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My Brain on NASCAR: The new No. 88 driver

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Here are nine words you’ve probably never heard anyone say: “I’ll be so glad when Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires.”

Since his official retirement announcement in April, Junior Nation has, for the most part, buried its head in the sand, pretending this isn’t happening, living in a fantasy world where only good things happen, and the white knight always wins.

When something disrupts that perfect rainbows-and-unicorns delusion, we behave in much the same way as the children who believe in fairy tales; if we ignore the bad, scary thing, it will go away.

So much for that theory, which came crashing down on July 20 when Hendrick Motorsports officially announced that Alex Bowman will step into the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in 2018 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires from full-time driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series … and any sentient life that exists somewhere out there must surely have heard Earth’s people moaning, millions of miles away.

Taking over the wheel of the most popular ride in NASCAR is no small thing.

Bowman, who is only 24 years old, drove ten races with the No. 88 team last year while Earnhardt was sidelined by a concussion that caused him to miss the final half of the season. While he did OK, I believe I can speak for most people when I say that in the eyes of fans, he was merely a placeholder, filling in until their beloved Junior could strap himself into that car and get back to the business of winning races.  Read the rest of this entry »

Why is electricity so expensive in South Carolina?

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 20, 2017

In a ranking of states by total energy costs, South Carolina is solidly in the middle, at 24th most expensive.

When the costs of electricity, natural gas, motor fuel, and home heating oil are averaged and combined, state residents spent $278 per month.

That’s much better than the most expensive state, Connecticut, at $380, and much worse than the least expensive, Washington, at $226. (The District of Columbia is even lower, at $219.)

More curious is the ranking of states just on monthly retail electricity costs.

To get that figure, the authors of a study released last week by the personal-finance firm WalletHub took data from the Census and from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Then they multiplied the average monthly consumption of electricity per housing unit — in South Carolina, that’s 1,380 kilowatt hours — by the average retail price for electricity, which here is $0.1257 per kilowatt hour.

The result: South Carolina is the highest in the nation, at $173.47.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Don’t Think” from The Times and Democrat

“Don’t Think” from The Times and Democrat

“Upright” from The Times and Democrat

“Upright” from The Times and Democrat

“Speechless” from The Times and Democrat

“Speechless” from The Times and Democrat

“Monsters” by Stuart Neiman

“Monsters” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: A true account of faith and forgiveness

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

For those of you that have never heard of a woman named Corrie Ten Boom and her remarkable family, it is truly a heart-breaking account of courage and sacrifice. We begin our story with Cornelia (nicknamed Corrie) who was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 1892. She was raised in a devoted Christian atmosphere and lived in a large house above her father’s business where he was a jeweler and watch maker. This loving family believed in demonstrating their spiritual convictions by offering shelter, food and help to anyone in need. They also held a deep respect for the Jewish community in Amsterdam, considering them precious in God’s sight and during World War II, actually participated in an underground organization that secretly hid hundreds of Jews to protect them from arrest by Nazi authorities. Within their home, they built false walls, and alarm systems, but eventually were betrayed by one of their Dutch neighbors. Unfortunately, all ten of the family members were incarcerated, including Corrie’s 84-year-old father, who soon died in the Scheveningen prison, located near The Hague. Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp, near Berlin. Betsie suffered and died there on December 16, 1944. Corrie miraculously survived and in her book entitled The Hiding Place, she tells her inspiring story about the power of forgiveness. The depth of what she learned is seen in quotes such as this one; “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

The evil horrors of the holocaust are beyond comprehension and a sad reminder of the fallen state of mankind. When Corrie and Betsy were struggling to stay alive with sleeping on lice infested straw and nothing to eat but a small amount of bread and water each day, she tells of a particular prison guard that was cruel to them and how these nightmares haunted and tortured her soul. When Germany surrendered the war, Corrie was finally released and after regaining her health, she began traveling around the world giving her testimony for Jesus. Another of her popular declarations is, “Love is the strongest force in the world” (especially when we include our enemies). It was now 1947 and she had been invited to a large gathering in Munich to share with a devastated country how God desires that we let go of the resentment and forgive each other. Her message was centered on confessing our sins, and as we forgive, God is faithful to forgive us and begin the healing process. She said it was common to have auditoriums filled with solemn faces and when dismissed they would not say anything and quietly leave.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Watch out for the quiet ones

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

On July 8, under the lights at Kentucky Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. won his third NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, although in this case, the word “won” might be a bit of an understatement. He obliterated the rest of the field.

