Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam

The news is out tonight that Saddam has been executed. I've not read any articles yet, but a few thoughts.

You won't hear any Republicans say "Well, Bush Sr is still alive, but Saddam is dead", although I'm sure a few others will realize it. Why does this strike me? Well, because after '92, one fairly REGULARLY heard Democrats and MSM folks say with some glee; "Bush is out of power, but Saddam is still there". Even though most of them had been TOTALLY against marching to Baghdad and solving the problem at that point, they really enjoyed the fact that Bush had lost the election but Saddam remained in office. Little things like Bush being the leader in a Democracy and Saddam being a dictator were apparently lost on them.

The "Bush lost, Saddam won" kind of thinking and enjoyment gives a glimpse into the soul of the left. They LIKED Saddam, Saddam "stood up to the US", and they LOVE to see the US "put in it's place". They may live here, but they don't like "authority" ... Castro, Hugo Chavez, Saddam, even Osama are folks that don't "show respect for the authority of the US", and they like that. One might think that it would give them pause to be on the same side as bloodthirsty dictators and petty tyrants, all of which would torture, rape, kill, or otherwise ruin the day of the "laughing liberal" at a moments notice if given the chance, but remember, consistency is NOT an issue for a liberal.

The streak typically goes deeper. As I've mentioned before, there is no limit to what they would like to see happen to a white collar criminal, but for Saddam? They are going to question the morality of putting a butcher that has killed 100's of thousands to the awful death penalty. There are tapes of him having people thrown off roofs, put through plastic shredders, and documentation of him having air hoses inserted in peoples rectums and blowing them up from the inside out. The lefty's hearts are full of sadness at the loss of Saddam, they saw him as a great guy. Bush, they would take glee if somehow he could be abused as the worst of Saddam's victims.

It is likely hard to fully plumb the depths of the lefty brain to really comprehend this, but I believe the core is simply "hatred for authority". They see the US as "authority", and Saddam as one who "stood against authority". They want to see the US and it's "symobols" (flag, president, military, etc) "brought down". Ideally, they would see God "brought down", but in this earthly realm, the US is a good stand-in, so they revel in that when they can.

Oh well, "the little guy" didn't do so well against authority this time. Pity.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kerry In Iraq


For those that only follow the MSM and missed the picture posted above, it is worth a glance. It has been linked from a lot of places, but it appears that it originated from the blog of a soldier in Iraq Kerry Visits
I'm sure many of the "free speech loving left" will wonder why soldiers are allowed to do such things, post to blogs, and say anything negative about great guys like Kerry that just happen to call them ignorant slackers (all in a joke, of course!).

On the other hand, when they can find one or two soldiers to say something negative about Bush or Rumsfeld, such comments are covered with glee, and there are no concerns about such criticism of the President or Secretary of Defense, positions that are in their actual chain of command, rather than just a Senator.

As I've said before, the MSM covers the statements made against Republicans CORRECTLY, they ought to cover the statements made against Democrats as well. If it is factual that Kerry's chopper was "Weasel 61", and Hillary was "Broomstick 11", then that is a HOOT for anybody that is even "moderately unbiased". Based on a lot of polls, well over 50% of Americans would agree that Kerry and Hillary are both very unappealing folks with high negatives. While it is true that were we ACTUALLY going to try to "improve our civility", then we should refrain from such "cheap shots", however the situation we have now is that there is no blow that is too low to be leveled against Bush in the continual attempt to destroy him by the left and the MSM, but people that are every bit as unappealing to a wide range of Americans (Hillary and Kerry) get ignored, even when some focus would obviously "sell papers".

Ignoring stuff like this gives the lie to the "they aren't biased, they just report what will sell papers". Seeing a pompous imbecile like Kerry shunned by the people who likes to insult and then attempt to weasel out of it is the stuff that Americans always enjoy. The media doesn't find it entertaining TO THEMSELVES when one of the folks that they like is put in a bad light, so they simply don't report it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

MSM Remembers Ford / Inflation

The passing of Gerald Ford gives the MSM a good chance to re-write history some more to give the impression that the economy was in deep trouble before Jimmuh Carter, and he "fixed it", with that result happening in the early 80's when some "un-named lucky president" was in the office. Clearly Nixon/Ford were the cause of inflation, and Carter was the cure. It is a tidy lefty world to folks like CNN from which this "respectful" eulogy comes.

