at a native school in northern Saskatchewan. His proclivities had cost him eight years in prison for molesting his students and he had no interest in returning to that brutal prison environment. He loved the current situation where he had respect on the street, money in his pockets, and his young customers would do anything he wanted to get his drugs.

He pulled into a parking garage and parked on the second floor. He lit a cigarette and strolled to the elevator. His customers knew that the fourth floor was his “store” and he was hoping that some of his 12 year old buyers would be short of cash. When he was horny, like tonight, Pablo was willing to trade for some sweet young pussy.

Zimmer stood about 5’6” and although skinny, he slouched and affected the arrogant walk of a Detroit hip-hop star. With a dyed black mop of slicked back hair and carefully cultivated soul patch, he closely resembled a bad-ass villain out of a Mexican soap opera. The elevator arrived and Pablo nodded to the other passenger in the car before turning and pushing the button for the fourth floor. As he did so, he felt a hand on his chin and a knife slashing across his throat. With blood spraying everywhere, Pablo Zimmer crumpled to the floor of the elevator.

He jerked, spasmed and desperately gasped for air through his severed windpipe as he quickly bled out. The passenger calmly stepped over him when the doors opened on four.

Pete and Traci sat watching a banal romantic comedy on Netflix when Ian called. “We got another one.” Ian intoned. “Body in an elevator in a parking garage on Dundas and Clark. Throat cut.”

“Shit, Ian, I am still without wheels.” Traci responded.

“Get a ride with the trained killer and get your butt over here.”

Pete had paused the movie. He may have given in on the selection but he was not relinquishing the remote. He looked at Traci questioningly. She said, “Let’s go Lover. I need wheels.”

Pete shut off the TV and got up. “Lover?” he thought. That’s a promotion from “Hairy Ass”. Progress.

Pete swung the pickup to a halt outside the perimeter set up by the police at the parking garage , Traci hopped out and sprinted toward the structure. Pete could not talk his way
through the police cordon so he leaned against the hood of the F-150, lit a small H. Upmann and waited. When Traci came out she looked pale and grim. “God Pete, what a mess. I have never seen so much blood! His throat was cut so deep that his windpipe was cut completely through. Whoever did this is strong.”

“Are you done here?” Pete asked.

“Yes. Until tomorrow.”

“OK, let’s go home. I’ll fix you a one of my wicked cocktails and after a hot bath, you’ll be fine.”

“Great, but don’t waste your time thinking romance tonight big guy. Not gonna happen.”

Traci sat in Ian’s office discussing ideas on how to proceed with the investigation when John Kelly knocked and stepped in. “Here’s the report from the Forensics Section. Afraid it doesn’t give us much to go on. Big knife; probably a common home kitchen knife.”

“No DNA?” asked Ian.

“Nope. Forensics thinks the killer surely wore gloves.”

“You guys have all read this turkey’s bio…. Not a nice man. But we can’t have vigilantes running around offing people, no matter how deserving.”  Ian tossed the report on his desk without looking at it and grumped at Kelly. “Check with Mary and see if she’s come up with any cross matches on victims of this turkey.”

The killer removed the big knife from the heavy plastic bag and carefully washed it with dish detergent and a brush. It then went in the dish washer for a final treatment to insure all of Zimmer’s DNA was washed away.

The clothes worn during the knifing presented a more difficult problem. Zimmer, with his wind pipe and jugulars severed, had sprayed blood all over the place in a fine mist and the killer’s clothes would certainly have been contaminated by it. Sending them to the cleaners did not look like a safe practical option and that meant the only solution left was to destroy them. Using gloves, the killer divided the clothing into three bags and taped them shut. They would be deposited in three dumpsters at different locations around London. The killer then drained the vodka, the ice cubes clinking against the glass, and headed for the shower for a thorough scrubbing.

The Tasmanian Devil inside the killer’s skull had awakened and was beginning to feed. The blinding, throbbing pain returned with a vengeance, bringing with it the certainty that the skull would explode. With shaking hands, the killer shook out two of the OxyContin tablets and gulped them down with a fresh glass of vodka. The doctor had cautioned against mixing the drugs and alcohol, but the killer said out loud with a rueful laugh, “What’s it gonna do— kill me?”

