Monday, June 30, 2008

Hint for my DC readers...

....if there are any. :^) At any rate, the Washington Times today makes it very clear that gun-banning cities are going to be very slow to comply with the letter of the recent Heller decision, and even when the courts compel them to comply with the letter, compliance with the spirit of that decision will be nil.

Combine that with the fact that gun dealers aren't allowed to sell handguns across state lines, and you have a very big problem. How do you protect yourself and your family?

Here's your ticket. For some reason, most firearms laws exempt black powder firearms, and this includes the Brady check. If you should have the misfortune of living in the nation's most pathetic nanny district, Dick Cabela will help you to remind criminals that yes, indeed, the Heller decision is law.

Plus, black powder guns are a lot of fun at the range. This is mine (the percussion, left hand version, .50 cal). I also highly recommend the starter kit--it is the difference between a great time at the range (or elsewhere), and just struggling to get going.

Have you ever considered....

....what the theological implications of the word "disgrace" might be?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The ACLU takes on blasphemy

I heard on Laura Ingraham's show this morning that the ACLU is apparently contemplating a lawsuit against the Naval Academy if they do not end nonsectarian prayers at lunch. Now while I understand the ordinary conservative "go tell them to pound sand" response to this--that the ACLU is ignoring little things like prayer at the Constitutional Convention when they claim that prayers in public funded settings are unConstitutional--I also think that Biblically speaking, they got this one at least partially right.

That is, if you've heard most sectarian prayers and think from a Biblical worldview, you want to wash your ears out afterwards because most of them are blasphemous--prayers to a God who is not that of the Bible. My desire for the Middies to have spiritual support while they train means that I oppose ritual blasphemy before they eat their midday meal.

What color is the sun on your planet? a question I often mutter when dealing with the fringe of environmental extremists. Now, thanks to Labrie Environmental Group, I know. Their signature blend for use in their trucks is "Blue Sun" biodiesel.

And for what it's worth, their funding is extensive. Instead of their name painted on their trucks, it's literally stamped in the sheet metal and machined out of various parts. I've never seen garbage trucks that looked as nice as these.

What a shame

Apparently, the DNC has decided that at their Denver convention, there will be no fried foods, but rather it will all have to be nutritious things like aragula from Whole Foods.

This is a shame, as Denverites will not get to hear the time-honored question of left and right coast liberals when they visit the Front Range:

Where in the Rocky Mountains do they get oysters? (shall we try some?)

H/T KD and Anthony Bradley.

By the way, the American Diatetic Association notes that fat is indeed a nutrient, and that fried foods indeed have a place in a well balanced diet (my mom has been a member for 25 years or so). So not only are the Democrats commiting an offense against good food and offending those who come from the South, they're also ignoring sound science in the area of nutrition.

Democrats. Out of touch with everything, but they sure feel good about it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is Pentamom going to be ticked?

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania bans couches on the front porch. Now where is she going to send the kids to do their homework while the souffle' is being cooked?

The environmental cost of banning oil exploration

H/T Mark. Apparently, the cost of shipping a container across the oceans from Shanghai to New York has risen from $3000 to $8000 per container, indicating that to take 10-20 tons of container and goods about 20,000 miles, it requires about 1000-2000 gallons (about 4 to 8 tons) of diesel fuel. I would assume that the numbers are similar for petroleum; to get a gallon of gas here from the Middle East, you'd burn somewhere between a quart and a gallon of diesel fuel.

If Democrats truly value the environment and want to reduce carbon emissions, maybe they ought to reconsider their opposition to domestic oil exploration along the coasts and in ANWR. They might also do well to reconsider opposition to nuclear power.

Both parties might also do well to abandon the NAFTA and GATT "free trade" frauds (both treaties are tens of thousand of pages long and have nothing to do with real free trade a la Bastiat) and adopt a revenue tariff of about 10%. Shouldn't trade pay the expenses of keeping the sea lanes free--costs for ports, the Navy, and the Coast Guard? It's for the polar bears, after all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What does the estate tax do?

