Is your wallet recession proof?

wallet tiny dollar METRO N1212P17013HAs inflation continues to put a strain on budgets, talk of an upcoming recession has Americans worried about their finances.
Prices on everyday items continue to rise and consumers are trying to find ways to make their dollar stretch further while safeguarding their money against the potential challenges a recession may bring.

The future may be difficult to predict, but preparing now can help consumers protect their financial health during a recession.

A recent Experian survey found that two in three U.S. adults are concerned about a recession occurring in the United States. Consumers are most worried about the affordability of routine expenses, with 73% concerned that the price of everyday items like gas, groceries and rent will continue to rise to a level they can’t afford.

Meanwhile, 55% harbor supply chain concerns and 38% are stressed about the affordability of big, planned purchases such as a home or a car.

As recession worries grow, more Americans are sizing up their finances to see where they stand. Only 48% are confident that they can financially handle a recession, and two in five believe that they’ll need to rely on credit to cover essential and unexpected expenses over the next three months.

In fact, 27% have already increased their credit card debt within the past three months.
This trend is accompanied by additional anxieties: two in three survey respondents are concerned to some degree that their credit score will negatively affect their ability to access credit in the next three months.
Being proactive is key to weathering financial storms, yet less than half of consumers have prepared for a recession when it comes to their finances and credit.

Those who have are finding different ways to do so: 49% have cut non-essential expenses like entertainment and vacations, 45% have created a budget and 40% have paid down debt.
While these are effective actions, there are other steps consumers can take to understand their credit history and safeguard their credit.

Consumers should check their credit report and credit score regularly to know exactly where they stand in the event that they need to apply for credit, or simply to be better informed as they prepare to pay down their debt ahead of an economic decline.
They can get a free credit report and credit score from Experian (Spanish-language credit reports are also available) as well as access to free financial tools, an auto insurance shopping service and credit card marketplace.

Those who need help increasing their credit score can sign up for Experian Boost. This free feature enables consumers to add their monthly payments for cell phone bills, utility bills, rent and video streaming services to their credit history to potentially increase their FICO Score instantly. To learn more, visit

“Inflation and recession fears are putting pressure on consumer’s finances, but proactively planning for the worst can help consumers make it through potential challenges. Many consumers are already taking great steps to prepare, like creating a budget and paying down their debt, and we encourage them to utilize other available resources and tools to help,” says Rod Griffin, senior director of Public Education and Advocacy at Experian.

Now you’re cooking with rat brains

Rats RUle PittWhat the world needs now more than love sweet love, are smarter, more socially attuned rats. Mr. Science has developed a method to put human brain cells into rats. What could possibly go wrong with this interesting development?

Today we enter the door that opens into this brave new world of improved rats. Quoting the The New York Times: “Scientists have successfully transplanted clusters of human neutrons into the brains of new born rats…” As Flounder said in “Animal House” — “Oh Boy! Is this great!”

Let us ponder the how, then the why, and the what this might mean for ratkind and humankind. Like many occasionally startling trends, poking human brain cells into rat brains originated in California. Our friends at Stanford not only left the cake out in the rain at McArthur Park but found the recipe again.

First, you put a bunch of human skin cells into a petri dish. Gently mix in some chemicals to cause the skin cells to morph into embryo cells. The newly hatched embryo cells can grow into almost anything except a Mercedes Benz. Fold in some more chemicals that cause embryo cells to develop into nerve cells, AKA neurons. Put the neurons into a commercial grade Commando 1500 E Class 10,000-watt Food Processor. Add Stanford’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Spin for two hours until the cells form large clumps of neurons called progenitor brain cells.

These brain cells become three types of nerve cells called Organoids. These new improved brain cells do not develop into regular or extra crispy Organoids, but come in three delicious flavors: brain cortex cells, spinal cord cells and muscle cells.

Now comes the fun part. Mr. Science implants the human nerve cells into the brains of volunteer two-day old baby rats to see what happens next. The Organoids are put into the part of the rat brains that understands pain, touch and bodily signals. Rats get a lot of information about the outside world from their whiskers. Human Organoids can speak Rat Whisker. Once at home in the baby rat brain, the Organoids flourish and grow to take up about 1/3 of the rat’s cortex.

Party on, Organoids! Mr. Science discovered the rats with human Organoids learned much more quickly than mere rat brained rats. We now can produce intellectually gifted rats who will require private schools.
Why do we want better rat brains? By Mr. Science studying the new improved rat brains, medical advances may be made into understanding autism, brain injuries and other neurological disorders. Some soreheads have ethical questions about implanting Organoids into rats. At this point, apparently Organoids have not been implanted into chimpanzees or border collies. But if winter comes, can blizzards of new improved animals be far behind? Stay tuned.

