Alex Trebek RIP

As if you needed another reason to hate the year 2020, it was announced within the past hour that Alex Trebek has died from cancer. He was 80 years old and had been fighting pancreatic cancer.

Trebek had hosted Jeopardy! for almost 37 years and was an institution. I am a huge fan of the show going back to the Art Fleming days. It just won’t be the same without Alex.

From the release put out by the show today:

JEOPARDY! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. He was 80 years old.


Alex was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019, and he continued to host JEOPARDY! for the next 18 months. Throughout that time, Alex was open and public about his battle with cancer. JEOPARDY! episodes hosted by Alex will air through December 25, 2020 (his last day in the studio was October 29). The show is not announcing plans for a new host at this time.


Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Alex hosted dozens of game shows before becoming the host of JEOPARDY! in its syndicated debut in 1984. He hosted more than 8,200 JEOPARDY! episodes over the course of nearly 37 seasons, setting a Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a single game show. Alex won the Daytime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Game Show Host seven times and was honored with Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He received the Order of Canada honor from his nativeland in 2017.


“This is an enormous loss for the JEOPARDY! staff, crew and all of Alex’s millions of fans. He was a legend of the industry that we were all lucky to watch night after night for 37 years. Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host JEOPARDY! was an
incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen. His constant desire to learn, his kindness, and his professionalism will be with all of us forever,” said Mike Richards, JEOPARDY! Executive Producer


Alex is survived by his wife of 30 years, Jean, and children Matthew, Emily, and Nicky. The family has announced no plans for a service, but gifts in Alex’s memory could go to World Vision.

“Today we lost a legend and a beloved member of the Sony Pictures family,” said Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “For 37 amazing years, Alex was that comforting voice, that moment of escape and entertainment at the end of a long, hard day for millions of people around the world. He was the heart and soul of JEOPARDY! and he will be deeply missed by everyone who made him part of their lives. Our hearts go out to Jean, Matthew, Emily, and Nicky.”


“We join our colleagues at Sony Pictures in mourning the passing of Alex Trebek,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, President and CEO, Sony Corporation. “Alex was an extraordinary talent whose intelligence, wit and comforting presence appealed to millions of people around the world and made JEOPARDY! the outstanding show it is today.”

Guilford College – Then And Now

I graduated Guilford College in 1979 with an A.B. I had a double major in Political Science and Economics. The basic cost for attending Guilford in 1978-79 without any financial aid was $4,280. This included tuition, room, board, and fees.

Today in 2020, the cost has risen to $52,920 and it will be higher in the next school year. The inflation rate from 1979 to 2020 is an average of 6.325% annually. By contrast, the average inflation rate based upon the Consumer Price Index from 1980 to 2020 is 2.92%.

What brought this up was an email I received on Friday from Guilford College with a letter from Interim President Carol Moore. It told how the school was revamping and retrenching. Many majors would be eliminated and tenured faculty was being let go.

To be frank, after reading the email I was appalled. I was appalled by what she decided were the essential majors going forward. Mind you, Guilford College is a liberal arts college which used to provide a well-rounded education. The science departments were well known for sending on graduates to industry, to PhD programs, and to med school. The social science departments had a reputation for placing graduates in law and graduate schools.

Here is the list of majors and concentrations in 1978-79 taken straight from the college catalog:

Concentrations were offered in classics, environmental sciences, history of science, non-western studies, and social services.

There were also cooperative 3-2 programs which allowed students to do three years at Guilford and two years at other schools to receive dual degrees. These included engineering with Georgia Tech, environmental and forestry sciences with the School of Forestry at Duke, medical technology with Wake Forest’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and the physician assistant’s program also with the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.

Fast forward to Friday and this is what is being proposed as majors going forward:

With respect to specific programs, I have recommended that the College offer 23 majors:

African and African American Studies
Art
English and Media Studies
– Creative Writing (track)
Experience Design
International Studies
Music
Theatre Studies
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Accounting
Business Administration
Criminal Justice
Education Studies
Integrative Studies
Psychology
Sport Management
Biology
– Forensic Biology (track)
Computing Technology and Information Systems
Cyber and Network Security
Environmental Studies
Exercise and Sport Sciences
Health Sciences
Public Health
Sustainable Food Systems

Many other courses of study will be available as minors or as courses to support the general education program.

I had to look up on the current college website some of these majors. Experience design? Integrative studies?

Turns out “experience design” is a fancy term for graphics arts and “integrative studies” is a make your own major thing.

I’m not even going to get into the majors in “grievance studies”. I do find it odd that a school founded by the Society of Friends (Quakers) no longer has a major in Religious Studies or even Philosophy. Given the Quakers are pacifists, it is even odder that Peace Studies has bitten the dust.

