Archive for category Columns

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 »

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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South Carolina’s Impending $19 Billion ‘Robbery’?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

“Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen.” Woody Guthrie

Full disclosure: I have nothing against the state’s utilities. Back in the 1980s and 90s when I was Director of the Palmetto Project, two of our board members were Virgil C. Summer, retired Chair of the Board of SCANNA (the parent company of SCE&G) and Al Ballard, head of the Electric Co-ops of South Carolina, the retail distributors of Santee Cooper’s power. Virgil was the founding Chairman on the Palmetto Project. Both of these men exemplified the highest values of corporate integrity, accountability and putting the people of our state first. A more recent full disclosure is that in the last few years I have solicited, without success, financial support from both SCE&G and Santee Cooper for non-profit projects.

In 2008, South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to build and operate two nuclear power reactors in Jenkinsville, 20 miles northwest of Columbia. The facilities were to be built next to the existing Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station that has successfully been in operation since 1984.

The power companies also received permission from the S.C. Public Service Commission to raise their rates by $1.2 billion (2.5%) during the construction period to partially finance capital cost. The two facilities were to go on line in 2016 and 2019 and the original combined cost for both was $11 billion with SCE&G’s share at 55% and Santee Cooper at 45%.

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse to disastrous.

Today, both projects are still unfinished. They are not even close – 33 % competed. A Morgan Stanley analysis in March projected that the cost of completing the project could be $22.9 billion, if the project is competed at all. This $22.9 billion is double the original cost. By comparison, the entire budget for the state of South Carolina for this year is about $7.5 billion.

At the root of this tangle of financial issues is an insidious little legal provision called the “base load rate.” In 2007, the power companies got the legislature to pass a law that said the rate payers will have to pay in advance for the construction cost of new power plants – plus the power companies would be guaranteed a profit of 10.25%.

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Living on Purpose: A young patriot willing to give all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Every summer we look forward to July fourth because it’s filled with fun things to do, like barbequing, picnics, games, family reunions, fireworks and of course it’s a paid vacation day. Along with the excitement and activities, let us also remember and be grateful for those who have served our country so that we can enjoy our freedom. Independence Day is all about the courage of many Americans who fought against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War and with much blood-shed declared the victory and helped establish this great nation. On July fourth, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, declared the sovereignty of the United States of America as they signed the Declaration of Independence which is recognized as our nations birthday.

There is an interesting story of a young man who was a soldier in this war and in every sense of the word defines the meaning of a true American hero. Nathan Hale of Coventry, Connecticut was born in 1755 and grew up to be a highly educated and handsome young man who had every prospect for a happy and fulfilling life. Those who knew him commented on his love for sports, his kindness and strong Christian convictions. As tension increased about a possible conflict with the British, Nathan like many other enthusiastic young men, joined a local militia and was quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant. When the war officially became a reality, many chapters of Connecticut militia rushed to Massachusetts to help their neighbors during the Siege of Boston but Hale was unsure whether to join these forces or to wait and see what would unfold. He was a young professional teacher that had a lot to lose especially with not being clear about what was happening. In early July 1775, Nathan received a heartfelt letter from his best friend, Benjamin Tallmadge who had seen the war firsthand and was now relaying about the situation. Tallmadge told Nathan that teaching school was truly noble but at this time it was critical to consider the responsibility of defending this glorious country. The day after receiving this letter, Nathan Hale resigned his teaching position and became dedicated to the call of duty.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Kyle Busch

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

2015 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch is not a happy camper.

How do I know this? Are we super-secret pen pals and he shared this with me in confidence? No. Did he tell someone else, and I saw it on Twitter because people can’t keep anything to themselves these days? No.

But I definitely know that Kyle is not only unhappy, but downright ticked off. You know it, too, and you know the reason why just as well as I do.

He isn’t winning.

For probably 70 percent of the competitors in NASCAR’s Cup Series, putting up the numbers that Busch has earned in 2017 would constitute a successful season. Two poles. Four stage wins. Nine top-10 finishes. Six top fives. A current ranking of fourth in the driver standings. Not too shabby, right?

