Mon. Jan 14, 2008
Random Local Linkage
While January has been marginally less busy than last month was, I’ve still been letting you down here, Dear Reader. So here’s a few locally related things that caught my eye/ear over the weekend.
My state government and my federal government are fighting over “Real ID,” with the end result being that come next May, they say I won’t be able to get on a plane or enter a federal building. On top of that, the feds think I’m (nearly) too old to be dangerous:
By 2014, anyone seeking to board an airplane or enter a federal building would have to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, with the notable exception of those more than 50 years old, Homeland Security officials said.
The over-50 exemption was created to give states more time to get everyone new licenses, and officials say the risk of someone in that age group being a terrorist, illegal immigrant or con artist is much less. By 2017, even those over 50 must have a REAL ID-compliant card to board a plane.17 states stuck in license showdown
I’ll be 50 this September. And let me tell you, about the most dangerous thing you can do is to tell a middle-aged man you don’t consider him still capable of “danger.” But youngsters in the 17 states at issue will have problems as well: “A number of states have balked at the law, objecting to it largely over cost and privacy concerns. But under the administration’s new edict, states that continue to fight compliance with the law face a penalty: Their residents will be forbidden from using driver’s licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings as of May 11 of this year.”
I knew this was coming. So when my license expired in 2006, I renewed it for the longest term possible … ten years … thinking that would get me through this “identity crisis,” and hopefully by 2016, people will have regained their senses. But since “By 2017, even those over 50 must have a REAL ID-compliant card,” it would appear lengthy legislation can trump any eventual return to sanity.
In local politics, Obama, Clinton neck and neck in Ga. “The survey found Obama leading Clinton, 36 percent to 33 percent, with John Edwards trailing with 14 percent. Among Republicans, Huckabee enjoys a 31 percent to 18 percent lead over John McCain, with Mitt Romney a close third with 14 percent. Rudy Giuliani is fourth with 9 percent and Fred Thompson fifth with 8 percent.” Iowa Redux? Too soon to say…
Though we had a fair amount of rain over the past month (and more on the way this week), the drought is still having an impact: “Drought-starved Piedmont Park is off-limits this spring and summer for some of Atlanta’s biggest annual events, the city announced Friday morning. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta Pride Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the Peachtree Road Race will not be staged on the 185-acre Midtown park’s grounds.” You can listen to jazz anywhere, and the Road Race can find a new finish line, but I don’t know how you successfully relocate The Dogwood Festival from the park that is filled with dogwoods. Still, I understand the motivation.
In local money matters, my bank was in the news. Last August, Bank of America made a $2 billion investment in Countrywide. “Countrywide shares have fallen 57 percent since Bank of America made its $2 billion deal in August at $18 per share. That purchase of preferred stock was convertible into a common shares of Countrywide at $18 per share, for roughly a 16 percent stake in the company.”
Since the stock closed at $6.71 on Friday, my math says that $2 Billion investment is now worth about $745 million, a mere six months later. Do you just quietly accept that loss, and learn from it? No, for a bank, the only answer is to throw good money after bad! So they drop another $4 Billion to buy the whole company. It is well worth noting that, back in August, their initial $2 Billion bought them roughly 16% of the company. Six months later, things had gotten so bad that twice as much, $4 Billion would buy, not 32% of the company, but 100%. Amazingly, that seemed like a good idea to them. I suppose I simply do not have enough money to appreciate that kind of math and business logic. Hope I never do.
In local sports, the NBA has invented a Time Machine: Hawks, Heat to replay final 51.9 seconds of Dec. game. “In a stunning move, the NBA has taken a victory away from the Atlanta Hawks and ordered the team to replay the end of an overtime game against the Miami Heat.” I consider this spillover from the Ongoing Falcons Hex. It was so bad this year, it’s affecting the other pro teams in town.
And in closing, I must point out that the Anti-Falcons are the Green Bay Packers. This year for the Falcons, every possible thing that could go wrong, did go wrong. Zero breaks. Meanwhile in Green bay, on playoff Sunday God delivers the Packers’ preferred playing weather, a blizzard. And Brett Favre (notable for being drafted and then rejected by … the Falcons!) rolled up another Snow Miracle, while on the Seattle sideline, Mt. Holmgren just kept getting more snowcapped.
I love the playoffs. For a Falcons fan, it’s like watching an entirely new sport!