Eventually PETA is likely to object to the biological downgrading of rats by diluting their rodent identity through injecting human brain cells. Rats will become less than fully rat, declining into mere Ratoids adulterated by human brain cells. Humans have done a lot of things, and not all of them were good. Introducing human brain cells into rats is species colonialism. The insertion of human brain cells into rats is the first step on a slippery slope of cultural appropriation of rat history.

Will Ratoids become addicted to following the latest antics of Kardashians or the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Will Ratoids become influencers on social media? Will Ratoids become Democrats or Republicans, or form a new Party of Ratacrustians?

Not everything must be bleak in the coming Ratoid future. What is sauce for the rat, is sauce for the human. If human brain cells can be injected into rats, then rat brain cells can be injected into humans. The insertion of rat brain cells into humans would improve a lot of humans.

Consider Putin with a new improved rat brain. Vlad would be a kinder, gentler, murderous dictator. There are some things that even rats won’t do. Putin has shown there is nothing he won’t do. Rat Brain Putin would be an upgrade. Rat brain cells would improve Kanye West by slowing his spew of antisemitic comments, thereby allowing him to focus on finding cheese instead of vomiting hatred. Elon Musk clearly would benefit from rat brains. Former Dook Coach K’s disposition could be upgraded to almost semi-catatonic with an infusion of rat brains. Coach K already resembles a rat. His transformation from almost human to rat would not be a stretch. In a display of almost superhuman restraint, I will refrain from suggesting whether an infusion of rat brain cells would improve the Former Guy.

So, what have we learned today? Who put the rat in rational and irrational? Who knows? Boys will be boys. Rats will be rats. Until now, never the twain shall meet. Once humans comingle their brain cells in rats, we will end up with a nation of Dook fans. As Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now” once said, “The Horror. The Horror.”

Cotton: The fabric of our lives

23A trip to Holden Beach took us through the country with beautiful views of farms and fields. We rounded a curve and there was a field of cotton so beautiful it looked like it had been painted.
Even in that passing moment, I could see the open blossoms a bright white against the landscape and sky. Thus, my inspiration for this week’s article.

The word cotton comes from the Arabic word “quton”. The earliest production was in India dating back to 5,000 B.C. Arab merchants brought cotton cloth to Europe around A.D. 800, and when Columbus discovered America in 1492, he saw cotton growing in fields on the Bahama Islands and along the east coast.

The history of cotton spans more than 7,000 years. About 3000 B.C., cotton was cultivated in the Indus River Valley, and about 2500 B.C., Chinese, South Americans and Egyptians began wearing cotton fabrics. Cotton spread west to Egypt, Turkey, Central America and the Caribbean.
Cotton is soft and fluffy, and the United States is the largest producer of cotton as an export. The production is a lengthy and involved process from planting to picking. It is not easy to grow and prefers warm and humid climates.

Historically, cotton was picked by hand, which took hours to process and separate. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794, which revolutionized the process.
Today, cotton pickers are machinery that picks the entire plant, and a cotton stripper is used for separation. After it is picked it is baled and stored before going to a gin. At the gin it is cleaned and fluffed to separate the cotton from seeds and lint, then it is compressed and ready to ship to textile mills.

When it is cleaned and fluffed it is put into a carding machine which cleans the material again and forms short fibers into long untwisted rope for spinning and weaving
There are four types of cotton.
Pima is the finest because the fibers are extra soft and long. Egyptian cotton has similar qualities but is grown in the Nile River Valley in Egypt. Upland cotton makes up about 90% of the world’s total cotton production in Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and southern Florida. Organic cotton is cotton grown without chemicals.

Cotton is indeed the fabric of our lives, and its uses are in the hundreds. There are some traces of cotton in almost everything we wear or use daily. Cotton is used to make all types of clothing because of its versatility and comfort, and it is used in making industrial products. It is used in making fabrics such as flannel, velvet, velour and corduroy. It is used to make fishnets, book bindings and coffee filters. It can be used as food for cattle because it is edible, and cottonseed oil is in high demand as an alternative to vegetable oil. It is used in the production of cosmetic products and soaps. It is a key ingredient in beauty products such as sheet masks, makeup remover wipes and cottonseed oil to nourish the skin.

When purchasing sheets 100% cotton is always a go-to for comfort and durability. Thread counts should range from 200 to 500 and anything above that is not necessarily better quality. Labels that read cotton rich are less than 100% cotton. Bamboo sheets become rayon once they are processed with chemicals that change the composition and texture. The Oeko-Tex certification on a textile signifies that all the product has been tested for toxins.

Live, love, life and cotton.


Cooper’s veto is no longer safe

Gov Roy CooperContrary to what North Carolina progressives seem to think, the truth is that the Republican-controlled General Assembly now has a governing supermajority. This dynamic threatens Gov. Roy Cooper’s ability to continue building upon his record of having the most vetoes of any state governor.