Smithers has an interesting thread going on, inspired by Roosh, asking about the nature and use of the estate tax, and one question that comes to mind is "what does it accomplish?" Proponents suggest that it prevents creating a hereditary aristocracy and generates necessary revenue. Opponents suggest it breaks up family businesses.

Of course, what really happens is obscured by the work of estate lawyers, whose magic (A-B trusts, etc..) tends to (obviously) minimize the impact of the estate tax, thankfully. However, even this gives us more of a picture of who is affected by the tax.

Let's start with a simple economic analysis. Wealthy people come in a few basic categories; those who obtain their wealth in capital intensive industries (farming/factories), and those who obtain their wealth in intellectual or political capital. They are divided into those who hold their property as a sole proprietorship or partnership, and those who hold primarily publicly traded (easily liquifiable) securities.

Logic suggests that those who have a capital intensive business are going to be hit harder than those with intellectual or political capital, and that those with a sole proprietorship or partnership are going to be hit harder than those whose assets are traded publicly.

To this effect, check out the Farm Bureau in this regard, and consider that the Kennedys, Fords, Rockefellers, DuPonts, Waltons, Bushes, and others still wield great authority despite being a generation or more from their initial great wealth creation. What can we conclude?

The Estate tax, beyond being a poor revenue source (only 2% of federal revenue), favors corporations over partnerships and sole proprietorships, and favors intellectual and political capital over physical capital. In other words, it does a pretty good job of creating an aristocracy while putting those who work for a living (e.g. in factory jobs) at a severe disadvantage, just the opposite of what was promised.

End the Estate tax. Do it for the poor.

Lost in the debate...

...about what method of sex ed is appropriate appears to be the little question of whether "mandatory reporters" of likely cases of statutory rape are actually going to report them. As the great uncle of a little boy whose then-15-year-old mother was impregnated by an adult, I'd have to guess that the teen pregnancy rate would plummet if the older "boyfriends" of teen girls knew that the local DA would be glad to prosecute statutory rape.

I'd also guess that it would plunge still further if welfare authorities were serious about collecting child support from fathers.

Yes, what's taught in sex ed is important, but I dare suggest that teens and those who would sleep with them are listening more closely to the deafening silence from district attorneys, welfare caseworkers, and "mandatory reporters" in these matters.

Optimized for "drinkability" and cheap vs. thrifty

One interesting fact about many drinks, especially American mass produced beers, is that they are optimized around "drinkability." What is this? Well, in a nutshell, various blends are tested with test drinkers (I'm sure Chad applied while in college), and whatever blend gets drunk the most wins. For beer, "drinkability" generally means more corn syrup, less hops, and less barley--more or less a barley based wine cooler, or alcoholic soda pop.

Now fundamental Baptists like myself generally aren't terribly worried about cheap beer (except those that Gino knows), but the principle of "drinkability" does have applications in things that we are fond of. For example, Wonder (if it's) Bread. Ever done an experiment to see how much less you eat if your bread has whole grain in it? It's significant. More taste, you eat less.

Consider iceberg lettuce, pop, cool-aid, inexpensive lunch meats, and chips. Is it nourishment, or are they "optimized for drinkability"? What about TV and video games? Are you truly being entertained, or are they "optimized for drinkability"? What about your church? Is it worship, or merely "drinkable"? Reading material?

Reality is, IMO, that any number of products are "optimized for drinkability" to keep the factories humming. You might do well to consider whether the products you've chosen are good, or merely "drinkable."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Creating a parallel society

One of Germany's chief objections to allowing homeschooling is that homeschoolers would "create a parallel society." The latest victims of the war on home education are the Dudeks in the state of Hesse (home of the Hessians of Revolutionary war fame or shame, yes), and the difficulties of this family are related to their dedication to children, church, and home.

Or in German, "Kinder, Kueche, Kirche." What is, then, the parallel society that the German government is so strongly striving against? A few generations ago, we would have simply called that society "Germany," and we must come to the uncomfortable conclusion that the state is once again selbstmordsuchtig--seeking its own suicide in the destruction of the culture that gave it its existence.

