Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hi Folks, Remember Me?


It has been a while since I have had time to post. Work has been crazy, and Christmas prep has been worse.

See that toybox? I figured I could get it done in about 10-15 hours. It took over 50.

It took awhile because it is built out of a sheet of oak veneer plywood and solid oak. Oak takes a while to work because it is so hard. But I had to use oak; this box is for my grandson. It had to be able to take abuse; after all, I raised his daddy, I know how rough he will be on his things.

But it had to be done for Christmas. And it was.

Almost.

I still need to put another coat of polyurethane on the lid and sign and poly the bottom.

Then it will be done.

And I can start in the OTHER Christmas projects I have to finish.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Players, Same Game


I spent yesterday morning sharpening my wood chisels. It has been a while since I have been able to get into the workshop and they were in poor shape.

The thing about sharpening chisels is that it’s a low mental function kind of a job, so my mind gets to wander. So, it’s a win-win deal; I get sharp tools, and a sharper mind.

Yesterday I started with an interview I heard with Speaker-elect John Boehner on the radio recently, where he was talking about one of the first things the 112th Congress will need to do is raise the debt ceiling.

SAY WHAT??!?

Didn’t we just elect this new crop of fools to PREVENT something like this?

Speaker Boehner was asked about maybe some spending cuts, and replied that right now we can’t afford to cut anything, or words to that effect.

Well, I can think of a lot of things we can cut. Just take any random collection of letters from the alphabet: NPR; EPA or TSA for starters.

But you have to remember what I’ve said in previous posts, and think about the difference between long term and short term solutions. A long term solution to a problem will not get you reelected. The whole point of the last 45 years was to solve a problem short term, by borrowing money, and then kick the real solution to the problem, and the new problem of massive debt, down the road.

Guess what? Now the massive debt is the problem.

Well, one of them anyway.

As I have noted before, war is the historical method for dealing with over-capacity. A people will attempt to take over the lands of another and it has a two-fold impact. First, more land means more room for the people to settle, and it also costs in production of war-making equipment and lives, ending a reason for the over-capacity. For example, look at the two worldwide booms that followed the two world wars in the last century; the Roaring Twenties and the Fabulous Fifties.

Government is then forced to come up with a way to establish this prosperity without killing people and breaking things. One of those methods was Unemployment Compensation, because statistics prove that when 5% of the workforce is unemployed, labor does not become a scarce commodity, and wages can be more competently controlled. So to ease the burden on that 5%, they pay them not to work. Just like they pay farmers not to grow certain crops, to avoid the overabundance that could lead to a reduction in the price those crops can command.

Then in 1965 the Johnson Administration went one step further with the Great Society; why worry about extra capacity, if we can just make sure this over abundance of people is feed, clothed, medicated and housed on the government dime?

So what if we have to borrow the money; somebody else will need to pay it back.

Of course, as the years went by, more and more people could not find a place in the workforce, especially as the Environmental Laws and high workforce compensation costs started driving manufacturing overseas. Coupled with the massive entry into the workforce of women in the 1970’s meant that just to maintain a 5% unemployment rate, millions of new jobs would need to be created, something government controls made difficult for the private market.

So government picked up the slack.

And borrowed more money to pay the bill. But since only the Federal Government can consistently run at a deficit, the Feds were borrowing money and transferring it to the states, counties and cities, which are now very dependent on the federal largesse.

So this is where we’re at; the Federal Government is broke, but risks total collapse if they stop paying Unemployment Compensation, Welfare, Food Stamps, Medicare and Medicaid, and the transfer payments to the states, counties and cities. They also risk collapse if they stop paying the interest on the debt (something like 40% of the annual budget; a lot of which goes to the Social Security fund they have been-and continue to- raid), or worse, since a substantial portion of our debt is owed to China.

Everyone in Washington knows this; which is why Donkeys or Elephants in control the government grows bigger, the debt grows larger and nothing changes.

Now comes the hard part; fixing it.

First and foremost, we need jobs. Only individuals pay taxes, basically because we have nowhere else to pass them onto. Corporations don’t pay taxes; they add the cost of the tax into the product, and as long as all producers of good pay the same amount of tax, it doesn’t affect the final cost of the product in a way that makes it unsalable. And the tax is then paid by whoever purchases the product. Thus is why Value Added Taxes are so popular with governments; when the cost if your Pepsi goes up, you don’t blame the government, you blame Pepsi.

We need jobs so the individuals can pay taxes. In order to create these jobs we need to drop the minimum wage laws and curtail the EPA to 1968 levels. Yep; it will be painful, but it has to be done.

Why will people take these jobs? Because Food Stamps, Welfare and Medicaid are gone. It’s work or starve. Yep; it will be painful, but it has to be done.

Nationally our standard of living will drop. It has to. There are only two ways to make manufacturing in this country pay: Our production technology has to be capable of making our wage rate worth it as a business cost, or our wage rate has to be competitive on a world market.

We were able to live on number one for years. Our ability to have one man produce what it took 6 elsewhere could support our wages. Now the rest of the world, including China, has caught up with us. We have not been able to maintain our technological edge. We either need a massive production technology leap, akin to Henry Ford’s production line, or we need to lower our wages to an internationally competitive point. Yep; it will be painful, but it has to be done.

This will cause an across the board wage reduction. Probably not all at once, or immediately, but over the course of several years positions will start to pay less, as someone qualified and making $4.00 an hour moves into what was a $15.00 hour job to get a raise to $10.00. Or $7.00. Yep; it will be painful.

The decrease in wages will lead to a decrease in the cost of certain goods and services, in a deflationary spiral. Less money chasing an abundance of housing means housing values will decrease. Personally, I see housing at 1980 prices. Not adjusted for inflation, but actual dollar values. People will be making 1980 wages after all.

Food will remain high for a while, and certain things will become luxuries that are now commonplace in the diet. Meat for instance, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Are you ready, as a middle class American to have the same diet as your average 2nd world country? Yep; it will be painful.

And Washington knows all of this. They know that if half of what I have described comes to pass there will be violence in every corner of the nation. The chances of anyone involved getting reelected to anything will be gone.

So Congress will raise the debt ceiling, borrow more money from the Chinese and pass it around like always. Kick the issue another year or two down the road.

But just like any other problem, the further the issue is kicked down the pike, the harder it will be to fix, and the more painful the cure.

All to avoid another world war. One where both sides, and some renegades, are armed with nuclear weapons.

I’m going back to sharpening chisels. At least that has an endgame.

When they cut wood, your done.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sarah Palin's Alaska



Have you watched any of Sarah Palin's Alaska?

I've watched the first two shows, and well, the show is decent. I’ve seen better, and I’ve seen worse. If you are a Palin lover, then you will probably enjoy it; a Palin hater, probably not so much.

You know that guy who shot up his TV because Bristol Palin was on Dancing With The Stars? I doubt he'd enjoy it.

I would love to find somebody who was a Palin agnostic to see what their opinion of the show is. But those folks are hard to find; everybody I know has very strong opinions one way or the other of Ms. Palin.

A lot of the political pundits are dissing it, and complaining that she appears too ‘folksy’, and nobody wants a ‘folksy’ president.

Ever hear of a fella by the name of Andrew Jackson? Or more recently, Bill Clinton? I think Reagan fits into that folksy mode as well. Just because the 1000 people inside the Washington Beltway are not happy with Palin’s folksyness, doesn’t mean the 250 million of us in flyover country aren’t.

In 1992 when Clinton was running for the first time, I liked the guy. Hated most of his policies, but thought I could enjoy a beer with the guy. If he would have run in '92 like he governed in '96 I might have voted for him. After the Lewinsky scandal broke I had no use for him at all.