What I am seeing is a mixture of fluff and trade school majors with the occasional true liberal arts major left as a sop to traditionalists like me. Many of the majors like public health, exercise and sports sciences, and “sustainable food systems” are better offered at public universities which have more depth at a lower cost. If I wanted to be an organic farmer, I’d be going to an ag school and not a liberal arts college.

Pardon me if I feel a little saddened by all of this. I still believe in the value of a true liberal arts education. It is and has always been a bedrock of becoming an informed citizen who can critically think, cogently express ideas, and discern fact from fiction.

Fortunately, it seems alumni and students are not taking this lying down. A Facebook group called Save Guilford College has been formed and has grown to over 2,300 members in little more than a week.

What happens next will be up to the Board of Trustees.

As for me, I’m just glad I graduated when I did. It is a sad thing to say that you wouldn’t attend the current iteration of a place you spent four really good years.

Jack Says I’ve Been A Bad Boy (Update)

I don’t know whether it was because I criticized my alma mater Guilford College for deleting virtually every worthwhile major and keeping the fluff such as gender and grievance studies or because I tried to retweet something from Twitchy about Chuck Schumer ignoring COVID now that it seems Biden is the winner but I’m lock out of Twitter.

It says I may need to “complete some additional tasks” if I want to resume using Twitter. Does that mean I have to go to Jack’s re-education camp like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge forced upon the Cambodians?

UPDATE: Below is the email I got from Twitter regarding the locking of my account and the reason.

What it says it that I shared “privately produced/distributed intimate media”. When I follow the link, I find that I am being accused of reposting something that violated the non-consensual nudity policy.

BS!

It seems that a number of people have had their Twitter accounts locked for reposting a link to an article on election results and a mathematical test called Benford’s Law. It is a test to see whether numbers are naturally occurring or manually manipulated as with “ballot box stuffing”.

What prompted me to repost the link was a report on Instapundit.com by Prof. Glenn Reynolds that Facebook had refused a link to the article every time he tried to post it. I, like many others, then posted it to Twitter. We all got our accounts fraudulently locked by the powers that be at Twitter under the pretext that we were posting non-consensual nudity. I’m surprised that they didn’t say we were posting “kiddie porn”.

Bastards!

UPDATE II: Well, not total bastards. I just got this when I appealed.

Hello,
 
Our support team has reviewed your account and it appears we made an error. We’ve determined there was no violation and have restored your account to full functionality.
 
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate you taking the time to submit your appeal request to us.
 
Thanks,
Twitter
 

Pictorial Reason For Light Blogging

I have not blogged much this week. Below is the reason why.

These were taken yesterday in Destin, Florida as we were getting ready to head home. The Complementary Spouse’s sister and her husband had rented a condo and invited us to join them. We also were joined by the Complementary Spouse’s brother and his wife.

I guess if you have to watch semi-disappointing election returns doing it in a nice place lessens the discomfort. On the plus side, Mark Robinson was elected Lt. Gov. of North Carolina and Madison Cawthorn will be my new Congressman. On the negative side, unless a miracle happens, my new president will be a corrupt lifetime politician with many signs of dementia meaning the remaking of the judiciary with originalists has come to a halt.

Comments On Polling

I came across a couple of comments on polls and polling this morning that make some sense.

First from my friend Michael Bane:

“Polls” are nothing more than psy-ops operations designed to demoralize voters ahead of an election; even an “average of polling data” is nothing more than an “average of lies,” which translates into a lie.

And then this Tweet from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who was inundated by tons of out of state money for his opponent Jaime Harrison. In the end, all that money was wasted.

A Guide To Candidates NOT To Vote For

There are a lot of voter guides out there. I’ve posted the one from Grass Roots North Carolina-Political Victory Fund earlier. If you are a NRA member you have gotten their voter guide in your last magazine. GOA has one out there as well rating candidates.

However, if you ever needed a guide to candidates that never, ever should get your vote, Michael Bloomberg’s billions have come through!

The Gun Sense Voter site lists 4,475 candidates that would work to abridge your civil rights.

That’s right – four thousand four hundred seventy-five candidates who believe sucking up to Michael Bloomberg is more important than defending your Constitutional rights. This year in 2020, we have seen that they are not only satisfied with curtailing your Second Amendment rights but your First Amendment rights as well.

Here is a screen shot from my district in North Carolina. They want you, of course, to vote for Biden and Harris, Cal “Jody” Cunningham, and the incredibly angry Moe Davis who wants to stomp on your neck.

So, if you haven’t already voted, get out there, stand in line as long as you must, and vote to preserve all your rights.

You Knew It Was Coming – SHOT Show Canceled.

The NSSF sent out an email within the last two hours announcing that the 2021 SHOT Show had been canceled. You just knew that it was bound to happen no matter what was being said.