Tuesday’s electoral results also put state public policy outcomes in North Carolina into a favorable position for those who value limited government.
The social media politico echo chambers are spiking with analysis after Tuesday’s election. Folks on the left and right are giving their thoughts about what the results mean for our political landscape. Overall, it is fair to conclude that what should have been an environment where Republicans saw a massive red wave across the country turned up short, but here at home, they secured critical victories.

The NCGOP took a sweeping victory over the judiciary, gaining the majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. This will positively impact conservatives and those who value constitutionality in how judges interpret the law rather than judicial activism. Likewise, this will potentially impact redistricting, righting the wrongs of previous activist judges.

Most notably, Republicans gained a supermajority in the state Senate, bringing them to 30 seats in the upper chamber and a “functional supermajority” in the NC House, coming up short only by one, with 71 seats.
Nationally, the GOP did not do as well as many pundits predicted. There are potentially many reasons why that happened. One can speculate that this could be seen as a referendum on Trumpism — that it’s time for Republicans to move beyond Donald Trump and that populist rhetoric is not necessarily the catch-all winning strategy for conservatives moving forward. With what we saw in this election cycle in North Carolina with the loss of the three Trump-endorsed congressional candidates (Cawthorn, Hines and Smith), even with a Budd victory, that seems to be a good argument.

While the red wave may not have been felt at the national level, and social media rhetoric reflects that sentiment, #NCPOL Twitter is seemingly different from the rest of the country, as we did see positive gains for Republicans on the state level and, of course, with Budd’s U.S. Senate victory.

So, as for the General Assembly, what does a “functioning or governing supermajority” mean for legislating and the governor’s veto power?
Republicans in the General Assembly only need one House Democrat to align with them to override Gov. Cooper’s veto. House Republicans have a rich environment of moderate Democrats to vote with them on a wide variety of policies, especially now that Democrats do not have to worry about the wrath of Cooper’s vengeance since his time as governor is coming to a close. Senate Republicans have the votes to override a veto even without Democrat support.

On a vote-by-vote basis, and almost every issue imaginable, Republicans in the General Assembly can expect to have practically no problem finding Democrats to effectively caucus with them on votes, thus making Cooper’s veto no longer safe.

It would be politically savvy for moderate Democrats to deliver on being moderates and work in a bipartisan fashion. Likewise, this also means Republicans will have to moderate, albeit only slightly, on some issues to win the hearts of their colleagues. Overall, this is arguably not bad for a good and balanced government.

Editor’s Note: André Béliveau is the strategic projects and government affairs manager at the John Locke Foundation. He is an M.A. in government candidate at Johns Hopkins University and previously served as a policy advisor in the North Carolina Senate.

FTCC program prepares students for leadership challenges

22Corporations seek those with leadership ability because they believe these individuals bring special assets to their organization and, ultimately, improve the bottom line.
— Peter G. Northouse, “Leadership”

Why does leadership matter? In today’s global environment, organizations and communities want leaders who can guide them and drive positive change. Now more than ever, these same organizations and communities seek agile, creative and analytical leaders who are capable of operating in a complex and ever-changing environment.

In other words, candidates are sought who can successfully lead businesses and organizations out of the post-pandemic period and into the emerging “meta” era. Is this you?
Do leaders matter? Leaders at all levels assess requirements against capabilities and, in turn, leverage their personnel to attain goals. However, it is the skilled leader who visualizes, describes and directs not solely on where “we are” but rather synergizes the past and forecasts the future to positively affect “today.” Is this you?

Leadership changes the world. We study leadership so we can be successful leaders for organizations now and in the future. The Leadership Studies program at Fayetteville Technical Community College is looking for students who have the passion, drive and commitment to confront challenges in a constantly changing global world. Are you ready to meet the challenge?
Interested in leadership? Perhaps you should consider a degree in Leadership Studies. FTCC's Leadership Studies degree is a 5 semester/64-credit-hour program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and growth into leadership positions.

Course work includes various subject areas related to leadership involving data-driven decision-making, change management, strategic leadership, planning, team-building, leadership capacity, motivation and effective communication.
Graduates will earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and may qualify for leadership positions in the public and private sectors. Occupations may include positions specific to the military, governmental agencies, public policy, non-governmental agencies, law enforcement and homeland security.

How do you begin? Registration for Spring classes at FTCC is open, and Spring classes begin Jan. 9.

The arrival of a new year brings renewed hope and excitement, a “clean slate” waiting to be filled with ideas and directions for pursuing a new career, upgrading job skills and improving overall quality
of life.

Your local community college is an outstanding resource for pursuing a better quality of life through education. Whether your educational interest falls in the area of Leadership Studies, or in some other field or area, FTCC has over 280 academic programs to choose from, conveniently and affordably offered to help you make the most of your career decision.

For additional information about the Leadership Studies program, please visit or call 910-678-8521 or email

You can reach an FTCC Admissions representative at to get started at FTCC.

Your journey to a new career begins with the first step at FTCC. Let us help you find your way forward.


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