Friday, March 31, 2006

Better post this one before midnight!

...or no one will believe it. Here it is; in the past week, I've had two relatively painless experiences with the DMV. No kidding. I'd still like to have fewer reasons to deal with them, but this wasn't too bad.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A sad thought about politics

The recent resignation of Andy Card brings a sad thought about politics to me. Or, rather, the response to it does; in a nutshell, that due to falling ratings, the President's prime option was not to figure out what he was doing wrong and fix it, but rather to get somebody new in an office or two.

While it is certainly true that sometimes new bodies bring new ideas, it scares me somewhat to think that politicians spring immediately to the new body instead of leading with new ideas. It is the ad hominem fallacy as public policy, casting away God's image because repentance is apparently unthinkable in DC.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On a lighter note....

Peeps at Fraters Libertas uncovers some new management buzzwords; "delayering" and "unsiloing." While it is certainly regrettable that management always needs a new set of buzzwords every 3-5 years, these are remarkable for the fact that they deal with the problems inherent in management.

"Delayering" means to remove unneeded layers of management, and "unsiloing" means to remove the barriers between working groups. While I'm not certain that we'll be seeing VPs walking their golf partners and fraternity brothers out the door anytime soon, it's refreshing to at least see that at least some know they're part of the problem.

More thoughts on "Growing Families International"

My actual introduction to the work of the Ezzos was not "Growing Kids God's Way," but rather "Babywise," his secular primer on how to raise a baby. In a nutshell, his main point is that it's best to schedule feedings, use a crib, and get your baby to sleep through the night.

I have all sorts of objections to it, starting with the fact that true wisdom in child-rearing begins with the Scriptures. How can one truly be "baby-wise" absent God's Word?

My other objections are based on the factual content of his book. It presents no significant evidence (links/footnotes to studies), recommends a factory schedule model for child-rearing, and has been virtually unanimously rejected by pediatricians and lactation consultants.

...and for a good reason, I might add. Rigid schedules result in babies going hungry, and failing to gain weight. Think about it in your own terms; few us us go for three or four hours without food or drink, and most of us wake up from time to time for the same. Why on earth would we think that a plan which would be painful or even injurious to us might be healthy for a baby?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Some thoughts on "Growing Kids God's Way"

A common affliction among evangelical and fundamental Christians is an infatuation with the work of Gary Ezzo, especially with "Growing Kids God's Way." I went through the course once, and have also read "Babywise," much to my regret.

Regret? Absolutely. The critical flaw in all of Ezzo's work that I've seen is that it downplays and even ignores the work of Christ in a child's life. When I took GKGW, my pastor made this point repeatedly, and even pointed out that some of Ezzo's comments bordered on Pelagianism.

Such a record does not, at least if I'm reading 1 Timothy correctly, qualify the man to teach.

And here's what I recommend instead.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time to visit the kitchen

One might wonder what kind of tools are necessary to make the recipes I put here. The answer; not much. In fact, the simpler, the better. All too often, fancy gadgets simply get in the way to where one decides to please one's wife by going out to eat--spending the money that would have enabled one to please one's wife by avoiding working overtime. Plus, until one gets to really expensive stuff, one can really do better at home.

Now, the ingredients to a happy kitchen. Start with a standard gas or electric coil stove. Avoid flat top ranges--they just don't heat well in my experience. Put a few stainless pans (anything with a flat aluminum or copper bottom will do) and cast iron skillets on and around that stove. The best skillets are found, by the way, in antique stores--though Lodge is still making some good products, just a bit heavier. Also find a decent tea kettle.

Now for food preparation; I prefer stainless or stonewear/pottery bowls for mixing, and small plastic or wooden cutting boards for cutting. Whatever you do, don't save your money by buying cheap knives. You'll end up in the restaurant again, possibly with stitches--dull knives slip and are dangerous. Leave them at Target or Wal-Mart and come home with one or two decent Wusthof or Henckels paring/utility knives instead. One restaurant or emergency room visit pays for them.

And coffee? Leave automatic drip behind and invest $30 in a decent french press. Your taste buds will thank you.

Add measuring cups & spoons, spices, and kitchen staples like flour and sugar, and you're ready to be a blessing to your wife. Here's a quick way to do so by making breakfast. In honor of Chad of Fraters Inebritas, it is of course, pancakes. This recipe can be adjusted with buttermilk, fruit, or whatever else you like--even bacon and onions and such.

Basic pancakes:
1 cup flour (whole wheat is preferable IMO)
1 tbsp baking powder (add a little baking soda if using buttermilk)
1 egg
~1 cup milk
Additionals: sugar (1 tbsp), vanilla, blueberries, banana, apples, chocolate chips, kibble, whatever

Mix flour & baking powder, add egg & milk and stir to get a thick liquid--neither "stiff" nor "runny." Cook one piece of bacon in each of your skillets over medium heat. When bacon is done, start cooking pancakes, flipping them when bubbles form on uncooked side and removing when both sides are cooked well.

