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The Fordham Report

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0 3675

Well, I think it has become pretty apparent that I am not a very good blogger.  I lack the dedication to routinely sit down and write about the mundane aspects of my life.  I also do not have the desire to continue to comment on the never ending torrent of news each of us are subjected to day in and day out.  It seems it is all bad… war, failing economies, racial tension, corporate greed, violence, the fall of the middle class, you name it, and it never ends.   If someone was to base the success of the human race on the news we broadcast they would argue that it is a failure.  I don’t have anything more eloquent to say about it, anymore.

Therefore, I think it is time to admit what everyone already knows… it’s time to shut the site down.

For the very, very few of you who actually read this thing, I think you all have a way to contact me directly.  If you want to know how my very boring day has been, just call or email.

The website will remain up, for now anyway.  The domain and email addresses associated with Fordham.us will remain active.  However, just don’t look for any further updates.

At least, not for the foreseeable future.

Take care, everyone.

0 2243

Well, here it is folks, the post that says it has finally happened.  A wonderful couple has decided to purchase our house.  Yesterday the papers were signed and the offers all accepted.  The second week of March we’re moving back to Florida.  Pray for us.

Why Florida?  Well, the answer is simple, it’s a known quantity.  We have loved our time in Michigan, well, three seasons out of the year, but we’ve truly never stopped being Floridians.  Our vehicle license plates can attest to that.  Between work options, weather preference (no snow!), and property values allowing us to get a decent place with a few acres we just can’t think of a better place to go.  Trust me… we’ve tried.

This time, though, we’re giving the north a shot.  Probably the Panhandle area or north of Gainesville is where we’ll end up.  Some might call it “Southern Alabama”, but it’s still Florida to us.

So.. to all our Florida friends, fair warning is given… we’re coming back.  Just a bit over two years to the day we’ll see you all on the beach… somewhere.

On a side note.. well, I’m not the most active or responsible blogger.  I think we can all agree on that.  However, it’ll probably get worse over the next few weeks.  Between courses, packing, moving, hotels, and all the mess associated with this I don’t know how frequently I’ll be able to update.  There will be a big post talking all about the new place and our third adventures in remodelling when we get that far.  Don’t worry.

Wish us luck…

0 1972

I just wanted to wish all of you a Happy New Year!  Many changes are planned for 2015 around here, and I hope all of your hopes for the new year come true.

On a side note, it’s 2015… where are the REAL hoverboards, and I want a flying car.  Back to the Future did managed to get many things right, but they really missed the mark promising us so many cool things that just aren’t here… yet.

Thank goodness they never made it to Jaws 19.  Not that Hollywood hasn’t jumped all over the sequel (and remake) bandwagon.  Thank goodness they haven’t tried their hand at “improving” Marty McFly and the gang.

If you have a few minutes to waste, here’s an amusing article from Newsweek.com talking about what Back to the Future 2 got right and wrong about 2015.

 

0 2131

Not really much to this post.  More a quick feel good update and some photos.  To the sophisticated urbanite there is little to recommend living in a small town in the middle of Michigan.  However, if you happen to be in to trains, there are few better places to be.  It turns out little Owosso, Michigan has quite a history with steam trains.  A Google search will have to satisfy your historical curiosities, or you can visit the Owosso Michigan Steam Railroading Institute website.  That’s right, we have our very own Steam Railroad Museum.  Take that World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Not only do we have a steam railroad museum, but we are lucky to have quite a star in our small town; the Real Polar Express; Pere Marquette 1225.  That’s right, the train from that film that Tom Hanks would probably like to forget.  Yes, it’s a real train, and no, as far as I know it doesn’t actually fly you to the North Pole.  What is does do, though, is take you on a few hour ride where you get to meet Santa Claus (or at least a man dressed up like Santa Claus).  You and your kids (because please tell me you’re doing this for your kids) can have a fun day out all for the mere price of a few mortgage payments.  All trips throughout December are sold out months in advance.

So, what is a poor person to do?  Well, we go and stand out at a railroad crossing in an otherwise deserted part of town.  We went with our neighbour and encountered about half a dozen others who had the same idea.  Between turning pennies in to pancakes and trying not to freeze, I managed to get a few photos of the historic engine.