But his common folks appeal meant alot in '92, and I think the Republicans have been looking for their own common man since then. George W. Bush was a stab at a common man, and except for the whole Washington insider, born rich parent's thing, he was a good try.

He was folksy, and, because of the whole Washington insider, born rich parent's thing, they were fairly sure he was controllable.

Which Sarah Palin is not.

Which is why they are scared. Murkowsky write in campaign scared.

The party insiders really weren't worried when she ran for governor in Alaska; they figured she could do no harm.

Then came John McCain and his need for a conservative street cred in 2008.

The party insiders really do understand that connecting with the common man and woman (a trite, but accurate phrase) is the key. Who was it who said about the 2010 election that "We need enough votes that they can't steal this one"?

That's their problem. When the people vote in large enough numbers that the ballot boxes found in the trunks of cars can't swing the vote the way the ruling class wants it to go (See Rand Paul; Primary and General election) then they are in trouble.

Which is another reason I am a Palin fan; she scares the hell of people like Mitch McConnell.

I think this show does exactly what it is intended to do; introduce us to Sarah Palin and her family on her own turf. I don’t know if it will change any opinions, but you never know.

ADDED:

I found this today through Instapundit; I just wonder how serious this editorial is?

In the article she says this:

Into this horror walks Sarah Palin, who is kind of a sexy librarian, kind of a MILF, kind of just crazy, and altogether does what she wants to do.

And that is the scary part, for some, of Sarah Palin; she does what she wants to do. She doesn't play the game. When she was McCain's VP choice she played by his rules; now she plays by hers.

And that has both sides of the aisle scared.

Because we LIKE her rules, not theirs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

America's Highest Honor


I just had to post this when I read it.

President Obama's remarks are remarkable.

Incredible story, and very illustrative of the best of America.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Out And About on The Internets Today


I ran across this. Very interesting read.

If this is a real 'Deep Throat' and not the figment of some over-active imagination, there may be hope for this country yet.

There are several interviews, and they basically describe Obama just as the Republicans have pictured him; out of touch with reality, in a situation that is 'above his paygrade' and flailing aimlessly in random directions.

They also claim that several scandals are ready to break as soon as the new Congress is seated.

Could be an interetsing year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'll Think About An Electric Car When...


You know I follow Jay Leno's Garage pretty regularly. Today they have a post up about new electric cars and motorcycles from the 2010 SEMA show.

Jay isn't in this one; his friend Justin Bell is. Justin is a world class racing driver, and has done several videos for and with Jay.

He makes a great point toward the end of this video, when he talks about how it would feel to have his race car recharged in the pits, instead of refueled.

You know how I feel about electric cars, and this really summed it up for me. It was the early days of racing that proved the internal combustion engine concept. electric and steam cars couldn't compete over the long distances, like the Indy 500, first run in 1911, and the gas engine became the standard.

All the flash and bang electric cars have been making the last couple of years is meaningless.

When an electric car wins at Indy or Daytona, then I'll know they're ready for primetime.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

You Just Have to Give Credit Where Credit is Due


I found this Thursday through Instapundit.

Barack Obama helped elect 255 Democrats to the House in 2008. This year, he helped elect 240 Republicans to the House.

Now that’s bipartisanship.


So when the Republican Central Committee starts to tell you how wunderful they are, remember who really caused this historic turn-around.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yeah, I Did



Started flying the new flag this morning. The Young'un helped me run it up the pole and then insisted we say the Pledge of Allegance.

And we did.

Gotta start these things right, don't ya know.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Remember When I Said



That I wouldn't replace my flag until the people were back in power?

Well, I think today is close enough.

My wife says my flag is disrespectful.

It may be.

But is it more disrespectful to our country and it's Veterans than what has been happening in Washington since March?

Tough call, ain't it?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How About A Little Classic NASCAR?


I was over at The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys this morning and found this post, a video from Jay Leno's garage where they track test a '66 Galaxy NASCAR race car.

That got me to thinking about when NASCAR really took off, popularity wise, in the late sixties/early seventies when there was considerable factory support.

Ever seen a Daytona Charger?


How about a Talledega Torino?



These cars were built specifically to compete in NASCAR, and by NASCAR's homologation rules at least 500 cars had to be built and sold, and in the Torino's case only 783 were built. The Daytona Charger barely made the cut at 543. So you probably have never seen one on the street, especially since the Daytona Chargers sell in the half a million dollar range. And UP, depending on equipment.

What if Ford and Chevy went back to the days when what raced at Daytona was available in the showroom?

Sure, you can buy a Malibu. But the one at Daytona is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive V8. The showroom version? Front wheel drive V6. IF you're lucky.

The cars on the track have as much in common with the cars in the showroom as I do with Obama. And that ain't much. And. just for the record, I am the more powerful NASCAR version.

So what about doing a Classic NASCAR; where the cars are, with the addition of some safety items, just like what you can buy off of the showroom floor? Let the manufacturers put some effort into the winning on Sunday, selling on Monday rule, and see what they can come up with.

Even if it winds up just being the Mustangs, Camaros and Chargers battling it out, it will make for some fun racing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Got "CLUE"?


I re-watched the movie "Clue" (WARNING: this site does give away the endings, if you haven't seen the movie, but would like to) last night. I was digging in the DVD cabinet for another movie I'd decided to watch and hit upon Clue first.

Apparently it didn't do well with the critics 25 years ago (who cares), but has developed a 'cult' following. I never realized I was part of a cult.

The movie has a great set, some great scenes and some great writing. If you are familiar with the board game all of the rooms are here, along with a few more. Even the secret passages are a part of the movie.

I can see why the critics didn't like it. There is no 'message'; no 'conflict' and no trashing of 'the establishment'. Although they do take a swipe at J. Edgar Hoover at one point.

The setup of the movie is just and excuse for some great comic exchanges. the whole movie moves quickly; setting up situations and blasting through them. This exchange takes place as teh Butler, Wadsworth, is explaining about th eblackmail that brought everyone together:

Professor Plum: What is your top-secret job, Colonel?
Wadsworth: I can tell you. He's working on the secret of the next fusion bomb.
Colonel Mustard: How did you know that?
Wadsworth: Can you keep a secret?
Colonel Mustard: Yes...
Wadsworth: So can I.

AND, while doing reasearch for this post I found out Hollywierd is up to it again. They are planning a remake of 'Clue', due out in 2011. But, no details yet as to teh cast or exactly when it will be released.

Maybe we got lucky and they changed their minds.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Know I Was Busy Today, But...



I still can't figure out what I missed.

When I went to work gas was $2.79 for premium.

I didn't stop.

On the way home it was $2.95.

What blew up, fell down or caught fire that caused gas to jump 16 cents in 8 hours?

I should have stopped this morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Precedent Folks, Precedent


I found this through Instapundit this afternoon.

I hear the Democrats are really ticked off at this episode too.

Each student only got to vote once.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Can't Do

I be honest. I ain't got time right now to do a post on this issue.

But I have to, because of some dipstick Judge in California, who decided her power is greater than that of Congress.

I don't understand he ruling. I haven't read it, and probably won't. She made her decision first, and then pulled some sort of legal 'reasoning' out of her hindquarters to support it the best she could. So who cares what she says to support her "impartial' decision.

The Judge was Virginia Phillips. This is her bio.

Berkley Law School. That kind of explains her fuzzy thinking doesn't it? I just wonder who it was who bought her this seat from Clinton?

You tell me; how does banning gays in the military violate their free speech rights? Because they can't 'TELL' anyone they are gay?

So? The United States Military isn't a standard less organization. Each standard has a reason. What's next? Because the Army won't allow blind snipers they are again in violation of the 14th Amendment? What other sort of qualification will next be on the chopping block to reduce our military readiness?