Want a richer pancake? Here you go--note that the difference between a Sunday pancake and a weekday pancake is simply the amount of eggs used, and whether the whites are beaten stiff for leavening.

Enjoy on your nice china (here's an example) from time to time with good strong coffee, and leave the newspaper in your driveway. This breakfast is for your wife and you, not Nick Coleman.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Trying to be "in control"

I wonder what would happen if we all considered for a minute the cost of trying to control everything. I've commented previously about the high cost of management, and also about some of the unforeseen costs of regulation. Add to that the 40% overall tax rate, 15% cost of regulation and litigation, and the 30-50% or so share that management/HR/Benefits/etc.. take out of the available compensation pot, and what becomes very quickly clear is that the urge to "control" everything is one very expensive habit.

That is, when I consider a dollar's worth of productivity, regulation reduces it to 85 cents or so, management/HR/benefits takes the next 25 to 40 cents of what's left, and then the taxman cometh and removeth the first 16 to 24 cents of that, I'm left with somewhere between 29 cents and 36 cents on the dollar. Maybe if you do really well, you'll get 45 cents on the dollar.

And then, like fools, most of us get into debt and use the first 15% of what's left--4 to 6 cents--to pay the interest. So we're left with somewhere between 25 cents to 39 cents on the dollar of productivity that we could have had.

Ouch. If you want prosperity, try self-control. It's a miracle that the control freaks among us haven't already controlled us right into the poorhouse or starvation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A modest tax cut proposal

Conservatives like myself are generally fond of tax cuts, but sometimes we forget what we're conceding when we get one. A great example is the child tax credit-- for the privilege of getting a substantial reduction in taxes, we get a substantial complication in the tax code. Why not simply increase the standard deduction for a dependent?

Unfortunately, this isn't the only example. Tax breaks for child care, medical expenses, tuition, and incremental tax reductions may reduce taxes paid, but at the cost of complicating the tax code and maintaining/increasing government's control over people.

So here's my recommendation for the next round of tax cuts; reduce and/or eliminate annual vehicle taxes and other functions of the Department of Motor Vehicles. License plates should be issued by the car dealer and should be good for as long as you own the car--and will serve as your registration as well. No annual stickers and vehicle taxes.. Drivers' licenses should be issued by those who know your driving record best--your insurance company.

Lost revenue? A modest increase in the gas tax would suffice to cover it. Whaddaya say; is 5 cents per gallon a reasonable cost for getting rid of all of that paperwork and frustration? I'd say it is.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Yet more ways....

to love your wife, this time courtesy of Jeff Tucker from a few years back. While I don't believe that it's necessary to wear a suit & tie all the time, I do believe, like Tucker, that certain standards of clothing benefit us all.

To wit, the waist/upper hip is a great place to hang pants and skirts, and it's also a great place to tuck in shirts and blouses. Moreover, a bit of "ease", or a slightly looser fit, makes virtually any garment more comfortable.

So choose your threads well. You'll look better, feel better, work better, and most importantly, your wife won't need to suffer with your muffin top. Love your wife; if you can't get rid of your flab, at least cover it up when you're out in public.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More ways to love your wife

For starters, I'd suggest that those of you out there who are going to celebrate the memory of the missionary to Ireland might do well to remember that Magonus Sucatus Patricius never, ever, EVER drank green beer. So if you want to keep things authentic......spend some time in prayer for the evangelization of your island, and keep far, far away from green beer.

Rumor has it as well that it's not really beer at all, but rather water from the Chicago River dyed green for the occasion.

Now for dinner, Mark has a suggestion that will help you fulfill your 1 Corinthians 7 responsibilities to her for a long time. Other helpful suggestions include tomato products and, well, fulfilling your 1 Cor. 7 obligations. So pour that Tabasco on your corned beef and offer up a prayer or two for your pagan neighbors. You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hate your cubicle?

CPA and libertarian activist Karen DeCoster notes that it, as well as other creativity-sapping devices used in the corporate world, is a result of government accounting regulations. Somehow I'm not surprised.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Crammed with facts,

or just chatting? Shawn posed that question yesterday, and I thought it was pretty good insight. We're certainly not out here just to cram ourselves sick with facts--that is the path of the "educated idiot," artfully described by Ecclesiastes 12:12--"of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh."

On the other hand, are we just chatting? Hopefully not--the Word also says quite a bit about "idle chatter."

