Thursday, June 30, 2011

Now that's interesting

I was told at work today that one way the "rank and file" workers pass the time during mandatory meetings is to count the, um, number of times the, you know, presenter, um, verbalizes pauses with, um, an "um," a "you know," and such.  Evidently, in one presentation I'd done then a disservice by, um, not verbalizing my pauses at all.

Of course, I thanked the person telling me this, and noted that often, you know, verbalizing pauses is an indication that the, um, speaker does not, um, believe what he is saying.  She then noted that the "champion" in, you know, verbalized pauses was the HR department describing, um, our company ethics policy.

(verbalized pauses, um, added for, um, dramatic effect, you know, eh)

Conclusions about the matter are left as an exercise for the reader, of course.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Uh-oh, it's 1937 again.....

The Democrats are saying they'll vote against a hike in the debt limit unless they get some increased taxes.  In short, they're doing exactly what FDR did to end the temporary turnaround in the mid-1930s, which extended the Depression into World War Two--and given that they're talking about "increased revenue" instead of "raising tax rates" (their real goal, of course), they're being dishonest about it, too.  Given that business needs to be able to trust the regulatory and tax environment to plan for the future, this is saying some seriously bad things about where our nation's economy is going to go.

Praying that people will realize that throwing money into "make-work" projects is not the path to prosperity, but it appears that the Keynesians have the upper hand here.  Well, actually, the hyper-Keynesians have the upper hand here, as I don't think Keynes was this foolish.  My apologies to Mr. Keynes.

You need to buy some tea

Today, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld King George III's law requiring Boston residents to purchase tea from the East India Company, although harshly worded dissent noted that the suit by the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had been filed 230 years after the expiration of the statute of limitations.

OK, not entirely true, but my story makes just as much sense as the real decision, which holds that the federal government can, under the Interstate Commerce Clause (written by the same people who supported the Boston Tea Party, of course), compel people under penalty of fines and imprisonment to purchase health insurance.

Breathtaking bait and switch.....

Right here.  More or less, the author makes the claim that corporate taxes are too low, then proceeds to justify her opinion with two pieces of evidence:

1.  A few companies with high pro forma (unofficial) profits managed to pay no corporate income tax.  In other words, the official accounting reports (GAAP) used for calculating corporate taxes differ from pro forma methods used to tell investors where the company is going apart from one time events.  Of course, the author doesn't bother to explain this.

2.  The low tax rates of the 400 richest people--not the 400 most prosperous corporations.

Looks like the author needs not to have her views enshrined into law, but rather to take a basic logic class to learn what a "non sequitur" means.  The evidence she presents does, however, indicate the need to pursue some basic reforms and simplifications of the tax code.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

He wanted to be a lumberjack....

....yet another Al Qaida officer has been captured while dressed as a woman.  In honor of this brave man using his wits and a pair of high heels to almost escape detection, here you go.

And here is another:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fears regarding the fed confirmed?

I hope not, but take a look at this article and ask whether it's possible that "inflation rate targeter" Ben Bernanke has ignored the lessons learned during the Carter and Reagan administrations by Paul Volcker.  I remember when President Bush appointed Bernanke, it troubled me that he was an "inflation targeter" and not a fairly strict monetarist like Greenspan.

 We are apparently on the brink of "Quantitative Easing 3" (more inflation), predictions of new jobless filings are almost always a "surprise" or "unexpected", and nothing the government has done has worked. 
Much like 1929-1939, of course.  The only bright side here is that perhaps the futility of Keynesian economics may be exposed through these events.  Maybe someday soon, politicians of both parties will realize that there is a difference between public and private goods, and that putting tax money into private goods is simply to throw money down the toilet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

On the decline of the Christian day school

My favorite seminary president (and only one that I know) and fellow "gun nut" has written this about the travails of Christian schools across the country.  He covers the issue of cost (the one Dr. Bauder's children went to would have been prohibitively expensive for my children), and more importantly, covers the very real issue of whether the students are actually learning to read a text in the historo-grammatical method.  The answer, unfortunately, is "no," and his solution (as mine) is careful instruction in the Trivium.

