Friday, November 11, 2011

Any Given Sunday

Chiefs inconsistent or just normal?

As the Raiders beat the Chargers to move to 5 and 4 the Chiefs wait in the wings to pick up the pieces and get a grip on the AFC West. Will it happen?

Who knows?

What is certain is that nothing is certain. That's for sure.

Why? Because the old any give Sunday has never been so true as it is today. Just look at the San Diego – Raiders game. Experts called it a San Diego opportunity, but the Raiders had different ideas. Still, the game was close and Carson Palmer performed well after the mauling the Chiefs dished out to him.

Except for a few big plays the game was a toss-up.

The Chiefs host a much improved Denver team this week and desperately need a win to keep up with Oakland. Have they any reason for optimism? Not really.

Last time out they were embarrassed by a Miami team without a win (any given Sunday).

Their home form has been erratic to say the least.

If you were a bookmaker you'd bet on Denver, and this is not just getting down on the home boys, but a measure of how poorly the Chiefs are look at the half-way stage.

The offence cannot really generate a running game and therefore Matt Cassell cannot generate a passing game. QED, the Chiefs are going to struggle unless they can untrack some kind of rushing game. Can they do it? Looks problematical.

Tebow dishes out something different and the Chiefs look vulnerable to a running game.

The defence will have to have a big game, with interceptions as well as hurries and fumble recoveries.

Prediction time: hate to say it but Denver may well win.

Re-group time for the Reds – it might be next year before we really have a team.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

German Guilt

A thousand years will pass and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased – Hans Frank

Let us leave it to a convicted Nazi war criminal to provide the twisted rationale for a French surrender and the collective European amnesia which allows the Germans to play hard ball with the EU.

So what do we get?

That fat Hausfrau Merkel dictating to Europe what the Germans will allow them to do.

That Eau d'Dwarf Sarkozy, product of a Greek Jew and a Hungarian aristo ( I know, you can hardly believe it) is still so frightened of the big bad Germans that he hides under a Carla's skirt whenever he sees one approaching the long-extinct Maginot Line.

That arch-coward George Papandreou, instead of reminding Merkel of the debt Germany owes to Greece, cobbles together an unlikely looking coalition of losers to placate the Krauts.

I can not believe it!

Meanwhile President Obama sits on the side-lines and waits to see how the Europeans can screw up the world's economy because he does not have the stomach for a fight with Germany. The war-time coalition must be spinning so fast in their graves that if only we could harness the force involved we could solve the energy crisis for another generation.

Let us forget the economics of the situation. Like all economic arguments no-one, least of all the politicians, really understands what's going on.

I'd rather focus on the Germans.

How did they, seemingly all of a sudden (in economic terms), become the all powerful super-Krauts who must be obeyed?

Don't forget barely a generation ago they were destitute, relying on the rest of us, mostly us as in U.S., to make sure they didn't starve. So we did.

Remember the Marshall Plan? ( Read carefully what the Germans did with the money!

Regardless of how you slice it, the Germans owe us all big-time.

Billions were spend trying to get rid of the Nazi crowd. Whole European countries were bankrupted – including Greece. Millions of Europeans perished.

Then we gave the Krauts a lot of money to prevent them from turning Soviet.

My plan. The Germans should underwrite the Greek debt. All of it. And, for all time.

Then every year British, Irish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian and Danish citizens should form an orderly queue outside their chosen German auto factory to collect their new BMW, Audi, Mercedes or Porsche.

No payment due cause they owe us and owe us big-time.

That's my economic plan to solve the Euro crisis.

You tell me why it's wrong. Go on, tell me.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Evil is as evil does

I'm taking a completely different tack on the conviction of Vincent Tabac for the murder of Joanna Yeates. You can read details at – the case is, sadly, a fairly usual murder tale. The person most likely to harm you, after your family, is someone you know.

Vincent Tabac has been justly convicted. We can be fairly sure of that as he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The jury decided it was murder. I've no problem with that.

I do have a problem with some aspects of the media reporting of the case; because, other than some fairly dodgy reporting, there is not much else of interest or renown.

Vincent Tabac killed his neighbour in a fit of rage/depression/desperation/perverse excitement or something else. Only he really knows. He then tried to dispose of the body. He failed miserably.

The media make great play of the fact that he went shopping with Jo's body in the back of his car – as if this some great indicator of his evil nature. This is nonsensical. If, and he never claimed otherwise, Tabac was not suffering from some mental disturbance at the time, going shopping is simply an indicator of the stress he was under at the time – not some Machiavellian machination.

His half-hearted attempt to dispose of the body again shows that he was not thinking clearly. The media have portrayed him as some kind of techno-weirdo, highly educated and somewhat of a misfit. Much has been made of his “odd” personality.

Actually, he seems no more odd than any number of people you and I know.

Finally the media have sought to sensationalise his interest in internet porn, and violent internet porn at that. It also appears he paid for sex and visited some fairly decadent quarters to find it.

It would be great if this were so abnormal as to be outrageous. Unfortunately, it is not. The internet is awash with sites that you and I would find very disturbing. One thing you can be sure of – if no-one looked at them then they wouldn't be there. Not only Vincent Tabac looks at disturbing web sites.

Vincent Tabac is not a very nice person, despite the fact that neighbours found him fine and his girlfriend had no suspicions about him. So, but for the grace . . .

He will pay dearly for his crime, and so he should. But, to portray him as something so out of the ordinary that it is beyond comprehension is wrong.

Sadly that part of the human condition which “allows” us to mistreat, murder, maim or pervert our fellow humans is just not understood, either by the public, the police, the courts or the sociologists.

I suspect it never will be. Tabac will have a long time in prison to think about it, and so he should.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dale Farm

Fascists take over Basildon

There are some notable flaws in the English character. For one thing, all Englishmen love a “fiddle”. If they can see a way to make a few bucks without the tax-man knowing, they are definitely up for it. Every time. Fiddling the system is a “victim-less crime” and the English view it as almost a national past-time.

Perversely, they are not so eager to view anyone else's fiddle as victim-less. The papers are usually full of stories about how someone has diddled the authorities and got caught. They receive no sympathy. So, cheating the government whey you do it is good, when someone else does it - it's bad.