Interestingly, this brings us back to the case of the indoctrinating teachers. In this case, the goal appears to have been to control the students by force-feeding facts (or rather, lies)--while ironically telling them they were learning to think critically. On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find teachers who think they do well to "let the children discover it for themselves."

In neither case are they educating anyone in terms of what is historically called education; teaching children how to analyze facts and arguments for themselves, with the idea (here's the worldview in classical education, Shawn) that there are some things which are true, can be known, and apply to our lives.

The same principle applies to useful discourse; it involves some truths which can be known and applied to our lives. We're not just chatting, and we're not just swapping facts, but we're rather trying to encourage one another in what is true.

At least if we're doing things right!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Propaganda in the classroom

Quite a bit of rhetoric has been spilled lately over the habit of some teachers (and professors) of using their classrooms to share their political points of view. Cases in point include a geography teacher in Colorado, who used his class to promote Marxist economics and his theory that Bush is a new Hitler. The general response to this man is that teachers don't have a right to share only their own views.

While this is certainly true, I think that this misses the bigger point; that merely sharing political views isn't education at all, but rather indoctrination.

Which is, sad to say, one of the few things our government schools excel in doing. The teacher in Aurora has ably lived up to the mission assigned him by Dewey and the NEA.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Watch out....

....because as you probably guessed would happen, I've joined the MOB. Yes, the prestigious "Minnesota Organization of Bloggers" headed by Godfather Chad "the Elder" of FratersLibertas and headquartered at Keegan's. I guess it was inevitable, having grown up near Chicago and having given out Al Capone Valentine's Day cards back in my bachelor days, owning dark double-breasted suits.....

I'll go by "Luigi," I think. Don't mess with me, or I'll post more fattening recipes and hints of how to better love your wife. Come to think of it, here is one; for bleu cheese dressing, adapted for fatteningness from The Frugal Gourmet.

4-6 ozs bleu (Roquefort) cheese, crumbled finely
2 cups mayonaisse
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 tbsp parsley
2 cups buttermilk

Mix, stir, and enjoy. Keeps for weeks, and keeps werewolves out of the house. You can use it for salads, or on meats. But if you enjoy it, make sure your wife does, too. And of course, since you put it on a salad, it's good for you!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Use your brains

...or at least the brains of what you shot. If this isn't a reason for using chest shots, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm perplexed

Sometimes, when I consider the things that evangelicals do to promote the faith, I am perplexed. Sometimes it's BMWs and $100 jeans that look like my year old $15 Wranglers. Sometimes it's missions movies that don't name the name of Jesus, or music about "purity" sung by a young lady wearing spandex. At other times, it's the promotion of specialty mortgage products and the endorsement of using one's home equity to buy new toys. My favorite is the "strongmen for Christ" schtick. Apparently our Lord is glorified when we lift weights to look like gladiators. Never mind the fact that it was Christians who put an end to gladiatorial contests--times have apparently changed.

Now, I don't have anything in particular against BMWs, nice clothes, mortgages, music, or movies. Is this all there is to life in Him, however? That we can yearn for the same things our unsaved friends live for? Personally, I'm hoping that my witness is a little bit more compelling than that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Global warming.... apparently leading to snow in the Sahara. This could be the year for the Cubbies, thanks to you and your SUV. H/T Rush

A bit on research

Mark does an interesting bit as well about this as well. The long and short of it; the process of "doing science" is an inherently political and economic process, and if you want pure science, you must re-start the Black Plague in London and get the next Newton back under the apple tree in the country.

Another way of describing the phenomenon; no scientist makes a name for himself by confirming the null hypothesis, or by verifying what is already thought to be known. In the same way, no scientist gains funding or prestige by running counter to the whims of those making the grants.

So when you see the hot new results, don't forget the process that generated them, and look at them with a grain of salt.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Here's something useful....

....that one can do with Air America. I figure we can just send those supertankers back to Saudi Arabia when we get these boys to clean up after Al Franken and Nick Coleman.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Simple pleasures

Let's start with the quiz comparing knowledge of the 1st Amendment, the Simpsons, and American Idol. I was perfect on both the 1st Amendment and the Simpsons, but failed miserably on "American Idol." You'd think that I had no interest in that show.

Oh, wait, that's exactly true. Never mind.

On a more uplifting note, it was wonderful to enjoy the first 100 pages of R.L. Dabney's volume of systematic theology while listening to the birds on a business trip. Dabney has a knack for eviscerating the logic of his opponents in a few sentences, and I've greatly appreciated his gutting and skinning of Darwin, polytheism, and pantheism.

Finally, some more ways to prevent abortion by loving your wife. First, if the Brady types get their way, you might do well to be a customer of this company and protect your family the samurai way. Don't forget, though, that your wife needs flavenoids from time to time as you help her to discipline the kids.