Hell, I want to be a damn Navy Seal. The fact that I can't stand water shouldn't disqualify me. It's a meaningless standard that violates my 14th Amendment rights. And that they won't let me enlist because I'm 50 does too.

If the Joint Chiefs, the President and the Congress all have determined that being openly homosexual is not conductive to good order and discipline, then who is this idiot in a robe, who probably has never been closer to the Amy than when she listens to that dippy song about the Kent State shootings 40 years ago, to decide otherwise?

Over turn the policy, that's fine. We appeal and a higher court is able to determine that she was full of crap and everybody goes home happy.

Why the injunction to stop the policy? Injunctions are only supposed to be issued if there is significant evidence of harm to a party. I still don't see it.

Oh well; in January we can not only reinstate the policy, we can impeach her and send her back to where ever it was Clinton pulled her from to sit on the bench.

One other thing that bothers me in this discussion too is how they always manage to trot out somebody who talks about how well they served their country while gay, and it didn't cause a discipline issue.

Duh. It was because NOBODY ASKED AND NOBODY TOLD.

Who are the stupid dipsticks who actually fall for that?

You may have gathered from my tone that I am PISSED.

There is ONE entity on the face of this Earth that can protect us from a war on our soil; the United States Military. I don't like some damned idiotic judge messing with military policy and what very well could affect military readiness, because she "FEELS" it is the "Right thing to do". Based on her years of military service I suppose?

Edited and added:

I am also reminded by a friend that DADT was developed because the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires discharge for any member found to be homosexual, and now that DADT has been declared void and not to be enforced, any gay member can be summarily discharged.

Talk about your unintended consequences.

And this judge was too un-informed to even realize what her injunction did.

Dipstick.

Monday, October 11, 2010

TV Sucks


I have spent the last week on bed rest for the most part, lying flat on my back to try and stop my nose from bleeding me dry.

So I have been forced to watch ALOT of TV. Basic Cable. Not quite as bad as straight over-the-air, but almost. I have discovered one thing that I am certain of; we need a Truth in Naming Law.

I have about 60 channels on the cable mini box I have on my bedroom TV, and I'll bet I have only about 30 different stations, and only about 10 of those are nominally watchable.

Remember A&E? Arts and Entertainment? Mostly crime reality. Nothing arty or even remotely entertaining.

Bravo? Remember when it was ballet and live plays? Mostly reality crime drama. I think; I never really spent more than 5 seconds there, but it looked an awful lot like A&E.

History Channel? Explain to me why a dog cheap reality series like Swamp People or Ice Road Truckers is on the History Channel? Pawn Stars I don't really mind; they do tend to cover some facet of history, but I would still rather have a 10 part Civil War documentary than Pawn Stars or American Pickers, especially when I have 7 uninterrupted days of lying flat on my back.

I think I counter 14 separate sports channels, including one dedicated completely to Golf. GOLF? A sport so flippin' boring you can fall asleep PLAYING it has its own flippin' CHANNEL!?!?!?!

The Learning Channel used to be decent too. Now apparently all people want to learn about is prisons, clutter and I swear this last week I saw the same woman give birth about 14 times.

You know what my standard was for not switching off of a channel while I was surfing? If I saw the GEICO guy. Not the gecko, the Guy. "Can GEICO really save you 15% on car insurance? Is a Bird in the Hand worth Two in the Bush?"

Now that right there is what I call ENTERTAINMENT!

Thank God I had my DVD collection.

Especially my 42 John Wayne movies.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bursting The Housing Bubble Myth


I was out surfing this morning and ran into this, another blogspot to find the sage and cogent writing of Sippican Cottage.

And as usual, he is dead on the money. The commenter's are a fairly competent bunch as well.

Until the 1990s your home was not a short term investment piggy bank. You bought a house and took out a mortgage because you could build equity over a long term- 10 to 15 years usually- and building that equity was a hedge for retirement.

Then all of the sudden your house would increase 20% in value (for no real apparent reason), and folks would strip that equity out of their homes and spend it. Encouraged by two things; free money tax encouragements and the lemming-like follow the Jones over the cliff instant gratification society.

Why did the government encourage spending yourself into debt? Because our economy has been based on consumerism since the end of the Cold War. We don't make things in this country and sell them to others; we employ each other by swapping goods we bought from China (on credit) for money we borrowed from China, back and forth, each time hoping we could make enough on THIS transaction to get us out of the debt we were incurring on both ends.

Guess what?

Didn't work, did it?

Nothing is worth more than somebody will pay for it. The problem with housing became that people were not spending their own money. They didn't care what they paid for a house when they spent your money for it. And since the loss was yours when they walked away, they didn't care if they did that either, and walked away from the debt in droves.

Now we can either bail out the homeowners with government (Chinese borrowed) money; bail out the lenders with government (Chinese borrowed) money, or allow the entire financial structure of this country's (and a decent portion of the western world's) to collapse.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

But this is why I was in favor of the original TARP bailout 2 years ago. The original program was to relieve the banks of their worst defaulted properties, allowing them to liquidize these troubled assets and let the Federal Government hold them until they regained some worth.

But somewhere between the stated purpose of the bill and the spending of the money we got shafted. The Feds just gave the money away to their buddies, who donated large portions back to the elected officials who gave them billions.

It was not a housing bubble; it was a government bubble.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Have you Ever Seen Dirty Jobs?


I found this on Instapundit this morning.

The first 8 minutes or so talk about the castration of sheep; the last half gets a little more esoteric. How many times have heard someone talk about Greek philosophy and sheep castration in the same sentence?

But Mike has the same idea that I do. Hard work is what built this country. Why don't we encourage more young people to do a little of it?

Its almost axiomatic that there are no great hereditary fortunes in this country. Its because the first generation makes it, the second generation conserves it and the third generation squanders it.

Gen 1 worked hard to amass that fortune; sometimes starting off in a very physical occupation and working long physical hours. Gen 2, never being forced to earn what they are spending, doesn't squander, but they also don't know the value of RISK, and don't grow he fortune. Gen 3, never having saw the fortune being built, has no concept of its worth, takes there ownership of wealth as a birthright, and promptly spends without thought of earning. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but I can probably name more followers off the top of my head than you can exceptions.

How does this equate to the lack of expertise in hard work today?

Well, we are the third generation. Not physically, but metaphorically. We enjoy the fruits of the prior generations, but we haven't worked to build the country; we didn't conserve what we were given, and we sure haven't worked to earn what we've spent.

Through regulation and over education we have driven manufacturing from this country, and we have not yet even begun to pay the price for its loss.

Grant didn't win the Civil War by out managing or out maneuvering Lee; he won by out manufacturing him. For every cannon Lee destroyed, Grant was able to field 2 more, and have them delivered quickly by railroad. the more agrarian South could do what the industrial North could; hence we all speak Yankee now.

The Great War wasn't won by military strategy; it was won by American production, just like WWII was. Who ever can replace a lost element fastest wins. If you replace every two soldiers with one, how long until you can no longer fight?

And that is what we have been doing for 40 years; replacing every two manufacturing jobs lost to other countries with one new one. Because we have trained our young, collectively, that dirty work is for people who are less than ideal. You are somehow 'substandard' if you are forced to work with your hands.

My Dad worked with his hands his entire life, and could also quote Greek poets. Working with your hands is not a sign of stupidity; not being able to work with your hands is.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The BUFF


I just ran into this article while out and about on the web.

One point I found interesting; today all of these planes are older than their crews, and in some cases older than the crews' parents. Shortly, they will be older than the crews' GRANDPARENTS.

And it is still an effective warbird.

Here is the US Air Force site for the plane, and Wikipedia has a great article as well.