The statistics on the next sexual predator to be executed lay on the kitchen counter. As the drugs and vodka started to kick in and put the Devil back to sleep, the killer was once again able to concentrate on the file of Robert Boddington. He represented the worst of the first three sexual offenders the killer had chosen for elimination. He had been convicted of raping a developmentally disabled 33 year old woman with the mental age of 11. Although he was suspected in the rape of several other women, the prosecution had focused on the one case with overwhelming forensic evidence. Boddington got 12 years and served 6, the average in Canada.  He had been out of jail for nine months now, and the killer’s surveillance revealed that Boddington had been stalking women; he clearly planned to return to his life of rape. The killer planned to put an end to it.

Robert Boddington answered the knock on his door and swung it open just enough to peer out. He got hit directly in the face from a distance of two feet with a shot of bear spray designed to stop a charging 1000-pound grizzly. He staggered back into the room and fell to the floor writhing and screaming.

The killer stepped inside, quickly closed the door and swung the sock containing a nice, fresh Idaho potato. Robert awoke with a throbbing headache and blinded, burning eyes. His mouth was duct taped and realized he had been trussed bent over his kitchenette table with all four limbs tied to a separate table leg. He sensed he no longer wore clothes and his buttocks and genitals were exposed. The killer quietly described the process by which he would die, and Robert’s screams were muffled behind the tape and he struggled against his bindings to no effect. As the gruesome and painful process began, Boddington cried burning tears out of his damaged eyes and implored to the god he had forsaken decades before for forgiveness and mercy.

Traci and John Kelly arrived at the halfway house, nodded at the patrolmen stationed outside, and stepped under the crime scene tape. Boddington’s room was on the first floor and a uniformed cop stood guarding the door. “Were you the first one on the scene?” asked Traci.

“Yes.” The officer replied. “The manager let me in.”

“Touch anything?”

“Nope. Took one look and backed out. It’s a nasty one.”

“Good move. Thanks.”

Traci followed Kelly into the room and Kelly muttered, “Christ! Any more of these and I’m going back to traffic patrol.”

They slowly approached the body, being careful not to step in the blood that had pooled around the table. As they got close, they could see that the victim had been brutally sodomized with an enormous dildo. “Well, I guess we can see what killed him.” Offered Traci. Kelly shuddered as he realized that the bloody mass of tissue that lay in the middle of Boddington’s back was what remained of his genitals.

Ian studied the autopsy report on Robert Boddington. He paraphrased to Traci and Kelly, “He died from loss of blood and probably shock. Apparently he had been bear sprayed and then clubbed with something. He had a big bruise on the side of his face.”

“We interviewed all the other residents of the halfway house and nobody saw or heard anything.”

Offered Kelly. “No one saw any strangers entering or leaving the place.”

“Once again there’s damn little to go on despite the fact that we all believe it’s the same killer for all three victims.” Traci said.

Ian grumped, “We better figure this out soon. I’m getting heat from above and eaten alive in the press. The human rights people are screaming their heads off and the law and order folks are cheering. We gotta catch this guy and put a stop to this. Get out of here and find him!”

Traci strolled into Mary’s cubicle and dropped into the chair next to her desk. She sighed and asked, “Anything new, Mary? Anything to tie the Rafferty murder with Mr. Zimmer?”

“Not that I can find,” replied Mary. “As you know, Rafferty is home grown scum and committed his crimes in Ontario, but Zimmer was convicted for his molestations at the Big Island Lake Cree Nation school in northern Saskatchewan. No connection that I can figure out.”

“Alright. Thanks. Just thought I’d check. We’re kind of out of leads.”

“Oh, I almost forgot. Ian had asked if there was any way we could find out who might have accessed the Ontario Sex Offender Registry? Well, my computer nerd friend tells me there is no way to find out who but they can determine where in the provence the inquiries came from. He says the latest hits have come from the London Public Library, Central branch downtown. He has the dates and times of the hits too.”

Mulling that over, Traci thanked Mary and headed back to her own office.

That night over dinner of burgers and beer as she explained it to Pete he asked, “Gee, I wonder if they have security video in the computer area of the library?”

Traci halted a french fry half-way to her mouth and stared at Pete. “You know Gerard, every once in a while you come up with something that makes me doubt that you are the dumb Army grunt you claim to be.”

