Sunday, December 4, 2011

We Are Not Our Grandparents

I saw this yesterday and couldn't resist posting it, with my thoughts.

This little cartoon says so much about our country today and how different we are from the recent past.

This was published Friday, the same day Herman Cain announced he was suspending his campaign, so it has lost some of its punch. But, what will next week bring?

Herman Cain is the quintessential populist Republican candidate. He has been there, done that in the business world, rose from solid lower middle class roots to success, and believes, like Jefferson, that the government that governs best, governs least. He understands, like Reagan, that government is not the solution, but the problem. He believes in the rights of the states to govern themselves.

And he is the only candidate, now that the establishment has run Sarah Palin out on a rail, with those convictions.

Now to our confused Klansman.

Herman Cain believes in almost everything the Southern White man does. Our cartoonist here (who is absolutely brilliant consistently, but also a Liberal) is under the impression that all Southern White men are members of the KKK (something probably true 50-80 years ago), who are now faced with the prospect of being forced to support a black man for President.

My take, despite the 'Personal Crisis Center' label, is that the KKK has mellowed to the point that even they can support a Black man for president, provided he has the proper character, and that we all have become 'post racial'.

Until the allegations of Sexual Harassment and then infidelity were broadcast, Cain had broad and deep support. he was quickly rising in the polls and threatened the heir-apparent, Romney. So he had to be stopped.

Unfortunately for Herman's reputation, he took awhile to get the message. First the anonymous charges. Herman wouldn't quit. Then the more specific charges, from a named individual. All of which were blared from every media outlet, constantly and loudly.

Herman wouldn't quit.

And then the charge of the 13 year affair; Herman has now suspended his candidacy.

If he hadn't, someone would have produced a 2 year old 'love child' for media consumption.

All in the course of modern dirty politics. If we can't find dirt in your past, we can always manufacture it.

Unless you are on our side. (See: Obama and Wright; Obama and Ayers; Obama ad nauseaum)

The comments under this comic lead me to this article.

We need more youth like this guy. Willing and able to investigate the truth behind the media/politically correct driven 'common knowledge', discover and disseminate the truth.

And you just know he is a Herman Cain supporter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today is Election Day

Right now it is 6:35, and the polls closed about a half hour ago.

So I decide to see who is winning.

Dems, across the board, by a 2 to one margin.

Not what I expected to see. So I look a little deeper.

The only county reporting is Fayette; downtown Lexington.

and the Dems are only winning by 2 to 1?

I think this will turn out to be a very good night!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What Went Right, and What Hasn't

Take a good look at this picture from 1974; close to 40 years ago.

Back when most of us were kids. Or young teens.

Two things that stand out to me. One is how tall this thing is.

The other is that the playground surface is blacktop.

Remember those days? Running, Playing, Climbing Swinging, FALLING on the blacktop playground?

We did it everyday. For hours. I'm sure kids got hurt. Skinned knees and elbows; maybe even a broken arm once in a while. It was how we learned our capabilities, and our limitations.

Can you imagine erecting a public playground like today? First it would cost an arm and a leg to manufacture and install. If you could get zoning approval. And I don't even want to think about the legal fees.

But by God it was fun and exciting. Part of the fun was the risk. Part of the learning was the pain. Play was always about learning about how to deal with situations that came up in daily life. Working through differences of opinion, gracious winning and how it felt to lose.

You learned these things when you were 5 and 6. You learned about yourself; where your talents were. And where they weren't. You learned who could be trusted to keep a bargain, and who couldn't. In those days you expected to stay within a few miles of where you grew up, and expected to be dealing with these same folks for the rest of your life. Everything I know about life I learned in kindergarten, right?

What are playgrounds like today? Everything is padded. Including the ground. Slides are enclosed, so you can't fall off and absolutely nothing to climb on that would put you more than a few feet off the ground.

And the helicopter parents; standing by to dust off butts and kiss any 'boo-boos' that the little darlin's might feel they got by falling 6 inches onto a rubber pad. And those are the 10 year-olds.

What kind of adults does this produce?

Three words:

'Occupy Wall Street'.

All I can hear when I hear an interview with one of those...... individuals is this:

"WAHHH! Mommy, life's not being FAIR!!!"

Sorry 'bout your luck kid. I found out life wasn't fair when I was 6, not 26.

By falling on a blacktop playground.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pssst; Wanna Buy a Cheap House?

The housing market is the last economic driver in this country.

Why? Because it is the only one they cannot ship offshore (although I am sure plans are in the works for Mexican house builders to ship completed sections north).

And why is that a problem?

Housing has not hit bottom yet, and may not for 3-5 more years.

Housing will soon only have the value that cash money can buy, as lenders will not lend long term on a depreciating asset, will they?

And housing is still depreciating; a fall that will only accelerate when the Federal money from Freddie and Fannie dries up completely.

And the bank owned homes will be the first to fall. A house to the owner is not an asset to be liquidated; it has a value as shelter that creates it's primary value. When the cost of that shelter becomes more than its worth, it becomes a drag on the budget, but never should it be considered an asset.

But the bank has to liquify the asset; they deal in liquidity, not in real estate.

And when the banks own a sizable percentage of the real estate, that liquidation will be costly to home values.

It was the idea of the last ten years to make your home an asset to be liquidated.

Re-fi and take the cash, right? Home Equity lines to pay for the trip to Disney World or pay off the credit cards that were run up at The Gap and Target; turn your Home into CASH.

And then interest rates rise a little, and housing values fall a little, and now your cash cow has dried up. Instead of being able to take another 10k out of your home to pay off the Visa, the bank is calling in your credit limit.

And so the bust began. To many leaks in the credit dike, and not enough fingers. Everybody who was strung out at the end of their credit line went bust.

Which was apparently quite a sizable percentage of the country.

If you have ever seen video of a sinkhole beginning and developing, that is the exact way the housing values are progressing. The houses that seemed safe at first are now starring down the abyss, and the guy next door is planning on taking a hit as well.

Home value is about two things; what someone will pay, and what someone will lend. A bank doesn't care what you are paying for the place; they will tell you what they will lend. if you can make up the difference, then everybody goes home happy. When you can't...

And values fall again.

You want to know when housing has hit bottom?

When the banks stop sitting on piles of liquidity, and start investing in mortgages.

Without Fannie and Freddie (READ: US Taxpayer) to bail them out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Does The FUTURE Hold?

Saying we are screwed doesn't cover the half of it.

This crash should have happened in the 1960's, but was avoided by the Federal Government borrowing money and giving it away, as well as military and space race spending. That money went not just to Federal spending, but state, county and municipal grants to allow those entities, which, in most cases by law must have balanced budgets, to spend with a reckless abandon as well.

When it comes to employment in this country have you ever wonder where all of the jobs are? Right now we are looking at between 9% and 20% unemployment, based on whose figures you quote.

But between 1975 and 2005 how many women entered the workforce? The creation of the two income family also meant the creation of 25% more jobs than were available in the 1960's.

Where were almost all of these jobs created? Government. In 1975 1 person in 10 worked for a government at some level. Today it is closer to 1 in 4.

And government is paying for these jobs with taxes and borrowed money.

In one way I feel sorry for Obama. This crisis has been in the making for 70 years. The standard of living we have enjoyed has, for at least the last 50 years, been a product of government borrowing. And the hot potato that has been passed from administration to administration has now burned Obama's hands.