Popular, R-rated and very outspoken, the late comedian George Carlin had a famous bit in his standup routine based on the premise that “It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”

Carlin was playing for laughs, of course, and he got them, but in some ways, I guess he was on to something. How many times, not just in the movies but in real life, as well, have we seen blustery blowhards bested by smaller, quieter voices who, rather than bragging about what they planned to do, simply went out and got it done?

The sports world is all about big personalities, often with big mouths to match. Muhammad Ali constantly reminded anyone who would listen that he was “the greatest. The double greatest.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. came along a little later and disputed that claim, saying “Yup, I’m better than Muhammad Ali. Sugar Ray Robinson? Yup, I’m better than Sugar Ray Robinson. I would never say there’s another fighter better than me.”

Let’s not forget about Terrell Owens, who once said, “I’ll watch the highlights every now and then but, as far as watching the game, I feel like I am the game,” or the always-entertaining “Sir Charles” Barkley, who said, “You got to believe in yourself. I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world and I might be right.”

Last but not least, here’s what Martin Truex Jr. had to say after his win at Kentucky: “You can have all the money in the world and all the best equipment and parts and pieces, but if you don’t have the right guys together and the right driver together with all those guys, it’s not going to be successful.

Read the rest of this entry »

For commissioner, governor turns to chamber

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

More than two months ago, the office of Governor Henry McMaster was lining up a permanent replacement for former state Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Wooten.

When it did, it was guided solely by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, according to documents obtained through an open-records request.

Wooten served a single, four-year term, representing the Seventh Congressional District, which encompasses Myrtle Beach. His tenure was controversial in some quarters, owing to allegations that he had conflicts of interest — he also runs DDC Engineers, a Myrtle Beach firm that does business with state and local government.

Wooten’s commission expired February 15. The law allowed him to sit on the DOT board for another six months. The governor, meanwhile, had the choice of nominating him for another term or naming someone new, in either case subject to the legislature’s ultimate approval.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bad news on sales tax

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

If you shop locally and wonder where the money goes, the Tax Foundation has an explanation. South Carolinians pay the 17th-highest sales taxes in the nation, according to a new midyear report from the nonpartisan think tank.

The ranking, arrived at by combining state and a population-weighted average of local sales taxes, is another rebuke to public officials who tout the Palmetto State as a low-tax environment.

The highest rate is Louisiana, at 10.02 percent. The lowest non-zero rate is Alaska, at 1.76 percent. South Carolina comes in at 7.37 percent, just lower than Colorado (7.5 percent) and higher than Minnesota (7.29 percent). Delaware, Oregon, Montana, and New Hampshire have no sales taxes.

Read the rest of this entry »

When economic development becomes a state priority, citizens lose control

By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org

July 14, 2017

As the Policy Council has been compiling this year’s Best and Worst of the General Assembly, I couldn’t help noticing a recurring theme: economic development-related bills.

Some are overt, like one that would create two new programs and a grant fund to further integrate economic development into the school system.

Others are not, such as the bill that offers a tax credit for purchasing South Carolina produce. The credit is capped, which means not everyone who applies will get it. Guess who doles it out? Not the departments of Agriculture or Revenue. It’s the Coordinating Council for Economic Development, which is instructed to consider “factors related to the economic benefit of the state” when selecting the winners and losers – excuse me, the recipients — of the credit.

These are just a couple of examples from this year’s bills. This is nothing new: Multiple state agencies have economic development missions. The economic development mentality permeates our government.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Eureka” from The Times and Democrat

“Eureka” from The Times and Democrat

“Wishful” from The Times and Democrat

“Wishful” from The Times and Democrat

“Health Costs” from The Times and Democrat

“Health Costs” from The Times and Democrat

The Coding Movement is Sweeping the World, U.S. and S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

All the way from the board rooms of tech executives in Silicon Valley to the kindergarten class at Voyager Charter School in Charleston, the coding movement is sweeping the country.

So, who is behind the coding movement?

Let’s begin with the National Science Foundation, MIT Media Labs, Newt Gingrich, National Governors Association, Amazon, Disney, Tim Cook, American Airlines, DonorsChoose.org, Facebook, Google, Barack Obama, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Skype, Mark Zuckerberg, YouTube, John Deere, Jeff Bezos, Discovery Channel, Junior Achievement, Jeb Bush, National Basketball Association, One Laptop Per Child, Marriott, Bill Gates, Expedia, Mark Cuban, Delta Airlines, General Motors, Best Buy, JP Morgan, LinkedIn, Intel, Wells Fargo, Target, Salesforce, Verizon, Walmart, Corey Booker, AT&T, Accenture, Bill Clinton … to name just a few. This is to say nothing of just about every national educational organization in the country, 27 Democratic and Republican governors… well you get the picture.

