Man loses $127 million in Las Vegas; Monument to The General Opens to Public
December 6, 2009

For Mr. Watanabe, I Guess There is a Problem

WSJ Says Mr. Watanabe has the biggest losing streak in Las Vegas History

As I freshman in college, Soviet Paul and I once lost about $300 playing some game called Pflugerville to a bunch of seniors in the fraternity.  It wasn’t until later that I found out that Pflugerville was a town north of Austin, Texas and the card game was an invention of a bunch of drunk fraternity brothers who had partied down there one night.  I felt like an idiot.  Still makes me mad.  But, I don’t feel so bad anymore.  Meet the man who lost $127 million at Las Vegas casinos in one year.   When you consider that would be just a little under $348,000 a day for every day of the calendar year, its really a pretty tough trick. Also consider this:  this one gambler’s losses resulted in 5.6% of the total revenues for the year.   So, if you are the casino, do you extend him a credit line?  Do you let him keep gambling?  The answer is yes on both accounts.  Terrance Watanabe of Omaha, Nebraska still owes $14.7 million to Harrah’s Entertainment from the credit line it extended.  He’s not forking it over either..

When you're sinking, its wiser to abandon ship than to go down with it

The reason is, according to the Wall Street Journal,  that the 52-year-old Watanabe has filed a lawsuit claiming that “casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication  as part of a systemic plan to keep him gambling.”  The advertising campaign says that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  Watananbe could be the poster child for the idea that your money stays in Las Vegas too.  And that’s the way the Nevada authorities wants it to stay, so the Clark County Attorney General brought 4 felony counts against the Nebraskan for intent to defraud and steal.  That would mean that he ran up the credit line with the intention of not paying it back.  How can you prove intent to defraud or steal and intent to use the houses money to try and win back what you lost?  Sounds like a tough case.  Either way, with a losing streak like that, perhaps Watanabe should use the Detroit Lions or the New Jersey Nets logo as his company’s moniker.

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

On This Date in History:   While he is relatively anonymous, Steve Sopher was born on this date in 1961.  While his friends and family think highly of him, there is no monument to commemorate his life on earth, though he might eventually construct one to himself.   Now, you know that you are a pretty big dog when plans for a monument to your life are begun while you are still alive. This was true of General George Washington. Even before he was the first president, A proposal was made by Congress in 1783 that a memorial be erected. However, the obleisk may even better signify Congressional ineptitude that has been the hallmark of the institution almost since its inception.

General Washington was quite pleased with the original design, which featured the avid horseman on the back of his favorite horse. Money was short though and Congress quibbled about the best way to pay tribute to the father of the country and so the project remained dormant for a time. In 1833, patience had grown short with the upper and lower chambers and so a group of citizens decided to take charge and form the Washington National Monument Society with a mission of raising the appropriate funds and oversee construction. But, even the wheels of the citizen bandwagon turn slow sometimes and a cornerstone was not laid until July 4, 1848. The ceremony was probably the best advertising that the effort had ever received as contributions poured in from banks, organizations and individuals as well as various states. Alabama came up with a commemorative plaque for the interior. Firemen, Indian tribes, social clubs and foreign countries including the Vatican joined in the effort.

Standing Idle in 1860

Standing Idle in 1860

Pope Pius IX himself donated a plaque that on March 6, 1854 was stolen from the contruction grounds, allegedly by the American Party, who gained fame as the “Know-Nothings.” Americans who considered themselves as “native” Americans because they were born in the New World, had a not-so-secret oath to vote for only American-born protestants and to oppose the Catholic Church. They held disdain for the waves of immigrants moving in largely from Irish and Germany. These groups of people were mainly Roman Catholic. If they were ever asked about their politics, a member would answer like Sargeant Schultz and say “I know nothing.” In 1855, these Know-Nothings gained control of the monument society and Congress promptly cut the planned $200,000 earmarked for the project. That caused public support to dry up quickly. For the next 3 years, only 4 feet of marble was added and it was such poor quality, those four feet would have to be removed. Work stopped completely during the Civil War and the stub of marble remained as an eyesore in the middle of town.