Her car was still in the shop awaiting parts, and her patience was wearing thin with the repair guys there, so the next morning, Pete drove her downtown to the public library, central location. Pete wandered off to the military history section while Traci met with the head librarian who had confirmed over the phone they did indeed have security videos.

“I’ve set up a TV where you can watch the security tapes of the dates you requested,” said the prim Ms. Donaldson. “You will have to fast forward through the tape to find the times you were looking for, however.”

“Not a problem. Thanks, Ms. Donaldson.” Traci dropped into the chair and cued up the first tape, running fast until about a half hour before the first recorded hit on the database. The camera was positioned above and behind the people at the computers, presumably to determine if any of the users were accessing porn sites. Also, the view was of the back of their heads. Traci would only get a look at their faces when they got up to leave. There were eight computers, four monitors arranged in two rows. All four in the front row were occupied by young men, presumably college students. In the row nearest the camera two were in use by older gentlemen, one by a young girl who appeared to be of high school age and the final seat held a gray haired, neatly dressed older woman. In all, they seemed an unlikely group to yield a multiple murderer.

A couple of the male students left and were replaced by other young males. Finally, five minutes after the time the data base had been accessed according to Mary’s friend, the gray haired lady picked up her notes and her purse and rose and faced the camera directly. Something about her looked familiar to Traci. Her hair and makeup had been skillfully done, her dress neat and expensive, if a little out of style, and she wore nice jewelry. Traci rewound and watched the woman rising and facing the camera several times before it dawned on her…. It was Carol Kalcowski! She looked nothing like she had when Traci and Kelly had interviewed her at her home. She ejected the tape and went looking for Ms. Donaldson to get permission to take the tape as evidence.

She found Pete lounging in a comfortable chair deeply engrossed in a book called Ghost Soldiers. “Off your butt, big boy. I’ve got an arrest to make.”

“Who?”

“Carol Kalcowski.”

“Really? I thought you said she was a sloppy drunk?”

“I think that was an act to get herself crossed off the list of suspects. She just showed up on the security tape at the precise time someone accessed the sex offender database.”

“That doesn’t prove she’s a murder.”

“Nope. But it does give us a reason to bring her in for some more extensive questioning and to get a search warrant for her house.”

Once in the truck with Pete headed for Kalcowski’s house, Traci pulled out her cell phone and called Ian. “Ian, I’m just leaving the downtown branch of the public library and headed to Carol Kalcowski’s house.”

“Why?” Asked Cudney. “I thought you crossed her off your list?”

“Yeah, but I just put her back on. The Ontario Sexual Predators Registry was accessed at the downtown London Library and I just saw Kalcowski on the security tape at the exact time it was accessed from the library. I’m going out there to arrest her and bring her in for questioning. Get a search warrant in the works for her house and car.”

“Good work, Whitequill. I’m sending Kelly out there to back you up. Don’t do anything until he gets there and keep your “chauffeur” as far away as possible.”

“OK, boss. See you shortly.”

Traci instructed Pete to stop a couple of houses down from Kalcowski’s. She insisted Gerard remain by the truck and strolled up the sidewalk while Pete waited for her to head up the steps before slipping out and gliding up into the adjacent neighbor’s yard.

As Traci reached the stoop Pete saw a figure speed past a side window. It appeared that Carol was making a break for the back door. He reacted instinctively and sprinted as best his damaged knees would take him to head her off at the back door. He skidded to a stop just as she burst through the back door. He put up his hands and shouted “Whoa!” She snarled and came at him with the butcher knife flashing in the slanting afternoon sunlight.

She slashed left and back right at his eyes. He stepped back as the blade whistled past and when she recoiled for another series of swipes he used his training and instinctively stepped forward, blocked her knife hand and clipped her with a chopping left hook to the jaw.

Lights out. Her brain suddenly short circuited, Carol Kalcowski slumped to the turf like a lifeless scarecrow. Pete shook the knife from her hand and let it lay on the parched lawn as Traci burst through the back door.

“Geez, Gerard! Can’t you ever follow instructions?”

“Well, I stepped out of the truck to have a smoke and I saw you going up the steps….. not following instructions, by the way. Then I saw somebody sprinting for the back door through the side window. I knew you wanted to arrest this woman and I figured you probably did not want to chase her through the neighborhood in those high heels which, by the way, do wonders for your calves and ass, so I thought I’d slow her down to help you out. I did not expect her to try to slice my face up with a butcher knife so I gave her a little love tap.”