All the commercialism aside the engine is a marvel of American engineering at the turn of the 20th century.  So, enjoy the photos.

0 2186

Well, as teased in my last post, the house is up for sale.  It has been a bitter sweet day around here.  It feels good to begin the process, but we are sorely going to miss this house and the beautiful views.  We are looking forward to getting back to Florida, reacquainting with old friends, getting away from the snow, and taking the next steps in our adventure.  We know, though, that unless we happen to stumble in to the Mega-millions or Powerball, we’ll probably never have another house like this one.

We just hope that the next people love this house as much as we do.  It was made for a family to fill all this space.  It would be a great place to grow up.

So, if you or someone you know may be interested you can find some photos and details on the Realtor’s website here: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/771-Busha-Rd_Owosso_MI_48867_M46140-21144

On Zillow here: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/771-Busha-Rd-Owosso-MI-48867/75754835_zpid/

To all you Florida people reading this… See, I told you we’d figure it out.  It just took us a little longer than we thought to come to the decision.  We look forward to seeing you all in person again soon.  Save some of the warmth for us.

0 2089

Wow, it has been a long time since I lasted posted;  August 13th to November 5th.  I am a terrible blogger.  There really is no question about that.  The sad truth is that not much has been going on in my life worth recording for semi-posterity on the Internet.  The world news has been filled with terrorists, political drama, and many things that do not need to be spoken of further.  The major news sources have done a fine job of cramming this stuff down our throats.

The FCC is about to announce their likely half-baked idea for net-neutrality.  Everyone will hate it, and it won’t accomplish a damn thing.  That is all pretty much guaranteed.  ISIS will continue to rake in millions off black market oil while growing their caliphate built on the suffering of… well just about everyone.  Our politicians will continue to showcase just was the lowest common denominator in intelligence can do when given the power.  The future isn’t looking too bright, either.

On the personal front, over the last month we have come to a big decision.  We are going to leave Michigan.  We recently listed the house for sale.  It is a beautiful, wonderful, newly refurbished house, and we will miss it.  We will miss our great neighbours.  We will miss the view of the lake.  I will miss the crisp mornings and cool evenings.  Michigan is a special place, and leaving it is hard to do.  Unfortunately, it snows here.  That is just too much in which to deal.  Also, Michigan has made it impossible for a person to live here comfortably.  We are just about to reach two years of living in this state, and true to my nature I have been keeping records and building spreadsheets.  It is conclusive, living in Michigan is almost exactly twice as expensive as living in Florida.  Between the state and local income tax, the DOUBLE what we paid in Florida property tax, and the costs of heating a home through the four to five month winter, it simply makes no sense to live here.  On a personal note, my career (such as it is) has taken a brutal beating being here.  I simply can not afford to stay here any longer.  I despise the idea of admitting defeat by moving back to Florida, but the facts remain; it is the best option.  Therefore, that is just want we intend to do.  Sell this house, and move back to Florida… north Florida this time.  I’ll keep everyone updated as things start to happen.

On a completely different note, I was encouraged to post something I recently wrote, God only knows why.  As most of you probably know by now, I have a problem with university.  I’ve been taking classes for what seems like most of my adult life.  I could be considered a rather well educated bum.  Well, one of my current courses, covering criminal law, asked us to write our thoughts on where we see criminal investigations and crime over the next ten years.  I wrote plainly.  I did not write happy thoughts and hopes of a better tomorrow.  I wrote what I see.  Many of you might agree, many will not.  I will be called a pessimist, and understandably so.  Either way, here is what I wrote.

After reading about the various crimes throughout this course, how do you see crime prevention and investigation in the next decade?  What types of crimes do you believe will take the forefront?  This is your chance to think both logically and creatively.

As this question is expressly looking for an opinion, I will answer it as such.

The last few weeks of this course have been an enlightening experience; if only for the opportunity to read about the terrible things people frequently do to each other.  From murder to rape and battery to burglary the criminal landscape does not lack for creative ways to cause misery.  The ever evolving types and methods of crime have often resulted in various attempts to adjust prevention and prosecution to meet these new demands.  The criminal justice ecosystem has seen what must have been considered revolutionary shifts in the therapeutic model, community policing, and now the great emphasis on crime control, harsher punishments, and the growing militarization of the local police force.  Simply, as society and crime changes, so do the methods used to combat it; for better or worse.