Frankly, I think they did the smart thing. It would have been interesting to hear the conversations regarding the election and Remington but those really don’t require going to Las Vegas.

From NSSF:

Statement from NSSF President & CEO Joe Bartozzi:

Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the world, NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, today makes the difficult announcement that the 2021 SHOT Show has been cancelled.

NSSF has remained in constant communication with Nevada officials throughout the year in our planning for the 2021 show. While there has been a concerted effort to expand the allowable levels for large gatherings by the county and state, with positivity rates peaking during our key planning period we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 show. Sadly, these spikes are currently transpiring worldwide. Given the sheer complexities, diminishing timeline and immense logistical planning required to conduct a trade show as large as SHOT, NSSF simply could not move forward at this point with so many unknowns and variables. We truly appreciate the guidance of Nevada and Las Vegas officials in allowing us to communicate this news to our exhibitors and attendees well in advance of the show. We would also like to thank the Sands directly for their help and efforts to navigate this unprecedented situation.

The planning and work that has gone into the 2021 SHOT Show has been nothing short of remarkable. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, the NSSF staff and our show partners have been working around the clock to plan our largest show in history while keeping the health and safety of all involved as paramount.

The support of our show exhibitors this year has also been nothing short of remarkable. With three months to go until the show, floor space for both the Sands Expo Center and our expansion to the new Caesars Forum was nearly sold out, with more companies than ever before represented at the SHOT Show.

All of this positions us for a 2022 SHOT Show that will be undoubtedly the best in our industry’s history, and we look forward to bringing our entire community together again at a show that will be one to remember.

During the coming year, NSSF asks for our industry’s unwavering support as we continue our fight to promote, protect and preserve our industry in these unsettling times.

Throughout this year, NSSF has remained at the forefront for our industry. As thousands of businesses across the country were shuttered as being “non-essential” during the pandemic, NSSF worked nonstop to have firearm retailers, ranges, manufacturers and distributors listed as “essential” which allowed them to remain open for business.

NSSF is your trade association. Everything we do—from education, safety initiatives, compliance and security resources, import/export guidance, consumer activation initiatives, government relations, and the SHOT Show—is aimed at helping businesses in our industry succeed. Now, more than ever, we need your continued support.

NRA Secretary’s Report Or Who Got Rich On Members’ Dues

People elected to non-profit boards tend to be charged with raising money for the organization. Often, if it isn’t a direct membership organization, they are selected due to their deep pockets with an expectation that they will make substantial donations.

Then, there is the National Rifle Association where it seems some – and I emphasize it is only some – see service on the Board of Directors as a way to make money. As you can see from the embedded Secretary’s Report, some of the Directors were very well compensated.

NRA Secretary Report 2020 Annual Meeting by jpr9954 on Scribd

Looking over this list, the one payment I have the least objection to is paying Bart Skelton for articles published in NRA publications. He is a gun writer so that kind of makes sense.

For those listed as independent contractors – Dave Butz and Lance Olson – I would like to know what they did in exchange as “contractors”. Likewise, I can see paying David Keene’s travel and room expenses to speak at Friends of the NRA banquets but no other compensation should have been paid. He’s a Director and speaking at events should be part of the job.

The payments to Cole McCulloch for use of a shooting facility he owns is a clear conflict of interest. This would be especially true if he was involved in any way in selecting the site.

Finally, there is dear old Marion Hammer who would characterize me as the “enemy within” because I dare question her motives. You will notice it says she was paid for consulting services on issues “other than Florida”. This is because she failed to declare herself as a lobbyist for the NRA and ran afoul of Florida lobbying regulations.

Given that Florida raised the age for all firearms purchases to 21 and imposed red flag laws, I’m not sure gun owners in other states want to end up like Florida. Being the heretic that I am, I think Marion’s primary job is to keep Wayne LaPierre in power for which he makes sure she is well compensated.

ATF Up To No Good Again

The Gun Control Act of 1968 imposes a “sporting test” on imported firearms. It appears according to reports that it is using that to prohibit the import of many AK and AR type pistols. While there is no real definition of “sporting” under the law, ATF examiners are claiming the weight of these pistols, the size of available magazines, and that they fire traditional rifle caliber (7.62×39 or 5.56) cartridges make the unsuitable for sporting purposes. It is also important to not that these determinations are not made public but are communicated in private letters to the importers.

From Wiley Law:

Despite ATF previously stating that there is no limit to how long or heavy a handgun should be to qualify as “sporting” under section 925(d)(3), ATF private classification letters issued within the past few months indicate that the agency has shifted course by reinterpreting what constitutes a “handgun.” In company-specific letters, ATF takes the position that if a submitted firearm is too long or too heavy, it fails to meet the definition of “handgun” under the Gun Control Act, as it is not “designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.” The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) of ATF—which conducts importability evaluations—says that it is taking a subjective approach to the statute by allowing individual examiners to determine if he or she can fire the weapon with one hand without difficulty.