So, we come to the Dale Farm saga. (Google it to get the details – it's too tedious to recount) The very odd thing about Dale Farm is that it is a victim-less “crime” - yet seemingly the whole nation is united in condemning the travellers who have (horror of horrors) simply fallen foul of the draconian planning process.

The sanctimonious rabble who keep banging on about the law is the law are not only hypocrites (witness the penchant MP's have for fiddling their expenses) but also fascists worthy of a place in the Adolf Hitler Movement for the Elimination of Gypsies and Other Undesirables, and we know where that leads.

Before you conclude that I'm exaggerating or have lost my marbles, let us examine the facts.

Time to check out:

It should not take too long to realise that the travellers have made a lot of mistakes, yet that pales in comparison to the gormless idiots who are currently running Basildon Council. What is clear is that the idea that Dale Farm is or ever was green belt land is ridiculous. It used to be a scrap yard!

The only reason this has become an issue is because the people who live near the site don't like it. They have hi-jacked Basildon Council and put a bunch of little Adolfs in control whose only mandate is to shift some of the travellers no matter what, no matter how costly and no matter if common sense has to be sacrificed on the altar of bigotry.

And when they have finished, what will have been accomplished? The original site, which does have planning permission will remain. The hard standing and fences on the “illegal” bit will stay. Some of the caravans and structures on the “illegal” bit will also stay. Some of the travellers will have to leave, but the local councils will not provide suitable sites for them to go to.

Result? More agro in more places.

The government should have told Basildon to grant planning permission retrospectively to the site. It's done all the time!

End of problem and 18 million pounds saved.

The rate-payers of Basildon are getting just what they deserve, The travellers are not.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Lincoln compromised?

Abraham Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our nature - attempting to persuade the South not to secede from the Union. It was in vain; though, perhaps even Lincoln could not foresee the four year nightmare that ensued.

Lincoln's response was, eventually, to free the slaves and seek to form that “more perfect union” as promised in the Preamble to the Constitution. Had he lived he may have succeeded. Without him, we got a century of discrimination and Jim Crow.

When we seek to imbue foreigners, other races, other religions and other creeds with demonic attributes, we are guilty of that most obvious of sins – the sin of self-righteousness.

Which brings me neatly to the UK Border Agency – an institution which would not have been out of place set up during the Spanish Inquisition or purposed by the state legislature of post-bellum Alabama.

A brief Wikipedia:

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is the border control body of the United Kingdom (UK) government and part of the Home Office. It was formed on 1 April 2008 by a merger of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), UK visas and the Detection functions of HM Revenue and Customs. The decision to create a single border control organisation was taken following a Cabinet Office report.[1] The agency is divided into three broad command structures, each under the management of a senior director:

* external controls including visa issue in overseas posts

* borders, including passport and customs controls

* internal immigration controls including asylum, management of applications for further stay and enforcement.

Its head office is 2 Marsham Street, London. In 2011, the Chief Executive is Rob Whiteman.

The agency has come under formal criticism from the Parliamentary Ombudsman for consistently poor service, a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, and a large and increasing number of complaints.[2] In the first nine months of 2009-10, 97% of investigations reported by the Ombudsman resulted in a complaint against the agency being upheld.[3]

Whilst it is popular to blame the Border Agency for all sorts of problems it is important to remember that it is an organ of the government to whom all cock-ups are to be ultimately attributed.

Therein lies the real problem. The government is obsessed with and committed to pandering to the worst angels of our nature – not the best. Grab a Tory from the conference with any force, shake it and out will fall a True Blue Little Englander filled with True Brit. In other words, a bigoted fascist is semi-disguise.

Why should this be so? Simple, most Tories realise that the great British public are revolutionary fascists at heart and are petrified that they will desert en masse to the National Front. So, they ritually abuse immigration and wreak havoc with any rational discussion of the question.

Meanwhile, the neo-fascist voters are massaged with unattainable goals and half-truths in order to convince them that something is being done. Simples.

Without the better angles of our nature we are left to the sins of our fathers. Lincoln knew this and knew that the only sensible course was to confront ignorance and prejudice head on.

Would that the Tories had the same type of leader.

If wishes were horses ….

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


As Frazier from Dad's Army Would Say, “We're Doomed”

My assessment of the 2011 Chiefs chances focussed on the QB, the offence in general and the defense's ability to chip in.

They have all gone to hell in an handcart.

Two demoralizing losses to what are perceived as average teams have highlighted the inadequacies in both the performances and the planning.

Remember: I commended the Chiefs for drafting a top receiver. He has not been seen so far in somewhat suspicious circumstances. Baldwin appear to be Baldlost.

Remember: I predicted that as Matt Cassell goes, so go the Chiefs. He has only gone to the toilet so far and has found it as difficult finding an empty cubicle as finding an open receiver.

Remember: I reminded all that if you can run the football you can win a lot of games. The Chiefs promptly lost Jamal Charles to an ever-lengthening injury list and have no real replacement in line.

Remember: I predicted that with an adequate defence a cracker-jack offense could make up the difference. 80 odd points have been conceded in two games.

Is the season over?

Yes, probably.

With San Diego coming up on Sunday, the prospect of 0-3 looms large.

It would take a miracle to win out on the coast.

If a week's a long time in politics – it must seem an eternity to the Chief's players, coach and management as they try to prepare for what could be a ritual slaughter.

Has Todd Haley had it?

Maybe, but unlikely. He shoulders some of the blame, but the real tragedy is that the steady progression plan ( ala Pioli) appears shot.

It's going to be a long season.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal for Chiefs

Play offs or Goof Offs

It's now more than 40 years since the Chiefs Super Bowl win.

Could this be time to do it again? Is there ever a bad time!!

Reality check – The tribe won last year's AFL west title mostly because everyone else was worst than they were. Tough – but true. They finished 10-6 (coming off a 4-12 season) and lost their first play-off game since pigs stopped flying. Not exactly cause for organising a premature Super Bowl party!

But, things are looking up.

It appears the management have a plan and are sticking to it.

The Chiefs will run the ball and that's generally how you win football games. They drafted a top receiver in the first round and this will finally give Matt Cassel some weapons on offence. The defence look ok and this is the worry.

With an average offence and cracker-jack defence you can win a Super Bowl. The other way around and you'd have to get lucky.