Well, I'd like to say tough S*%#.

But Obama isn't going to suffer; we are. Until this country can bring the cost of its labor into line with its worth, comparative to the rest of the world, we are not going to come out of this hole.

Wages are already stagnating and dropping. New hires are earning less than what similar positions were paid a year ago, and folks are happy to accept these lower amounts.

Housing prices are still dropping. Talk about a vicious cycle; Lenders aren't lending money on homes because the value of those homes still has not bottomed out, and housing prices are still falling because of the tight lending market. And lenders are slowing foreclosures because they already have massive portfolios of homes, some of which have not been marketed yet because to do so will only depress the market further.

The Feds have to stop borrowing.

But once they do, where will the money come from to pay for local civic improvements, wages for the multiple useless federal entities, or even pay the Social Security benefits seniors have earned?

And once those jobs dry up, what happens to the economy? As a libertarian I am waiting for the day I can celebrate the end of the EPA, the Department of Energy or the Department of Education. Right now would be a good time for ending the EPA; we need the freedom to create jobs that would allow and it would be a way to cut the federal budget.

Except we now have 18,000 more people out of work, defaulting on credit cards and mortgages and collecting unemployment and probably food stamps.

And that is just one example. What about the Department of Education (5,000 employees), or the Department of Energy (110,000 employees); want to see those folks added to the unemployment rolls?


And no.

We didn't get into this hole overnight. It took 70 years of incremental expansion of government to get where we are. And God help us it will take at least 30 years to resolve the mess.

And it ain't gonna be pretty.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae need to be severely restricted. They can become a lender of last resort, limited to maybe a guarantor of loans similar to what a VA loan is for veterans, and only if there is a surplus in the federal budget.

That will probably collapse the housing market further. But until housing finds it's bottom, the economy is not going to recover. And adding to the federal debt is just artificially creating a bottom. Government money distorts any market it is in.

The minimum wage needs to rescinded. Even if housing finds a bottom, unless wages are similarly returned to market rates without an artificial floor, jobs cannot return to this country.

Life is going to suck for quite a while.

I'm not looking forward to it.

but I am preparing for it just the same.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Morning; Eight A.M.

And where am I?

Sitting in a large, gradually filling auditorium.

Blogging from my iPhone.

What could have drug me from the comforts of home?

Hold on to your hats:

A dance recital.

Yeah, I have trouble believing it too.

But, it is for the Young'un.

So, here I am.

This is just the dress rehearsal; the show is tonight. And I don't even know what time this hint kicks off this morning. I might be here for hours. This would have been unthinkable for any of my boys. But for the Young'un, here I am.

To be fair, when her Dad an Uncles were her age I was working most Saturday mornings, and glad of it. Money was tight in those days. It's still tight, but loose enough to allow a Saturday dance recital.

I'll catch up on my sleep later.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Butt Ugly... And Pretentious to Boot

Remember that post I did about our new butt ugly courthouse a while back? I finally had a chance to get a picture of the side you can see with out breaking your neck.

You see, the street this mess faces is one way; going away from the front of the courthouse. Not that side is much better looking; basically it's a wall of glass and a flag pole.

Now here is the part that makes me wonder if this building wasn't put backwards on the site on purpose. Its the pretentious part.

Look at the first picture again. You see how it looks like there are two buildings here? one that is straight to the corner and another one that is a little cockeyed and a little shorter?

See, if this building had faced the one way street, nobody would have ever seen the back, and this useless bit of drivel.

Here is another shot, showing the building site:

The building is on the south end of the lot with parking to the north. you can also see the little building the big building ate in this shot if you look close.

So to sum up: we have an ugly building that should face south, but faces north on a one way street that heads north, that has a pretentious bit of tomfoolery that probably added a couple of million to the cost of this cow pie.

And here is the part that takes all the fun out of this joke; they paid for this pile of dung with my money.

And they will probably have to tear it down and replace it about the time its paid for.

Ain't an unresponsive government a wonderful thing?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Boehner Had One Chance

And he blew it.

I just sent this email to Speaker Boehner:

I just wanted to thank you Speaker Boehner for selling us out during the recent budget battle.

Promise 100 billion in cuts, deliver 38. Don't forget, the initial 100 billion was less than 7% of the yearly deficit.

So now, instead of spending $1,500,000,000,000 more each year than we have, we will only spend $1,462,000,000,000 more each year than the government has as income.

Congratulations on your success?

And you managed to sell out the pro-life movement in the bargain.

Again, well done.

Provided you support Nancy Pelosi.

Kiss it all good bye friends.

And then there is this.

it might change, so here is the part I find Interesting:

NJ: A blow to Boehner, Obama and the nation

How did it—this incompetence—get this bad? After all, the fight over about $7 billion in differences in this year's budget is about 0.2 percent of the $3.5 trillion federal budget. It's like a family making $100,000 falling apart over $200.

I would think a more pertinent comparison would be one of a family making $100,000 a year and spending $142,000.

they don't seem to think that borrowing is a big deal. I guess they're right. Borrowing is easy.

Paying back on the other hand...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yeah, It's Been One Of Those #@*&^% Months

Ever heard the old saying When everything you touch turns to #@*&, stop touching #@*&?

Absolutely NOTHING went right for the last two weeks. Everything I touched fell, apart, failed to work or blew up in my face.

The big project I am working on in the workshop? I almost had to scrap a big piece of it because I failed to make a crucial tool adjustment.

And there is my car. My '92 BMW has need some front end work, and I have been kind of putting it off, waiting for spring and the end of heating bills. I had another car to drive, so I just left it in the driveway. Well, then the motor went bad in my son's car and we needed the Bimmer back in the fleet. I priced parts and figured I could get it done for about $250, so I bought the parts.

Then came the day to install the new parts. Remember the title of this post?

Instead of buying a whole McPherson strut, i bought shocks that will rebuild the strut; cheaper that way, don't ya know?

Except my struts weren't rebuildable. Ste-riiike One! I had to buy the whole strut.

At twice the cost. and since the car is already in pieces, my options are limited. Then I got home with the parts and found out the struts are for a standard 325i; i have the Sport suspension; these struts won't work. Ste-riiike Two!

And guess what? The struts I need are twice as much as the ones I have, AND a special order; be here is 3-4 days.

Well, they finally came in. Driver's side was perfect. The Passenger side... was not. Struts like this are for one side of the car only; left or right, because of the way they are designed, a right won't fit on the left and vice-versa.

Apparently the strut I have for the passenger side was welded up wrong. The top was welded up for the left side, and the bottom was welded up for the right side. The spring fit on beautifully, and it bolted up to the spindle assembly fine, but when I went to bolt up the stabiliser links, the mounting bracket was toward the front of the car, instead of the back.

Ste-riike $(*&@%#$ing Three!

The replacement part will be here in a couple of days.

Until then, I ain't touching #@*&.

I will have a few beers though. Or at least try to.

Hopefully I can drink a beer or two without spilling most of it.

But at this point I have my doubts.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

If You Remember the '70s

You probably didn't enjoy them. Ain't that the old joke?

The trouble is, we are almost repeating the '70s; especially the late '70s.

Look at Mid-Eastern unrest. To be honest, I think we are screwed in that area of the world for a generation or more. And not just us; Europe and Asia too.Anybody who doesn't see Islamic theocracy in Egypt's future is whistling past the graveyard. Yemen and Libya too.