Amo, amas, amat--it's not just for Catholics anymore.  Or at least it shouldn't be just for Catholics.

Why the economy is still sputtering

For starters, you have people like Tim Geithner (H/T WND, SayAnything) more or less suggesting that government programs are more important than the welfare of the people, and ignoring the fact that most jobs are created by small businesses.  Yes, Dorothy, when you take fifty grand out of the hands of a millionaire, someone in the lower middle class loses his job.  That's simply how it works.

Then you've got the consequences of the government's war on Boeing; massive orders for rival Airbus.  If you think that the demand to shutter a South Carolina plant doesn't have side effects like this, well, then, I've got a nice bridge that I'll be willing to sell to you for a good price.

Finally, we have Minnesota's absurd tax policy, which makes it (H/T Cold Fusion Guy) the second most unfriendly state to retirees.  I would have hoped that even the DFL (Democrats) would be able to figure out that when you've got a group of people with assets, no children in the schools, and low crime rates, you want to do what you can to induce them to stay.    As it is, of course, Florida, Texas, and Arizona give a hearty "thank you" to Minnesota's government for their shortsighted actions towards the grandparents of their current residents.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some more warning label suggestions

I am no smoker, but like many, I'm wondering what is up with the government's plan to require graphic pictures of the consequences of smoking on cigarette packs.  Quite frankly, if 50 years of propaganda against smoking doesn't kill the habit, do they really think pictures of lung cancer will?  Have they never been out to the smoke shack outside of work to see the fact that real smokers often look like death warmed over to begin with?

And of course, there is the very real issue that smoking in this country is largely led by the government, which put a pack of cigarettes with every new issue of C rations for every soldier from WWI to Vietnam.   You wonder why the smoking rate has dropped?  Hint; the government isn't drafting most young men right out of high school and college, and thus isn't getting them hooked on cancer sticks.

But all that said, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and hence I propose some other warning labels.

1.  On the new USDA food plate; "Caution; adhering to government food standards is a leading cause of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes."

2.  On USDA food aid; "Caution; eating food provided by your government is a leading cause of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes."

3.   On every tax form:  "Caution, excessive government is linked to infringement of human rights, imprisonment for political views, and genocide."
4.  On every "guns are banned here" sign put up by the government:  "Caution: government gun bans are linked to mass killings, infringement of civil liberties, and genocide."
5.  On every public school:  "Caution; government schools are a leading cause of illiteracy, and may be hazardous for your child's moral health."
6.  On every public college (or student loan application): "Caution; government funded colleges are a leading cause of miseducation and indoctrination."
7.  On every stadium funded with public money: "Caution; overpaid (and often criminal) millionaires work here."
8.  On signs at the outskirts of Washington DC and each state capital:  "Warning; bureaucrats who spend your money to warn you of hazards you already know about."

Another "triumph" of hybrid technology

The Mercedes S400.   About 300hp, 19 in the city and 25 on the highway, and 7.2 seconds from 0 to 60.  Only $91,000 or so plus options, delivery, and tax.  Very similar numbers to the Chevrolet Traverse, available from $29000, but if we really want to be fair, we ought to compare to it to the Camaro, or perhaps the Mustang, don't you think?    Something in me thinks that for the price, the vehicle ought to be head and shoulders over other luxury cars, not comparable with a Taurus, Malibu, or Impala.

To put it mildly, there seems to be a competition between Mercedes and Lexus for "most ineffective use of hybrid technology in enhancing vehicle performance," though I'd have to concede that the Malibu and Tahoe hybrids are also strong contenders.  It's like the government is paying people to take this technology whether it makes sense or not.