So, as this year's defence goes, so go the Chiefs chances of a deep run into the play-offs of a shot at the big one.

How are they shaping up?

Coaches are expecting a second and third year burst from many players, particularly on defence. The secondary looks strong – very strong at the corners and safety. This is essential. The D-line is less secure and will have to play big to bring results. Chiefs have moved to strengthen the line in free agency. Good move.

Line backers are a worry. Almost to a man they are still learning the 3-4 and how they improve this season will probably decide how the Chiefs progress.

Then we have QB. This is the season for Matt Cassel to join the the premier league of quarterbacks. If he does then the Tomahawkers are sitting pretty – if not the tomahawks may be out for his scalp!

In the end, as Cassel goes, so goes the Chiefs!

Thursday, August 04, 2011


49 Years, Some Days and a Wake Up

You may have read my Grandad's diary. I put it on-line some time ago. ( ). The most frustrating part of the transcription is the technical terms he uses which must be specific to the cloth trade. It's often difficult to make out what he's talking about. He didn't have the internet, but I do - so I'm determined not to make the same mistake.

We are popularly told that this present generation will have far less job security and will have to work until they drop because the pension system is so screwed up (many thanks Bankers!).

This may be so, and if it is, I'm truly sorry; but I've done my bit, and I retire in a very short time without any compunction.

As part of the process, I decided to note all the different jobs I have had and briefly describe the how, why and where.

This may be a salutatory message for the generation to come, or the last ravings of an overworked retiree and loon.

Here goes.

I started working on the old man's milk route when I was about 11. That would be in about 1957. I know this because by then I was old enough to be of some use and stupid enough to think it was a kind of treat to be able to help on the milk route. In a very short time, I was dissuaded from both innocent ideas.

A milk route is really quite hard work. You start early. In the early days, I only helped on Saturdays (it was a six day operation) and gradually this expanded to working also during the school vacations. It worked like this: you went to Myers Dairy on Dodgion (I have a photo which clearly shows the old loading dock) and after the Old Man messed about filing out paper work and getting the order organised you loaded up the truck with the day's dairy goods and set off. In a day you travelled at least 100 miles – stopping and starting and knocking on doors with milk in your hands. The OM was famous for quipping (after you had left the truck and taken a few steps) - “watch out for a dog up there”. I was bit once and nearly was more than a few times.

Early routes included Ruskin Heights in South KC where a tornado smashed through on 20 May 1957. OM and I were among the first to see the damage as we were allowed in to deliver milk supplies. I also distinctly remember seeing the swath of damage on South Noland Road (south of 40 Hi-Way) where the same tornado cut a passage through trees either side of the road. This bare swatch was visible for many years afterwards.

I'm sure I couldn't count this as paid work for Social Security purposes, but the old man would buy you a cup of coffee and a sweet roll and sometimes, particularly when I got older, give you 50 cents for helping. Getting older was a two pronged fork. You always got the 50 cents but you also had to do six days a week in the summer. It's not easy getting up at 4:30 when you are barely a teenager.

My next foray into work was doing my cousins paper round for two weeks whilst he was on vacation. I'm not really counting that.

The best way out of this (I figured) was to get a real job, so the day I turned 16 I both passed my driving test and went to work as a fry cook at 70 Hi Drive-In on 39th and Noland Road, Independence, Missouri. We were living on 39th street terrace at the time. I could walk to work. We worked a shift system - Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday evenings (maybe 5 till 11) one week and Tuesday, Thursday Saturday nights in the next week. Or, did we do lunchtimes at the weekend? I think maybe we did and the system was more complicated that I have described. Sorry, it was a long time ago.

Sam Lerner was the owner and I was paid the princely sum of 75 cents an hour. After training in the gentle art of cooking hamburgers I got 90 cents an hour. The first week I worked I made $18.75. I remember that because I had to use the money to buy some new trousers for school. We really were quite poor. Over the years most of the people I knew as close friends ended up working for Sam. Larry Stoner was my bun boy for a while. I taught Bosco Cox how to cook hamburgers.

Sam was an old man then and now must be long dead, but he was a first class boss and a first class human being. He gave us “kids” real responsibility and thought nothing of going away for the weekend ( his passion was horse racing – for which you had to go to Omaha, Nebraska to indulge in )and leaving me more or less in charge when I was barely 17. He taught me a lot about the world of work. He taught me a lot about growing up.

We moved to 28 Berry Lane and Bobby Lawless lived a short walk away. The OM was in his racing stage and so I was in it too. Bobby was quite successful in ¼ midgets, and I won lots of trophies in my go-cart. Bobby and I hand-built a motorcycle and rode it around the neighbourhood. It was hairy. It had no throttle so he would sit front and steer and I would give it the gas with a cable direct to the carb whilst riding pillion. We didn't kill ourselves, but I don't know how.

Anyway, Bobby worked at the Kansas City Booth Manufacturing Co ( ) - they are still in business! He got me a job there, but I can't remember the chronology? It was an education! It must have just been for the summer cause I wasn't there long. I think I'd have been about 17 or 18 and must have left 70 Hi (at least temporarily).

Anyway, the KC Booth Manufacturing Co was in North KC and was populated by a crew of Mexicans who did the real work. There is quite a large Latino population in KC and they must all have relatives who worked at KC Booth. I swept the floor and generally tidied up. They did all the skilled jobs. They made beautiful booths for posh restaurants and the quality was superb. They also taught me Spanish – of a sort. Mostly how to swear. It was an education.

I was 18 and at Central Missouri State Residence Center in Independence – right behind the Harry Truman Library. I had no money. I had to borrow some from my Grandad and Aunt Jane to get started. Borrowing money from my Grandad is one of the supreme accomplishments of my life. I temporarily had no job.

My sister, Ruthanne was waitressing at an Italian Restaurant on 71 Bypass just south of 39th, or it could have been further north? She got me a job as the dishwasher. I joined the Honorable Company of Pearl Divers. Washing dishes in the Italian Restaurant may be the worst job I ever had. What my sister didn't tell me was that there was no dishwasher at lunch-times. So, when I got there at (say) 5 p.m. all the dishes from lunch were waiting for me. It took two hours to catch up – just in time for the evening's dishes to arrive. Trying to remove caked-on Italian sauces from a large pot requires a hammer and chisel. I kid you not. At one stage I thought that Tootie did this to me on purpose, but that was being uncharitable.