Pray for the Dudeks, and send them a note if you can. Address can be found in the link.

Light rail and buses vs. the environment

The Cato Institute reports (and my calculations back them up as well) that if you want to do something for the environment, prudent policy would be to take measures to encourage people to drive more efficient cars, and to build the lanes to reduce congestion.

On the other hand, if you want to trash the environment, increase money for transit. When you count the capital energy costs (energy needed to build the infrastructure needed), it turns out that light rail is more or less worse than having everyone drive an SUV to work.

Oh, and one more thing; if they could make roads just a little wider on each side--say a nice 2-3' shoulder past the white line--that creates some awfully nice bike lanes, plus a safe place for disabled vehicles to pull off. Not always possible or advisable, but awfully nice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Product rejections

A lot of people do product endorsements. Well, here are a couple of product rejections; one dead serious, and another tongue in cheek.

Dead serious; the low end "Yard Machines" lawnmower I bought from Home Depot stopped working after about 2-3 hours of use. Home Depot was good about taking it back, but do think twice about buying this made in China piece of....junk.

On the light side; if you enjoy shopping for tires and waiting for the technicians to get them installed, I do not recommend the Michelin LTX M/S for your pickup/Suburban, nor do I recommend the Destiny for minivans. I have 60,000 miles on the former with plenty of tread left, and 105,000 on the latter (despite tread warranty of only 80,000 miles).

Please; if you enjoy getting new tires, don't get Michelins. They'll keep you waiting, and you may even have the difficulty of deciding whether it's worth it to get tires that may well last longer than your car does.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm confused.

When discussing high gasoline prices, you can expect any number of things to blame from liberals:

1. We drive too many SUVs, driving up demand.

2. The Big 3 make too many big cars, driving up demand (but asian makers somehow escape scrutiny).

3. Oil companies withhold supply from the markets, reducing supply.

4. Oil companies schedule refinery maintanence, reducing supply.

5. Oil companies collude to reduce supply.

And yet somehow, they see absolutely no significance in the fact that our own government has colluded to reduce supply by preventing drilling and building new refineries by ill-advised prohibitions and excessive regulations. Do they think that the laws of supply and demand can be circumvented by bureaucratic edict?

Apparently so.

I'm off to my bike...gonna try to avoid looking like an Aussie. :^)

Eat a few Big Macs and Bacon Double Cheeseburgers today!

It's your patriotic duty, after all, as it appears that those sneaky Aussies are challenging the land of the free in the all-important race to be the fattest nation on earth. I would have thought that living in the Outback and chasing kangaroos around all day would keep them slim and trim, but apparently there are enough of them in air conditioned splendor to put on the pounds without becoming a well-cooked piece of bacon in the hot southern sun.

Who knew?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Discipleship in adulthood

When in college, I was blessed with a pastor who really stressed the process of bringing new believers along in Christ--and the result, nearly 20 years later, is that the vast majority of those he ministered to are still prospering in Christ. He didn't have the crowds that some of the parachurch ministries had, but I think he did a better job of making disciples.

That noted, one of those dear brothers asked me a striking question; "are you still involved in the disciple-making process today?"

Hmm.... certainly I'm not using the same materials as I did then (though I still possess some of it), but an adult can make disciples, too, I think. How to do it?

Well, you start by attending a church where the pastor makes a point of demonstrating the Gospel in all areas of Scripture, and you start to pick up the habit of doing so yourself. Apply it in friendships, in family devotions, and so on.

It might not be as "spiffy" as some of the manuals you may have from discipleship classes you've taken, but it might be something you'll be better at doing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How far we've come....

....or have we? Thanks to Roosh, here's a link to Katherine Kersten's latest, which seems to demonstrate that SIECUS-style sex ed--with its emphasis on biology and mechanics--actually dates back to the 1880s, and that if we wonder why we don't quite "get" romances like Romeo and Juliet and such these days, maybe we ought to consider the fact that that the clinical language used by many is about as romantic as a walk down to the sump pump.