OK, you say, but exactly what is the coding movement?

In the narrowest sense, it’s about teaching young people to be able to write computer code. In the broadest sense, it’s about promoting computer education.

Now, unless they have been living in a cave for the last 20 years of so, most people have figured out that computers are important and understand they are vital for our future. But, what most of us who have not been living in a cave generally don’t understand is how big a problem we have with the lack of skilled coders and computer education. A recent Washington Post article outlined the problem:

“An estimated 500,000 unfilled U.S. jobs require some level of computer-science understanding, yet three-quarters of the nation’s public schools do not offer any computer science courses, often sending companies turning to foreign workers for specialized skills. The federal government isn’t doing much to help: Virtually no federal funding is dedicated to enhancing computer science offerings in K-12 schools … Computer science education has long been treated as an elective in K-12 schools, a nice-to-have option for the few students who are naturally inclined to seek it out.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“Kiss Kiss” by Stuart Neiman

“Kiss Kiss” by Stuart Neiman

My Brain on NASCAR: Danica in Victory Lane

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

At Daytona International Speedway on July 1, Danica Patrick headed to Victory Lane for the second time in her NASCAR Cup Series career. Also for the second time, she was celebrating a victory in a race she didn’t win.

If you enjoy watching awards show as much as I do, you’re familiar with the routine. Each award generally involves five nominees, and when their category rolls around, cameras zoom in on their faces as they pretend not to appear anxious while they wait for the winner to be announced.

It is a cringe-worthy moment, as one nominee – now he winner — is legitimately thrilled, while the others wear forced smiles and pretend they aren’t bitterly disappointed.

This is kind of similar to the end of a NASCAR race, as the winner heads to Victory Lane and finishers two through five are held on pit road for live interviews, where they acknowledge the efforts of their team members before hightailing it out of there as quickly as possible.

Since the November 2011 announcement that she would be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, sharing a Tommy Baldwin Racing car in an alliance with with Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick’s popularity exponentially exploded.

Many people thought that NASCAR Nation might reject her, but in fact, quite the opposite was true. In a sport that continually struggles with the challenges of an aging fan base, she was the bridge that connected new fans – most of them young females – with the sport of NASCAR.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Choosing to manage our time wisely

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

In this modern world in which we live, the access of information is becoming an addiction. For many people, technology is emotionally stimulating entertainment and as it continues to advance we wonder if the intent is to influence us within this evolution of pleasure enhancement. It’s amazing to consider that only 70 years ago the concept of computers controlling the masses seemed more like science fiction but now it has become a reality. Who would have dreamed that in this short period of time that most everyone would be connected to a world-wide information system and what a significant part it would play in our everyday lives?

We realize that technology is helping us in many different ways but we also consider that possibly we are also being drawn into a dimension that is having a negative effect on our mind and spirit. Take smart-phones for instance, they are literally becoming a part of us. Since we are moving away from practical problem solving and personal human interaction, I can only imagine how the masses would react or even survive if service was lost and everything was turned off.

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I-73: One giant step forward, same old error

By Robert Meyerowitz for TheNerve.org

July 5, 2017

When it comes to spending and infrastructure, one of South Carolina’s great white whales rose from the deep with news last week that the Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit to begin work on the South Carolina leg of I-73. Ultimately, the interstate highway could take motorists from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula straight down to Myrtle Beach.

The permit covers the whole state length, slicing across its northeastern corner, starting near Bennettsville. Construction could begin within two years, supporters say, on a project first contemplated in 1982.

The southern half alone, linking I-95 to the Conway Bypass, is estimated to cost more than $1 billion, with total costs estimated now to reach as high as $4 billion.

U.S. Representative Tom Rice, the Republican from Myrtle Beach, hailed the permitting, saying that “studies indicate” the highway will generate approximately 22,000 permanent jobs.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Dean seconded that, saying the highway would bring “more jobs, higher wages” and “economic growth” to an area dominated by the tourism industry. Myrtle Beach already sees more than 15 million annual visitors. Read the rest of this entry »

“Repeal then and now” by Stuart Neiman

“Repeal then and now” by Stuart Neiman