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I say we start a program to trade guns for dogs

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Earlier this week, the Newnan City Council agreed to give away a city street to the downtown Central Baptist Church in exchange for 18 parking places. (Central offered to build a parking lot with 40 spaces, but to do so they first have to take away 12 existing places, and they're keeping another 10 for themselves.) The entire affair was resolved in typical Newnan fashion: the citizens only being told that the city would be giving away their property a week before it was a done deal.

Personally, I don't care what happens to Brown Street. If the church wants it and the city doesn't, that's their call. I can't even say that I have a problem with the underhanded way the church and the city negotiated this in a back room without public input. As I said, Newnan subscribes to the Boss Hogg school of democracy ("What's yours is mine!"). What I do have a problem with is the hypocrisy of the city councilman who was insulted that the citizens who opposed this underhanded horse trade would dare impugn his integrity.

The Newnan Times-Herald quotes Councilman Ray DuBose:

"Yes, I am a member of Central and I have been elected to serve as a Deacon on the board, which I serve with pleasure, and there is no conflict of interest in my voting for this. Furthermore, in my oath that I took as councilman, I promised to serve the community as a whole and certainly the church is a part of that whole as much as the other neighborhoods. I do my very best every time time I sit up here and find it an insult that people would call me unfair."

Well, bless his heart. As he's such a good Christian, I'll give poor, put upon Mr. DuBose the benefit of the doubt. Maybe no one ever explained to him what a "conflict of interest" is. Since he's a jeweler by trade, let me try it this way:

Imagine a jeweler who has agreed to keep a ring in his safe for a customer. The jeweler's wife sees the ring and wants it for herself. In exchange for the ring, she offers to trade the jeweler a necklace he could resell for big bucks. Ask yourself, is it ethical for the jeweler to make this trade without the consent of the owner of the ring? What would Jesus do? (Hint: He wouldn't trade away something that wasn't his.)

No matter how much that jeweler might want to keep his wife happy, no matter how much he wants to resell that necklace, his personal and professional desires present a conflict with the interest of the ring's owner who he also represents. Hence, he shouldn't be the one to make the decision whether the ring gets traded for the necklace. See? It's simple!

To put it more bluntly, if there's even a question of whether a councilman has a conflict of interest in a particular bit of city business, it's always most appropriate ethically for him to recuse himself from participating in making that decision. In this case, if Mr. DuBose had done the morally right thing and admitted that he valued the needs of his church so highly that he couldn't be bothered listening to the opinions of the general population, he still would have gotten his parking lot as the rest of the council voted 4-2 in favor of his little deal. And he wouldn't have had to hear the dirty bums who pay his salary call him such nasty names!

As I said, I don't care about the outcome. I only drive down Brown Street, like, 3 times a year, and I certainly never set foot inside Central Baptist Church. While I'm sorry that Mr. DuBose's delicate sensibilities were offended by a bunch of people who would rather drive through his filthy little town than park in it, I can't say that I much blame them.

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I've had the same two University of Georgia football season tickets since 2002. For most of that time, no matter how many games UGA won or lost, those 2 tickets cost about $500 (allowing for seasonal variation based on the number of home games played).

This year, UGA played for the national title. This week, it was announced ticket prices are going up 50%.

This is what losing a national championship costs
Imagine what the school will do when they actually win a national title game.

For the record, that's just the cost of the tickets. Before you can buy tickets, you first have to make a "donation" to the Hartman Fund (which pays for student athletics scholarships). UGA increased the mandatory donation last year, and I paid it without complaint. A 10% increase after years of stability seemed reasonable at the time. Yet this latest announcement means that the same pair of tickets that cost $1,055 in 2016 will cost $1,480 in 2018. Ouch.

What does this price increase get me? The six-game 2017 home schedule was particularly terrible, with Tennessee, Auburn, and Georgia Tech all out of town. Despite the jump in cost and the return of those three teams, the rest of the home schedule is filled out with Vanderbilt (whose only 2017 SEC win was against Tennessee), University of Massachusetts (who lost to 4-8 Tennessee), Middle Tennessee (who lost to Vanderbilt), and Austin Peay (who lost to undefeated UCF 33 to 73!). $1,480 is a lot to pay for only 3 worthwhile football games.