I was there only for a few months when I made it up with Sam and returned to 70 Hi. I had only left because I wanted a raise to $1.25 an hour and he wouldn't agree. He let it be known that I could come back and have the raise. I took it. Gladly.

Eventually, I ran out of money good and proper – as in stony broke – as in no pot to pee in and no window to throw it out of. I'd exhausted all the available avenues and had to drop out of school and get a real job. By real, I mean 40-ish hours a week and wages that put you in the paying income tax bracket. I went to work for 7 Eleven. My first and last foray into the retail trade.

I knew soon I was not cut out for it, but I needed the money and it was steady work. Not withstanding getting robbed - ( ) - it wasn't all that bad. Fortunately for us humans - as the years fade we forget lots of the bad things and only remember the good. It was boring and dealing with the public is a pain in the bum.

Whilst waiting to get drafted, my sister Ruthanne and her husband Alan managed to get me on at the Western Electric factory in Lee's Summit, Missouri ( ). I did the night shift ( 15:00 to 23:30) and like all factories it was boring but it paid reasonably well. I was back to sweeping up with a little light production work as well. I stayed there until I got drafted, St Valentine's Day 1968, and I returned there after I completed my time in the U.S. Army.

I suppose the United States Army qualifies as a job, but it sure didn't feel like one. A whole blog should be devoted to my time serving Uncle Sam. Mayhaps I will get back to this one day, but not now – it would simply take too long and take up too much space. I will say this – I did have some interesting experiences and met some very interesting people.

Returning to civilian life also meant a return to Western Electric. Even though the country was going through a mini-recession they had to take me back. It's part of how the government looks after its veterans. So, I spent a week on days more or less doing nothing and then they found a spot for me in the packing department. Obviously, if you make things they have to be packaged up and sent somewhere before they can be used. We packed. We packed everything that was made in the factory and sent it places. I was back on the night shift (good thing because I had resumed my glittering academic career at CMSU) and the packing department was no picnic. First thing at 3 o'clock I had to move all the packing stuff from one side of the bench to the other – to accommodate my left-handed outlook on work. Many times I was told that I could not do a particular job at Western Electric because of my left-handedness. I ignored them and after a few minutes studying the task, re-arranged the work space and got on with it. It was tedious work and my work mates were uninspiring. I can't think that I made anything like a friend among fellow workers in the packing department.

I wasn't there for long. I got moved to transistors and back to the designation “floor hand”. Glorified cleaner and odd-job person is what it was. We arrived. We got our floor sweepers. No brooms – too much dust would be whipped up. We wandered about for two or three hours sweeping and chatting to the ladies who did the actual work. We killed time. We did some production work on the “dirty room”. Some manufacturing processes produced dust and grime so an enclosed space within the department housed the “dirty” processes, even to the extent that the air pressure was lower inside so when the door opened the air came in – not out. I worked with Danny Ray Grimm, what a character. Danny Ray was once was arrested for drink driving whilst sitting amidst a pile of empty beer cans that completely obscured the floor of the car he was driving at the time! He, somehow, talked his way of that one! He was a character. He used to come by my house on South Lynn and we would ride motorcycles to work in the summer. He had a Honda 400 cc and my 350 cc Yamaha would really shift!

I worked at Western Electric all the time I was at Warrensburgh finishing my degree. So, I got up early, drove 50 odd miles to Warrensburgh, went to class, drove 50 odd miles to Lees Summit, worked until midnight and drove 10 miles home. Easy when you are in your 20's. Wouldn't want to try it today. I used to “hide” in the dirty room and do my required reading.

Summer of 1974 we moved to England. Even though I was on a visitor's visa at the time, I went to the labour exchange and got a job at Klingers Gasket Factory in Foots Cray. Their headquarters are now in Bradford, and the Foots Cray site seems not to be in existence any more. This was quite an introduction to the world of work in England.

First of all this was pre-Maggie Thatcher; therefore, everyone had a job. Well, everyone went into a place of work, even if they didn't do much of a job when they got there. That was definitely the system at Klingers. We had breakfast in the subsidised staff canteen. We did a bit (actually it was quite like the Western Electric packing department – we had a trolley and we went and found the gasket material for the order then we packed it up for shipment).

We had a long lunch. We did next to nothing after lunch. Jimmy and Taffy, my work-mates were big into horse-racing so they had fixed up a rest area, made out of old packing crates, complete with tea pot and radio. My job, being young and fit, was to take the bets to the bookies.

Good thing was the number 52 bus ran almost to the factory door from Welling and it was convenient to get to work. It was certainly an eye-opener! Meanwhile I was trying to get my first job in teaching.

I had already figured out that the best weather in England is in East Anglia. It's the warmest and driest part of the country – statistically speaking.

So, when I saw an advert for a job near Gt. Yarmouth, I applied, and I got it. I started my teaching career at Duncan Hall and was there for 12 years. I learned was humility among many other things.

There was a little lad named Toby – only about six. One day as they lined up for afternoon lessons he looked up at me and said, “I like you Mr Kauffman.” I was about to say something appreciative when he continued, “Mind you, a lot of people don't.” A real definition of deflation.

One of my ex-pupils works at Roys of Wroxham and I see him often. Occasionally, I hear news of one or other “Old Boys” and it never fails to make it all seem worthwhile.

While I was there as a struggling, ill-paid teacher, I always had a job in the summer holidays. I scrubbed toilets and took care of the swimming pool at a Caister holiday camp. I delivered papers for Menzies, the wholesale newsagents. I refuelled helicopters and checked bags at North Denes airfield.

In order to make ends meet, I cycled from Winterton to Yarmouth every morning at about four to do the papers. I drove the van and Jimmy worked in the back sorting out the bundles. Jimmy had been a prisoner of the Japanese during the war and really hated them. Even in the 1970's if he saw an oriental-looking person he would go mental.

I'm glad I was young when I had to cycle miles to work for about £10 a week. I'd hate to try it now! I was delivering papers when they tracked me down to attend the birth of son number two.