Three Different Shades

Three Different Shades

Advance to the national centennial of 1776 and Congress authorized funds for the completion of the project. But,the US Army Corps of Engineers took a look and decided that there was no way on God’s Green Earth that the earth would support the weight of the monument. So, it took time and money to dig out nearly 3/4 of the dirt under the project so that concrete foundation footings could be poured. The proposed height of the obelisk was reduced from 600 feet to 555 feet 5 1/8 inches. Work was resumed in 1880 and the project was completed on this date in 1884 and was open to the public in 1888. Due to difficulties in delivering marble and the previous stops and starts, 3 different types of marble was used in construction of the monument, each with different colors and quality, resulting in a distinctively different look as one looks from top to bottom.

The Washington Monument is not the tallest obelisk in the world.  Texans deliberately made the San Jacinto Monument 15 feet taller.  Nevertheless, visitors to the Washington Monument can go inside and  see 190 commemorative plaques along the staircase, including one from the Vatican. The original was never recovered….they say it rests somewhere in the Potomac River and a replacement took longer to get across the pond than it did to build the monument. The replacement Vatican Plaque took its place among the rest in 1982, 128 years after the Know-Nothings almost brought the entire project to a halt. If they had just followed the desire of General Washington, then it may have been completed long before. He just wanted a horse.

GFS Not Real Enthused For Snow Accumulation Through Monday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  I took a look at the vertical profiles progs and for Monday, neither the 18Z GFS nor the 18z NAM are too enthused about snow.   The GFS has some rain that turns to about a quarter inch of snow.  But,  for Wednesday night, it advertises an inch of snow.  The NAM has no snow for Sunday or Monday but rain carrying over from Monday into Tuesday.  The ECMWF and CEM models are similar with the first low keeping to our west bringing rain with perhaps some wrap around snow and then both have the more significant system on Wednesday but they aren’ t as bullish on the wrap around snow as the GFS.  My guess is that we don’t see significant snow.  Perhaps a little on Monday but I”m not so sure where the moisture will come from with the second system when the temperatures are below critical levels for the Wednesday/Thursday time frame.  That is still several days away and I still like that systems chances for bringing us some accumulations than the first system. 

We only made it to the mid to upper 30′s on Saturday and I betcha we only have some of the folks in the low 40′s for Sunday.  But, if you have chores, Sunday should be the time as there are several opportunities for precipitation in the week ahead.  We probably won’t get back up to seasonal temperatures until next Sunday.

An Empty Suit and Taxpayers; Are We Know Nothings?
March 21, 2009

Schultz Was a Useful Know-Nothing

Schultz Was a Useful Know-Nothing

 

A Nation of Sewers and the Taxpayer Gets The Result

A Nation of Sewers and the Taxpayer Gets The Result

Go Sue Yourself! 

Don King likes to say “only in America.”  Well, these days that phrase takes on a new meaning.  With all of this bailout stuff going on, the biggest of bailouts is insurance giant AIG.  Operating with the notion that it’s “too big to fail,” the US government now owns nearly 80% of the company stock after pouring in billions of dollars into the company.   So, what is AIG doing?   AIG is suing the government.  AIG claims the IRS improperly penalized it for $61.9 million in tax credits that the IRS disallowed.  The company is suing for over $300 million in interest and penalties.  So, we the taxpayers own most of AIG.  The government supposedly operates as a representative of we the taxpayers.  So, in essence, we the taxpayers are suing we the taxpayers.   And get this…AIG wants the government to reimburse it for having to bring the lawsuit.  So, that means that we the taxpayers are suing we the taxpayers and we the taxpayers want we the taxpayers to pay for the lawsuit.  Guess who gets hosed in the end?  We the taxpayers.

According to Prescott F. Hall, many of these people lowered the "mental, moral and physical average" of America

According to Prescott F. Hall, many of these people lowered the "mental, moral and physical average" of America

On This Date in History:

  This is another in my long list of examples of how the calendar may change, but political arguments often do not in this country.  This time, it has to do with immigration.  Today, we have the issue of illegal immigration and part of the issue involves illegal immigrants committing crimes, not being able to speak or write English and generally bringing a bad element to the nation.  Well, let us borrow Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and travel back to the late 19th Century. 