How do I personally see crime prevention and investigation heading in to the next decade?  There is no doubt that the continued advancement of technology will propel it to new uses within criminal justice.  “Big Data” both privately compiled and procured through government channels will become an even more powerful tool for law enforcement.  Surveillance and information collection technologies will continue to evolve at unprecedented rates.  It is likely that we will see the introduction of unmanned aerial craft being used for routine patrol and certainly for special events and protests.  The average law enforcement officer may find they would benefit more from a degree in computer science than one in criminal justice.

The political environment may play its part in aiding law enforcement efforts at the expense of the privacy of the citizenry.  Legislation limiting what encryption is available legally may be put in place, as currently be suggested by the Director of the FBI in response to Apple and Google’s announcements that they will no longer be able to decrypt their smartphones at the request of law enforcement.  We will see better telephone surveillance technology as the “stingray” line of products evolves to the point a device the size of a pack of playing cards could likely monitor all traffic in a reasonable radius.  Legislation will be put in place to allow for this type of wholesale data collection, much as legislation has been slow or non-existent in response to the wholesale collection of American citizen’s Internet traffic and call logs.  A surveillance state is a likely evolution we may see within a decade unless something is done to curtail the indiscriminate abuses of the government.

Unless something is done, in a decade’s time we may have trouble distinguishing between the military and local law enforcement.  It has already become common place for local departments to serve notices and warrants backed by surplus military hardware and officers outfitted in tactical equipment and automatic firearms.  The recent case of a 75 year old man in a small Wisconsin town who was confronted with 24 armed officers and an assortment of military vehicles sent to his home to collect a civil judgement for failing to clean his yard is a prime example of the abuse of power we are likely to see more of over the next ten years.  As someone who spent time at a local police academy not too many years ago, I can attest to the pseudo-military attitudes being taught at these institutions that are resulting in a clear “us versus them” attitude.  This viewpoint is not isolated to the lower ranks and is being perpetuated by the command structure.  This attitude, plus the addition of military technology and hardware, can only result in continued conflict with citizens and an exponential increase in the perceived militarization of law enforcement.

Essentially, for me, I believe that as a nation we have begun a short trek down a dark road.  The abuses and evolution from a police force designed to serve the best interests of the people to a pseudo-military force designed to suppress and control the people in the names of preventing terrorism and “national security” began before the events of 11 September 2001 and the signing of the PATRIOT Act.  However, these events provided the justification that has been used to further the shameful act of trading liberty for a false sense of security.  The events of the last twelve years have proved the old adage true, when given an inch, they will take a mile.  There is no reason to believe that this will not continue over the next decade.

What types of crimes will we see over the next ten years?  Of course, the old crimes will likely never go away.  We will continue to see murders, rapes, robberies, and drug offences.  What we will also see more of are those crimes that rely on technology.  The recent events surrounding what was dubbed, “The Fappening” in the media highlight the risk each person takes by utilising technology in their daily lives.  We will see more breaches of privacy, stolen financial information, and the theft of governmental secrets and corporate intellectual property.  Frauds facilitated by technology will likely continue to increase in frequency and become more difficult to track.  Our financial services sector will likely find itself the frequent target of malicious computer experts.  Additionally, as was recently highlighted by the discovery that China “hacked” in to Pentagon systems at least 20 times in recent months, government IT systems will remain a temping target for organised crime and espionage.

We may also begin to see an upsurge in what will undoubtedly be called crimes against the government.  As new legislation is passed to increase surveillance on average citizens and limit things such as encryption there will always be those individuals and groups who refuse to surrender their privacy and security.  This will result in a new class of “cyber-criminal.”  Also, if government corruption and police militarization continue, as the next decade comes to a close we may begin to see the seeds of a citizen’s rebellion begin.  Low wages, limited opportunities, a broken education system (especially higher education), what is shaping up to be a “forgotten generation” of young people without purpose, hope, or opportunities, and the feeling that the government has failed them will all begin to coalesce into a movement.  This movement will likely engage in what will be deemed criminal behaviour.  No longer the will the “terrorists” be outside trying to get in, we may find they are inside trying to get out.

