Thursday, July 29, 2010


When I landed in Johannesburg I did not feel like I was returning to his homeland (since my homeland is Gray, Ga). It was not like I feel when I land in Knoxville and say to myself “home”. Go back to my things, to my house, to my dogs, where I belong. No here in Africa, no one looks remotely like me. The only people who thought I was a native were a couple from Charlotte (naturally) who asked me for directions (speaking very slowly) at the Johannesburg airport. I told them I was from South Atlanta not South Africa. There was one ticket agent for South African Air that was sufficiently mixed race that she could have passed for an American. No one was going to run up to me and speak Xhosa and welcome me home as a fellow tribesman. Of course my African tribes are much farther north. They were only one of at least 100 tribal groups taken to America where they were broken up and sold and dispersed with loss of language and cultural identity. When you arrive in Johannesburg, there is a sign that says “11 Languages one Country.” In the airport you could see distinctly different tribes. Although the color was fairly uniform, there were very distinct differences in the features from broad noses and lips to rather thin ones and all sorts of differences in cheekbones and brows. There was not nearly the variety that we see among American blacks. However when I landed in Polokwane where most of the blacks are Lesotho, you could see the similarities. At home it is rare to see two black people that could be identified as being from the same tribe unless they were from the same family. Do you think that Andy Young, Clarence Thomas, Vanessa Williams, Byonce, Jay Z, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Thomas Sowell, and Keb Mo look even remotely alike? Even if you go to one region – like Knoxville – its hard to see tribal similarities. I guess in America since the blacks came from all over central and east Africa from literally hundreds of tribes, then got split up when sold and then mixed with whites and Native Americans the result is me. I have resisted calling myself an African-American. To me that’s silly. I even read a scholarly paper where the author referred to “European-Americans” a term that radical blacks have tried without success to pin on whites. Those are the people who want to segregate us with hyphens: African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian Americans, Native American-Americans, and European-but-not- of-Hispanic descent-Americans. Enough already, I have long contended that the hodge podge that makes American blacks American like me with my Scotch Irish and Cherokee ancestors the result is truly Mongrel-American. For some reason, that has not gained much traction. So what am I? I am an American-American.