Oh, and here's Kersten's source. If you're a glutton for punishment (like your host was, sigh), you can read the comments in Kersten's column and become appalled at the fact that most commenters there not only disagree, but completely fail to understand her argument. It is as if the only sexuality many understand today is that of SIECUS, Hugh Hefner, and Larry Flynt.

There's that sump pump again.

Oh my goodness...

I just looked up "" for data on how much fuel B. Hussein Obama might be saving by going to an Escape hybrid. Numbers:

Escape Hybrid (AWD): 29 city, 27 highway.

Chrysler 300C (AWD): 15 city, 22 highway.

Odds that the Senator will every get his money back from making this change: zero. Come on; it is not a sin to drive a car you enjoy.

(and oops--H/T Roosh--and probably some others)

Prize fight!

It's B. Hussein Obama vs. the laws of economics and physics, according to Hugh Hewitt. In a single speech, he both claimed that drilling for oil would make no difference in price, and also that if we'd only thrown more money into alternative powertrains, we'd have a cost effective powertrain that used no fossil fuels.

Evidently, that Harvard education he got didn't include the concepts of supply and demand, or enough physics and chemistry to understand why the gasoline engine is a pretty good way to power a vehicle. You would think that the guy who has owned both a vehicle with a Hemi and an Escape Hybrid would clue into this even without a Harvard education, but evidently not.

He's going to lose this one by KO, and hopefully it'll happen before November instead of after.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sports out of control this case, horse racing. Evidently, about 1000 race horses die each year due to injuries on the track, and this is in addition to how many others "put down" away from the track. The article also notes that "Big Brown" was a steroid freak on the level of Barry Bonds' reputation--and when the trainers took him off the bug juice, that was when he lost.

I've not no trouble with athletic events, but at a certain point, maybe we need to take into account that there just might be reasons that our bodies don't put on muscle beyond a certain point, and decline to use "better living through chemistry" to achieve what we could not otherwise. How much dog food needs to be made before we catch on to this principle?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here comes educational anarchy?

Apparently, one of the arguments presented by the California (oops, Kahleefornia, sorry Ahnuld!) teacher's union is that to allow uncredentialed parents to teach their children would lead to "educational anarchy," according to the June 14 World magazine. When I read that, I thought "exactly right!"

Exactly right? You bet. Prior to about 1850, that's exactly what we had. No state boards of education, no credentialing agencies run by the state, no mandatory attendance. What was the result?

Well, contemporary reports record that among those permitted to learn to read (all but those enslaved), illiterates were as rare as hen's teeth. The Kahleefornia teachers are right; we need some educational anarchy.

Great news from mainline churches

Well, at least one mainline church, that which I grew up in. What's so great? Well, the sermon was a man's testimony of coming to faith in Christ--really a kind of thing mostly seen with evangelicals and fundamentalists. I've also noted that very few of the books seen there are from that denomination's press, and that they've largely abandoned the "Good News Bible" for readings in favor of the NIV and ESV.

Why so good? Well, it means that those in theologically liberal churches are realizing that that theology doesn't have a lot to say, and so they're looking elsewhere. Those of us in theologically conservative, Bible-based churches ought to take note.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Great reasons to do things locally

One thing that I cherish about both our Constitution, and congregational/presbyterian forms of church government, is the opportunity to keep authorities close at hand. Here are a few examples in the news that illustrate just why this is important.

British education advisor recommends that schools drop academic subjects like history and science in favor of training them in "energy saving" and "civic responsibility." Now I don't think for a minute that this professor is unaware that to truly save energy and be a responsible citizen, you've got to understand history and science. He merely understands, as did Dewey, that if you want to control people, just deprive them of the means of thinking things through themselves.

Wouldn't you love to see the local school board meeting after the local paper reported this? Too bad for the English; he's in London.

Hurricane Katrina relief organization seeks to host party at the Democratic national convention. Anyone who donated to "Friends of New Orleans" will be happy to learn that their money, instead of helping out "Big Easy" residents, will be spent instead on entertaining prosperous convention delegates. Don't you wish that the leaders of this group got to face those they're cheating at the supermarket?