Which is, of course, exactly the case.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The dismal state of Logic in the Big Ten

First of all, a comment in Powerline compares the cost of a Dartmouth education to that of a U. of Minnesota education--as if there is no difference between the quality of the two schools and their graduates.  Yes, there are some excellent Gophers and Gopherettes out there, but there is a reason that Minnesota's graduation rate is 56% currently (and that after six years) and Dartmouth's is 94%.  For that matter, when one considers cost per graduate, Dartmouth's cost is actually less than Minnesota's. 

Second, and a hat tip to Captain Capitalism, is a study from The Ohio State University (not just any old Ohio State University) comparing debt levels to self-esteem, and finding that the self-esteem boost of debt was a positive good.  Interestingly, they ignored the implications of their own data, which suggested that once students got past their mid-twenties, debt was correlated to a lack of self-esteem.

Translated, of course, it means that once the "buzz" (figurative and literal) of college and one's first job wears off, the reality sets in that it really sucks to have large student loans and credit card debts to pay off without a decent job.  Exactly what our grandmothers and grandfathers would have told us, of course, and no National Science Foundation dollars are necessary.

Or, put in terms that Gary North might commend, high self-esteem and consumer confidence is not a good thing among those who are not paying their own bills yet.

How to create community

I saw this today, and remembered where I was yesterday; at the Mayo Clinic for an appointment for my daughter.  (she is doing great, by the way)  Why so?

Well, given that it's a 90 minute drive to Rochester, we decided to spend most of the day there and take the Mayo art tour.  What we learned--beside the hilarious fact that William Worrall Mayo came to Minnesota to escape mosquitoes (we grow some of the best, we think)--is that most of the art in the center was given to the clinic by grateful patients and benefactors, including quite a bit of good modern art and glass sculpture.  In the exhibits you'll find the jacket of a Turkish sultan, an original by Rodin (one of the early concepts from Burghers of Calais), and  one of the St. John's Bibles.  Unlike most art museums, they don't mind if you touch the sculptures--our guide reminded us that "this is made of brass, you won't hurt it" when my four year old handled one exhibit.

Walking through the clinic, it's hard to ignore the culture of people great and small contributing there, and it creates a mood where people do--without committees or other incentives--contribute to the overall aesthetic.  My daughters contributed by taking a turn at the Boesendorfer in the subway level of the Gonda building--built by a donation from a benefactor as well.  You don't need to be as good as the Cowans to make the place a little bit nicer, we learned.

In short, civic participation occurs not when government gets involved, but rather when government gets out of the way.

On a related note, when at Mayo, check out Chico's Burritos in the subway between the hotels and the Mayo/Gonda buildings.  Good food and excellent service.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh, the humanity!

Apparently, the Senate has voted to terminate Navy railgun and laser weapons programs.  While I cannot comment on the laser's feasability, I can about the railgun's.  More or less, as an IEEE member of the Magnetics Society, each year I would be treated to the summaries of the annual symposium about electromagnetic propulsion, known commonly as railguns for the "rails" by which the opposing magnetic field in the projectile (known as a "sabot") would be generated.

More or less, it's a neat technology capable of accelerating the sabot far more quickly than any conventional artillery shell.  Each year, I'd be treated to literally hundreds of articles about the ultracapacitors, batteries, chemical electrical generation systems, rail technologies, and such needed for this weapon of the future.  It was a ticket to a free conference for thousands of railgun researchers at universities and government labs around the world.  I bet the parties were something to write home about.

That said, the railgun was, and will always be, the "weapon of the future."  Why so?  The trick is that storing electromagnetic energy, whether through capacitors or batteries, uses far more space than chemical energy in gunpowder.  Also, the rails wear out after a few uses, while howitzer and rifle barrels can literally fire tens of thousands of rounds before being replaced.  

The end result is that you could get the firepower of a standard Army howitzer with a footprint no smaller than that of an Iowa class battleship, and one that would need extensive rework every dozen shots or so.  As I like to say, "what could possibly go wrong?", and thanks is due to the Senate for finally killing this decades-old boondoggle.