Duncan Hall closed in 1986 and I was temporarily unemployed. I did some supply teaching at Feltwell. Uncle Sam had a High School there for children of Air Force personnel at Lakenheath and Mildenhall. I needed a steady income and a return to teaching, but I found myself, instead, working as a security guard for Dardan Security at the gas terminal near Bacton, Norfolk. It was local, and it was steady work - if uninspiring. Night shifts were interminable. I was only there a few months when an opportunity came up at Finborough School near Stowmarket. I knew many of the teachers there from my time at Duncan Hall and was appointed third in the English Department with a little Science teaching thrown in for fun.

I was at Finborough from 1987 until I took early retirement in 2004. I did my best work at Finborough. There developed over the years an excellent staff, and I made some friends who will stay with me until we are all too old to care!

After some lazing about I got a job on the “bank staff” register at the Norfolk County Council. My first appointment was to edit the gibberish produced by a Social Worker who insisted she was severely dyslexic. She couldn't write for toffee and that's a fact. So, I would take her notes and bits of paper and produce statements for the courts. Some of them were just sad, as when grandparents (who just happened to be heroin addicts) wanted access to their grand children. Others were hair-raising, involving some shocking cases of child abuse here in tranquil Norfolk. It was an education. I did some work for the careers service in Yarmouth, mostly creating a database of service users and amenable local companies who might employ them to improve their chances of getting a real job. All in all it was very part-time and not very lucrative.

I saw an advert in the Eastern Daily Press. It looked interesting, so I logged on to the NHS web site and applied for the job of Housekeeper at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Next thing you know I got an interview and – sure enough – I got the job. I was just over two years from retirement.

Working in a hospital is really interesting. Especially on the Acute Medical Unit. People die at a steady rate, pretty much one or two a week – sometimes a day! I gained a new and enthusiastic appreciation for the work of the nurses. The doctors are good, but generally they live in a world of their own and often seem either lost or just about to be lost. The ancillary staff without a doubt are excellent.

At the N&N there are some superb people who will look after me when I am so aged that it becomes my final stop-over before the grave. There are a lot of worse places to end your days.

Unfortunately, that's where most oldies in Norfolk go to die. The scenario: GP is called out to oldies house and, despite knowing that they are coming to the end of their life, feels Hypocratically bound to call an ambulance and have them taken to AMU. They are put in a bed and kept comfortable but they will not leave the hospital except to go the the morgue. Far better to die at home. Unfortunately, in this litigious society the doctors don't have much choice. They should, perhaps, say to the relatives that Granny is dying so just let her die in peace at home. But, they daren't.

So that's it. Nearly 50 years of work. No wonder I'm tired sometimes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Defining Characteristic

Why we are what we are.

Endless learned literature, endless speculation, endless theories attempt to define the human condition. We are, rightly, fascinated by who we are, how we got here and where are we going.

We see ourselves as special in so many ways. To the religious we are God's chosen. To the secular we are the pinnacle of a vast web of genetic mutations which, without pre-ordained purpose, lead eventually to us.

Whichever is your view, we can agree that we are unique. Well, almost. Elephants have great memories and appear to grieve when another elephant dies. Dolphins famously once said, “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.” (Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Very human indeed. Chimps can plan an attack and work out that only co-operation between individuals will bring success. This is one, but not the most important one of being human.

I often illustrated the defining human characteristic to children by using lions as a prompt. We have all seen wildlife programmes and are intrigued by how lions will work together to bring down their prey. This is very human-like. They have a plan – though it does not involve much communication between pride members - mostly instinct. We seldom focus on the poor gazelles.

They graze, head down. They look up to see where danger lies. Nature has provided them with excellent vision at spotting moving lions. In the long grass and still (and down wind) the lions creep closer and closer.

Eventually the lions charge. All the gazelles run and run very fast. One lion trips a gazelle and it's down. A quick bite to the throat and it's dinner time for lions. Darwin's survival of the fittest in action.

What about the other gazelles? Do they stop to see what has happened? Do they remonstrate with each other at their compadre's ill-fortune? Does one gazelle cry, “Ouch, that's gotta hurt!”


They are unable to summon up that most defining of human qualities – empathy.

We are able to put ourselves in other's shoes and imagine what they feel like. We can vicariously live the life of a lion or a gazelle or another human being and learn. No other creature can do this.

This is our greatest strength. The gazelles are much faster. The lions are much stronger, but we overcome them by empathising with each other, feeling each other's pain, imagining each other's suffering and co-operating with each other to defeat the much stronger foe. We alone can do this.

It is when we lose this ability – either through illness, stress or pain that we are most vulnerable. We can no longer see the “bit picture”. We are unable to plan effectively to overcome our difficulties. We are at the mercy of what Freud called the Id – the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends that in times of stress can override our rational thought processes. The Id may save us when confronted with a hungry lion, but is no help in a modern society with it's pressures that nature hasn't prepared us for.

For that, we have to nurture and regain our sense of empathy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Raytown Bulls

Magic days when you are young and stupid!

I have been remiss. I thought I had made a good effort to recount most of the really interesting things that happened to me in the early years. I did not. I forgot about the Raytown Bulls. How could I do that?

Having spend many years as a fry cook at 70 Hi Drive-In, I found myself out of money and with little prospect of being able to carry on at Central Missouri State. I needed a job. And, a job that actually paid full-time wages.

Therefore, I went to work for the Southland Corp – 7 Eleven to you and I.

I soon learned that I was not actually cut out for the retail trade. A valuable lesson, since I have never tried it since, and I'm now retirement age.

Nevertheless I did my best and increased my income dramatically. After training and whilst waiting for a full-time permanent job at a store, I did some shifts all over as relief for folks who were on vacation or sick or whatever. That's how I came to be at the 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road.

Raytown is a really interesting place. It's sort of south of Independence and north of Lee's Summit and east of Kansas City. Although surrounded by these other conurbations, Raytown is a entity in itself with its own government, fire and police service: rather like a boil on your bum – it's just there.

The 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road was a small one and not very busy. I was down for the afternoon and evening shift, as I recall, from about 3 till 11 – closing time. When I got there, I met the manager, who was there on his own (I told you it wasn't very busy), and he showed me around, though almost all 7 Eleven's are exactly the same. Before he left he gave me his home phone in case I needed anything – a fact which will become important later. I settled into the evening shift, waiting on customers and re-stocking as required.