Wrong. I can’t help but think that for someone like Kyle Busch – if in fact there is anyone else like him – a no-win season so far feels more like a bed of nails than a cushy La-Z-Boy recliner.   The guy is much more than a driver; he is driven.

Back in 2010, Denny Hamlin went on a bit of a racing rampage, taking eight checkered flags and finishing the season in second place, behind – who else? – Jimmie Johnson. When he crossed the start/finish line at Darlington, Hamlin radioed his crew these five words: “All we do is win,” a phrase that ran as a headline in media outlets all across the country and eventually ended up on team T-shirts.

Anyone can have a great season, but a great career is a different matter entirely … which brings us back to the subject at hand. I am frequently asked that if I could choose just one driver to root for over the course of an entire season, who would it be?

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The Sorry State of Women in our State

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

It has always been a source of great bewilderment to me the huge hypocritical gulf between how we as Southern men talk about women – and how we treat them.

Our historic culture is that we put women on a pedestal, we dress them in hoop skirts, we praise the Scarlet O’Hara strong women types, are chivalrous defenders of the virtues of Southern womanhood, always looking to help a fair damsel in distress – and on and on.

On the other hand, we beat and kill women regularly, work them like a borrowed mule, pay them less than men, expect them to hold down a job, raise our kids, cook and clean our house, satisfy our sexual urges – and on and on.

And, because we occasionally do the dishes or take the kids to school, we think we have done our part.

Yes, this may be an overstatement but here are the numbers for South Carolina … read ‘em and weep.

Economics – Women earn 27% less than men; 20% of women live below the poverty line and 36% of households headed by women live below the poverty line. Regardless of age, women are more likely to be left out of the labor force than men. Women who do work full-time earned approximately $15,800 per year less than men.

Health – South Carolina is 12th in the nation in teen pregnancy rates, 5th in the nation for STDs and maternal mortality rates are above the national average.

Crime and Violence – South Carolina has the 5th highest rate of women killed by men and 93% of these women are killed by people they know.

Politics – One would think that because 51.7% of the state’s population are women, that women would be well represented in political offices. Not so. Women are generally discouraged from running for office and instead are encouraged to be ‘volunteers.’

Nikki Haley’s election to governor is the exception not the rule. She is only the fourth woman ever elected to any statewide office – Nancy Stevenson was Lt. Governor (1978-82) and Superintendents of Education were Inez Tenenbaum (1998-06) and Molly Spearman (2014 – present). And, only 13.5% of the members of the state legislature are women.

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My Brain on NASCAR: The Times They Are a-Changin’

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

 “Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan, “The Times, They Are a-Changin’”

I’ve been preaching for a number of years now that our NASCAR, the one we grew up with, the one that broke into the mainstream thanks to the drivers we have watched and supported for years, is in a transition phase. In five or maybe even three years from now, it may be nearly unrecognizable. It pains me to admit it because I’ve never really thought of him as a NASCAR prophet, but it seems that Bob Dylan saw it coming long before I did.

Some people don’t want to think about this. I have friends who get so emotional when the subject of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s impending retirement comes up that they actually get tears in their eyes. My own mother sniffled through all 400 miles of Jeff Gordon’s last race. This season, I find myself pulling for the No. 14 every week until something or someone reminds me that Clint Bowyer, not Tony Stewart, is behind the wheel.

We saw this in action at Michigan International Speedway on June 18, when Kyle Larson, after starting the race from the pole position, held off Chase Elliott to take the checkered flag, his second NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and the third of his career.

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Living on Purpose: When life doesn’t make sense

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

There are times we become confused and will not be able to figure out a way to solve our problems. Life is not always a smooth interstate and it’s good to remember that God is with us when we encounter unexpected roadblocks and detours. In these stressful situations, we can know that delays do not necessarily mean denial but could be an opportunity for us to stretch our faith and learn more about trusting God. There is a fascinating story found in Genesis chapter 22 about a man named Abraham and his wife Sarah. They were not able to have children and were now in their nineties but one day an angel came to them and relayed a message from God that they would give birth to a son. Miraculously, they did have a child just like the Lord promised, but when Isaac became a teenager, the Almighty asked Abraham to do something very confusing and heart-breaking.