A group of mainly lawyers and scholars with academic roots in Harvard founded the Immigration Restriction League(IRL).  It was the first official anti-immigration group.  I’ve read one account that claims the group held white-superiority views.  I’m not sure if I buy it.  It seems to more akin to the Know Nothings of the mid 19th century in that the league’s main objective seems to have been more anti-foreigner, forgetting that every one of them probably had ancestors that came from somewhere else.  It pushed for new laws to restrict immigration.  The members must not have been too pleased when the first decade of the 20th Century found a nearly unprecedented 9 million immigrants hitting the shores of America.  So, it was back to the drawing board.  The league decided it needed new supporters so Prescott F. Hall(1906 NY Times Review of Hall’s Book),  the IRL’s executive committee secretary, sent out the following letter on this date in 1910 to notable Americans such as our friend Alexander Graham Bell and presidents of universities such as Stanford and Harvard.  See if you can imagine someone writing this exact letter today.

Hall Might Have Used This For His Immigration Warning

Hall Might Have Used This For His Immigration Warning

“The Immigration Restriction League is a non-political and non-sectarian organization, with members from all parts of the United States.  Since 1894, it has led the agitation for the better enforcement of existing immigration laws, and the enactment of needed legislation.  It is opposed only to such immigration as lowers the mental, moral and physical average of our people.

Immigration the coming year will again near the 1,000,000 mark.  Of recent immigration, 1-4 over 14 years of age could not read or write in any language; 3-5 were Slavic and Iberic races of Southern and Eastern Europe; nearly 1-3, including women and children, had no occupation; 3-5 were destined for only 4 states.

In 1908, the foreign born population of 13.6% furnished 15.6% of the criminals, 20.8% of the paupers, and 29.5% of the insane.  Between 1904 and 1908, the aliens in these institutions increased 34%.

The League feels that facts like these show that the present laws governing the admission of aliens are inadequate to protect our social and political standards and institutions from deterioration.  Those pecuniarily interested  in the immigration laws are strongly organized to influence legislation, while those who believe in a proper selection of the aliens coming to us are scattered.  This letter is written with the purpose of getting in touch with those who agree with the attitude of the League.

O'Reilly Might Have Liked Hall

O'Reilly Might Have Liked Hall

We should much appreciate a letter from you, stating whether you favor (1) Further selective tests for immigration (2)Obliging aliens to be able to read in some language (3)Increasing the present head-tax of $4, and if so to what amount (4)Requiring immigrants to be in possession of an amount of money sufficient to support them while seeking work.

We should also be glad to have your views on this subject, outside of the questions noted above.”

 

Going Back in Peabody's Way Back Machine Doesn't Always Bring a Change

Going Back in Peabody's Way Back Machine Doesn't Always Bring a Change

Now…when you read the above letter, it seems to me that this group of people had some of the same complaints that opponents of immigration today have.  However, there is one important difference:  The IRL was talking about legal immigration while today the reference is generally regarding illegal immigration.  That’s an important distinction.  But, as I read this letter, I keep thinking of Bill O’Reilly and his rants every time he finds that an illegal immigrant (alien) committed a crime.  I think of all of the people who get angry when people in the US don’t speak English, even though there is no official language in this country.  However, Mr. Hall adds something new….he claims that nearly a third of the “insane” are foreigners.  There are so many odd angles and interpretations you can take regarding this issue both then and now.  All I am pointing out is, if you are concerned about this issue now…don’t worry….your grandfather, great-grandfather or great-great grandfather may have shared the very same concerns when he was your age.  The calendar moves on, but our politics seem to go in circles.  It happens more often than you might think.

SPC Extended Convective Outlook

SPC Extended Convective Outlook

Weather Bottom Line:  Forecast on track except we’ve got a ridge building in and that will make it difficult to get even any insubstantial showers.  On Monday, the GFS still wants to spit out a little rain but that seems nonsensical in that the scenario is that

00Z Sat NAM Midday Temps Mid 50's

00Z Sat NAM Midday Temps Mid 50's

dying storms from the west give out their last dying breath over us.  Again, seems silly because any storms should get the hell kicked out of them as they move right into the ridge.  Now, if there is a ridge building here, then there is a trof somewhere else and that somewhere is the plains.  Monday still looks like a good bet for a lot of action in the plains.  The reason I have been mentioning this for the last few days is that the dynamics and such will be so strong and the models have been so consistent with the feature, I find it hard to believe it will all just go poof and disappear after one day.  Typically, the strong storm will either start to wind down after its mature cycle, will get another reinforcing shot of stregnth or will begin to split apart.  But the conservation of energy dictates that it has to go somewhere.  The SPC knows this but has been hesitant to illustrate anything beyond the Monday AM to Tuesday AM time frame.  On Friday, they put out a second area to our Southwest for Tue AM to Wed AM.  I did a quick scan of the modeling data and suspect that we will have a threat sometime Wed AM to Thu AM though there are many factors out there and the