Athletic Director Greg McGarity said he needs my money so he can make "substantial adjustments to the compensation of our coaching staff" (as quoted by Dawgnation.com). (What's the matter, Coach Smart? Being the highest paid public employee in the state [$3.75 million] wasn't enough for you?) Despite my qualms at the quality of what I'd be buying with my money, if paying an extra $400 for one season would guarantee a coaching staff that could beat Nick Saban's backup quarterback for a national title, I'd pay up. Are you willing to make that promise, McGarity? If we lose again, do I get my money back?

Obviously, I like attending football games. I have imagined myself continuing to travel to Athens on Saturdays until I'm old enough to need a walker to get around. That said, I won't get there if I go broke first. Fifteen years was a good run, but if UGA is getting greedy, I think maybe it's best if I go ahead and give up my dream before it breaks me.

Can you think of a reason I should keep paying? If so, please let me know. I have until February 15 to decide if it's worth giving UGA athletics any more of my money.

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While most of Georgia spent the past 24 hours stuck indoors looking at snow — not that they have a choice here in Coweta County as Newnan has declared a mandatory curfew — I've been stuck indoors in a bed. For the third time in 10 months, I'm sick.

No, seriously, who simultaneously uses an icebag and drinks hot water?
Why does my phone come with the ability to take this photo pre-installed? Who needs this?

I haven't seen a doctor, but my symptoms are consistent with the flu. You know, that thing that's been killing people this year. Which is not to say that I think I'm going to die. I won't. (At least not right now. Not from this.)

I can't remember being sick three times in a year since my senior year in high school. In that case, I wasn't even sick, just using new excuses to play hooky. I spent "Senior Skip Day" as the only person in most of my classes because I'd already missed 30 days on the year. Poor Mr. Smith didn't know what to do with me, so we just talked about Hamlet.

I've got to figure out what I'm doing wrong these days. Is my diet deficient? Am I too reclusive? Am I just a filthy pig? Whatever the cause, I'm making it a priority to get it fixed in 2018.

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Alex Trebek is on medical leave from Jeopardy! as he recovers from what he called a "slight medical problem." The rest of us call it brain surgery!

There's a man who leads a life of danger

Apparently, Trebek was standing on his toilet and hanging a clock. The porcelain was wet. He slipped and hit his head on the sink. When he came to, he had blood clots in his brain! (That's what I heard, anyway.)

Fortunately for us all, Trebek announced he's making a full recovery and will soon be back on set giving answers to questions no one has asked yet. I hope by then, they've covered his podium with bubble wrap.

I'm not ready for a world without the exploits of one George Alexander Trebek, Member of the Order of Canada.

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True statement: in 2017, you are 4x more likely to be a victim in a mass shooting (1 in 169,000) than be struck by lightning (1 in 700,000). I'm sure the NRA will move to correct that problem by buying up the country's supply of lightning rods.

While it's tempting to say that America has a gun problem, keep in mind that there are some things out there worse than guns. Of course, I'm talking about deer.

I've mentioned before that StateFarm has calculated the average American has a 1 in 169 chance of being struck by a deer. Those odds are terrifying, and I think they go a long way to explaining why America is obsessed with guns.

Just yesterday, the New York Post ran the headline "Deer gores unarmed hunter to death". As bad as it sounds, a closer read reveals the goring took place in France. France is far more restrictive about guns than America is. If that poor hunter had lived in America, he'd probably still be alive today. (Unless he was involved in a mass shooting.)

It was reported last year that a lightning storm killed 323 reindeer in Norway. That's a lot of deer, but it isn't enough. It's been estimated that there are 30 million deer in America. At 1 in 700,000, it'll take 21 trillion bolts of lightning to get them all. Obviously, lightning's going to need some help. We're going to need all the guns we can get our hands on to win the Great Deer Uprising.

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I just saw NBC's Chuck Todd say that the President's determination in insisting that "many sides" were culpable in the disaster that was Charlottesville this past weekend robs the Office of the President of its "moral authority."

That's bullshit.

The current president never had any moral authority. He insults people left and right, usually for nothing more than disagreeing with him. He laughed at American P.O.W.s. He bragged about sexual assault. He openly encouraged violence and intolerance. He lied constantly about everything. And that was all before he got into office.