Habitat for Humanity in Sarasota has just abandoned plans, after much public outcry, to help Planned Parenthood open an abortion clinic. Yup, nothing says "I love the poor and want to help them" by offering to help Planned Parenthood kill preborn babies.

If you want accountability in how your charitable donations are spent, I dare suggest that you'll do well to contribute to local organizations where you'll see the leaders in church, at the grocery store, and at the doctor's office. It seems to me that when organizations get big and distant, they quickly lose sight of their original purpose and accountability to their supporters.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Another reason to homeschool

The governing body of public (government) education in Washington D.C. is called the "District of Columbia State Board of Education." Apparently, no one employed there remembers that the District of Columbia is not a state. They can, however, demonstrate that other things can go on a cucumber besides brine and dill, even if the students would be hard pressed to spell "pickle."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Thrifty or cheap, part 3

Pentamom brings up a great point about the difficulty of sewing; all too often, it's virtually impossible for inexperienced, or even fairly experienced sewers to turn out a decent product for a decent price. Why is this? Well, I'm going to go back to my "mantra"; we've confused cheapness for thrift, and we're (pun intended) paying the price.

To illustrate by an example; my wife started sewing as most do with patterns and fabrics from "big box" fabric stores. All too often, the instructions were byzantine, the patterns weren't fit to a typical real person, the fabric had a skewed grain and leaked dye (ruining whatever pattern there was), and as a result we became convinced (tongue in cheek) that the big box sewing stores were actively trying to kill the hobby by selling junk. We spent quite a bit of time deciphering poor instructions, correcting them, and dealing with poor choices in fabric.

Then we started listening to older seamstresses on the subject, and heard the phrase "everybody eventually repents of using" big box store fabric. We bought a quality sewing machine and serger, started subscribing to Creative Needle and Australian Smocking, and....believe it or not, didn't spend that much money doing it. It's about the same amount of money most guys want to spend on their lawn tractor, or a little less, even.

The result? Yesterday, my two oldest daughters, as part of their home education (home ec is a subject, no? ), decided to make a couple of empire dresses for themselves, and the eldest (age 9) got hers done except for the final sleeve and a couple of finishing touches with little help from either her mother or myself.

The difference? We bought a good pattern, and we're using good fabrics that don't "fight" the seamstress. Here's a link.

Oh, and with good patterns, we're getting the hang of pants, too. Older books on sewing have a LOT of good stuff on the subject.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Thrifty or cheap, part 2

My wife and I once had the privilege of sorting through no less than 25 Hefty bags of clothes that had been owned by a girl of about seven years of age--her parents were "done having children," and graciously let us take a look to see what we might want, as they had been given many of these clothes, and wanted to pass the blessing on to us.

Or was it a blessing? We ended up taking about half a bag, and suggesting that they would do well to take the rest to Goodwill. The vast majority of the clothing was, charitably speaking, junk. Yes, our benefactors had gotten things cheaply, but was it thrifty?

Probably not. Consider for starters the fact that this pile of clothes took up most of their (admittedly small) living room--those clothes without ever being paid for had cost that family about $10,000 worth of their home. It's also probable that from time to time, all those clothes had harbored some kind of critter or other that had sickened some member of the family. And the way those clothes fit just might have hampered their play as well--let's say "hi" to obesity and high medical bills.

Pretty expensive free clothes, don't you think? No, wait; it gets worse. What does it teach your child when you dress him, or her, in clothes that are too tight in some areas, too loose in others, and expose too much leg, one's belly, and so on?

You train them to be immodest, of course, and in doing so, you also train them to interact with those who use immodesty as an excuse to take other liberties that our grandparents were warned about. Thankfully we're not talking about a one to one correlation of poor clothing with teen pregnancy or something like that, but I have to there yet another cost that dwarfs the others?

Cheap clothes, but possibly very, very expensive. Well-made but "expensive" clothes are seeming more and more thrifty.