Why people are losing confidence in the police

Right here.  Apparently, you can ignore easy opportunities to apprehend a suspect, barge in without clear record of announcing who you are, shoot a man 60 times without his as much pulling a trigger, lie about his pulling a trigger, and prevent medical attention for the victim for over an hour, and the governing board will cover it up.

I think it's time to tell our legislators that it's time to rein in the SWAT teams.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another reason I'm glad I'm a Christian

Apparently, a woman in Kuwait is recommending sexual slavery for Russian women captured by Islamist rebels in Chechnya as a means of helping Muslim men avoid sexual immorality and temptation.  Because evidently in some portions of historic Islam, if you do it with your slave, it's OK, but if you do it with a free woman, you have to marry her, and somehow that's bad, even though Islam allows up to four wives.

(think about this if you ever view art of the "Orientalist" school--what is really going on behind those scenes was truly appalling, to put it mildly)

Suffice it to say that I'm glad that Moses prohibited sexual slavery for captive women, but rather provided for a period of mourning for her family before she became a wife to the man.  See Deuteronomy 21:10-14, and note also that the Torah prohibits brutality to this woman.  I'm guessing that many woman of the Canaanite women, freed from the brutality of Canaanite fertility gods and allowed to take part in Torah Judiasm, rather liked this provision from Moses, and I look forward to meeting some of them in Heaven.

On another note, no mea culpa.  Obviously.

Global warming update

Apparently, "scientists" at the University of Colorado (Go Big Red!   Or is it "Go Trojans!" now?) have been adding .3mm each year to measured sea levels to help produce the notion that sea level is rising due to climate change. 

Ignore the man behind the curtain.  The Great and Powerful Oz.......

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is what's wrong with our union protection laws

Take a close look at this article.  Now, as someone who spends a fair amount of time interacting with my company's suppliers, I do from time to time have the sad responsibility of informing my managers that particular suppliers are simply not reliable.  When I do this, my company does not face the possibility that any government agency will force my employer to use a particular supplier.  Vendors know that if they do not supply the product they contracted to produce in a timely manner, my employer will work to find a vendor that will.

Now take a look at Boeing; they have an unreliable supplier of labor, their machinists' union.  Why is it wrong for them to contract with laborers in a right to work state after the union has repeatedly stalled work and infuriated their customers?  If monopoly is wrong when it is Standard Oil or IBM, why is it OK when it's the NRLB and a machinists' union?

Reality here is that Boeing spent billions building the South Carolina plant in question; it's not like they're doing this simply to "retaliate" against their union.  Rather, they're simply locating their company--like steel mills on the great lakes, or auto factories near steel mills--near reliable sources of what they need to make their product.

To put it mildly, that shouldn't be a crime.  Unions should know that if their cost exceeds the costs of relocation, they might just be losing their jobs.

What could possibly go wrong?

Los Angeles schools are going to start serving sushi, apparently.  Now, while I do enjoy sushi every once in a while--and have even scared friends by going for the wasabi (they thought my tastes were just bland midwestern)--count me as uneasy about this one.  To put it mildly, the fact of the matter is that deep frying food, or even drowning it in grease, can be a great way of making inexpensive foods safe to eat.  Given that I'm guessing they're not going to be putting $15/lb fish on the menu, and they're not going to be paying good sushi chefs $30/hour to prepare it, suffice it to say that the prospects for food safety in this particular menu are not especially appetizing.

How to root out corruption in Congress

Michelle Malkin reports that in the past year, Nancy Pelosi's reported net worth has increased by a startling 62% to a minimum of $35 million.  Stakes in Apple are only up 55%, so it suggests a very alarming question; how does a Congressman, with an income of only about $174,000 annually (and a third of that taken out for taxes), achieve this?