We are already seeing young people disengage from society at alarming rates.  College graduates with useless degrees, being held down with tens if not hundreds of thousands in debt, all struggling for the same meagre low paying jobs will result in a collective feeling of futility.  A well established and terrifyingly distinct economic class system is inevitable, and those stuck at the bottom will no longer feel compelled to adhere to social norms.  The “Occupy Wall Street” protests were little more than a trial run for the discontent likely to bubble to the surface over the next ten years.  Increased interest in such activities as homesteading, neighbourhood collectives, and self-reliance skills are benign, but indicative of a feeling of uncertainty spreading today.  Within a decade once these idealised hopes are dashed that collective disenfranchisement will turn to rebellion.

Lastly, there will likely be crimes we can not imagine today.  As technology, society, and culture evolve criminals will always be at the forefront.  It is a game of chase and the criminals have a head start.  Imagine the reaction of a man in the second half of his life in 1970 if you were to tell him of the cyber crimes of today or the invasions of privacy we all now accept as normal.  He would be dumbfounded and amazed in equal measure.  Therefore in ten years time, if I am still blessed to be on this Earth, I imagine I will be reading about crimes on whatever passes for a news service that I could never have dreamt up; and I have a pretty decent imagination.

0 2109

So here’s a sobering thought for you.  Within a decade’s time you will be unemployed.  Ok, maybe you’ll make it another fifteen years, twenty max.  No, it’s not because you’re lazy or finally told your boss how you really feel.  It’s because the robots are coming.  They are faster, cheaper, in many cases smarter, work for nothing but sweet sweet electricity, don’t need holiday time, and never waste time playing on the internet at work.  They are the you your boss wishes you were, and they are coming for your job.

I personally have helped developed bots like the one the following video mentions for trading on the stock market.  My artificial intelligence code helped teach them to learn how to out learn any human trader as far as the maths and predictability algorithms go.  It can make trades in micro-seconds… even at your most caffeinated you can’t do that.  There are people a lot smarter than me out there that have taken it so much further than we ever imagined.

We’ve all seen the stories about Google’s self driving car.  It’s coming for your steering wheel, and it won’t take no for an answer.  We all know too well the self-checkouts at Walmart.  We’ve heard the stories of fast food restaurants replacing the pimply-faced kids at the counter with a touch screen.  There is writing on the wall, but no one wants to see it.

So… watch this video and prepare for the future.  Whether it’s a glorious new age or your own personal apocalypse will depend on where you fall on the employment divide.

 

0 2016

So, just a quick update..  Today, the house finally got its new roof.  After nearly a week (with a few rain days and a skipped weekend) the contractors finally finished putting the new roof on.  For those of you who know our journey with this place, you know this was the last great repair we have on our list.  The rest is all little stuff.. thankfully.

Although most of you are not from the central Michigan area, I do want to give a little review and say that Hankins Homescapes did a fantastic job.  The owner, Roger Hankins, spent extra time to make sure that we got exactly what we wanted – a roof that doesn’t leak.  But seriously, he helped create a plan to deal with some severe ventilation issues (there wasn’t any!) and to clean up some poor decisions by the previous owner.  He was more than reasonable with the price, too.  Could we have gotten a roof put on a little cheaper.. sure.  Would it be as nice, unlikely.   So if you’re in the area and need anything his company does, I’d recommend giving him a call.  I linked his website above, and their number is: (517) 482-1020.

See, Roger… all tens of the people who read my ramblings now know to call you (maybe it’ll get Google indexed).  How about a discount on the next job?

… So.. who wants to buy a beautiful lake (stocked!) home in Shiawassee County, Michigan.  It has a new roof.. new wood burning furnace.. new electric.. new well.. new septic.. fresh neutral paint.. finished walk out basement.. over 4000 climate controlled feet of living space.. great neighbours.. over 3 acres.. mature berry plants.. immature fruit trees….. and terrible cell phone service.

But, hey, you can get DSL.  All 6 mb/s of it.  You can party like it’s 2002.  Or, just fish… whatever.

There’s a picture of the house with the new roof.  Enjoy.

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0 3675
Well, I think it has become pretty apparent that I am not a very good blogger.  I lack the dedication to routinely sit down...