This approach is resulting in inconsistent determinations, of which the regulated community should take note. Within the past few months, at least one HK91 pistol-style submission as light as 8 pounds, with a barrel length of 8-3/4 inches and an overall length of 21-3/4 inches, has been determined to fall outside the definition of “handgun.” This is a change from previous determinations where firearms weighing over 8 pounds, with 20-inch barrels, and an overall length of approximately 31-1/2 inches were held by FATD to be “handguns.” Since the letters are not publicly available, it is impossible for regulated companies to know the full range of FATD’s determinations. This has serious implications for regulated businesses.

In some of the new letters, ATF has begun listing the following “objective design features” when making its evaluations:

Incorporation of rifle sights;

Utilization of “rifle caliber ammunition” (both 5.56mm and 7.62mm have been considered as such);

Incorporation of “rifle-length barrel;”1

The “weapon’s heavy weight;”

Ability to accept magazines that range in capacity from 20 rounds to 100 rounds, “which will contribute to the overall weight of the firearm”; and

Overall length of the weapon which “creates a front-heavy imbalance when held in one hand.”

However, ATF also noted in the most recent private ruling that the above design features are “neither binding on future classifications nor is any factor individually determinative[.]” ATF explained without elaboration that “the statutory and regulatory definitions provide the appropriate standard in classifying the firearm.” ATF concluded that “a firearm that is too large, too heavy or . . . otherwise not designed to be held and fired in one hand (as demonstrated by the objective features) cannot be a handgun under the statutory definition and cannot be subject to importation criteria governing handguns.” In light of ATF’s subjective and inconsistent analysis of size and weight, it is difficult to predict how the agency will classify any given firearm under this standard.

The ATF also has sent at least one letter to an importer stating that the prior approval of the import and determination that it met the sporting test “may require reevaluation.” You can read that as either ATF saying, “Oops, we made a mistake”, or “We changed our fickle minds and screw you.”

This redetermination of what is or isn’t a pistol could also impact anyone who has a domestic manufactured pistol of the AK, AR, CZ Scorpion, or the like. In other words, they could now be considered AOW under the purview of the National Firearms Act, subject to an extensive background check, and a tax stamp.

As Wiley Law notes:

Under ATF’s new interpretation of the handgun definition, millions of AR-15 style pistols could be considered “too large, or too heavy” to fall within ATF’s new interpretation, thereby making them unregistered NFA weapons, and subjecting manufacturers and gun owners to criminal prosecution. Given the private nature of ATF’s classification rulings, and the subjective nature of the analysis, it is extremely difficult to know for sure whether specific firearms fall within the new interpretation. This appears to be part of a continuing trend at ATF to apply firearms statutes in a more restrictive manner without informing the public—a trend that appears unaffected by the IFR. In this uncertain regulatory environment, importers and manufacturers should consult counsel before making significant purchasing, importing, or manufacturing decisions for firearms that could be implicated by ATF’s heretofore unknown and undisclosed analysis.

Gun Owners of America has called this a “rogue, secret ATF interpretation” meant to undermine President Trump with gun owners.

They said:

“Despite an executive action from President Trump prohibiting the imposition of ‘new standards’ without express authorization by law, the apparent interpretation by a rogue and reckless ATF has implications that could criminalize millions of otherwise non-violent and law-abiding gun owners,” Erich Pratt, Senior Vice President, for Gun Owners of America (GOA) said. “This continues to demonstrate why the National Firearms Act should be repealed and the agency itself should be fully dismantled.

“It also demonstrates why President Trump recently issued an Executive Order creating a new classification of ‘Schedule F’ employees. This new classification allows the President to ‘drain the swamp’ by firing policy-making employees who would rather go rogue than follow the law.

“The recent Honey Badger gun ban and revelation of absurd private classification rulings represents a pro-Biden ‘October Surprise’ by an out-of-control, anti-gun ATF. By disregarding orders to stand down, rogue ATF agents seem prepared to help usher in a Joe Biden Administration, especially because their actions appear to be purposefully timed to anger President Trump’s base immediately before an election.

I am taking a class from Montgomery Community College on gun shop management. Our homework this week was researching ATF interpretations of pistol arm braces among other things. Talk about timely!

Justice Amy Coney Barrett

After my weekend in Tucson, I was looking for some good news. Thanks to Cocaine Mitch and the GOP majority in the Senate (minus RINO Susan Collins), I got it this evening.

Congratulations to Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I hope she has a long and distinguished career on the Supreme Court.

Also, congratulations are due to Justice Clarence Thomas who got the privilege of swearing in one of his own clerks as newest justice on the Supreme Court. I am sure he is one proud mentor.