And then the wars start; just like he '70s. First they will go after Israel, get their collective asses handed to them again, and then the Shiites and the Sunnis will go after each other, again.

The bad news is we will not be burning Middle Eastern oil until maybe 2040. The good news is, neither will Western Europe, China, India or Russia.

The bad news is we won't be burning our own until 2015. Maybe. If we can get government permission to drill for it.

And I don't see that happening until Obama has to get out and help push Limo 1.

Face it; the only reason we give a rat's hindquarters about what happens in the Middle East at all is because of the oil. That's why we fought over it in WWII; to keep the oil out of Hitler's hands. That's why we have a presence there now, to keep the old USSR from taking the oil over. Because we- and every other industrialized nation on the face of the Earth- use oil to travel, produce goods, services and food, heat our homes and a thousand other things. Including power our National Defense.

We saw that in WWII also. The side that ran out of oil first lost. Oil is not "A" strategic resource, it is "THE" strategic resource.

Our entire economy is dependent on oil; cheap oil. Try to think of the last time you went a day without being dependent on oil for something. It could even be stretched to the idea that the coal that fired the boilers that made your electricity was delivered with oil fired towboats. So even that day you stayed home in the air conditioning and watched old movies was brought to you by oil.

Remember that post I did about your rights stopping at the end of my nose? How long until the unrest in the Middle East starts to effect the end of your nose with $5.00 a gallon gas? How long until we are nostalgic for $5.00 gas?

There is a reason that the United States sticks in nose in all over the world; what happens all over the world affects the way we live our lives; even more so than in teh 70's.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Holy WOW!

All I can say is:

Holy Wow!

I was checking out Jay Leno's Garage this morning and caught this video.

Holy Wow!

If only they can somehow match this up with Google Street view, not only could you drive your car on the street at 140, you could drive your car, on your street at 140!

How cool would that be?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yeah, But Back in My Day...

Sometimes it's the strangest things that start my mind to working down odd paths.

This morning I was reading Car Lust, one of my favorites, and found this post. Truly the end of an era.

But it got me to thinking about how car sound used to be a 'gateway drug' to customization of what used to be Mom & Dad's car.

Back in my day, when dinosaurs like Pontiac and Oldsmobile ruled the land, and you would rather be caught naked in the gym on Prom night than drive a 'furrin' car, usually the very first thing that happen to your first car was the tune box. Usually before you even washed it, or put gas in it for the first time.

The FM converter. Plugged into the antenna wire between the antenna and the radio, and suddenly you could avoid the stigma of AM only. You still had just one speaker, and it always sounded high pitched and tinny, but, man, you had FM. For $9.95 at Kmart.

It usually took a couple of paychecks, but eventually you became enamored of a little higher quality sound in the ride, and sprung for the AM/FM in dash stereo unit that came with the wires and TWO speakers! $29.95 for the Kraco brand at Kmart. Since installation usually required dismantling the dash, most of the interior and sometimes cutting holes into part of the car, installation usually took place at a friend's house, where you assured his Dad you had permission to do this work.

White lies like that are just a few weeks in Purgatory; well worth the benefit of the NEW AND IMPROVED sounds your car made. It was also almost worth the Hell you went through when Dad found out what you had done to HIS car.

But the new wore off of that system pretty quickly too. Everybody else was listening to Tape Decks in their cars, and you were stuck with only FM. In 1978 you could still buy an aftermarket 8-track unit, and you did have a collection of 8-track tapes. Cassettes were an unproven technology- and cost money. It was either buy a fresh new cassette deck, and not have anything to listen to in it, or get an 8-track deck.

You could by a new stereo 8-track, but hey; that was 75 bucks. Down at the junk yard (they're called Auto recycling centers now) you could get a used factory unit for half that, some times less, if you bought one of the less popular side-by-side knob units like Chrysler and Ford used in their high-end stuff.

So you had to cut up the dash a little more. and there were no factory trim pieces to hide the mess you made of the cut job, No dremel tools in them days. When you cut a hole in a metal dash it was with a hammer and cold chisel, tin snips and, if you were lucky, a rotary file chucked up in a corded drill. Precise cuts were as common as Cadillacs in the high school parking lot.

But it was worth it. Now you could listen to your music on your schedule at a volume that almost overrode the muffler and the wind noise at highway speeds. You were Stylin'!

Then came that first job after graduation and the first car you could by with your own money. It came down to two; Grandma's 15 year old, low mileage Buick that you could get a couple of hundred, or that 10 year old Mustang that has been hot-rodded and modified to the point where even Lee Iaccoca wouldn't recognize it; for a grand- cash.

Grandma's Buick had an AM Radio.

The Mustang had a cassette deck.

Yeah; it was no contest. Your cousin who got the Buick drove it for two years and it didn't cost any more than gas and oil.

And an FM converter that you sold him for 5 bucks.

The Mustang ate parts like you did popcorn at the drive-in. When you could afford the drive-in. You spent more on parts that first year than the car cost you, and twice that the second year.

But you didn't care. You had a stereo cassette deck.

Even if you did have to play it in the driveway, waiting on parts.

While you rode with your cousin in Grandma's old Buick.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt: Now What?

As I mentioned in this post, we have an interest in what goes in the rest of the world. I may not be my brother's keeper, but I sure should be his helper.

The problem in Egypt is the disconnect between the people and their government. On the radio today there was a report from Cairo where the reporter repeated what he had heard from some of the protesters in the square. Apparently there was at least one protester who felt the American government should have done more for the people of Egypt, and less for the government in the form of Mubarak.

Great Idea!

Now, how do we implement it?

Governments have to deal with governments. The folks in charge may not have a legitimate claim to being in charge, but they are the legally constituted folks what be in charge. And damn the bad luck we can't do anything about that.

Take North Korea. Other that the Chinese and Iran (talk about your strange bedfellows), there probably isn't a country on the face of this Earth that wouldn't love to see a regime change in North Korea. How do we go about it?

Declare war on North Koreans? Have our army fight their army? Would China join in? On who's side? And the end game would be what?

Thousands or more dead on both sides, wanton destruction of the Korean peninsula and eventually freedom and reunification.

Would that be best for the North Koreans? Set them free, but destroy the population and the landscape?

And who knows the cost for the South Koreans? Remember, North Korea has at least one nuclear weapon, and probably wouldn't hesitate to use it on Seoul, if it could, or Pyongyang if it couldn't.

Would that be better or worse for the North Koreans than living under the current regime?

Tough call, ain't it?

And Pyongyang is on our ENEMIES list. Egypt isn't.

Maybe the best way we can help the Egyptian people is by trying to modify their government, by bribing them to cooperate, a process sometimes called foreign aid.

The trouble is, to those on the bottom, it doesn't look like we're helping them, it looks like we're supporting the crooked regime.

And we are. Change is glacially slow, and the more we spend to try and get some reform, the tighter the nets are drawn, the more the people suffer and the more power the top man consolidates to himself.

And the US Dollars keep flowing in.

Rand Paul has a plan that drastically cuts this bribery. And we should. But maybe we should make sure we are completely self sustaining and isolated first, like we were in Washington's day.

I found this chart that in some ways asks more questions than it answers. Did you know ONE THIRD of all foreign aid goes to Egypt and Israel?

And we have no real idea how much we are spending in total.


So back to the original question: What do we now do in Egypt?