On the bright side, it suggests that Mrs. Pelosi is better than the average Democratic inside trader, but on the down side, it suggests that perhaps another layer of investigation ought to be added to lawmaker financial reports when the reports show net worth gains far in excess of market gains.  More and more, it seems as if those on the "buying" end of legislation are getting their money's worth.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

an interesting quiz

From the Mises Institute, courtesy of Vox Populi.  I scored 93%, but that was partially due to some "discretization error" where there was some ambiguity between answers and some economic questions not being asked in a 25 page quiz.  Given that economists routinely write hundreds to thousands of pages, this is not surprising.

My key ambiguities on where I fall, economically speaking, are in the questions of public goods and also involuntary transactions.  Regarding the latter, I tend to wonder if transactions involving certain drugs (e.g. heroin, cocaine) and prostitution are truly voluntary, and I also extend that question to certain transactions involving labor and credit.  If we establish that some transactions tend not to be voluntary, of course, we cross the line between justifiable economic freedom and a reason to regulate or criminalize some activities.

In short, a government of about the size and type that was prescribed in the Constitution.  Except for that "slavery" thing, of course.

Wisconsin on the brink of joining the civilized world!

The state Senate has overwhelmingly voted to pass shall issue concealed carry legislation.  Hopefully they'll honor Minnesota permits, as the legislation looks very similar to that passed here.

The real cost of the 62mpg car apparently another $10,000 per vehicle, hundreds of thousands of people being laid off, and 5.5 million fewer cars sold each year.  Naturally, environmentalists are up at arms about this, but let's be serious; can they name a commercially produced vehicle that gets 62mpg?

Besides my Schwinn, I mean.  Reality here is that there are no car models which get even close to this number, not even the Prius.  Since there is not even a demonstration of feasibility, I'm guessing that this study, contrary to the allegations of the "Union of Concerned Scientists," is not needlessly pessimistic, but needlessly optimistic.  It's time to get some people in Washington DC who understand that Congress and the White House cannot change the laws of physics by writing a new law or regulation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lebensunwertes Leben, I guess

Apparently, in Belgium, they're harvesting organs from the "euthanized," of which half are not voluntarily killed (in direct violation of the law, apparently).  Now the Belgians are defending the program by noting that the quality of organs is much better than those from accident victims, and they're claiming that the organ donors are in fact voluntary, but the fact of the matter here is that.....ahem....

....the quality of the organs is much better than that of young, healthy accident victims.  In other words, what's going on here is not an extraordinary end of life measure whereby the suffering of a cancer victim is reduced by a few days by tripling the dose of morphine.  Rather, people who are relatively healthy are having their lives ended, and half the time not at their own request.

In the same way that the late Jack Kervorkian's victims were often found not to have the maladies he claimed they had, the Belgian (and Dutch) experience is that euthanasia is not used as much to alleviate suffering as it may be being used to hasten inheritances.

And, perhaps, organ donations.  A question every euthanasia enthusiast ought to be asked is the classic "Cui Bono?", and any euthanasia law needs to have strict, and strictly enforced, provisions to make sure that those who benefit from a person's death aren't the ones pulling the plug or speeding up the morphine drip.

Homeschooling; why recitation is important

The most recent "Home School Court Report" (magazine published by the HSLDA) has an anecdote about a homeschooling mom making pizza for lunch for her three and eight year old children, and she found out that her three year old had been listening to Latin class with the eight year old.  How so?  The three year old started saying

Pizza pizzae pizzae pizzam pizza,

(for the non-latin learner, the three year old was declining the word for pizza)

In short, recitation--long neglected in the educational establishment--trains young minds to remember things that they will use later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Top Eleven Reasons the New USDA Food Plate Can't Work

1.  Cheese

2.  Pizza

3.  Sandwiches

4.  Pasta dishes

5.  Any hotdish or casserole

6.  Soups and stews

7.  Breakfast cereal

8.  Tacos and burritos

9.  Salads

10.  Fruit juices and "adult beverages"

11.  Lactose intolerance

All of these are reasons that the new "My Plate" effort is doomed to fail from the start, as all of these very popular foods--really most of the American diet--simply do not fit into it.  What to use instead?  I'd recommend the "four food groups" that the USDA was using back in the 1970s.   Simple, clear, and you can adapt it to virtually any culture's food types.