God told him to take the boy and a bundle of wood to a certain place and build an altar. He was to bind his son with ropes and lay him on top of the wood. This promised child that had been given as the most joyful gift in their life was now to become the most devastating sacrifice they could imagine. Even though Abraham did not understand, he trusted God and raised the knife in obedience to God’s request. At the last second, a voice called out to stop him and said that Abraham had proved that he loved God above everything in the world. Amazing to say the least. We do not always understand what God is doing and this is exactly why the Christian life is based on faith and trust. I know it sounds easy to tell someone to “have faith” or “just believe” when their world is falling apart but this is the message from heaven. Jesus wants us to know that He is aware of what we are going through and to sincerely release our fears over to Him. He is God and He can handle it! Never lose hope no matter how impossible it may seem. “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me, and heard my cry” Psalm 40:1.

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The Best Schools in the U.S. … and S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Did you ever wonder what a truly great school looks like?

Politicians, business people, teachers, etc. all talk about how we need, want and deserve great schools. But no one ever really describes what a great school looks like.

So, in doing research with the U.S. News and World Report rankings of high schools, I was amazed to learn that the top three high schools, and five of the top seven in the country, were all run by BASIS – a chain of 27 tuition free, charter, private and international schools in five states, Washington, D.C. and China.

There are lots of organizations that rank and rate schools but most people generally agree that U.S. New and World Report is one of the best and its website is certainly one of the most useful. Go and look around on the site as they have tons of information on 22,000 high schools, charter schools and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools nationwide – all broken down and searchable by state.

On the site, there is data about individual schools including the ratings of the top 47 high schools in South Carolina. Academic Magnet School in Charleston was rated #1 in the state and 11th nationally – that’s pretty terrific. (Also, in a different ranking by another organization, Laing Middle School in Mt. Pleasant was recently named as the #1 STEM middle school in the country – that’s even more terrific!)

But, for the state’s other top 17 high schools, the site shows their ranking among the 22,000 high schools nationwide – it’s pretty depressing. Today, South Carolina’s #2 school ranks 271 nationally, our #5 school ranks 918 nationally, our #10 school ranks 1,580 nationally and, our #15 school ranks 2,348 nationally.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Forever the Wood Brothers

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

I am willing to wager that mine wasn’t the only dry eye in the Palmetto State when Ryan Blaney claimed his first-ever Monster Energy Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway on June 11, driving the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing. In fact, I’m a little surprised our little ol’ state didn’t wash away entirely on a sea of happy tears.

Way back in the 1990s, I lived in Illinois for three years. Specifically, I lived in Chicago, home of deep-dish pizza, excellent music, Al Capone during his time as “Public Enemy Number One,” the always beleaguered Cubs, and the famous 12-foot statue of Michael Jordon in mid-flight, its granite base bearing the inscription: “The best there ever was. The best there will ever be.”

I had a blast, save for one thing. I lived in a different state in a different part of the country for three years, but all I remember about Illinois is Chicago.

Those of you who enjoy a little roulette with your road trips have probably traveled to Nevada a time or two. After a long flight, Las Vegas rises up out of the desert like the Emerald City, if the yellow brick road was crowded with casinos, the munchkins were dealing blackjack, and Dorothy wore a feathered tiara along with her ruby stilettos.

The earliest human skeletons found in the U.S. were hauled out of a cave in the Silver State, and Levi’s blue jeans were invented there, but all I really know about Nevada is Las Vegas.

Back on the eastern side of the country lies South Carolina, home of one of America’s top three beaches (Myrtle Beach) and its number-one dining destination (Charleston). As the home of stock car racing’s original superspeedway, however, as far as sports fans are concerned, Darlington is the true home of NASCAR, and that’s all they really know, or care, about South Carolina.

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Living on Purpose: God will never forget or forsake you

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Have you ever known someone who was even-tempered and composed even when circumstances seemed to be falling apart all around them? In times of a serious crisis, somehow these individuals remain calm and collected and in fact, it’s not unusual to see them comforting the very ones who came to help. So, what is the secret to living in a peaceful state of mind? It’s coming to the point in our journey where we simply begin to realize who God is. For Christians, it only makes sense this would include believing what He has said is true. It may sound rather elementary, but having a passion for knowing God more personally will go a long way toward learning to trust Him.