WIN proved to be an ineffective step, "both from the public relations aspect and an economic one," said Daniel Mitchell, professor of management and public policy at UCLA.

"Buttons on lapels weren't going to deal with this sort of thing," Mitchell said.

"Up to that time, we'd never had inflation and higher unemployment," Ratkus explained. "It created a stagnant economy and a term that has since entered into textbooks: 'stagflation.'"

President Ford, who inherited many of the nation's economic problems from the previous administration, was defeated in the following presidential election.

Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president in 1976.

Inflation remained a problem throughout the 1970s, finally peaking at an annual rate of 13.5 percent in 1980.

It wasn't until the early 1980s that inflation was brought fully under control.

Many credit the Federal Reserve led by Carter-appointed chairman Paul Volcker with his "tough monetary policy."

Volcker limited the growth of the money supply which resulted in a recession and high lending rates.

Volcker "wrung inflationary psychology out of the economy," said Ratkus, who explained that until then people expected a certain amount of inflation in prices.

The expectation of inflation set the stage for sharp rises in costs and "helped create a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts," said Ratkus.

Since then interest rates and inflation have remained relatively low.


The real world is of course a lot less tidy, and a lot less complimentary of the left. Inflation was the result of a whole long list of things including the US moving off the gold standard, rising competition as the global markets came fully back online with more modern methods/equipment as the devastation of WWII faded, the baby boomers coming of age with a giant demand spike, the US Government policy of using inflation as a "stealth tax increase" (which causes more inflation), and etc etc.

Yes, WIN was equally as ineffective as sitting in a darkened room in the White House and telling people to put on a sweater and shut off their Christmas lights as Jimmuh did, but when he dies I suspect that the MSM won't spend anytime discussing that. They will likely focus on the "historic" Camp David Accords, but without the finish "and Israel and her Arab neighbors continue to live in peace".

The MSM never wants to give Reagan any credit, but even in their silence we get "Since then interest rates and inflation have remained relatively low", and they are forced to admit "early 80's". They attempt to remain quiet, but truth has a way of crying out.

Gerald Ford took office in a now win situation where the MSM and the left in this country were in their historic peak. America had been defeated in Vietnam and Nixon had been removed from office at home. In their minds, things were going very well, but of course in reality they were headed for the disaster that was Jimmuh Carter. Ford was an honorable man that was one of the last of the "me too Republicans". The kind that were "fiscally responsible Democrats", the ones that the media liked in their bumbling role. The Democrats got to be Santa, and the Republicans got to be Dad ... they got to harp about deficits and restraint and the Democrats got to do new programs and buy votes. It was a "great day" for the left and the MSM, and the MSM had a joyous monopoly on the information going out to the waiting public sheep.

From the POV of the MSM, Ford served in "the good old days", and their treatment of him is just right. He was the kind of "opposition" that they liked ... not enough to respect him and give him any credit, but as a President that was in the "proper role for a Republican".

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thanks Jimmuh

I've blogged before that Jimmy Carter was the catalyst that convinced me I couldn't be a Democrat, he continues to show why I made the right choice 30 years ago.


The following is off Powerline:
And Speaking of Free Speech...

One of its most principled defenders and most effective practitioners is Alan Dershowitz. Over the years, I have disagreed with Dershowitz about most things, but his unwavering commitment to free speech--even in an academic environment--and his tireless unraveling of the endlies calumnies thrown at the state of Israel are far more important than those disagreements. Currently, he is taking on the execrable Jimmy Carter, and it is, as you would expect, a mismatch. Dershowitz writes in the Boston Globe:

The next week Carter wrote a series of op-eds bemoaning the reception his book had received. He wrote that his "most troubling experience" had been "the rejection of [his] offers to speak" at "university campuses with high Jewish enrollment." The fact is that Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz had invited Carter to come to Brandeis to debate me, and Carter refused. The reason Carter gave was this: "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."

As Carter knows, I've been to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, many times -- certainly more times than Carter has been there -- and I've written three books dealing with the subject of Middle Eastern history, politics, and the peace process. The real reason Carter won't debate me is that I would correct his factual errors. It's not that I know too little; it's that I know too much.