The military is now in charge; we'll have to see if that is temporary, until the next election, or if this is just step one in a military coup. Elections in September. Free and Fair? Who wins?

And then what? What if the Free and Fair election votes in another Muslim theocracy? Then how do support the Egyptian people? Like we did the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein? Like the Iranians under the Ayatollah? Like the North Koreans?

It all looks so easy, doesn't it?

Until you start looking at the possible options, and the most likely results.

And no matter what happens, we're affected. The region is oil rich- damn the bad luck- Egypt is next to (and has a peace treaty with) our strongest ally in the area, Israel. What happens if the new, freely and fairly elected Egyptian government reneges on the treaty?

We are already fighting wars on two fronts in the area; are we ready for a third?

More importantly; are we ready for the consequences of our actions/inactions?

I wish I had more faith in the Democrats to handle this crisis. As is, I think were doomed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Once, I Thought I Could Write

At one time I entertained the idea of supporting myself by being a writer. I figured I'd get up in the morning, bang out a thousand words by lunch and then enjoy the rest of the day. I could read a page in a minute or so; I should be able to write a page at the same clip, right?

Did I mention I was 15 at the time? Writing is work. It it may look or read like it, but I usually have about an hour in each post. Sometimes 4-5 hours, if I do the research that I should.

So I get about a word a minute. At that rate I might be able to write Gone With The Wind in a couple of lifetimes or so.

So one of the guys on the web I admire immensely is James Lileks. I don't know how he does it; it's almost like he uses more than 3 fingers to type with.

A very good writer, every paragraph a gem, even the warm up blog he does every morning, probably between the coffee pot and the kitchen table. If you get bored with his website there ain't no hope for you.

Let's Get It Done and Move On

I found this today while reading Instapundit.

Freshmen Senators are expected to keep their heads down and not make waves; after all, you need to have 30 years in the Senate before you become respectable.

But Senator Paul intends to kick some big government butt and go back to practicing medicine.

This is going to be an intersting couple of years.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yeah, its Called a Man Cave for a Reason

I was reading Instapundit today and found this piece, decrying the death of the male space. As usual some of the comments are interesting.

Basically the article talks about how many males are being pushed out of the homes, figuratively, and how very few men have a Ward Cleaver den anymore. Since they have lost the smaller, defined spaces in the modern open layout, men have been relegated to basements and garages for their space.

Well, speaking as someone who LIKES spending time in the garage, and the basement workshop, I say:


But, as someone who has other possessions that can't, or shouldn't be, stored in either a garage or a dusty workshop, I also want my piece of the house.

Maybe it goes back to the commercials you used to see, where the young couple is combining households; her stuff goes into the living room and his goes into the dumpster. it seemed funny at the time, but maybe because if the humorous tone of the ad hid the total emasculation of the male in the ad.

I am using Male, instead of Man because Male is genetic; Man is earned.

I was at the Mall one time and one of the kiosk vendors offered me some hand creme. I declined. But, she says, lots of men use hand creme. No, I replied; its impossible to be a man and have soft hands.

It is the hand creme wearing males that started this whole mess. Get in touch with your feminine side. Remember when that was popular 20 years ago? I'm sorry; the greasy cuticles, dirty, torn jeans and ball cap so filthy you can't read the name it once advertised IS my feminine side. Now get out of my way before my Man side unloads on you.

But, I digress.

One of the things that separates Men and Women is the male competitive nature. I am of couse speaking in general, and not in absolute; there are always exceptions to the rule. So what better way to start turning young boys into males instead of men? Stop letting them compete. Turn a competition into plain exercise; like... Stop Keeping Score in BASEBALL. Or end games, like Tag or Dodge Ball that create winners and losers.

Let me tell you about Dodge Ball. I suck at Dodge Ball. If life were based on Dodge Ball I wouldn't have made it past 5th Grade. But guess what? I learned that since I consistently lost at Dodge Ball, maybe I should focus my time and effort elsewhere. So I did.

Without keeping score and defining winners and losers, how do you know to stop wasting your time on an activity?

Well, once again I have wandered away from the point.

The point is Men didn't lose their den last year; they lost it in second grade.

Come on Men; Man up and take back a room for your own, even if you have to build it in the basement. Hang your mementos on the walls, put your feet on the couch and hang a 'No Girls Allowed' sign on the door.

Then start keeping score again, so you can count this one as a WIN.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

When the Quiet of a Sunday Morning is Broken

So, there I am over at Althouse's place this morning, minding my own business, when I get accosted by a fart video.

Not what you expect on a quiet Sunday Morning.

But then curiosity got the better of me.

Did you know YouTube has thousands of videos with the key word 'fart'? Who knew?

Where does this prurient interest come from? Is there an actual desire to watch people fart on video that doesn't exist in real life? Of course, video farting does have its merits- all of them olfactory.

But, as usual, I digress.

It has often been said that humor is simply a look at someone else's troubles, a position I heartily endorse. A public fart is usually-hopefully- somebody else's embarrassment and problem.

I think everyone can describe at least one episode where passing gas has embarassed them. Or at least SHOULD have embarrassed them; we all have the problem.

When it happens to us, it's embarrassing. When it happens in front of us, its funny.

My youngest brother has instituted a series of photographic opportunities for group photos that he has given various names, such as '"Point to the Bird"; "Serious Face" and "X Farted".

Every one of our Family photo shoots has some variation on these themes.

Including the ones taken at my brother's recent wedding. With a small variation.

All of the kids agreed that when my youngest brother called for a "Serious Face" photo, all of the kids would do a "Mom Farted" pose.

It turned out CLASSIC.

Mom is sitting in the middle of the group of her (allegedly) adult children, looking as serious and as stoic as is possible, while everyone else is posing with the most exaggerated reactions possible to a recent 'gas attack'.

The moment only lasted a split second, because we took this photo on the dance floor at the reception, and the reaction of the guests was immediate laughter. Mom started looking around out of the corner of her eye, saw what we were doing and cracked up laughing.

But the photographer caught that split second. And the next few shots of Mom realizing what was going on and joining in on the laughter.

My Mom had that picture framed as an 8X10 and proudly displays it in the living room. And my Brother has posted it to Face Book.

So, if you happen to spot a picture somewhere of a group of gentlemen in Tuxedos and women in the finery reacting to a public fart from a well dressed and stoic woman in the center of them, that will be us. I'm the one in the middle, in the back, with my eyes crossed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who Takes CRACKED Seriously?

During my daily perusal of Instapundit I found this article from Cracked.

I remember Cracked from back in the day; back when when they were a MAD Magazine wanna be; bad art and all. Apparently things have changed.

I really have no quibble with most of what the article says; they're right, for the most part. In the section about how things are so expensive they mention how most families have two cars, unlike the old days. Yeah, but most families also have two jobs, unlike the old days.

Then we get to Music.

The article is correct; We know Beethoven from his time, but not the hundreds of his contemporaries who were writing music that was not as memorable. Even in the early days of recorded music, some 78 RPM records are worth hundreds of dollars; others... less so. Some of what was popular in the 1950's is forgotten today.

The number one song from 1969 was the Archies. Why? Because they had a Saturday morning cartoon.

Like the Beatles. And the Monkees. Okay, the Monkees was live actors, but how much closer to a cartoon could the show have been? And What about the Banana Splits? Who knew they had a website? Great for a cold splash of nostalgia!

But I digress.