Life has its share of wonderful times where we enjoy the blessings and have delightful experiences and then there are also times that are devastating and disappointing. Have you noticed that when we are on the mountaintop, unfortunately, we tend to forget about God because we are so distracted with our pleasures. Then, after this season has passed, we find ourselves walking through a dark and discouraging valley, and immediately call out to Him because we want to go back to the good times. It’s true, this fluctuation is a normal part of life but it’s not the way God intended for His people to live. His plan is for us to mature beyond our emotions and become more spiritually connected with Him whether we are walking through abundance or adversity. Proverbs chapter 3 and verses 5 and 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” If we look at this carefully, He is actually talking about becoming more spiritually sensitive and would love for us to consult Him not only in times of crisis and emergency but every day.

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Simple, Easy and Wrong Answers for S.C.

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”  H. L. Mencken

The South Carolina Legislature seems to live by this. We have some very big and complex problems in this state and our legislators are masters at coming up with clear, simple and wrong answers. Three stories in the news last week are a perfect illustration of this.

Many would argue that the two most basic core functions of our state government are to 1) educate our children and 2) keep us safe … and dealing with the related issue of how do we pay for these things.

First the problems and then the (wrong) answers.

Education. Readers of this space are probably tired of reading this line – but it is still true and I’ll keep writing it until it’s not: if we don’t fix education in this state, nothing else really matters.

Keep two facts in mind. 1) A recent study by the US News and World Report rated our state’s education system (K-12 and higher ed) as 50th in the country. 2) After a 21-year legal battle (yes 21 years), the state Supreme Court ruled that the state does not provide a ‘minimally adequate’ education for about a third of the students in the state, i.e. the Corridor of Shame schools. The courts have ordered the legislature to come up with a plan to do something about this educational travesty.

Against this background, the state passed legislation this session to provide an additional $140 million for K-12 education. Let’s break this down – $29 million for new school buses, $60 million to increase the per pupil funding to $2,425 and $55 million for school building repairs in low income districts.

Spending $140 million more on education sounds great, right? The legislators will now brag to the folks back home that they have done something about education.

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Living on Purpose: The bond of love we have with our pets

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Within two weeks of each other, my son and daughter-in-law took both of their dogs to the vet to end their suffering. Juno and Bishop were so loving and gentle. They were rescued a few years ago, but sadly they both had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It’s very difficult to go through this, but our sincere love and respect does not to want to see them suffer. When my wife and I would visit, Juno would always bring us this huge chew bone and Bishop would wrap his legs around ours like he was hugging us. Of course, my son and his wife are very upset, and we can definitely relate as we have also said goodbye to several dogs through the years. I remember our Boston Terrier Katy, and the sorrow I felt when they put her to sleep. I was rocking her like you would hold a baby and she was staring into my eyes like she had done since she was a baby. I believe us being present in their last moments is very comforting to them and I cannot help but believe they trust us to do the right thing.

A couple of weeks after I had written a rough draft of this column, we came home to find our beloved French bulldog Sampson had unexpectedly passed away. We have taken it hard and miss him very much. I would kid around with my wife in the evenings when Sam would snuggle on the couch with us that he was the recipient of a lot of grand-baby love – ha! In fact, I do not even call them dogs, but I admit I refer to them as “children.” When I say, let’s go to bed children, they march to the kitchen for their bedtime treat and go straight to their designated areas for the evening. We do not have grandchildren yet and our dogs are so spoiled it’s comical. You know, I’m sure that some will think I’m silly, but a pet over time becomes much like a close family member and to some people the bond may be even stronger than any relationship they have with a human. Only those who are deeply attached to their animals would understand.

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My Brain on NASCAR: Bubba Wallace

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

One of the most exciting things to happen in NASCAR in a very long time didn’t happen during a race. Rather, it happened when someone in Richard Petty Motorsports’ PR department hit “Send.”

NASCAR team press releases are a dime a dozen. It is not uncommon for every team in each of NASCAR’s top racing series to send out two or three of them each week. There’s one recapping the previous week’s race, and yet another one previewing the next event. There are qualifying reports, and updates on current sponsor promotions, and releases on what Dale Earnhardt Jr. ate for breakfast.