How not to save the German welfare state....

Apparently bureaucrats at the EU, unacquainted with the realities of raising children, are telling Germany that the solution to their pension problems is to create incentives against women staying at home with their children.  Because obviously, no parents ever decided to stop having children because dealing with the hassles of work, daycare, and parenting became too great. None, ever.

And of course, it's not like Germany's pension problems have anything to do with the fact that there are fewer and fewer young Germans to take the places of their elders as their elders retire.  Except that, of course, this is the entire problem.  And of course, the peoples' betters in Berlin and state governments cannot contemplate the idea that it might be helpful to allow some of these Hausfrauen educate their own children.  It's not like homeschoolers regularly fill their minivans with children.....except, of course, they do.  And vans, and mini school buses.......

Friday, June 10, 2011

I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about this.

Really.  But if, perchance, your dishwasher and washing machine aren't working well since they took phospates out of your detergent, apparently you can purchase the missing ingredient on Amazon.

Not that I would know anything about this, but apparently it only takes a little bit to make your dishes and laundry as clean as they've been since 2008 or so.   Again, I know nothing about this.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Back in the day,

.....asking a young lady this kind of question would get you slapped, and rightly so.  Now granted, the bikinis that they are wearing these days in beauty pageants aren't that far from what they're asking for about, but what kind of nonsense is this?  Gentlemen don't ask this kind of question!

In other sadly hilarious news, evidently a large block of tickets to the "Miss USA" pageant has been purchased by the Human Rights Campaign--a group advocating homosexual "marriage."   One can wonder all kinds of things about that one, all of them suggesting that the Miss USA pageant has seriously lost its way. 

Here's a more wholesome alternative.   Arf.

What's up with the papers?

Yesterday, I made this post, linking to a link which quickly disappeared.   Like others, I searched for the original article, and only found it in a couple of places--not even Fox seemed to carry it.  Today, the only thing I see is that the original claim was refuted, and that the raid--which may have used a "wait 30 seconds before breaking down the door" tactic instead of the classic "no knock" raid--was predicated on an "ongoing fraud investigation."

The apparent response from the government here is that (1) we will intimidate media outlets into taking the original story down and (2) they apparently think that a fraud investigation involving otherwise law-abiding, nonviolent individuals ought to involve beating down a man's door at 6am and keeping him (and his kids) in a hot car in his skivvies until noon.  I certainly know that if the police came to my door at 6am most days, I wouldn't have been able to get to the door in 30 seconds or less.

In short, despite the clarification, the whole thing reeks of a reckless disregard of the 1st and 4th Amendments.  Which is, I suppose, exactly what we ought to expect with a leader who thinks laws regarding oil drilling permits, foreign military actions (the War Powers Act), voter intimidation (the Black Panthers case from PA), the FOIA, restrictions on czars, and more simply do not apply to him.

It would seem that someone who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue seriously needs to read some Samuel Rutherford and understand why Lex Rex is a good idea, and foundational for our system of law.  I would have anticipated a Harvard Law grad would understand this already, but then again, I would have thought a Harvard Law grad would understand some of the implications of the 1st and 4th Amendments, too.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A pretty good reason to stay away from government loans

A man in Stockton, California recently had a SWAT team visit (corrected link thanks to the Muckraker) his home (H/T Say Anything) because his estranged wife (who of course was not even there) was delinquent on her student loans.  It appears that neither the man nor his wife had any criminal record, nor was there any indication that either the wife or the husband posed any risk to investigating police.