The one point that this article could make and doesn't is that our imperfect memories always remember only the good times, and then compare that to our current situation. And nowadays always comes off second best. Our parents remember the Great Depression and WWII as the good old days for crying out loud.

And our kids will probably remember today's era as the good old days when they are adults. Who could become nostalgic about today for God's sake? Lousy economy, rotten popular music, Global warming burying half the country with feet of snow; seriously, who COULD remember this as the good old days?

Our kids won't remember that Uncle John spent 6 months without a job, and won't recall which piece of dreck it is that beats Toy Story 3 For Best Picture. Hell, the song that will be the most popular from the 'Oughts probably never even made it to the radio top 40, if history is any indicator.

And it usually is.
So kick back and enjoy the Good Old Days now; why wait until when you can only do it in what's left of your memory?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What To Do About Egypt?

The current uprising in Egypt is in some ways fascinating, and others frightening.

The Egyptians are unhappy with their current government, and are seeking to change the rules. That's their right. They can choose any style or form of government the majority wants. They don't need our approval, right?

That's what my Libertarian side says.

But then there is the more practical side of me. George Washington warned us against getting involved in foreign wars, but the world was a lot larger in his day; Egypt could go to hell in a hand-basket and it wouldn't have effected us for months, if ever.

Today, if 6 people gather on a street corner in Cairo at 9 am and wave 2 signs and a burning American Flag, by 10:30 gas has jumped 15 cents.

One of the basic tenets of Libertarianism is that your rights stop at the end of my nose. Or maybe at my gas pump. Do we have the right to tell the majority of Egyptians that they may or may not choose their own style of government so I can enjoy a consistent price for my gasoline?

What if that style of government is radical, Sharia Islam? A style that could threaten to start a war between Egypt and Israel, one that may eventually involve the whole region?

Has this reached the end of my nose yet?

What about the American troops in Iraq that may suddenly get pitched into this ancient battle?

Not to mention that Egypt has been completely outfitted over the last 30 years with tons of American military equipment; equipment that radical Islamists would not hesitate to use against Israel. Or us.

How's that nose feel?

Sometimes we have to make hard choices about where to allow free will- that doesn't affect our interests- and not to allow irrational decisions that do.

This is one of those times. I just wish I had more faith in the current administration to do the right and competent thing.

Just like the last time that region blew up and we were stuck with Carter. 30 years later we are still living that nightmare.

Are we going to be living with what may become an Egyptian nightmare for 30 more?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Looking Forward to a Rainy Saturday

While I was out on the Internets Sunday I watched the video from the Washington Post on the new Chevy Volt from the article I linked to earlier today.

As soon as the Chevy video stopped another one started, linking to this article. Who knew I was an early adopter?

My brother introduced me to Settlers of Catan probably 10 years ago. If I've ever won a game I can't recall. I really don't think I have. I think my brother just plays against me and the rest of his brothers so he has somebody to beat.

In some respects the game is like Chinese Checkers; very simple rules, multiple players each working for possession of a portion of the board, all working at the same time and using one another to eke out a victory.

Except you don't roll the dice in Chinese Checkers; although that would add an interesting dimension. But, I digress.

The game play is easy in theory, difficult in practice. There are 5 resources and who gets how much of each resource is determined by a roll of the dice. Each game is different. In one game a 6 may get you 2 sheep; in the next you'll get one wheat. Some games sheep are scare; the next its wood. and you need various quantities and combinations of the resources to move ahead.

Some assets remain hidden, so dealing with your opponents becomes like poker game. You need to be able to read the 'tells' of when somebody has a strong position or a weak position and use that information to your benefit.

The sets are well made and set up and tear down easily. you do need a solid playing surface, so the game board won't move when somebody sets down their beer, but otherwise its a play anywhere game; no TV or electricity required.

A great way to spend an hour or so on rainy Saturday.

And I guarantee everybody will laugh the first time a player says "I've got wood for sheep".

Monday, January 31, 2011

Yet Another Limitation on the Electric Car

I found this article through Instapundit Sunday morning. I am linking to the Washington Post for two reasons: 1) this article backs up a lot of the things I have been saying about electric cars; and 2) CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS ARTICLE IS IN THE WASHINGTON POST!?!?!?

I am wondering about the repercussions. Obama says: 'Battery Powered cars are good'; the Washington Post says: 'Well, maybe not so much, for 60% of the country'.

What next? Will the Post be charged with blasphemy? Maybe lose their press pass?

One other interesting point. The Post printed this article in the Opinion Section. When I read it, i figured it would be in the Science section. Or maybe the Family Section, or whatever they call the part of the paper with the Comics, the Crossword Puzzle and recipes.

Apparently this writer- like me and millions of others- is not a fan of paying $40k for an economy car.

Amazing that he can say so AND still keep a job at the Washington Post.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anticipation is the Name of the Game II

I really had high hopes for this show, especially the premier episode. I was seriously disappointed.

The hype was how they found a '65 T-bird, restored it and sold it at auction. The reality was more how they bought a fine car, painted it and sold it.

But I will admit I didn't watch the whole show. First commercial break I went channel surfing and didn't bother to go back. I did catch up with the show later on, as my surfing brought me back to the Discovery Channel, but at the break, I was gone again. Toward the end of the show I found my way back to the Discovery Channel and watched the auction at the end.

I was not impressed. Way to much soap, way too much shouting and 'woo-who'-ing to make it entertaining to me, and absolutely no how to.

The show starts with the yard buying a '65 Thunderbird from a scrap metal dealer for $750. It needs paint, a front seat and a carburetor. Whoever sold this car to a scrap metal dealer should be drawn and quartered. At the end of the show they auction it off, along with a collection of much more modern cars, at their yard as fully restored.

As I said, missed some of the middle, but I never saw a discussion about anything underneath the car. Brakes; suspension; exhaust; steering linkage, or any of a dozen other things that wear out on a 45 year old car. They did spend $6 grand; I hope it all didn't go to paint and a front seat.

If I suffering from insomnia some Wednesday night I may tune again, or if I hear reports that there have been improvements, but otherwise I think I have better things to do with my time.

If all I want to see is people shouting at each other I don't need TV.

Anticipation is the Name of the Game

I had a couple of new shows on the other night I was really looking forward to seeing on the Discovery Channel; Sons of Guns and Desert Car Kings. I was not completely happy with either one. Desert Car Kings I'll get to in another post.

Sons Of Guns was interesting, but like all reality shows any more it was more soap opera than how to. Not that I expect to become a gunsmith by watching TV, but I did tune in to see the 'hows', not the personal interaction.

Pawn Stars is the King of the business reality genre. They manage to combine real, hard information, with the drama of the bidding battle and the personal interaction between The Old Man, Rick and Corey. And Chumlee. Who could forget Chumlee? Chumlee is proof that God protects idiots. How else do you explain some one with his intelligence, appearance and charisma being an international star?

But, I digress.

Sons of Guns tries for that same mix, and may get it right eventually, but I need more hard information and less soap.

A couple of things they did right; talking about the silencer for a shotgun -yes they are legal. Contrary to popular opinion, it is legal in this country to own ANY firearm you can afford the license and the background check for. For a silencer, the background check will make you fondly recall your last prostate exam.

The bits about the Civil War Cannon were cool too, but I would have preferred more loading and aiming technique and less 'Yahoo; look what we done did'. I also have to wonder about the SWAT Master Key they developed. Basically, they mounted a shotgun under an M-16 for the purpose of blowing open doors during SWAT raids. The idea is who ever uses the shotgun can then move his hand mere inches and have his M-16 available as he steps into the room.