What's he done since then to reclaim the moral high ground? He has tried to sabotage a federal investigation into a foreign government's role in his own election. He constantly attacks the integrity of his own hand-picked staff. He talks trash to Boy Scouts. He openly encourages violence and intolerance. He lies constantly about everything. Is refusing to abide by the Emoluments clause in the Constitution he swore to uphold supposed to be moral?

No, Chuck Todd. The man in the White House didn't lose any moral authority over Charlottesville. He didn't have any to lose. You can't go down from nothing.

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . . .

CBS New York reports that Man's worst enemy, a deer, was spotted splashing in the waters off Long Island Sound yesterday. This is the first time I've heard of such a thing. The deer army is getting sophisticated; they've developed SEALs!

Apparently, the deer was not a powerful swimmer. Humanity might have been saved by mother nature. But no! The deer was not left alone to its fate. Rather it was fetched from the water, pulled to the safety shore by a retriever named Storm. Bad dog!

Now that deer have supplanted us as dogs' best friends, we can no longer let sleeping dogs lie. We must take swift action to prevent them from assembling against us. Break up the packs! Close the dog parks! Destroy the fire hydrants!

Grab any stray dog you see — especially the brown ones and the foreign ones! We'll throw them all in internment camps, caged like, well, dogs. No more walkies for them! Though we will let them keep their squeak toys. I mean, we're not animals.

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DawgNation.com reports that last week UGA had to lower the cost of their season tickets for year two of the Kirby Smart era. When asked why such an unusual move was necessary, the UGA Associate Athletic Director for Tickets said "I don't know what the full cause is."

Hmm. I don't know what the "full cause" might be, either. Let's help out the AADfT and see if we can't go all Sherlock Holmes on this using a little inductive reasoning (also known as "what I learned in PHIL 110, Introduction to Logic").

Logical syllogism #1:

Fan enthusiasm wanes following bad seasons.
2016 was a bad season.
Therefore, fan enthusiasm is down.

Despite what you may have read between the lines in my opening paragraph, I'm not going to blame Kirby Smart for decreased ticket demand. Not directly, anyway. Last year's very disappointing season is probably playing a role, but UGA has had other lackluster seasons without needing to discount tickets the following year (see: 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, etc.).

Logical syllogism #2:

Spectators do not want to pay to see games against weak teams.
UGA's 2017 home schedule is full of weak teams.
Therefore, spectators do not want to pay to see UGA's 2017 home games.

Ugh! What a terrible home schedule UGA has put together for 2017. Home games against Appalachian State, Samford, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, and Kentucky — I'm not sure I want to pay to see most of those. If UGA can't win at least 5 of those games, it's time to get out of the SEC altogether.

Logical syllogism #3 (the important one):

Higher ticket prices result in fewer tickets sold.
UGA raised their football season ticket prices.
Therefore, UGA sold fewer tickets.

That's right, UGA raised their 2017 ticket prices a minimum of 10% over 2016 prices. Personally, I don't consider the new prices so bad because it's the first time they've raised the price in years, but I can't say that I'm surprised others have cut back, especially given other reasons listed above. Football tickets are a luxury expense, after all.

So there you go, Mr. AADfT. It's not going to do much to help you this year, but you might want to keep these things in mind before you set prices in the future. Even UGA fans don't want to have to pay a premium price for an inferior product.

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I'm watching Atlanta Tech Edge at 1:30AM on WXIA (though I suppose it must air some other time, because who other than me watches technology news magazines at 1:30AM Sunday morning?), and the hostess just admitted being surprised when her guest, a tech podcaster, informed her that "free" apps use data mining to strip our privacy and sell our information to other companies.

Well, duh. (Side note: paid apps do it too.)

Who is this show for? If you didn't know that, most of what Tech Edge talks about is probably going over your head. If you did know that, you didn't need to hear that the hostess has no idea what she's talking about.

(I should admit that the use of the phrase "data mining" up there in the first paragraph was mine, not hers. If she doesn't know they are doing it, she sure doesn't know what it's called.)

It's not exactly fake news, more a case of the blind leading the blind. I shouldn't complain. That's better than some "news" organizations manage these days. (I'm looking at you, Newnan Times-Herald.)

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To be continued...

 

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