At the risk of presuming the Northern Muckraker's right to anoint officers as "Jack Booted Thugs of the Week," I think these guys are at least strong contenders.  The really sad, or hilarious, thing about this is that the cost of sending a SWAT team probably exceeds the amount of debt that the Department of Education was hoping to recover from the man's estranged wife, and the total damage inflicted means that you, the taxpayer, will suffer a net loss from this operation no matter what happens.  If the Gestapo Department of Education does not come clean on what happened quickly, I'm guessing that the gentleman will be asking for far more than just a new door, and rightly so.  You, the taxpayer, will of course take it in the shorts while the bureaucrats responsible will get a promotion.

So if you've got any doubt on the consequences of taking government loans to go to school, or for other purposes, there you go.

Update: apparently the DoEd is claiming that it's for an unspecified investigation, not for delinquent student loans, but does not specify for what it would be.  Since the 4th Amendment requires a "reasonable" justification, they're still violating basic rules of search and seizure.  However, they do specify that it could be for "bribery, embezzlement, or embezzlement of federal student aid funds."

I'm not quite sure that this justifies a no-knock SWAT raid, though.  Wasn't this tactic supposed to be for cases where (a) the evidence could be easily flushed down the toilet and (b) there is reasonable suspicion that the lives of police officers would be endangered with a standard way of serving the warrant?

Here is another link from the UK, where the Obama Geheime-Zeitungs-Polizei does not seem to have its proper authority yet. 

"Criminals" that should walk free

First of all, the Tijuana mayor recently arrested for gun possession.  Yeah, it's not like Mexico has a drug war going on that's killing thousands annually.  Except, of course, for the fact that it is going on, and a mayor is a key target.  The only thing I'd counsel the mayor to do differently is to get a few weapons and spend a lot of time getting used to them.

Next, "rappers" Ja Rule and Lil Wayne, arrested for the same "crime" in New York City.  It's not like anyone driving an expensive car in New York City would need any armed protection, which is of course why Mayor Bloomberg has several armed bodyguards around the clock, every day of the week.  I might counsel these "musicians" to get better taste in music and to live somewhere else without draconian gun laws, but not against arming themselves in a vicious culture.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Count me not offended

Evidently a food stamp recipient in Menominee, MI (Yooperland) used his food stamps to buy porterhouse steak and lobster tails.  Now there is, of course, some anger that the recipient was able to do this, but let's face facts; food stamps, at about $30 per recipient per week in food spending, are not exactly a Spartan provision, unless you're referring, of course, to the menu for the Michigan State football team training table.  My family, and others I know, has been working on a food budget of about this amount, or less, for years.

The key is that one must know how to cook, as most of the experiments I see with living on food stamps involve people buying packaging instead of food--crackers instead of flour, TV dinners instead of meat and vegetables, and so on.  So my hat is off to the anonymous food stamp recipient who managed to save enough and scrounge enough to afford something nice for a special day.

Now to the government types who simply provide food aid to the poor instead of teaching them how to fend for themselves, on the other thoughts are somewhat less charitable, as what the government is doing here is simply not charity.  Less food stamps, more encouragement of the inner pyromaniac, and we'll all be better off.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Daughter update

Maddy came through with flying colors, and minus some kind of growth that was on her jaw.  Also minus two permanent teeth, but with two baby teeth the surgeon hadn't reckoned on keeping.  Would you believe you can keep your baby teeth as long as you want them if there is no permanent tooth below it? 

Suffice it to say that we're praising God for both a successful surgery (the whatever was benign), and that the surgeon was able to save us a bundle on orthodontia (if the baby teeth had gone, she would have required quite a bit of it).  Now to get some rest; 6am "arrive times" in Rochester are not exactly fun for the driver.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Quick prayer request

Daughter #3 is going to have surgery on her jaw next Monday.  The doctors are telling us it's highly likely to be very routine with few side effects, but if y'all would pray that that comes through.....