I'm no expert on SWAT tactics, but I do know a little about the capabilities of a shotgun and the capabilities of the M-16. Given my druthers, for stepping into and controlling a crowded room, I'll take the shotgun any day.

Especially one like this.

I'll check it out again next Wednesday for sure. Hopefully they will start spending more time on the facts and less on the soap. It was good enough to give them another try.

Monday, January 24, 2011

History Can't Be Rewritten; But It Can Be Ignored

I have hanging onto this article for a while.

One of the things I hate about the way history is taught is that its taught monolithicly; we never hear about anything that doesn't fit the majority narrative.

Like during the Revolution; did you know that approximately 50% of the citizens of the Colonies did not want Independence form Britain? Did you know that after the war those folks were ruthlessly driven from their homes, and their lands and possessions were confiscated by the new Federal Government?

Did you know that during the Civil War there were slave owners in the North, who were pro-slavery and pro-Union? And that there were also anti-slavery secessionist in the South? facts like these don't fit the narrative, so they are conveniently forgotten.

Just like the black Confederate soldiers. Some of these soldiers were free blacks, some of whom owned black slaves. That just doesn't fit the narrative does it? We are taught to forget that slavery wasn't the evil institution we consider- and should consider- it today, but a legal way of using capital to control labor costs. Does that mean I advocate a return to slavery? Hell no. But if some of the facts aren't given, how can we put events into perspective?

History is always taught by the winners, and the one question constantly presented is why did poor whites, who didn't own slaves, fight for slavery? The answer is easy; and Dr. Williams answers it here; because they were Virginians, or Georgians, and their state was under attack from the damn Yankees.

Our modern country forgets- or is not taught- that as late as the Spanish American War military units were formed and deployed by state, not as an Army in general. Your State was your standard bearer, not your country.

One of the things I hear bandied about is that the country has become ungovernable. Well duh; it was never meant to be governable. The states were the unit where interior government takes place, and no state (okay; I'll except California) is ungovernable.

As usual I wandered a little farther than I should have. But the point is Black Confederate veterans existed. To deny that existence is not only a denial of historical fact, it cheapens the sacrifice made by these men a century and a half ago.

The constant argument on the Civil War is whether it was fought over Slavery or States Rights. Yes, the right the states were fighting to hold was the evil right to hold another person in eternal bondage, which immediately cheapens the argument, which is why the Federalist/Democrats usually fight with that as their weapon of choice.

It is a little disingenuous, and has a modern corollary: individual property rights, and the choice of property owners to allow smoking on their private property. Its hard to argue your right to your property when the response is the evils of smoking.

There is a reason some arguments become so contentious; there are very basic belief differences that have created the different stands, and you can't abandon your stand with out abandoning a core principle, no matter how much the facts fly in the face of your argument.

Kind of like facing an African-American in butternut gray. Its easier to ignore the fact than explain it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Same Ole, Same Ole

I found this the other day; apparently raising the debt limit will be easier than cutting the budget to make income match outgo.

Easier on whom?

Apparently It's easier for Congress to spend money than not.

Or, are they just trying to ease us into the concept that things haven't really changed?

Me? I think its the first step on the road to a short-lived Republican leadership.

A Very Regional Issue

I've always heard, and believed, that we could never have another Civil War in this country because we don't have any divisive regional issues any more.

I'd say this map kind of disproves that theory.

Obviously not all of these Red Districts, or Blue Districts for that matter, are as monolithic as they appear on this map, but still, it draws a very clear distinction between the coasts, the central cities and 'fly-over country', doesn't it?

Apparently, Nationalization of Health Care is a regional issue.

And, apparently we are fighting over it.

Here is a graphic of the states that have filed or joined lawsuits to overturn Obamacare:

I couldn't find a map with all 27 states on it; I had to modify the 21 state map; I guess you can tell which states I added?

The point is, again, its the south and the center of the country fighting against the coasts. If the courts rule in favor of Obamacare, how far will the anti-states go to avoid implementation of the take over scheme?

That is the big question, isn't it?

I guess the bigger question is whether or not the Federal Government gets the message before secession starts. Things are more civil than they were in the 1860's, so I doubt Civil War will immediately follow Civil Lawsuit, but I also doubt that a failure to over turn this legislative abomination will result in acquiescence.

Repeal of Obamacare has already passed the House; will popular pressure force a vote in the Senate; something Reid has said he won't allow? If it does pass the Senate. will popular pressure force Obama to sign it? Yeah I doubt it too.

That means we need to find a President and a Senate that agrees with the majority of the country. That should be easy to do in 2012, provided the Republicans keep their act together and actually pass some legislation that is in the country's interest, not Washington's.

On that point I am wishful, not hopeful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back In The Day, I Could Afford a New Car

One of the things about a birthday is it kind of makes you nostalgic. I started thinking about some of the things I've had for years and some of the things I have lost over the years.

When I was 5 I got one of these from my aunt and Uncle for Christmas.

This thing was sweet: the wheels would turn and lock, so the car would make circles or go straight; it was motorized and would run at maybe 2 mph, and neatest of all, the headlights and taillights would light up through a fiber optic system from one bulb. And all this was in 1965!

When I was 11 we moved and I somehow lost track of where it went.

I'd almost give $100 for one.

But not quite; I ain't that nostalgic!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Dang Birthday

Yeah, its mine. Which birthday will remain classified, but I was born during the Eisenhower Administration.

What is there to say?

Can you really age gracefully? I read articles all the time about 8o year olds running 10 miles a day, or competing in weightlifting competitions. Or what about that 100 year old guy a few years ago? Still drives his own car to the golf course daily and recently hit a hole in one.

Bit there are over 36 million people in this country over the age of 65, and we hear about 10 (maybe) still enjoying life.

What does THAT tell you?

Who was it who said: "anybody who says they can do at 50 what they did at 25 didn't do squat at 25"?

I can't remember who it was. Damned Old-Timers kicking in I guess. But I'll bet he was like me.

Over 50, sore half the time and tired the other half.

Maybe I was this way at 25 too; I just don't remember it, or maybe I just didn't let it stop me?

Ah well, too much contemplation for a Wednesday morning. Tonight I'll celebrate a little; I still have a couple of shots of Woodford Reserve left over from my last birthday, and tomorrow starts another year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who Knew?

I just found out about a thing Blogger does; it keeps stats about page views. All time, per country. Mine looks like this:

United States 1,867
Canada 60
South Korea 59
Germany 52
United Kingdom 36
Netherlands 33
Russia 29
Ukraine 20
China 19
Spain 19

The 1,867 views from the USA I can understand. China, Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine I can understand. I have been spammed in the comments before.

Why so many views from Germany? And South Korea? What is that all about?

And I don't know if I have one fan in South Korea who has stopped by 59 times, or if I have 59 fans, using the term advisedly, as they only stopped by once, or if I have 59 fans who have stopped by many times.

And not just Germany; Spain, UK, Netherlands, and of course, Canada.

What is there about the activities and thoughts of a semi-literate Kentucky redneck that so interests the world?

Well, maybe interests is too strong a word. After all, I've had fewer visitors in 3 years than Instapundit gets in 3 minutes. During a power outage.