HB’s Axioms of the Hunt

1. The wind will always be at your back (this is different from running where the wind is always in your face).
2. If by some miracle the wind is in your face and you suddenly hear a deer, the wind will shift to your back.
3. Murphy says that “if it can go wrong, it will”. Harold Black says “Murphy was an optimist.”
4. Deer will always pick the least assessable place to die.
5. If your gun (or bow) breaks, your 42 blade leatherman’s tool will not have a tool that fixes it.
6. When you take it go get it fixed, the repairman will say “In my 30 years I have never seen this happen.”
7. In bow season the deer will be in muzzleloader range. In muzzleloader season the deer will be in gun range. In gun season, the deer will be no where to be found.
8. If you can shoot a doe you will only see does with fawns.
9. If you can only shoot a buck, you will be overrun with does.
10. Deer calls never work. However, the best way to call a deer call is to take a leak.
11. Anyone who claims to have success grunting and rattling is lying.
12. If you see the buck of a lifetime walking down a path, you will only have a lefthanded shot (if you are righthanded and vice versa).
13. If you see the buck of a lifetime and you are bow hunting, the arrow will fall off the rest when you draw.
14. If you hunt a road where deer always cross, they will only cross when you are looking in the other direction.
15. If the outfitter has a success rate of 100%, it will be lower when you leave.
16. Animals shrink if you shoot them.
17. If you only shoot deer 8 points or better, you will only see six pointers and spikes.
18. Deer only look up if you are in a tree stand.
19. A turkey always struts one foot past the exact distance that number 6 shot can travel.
20. Camo is about as effective as a deer with a sofa painted on its side can hide in your living room.
21. Hunting clothing billed as no-scents makes no sense.
22. Buck lures only to attract hunters to buy them.
23. The only hunters who swear by grunting and rattling for bucks are the ones who sell them.
24. Primos calls if they work at all must only work on Mississippi deer and turkeys.
25. If you decide to leave your stand at noon, the deer will walk by at 12:01.
26. The only purpose of scouting before the season is to find out where the deer were.
27. A person who looks down their nose and sneers “You kill bambi!” isn’t worth knowing.
28. If you go on a hunting trip with a group, expect to be the only one who doesn’t kill anything.
29. If you are hunting your own land without seeing anything all day and suddenly you hear something coming down a path, it will be your dog.
30. No woman is worth your time unless she thinks you look cute in camo.
31. Do you have more success stalking or still hunting? Neither.
32. Is the best time to hunt early, midday or late? None of the above.
33. Deer will always walk down the path you are not hunting.
34. The only camo that works is absence.
35. Anyone who tells you that a deer smells better than a person is obviously European.
36. Anyone who asks you why do you own so many different caliber rifles is obviously stupid because it doesn’t make sense to own ten rifles of the same caliber.
37. Since camo wearers look like trees and grass, I guess this makes them environmentalists.
38. Most muzzleloaders were designed to hangfire only when a big deer shows up.
39. That Al Gore rather than the inventor of the Loggy Bayou climbing stand was awarded a Nobel prize is a travesty.
40. My favorite t-shirt is from Cabela’s and says “Conservation through incompetence.”
41. If God didn’t want you to kill deer he wouldn’t have invented the pickup truck.
42. If God didn’t want you to hunt in the cold rain, he wouldn’t have invented GoreTex.
43. If Al Gore got the Nobel prize for inventing GoreTex, then I guess I am ok with it.
44. Since I have never seen a woman who looks like a Victoria Secret’s model, I presume that all about those women are fakes, the product of many plastic surgeries. Similarly, videos that show bucks grunted and rattled in are fake.
45. Those who can smoke in a tree stand and deer will walk by even though the wind is wrong and seem to kill big deer every time are the chosen few of which I am not one.
46. A person who claims not to like venison has never eaten my cooking.
47. Jerky is not a food since it cannot be broken down by saliva and chewing. It must be swallowed whole.
48. That jerky is not a food was proven when after I tried to eat it, I gave it to my dogs – who also refused to eat it.
49. Just like when I fish I only catch small fish (I’m a small fish specialist), I only see immature deer (which I let walk).
50. Anyone who says that if you kill a trophy animal every time you hunt then it would not be fun is a fool.
51. The hunter the outfitter describes as being “the luckiest hunter I have ever seen” will always be a person in camp. That person will not be you.
52. Recurve bowhunters are snobs and are hunting’s equivalents of fly fishermen.
53. The longest week I ever spent in my life was in a camp in Alberta hunting for bear and all the other hunters shot recurves.
54. There are 6 things that every bow hunter must do in order to shoot accurately. When a trophy deer approaches you will do five of them.
55. If you believe that nonsense about buying all that expensive no scents gear so you can “Forget the Wind – Just Hunt”, let someone release your dogs one hour after you go in the woods.
56. Game cameras tell you where to hunt at 2:03 in the morning.
57. The one hour before sunup is the longest time of the hunt – much longer than the 5 hours or so that follow.
58. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to furnish your own food.
59. Sure you can kill just as many deer sitting at your kitchen table as you usually do in the woods, but coming home even empty handed to your dogs makes it all worthwhile.

So Where is Buckwheat?

Back in Africa after four years I was struck by seeing only two African men with the Buckwheat style hairdos and none with the earrings affected by our black American men (and boys). Not one in Johannesburg, Polokwane or Alldays. Now the women’s hairstyles range from weaves to intricate braids to jerri-curls to straight to buzzcuts to shaved. I even complimented the customs agent about her hair. It would have made all the women at home envious with the skill it took to fashion. But the men? It’s all close to the scalp. There are relatively few shaved heads and virtually no big Afros either. I would have thought that given the adoption of most things American that I would see tattoos, buckwheat dos and earrings. But no, none of the above. I’ve always wondered if it is difficult to be manly with earrings? I have a theory: since 70 percent of all black kids are born to unwed mothers, it is only natural that the boys would want to identify with and look like their role models – their mothers. Hence, the girly look that is so prevalent among black males. Of course the only reason the men look like they do is because the women think its attractive. So why do women want to be with men that look so feminine? It says something about black women that is interesting. The Wall Street Journal some time ago reported a study that showed that women from developed rich countries preferred men who looked feminine while women in less developed poorer countries preferred more masculine looking men. The Journal postulated that this had something to do with protection and hunting and gathering which still had some importance in poorer countries. So that many black women in America seem to be attracted to girly men (in Schwarzenegger’s words) should come as no surprise. They are like their white sisters who also have a preference for more feminine men (metrosexuals?). The only difference is that whereas there is a growing affinity for earrings among young white males and many of those affect long hair, bouffant hair has yet to take hold.