00Z Sat NAM Midday Sun Low 60's

00Z Sat NAM Midday Sun Low 60's

area may end up being mainly to our south.  Also, timing issues will be in play.  We will be in the low 60′s on Saturday, mid 60′s on Sunday and then move up through the low to mid, perhaps even upper, 70′s for the first 3 days of next week.  We should have several days to moisten up the atmosphere to some degree.  How much remains to be seen but I suspect that we will be under a low-level confluent flow.  Any lifting mechanism in that scenario  should allow for some good storms…but again…timing issues will be at play.   The latter part of the week will be cooler, but not cold.  Just keep this in mind if you have plans next week…mid week strong storms are something we should keep an eye out for.  I betcha at least one weekend tv weather foof will say something like “with that warm air…we will have to pay the price!”  That is certainly not always the case weatherwise, but the individual I am thinking of has a habit of saying that…so if something does happen, you can claim victory and if nothing does happen, you pretend like you never said it.  Truth is, it’s too early to be making such specific statements.  But what do I know?  I’m currently in retirement and a has-been.

DAY 4-8 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   0328 AM CDT FRI MAR 20 2009
  
   VALID 231200Z – 281200Z
  
   …DISCUSSION…
  
   LATEST MEDIUM-RANGE GUIDANCE REMAINS IN REMARKABLY GOOD AGREEMENT IN
   THE EVOLUTION OF A POWERFUL SYNOPTIC SYSTEM OVER THE CNTRL U.S. ON
   D4 /MON MAR 23RD/.  ALOFT…AN INTENSE MID/UPPER-LEVEL LOW WILL
   SHIFT EWD FROM THE CNTRL ROCKIES INTO THE CNTRL PLAINS WHILE AN
   ASSOCIATED SURFACE CYCLONE DEVELOPS FROM THE CNTRL HIGH PLAINS NEWD
   INTO THE CNTRL PLAINS BEFORE OCCLUDING.  BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE
   QUALITY STILL APPEARS SOMEWHAT QUESTIONABLE WITH DEWPOINTS REMAINING
   LARGELY IN THE 50S.  HOWEVER…THE PRESENCE OF STEEP LAPSE
   RATES…STRONG DYNAMIC FORCING AND STRENGTHENING WIND FIELDS WILL
   LIKELY FOSTER NUMEROUS SEVERE STORMS /INCLUDING SUPERCELLS/ ALONG OR
   AHEAD OF DRYLINE OR PACIFIC FRONT OVER THE CNTRL AND SRN PLAINS.
  
   BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE IS EXPECTED TO IMPROVE AHEAD OF PACIFIC
   FRONT OVER LOWER ELEVATIONS OF THE SRN PLAINS INTO OZARK PLATEAU BY
   D5 /TUE MAR 24TH/.  WHILE PRIMARY UPPER LOW/VORTICITY MAXIMUM AND
   ASSOCIATED SURFACE LOW ARE FORECAST TO DEVELOP NEWD TOWARD THE UPPER
   MIDWEST…MODEL GUIDANCE SUGGESTS A SECONDARY VORTICITY MAXIMUM/JET
   STREAK ROTATING THROUGH THE LARGE-SCALE TROUGH BASE OVER THE SRN
   PLAINS.  GIVEN THE INCREASING MOISTURE/INSTABILITY AND CONTINUED
   STRONG WIND FIELDS…POTENTIAL WILL EXIST FOR ANOTHER ORGANIZED
   SEVERE WEATHER EPISODE FROM ERN PARTS OF OK/TX INTO PORTIONS OF AR
   AND PERHAPS SRN MO AND NRN LA.
  
   THEREAFTER…MODEL DIFFERENCES BEGIN TO ARISE IN THE EVOLUTION OF
   THE UPPER-LEVEL PATTERN.  MOREOVER…CONSIDERABLE TSTM ACTIVITY OVER
   THE PREVIOUS TWO DAYS MAY POTENTIALLY DISPLACE THE EFFECTIVE WARM
   SECTOR FURTHER TO THE S/SE THAN WHAT CURRENT GUIDANCE INDICATES.
   NONETHELESS…IT DOES APPEAR THAT MODERATELY STRONG WIND FIELDS WILL
   BE MAINTAINED ACROSS THE GULF COAST REGION IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO A
   MOIST AND UNSTABLE AIR MASS.  AS SUCH…THE POTENTIAL FOR SEVERE
   WEATHER WILL LIKELY CONTINUE THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE EXTENDED
   PERIOD.  HOWEVER…GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTY IN THE DETAILS…NO
   ADDITIONAL SEVERE WEATHER AREAS WILL BE DELINEATED ATTM.
  