Let's Take a Look at Some History

I was perusing Jay Leno's Garage over the weekend and found this book review. The book itself sounds interesting- a murder mystery based in 1910 in an electric car factory.

The more interesting part of the video is Jay and the author's conversation about the early 1900's and the history of electric automobiles. Especially when they discuss range and what killed the electric car a hundred years ago.

Another video Jay posted last week was this one; about a 1906 Steam Tractor. Jay drives this thing around the block- at its top speed of 4 miles an hour- and then discusses what killed the steam car.

If you don't study history, you don't know that most ideas are not new. Back in the day, before the internal combustion engine (ICE) became the norm, electric and steam powered cars were viable competitors. For a few years anyway. But both steam and electric had limitations that the ICE didn't have.

The electric starter, invented in 1912, was one of the biggest boosts; it removed the need for a strong arm to kick the engine over, making the ICE the easier and faster to start than a steam car.

Electrics have always had range issues, and always will, until they figure out how to recharge your battery in the time it takes to grab a cup of coffee and donut at the Stop and Go. Which will probably be never.

Electric cars are a fad today; just like they were a hundred years ago.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ya Know There Are Folks Who Won't Get This

But I don't know any of them.

This is the best of both worlds; a go anywhere luxury ride. Nothing outside will bother you; and all the toys you need inside.

Definitely win/win!

Cousin Throckmorton Checks in Again

Dear Cousin Red,

We missed y’all last weekend at Cousin Julie’s daughter’s weddin’. I figured it had to be somethin’ real important that kept y’all from bein’ here in the Holler for the social event of the season.

Cousin Julie went whole hog at this weddin’ thing. She and Jasper only had the one daughter at the end a’ all them boys, so she has been plannin’ this here weddin’ for better’n 15 years. And it showed. Some a’ them dec’o’rayshuns was 15 years old if’n they were a day.

But it was a nice time. Seems the bride was right fond a’ green, and choose it for the bride’s maid’s dresses. If she really picked that shade of fluorescent lime in shiny silk on purpose, somebody must be color blind. I still can’t close my eyes without seeing them dresses. I hear tell the man what took the pictures need his sunglasses because a’ the way the flash an’ them dresses kinda clashed.

They had the re’ceptsheon at the big barn up behind Granny’s place, and had Rembert’s do the caterin’. Old Jasper was in 7th Heaven. He hung out at the bar all night, pushin’ drinks on folks. ‘Have a beer’ he’d say; ‘don’t worry, it’s all taken care of’, just like he did when each of his sons got wed.

An’ he made sure ever’ybody got enough to eat. Ham, sweet taters, ears a’ corn and all. He was a’ passin’ out food like there was no ta’marra. An’ grinin’ all the while. ‘Eat it up folks’ he’d say; ‘it’s all taken care of’.

That party went on dang near all night. Eatin’, drinkin’, dancin’ and such seemed like it would never end. But ‘ventually it had to. I guess it was ‘bout 3 o’clock when the oldest Rembert boy finally shut down the bar, totaled up the damages and handed ol’ Jasper the bill.

He was dumbstruck. H’it hadden’t come to him until then who was actually takin’ care of this party. He was usta weddin’s; he just weren’t usta payin’ fer ‘em.

Ol’ Jasper had been havin’ himself one whale of good time ‘til then. Seein’ the cost of that high time sobered him up real fast. An’ then he started lookin’ for ways to raise cash to pay the bill. He didn’t know until then that all his charge cards was at the limit. Seems Cousin Julie bought all them fluorescent lime green shiny silk dresses on his Visa; the weddin’ dress filled up his Mastercard and the dec’o’rayshuns took care of the Discover.

First off he raided the weddin’ presents. Cash he could use, but it seems like Rembert’s didn’t wanna take the Walmart gift cards as payment. Then he had to start auctionin’ off the presents. I got a real nice toaster for 15 bucks; Granny bought herself a new cast iron dutch oven for 35 bucks and your Mamma bought some silverware. She said somethin’ ‘bout anuther weddin’ next month.

But Jasper got the bill paid. It took a while, and by the time he were done, them kids is startin’ life with ‘bout $150 in Walmart gift cards and 6 fluorescent lime green shiny silk dresses.

Ain’t it a Helluva thing, when the parents run up a big bill on a big party, an’ then stick it to the kids to pay the piper?

I guess it just comes natural like to Jasper. He was a Congressman.

Best wishes from all of us in the Holler,

Throckmorton Q. Sheisseschnitter

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh What a Difference a Day Makes

I found this article while out and about on the web this morning.

I was born as a Capricorn, on the cusp of Aquarius. Now I'm a Sagittarius. Maybe. I never really felt like a Capricorn; I always felt like an Aquarius.

Today I found out I really am a Sagittarius? I don't think so.

Not that I believe in 'signs' and read my horoscope regularly. It's not exactly a proven science in my opinion.

But even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. So I keep and eye on the Zodiac to just in case.

Just think of the implications. My wife was a Gemini; now she's a Taurus. As a Capricorn I could be compatible with a Cancer, which is close. As a Sagittarius, I am supposed to be compatible with an Aquarius; which she is nowhere near.

Well, I guess in some ways that explains a whole lot.

What about friends? As a Capricorn, my friends should have been Virgo and Taurus, Libra and Aries. Now they are supposed to be Leo, Aries, Virgo, Gemini and Pisces.

Hell, I am not sure who my friends were before; now I don't know if we are still compatible or not. I guess the next time we meet up I better know the secret handshake.

Or not. I don't plan my life around what somebody's interpretation of what the stars say i should do. But there are people who do.

I just wonder how many of them woke up today and finally understood the reaction to New Coke?

Friday, January 14, 2011

I found this post through Instapundit this morning. And although he is condemning the strategy that HR administrators use a degree from certain schools as a short cut to hiring, I have been making that same argument against a college degree for years.

20 years ago or so, when one of my brothers graduated from college, he was offered a job as a freight broker. The job consisted of planning load pickups and drop offs for truckers. He wasn't interested, but I was looking for job that wasn't physical (and was 9-5) and sent them a resume.

Although I had approximately 6 years experience in shipping/receiving and inventory control, they weren't interested. No college degree. Can anybody explain why I need a college degree to figure out how to load a truck?

I'll tell you why; a BA was a shortcut for HR. instead of checking references and job history, they just asked for a diploma.

Now it has apparently gotten worse. I guess since college degrees have gotten as common as high school diplomas used to be, now HR has fallen back to selecting a few schools to accept your degree from.

So the Harvard, Yale and Princeton crowd is now running the country.

And that is just working out SO well, ain't it?

NOTE: I had this post ready to go yesterday morning, and blogger ate half of it, so I had to finish it up and post it on Saturday. Friday got busy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Housing Values Continues to Slide

I found this article through Instapundit (as usual). Its from CNBC, and it makes sense (not as usual). And (as usual) the comments are the best part.

And the most sobering. Like this one:

lfbowman1234 | Jan 11, 2011 12:15 PM ET

The whole economy is in a depression, if you take out the unemployment benefits and the student loan program. Realize the first depression didn't have 5 trillion of new government spending. We are really 10 times worse than the first depression. Illegals have replaced our work force, along with outsourced jobs. Pull out the flood of taxpayer money , then you could see how bad off we really are now. Local government will have to raise taxes by 100 to 400 percent, in the near future, to keep this boat floating. The Federal government will do the same with a VAT tax.