Having served in SAC back in the day, on a B-52 base, I have seen my share of these birds on the ground and in the air, and constantly wondered how in the world these things were able to fly, much less loaded with 35 TONS of bombs.

The article says the USAF is flying about 85 of these birds, which is probably about half of what was built. I saw a video a few years back of the Air Force destroying dozens of these planes in Arizona as part of some treaty or the other, and it was a sad sight. They also salvaged a whole bunch of the nose art from the destroyed birds, and the Air Force Museum in Dayton had probably 2 dozen of them on display at one point a couple of years ago.

A great plane, flying since before I was born, and not scheduled to retire until after I do.

One final question; do they plan on keeping these planes flying for so long because they are the epitome of design, or because we can't do any better today?

PS: BUFF? It is a very endearing name for these veteran war planes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Call Me a Prognosticator



I wrote this as a post 6 years ago, during the Bush- Kerry election cycle, as a response to a post at the old Atlantic Monthly site.

I didn’t keep a copy of the post I was responding to, but my guess is it was a Democrat who was pulling the holier-than-thou attitude and claiming that it was only the Republicans slinging mud, probably through the Swiftboaters. Even with that context, some of this won’t make sense, and I have tried to edit out the worst of it, but because I build on some of those points, I have had to leave a few in.

That being said, the following predicts the Tea Party activity we are seeing this year, which I why I thinks its worthy of posting again.


You beat a good tattoo, as long as it's not your ox getting gored. Step out of the box and count the mud balls the Dems and their unindicted co-conspirators are throwing.

Give and take, send and receive. Only a mindless (hell, I'll use it) Kool-aid drinker, from either side, thinks his noble cause is the blameless receiver of unwarranted mud and guano.

Face it, neither side wants us to KNOW the issues, much less debate them. They'll spend the next two months spouting talking points, spewing and defending mud, saying nothing and doing less.

We'll play here, and other sites, and in the letters to the editor, and come November one side will lose, one side will win, we'll lose another right or two, and the whole stinkin' mess will start again in four years.

We have two options- play along and do our best to keep Big Brother from controlling our lives down to vegetable we have for supper, enjoy the charade every four years and keep our heads above water, or give in, go smoke dope in a corner and become one of the clueless masses who are "undecided" until they step into a voting booth and pull a lever for name they think they recognize.

I'll keep fighting, and I'll keep losing, as long as the Republicrat party exists, and I'll keep hoping one day the rest of this country pulls it's collective head out of it's collective sports induced fog long enough to help.

The smoke screens over Bush's attendance at guard drills, or Kerry's back up for his medals is just to distract us from the fact that everyday government takes over more and more of the economy, mostly through regulation (for our own good, don't you know), but also through Jobs. According to the latest statistics one person in four works for the government at some level.

Stalin never had it so good.

But don't mind me- go back to the bickering- But if nothing changes in 2005, wake me up and let me know, will ya?

And things didn't change much in 2005, did they?

Polls lead me to believe things will change a little in 2011 though. Will they? Or have we been snookered again?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cousin Throckmorton Checks in Again


Dear Cousin Red,

As I have probably mentioned, Gunkel Holler is in Miserable County, which is dry. A’course I suppose most counties which are dry are miserable, but I’m just guessin’. An’ I guess y’all know what a dry county is, that’s one where only the locals are allowed to have booze.

So I guess you could say that it’s only a dry county for strangers. We been drinkin’ down at H.G. Rembert & Sons Butcher Shop for years. We started down there ‘bout 50 years ago when he had the only cold box big enough to store enough beer. We used to sit in the back, next to the cooler in the renderin’ room. If y’all have ever been in a renderin’ room, y’all will know how hard up we was for a cold beer.

But it wasn’t long before one of the Rembert sons realized they we’re making more money from sellin’ beer than they was from butcherin’ an’ they quit sellin’ beer part time an’ went at it whole hog. They cleaned up the renderin’ room, an’ installed a bar. Well, it was really just a couple a 2X12’s stretched across some empty 55-gallon drums, but they had ‘em painted up real nice. An’ once they moved in some old picnic tables we had it made. After a couple of years the wives started showin’ up an’ they wanted things a little nicer, so the Remberts moved the butcher cases out of the front room and put in a real bar and nicer picnic tables.

But they left the sign the same on the window: H.G. Rembert & Sons Hog Butchers and Wholesalers of Hog Fat. I ask H.G. Jr. when they were goin’ to change the sign an’ he said what for? Everybody who needs to know does, and everybody else, we don’t want ‘em to.

We tend to spend a lot of time down Remberts, ’specially come winter. In fact, it was there that we invented an indoor version of horseshoes. The only place we could find was a hallway out behind the chiller that was only long enough for a half court. So we figured we’d hang an old box spring off of a king size bed on the wall at the end an’ see how well it would work. It worked sort of well, but ya had to careful where ya threw, because there wasn’t quite as much bounce in the middle as there was on the sides, and once they come off there a little out of whack, there took some terrible ricochets off the concrete walls. But it didn’t take us long to find the sweet spots in that old box spring, an’ we were back to throwin’ ringers like we had a full deck. I mean a full court.

One day we also worked on a way of playin’ lawn darts on our indoor horseshoe court. Like I heard a guy say on the radio, alcohol was involved in this incident. It was real hard to decide which way was better, when the darts came back like they was supposed to, or when they stuck and we had to go chase them. When they came back we was duckin’ and runnin’ from the way they bounced around. When they stuck, we was duckin’ and runnin’ ‘cause the other ole boy was still takin’ his turn. Like I said, alcohol was involved in this incident.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Rembert’s. They do a real nice business, selling beer an’ light lunches. But for some reason they tend to limit themselves to BLT’s and ham sandwiches. They also do some real nice french fries and onion rings. But do yourself a favor and don’t touch the egg salad. It’s a registered deadly weapon. An’ bring your cash, ‘cause they don’t accept American Express.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who Needs a Laugh This Morning?


I was reading this over at Sippican Cottage this morning, and literally had tears in my eyes.

If you are not familiar with the Kingston Trio's MTA, watch the video first, catch the tune, and sing the words as loudly as possible.

Hopefully in a room with the door closed, and not your cubicle.

Maybe I was just in the mood to laugh uproariously at 7:00 in the morning, but I laughed so hard I cried.

I guess I should admit to having cropdusted a time to two...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have You Caught Any of This?


I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Erik Scott shooting in Las Vegas last July; I just became acquainted with it myself a day or two ago.

This seems to be a pretty good analysis of both side of the debate.

I don't care how you slice it this was a tragedy.

I also have to add a personal bit of evidence.

A year or so ago I went through a police training exercise involving a Glock 9mm modified to shoot a laser and video scenarios that, based on the size of the screen, looked and felt real.

After about 6 or 7 scenarios (where they have a paintball gun shooting small ping-pong balls at you at when the suspect takes a shot, I stepped out and went to sign my name to the visitors' roll. and I realized my hand was shaking like a leaf. I took stock of my physical reactions and found my heart rate was up and so was my breathing.

Even in a situation where I was 100% sure I was going to exit alive. I can't imagine daily strapping on that weapon, not knowing if today was the day I would need to use it to save my life or some one else's.

Or not be the one who unbuckled that belt at the end of the day.

What is my point?

That without proper training- and lets face, I had absolutely no training in facing a situation like that- adrenalin takes over and all Hell will break loose. The local police forces use the same training exercise I used to make sure their officers are trained, and will go into a given situation with the ability to think and react, not simply run off emotional energy and react poorly.

There ought not be an officer in these guys chain of command left on a police force anywhere in this country.

They went into a situation poorly trained and ill-prepared to handle the situation and an innocent man died, in my opinion.