Avatar: n., means “Good visuals but bad movie”
I don’t go to movies. I have been in Knoxville for 24 years and have been dragged into the theatre to see Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Saving Private Ryan. I guess once every decade is about right for me. The reason is that I won’t buy what Hollywood is selling. Why give my money to support people with whose philosophy I disagree with, whose values I deplore and whose message is against my fundamental beliefs? Have you seen a movie trailer on TV that made you want to see the movie? I haven’t. All the trailers either have someone running around shooting people or some poor soul screaming. I told my students “it must be awful being in a generation where the main attribute to be an actor is the ability to scream.” On my trip to Africa, after listening to the ipod and working the NY Times Sunday puzzle (the only reason for that newspaper’s existence), I watched Avatar. It’s a terrible movie. Although it is an action movie there is virtually no blood or guts. Only Sigourney Weaver’s foul mouth keeps it from being acceptable for young kids. I know people have raved about its visuals but has anyone you know actually talked about the movie itself? The plot is infantile obviously written by some Birkenstock shod greenie weenie who hates capitalism and wants to return to nature. It is the typical Hollywood tripe about the evil corporation trying to rip out the hearts of an idyllic bucolic one-with-nature lovely blue very tall humanoids with long tails by stealing some precious metal underneath the mother tree. I kid you not. From the first scene you know its going to be hero meets girl goes nature abandons evil kin fights own kind to help the otherwise helpless souls defeat technology gets the girl and lives happily ever after in the mother tree. There were absolutely no surprises in the plot line. Why does every Hollywood story when it features a corporation, must feature an evil one? Do you know of an evil corporation? Yeah, I know: Walmart – if you are a hippie- back- to- the- family- store- with- high- prices -and -lousy –selection-where everyone makes subsistence wages type. Well that is apparently the only type of corporation that Hollywood knows because I looked at the info on the other movies on the plane and there were five others featuring evil corporations. How about a movie on the evil propaganda machine that lies to the people so it can manipulate opinions and turn gullible children into mind numbed robots? How about a Hollywood movie about Hollywood?

Back to Africa

I have come back to South Africa for the third time in 10 years. I was asked if I were coming to the World Cup. Hardly, I am here to hunt. I want a zebra and a gemsbuck. The PH (professional hunter) had me take a warthog last time that had a broken tusk. This time was different as I took a bushpig that the PH insisted was a true trophy and got the zebra and gemsbuck as well. I like South Africa. It has its problems but it is trying really hard to work as a nation. It has 11 official languages and where I am in the Northern Province of Limpopo, it seems that most people speak Afrikaans, Northern Lesotho and English. The products say “Made in South Africa” and it looks like a developed country to me. The agriculture is impressive. They can feed themselves. The potatoes are the best I’ve eaten – sorry Idaho.. One of the hunters just got back from hunting cape buffalo in Mozambique and says “now that’s a primitive place.” He got hit up for bribes everywhere he turned and would have had to pay more if it had not been for his PH who had told him what to expect.
Before I left people asked me if I was going to be living in the bush in a tent roughing it. I don’t think you can call a fairly new brick and stone duplex, with laundry done everyday, three meals, all you want to eat and drink, “roughing it”. However, the accommodations here and at the bed and breakfast the first night in Johannesburg lack heat. I have spent three of the coldest nights of my life on this trip. I have slept with socks and gloves on as well as PJ bottoms and my Under Armour tops and was still cold. Next time I will bring a space heater.
What has been interesting is being quiet and listening to what others have to say about America while at the bed and breakfast. A doctor from Nigeria who had practiced in the states for the past twenty years and who was going to hunt elephant in Mozambique said that America was a fading state. It was being crushed under the burden of its debt. Its medical system was broke and too expensive. It prescribed all those unnecessary tests not because of the fear of being sued but because it enriched the doctors and the labs (which the docs either owned or got a kickback from). He said the system need fixing but that Obamacare was not the solution because it could not contain costs. He predicted that the American medical system would collapse and be taken over by the Indians. Well they have provided an alternative to European healthcare so why not American as well? Another person at the B&B said that South Africa should not align itself with America. He sounded strangely like Thomas P.M. Barrett when he said alliances should be made with countries like Brazil and India not fading ones like the US and the EU. I said “what about China?” He (and the doctor agreed) said that China was too closely tied to America. Anyway, China was having enough problems with trying to reconcile its dismal human rights record with the demands of its surging middleclass. He thought that China would too eventually collapse and would be split into several countries. What was interesting was that both of these people were capitalists saying that only capitalism had the productive power to lift people out of poverty. Yet they were unabashed liberals socially – your basic Joe Biden spread the wealth types. I needed more time with them than just that one night. I need to ask them how social redistribution could keep from dampening the incentives of the productive as well as the unproductive. This has always been the downfall of socialism – and always will be. As to the rest of Africa, the doctor said that Mugabe was a blessing. By transforming a vibrant Rhodesia into the hell that is Zimbabwe, he set an example for what not to do for the rest of the continent. He thought that South Africa and Ghana were the continent’s best hope with Botswana and his Nigeria a possibility if somehow Nigeria would end all the government corruption. Botswana was a possibility simply because its people are industrious and are one tribe and not split by all the tribal strife engendered by the Brits when they drew up the boundaries so as to pit the tribes against each other rather than their colonial rulers. We will see. I remain optimistic about America’s future. I am hopeful that this dalliance with Obama will lessen our appetite for socialism for a while.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Financial "Reform"