I think I'll keep that comment handy for the next time I am constipated; it clean scared the crap outta me.

And the commenter is correct. FDR did not have the political backing to spend more than the country's annual GDP in borrowed money in a year. Obama did; so he did.

There are two questions: what are the short term effects, and what are the long term effects?

Short term; did the massive spending keep us from going deeper into a depression, or did it prolong the effects of the recession, because the government borrowing blocked business from doing the borrowing and creating jobs?

Maybe a look at Europe, especially Germany, where the government left the economy alone to heal, maybe a good indicator?

Long term: we are on the hook for borrowed TRILLIONS. the cost of the repayment of this debt, Hell, just the cost of the INTEREST on this debt will cripple the economy for at least a generation, maybe two.

So, we and our descendants will be paying this money back for a long time.

Was there enough benefit for the spending to make the cost worthwhile?

In a word, Nope.

Even if there was a benefit from the spending, which I doubt there was, the cost will hamstring everything business tries to do in this country for the next 50 years. Job creation will be restricted because of the cost of an employee, mainly due to the cost of taxation. Borrowing for business expansion and homes will be curtailed because of the lack of money to lend. The Federal grants will dry up and local governments will be forced to either cut services or raise taxes. Guess with direction they will choose?

I hate to sound all gloom and doom, but that attitude is actually the best one.

I am disappointed less often.


One of my little brothers turns 40 today.

It doesn't seem credible to me. I remember when he was born. He was the first baby I remember seeing fully develop, as it were, from the initial belly swelling to birth and growing up.

I watched him throw his oatmeal around the kitchen and climb out of his playpen. I saw him go to his first day of school. I was there when he bought his first car, and he and spent hours both getting it road ready and keeping it that way.

Dave was always a single focus, if you start it, you finish it, and do it to the best of your ability kind of kid, and that attitude has served him well into adulthood.

I remember when we set up his pool at his house. There is not another pool that level with in a hundred miles, and that one is level by accident. A 1/16th of an inch was not close enough, and it shows in the final product. Most pools you can see they aren't level, because the water is always level. Full of water, you can see this pool is level. The extra effort paid off.

It seems like only yesterday he was 15 and I was 25; working on his mini-bike. Or he was 20 and I was 30, putting a new front suspension under his Cutlass.

And now he's a member of the Over The Hill Gang.

Where did the years go?

Next thing ya know I'll be a grandfather and over 50....

Oh Yeah.

Happy Birthday Dave!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Not that it means the same thing as when I was a kid. I don't get the WHOLE day off, but I do get to work from home, so no fighting the traffic and slick roads.

Of course, it also means I have to be cooped up inside while the kids are outside making merry in the snow. All day I will hear the sledding reports and the blow-by-blow of the snowball fights, and not get to participate.

I do get to participate in the tracked-in snow, the piles of wet clothes and cold drafts caused by the back door being constantly either open because somebody is going in or out, or because whoever went in or out just flat left the door open.

I stepped out onto the back porch and took a couple of shots with the camera this morning; this is one of them. Snow is pretty when it's falling.

Provided I don't have to go any where in it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ready For the Next War?

I found this article through Instapundit this morning, and I have to disagree with the premise of the article.

Two things I will say first: One- Air Power was developed to save men on the ground; and Two- The Military always plans to fight the last war.

The article talks about how the Air Force budget is being cut, and air power being returned to the Army because that's how it works best in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fair enough. Local theater rules.

But to use the War on Terror as a basis for determining the future of the entire military force set up is crazy.

What will the next war be?

If we are again taking on a rogue regime in a low tech area, then this plan will work, just as it has worked in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But what if we're not? What if we are fighting China or Russia?

Sure carpet bombing in a limited war, like the War on Terror, is not an acceptable option. Does that mean we will never be in a situation where massive conventional bombing will be required?

Control of the air means control of the ground. We didn't over run Iraq in 36 days because our Army and Marine Corps was invincible (although they are incredibly capable); we did it because we controlled the air.

Look at it this way. One of the things that made space travel semi-affordable was the space shuttle; a reusable space vehicle. Think of an F-22 as a reusable cruise missile. A cruise missile is a great delivery option for a nuclear warhead. No crews are put at risk, and the cost is less than the risk of losing a plane and crew.

But to drop a conventional weapon that way doesn't make fiscal sense.

You also miss out on the psychological impact of men on the ground seeing a sky dark with bombers, each delivering a 40 ton payload.

Reducing our "need" for the technology of bombers and fighters also reduces our technological and manufacturing edge, something else I have been fighting agaisnt for the last few years.

Our military needs to be ready to fight any war; both the last one and the next one. The way Obama is going I wonder if we will be ready for ANY war.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Watched Any Good Home Improvement TV Lately?

Something I noticed the other day was that although the cable channels like DIY and HGTV still air shows like Property Ladder and Flip This House, they aren't making any new episodes. Basically because there is no more money to be made in short term housing investment, as a rule.

Instead, what they showing as the new Get Rich Quick scheme shows? Have you seen the one with the two guys and a truck who roam the country grubbing around in old barns and dingy basements looking for semi-buried treasure?

What about the one (or two or three) about the guys who buy abandoned storage sheds and seem to make a fortune digging through cardboard boxes?

Or how about the one where folks bring their old junk to the pawn shop to try and make a few bucks?

Do you see the pattern here?

Instead of investing in junk houses to make a quick buck, now you invest in REAL junk to make a quick buck.

I don't doubt folks can do it, I just doubt any Joe off the street can walk into a barn full of junk, identify the diamond in the rough, buy it cheap enough to make a few bucks, and then find the buyer the current owner couldn't.

Take the guys on American Pickers. PLEASE! I love the show, hate the guys. I don't know whether it is their accents, their attitudes or the way they interact with each other, but I tend to watch AP in spite of the guys, not because of them. That being said, I completely respect the knowledge they have acquired over years of doing this kind of work. And not just in one or two areas of expertise, but several. They are passionate about the items, but dispassionate enough to assess both realistic value to a final consumer and to themselves in a purchase price.

And that is where I have my problem with these kind of shows. How many of us can separate ourselves from the things we are passionate about enough to be realistic about their real value?

As Shakespeare said it: 'Therein lies the rub'. I can see folks who will think they do what these ignorant guys on TV do, and spend a lot of time losing a fortune. Just because they are completely enamored with early 21st Century rustic pottery doesn't mean its worth a cart load to every body (or anybody) else.

Just like these same folks saw a show once on flipping a house that suddenly made them experts in the real estate market- just before the crash.

The problem is these shows don't show the years of bad decisions and self education that goes into making money off of junk. The learning, often the hard way, about what it costs to restore or rehab, or even properly clean an item. They tend to short change the hard work that goes into getting rich quick and easy.

I guess that is the problem I have with these types of shows in general. They minimize the work, and only show the glory. Which I can kind of understand.

Hard work doesn't make for good TV, does it?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Housing is Due for a Regression

My old internets buddy Sippican Cottage has a new gig at Rightnetwork, and has a new post up over there that I very highly recommend, as opposed to his other writings, that I only highly recommend.

I have mentioned before my thoughts on the housing market, and the linked post does a good job of linking current events with the current housing situation.

Talk about your Modern Frontiersman; Mr. Sullivan has recently moved from the civilized state of Massachusetts to the wilds of western Maine. The conversion has been interesting reading, to say the least.