But not this one. Short and very matter-of-fact, an RPM release on June 5 contained the following information:

Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that NASCAR XFINITY Series regular Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will pilot the No. 43 Ford while Aric Almirola recovers from his injuries. Wallace brings five years of NASCAR experience in both the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series and has been a member of the Ford Performance team since 2015. Wallace, a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and inaugural member of NASCAR Next, will make his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono Raceway this weekend.

The 23-year-old Mobile, Ala., native has five years of experience in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, where he’s tallied five wins, 20 Top Fives, 60 Top 10s and five Pole awards.

There is news … and then there is NEWS.

There is so little diversity in the sport of stock car that I’m surprised no one has started a #NASCARsowhite Twitter campaign yet. So it will be a very big deal when Wallace makes his Monster Energy Cup Series debut on June 11 at Pocono Raceway, becoming the first black driver since Bill Lester in June of 2006 to compete at NASCAR’s premier level.

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McMaster, Trump and Saving the Planet (and S.C.)

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

On Saturday morning, the newspaper landed with its usual thud on my front porch. As I bent over to pick it up I saw the headline, “McMaster Backs Trump’s Exit from Climate Accord.”

Instantly, I remember the words from a radio interview the day before with English businessman Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines and Records et. al) about Trump’s action. He said, “When the leaders won’t lead, the people will have to just get on with saving the planet; we have no choice.”

Therein lies the problem and the solution to the most important issue on the planet – the survival of the planet.

First about the Agreement. Wikipedia does a good job of laying out the facts:  the Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The voluntary (repeat voluntary) language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 countries and adopted in December 2015.

To date, 195 countries have signed the agreement. The two who haven’t are Nicaragua (who thinks the Agreement is too weak) and Syria because – well they are Syria.

Now, with Trump’s decision, Syria has a partner, the United States. (Makes you proud to stand with mass killer Bashar al Assad on this, right?)

And the science. Now there are some who deny that climate change is real. The White House has refused to say if President Trump believes climate change is real. Climate change deniers point to a few scientists and studies that question if climate change is a hoax – excuse me, but no.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Nothing is impossible with God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I never grow weary of writing about prayer because to me it’s the heart of our spiritual communication with God. Even though I believe that our heavenly Father listens and all things are possible with Him, I must admit I do not pray like I should. We realize our spirit is willing but unfortunately our flesh is weak and has every intention to prevent us from connecting with the Almighty. In fact, there is hostility between the carnal mind that is governed by our human nature and anything that is associated with God including our new transformed spirit that is dedicated to knowing and serving Him. This explains why praying is much easier to talk about than to do. As the popular English minister F.B. Meyer once said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but neglected prayer.”

Of course, we know there is no problem too large or small for the Lord to take care of. His long list of divine attributes includes being the creator and authority over all things and accepting that He is in total control gives us a wonderful sense of peace and security. We are motivated to pray when convinced that He desires to intervene and is concerned with even the smallest details of our life. He may not always give us the answer we are seeking but that does not take away from the reality that He is working in our best interest. “Do not be worried or anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.

I have the privilege to be a free-lance columnist for many newspapers around the country and I take this responsibility seriously. Anyway, I was cleaning house the other day, mopping and vacuuming, (yes, men do such things), and I was casually talking with the Lord about how I had been trying for several months but had been unable to make any contacts with editors from a particular state as if the door was locked and how I needed Him to do the impossible. While thanking Him for His blessings I felt compelled to kneel in front of the couch and pour my heart out to Him. A couple of hours later, I returned to my office and while routinely checking email messages, I opened one of them and – you guessed it! It was from a large newspaper in the very state I had been praying about, saying they would love to run my column every Saturday in their religion page. Can you imagine the expression on my face? This may not be a big deal to some, but to me it was nothing less than amazing! I nearly cried as just a short while earlier I had called upon Him in faith, to please help me and make a way where there seemed to be no way. I admitted that I had done all I could do and I needed His super-natural power. This was not a coincidence, and I believe it’s just one of the millions of daily demonstrations where God steps in and performs a miracle according to His perfect will. Jeremiah 29:12 says, “You shall call upon Me, and you shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.”  Read the rest of this entry »