And it wasn't the fault of the cops who physically pulled the triggers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Right Place, At The Right Time Isn't Enough



Do you ever watch The Antiques Roadshow?

Almost every episode they have somebody who found an antique worth thousands of dollars for a few bucks at a yard sale, charity auction, Goodwill store or something similar.

How many other people were at the same sale? They were in the Right Place; Right Time, but came away without this bargain. Why was that?

Probably because they were missing the vital third component that nobody wants to talk about: Right Information.

Right Place, Right Time is easy; it is also an excuse. It basically means 'You got LUCKY'.

But adding Right Information, then it's not luck; it's preparation.

Like looking for a job; everybody in the area is in the right place at the right time. How many have the right information, as in knowledge of the opening and the job skills required, to become "lucky"?

I was at a Lowe's one time as the manager rolled out a massive cart, 4 shelves high, full of assorted miscellaneous junk. Basically, these were leftovers from larger lots- like 6 rolls of mis-matched wallpaper- returns, like a router and a grinder missing some small parts, and things that just didn't sell- like plug cutting bits.

I bought the whole rack for $30. 3 people in front of me turned down the offer. I took it. The receipt totaled almost $1100 before the discount kicked in.

Yeah, I hauled home a bunch of stuff I wound up throwing out, but I knew how to replace the missing bits on the tools, and got a $250 router and a $120 angle grinder for $15 apiece.

Which means everything else I got for free. So if you need one roll of Floral pattern wall paper for some reason, let me know. I've 6 to choose from, and I'll let them go cheap.

See? if you need cheap wallpaper your in the right place at the right time- and you have the right information!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Not So Glass Menagerie


On or about March 12th, 1995 my family moved into our new home in the country. On or about March 13th, 1995, we acquired our first pet. We now have a menagerie that would have Noah jealous. The current census indicates we have four fish, three dogs, two chickens, one cat, and a partridge in a pear tree. The last part I couldn't swear to, but we do have quail about the place, and two pear trees, so their combination is pretty much inevitable.

This accounting does not include the pets who have come and gone, such as the gerbil breeding farm my eldest started in his bedroom, the tank full of goldfish that have taken that final, spiral swim. Nor does it include the litter of eight puppies that was presented to us on St. Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. I also can't enumerate the unauthorized pets of our sons' we have evicted over the years, such as frogs, turtles, spiders, and other assorted life forms commonly thought of as vermin.

The problem is probably genetic, and definitely my wife's fault. She has had an overwhelming variety of pets, all of them strays or free to good home, since I've known her. This gathering of new pets has gotten so bad I can't even send her to the mailbox without fear of a new addition to the zoo. This year, three or four days after Easter, she came back with the day’s mail and a six-week-old chick she found wandering the road. A day or two later we found the box it had been dumped in. I guess somebody else found out the hard way that chickens do not make good house pets.

Some of the blame is mine, I guess. It was I who brought home our first pet, when I had to have a dog. I didn't even care about whether or not she was fixed until I found out for certain that she wasn't. (Which I still think is strange terminology, when you take something that works perfectly, break it, and then call it "fixed".) This is when the collection started to grow. We had to keep one of the pups. The others all went to good homes, and if our pup is any indication, turned out well.

Our third dog was adopted slightly differently. One of our neighbors had a dog he rescued from the road after almost hitting it with his car. As near as our vet can tell, it's two major breeds are chow and shar-pei. I like to call him five pounds of dog in a ten pound skin. Our neighbor was a bachelor, and Titan was a pup who needed to be around kids. He developed a close attachment to my middle son, probably due to the all baloney that kept mysteriously disappearing. The time he spent fenced in the neighbor's backyard was soundtracked to his yelps and cries. It was sort of like musical chairs. When the music stopped, the beeline to a seat on our porch started. Our neighbor finally decided that he needed a dog guarding his place, not ours and told my son Titan was going to the pound. He came home with Matt instead.

My wife's sisters have helped enable our addiction to buying pet food, too. But it's been done in a sneaky way, by giving the kids pets. The time I came home from work and found my three-year-old was the proud owner of a six-week-old kitten springs to mind. When her younger sister thought that a baby chicken for Easter was a good idea is another. And to be fair, my family isn't much better. It was my Mom who started us off on goldfish.

The goldfish are a classic case of how pet ownership evolves. For my son's third birthday in 1996 he was presented with one goldfish in a bowl. After six or seven months of bi-weekly bowl cleanings, I figured the darn thing was immortal and bought a tank and filter. Two weeks later we found him belly up on the top of the tank.

This is where I believe we started to throw good money after bad. We bought more goldfish, one of which was with children. Patrick was ecstatic. We watched those fish grow for almost eight months. After one of the monthly tank cleanings, a parent’s job, don't you know, we forgot to add the de-chlorinator before we added the fish. There were no survivors, and all victims were buried at sea. Or, at least, at close as we could come. My guilty conscience bought more fish.

I'm fairly certain there will be more pets in the future. It took lots of will power not to adopt a miniature sheltie that a friend was recently had to give away, but we managed. She found it a good home, instead of taking it to the pound, which helped. I also think my wife is ready to "just say no" to more pets. When one of the dogs got into the house after his bath recently she seemed a little pet weary. It could have been because he didn't stop to shake between the hose and the living room, but I'm not sure. What I do know for sure is I'm waiting until she's in a real good mood before I talk to her about replacing our weedwhacker with a goat.

UPDATE: No, we do not have a goat. I got a riding lawnmower instead.

And I'll tell you what prompted this post. The Young'un got some goldfish. One of our neighbors has a goldfish pond in his yard and he gave the Young'un some fish from the pond. It’s a Lose-Lose situation. He lost some goldfish, and I gained 3 more mouths to feed, and a fish tank in the living room again.

All of the pets in the story, except Titan are gone. The picture is Daisy, of course, and Bandit, my wife’s lap-rat dog. Pat’s kitten became a cat and was with us 7 years, until he got a little slow crossing the road one day. He’s buried up on the hill under the pear tree. And was replaced by Patches.

I really don’t see an end to the pet situation. I have had a dog in my life since I was 5, and intend to always have one. The fish keep the kids happy and feeding a cat is cheaper and easier than baiting and emptying mouse traps. But my wife and I still have one pet battle.

She wants a cow. Not for steaks and hamburger, but for a pet. There I draw the line. I am not going to have a 2000 pound pet wandering the backyard. Probably. Maybe.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I have to promote both a great post and a great blog for a minute; Sippican Cottage.

He makes furniture for a living and wordplay for a hobby; and does very well at both.

And he's right, you know.

My County just did the same thing.

Above is the Old Courthouse; built in 18 and 88. Full of marble and stained glass.

I can't find a picture of the new "Administration Building" on line. Spent millions of my dollars on the place and aren't proud enough of it to even post a picture.

Not that I blame them. It's a flat mess. They faced it North, on a one way street that heads North, so unles you twist in your seat like a corkscrew, all you can see is the back.

And that is concrete and dark windows, and not many of them.

The inside isn't any better. A two story lobby that is concrete and glass and stainless steel.

About as inviting as a cell block.

I can't imagine being forced to spend 40 hours a week in that soulless box.

Government buildings didn't leave the warm and comfortable behind by accident. It was done on purpose. What good is the Town Square, except to give folks a comfortable spot to sit and watch the courthouse and its goings-on?

Do you see the issue? Can't have folks keeping an eye on the government, now can we?

Best to drive them away, and allow the government to function away from prying eyes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

News You Can Use


I received this story in an email from my Aunt, and was initially going to blog it because it showed the bias in the media.

But always the responsible blogger, I wanted to check the veracity of the story first. Chain emails have been known to get things wrong, and the story seemed to good to be true, as far as confirming the media ban on 'good' stories from the military.