   ..MEAD.. 03/20/2009

Washington Monument: Better Late Than Never
December 6, 2008

Know Nothings Almost Sank Washington Monument

Know Nothings Almost Sank Washington Monument

NAM Snow Total Through Weekend

NAM Snow Total Through Weekend

Still Cold:  Winter does not begin until December 21 but you’d never know it by the last

GFS Snow Total Through Weekend

GFS Snow Total Through Weekend

4weeks.  This weekend will be more of the same.  We stay cold with mid to upper 30′s on Saturday and low 30′s on Sunday.  We’re in the teens and low 20′s through Monday morning then we move to the 40′s for Monday through Wednesday.  There may be a little snow on Saturday with some minor accumulation possible though air temperatures may be a few degrees above freezing.  As usual, the GFS is more bullish on snow than the NAM but, even the GFS doesn’t put out much.

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

On This Date in History:  You know that you are a pretty big dog when plans for a monument to your life are

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

begun while you are still alive.  This was true of General George Washington.  Even before he was the first president, A proposal was made by Congress in 1783 that a memorial be erected.  However, the obleisk may even better signify Congressional ineptitude that has been the hallmark of the institution almost since its inception.

General Washington was quite pleased with the original design, which featured the avid horseman on the back of his favorite horse.  Money was  short though and Congress quibbled about the best way to pay tribute to the father of the country and so the project remained dormant for a time.  In 1833, patience had grown short with the upper and lower chambers and so a group of citizens decided to take charge and form the Washington National Monument Society with a mission of raising the appropriate funds and oversee construction.  But, even the wheels of the citizen bandwagon turn slow sometimes and a cornerstone was not laid until July 4, 1848.    The ceremony was probably the best advertising that the effort had ever received as contributions poured in from banks, organizations and individuals as well as various states.  Alabama came up with a commemorative plaque for the interior.  Firemen, Indian tribes, social clubs and foreign countries including the Vatican joined  in the effort.

Standing Idle in 1860

Standing Idle in 1860

Pope Pius IX himself donated a plaque that on March 6, 1854 was stolen from the contruction grounds, allegedly by the American Party, who gained fame as the “Know-Nothings.”  Americans who considered themselves as “native” Americans because they were born in the New World, had a not-so-secret oath to vote for only American-born protestants and to oppose the Catholic Church.  They held disdain for the waves of immigrants moving in largely from Irish and Germany.  These groups of people were mainly Roman Catholic.  If they were ever asked about their politics, a member would answer like Sargeant Schultz and say “I know nothing.”  In 1855, these Know-Nothings gained control of the monument society and Congress promptly cut the planned $200,000 earmarked for the project.  That caused public support to dry up quickly.  For the next 3 years, only 4 feet of marble  was added and it was such poor quality, those four feet would have to be removed.  Work stopped completely during the Civil War and the stub of marble remained as an eyesore in the middle of town. 

Advance to the national centennial of 1776 and Congress authorized funds for the completion of the project.  But, the

Three Different Shades

Three Different Shades

US Army Corps of Engineers took a look and decided that there was no way on God’s Green Earth that the earth would support the weight of the monument.  So, it took time and money to dig out nearly 3/4 of the dirt under the project so that concrete foundation footings could be poured.  The proposed height of the obelisk was reduced from 600 feet to 555 feet 5 1/8 inches.  Work was resumed in 1880 and the project was completed on this date in 1884 and was open to the public in 1888. Due to difficulties in delivering marble and the previous stops and starts, 3 different types of marble was used in construction of the monument, each with different colors and quality, resulting in a distinctively different look as one looks from top to bottom.

Inside, visitors can see 190 commemorative plaques along the staircase, including one from the Vatican.  The original was never recovered….they say it rests somewhere in the Potomac River and a replacement took longer to get across the pond than it did to build the monument.  The replacement Vatican Plaque took its place among the rest in 1982, 128 years after the Know-Nothings almost brought the entire project to a halt.  If they had just followed the desire of General Washington, then it may have been completed long before.  He just wanted a horse.

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