Traci looked at the comatose Kalcowski sprawled on the lawn. “Love tap? She’d better wake up.”

“Oh, she will, but if I were you, I’d cuff her before she does. She seems the angry sort.”

“Ian is not going to like this.”

“So lie to him. Tell him you socked her, or Kelly did. By the way, here comes John now.”

Pete pulled out a cheroot, examined its firmness, chewed off the tip and sniffed it before carefully putting flame to the end. Puffing, he then strolled casually back toward the truck.

—————————–

© Richard Draper, August 2015

“Dedicated to my cousin Ken who passed away recently.  He was one of my small group of fans.  We were kids together up on Beech Hill on rocky, poor dairy farms that looked over into Pennsylvania from southern New York State.  RIP Ken.”

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The Next President

Back when Obama won the nomination for the Democrats and then the election, I predicted that Hillary would be the next President. When Obama was re-elected despite a horrible record and a strong credible candidate in Romney, I became more convinced that until the country truly fell apart, no Republican would become president.

Here’s my reasoning on the matter…..

1). The Electoral College Map. The east and west coasts of the US are solidly Democrat, as a result, primarily, of the big city populations and their liberal inclinations. The Democrats have also enjoyed growing support in the mid-west states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. So, before the first vote is cast for president, the Democrat candidate enjoys a very likely 237 electoral votes of the 270 needed to become president.
The GOP candidate needs to run the table on all the other states to win.

2). Free Stuff. The Democrats are the party of free stuff. Millions of Americans are addicted to handouts from the Federal Government. Under Obama’s economy, the number of Americans on welfare, supplemental income and/or food stamps has grown to a record 35%. Democrats perpetuate the myth that the GOP is the party of the rich and that they will take away your welfare, food stamps, etc. if you vote the Republican into the White House. Well then, you may ask, “How come the majority of the governorships and both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans?” Simple answer…. A lot more dependent people vote in the presidential election than do in the other elections. Also, the Dems make a serious get out the vote effort in presidential elections, not to mention fraud.

3). Voting Blocks. The Blacks vote about 95% for the Democrat candidate. Hispanics about 60-65%, and gays some 70+% pulled the lever for Democrats. According to “MS” magazine, there are some 8 million more women voters than men, and they vote 55% for the Democrat candidate. We could likely expect this percentage to go up for Hillary.

4). Special Interest Voters. I guess you could call these voting blocks too but I think there’s a distinction between the groups in the blocks and these who are more single-issue voters. The biggest of these are the unions. Overall union membership has declined over recent years as industry has migrated to right-to-work states or out of the country altogether. The only growth has been in the public sector unions, and who do they vote for? Certainly not the Republicans that threaten to cut government spending! The teachers unions give big bucks to the Democrats with the understanding that they will fight any effort to restrict their monopoly on education or to hold them accountable for their crappy performance.
The environmentalists (the save the planet crowd) have completely bought into the global warming fraud and believe that the Democrat candidate will keep the money flowing to combat this non-problem. Same with the trial lawyers who donate big bucks to the Democrats and vote solidly for them to guarantee that the litigation gravy train keeps rolling along.
Finally, you have the philosophical liberal/progressive/socialists. They want things moving further left but will vote for the Democrat as the lesser of two evils. The far more conservative Republicans will usually waste their vote by voting for a far right third party candidate who has no chance in Hell of winning. And, of course, you have the youth vote. They have gone through years of indoctrination by the liberal/socialist democrats who teach in public schools and universities. These kids don’t remember the inept Jimmy Carter and the mess he made nor do they know how Ronald Reagan straightened it out.
More than likely their votes will go for Hillary because their friends are voting that way.

5). The Media and Hollywood. It is an undisputed fact that the media leans left and they give favorable coverage to the Democrats. Often they simply ignore stories that are unflattering to the Democrats. Once the Republicans select a candidate, you can be assured that the late night comedians and Hollywood celebs will be ridiculing him and ignoring the scandals that follow the Clintons like a foul odor.