7 Eleven are big on security. Every 7 Eleven has a safe. It's one of those hole in the floor safes in two parts. There is the main part, which you open with the combination and a slot at the side which you can push bills down into the bottom. The manager told me I did not need the combination to the safe as I would only put money in when required. Company policy was not to keep cash in any quantity in the cash register (till to British readers) but to push it periodically down the slot and into the bottom of the safe where it could only be retrieved with the combination. Sound procedure. But, in this case, one that caused me some difficulties.

Getting close to closing time and there was no-one about, so I decided to grab a few extra minutes and lock the doors early – only about 3 minutes - lest they try to track me down after all these years and claim back the 20 cents they might think I owe them. After I locked the doors, I went into the cold store to stock up the Coke and milk for the morning. The manager would be impressed!

From the inside of the cold store I heard a knocking, so (very stupidly) I came out to investigate. Someone was knocking on the door. I went to the door. A guy was standing outside coughing into his handkerchief. Through the cough he asked if I had change for five dollars. Very, very stupidly I opened the door to explain that all the money was locked up in the safe. Bad move.

He produced a gun (looked like a .38 from where I was standing) and told me to get down on the floor. I did.

He told me to crawl to the middle of the store and behind the serving station, where the safe and cash register were located. I did.

He told me to take my shirt off ( a rather swank little number complete with 7 Eleven badge) – this will become important later.

Whilst I was lying on the floor face down I could see little of what he was up to. Eventually the subject of the safe came up, as in “open the safe”. I distinctly remember saying, “I know you're not going to believe this, but I don't know the combination”. And, I explained why.

Thinking fast, I said that I could phone the manager and ask him if he would give me the combination. We went to the phone (pay phone) and dialled the number – then he sensed that this was not going to work and told me to hang up. Back we went to the serving station. Back on the floor, face down. He found the money order machine which was attached to the counter by a wire. He undid the wire and used it to loosely tie my hands behind my back. He took a roll of nickels from the till, a whole 5 dollars worth of five cent pieces – that's all the money that was left in there. He took my wallet – maybe a couple of bucks. He picked up what he thought were money orders (money orders are like postal orders) and, after admonishing me not to move for five minutes, he left with the money order machine and the money order receipts and my five dollars.

I stayed still for maybe a minute as I had heard the door close and could see no reason why he would try to trick me (how trusting are the young)!!

It took me about 10 seconds to get rid of the wire around my wrists. I got up. He was gone. I went to the phone to ring the police. I was lucky, somehow he had left a dime in the till. I simply said that the 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road has been robbed – come quick.

Now, the Raytown Bulls were not, and for all I know, are not known for their subtle arts of persuasion. I decided that the best place to be when they arrived would be outside in plain view. I went to the cooler and got a Dr Pepper. I went outside and stood leaning on the outside Coke machine in front of the store. I distinctly heard the Bull's sirens in the distance.

I looked up and my assailant appeared from around the side of the building. He said something like, “You called the cops!”

I said, “No, no – I called the manager and I don't know what he did” (sound of sirens in the distance).

He shouted, “Get back in the store!” I needed little persuasion.

Back I went on the floor and behind the counter. I noticed that he had put on my 7 Eleven shirt. ( I believe that what really happened was that after he left he realised that he had only the money order receipts – not worth a jot – and a $5 roll of nickels and decided – very stupidly to come back and have another go at the safe. )

The scene: I'm in my T-shirt and lying on the floor – he's standing by the till with my 7 Eleven shirt on. The bulls came charging in – I could hear them.

First cop shouts, “Which way did he go?”

Crook replies, “That way!” And he points.

Cop leaves.

I'm dumbfounded – but realise that he's got my shirt on and I'm not visible from where the cop was.

I stay put.

Eventually another cop arrives and is not so easily put off. I can see a bit of what transpires by lifting my head slightly and turning my head very slightly. The cop ( confused as only flat-foots can be ) keeps coming forward questioning the crook. As they draw even Crook grabs the cop and tries to get cop's gun from its holster.

Ever wonder why the cops have those straps on their holsters? This is why. Crook had the cop by the neck trying to get the gun from the holster which is strapped down. Cop is still as the crook still has his own gun at the cops's neck. More bulls arrive. There is a scuffle ( out of my sight ) and noise. I hear the door open and close. I stay still. Seemed a damn good idea to me.

Some time passes. I stay put.

Curiosity overcomes me. I get up and look. A cop shouts at me, “Get down and put your hands behind your back!” I do.

He cuffs me. I protest.

“I'm the guy who called you, I work here!”

Though not entirely convinced he lets me up and removes the cuffs. Another cop arrives and informs me that they saw me but thought that I was dead! Magic.

I go outside where the bulls are cuffing the bad guy and sticking him in the back of a Raytown police car.

I'm relieved.

Off they go leaving me behind. No such thing as crisis counselling in those days. I go home and recount my adventures to all and sundry. I'm probably in shock but am too stupid to realise.

I remember that the crook has my wallet. I call the Raytown police. They explain that it is evidence for the trial.

I never got it back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wards in Jarndyce

Terrace Tribulations

People will know that I am no fan of Dickens. I have only ever read Dickens under sufferance and with great distress. I'm not even much in favour of TV adaptations or films based on his books.

Nevertheless, I confess to having watched Bleak House when it was on the BBC in 2005. I watched. I even became mildly interested. I even got the book from the library and read a bit of it. It did not elicit any lasting appreciation of Dickens writing.

Fortunately, Dickens is not really the subject of this rant.

It's football.

So, where's the connection? Easy – so much gloup is written about football that it resembles nothing so much as the fixation with the Wards in Jarndyce - the glue which holds the Bleak House narrative structure together for Dickens.

Recent events bear this out. Let's focus on just two.

The Glasgow Celtic – Glasgow Rangers is, some people decry, a special case. The excuses for poor behaviour amongst supporters is mired in sectarian prejudice and violence. Somehow this is used to “excuse” the excesses and simplify the situation.

Now we have the Celtic manager, Mr Lennon, being sent letter bombs along with other prominent supporters. The killer for me was a responsible police spokesman describing the situation as “nothing to do with football” Therein lies the mistake.

It is everything to do with football. In a era when sectarian conflict has almost been eradicated in Northern Ireland, how is it that responsible journalists and others can pretend that football has no role in perpetuating the problem.