If you followed the link then you know the details, and you know the story is true. You also know that the recent email changed some details.

Which is why I'm doing this post.

The email leaves out the fact that petty Officer Monsoor was a SEAL, probably to make the final tribute seem more poignant.

They also changed the dates of the event and the awarding of the Medal of Honor, probably to make the story a current event.

And that's what has me torqued off at this point.

Somebody thought that they could use this brave SEAL's heroic death to gin up some political controversy, and created LIES about that death and tribute to make it seem like a current event.

And that has me madder than the original story. You don't use heroes for politics.

And the fact that apparently my side of the debate is doing it doesn't make it right; it makes it worse.

We are supposed to know better.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cars I Have Known, Part V


I found this on The Truth About Cars a couple of days ago and was waiting for time to do a proper post on it.

I still don't have time. But I am going to do a post anyway, because the spirit has moved me.

And I'm supposed to be cleaning my desk. But, I digress.

The article is about the Oldsmobile Cutlass body style series that started in 1978. As a refresher, the 1977 Cutlass was a monster. Long and wide, usually powered by a 350 V-8 it was considered a midsized car. That could seat 6 fairly comfortably, if two were children, and handled like the Queen Mary.

The '78 on the other hand was about a foot shorter, 6 inches narrower and was powered by a 260 V-8. It didn't wallow into corners like the '77, and being smaller, was easier to maneuver in traffic and parking lots. It still seated 5, if one was a child, and became an instant hit.

For years this body series, which lasted, with one update, for 10 years, filled 4 -6 spots on the Top Ten Most Stolen list. a dubious distinction maybe, but also a hint of its popularity.

Spots that, coincidentally, have been taken by Honda Accords. According to the article, the Accord is the Modern Cutlass.

I have owned 4 of these Cutlasses. Two '78 two-doors, an '80 wagon and an '82 two-door. And I loved them all.

My first I called my American Bimmer. Bucket Seats, Factory Gauge Package, Glass Moon Roof, 260 V-8 and, the reason I bought the car, a Factory 5-speed. Mine was Midnight Blue, with a Baby Blue vinyl Landau Top. It had an interesting history. A couple bought it new in 1978 and shipped it to Denmark, where the husband was stationed for his job (details on the job are classified). In '82 or '83 they gave the car to their son, who lived in Cincinnati. In '86 he showed up with it in the garage I worked in because the headlights didn't work.

It was love at first sight for me. We agreed on a price and I took her home. We had two young'uns at the time, and putting car seats in and out of the back was a pain in the back, but everything else made it worthwhile.

That body style was big on the inside, small on the outside, and one of the last cars you could still work on. It averagaed probably 20 MPG (who measured gas mileage in 1986?) but still was able stay out of the way of traffic. and the rare 5-Speed gave it just a little bit of foreign feel.

The other Cutlasses have their own great stories that I'll tell later.

But back to the article; there is one point I have to argue with. The '78-'88 Cutlasses are comfortabel to me; the Accordss, not so much. Mom has one (2005 I think), and while adequet for short trips, after an hour I am ready to ride in the trunk just to see if I can find room to make my legs comortable.

To my 6'-4" 280 pound self, they just aren't comfortable. my legs rub somethng no matter where I put them, my butt gets tired after 30 minutes and I can't seem to shift my weight to somewhere that isn't already sore or tired. Give me an old Cutlass anyday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I Just Took A Few Minutes


I am waiting to finish a beer and go to bed, after a long day of working in the yard, and re-read some of my old posts.

It seems like every other one, since last January any way, was how how far left Obama and the Democratistas (i just found that word in an old post) were taking the country.

But lately those posts have dropped off. Because Obama has moved right, or because we have become immune to the Socialism?

God, I hope its the former.

Man v Car; Car Loses


I found this though Instapundit this morning, titled as "IN THE FUTURE, everyone will be George Costanza for 15 minutes". The link goes to Althouse, where I initially saw the article, but I liked Instapundits' title better.

You don't need to read the article; just look at the pictures.

You have to assume that the heroine (for lack of better word at this point) of the article selected the picture of her and her husband that appears in the article, right?

Would you have picked that shot, if it were you?

AND, she is upset that her 2008 Dodge Charger was totaled when this guy fell on it.

First; its only 2 years old and worth 14k. she can probabaly find another one on Craig's List in a couple of days. And she's had it; What? 2 years max? Plus, according to the article she already needs brakes front and rear that have cost her 'Hundreds of Dollars'.

Can you say LEMON!?!?!

Get a life woman.

And get a car you can really cry over when it gets totaled, get one like THIS.

A couple of small quibbles with video. That is a 1959 Oldsmobile; the 455 did not come out until the late Sixties. And the car they use for the interior shots is a late Sixties Buick Skylark.

Which is good; it means they didn't ruin an Oldsmobile.

Like GM did. But that fiasco is another post.

I found this on Yahoo this morning, and as usual the comments are the best part.

Well, the most interesting part anyway. If you are interested in pathological hatred.

I read just one page of the comments, and couldn't stand anymore. what the Hell is the matter with these people?

You would think this girl was an ax murderer or a serial drunk driver they way she is being talked about in the comments.

And her mother hasn't even become President yet and ended all of the Socialist programs that allow these bums to live in their parents' basement and pretend to be adults 'cause they can find the 'naughty' sites on the Internet. Imagine the vitriolic rants when she does.

Oh that's right; if these idiots actually had to work they would have time for garbage like this.

I really do see that as a win-win-win situation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can't Miss The County Fair


Dear Cousin Red,

This comin' weekend is the Miserable County Fair, held every year since 1855 on whatever weekend in September the Farmer's Almanac says will be the most sorry. If'n the other three weekends are dry, the Fair gets drowned out in 12 inches of rain. If'n the other days are warm, then Fair weekend is either cold enough to freeze y'all's cotton candy, or hot enough to set fire to the paper cone.

I recall one year we had fun while choppin' tabacca by seein' who could raise the biggest cloud 'a dust by spittin' in the dirt. Fair weekend, even the concrete was soggy enough to make mud pies. We even had a judgin' for mud pies that year. My wife took second place with one that left the kitchen as banana creme.

An' I also rec'o'lect one year they canceled the horse show, 'cause of flies. But that was only after two of them flies carried off the prize winnin' Belgian. We found him later in the parkin' lot, next to a guy cryin' over a new Cadillac, with the windshield covered in somethin' that belonged 'round some roses.

We always manage ta’ have a good time though. Between the beer booth, an’ the rides, an’ the beer booth, an’ the stock judgin’, an’ the beer booth, an’ the food vendors, an’ I want to make sure I mention the beer booth, an’ the midway games, and a’course friends y’all run into at the beer booth, it’s sure to be fun, even in the rain.

We take the young’uns every year anyway. At least until they’re old enough to take theyselves. And that day don’t come too soon sometimes. ‘Tween the games, and the rides and the eats you can run thru 20 bucks like crap thru a goose. Then we go over an’ sit down ta watch the horse show. Or sumtimes just people watch.

The wife looks at the couples. Y’all know what I mean. Who’s with who, and who ain’t with who. I just watch the women. So what is it with some of these women who think the law says they gotta wear the same clothes to the fair every year that they wore when they was 16? 25 years in the same pair a’ shorts is more than enough.

An' whoever thought mother/daughter matching halter tops and hot pants was a good idea must'a been two cans short of a twelve pack. Or ten cans into a twelve pack, sometimes there's not much difference. It's not that I have sumthin' again' seein' a women's body, It's just seein' what 'peers to be two women's bodies in one shirt, with enough left hangin' over the belt ta' hide the buckle, ought'a be outlawed.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oktoberfest is More Than Beer


Last night I went to a local Oktoberfest and had one hell of a good time. I seriously think they stole my grandmothers recipe for Sauerbraten; it was that good. About two hours after dinner I even managed a snack: a big fat braut with saurkraut and horseradish. Not on wiener bun, but on a hard crusted roll. I'm ready for another one of them today.