Hillary Clinton is a nasty, conniving, dishonest woman who has never actually accomplished anything meaningful in her privileged life. The email scandal plus the use of her office to enrich herself would be more than sufficient to sink anyone else.
And that whole Benghazi mess? For anyone else, it would be the end in politics. But, she and Bill are royalty in the Democrat Party and they will line up and vote for her no matter what. As for the country, I am not certain that the US can survive eight more years with an anti-war, anti-business socialist in the White House.

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To Frack or Not to Frack?

I used to subscribe to the theory that you need to move every five or six years just so you can keep ahead of the crap that accumulates in your garage. A good weeding out is essential from time to time. Nothing like a purging garage sale to lighten up.

I feel the same way about clearing off the mess on your desk every once in awhile just to see what’s buried there. I did this the other day and found this piece among the flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on my desk over the past few months.

Since I have not posted anything in quite some time I thought it might shock my few readers to actually find something new on the blog. I have been fitfully working on a short story and my version of the “History of the Early Years of VeriFone” but it may take some time before they’re ready.

This was a letter in response to an old friend who is a passionate believer in global warming and vocal opponent of hydraulic fracturing, the modern method of extracting natural gas that has revolutionized the oil and gas business.

***

I’m glad you sent along your “remarks” (more a rant or screed actually) since it will save me the trouble of offering you a bunch of articles or papers with evidence different from your own that you will ignore. This subject is highly personal and emotional to you and that pretty much rules out any rational discussion of the issue. I will, however, offer a couple of thoughts for your consideration.

First, it’s not too often we get naturally occurring experiments opposite each other so that we can compare results and come to some conclusions based on facts and not opinion. It’s social and political science devoid of political spin. This has nothing to do with fracking (we’ll get to that a bit later) but you made some traditional slurs on business, “greedy corporations”, nasty oil companies, etc. This is, of course, the rhetoric of the far left, firm believers in socialism who are absolutely convinced that if only the government ran everything, all would be just peachy.

So let’s talk about North and South Korea. The people of these two countries are genetically and culturally identical, yet after 50+ years or so of communist rule in the North and free market capitalism in the South the results could not be more dramatic. South Korea is a booming prosperous economy and North Korea is in the dark ages. After decades of starvation the average size of the N. Koreans is substantially smaller than their cousins to the south. Only 23% of N. Korean homes have electricity!

<b>North</b> <b>Korean</b> <b>Homes</b>

What about East and West Germany? It’s another naturally controlled experiment between two genetically and culturally identical populations with a similar outcome as Korea. They had to build a heavily defended wall to keep their people inside the miserable East while the West prospered.

The same results can be found but on a less dramatic scale in the comparison of countries around the world: The more socialistic, the lower economic growth and prosperity for its citizens. Even the US states are experiencing this kind of competition and performance. (Why have Buffalo and Detroit, just to name two, lost more than half their populations since we got out of high school.) (See “The Buffaloization of American” on this blog.)

Which brings us to New York and Pennsylvania. I would think that you would agree that the people who live above the Marcellus Shale, that straddles counties on both sides of the NY/PA border, are pretty much the same economically, culturally and even genetically. Yet the differences in income, unemployment, tax revenues and prosperity since PA opened up drilling for natural gas and permitted fracking are substantial. I know you do not give a shit about these facts so I won’t bother to innumerate them, but should you, by some chance, be curious how much money NY is leaving on the table, check out the Manhattan Institute study of 2013.

Beyond economics, fracking has been around for decades and if you really look at the facts, the environmental impact is nominal or non-existent. All the hysteria surrounding it is just political bullshit and I had hoped you would do a bit more critical thinking before embracing that disinformation with such passion.

I will leave you with this final thought, then consider the matter closed. The article I sent you enumerated the benefit to the poorer consumer of natural gas price reductions brought on by hydraulic fracturing. Prior to the boom the price was $10/MMBTU dropping to under $3.00 for a time, and now has settled in at about $3.50/ MMBTU. This is a great benefit to poorer folks who spend a disproportionate percentage of their incomes on heating. This, of course, will be more important as the climate cools and the winters are longer and colder. Dismissing fracking out of hand shows a shocking disregard for poor families. Furthermore, the low cost of natural gas permits substitution for coal in electrical generation. Coal, of course, is the evil incarnate for global warming true believers like yourself.