Ask yourself: would the mindless prejudice and violence continue if there was no Rangers – Celtic match to provide the focus? I think not. The bigots would still exist, true. Perhaps they might migrate to Murrayfield and start a riot when Scotland play Ireland? Seems more that unlikely. Why?

The fact is the pea-brained bigots who perpetrate the violence just would not get the idea of a sporting rivalry – one that recognises that both teams are trying to win and are worthy of respect for their endeavours. Likewise the fans. Fans of the opposing team are not degenerate sub-humans but genuine supporters who want to see their team do well but recognise that the other team may win if they play better.

No, football, uniquely, has the capacity to engender mindless optimism and even more mindless degeneracy.

Personally, I'm fed up with people who, whilst seemingly stable and reasonable, insist on believing that that opponents and their fans are “scum” - which seems to be the only term of abuse they know. Comment on that mental capacity if you will.

It's even worse in East Anglia. Normal, responsible, educated and personable friends lose all mental perspective when a Norwich – Ipswich game approaches. The try to outdo each other in their vitriol towards their neighbours. Their version of trying to wish their team well and support the player's efforts consists of name-calling and foul abuse. This is not supporting their team – it's simply showing how loutish and vile they have become.

My suggestion: Rangers and Celtic should be relegated – one to the Highland League and one to the League of Ireland. They should not be allowed tickets to away games at all. They should have to stay their for a minimum of 3 seasons and if any trouble ensues – extend their exile to five years for each occasion. Even the troglodytes on the terraces should be able to understand this.

As for the East Anglian brethren, simply require anyone who really, truly believes that the team down the road is vile and their supporters are epsilon minus morons ( which may, or may not be accurate ) is deported to their city focus of hate and made to go to every home game and cheer their rivals on.

Maybe deport them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

England's World Cup disaster.

England's recent showing in the World Cup deserves some comment.

First, to make the quarter-finals was probably a good showing. What was disappointing was the way they were embarrassed by Sri Lanka when they got there.

The loonies who thought up the winter schedule for the England cricket team should be organising the bombing of Libya – Gadaffi would be in power forever. Asking the players to perform at the end of an endless round of important matches was just a non-starter; therefore, any criticism must be tempered by realism. They really were expected to go a bridge too far.

Then we have the injuries to key players. Pietersen is a key player, regardless of my opinion that he is greatly over-rated. Stuart Broad is a genuine key player and his injuries smack of “burn out” - much to the detriment of the England set-up for many years to come. Simon Jones syndrome springs to mind. Poor old Paul Collingwood has just had it – though why England chose to jettison

him in the later stages when all the injuries hit is hard to figure. Add Ajmal Shahzad to the list and you have a packet of injury owes – enough to fill a Land Rover.

Still, divorcing the early winter triumphs in Australia and at the 20-20 World Cup, England have under-performed on the Sub-continent. Why? It's too easy to blame the injuries or the scheduling.

Facts are they just weren't good enough.

This the supporters can accept. What I found difficult to accept was the crazy hype-spice added to the mix my the Sky Sports commentators and pundits.

Just take the quarter final against Sri Lanka for an example. Foolish though I was, I listened to England crawl to what I thought was a poor score, only for the commentators to explain that it was probably quite competitive. How did they work this out? They assured us that the dew would affect the ball, the pitch would get painfully slow and the England spinners would turn the ball a mile.

What tosh!

The Sri Lankan batsmen stroked the ball about with aplomb and the England bowling would not have looked out of place in a Sunday Friendly. Swann, who is supposed to be one of the best bowlers in the world, was ordinary in the extreme. The pace bowlers were innocuous. The fielding was amateurish.

To be fair, Sri Lanka have done the same to New Zealand – just not quite so comprehensively.

What was so disappointing was the lack of ideas in the England v. Sri Lanka match. I just can't relate to the way they played – seemingly without any idea of how to win the match.

So, what lessons are to be learned?

First: don't expect England or any non-Asian side to do well in the sub-continent.

Second: don't burden the players with a schedule that is simply impossible.

Third: let's have realistic expectations particularly from the so-called expert commentators.

England will be back with a chance when the tournament is either in England, Australia or New Zealand.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Failing Schools or Failing Teachers

Which is it - schools or teachers?

Lots of stories in the media recently about failing schools and failing teachers – or is that the same thing?

Having been in teaching for over 30 years, I ought to have something to say. Something sensible. Something helpful. Something cogent.

It's tough.

Why is it so tough? It's because the truth about schools is rarely told and neither politicians or parents are really interested enough in the truth to listen to it.

Katherine Birbalsingh is the teacher who caused uproar at the Tory party conference when she “exposed the failings of state schools”. She is certainly an articulate lady and has some interesting and well thought out ideas about schools. She is not a radical. She has exposed part of the problem. She does have some interesting anecdotes to relate about inner London schools. She does not really tackle the real problems. She is, if you believe the rumours, about to take up a senior position at one of the new academy schools. I wish her well.

Why, then, is she not a radical? Because she sees the problem in terms of school organisation, teaching expectations, parental short-comings, teacher short-comings, administrators in denial and an inspection system that is really just a joke. These are all real problems. But, they are not the root cause.

What is?

The Education Act of 1944 has a lot to say about the organisation of schooling in England but precious little about how children are to be taught. Consequently, successive governments have seen this as carte blanche to mess with it as they see fit – often for political rather than educational reasons. In doing so they miss the essential point. Schools are not there primarily to educate children.

Before you switch off and assume that the old boy has finally lost his senses, just consider these points:

If schools were there to educate children, why would they organise the school year to ensure that pupils are not in school for about 100 days? (The reason is somewhat historical. The school year traditionally was set so pupils could help with the harvest. It carries on not to suit the schools or good educational practice, but so that parents can take a holiday in the warm summer months – we could save a fortune in heating bills alone if schools were open in the summer and closed in the winter!)

If schools were there to educate children, why would they continually cater for pupils who do not want to be there? (Pupils are forced to go to school. Many are there only because they have to be – not because they want to be.)

If schools were there to educate children, why would they teach subjects which have no relevance in the real world? (The fact is there are only a handful of geographers, artists or musicians who make a living at it – so why teach these subjects so enthusiastically at secondary level?)

