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Opinion

A recent investigation revealed that the University of North Carolina has played hookey from its academic diligence. Between 1993 and 2011, around 3,000 UNC students, with about half being athletes, were enrolled in phantom African and Afro-American Studies classes. The scheme for grade-point-average padding consisted of independent nonstudy groups or attending lectures that were never held. The academic levels for most of the students involved were very low. The administrative skill levels of the high-ranking UNC officials were even lower, since they reportedly were unaware that the fraud was going on.

In classic and predictable form, officials at UNC have made assurances that new safeguards are now in place. Instead of the old safeguards being ignored, a revised set of standards can now be manipulated in order to keep their sports programs competitive.

There is nothing new about cooking the collegiate grade books in order to sustain the strength of an athletic program, especially involving football and basketball. UNC is hardly the only college guilty of such activity and college isn't the only level of school giving free passes to its jocks. When I was in high school, “basket weaving” was a euphemism for fluff grading and it also gave a bad name to basket weavers.

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Gallup did a survey this summer. It asked people how much confidence they had in various institutions.

According to the survey, only 7 percent of Americans said they trusted Congress a great deal or quite a lot, compared with 29 percent who trusted the presidency.

Small business, on the other hand, came in second, with 62 percent of those surveyed considering it trustworthy. The only organization to score higher, not surprisingly, was the military.

While our politicians squabble, Main Street has endured. Some small-business owners, instead of laying people off, have cut their own salaries to keep their full complement of employees. Others have dipped into savings or taken out second mortgages to keep their doors open or to avoid cutting back employee hours.

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Preparing for tumultuous times, or prepping, has come into its own. However, there's certain paradoxes involved with the practice.

“Charity ends where security begins.” - Episode of “The Rockford Files,” 1976. Empathy has always been the radioactive fly in the ointment when getting set up for a possible life in the post-apocalyptic age. The first thing a prepper needs to do would be to alienate as many people as possible. That way, when it's Mad Max time, he won't have to worry about all those un-preppered moochers formerly known as friends and family banging on his dead-bolted door.

As long as I'm getting my wisdom from old TV shows, there's an episode of the “Twilight Zone” depicting a man setting up a bomb shelter for his family only to have the entire neighborhood hone in on his security which then, of course, turns into a liability. That episode reminds me of people who brag about the arsenal they have accumulated. If I built Fortress Hasara, the last thing I would do is publicize it. “Hey, I got a bunch of valuable weapons and more ammo than I can count, in case anyone is interested.” Hmm, what does ATF stand for again?

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This nation is going to the dogs but in a good way. From pet-friendly businesses to municipal dog-parks, the great canine awakening is upon us. With an estimated 80 million hounds, the U.S. has the largest dog population in the world, both in raw numbers and ratio to people. We are The Dog-Nation.

It’s been said that dogs prefer human companionship to their own species. I have to believe that there is no small number of humans as well who prefer their four-legged friends to the two-legged variety. A person with a dog, by association, is often seen as more trustworthy and accessible.

I am far more likely to be engaged by a stranger while walking my dog Max than walking by myself. Sometimes my name is relevant but Max’s name always is. His breed, age, and how he came into the family is also often asked. The wall of social separation comes down when a canine is a conduit for conversation.

 

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