And the beer! Warstiener Oktoberfest on tap evrywhere you looked; life is good. I even bought the plastic souvenier mug for 2 bucks. The steins were $38, and a little pricey for me. The weather was perfect. Just a little warm if you were in one of the tents, but out under the trees in the biergarten it was perfect.

But that's not the topic of this essay.

One of the entertainments was German Folk Dancing, like this video I found on YouTube.



I have never thought much about dancing- I was never very good at it anyway- but being in a philosophical mood I did start to examine the meaning and uses of dance as a mating ritual.

Every culture has traditional folk dances. Usually fairly complex patterns of motion and interaction with other dancers set to a specific tune or rhythm, they sometimes function as a story-telling medium.

But here is a function I didn't think of until last night. Why have the dances at all?

Darwin's theory of Survival of the Fittest is a good place to start. Everyone looks for the fittest mate available to them, and traditional dances are designed to showcase some of the traits looked for in a mate; coordination, memory, ability to interact with others and physical prowess. The basic traits that are needed to survive and need to be passed on to the next generation so they can thrive.

Prior to the dance, these skills would have been showcased during the Hunt, or in other communal activities that as society became more industrial- even 2000 years ago industry and trade had replace the tribal community, even though it was a very rudimentary industry- communal events were created where the young could be exposed to one another and the evaluation of potential mates begun.

And the ritual dances were born.

If you couldn’t do the steps, maintain the timing or remember the intricate patterns, then your worth as a potential mate was limited by those failures.

This has sort of been updated to the “Cool Kids” ideal, and fitting into the various levels of modern society and the place where the mating rituals are most often performed today, far from the watchful eyes of parents: High School.

The rituals are not time honored and based on traditional actives, but vary generation to generation, school by school and even year to year. They aren’t prepared or governed by the adults for the most part, but are developed and governed by the young adults themselves and the self appointed social arbiters of the day.

What does it mean in the end? Hell; I don’t know.

I just have one question:

Is it this rush away from tradition one of the reasons our culture is disintegrating as we watch?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Grand Style, Circa 1895




I went to a business party here last night. This place is fantastic, and in and incredible state of preservation. Its called the 1770 Sherman Event Center, and just being in the building is an event.




This was a Mason's Hall in Denver, until a few years ago. Interestingly enough, their website says the building was constructed in 1906, but the cornerstone says 1895. But then; it could have taken 10 years to build this place.



My pictures don't do the place justice. If I would have known where I was going I would have taken a better camera.



Every inch of wood in this place s intricately carved; There must be over a mile of this molding alone.



What isn't carved is painted. This view is down one of the barrel vaults shown earlier. Check out the Chandelier/disco ball hanging in the middle of the room.



One other neat feature that you can't see well in this photo is a small stone set in the wall about 18 feet from the sidewalk. It says:ONE MILE HIGH.



I have to admit to kind of ignoring the focus of the party so I could look around the building.

The engineering was fantastic as well. They had a massive open room with a mezzanine on the second floor with a multiple barrel vaulted ceiling, and full theater on the third.

An incredible treasure in downtown Denver.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Proof I Am Edjamikated


The previous post reminded me of the only time I ever took a Philosphy class.

It was actually titled "Business Ethics", but was taught by a Philosphy Ph.D.

And he was a full-boat, anti-business liberal.

To put it mildly, we argued some.

Like for 4 hours every Thursday, for 5 weeks. I won 95% of the time.

The kicker is after all of the arguing I passed. The guy who sat next to me, who was in the same study cohort and shared my first initial (and kept his mouth shut for 5 weeks) flunked.

So this guy was not only vindictive, he was too educated to realize how ignorant he really was.

This was a paper our group turned in that, if I remember correctly, we got a 'C' on.

Basically because I called our 'Instructor' an idiot, used his philosphers to prove it, and made the charge stick.

The Pinto Case Study

In 1969 the United States was gearing up for its first energy crisis. At that time the average American made automobile weighed around two tons, had a high compression V-8 engine capable of producing at least 300 hundred horsepower and seated 6 comfortably. Volkswagen had been a fixture since the 1950’s, but recently the Japanese had started importing smaller cars, and it seemed time for the big three to enter the small car market.

Lee Iacocca, a demigod at Ford since his creation of the Mustang and the ‘Pony-car’ Market in 1964, saw a possibility to again shake up the American car industry, capture the economy market, and polish his star even more for his planned leap into the chair Henry Ford II had held since 1942- President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company. His idea was for a car that weighed less than 2000 pounds and cost less than $2000. To remind the Board of Directors who was behind this miracle car it was codenamed “Pinto”.

Iacocca met his goal and got the car on the market in time for the 1971 model year; but not without problems. The Pinto was the first all new design Iacocca had headed. (The Mustang was a re-bodied Falcon, a 4 year old design that had been well tested.) One issue that had to be addressed was the gas tank design. Various redesigns had been tested and rejected due to weight and expense issues. The first Pinto hit the market weighing 2005 pounds and costing $1995. Iacocca had done it again.

Six years later Mother Jones magazine published an ‘exposé’ on the Pinto and its exploding fuel system. The piece of evidence they considered most damaging was the internal FoMoCo memo that had the audacity to place a value on a human life and use that value in a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether or not to redesign the Pinto. Eight months later Ford recalled 1.5 million Pintos for repairs.

Public sentiment was very much against the placing of a specific dollar value on a human life, yet this was not a new, or strictly a business, concept. When each of us decides how much life insurance to carry we are determining the value of our own lives, or that of a loved one. Some considered Ford’s valuation callous, yet it wasn’t.

An interesting bit of Ford history; in 1956 Ford produced what it billed as the “Safest Car on the Road”. With such items as seatbelts (not required by law until 1965) padded dashboard (also first required in 1965) and other safety equipment as standard Ford was hoping to excite the market. Instead, for the first time since the introduction of the Model A in 1929, Ford lost the production race to Chevrolet. The 1957 Ford was lower, faster and billed as race ready. Ford out produced Chevy by almost 150,000 units. Henry Ford II had learned his lesson- the American car buying public would not pay for safety.

Not that he Pinto was unsafe. It met or exceeded every safety standard in the industry when it was produced. Life is risky. We can either face that fact or hide from it. Ford’s analysis faced the fact that a certain percentage of their cars would be involved in fatal accidents, quantified that risk and compared it to the cost of upgraded safety items. $5.00 may not seem like a lot of money, but when 5 million cars are built that equals $25 million; money that the car buying public may not want to spend.

Facts can sometimes be elusive things. Depending on your point of view a source may or may not be reliable, and those sources’ facts may or may not be acceptable. Mother Jones magazine, named for Mary Harris Jones, a.k.a Mother Jones, “a union activist, active opponent of child labor, anarchist, and self-described “hellraiser.” ”(Wikepedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_ Jones_(magazine)), which can count among its former editors ersatz filmmaker Michael Moore (Wikepedia), is not what I would consider an unbiased source on corporate matters.
Neither is it a media force; according to the Mother Jones website, http://www.mojones.com/about/pr/circulation_pr.html, as of February of 2005: “Mother Jones magazine's A.B.C. audited circulation for the second half of 2004 was 250,563, the highest figure in the 29-year-old magazine's history.” Compared this figure to Sports Illustrated Women magazine (highest circulation 400,000) (http://en.wikipedia.org); Car and Driver (1,387,113) or Reader’s Digest (11,944,898) (World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 edition).