Any sensible analysis must conclude that schools are not there to educate children.

Therefore, I have a real suggestion that would improve schools immediately. Only allow children who are willing to co-operate with the teachers into classrooms. Those who don't – remove them and only let them back when their parents bring them back and promise to make sure they sit down, shut up and do their best. Oh yes, and it's three strikes and you're out. And it goes all the way down to primary schools.

I confidently predict that such a plan would do wonders for the educational system. I also confidently predict that the chances of it being implemented are nil.


Because schools are primarily there to provide cheap, state-sponsored, child care. That's the fact.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Start with a classic:

Why is there only one monopolies commission?

When the swallows come back to Capistrano – where have they been?

Is Cameron's Big Society just a big cock-up?

Will the bankers be first up against the wall when the Revolution starts? Followed closely by the accountants and mathematicians?

Did Fermat give the solution to his Last Theorem to the missus who promptly threw it away thinking it was an old shopping list?

Aegyptus Capta – but by whom or what?

How many failures will the England cricket team have to endure before they realise that Pietersen is fraud who only has one shot and rarely scores big – despite his inflated average on easy wickets against rubbish attacks? I see they now have a new plan – let him open! What a disaster!

Why is football only played at Upton Park and will it move with the Hammers to the Olympic Stadium?

Why is it on a weekend where there is a full programme of rugby internationals the Aviva Premiership has a full programme of club matches? Better yet – why doesn't football do the same thing? If you don't want to lose players for internationals, don't sign them in the first place. Simples.

Did you know that the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons can be changed into the acronym Baaps?

Why do the media insist that people who have been shot are “seriously ill” in hospital? They're not ill – they're wounded!!

My plan to make football a real spectacle – an hour before the match both teams are required to complete a ten mile run in under 20 minutes – then have a 10 minute rest – then start the game. Since all the excitement and most of the goals occur in the last 15 minutes when the players are getting knackered, why not wear them out first and avoid the boring 65 minutes at the start of the game? Makes sense to me!

With trouble in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc. are we in for a “summer of discontent”?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chiefs EOS report

Very good - in parts

I was amazed to read the KC Star's evaluation of the Chiefs performance in the play-off game against Baltimore. I know we got beat by a healthy margin, but overall I thought the result flattered the Ravens and did not reflect the Chiefs contribution to the game.

I watched the first part live and after Charles had busted a long run against a seemingly impregnable Ravens defence to give the Chiefs a 7-3 lead I was very pleased. We could run the ball. They were not too good in the Red Zone.

Then things went wrong. Fumbles. Interceptions. We lost.

However, it's a game of inches. Too often the Chiefs missed what should have been a first down with a poor play call or execution. With errors, they forced themselves into obvious passing situations and away from their running game. The defence played well for two downs. Third down looked too easy for Baltimore and they converted too many of them too easily.

EOS report – offence

QB Matt Cassell is still not a shoe-in to be the Chiefs long-term QB. He had a good season operating behind the league's leading running attack. It's not clear if he's capable of leading a team when plan one fails. Juries out.

RB Jamal Charles is (barring injuries) in the team forever. A diamond.

O-line – a solid unit that can both run block and pass block. Can still be strengthened.

Receivers – one area the Chiefs are lacking. Bowe was good, until he came up against a quality defence that was able to double-team him all day. He needs help. I expect the Chiefs to focus on this area in free-agency and draft choices.

EOS report – defence

Three down men are not dominant enough either in stopping the run or getting pressure. Changes needed. I'd draft the top monster nose tackle available.

LB's are not good enough. Baltimore exposed them ruthlessly.

Secondary is the bright spot. We need a top safety. Berry was very good for a rookie and will only get better with help.

Special teams – very good throughout the season.

Overall the Chiefs can look forward with some optimism. Next year's schedule is tougher. This is good, for only against better teams can you measure progress.

Worryingly, the Chiefs won only 2 games against division opponents. This must be addressed. At five and one in the division KC would have been 13-3 in the regular season and one of the top play-off seeds. That's the goal for next season.

Hope the “sophomore jinx” doesn't hit!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Smells Like Winning to Me

or How I learned to Love Cherry Pies, Again

I'm enamoured with the great bit in Apocalypse Now when Robert Duvall, playing a seriously deranged unit commander named Kilgore, turns, stares at the sky and says,

“Smell that? You smell that?
Lance: What?
Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.
Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like -
[sniffing, pondering] Victory.

I had just the same experience the other day, simply by accident. I was reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Lots of really interesting stuff – if you are into esoterica.

I particularly liked the section where Hawking explains that the mathematical ideas involved in his speculations on Space/Time are so complex that only a very few specialists in the field could (or do) actually understand them. Great, sounds like the kind of maths I love!

To be more precise, it sounds like the kind of maths which got us into the present economic difficulties – for which the bankers are forever being blamed. They deserve it: that's true. But, perversely; the mathematicians, who provided the foundations for their folly, seemingly get off scot free.

Why? Because the bankers, if you care to believe them, protest that they were just following the mathematical models that they were given. The mathematicians, wisely, keep shtum. Good move!

But, I digress – back to Hawking. The idea that floored me is on page 149. Hawking is explaining some special numbers, called imaginary. Let him do it: “If we take any ordinary (or real) number and multiply it by itself, the result is a positive number. (For example, 2 times 2 is four, but so is -2 times -2) There are, however, special numbers (called imaginary) that give negative numbers when multiplied by themselves. (The one called i, when multiplied by itself, gives -1, 2i multiplied by itself gives -4 and so on.)”

Stephen, you are a genius. (This is not news – most folks accept this) You are now, in addition to all your other accolades the real founder of Cherry Pie Maths! (And I always thought it was me!!)

What he is saying, philosophically, is that if you require a particular system in order to produce a particular mathematical answer – go for it! So, if you can get a Hawking system to produce negative numbers when multiplied by itself – it's a short step to “imagining” numbers that produce positive sequences in the same scenario.

Thanks Stevie – I've been arguing this point for years! In my system, as you all know, when you multiply ½ times ½ you get one. If Steve says you can use imaginary numbers, then it's ok by me. Call it what you want.

I'm sticking to my system.

Just don't pull out some pseudo-math crapola – pick up the phone and call Steve.

Not my problem!

He's on my team!!