It seems the residents of New York want to enjoy the fruits of low gas prices without allowing any drilling. If you are faithful to your beliefs that fracking is terrible policy, you should demand that the NY state government tax natural gas up to the pre-fracking price of $10/MMBTU. That would be a true test to see just how worried New York residents are about the environmental threat of fracking.

I will anxiously await your passionate letter to Gov. Cumo insisting he raise the tax on natural gas.

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Patty Cake – Patty Cake

patty cake

The Obama Administration’s handling of two current serious threats reminds me of this innocent childhood game. The Ebola catastrophe in West Africa has now arrived in North America despite the government’s insistence that it would not. The second dangerous situation, but one that has dropped from the front pages of the newspaper, is the advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The Obama Team’s handling of both of these crisis events is weak and ineffective. Quite frankly, one can only call it half-assed. Often they seem frozen by their own previous positions and statements. In Iraq, for example, Obama promised to end the war there and get the US out. He pulled out the troops without leaving a residual force behind. Yeah, I know, you liberals out there will argue that al-Maliki would not allow it but everyone knows that’s just a weak excuse. Obama wanted out and did not push the Iraqis very hard. The upshot is that the ISIS barbarians routed the Iraqi army; captured most of the weapons left behind by the US and have pretty much taken control. All that blood and treasure expended in the Iraq war effort has been squandered.

Obama had some tough talk about battling ISIS but his actions are anything but. Start with the name of the operation…. “Inherent Resolve”.

Really? That sounds like a treatment for constipation not a military operation.

BHO announced from the start and has repeated it endlessly, “No boots on the ground”. (I am so sick of that phrase!). Instead the US and its partners are engaged in a half-hearted and ineffective bombing campaign.

As Messrs. Gunzinger and Stillion point out in a recent piece in the WSJ called “The Unserious Air War Against ISIS”, the bombing campaign pales in comparison to previous wars. The 43-day bombing campaign of Desert Storm in 1991 saw 1,100 sorties per day flown against Iraqi forces. The bombing of Serbia in 1998 saw 412 sorties and the 75-day campaign in Afghanistan in 2001 involved 86 per day. In the current battle with ISIS we are seeing a pitiful 7 per day. Seven.

The only people willing to engage ISIS on the ground (which everyone admits is the only way to defeat ISIS) are the Kurds. So you would think that the Obama geniuses would give them some weapons to help them do the job. Nope. Why? Unclear.

ISIS has 50,000 Kurdish, Christian and Turkman civilians trapped in the town of Kobani located right on the border with Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO and has received billions of dollars in financial aid and military equipment from the US. Twenty-one billion in 2011 alone with some $14 billion in military equipment. Over the years they have received these military weapons and used them to kill Kurds a fact that annoyed the US. The Turks have been in a decades long battle with the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) and are happy to now let the ISIS barbarians wipe out the Kurds for them. They sit on their US furnished tanks and artillery and observe the battle without lifting a finger. Further, they will not allow transfer of weapons through Turkey. Turkey is no real ally of the US.

A president with gonads larger than a couple of immature lima beans would have summoned President Erdogan to the White House and said, “No help, no more money. And, don’t count on membership in NATO for much longer.”

Kurdish officials predict that if the city falls 5000 innocent civilians will be slaughtered in 24 hours. ISIS wipes out Christians and “non-believers” and that is anyone that does not subscribe to their twisted version of religion. These guys are truly barbarians and have proven it time and again.

Graphic picture

This is not “workplace violence” Mr. President. This is a reigniting of the flames of Holy War that has simmered between the Christians and Muslims since the 11th century. It’s going to get a lot worse unless western civilization steps up and squashes it now. Obama has basically given up on stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Imagine ISIS with one of those toys to play with.

I seriously doubt that these Crispy Christians incinerated by Nigerian Muslims would agree that Islam is the religion of peace. The war on Christians and Jews is intensifying world-wide.

On the Ebola crisis the Administration simply looks inept and untruthful. They act as if the citizens are children and can’t be trusted with real facts. For example, they keep assuring us that Ebola cannot be transmitted except my exposure to bodily fluids from someone who is infected. Yet, two nurses got it while wearing protective gear. And, upon closer questioning they admit that yes, droplets of moisture from a sneeze or cough could transmit the virus from a distance of three feet.

