Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Dumb Criminals and Amazing Grace

Holdup-630x463Crime isn’t an occupation anyone should take up without training.

If you are going to rob a store, you should have mastered the art of putting on your ski mask to protect your identity – before the robbery begins. It’s a not good idea to put on your ski mask in plain view of the store’s surveillance camera.

If you are on the lam and see a poster stapled to a telephone poll offering free beer at the police station, you should recognize it is a trap, not an invitation to a kegger.

If you steal a car, don’t post your feat on YouTube.

These are simple concepts, yet they elude many Walter White wannabes. Flunking even the basics of successful criminal behavior gives the whole occupation a bad reputation.

Unless you are willing to put in the time before doing the time, best to stick with clandestine pilfering the Wi-Fi signal from your neighbor’s house.


An English major struck another blow for respect for this maligned discipline when she uncovered the cure for a deadly bacteria in a 1,000-year-old book.

MRSA-2An English professor at the University of Nottingham was asked by baffled medical scientists to see if medieval man recorded any cures for the MRSA bacteria, which has become the scourge of modern hospitals. Christina Lee recalled something in Bald’s “Leechbook,” an Anglo Saxon bestseller about homespun remedies for all kinds of ailments, including, as it turned out, the MRSA bacteria, which managed to exist without hospitals and patients in backless robes.

Scientists confirm that what Lee discovered in an old book and scientists works, with a MRSA kill rate of 90 percent. PRI’s “The World” radio show quoted Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh at Texas Tech University, “I’m a real skeptic. We have to get a lot of odd suggestions here. And this appears to be just as good or better than modern antibiotics.”

The ancient remedy consists of onion, garlic and wine, with some cow bile thrown in for good measure. It is brewed in a brass vessel, strained for purification and left alone for nine days before used as a topical application.

Researchers now are at work trying to figure out the active agent in the mixture that whacks the deadly MRSA bacteria. Chances are it won’t be the wine.


Republican presidential candidates are making their pilgrimage to the U.S.-Mexican border to pledge fealty to the fixation of adding more barbed wire to the border wall.

Still without a plan to deal with the 12 million or so undocumented people already in America, these candidates might take note of a recent University of Chicago poll that shows near unanimity among economists on the benefits of immigration.

Economic studies show that immigrants expand economic opportunity, not shrink it. They debunk what is called the Lump of Labor fallacy, which says jobs are a zero-sum game. If an undocumented worker gets a job, there is one less job for domestic workers. Immigration is an engine of growth, and with relatively few downsides.

importIf anything, some economist says we should let in more people, not less. Immigrants would add productivity to our economy, lessen destabilizing poverty in neighboring countries and cause little environmental damage.

A recent NPR story carried an interview with a California organic farmers who has struggled to harvest his crop because of a lack of workers, even though he has gone way beyond the norm in his treatment and pay. He dryly told a reporter that instead of worrying about immigrants, U.S. policymakers would worry about cut-rate fruit and vegetable imports that threaten the economic viability of family farms like his throughout America.


Jim BrownFamed Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown is in the NFL Hall of Fame and considered one of the greatest football players ever. But he also is in the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame, located in Baltimore.

While attending Syracuse University, Brown was a 4-sport star in football, basketball, track and lacrosse. Brown was so good with the stick that he might have turned pro in lacrosse. There are two professional lacrosse leagues today. There were none in his day.


amazing-grace_t_nvJohn Newton, the man who wrote “Amazing Grace,” was a slave ship captain. He was inspired to write what many view as the best Gospel song of all time, by a near-death experience at sea.

Newton went on to become a minister and a dedicated abolitionist. However, he wasn’t savvy in the art of public relations. The original name of “Amazing Grace” was “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” Luckily, the people who loved the song quickly adopted its opening phrase as its enduring title.


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