Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Monday, July 30, 2012

All together now, Brits. "Sorry, Mr. Romney. You were right!"

Starting with the bizarre Pyongyang-style Singing Dancing Homage to the Collective on Friday night, the London Olympics are clearly a complete cock-up. The London Times today revealed that 70% of the better seats were empty for the USA-France men's basketball game. Seriously, how much of a shambles is it when you can't fill a small arena to watch Lebron and Kobe play on the same team? One third of the beach volleyball seats, right in the center of London, were empty; good grief, not all British men are homosexual! There were 'five or six' people watching the home team GBR play Bulgaria in the fully-clad version of the sport. The soldiers who were stationed in London at the last minute to provide security, after contractor GS4 failed to lure enough welfare cases to give up their benefits for rent-a-cop jobs, are now being ordered to fill the empty stands.

However, one venue is fully subscribed; the lines for McDonalds, which are reportedly two hours long.

How pathetic is it that, in a major metropolis, they can't figure out a way for people who clearly want to watch the games, actually to get in to watch the games?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Unintentional comedy of the day

Justin Tolston, Occupy Lincoln protestor, was suspended by 'Teach for America' because they wanted him to teach seventh grade writing and sixth grade math, and he wanted to 'nurture social development'.

So he whined about it, semi-literately. Too bad he didn't focus more on seventh grade writing. Teaching a subject is one of the best ways of learning it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A grain of salt

There has been massive and somewhat overwrought reaction to an alleged hate-crime in Lincoln. It is worth noting that the police have so far said very little, and that the reported details have some notable resemblances to previous hoaxes.

People need to step back, take a deep breath, and wait until the facts are fully available.


Now (Friday) it appears the FBI and Lincoln Police can find no evidence of forcible entry. Meanwhile, the complainant, who has come forward, says she won't discuss the circumstances lest she jeopardize the investigation. Except that, since she can't describe the alleged perps and the police can't find any evidence of a home invasion, it's hard to see how there could be much of an investigation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Profiting from his role in government: Bob Kerrey and the student discount card scandal

In researching Kerrey's political biography, I've been struck by one respect in which he's a very unusual politician. Some politicians remain only modestly wealthy throughout their lives; Joe Biden would be an example. Some become rich and then go into politics, exchanging some of their wealth for power. Some have spouses who make money, often using the political spouse's connections.

Kerrey seems to be one of the few who went in to politics to make money, rather than accumulating wealth to buy power. As a businessman in the late 1970s, he admitted as much; he was going to seek political office to improve financial returns. We'll look at some of his dealings in office later on.

This showed up very early in Bob's political career, when he was BMOC and the de facto muscle for the Greek societies on the UNL Student Council in 1964-1965. We've already examined Bob's campaign against an initiative that would merely have urged (not compelled) fraternities and sororities to desegregate. At the time, though, the bigger scandal, which galvanized campus for a while, was Kerrey's profiteering from Student Discount Cards.

Student discount cards are not as common as they once were, so let me explain about them. A student organization solicits merchants to offer students a discount on goods or services; in return the merchant gets advertizing and increased traffic. The cards could be sold to students or simply given away; the merchants could also be charged for advertising. It was a primitive, low-tech Groupon, if you like. UNL's Student Council in 1964 approved the sale of these cards, with the evident intention of helping students.

Bob Kerrey however spotted an opportunity. As a member of the Student Council and its Welfare Committee, he took it upon himself to collect a 67% commission on sale of advertising on the cards. He even employed a graduate student to help him. Toigether, they made $380 ($2,800 in 2012 dollars). He also put his own name and address on the cards, rather than the Council's.

Student Council was not happy, and Kerrey was hauled before the judiciary committee. Kerrey defended himself by protesting that the Student Council had not explicitly prohibited profiting from discount card sales. He also claimed other members of the Council had been offered a cut, which they denied. His accusers pointed out he had exploited his office for personal profit (a theme we'll see again and again). After an acrimonious hearing, Kerrey escaped being expelled from Student Council, but the Judiciary Committee found him guilty of "extremely poor judgement" and found that he had "made money by virtue of his position in Student Government".

Frank Partsch, editor of the Daily Nebraskan, who later went on to a distinguished career at the Omaha World Herald, editorialized that Kerrey's actions were "highly irregular for a member of Student Council" and that he should have been removed from office.

The one member of the Judiciary Committee who held out for Kerrey's expulsion, John Klein, claimed the decision made no sense, and that Kerrey was retained on the Council because of pressure from the Greek societies. If true, this will not be the last time Kerrey's frat brothers will come to his aid.

So there it is; a tempest in the teapot that was UNL student government in 1965, but starting a pattern, which, as we will see, has continued to the present day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lincoln owns five golf courses -- why?

Unaddressed in this story that the city of Lincoln subsidized no fewer than five public golf courses to the tune of $800,000 in the last ten years and $600,000 just last year is the question: why is the city operating public golf courses, at a loss, when there are numerous private golf courses in Lincoln. We are heavily supporting the recreational pursuits of a minority of Lincolnites, and, let's face it, these are not the homeless or otherwise needy. The average golfer plays 21 rounds a year. 121,000 rounds were played on city courses. Therefore, we can estimate the subsidy amounted to the total golfing of 6000 Lincoln residents, or about 2% of the city's residents. Furthermore; there are the hidden subsidies; if the courses were sold, the new owners would pay all sorts of taxes on the land and on whatever use they made of it.

It is astonishing how much unalloyed socialism there is in Nebraska. This is just one flagrant example.

Orchard oriole (Icterus spurius)

...feeding on nectar from the trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans. SW Lancaster Co., Nebraska, yesterday evening.
We also have several (highly pugilistic) ruby throated hummingbirds, and a pair of Baltimore orioles as regular feeders.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lyin' Bob

Meanwhile, I came across this little snippet from a speech by Bob Kerrey at the Democrat state convention.
It was the Democratic Party, he said, that supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing racial discrimination and the federal law known as Title IX in 1972, which requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding.
A bald-faced lie, of course. Here are the actual numbers on the final version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Senate
Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

House
Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)
And, of course, a year later, lyin' Bob voted against desegregating student organizations at UNL, trailing 80% of the Congressional GOP on civil rights.

Puppet on a string

Like a marionette jerked by Paul Johnson, Bob Kerrey's campaign manager, the Lincoln Journal Star today editorialized about grazing fees, a topic it has ignored for the entire history of the fish wrap. According to the LJS
Kerrey and Nelson are right to pull the grazing fee issue into the public eye.
..ignoring that Kerrey voted against a grazing fee hike while he was in the Senate, and ben Nelson has completely ignored the issue until it became a cudgel with which to bash GOP Senate candidate Deb Fischer. As I've noted before, the LJS no longer even tries to keep up the appearance of being nonpartisan.