Out of control politics, here and abroad

First, here; the Department of Justice's recent indictment against John Edwards (aka "Silky Pony") indicates that not only did some of his campaign donors ignore the fact that he was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife, but also helped him pay for the upkeep of his mistress.  This boggles the mind; someone actually paid to help cover up an affair for a guy who had earned tens of millions of dollars in legal settlements?  I would hope that, if asked, I'd at least say "you can pay your own money to keep your mistress quiet, Silky Pony."

Abroad, it appears that France's socialist party is set to expel the mother of another one of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's apparent victims.  Evidently, it's more important for the Socialists to win the French Parliament than it is for an unrepentant rapist to be put in jail.

I wish I could only point towards the left here, but suffice it to say that the GOP failed to push out people like John Ensign, also caught in Silky-Pony like malfeasance.  It used to be that the principle was more important than the person; evidently, that is no longer true.  Or at least it's becoming more obvious that we don't really believe this.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Deep thoughts on Homer

The blind poet, not Simpson.  I've been reading through the Odyssey--the poem, not the minivan--and one thing that strikes me is how every time soldiers and kings get together, it's all about killing large animals, offering the thigh bones to a god or goddess of choice, and washing down the meat with copious amounts of wine.  So I'm not quite sure whether the decline of Greek society and power in the Mediterranean was due to cirrhosis or gout, or perhaps heart disease.

On the other hand, there are interesting passages throughout the poem where the ostensibly pagan Greeks refer to God in the singular case without a proper name being attached, as if the author knew that there was (per Paul's sermon to the Athenians on the Areopagus) a real God out there who was, unlike Zeus or Athena, the Creator.  If I knew classical Greek, it would be interesting to learn whether this kept with the usual meter, or whether it disrupted it; this might indicate whether it's actually from the blind poet, or whether it was a later addition.  Given the pervasive references to the pagan gods and goddesses, and the fact that the poem would make no sense without mention of "grey-eyed Athena", it hardly seems like something you could add in later.

I can't prove anything, but it's fun to contemplate.

One thing that is sure is that if you portrayed it accurately in a movie, you'd definitely get more than an R rating, especially concerning the fate of Odysseus' crewmates at the hands of the Cyclops and the fate of Odysseus' goatherd at the hands of Odysseus and Telemachos.  If one doubts the benefits of the gentleness of the Gospel, one can hardly do better than to read Homer.

Also, if you're contemplating a new minivan, you might want to avoid one named after a trip where every passenger but one gets brutally killed, and concludes in an orgy of blood.  Maybe it's appropriate that the new version looks like it would be a good hearse.  Penelope would certainly approve, as it might have made it easier for her husband to clean out the dining hall.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hey, it's the Goodyear.....Zeppelin?

Apparently, Goodyear is renewing a 90 year old, but long neglected, alliance with the Zeppelin company for its next generation of airships.  One can only hope that when they're ready in 2014, they'll be unveiled over a concert in Wembley Stadium with a giant Iron Cross on the side and replica Sopwith Camels acting as if they're trying to shoot it down, bombing spectators with "cluster bombs" of candy. 

And the band?  Duh, and the concert co-sponsored by Geritol, of course.  That'll go over like a lead....oh, never mind.  Just keep them away from Lakehurst, New Jersey, of course.

That horrible $14 trillion national debt!

Well, not in comparison to the real national debt, which, according to Dr. Prof. Walter Williams, is currently $107 trillion larger.  How so?  These are the unfunded liabilities of Social(ist) (in)Security and Medi(s)care.  So the real national debt, according to the actuaries estimating things with trends, is $121 trillion, give or take ten trillion dollars or so.

The choice we have is not whether we will change entitlement programs, but when, and what degree of pain will be incurred.  Don't forget to write your legislators, and don't forget to invest in precious metals like gold, silver, brass, copper clad lead, and ordinance steel.