Now that Olympia Snowe has joined Susan Collins and Scott Brown, it looks like the financial "reform" bill will pass the Senate. Dear Sen. Snowe opined that the bill "wasn't perfect" but she did not want to see another financial collapse happen. Excuse me? Has she read the bill? It says nothing about the causes of the financial collapse and offers no reforms that are remotely relevant. But I have gone down that road before. Consider this: the bill has a provision in it that requires originators of mortgages to keep 5% of them in their own portfolios. Supposedly this will lessen risk since the originators cannot sell it to a bunch of dupes who have no idea about the quality of the loans. Well in the real world, the market prices the loans based on historical defaults - which is why they all were in trouble when the default rates exceed what was anticipated. However, the buyers have always tracked defaults to see if originators were not doing their jobs. There are early put back clauses in all the contracts so if a loan defaults within a set number of days, it is returned to the originator. Also buyers who have loans default often sue the originator for violating the reps and warranties that come with each deal. Lastly, the buyers will either stop buying from originators with high default rate or will price their loans accordingly. Holding back 5% means that the buyers will assume - unless assured otherwise - that the originator will retain the best loans and sell the rest. This will result in lower prices being offered for loans unless the originator demonstrates that the loans are randomly chosen for the portfolio. And one last item: New Century Financial, the leading originator of subprime mortgages was organized as an REIT which meant it was required by law to hold a certain percentage of its loans in its own portfolio. Has anyone used New Century as an example of how originators will underwrite less risky loans if they have to hold them? Quite to the contrary. New Century was the press' favorite whipping boy during the implosion of the subprime market. So this one little part of the financial "reform" bill will result in lower prices paid for whole mortgages and for packaged mortgages, will do nothing to lessen risk-taking in strong markets and will do nothing to prevent the bursting of the next asset bubble.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Our anti-business president

I have often commented on the president's ignorance relating to business. He seems to think profits is a four-letter word and sneers every time he utters it. Now the sneering part may just be my imagination but I do not think so. As I have written before, anyone with a modicum of sense can tell you how to get out of this recession - and its not increase taxes, increase government spending, increase regulatory burdens, increase uncertainty, increase labor costs, increase business costs and yet the administration has done all of these and more. This is why some observers say that the destruction of American business, the blunting of American initiative, the policies that push American businesses off shore are all deliberate on the part of the Administration. Yet this makes no sense at all to me because these policies virtually guarantee that the democrats will lose control of the congress and that Obama will be a one term president. I know they all say you cannot beat nothing with nothing but that was disproven in this last election where in many districts the incumbent lost strictly because the incumbent was a republican and McCain lost because he was a woefully inferior candidate than Obama. However, just in case you want to see what this administration has done that is clearly antibusiness in taxes, regulatory "reform", trade, labor, energy, the environment, health care, education and immigration (whew! what's left?) then go read the Business Roundtable's "Policy Burdens Inhibiting Economic Growth" ( Its all laid out there. Of course this will have no impact on changing the direction of the administration simply because the president is an ideologue. He is pursuing those policies that he is convinced are right and no evidence to the contrary will change his mind.