We must not forget that Ebola is a virus and viruses mutate like crazy. As I explained in my blog piece “La Grippe Espagnole” (basically a review of John Berry’s book on the Spanish flu) the pandemic of 1918-19 was not really deadly when it originated in Kansas. But, when it went overseas with the troops in WWI it mutated and when it came back it was deadly. There can be no argument that the longer this Ebola outbreak goes on the more likelihood that the virus will mutate and, in fact, may have already done so.

That’s why it’s so mystifying that Obama refuses to restrict travel to the US from the “hot zone” countries of West Africa. Two-dozen countries have already done it and two international airlines have cancelled all flights to those countries. The US continues to allow up to 150 people from these Ebola riddled countries to come to the US each day. Each day. Look at the problems and number of potentially exposed people one guy with the disease has caused. Does anyone seriously believe that of the roughly 1000 people from West Africa arriving each week that some with the disease are not going to slip through the temperature screening?

The arguments for not canceling all commercial flights and passengers from these Ebola hot zones are laughable. They say it won’t work but they have the tools and while it may not prevent a few to slip through, it’s certainly better than doing nothing.

A lesson from the Spanish flu might be instructive. As the epidemic swept across the continent from both coasts the only communities that were spared were those who blocked the roads and with armed guards refused to allow anyone through from the outside.

The reason the Obama Administration will not implement a ban is the same reason they were unable to profile young Arab men in their screening process for commercial air travel. They are philosophically opposed to any form of profiling and deathly afraid of being accused of discrimination.

I think a lot of this patty cake stuff is inspired by the upcoming election. Obama does not want to offend his anti-war base but wants to appear to be doing something in Iraq. The same thinking prevails with his tepid response to the Ebola threat. A travel ban would perhaps offend those Democrats who might see it as discrimination and profiling.

Despite Democrat fears of losing the Senate because Obama is such an ineffective and untruthful President, I have a feeling that the Dems will hold the Senate. A lot of people don’t vote and if you watch the student on the street interviews by Jessie Waters and before him Jay Leno, you become convinced that these young voters are completely ignorant about world and national issues.

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Instructor Blais

BlaisNearly 200 fresh-faced sailors and junior officers showed up on 28 December 1964 in Little Creek, VA for Class 33E of UDTR. Some seriously scary Instructors greeted us. There was towering Chief John Bakelaar, a regal and imperious Chief Bernie Waddell, and the impressively athletic Instructor Newell. But, the one who became most feared (at least by me) was Chief Tom Blais.

He was a soft-spoken sphinx of a man who meted out punishment like he was doing you a favor and his disappointment with you simply saddened him. Since I was the lowest ranking of the 22 officers that showed up for Class 33E, I had no officer duties and given the ratty greens and surveyed foul weather jackets we wore allowed me to blend in with the troops in the back of the pack for a while.

One day Instructor Blais discovered my existence and expressed some serious doubts about my suitability as an officer in the Teams. He promised, “Mr. Draper, I am going to make you my special project.” And, of course, he did. Then and every time there was a lull he would seek me out for extra attention.

One afternoon after we had completed our “preconditioning run” 50 minutes or so up and down the sand dunes, led by Instructor Fraley (whose running shoes seemed to leave no foot prints on Mount Suribachi) we were waiting on the beach for the trucks to take us back to the training area. The Instructors, hating a dull moment, had us in the leaning rest position in loose formation while we waited. Instructor Blais was wandering through the bodies looking for me and in a sing-song voice saying, “Mr. Draper, where are you?” It just struck me as funny and as I tried to hide my laughter, Chief Bakelaar spotted me and said, “Ah, Mr. Draper, laughing in the face of adversity.” Of course, Chief Blaiscame over and messed with me something serious until the trucks arrived.

Perhaps the most vivid memory my classmates and I have of Chief Blais occurred on the 4th day of Hell Week. The evolution that day was the “Laskin Boat Trip”, an innocuous sounding day of paddling and a welcome respite for our sore legs from the previous night’s 18 mile run. The simple objective: paddle from Laskin Road down Lynnhaven Inlet to the bay and then up the coast to the base. It turned out to be a day of misery. We fought a 35-knot head wind in our aerodynamically challenged IBLs (the L is for Large, ten man boats). At times, unable to make any head way against the wind we had to get out and carry the boats. It was so cold the water in our water bottles froze and our pants and boots were caked with ice. By then enough officers had quit so I had my own boat but it was the smurfs and there were only 7 of us. We trailed far behind the other boats when we finally came into view of the bridge. There, lined up on the beach in front of a small bar called the Duck Inn, were all the other boats. Naturally, we pulled in there too. The bar was crammed with our entire class ordering hamburgers, hot chocolate and coffee. I had just wrapped my frozen fingers around a hot cup of coffee when the door to the bar swung open and there silhouetted in the fading light stood Instructor Blais.