Our case study quotes the Mother Jones article at one point:
Unfortunately the Pinto is not an isolated case of corporate malpractice in the auto industry. Neither is Ford a lone sinner. There probably isn’t a car on the road without a safety hazard known to its manufacturer.

This statement is probably not as broad as it could be. There probably isn’t a product on the market without a fault of some kind or the other, including medications. Manufacturers of all kinds will do a cost/benefit analysis of any defect and go into production. To do other wise would bring an end to production of anything, while it is exhaustively tested to cure any possible fault. The manufacturers know of these problems, and are aware they can cause injury, but have decided that the benefits of their products to the consumer outweigh the possible hazards.

Undeniably, Ford has a duty to its stakeholders; chief among them its customers, to whom it owes safe, reliable, affordable transportation; its shareholders, to whom it owes a return on their investment; and its employees to whom it owes a chance for future employment. Ford had spent $200 million (over one billion dollars today (http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi.76)) and the impact of retooling would have affected their most important stakeholders negatively, as would have the cost of new regulation.

The Pinto could never be called the safest car on the road, yet it was not the unmitigated death trap the press reported either. Millions of these cars were built, and were driven billions of passenger miles. It also fulfilled its duty to the Ford Company stakeholders- jobs to the employees, a profit to the shareholders and affordable transportation to the customers. Had the cost of defending against, or settling, lawsuits over the Pinto been excessive Ford would have pulled the plug on the project, using the same cost/benefit analysis that Mother Jones so disparaged.

Production of the Pinto is not an ethically hard decision. The failure to include a $1.00 piece of plastic is harder to justify, but we are taking this decision out of time and out of context. The production of any product, much less a complex one such as an automobile involves thousands of choices at each step of the production. Hundreds of these choices would involve potential safety issues. To single out one, in hindsight, for special attention because it was wrong is patently unfair.

John Rawls advocated the idea that a society should decide on the rules for society blindly, the deciders not knowing which side of the lines being drawn they would inhabit. Ford Motor Company, its engineers and managers made the decisions needed to meet the goals set down for the Pinto Project, then purchased these cars and put their families in them. They knew there were potential problems, yet felt their risk of occurring was low and that overall they had done a good job. As Rawls had advocated, they made decisions not knowing if they would become one of the few these problems would affect.

Milton Friedman, who felt the only social responsibility a corporation had was to increase profits to the shareholders, Ford admirably followed. By meeting every safety standard in force, and making sure the shareholders profits weren’t wasted, they were good stewards of the corporate funds. Their response to the various lawsuits also showed acceptable conservation of corporate funds by limiting losses through settlement of lawsuits instead of adjudication.

Moral objections can be made to most business decisions, depending on who your moral heroes are. Obviously there are parties who could, and have, disagreed with the production decisions made on the Pinto. Yet most of these parties have had issues with any decision made by business that didn’t involve closing their doors. Each decision must be evaluated in context, and not as an individual- that’s they way their made. Given the context, it’s hard to fault any decision that contributed to a project as successful as the Pinto was for Ford.

I Can't Understand Kant


I found this thorugh Instapundit.

What are the comments like?

Can you believe it turns into a philosophical smackdown?

Such phrases as “All of which are incoherent, incogent, incompetent, nay impossible messes of philosophical-sounding word salads that borrow extensively from philosophical systems such as materialism in one paragraph all the while preparing to get on denouncing them in the other.”

Yeah, most of the comments are the same; philosophical-sounding word salads.

Which describes most philosophy. If you can understand what the writer is talking about, you are probably useless in the real world.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Germany Has Rednecks Too!



This is living proof that you don't have to be from South of the Mason-Dixon line to be a Redneck.

Check out the end of the tape; where they open the hood...

Pure Redneck!

And I think this is Germany; it could be Poland; all I know for sure is it ain't Amurican them folks is chattering in!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

California's Prop. 8


You all probably know the basics; California passed a law banning same sex marriage; the gays had it overturned in the California Courts as against the California Constitution.

So the voters amended the California Constitution to ban same sex marriage.

And the gays went to the Federal Court, where a Federal Court in California just used ONE judge to over throw the votes of MILLIONS of Californians.

AS long as you are for Gay marriage and against state's rights this decision looks pretty good.

But for the other 95% percent of the country, we just got hammered.

I was reading this post over at Althouse and as usual the comments are great.

I especially liked this one:
dbp said...
Denying same-sex marriage is like denying blind people driver's licenses; it is just not fair since nobody chooses to be blind.

I don't see how blind drivers will have any impact on sighted motorist's ability to navigate our roads.

8/5/10 10:32 AM


Quipping aside, the basis of this judges decision- is the same as in the US Supreme Court case that made oral sex legal in Texas, the Lawrence decision. Basically, local morality has no place in law.

As a States Rights originalist, I have a problem with that.

But one point that keeps being made is that why is the state involved in promoting traditional marriage, but not same sex marriage?

Here I'll tie into my last post.

50,000 years- or more- of evolution has gotten us where we are. 90% of the world- and ALL of the Western World- traditionally has supported the One Man/One Woman concept of a nuclear family. Man and Wife join together and create a new generation. The children that have a mother to nurture them and a father to support them traditionally have done the best, and gone on to create the next generation.

Once again, the new age idiots, who know more than the 15,000 generations that have gone before us, are out to prove how smart they aren't.

Is it fair that Adam and Steve are in a committed relationship, but can't get married?

Eh; maybe not.

But life's not fair. Get over it. Either live in sin with your boyfriend or get with the program and find a nice girl to settle down with.

If you don't like that move to a country that will accept your version of morality and be happy there.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Remember That God Made Man in HIS Image


Not the other way around.

I was forwarded a link to this by a friend.

For those not in the know, Google basically publishes out of copyright books on the Internet. Books like this; from authors who believe morality can be established without religion.

First; I'll admit my biases. Raised a Roman Catholic, when I attend Church, it is the Catholic Mass, but I don't attend regularly.

After reading as much of this drivel as I could stomach, I am curious.

If morality doesn't come from God, where does it come from? If we don't have an all-powerful determiner of what is moral and what is not, how are individual actions determined to be moral or immoral?

Do we follow law? Don't Kill; Don't Steal; Don't Assault? Why do those concepts sound familiar? Maybe because they are found in religion as well?

Or are we to develop a separate morality based on law? Is it now immoral to speed? Do I need to confess my 70 MPH ride home to Gaia?

Or do we each develop a morality of our own, based on the values we have created for ourselves? Maybe that's where the 'You have it; I want it; I'll take' school came from?

Just one more example of throwing 50,000 years of learning how to run a society out the window because some modern nutcase thinks he (or she; I'm equal opportunity) knows more than the 15,000 generations that made us what we are knew.

Wasn't it Voltaire who said "If God hadn't existed, man would have needed to create Him for society to work"? Of course I'm paraphrasing; I can't even remember the quote as translated into English, much less remember it in the original French. If it was Voltaire. And if he wrote it in French.

But, I digress.

Just where is this new morality to come from?

And who is the arbiter who decides what act deserves eternal damnation and which ones don't?

Or does it not matter, because we are like plants, and once were dead that's it?

I didn't say animals for a reason; there are folks (I'm one) who believe Heaven isn't complete without our pets. But they're hypoallergenic (it is Heaven), but I don't know of anyone who is waiting to see their favorite African violet in the Great Beyond.

But again; I digress.

If my morality depends on me alone, and there is no Great Punisher why am I not beaking my own, variable rules? Or do the rules get changed when I need to change them?

Hell; they're MY RULES; why can't I change them when I feel the need?

Because we, as a society, found out 25,000 years ago that a system like that doesn't work.

Hopeully it won't take another 25,000 to find it out again.