It was like Clint Eastwood in one of his cowboy flicks, standing there before shooting up the place. It went dead quiet. In a soft voice, he ordered everyone outside where he individually chewed out each boat officer before he told us to paddle across the wind-torn waves to the other side of Lynnhaven Inlet. After a suitable number of boat push-ups, he led us without breaking stride while we struggled in the soft sand carrying the boats the four miles down the beach to the base. While he was feared by the trainees he was also highly respected and we mourn his passing. He was a man among men. RIP

This article was published in the fall 2014 issue of “The Blast”, the Journal of Naval Special Warfare.  

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Political Correctness or Ego Inflation?

Late last fall I happened to be driving in Bellingham and listening to a local radio station. The announcer was giving the results of the state high school football playoffs. I paid attention because our grand daughter goes to one of the local high schools.
The sports guy reported that the Lummi “Blackhawks” had been defeated by their arch rival, the Neah Bay “Red Devils”. Whoa! I knew that these schools were tribal or Indian schools…. or, if you must, Native American schools. One has to assume that the students themselves chose these mascot names for their sports teams, or, at the very least were not troubled by them.
About this time the press and some professional sports blabbers were dissecting Dan Snyder, the billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins football team, over the name “Redskins”. The team has had that name since 1932 when the team was founded as the “Boston Redskins”.
At the time I wondered why they were picking on the Redskins. After all, there are thousands of sports teams, both college and professional, that have Indian related names. Just to name a few: Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks, Golden State Warriors, and Florida State Seminoles.
These names presumably were selected because they suggested the fighting spirit and determination of the Indians, not as an ethnic slur. Anyone who has watched baseball over the years must have seen tens of thousands of Atlanta fans all chanting and doing the tomahawk chop to urge their Braves on to victory. That is hardly a sign of disrespect.
If you’ve ever watched college football you surely have seen the Florida State mascot (Osceola) dressed in full Indian garb charging down the field astride Renegade, a magnificent Appaloosa, and planting his feathered lance in the middle of the field. More than a decade ago the NCAA went on the warpath against Indian mascots for college teams. Some were forced to change by PC faculty and school administrations. Florida State was able to resist partly because the Seminole tribe had no problem with the mascot.
That fact and, as the example of the mascot names for the two Bellingham tribal schools suggests, most Indians have no problem with these names. The natives that do complain are not really offended. They just want to see if they can push somebody’s buttons and they are aided and abetted by the politically correctness industry.
Remember the centuries long effort to correctly address American slaves and their descendants. In the early days they were referred to as “colored” because it was considered offensive to call them “negroes”. Then
It was determined it was fine to call them “negroes”. In the activism of the early ’60 the left decided that the proper term now was “Black”. OK, fine. But, just when everyone got accustomed to the “Black” term, the PC crowd led by grievance whores Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton announced, “Nope, now we’ve decided they must be referred to as “African Americans.” Some Blacks do not like this term as their families immigrated not from Africa but from the Caribbean or Europe.
How many generations removed from the homeland constitutes the statute of limitations on claiming a place as your ethnic appellation? And, what percentage of your genetic make-up must you have to be considered “African American”?
In the case of President Obama who claims African heritage, he is clearly 50% white from his mother but his father is largely Arab, supposedly with an African Black in his past. Some put Obama’s actual percentage of African blood at 6% and his Arab blood at 44%. Whatever the true percentage, the least part of him is African Black. No matter. He claimed to be African American and they claimed him, voting about 95 percent for ‘one of their own’.
A lot of this obsession with this stuff is a result of people with too much time on their hands. My Parisian friend would characterize it with a phrase that translates roughly as attempting to fornicate with flies. I think it stems from a burning desire to feel morally superior to others. In other words, just inflating your ego but believing you are protecting the feelings of others.
Very noble indeed.

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