Carter's refusal to debate wouldn't be so strange if it weren't for the fact that he claims that he wrote the book precisely so as to start debate over the issue of the Israel-Palestine peace process. If that were really true, Carter would be thrilled to have the opportunity to debate. Authors should be accountable for their ideas and their facts. Books shouldn't be like chapel, delivered from on high and believed on faith.

***

Jimmy Carter isn't brave for beating up on Israel. He's a bully. And like all school-yard bullies, underneath the tough talk and bravado, there's a nagging insecurity and a fear that one day he'll have to answer for himself in a fair fight.

When Jimmy Carter's ready to speak at Brandeis, or anywhere else, I'll be there. If he refuses to debate, I will still be there -- ready and willing to answer falsity with truth in the court of public opinion.

No doubt it will never happen, but if it does, I want a front-row seat.


The left and MSM like to make old Jimmuh into some kind of a hero because he works on Habitat for Humanity. So does George Bush Sr and a WHOLE lot of other people left and right, but they don't get nearly as much credit. Carter ALSO makes completely idiotic deals with madmen in N Korea with absolutely no authority to do it, and writes a bunch of drivel claiming it is somehow "intellectual", refuses to defend it like an intellectual, then lies about it. Carter did way more damage to this country than Nixon ever did, he is certainly the worst President of my lifetime, but I continue to thank him for being bad enough to show me the error of my ways and allow me to wake up from the spell of the MSM and popular culture.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sandy is a Great Guy




The MSM at least reports a bit here that Sandy Berger took classified documents out of an archive that he was not supposed to during the 9-11 investigation. There is of course no concern about this in the MSM, or curiosity as to "why"? No less an honorable and trustworthy authority than "I didn't have sex with that ..." Slick Willie has stated, laughing; "Oh that is just Sandy, he was always doing something like that". It is enough to warm the cockles of the heart. Just a folksy removal of classified documents, a little "storage" under a construction trailer.

There is no need for curiosity here on the part of the MSM, and of course there isn't any. There is no way that the Clinton administration could POSSIBLY be to blame for anything relative to 9-11, and of course they are all WAY too honorable people to try to do anything like steal some documents that pointed to something embarrassing on their part. It "just wouldn't be done". Only evil Republicans would consider something like that, and the fact that rotten bloggers are out their suggesting that this was anything other than innocent just shows how "corrupt" the conservatives are, and how much they want to create problems for honorable Democrats.

Meanwhile, we know that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield have the worst of motives and the highest level of incompetence possible, and will stop at NOTHING in order to hide, cover, mislead and constantly LIE about their many and nefarious plans and misdeeds. When it comes to light that a scummy operative like "Scooter" who was CERTAINLY trying to "strong arm" poor Valerie Plame has somehow managed to get Richard Armitage to indicate that he was the ACTUAL source of the leak claiming it was "inadvertent", you know that there is something rotten afoot. Most likely Armitage has been paid off by Chaney / Halliburton to cover the tracks.

We see a number of "slight differences" in the press on these kinds of issues. The "real truth" is most likely somewhere in between, with each of our biases taking us to the side that we most align with as to where the truth is at. At least it is easy to see where the MSM is at, when something like Sandy arouses very close to zero suspicion, but old "Scooter" is just evil incarnate, until it is at least as proven as our legal system can do that the whole idea of him "outing" Plame was a pure fabrication by Wilson and the MSM. Then they simply pretend that the "new news" that proved their previous conjectures utterly false just never happened.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

First Man

Reading has been a little lacking with the level of activity of late, but it started to pick up this past weekend and I suspect that it will be a major activity for the next 2=3 weeks. I just finished "First Man", the life of Neil Armstrong. It was an excellent somewhat scholarly book on the man that said "One small step for (a) man ... one giant leap for mankind". To those of us who lived through it, it is one of those times that you remember, and this is really THE one of national/world significance that is precisely remembered as good. (Kennedy being shot, Challenger disaster, 9-11, those go into the bad bucket)

Armstrong is a hero cut in the Lucky Lindy mode; not flashy, plain spoken, humble and appreciative of all the people that had a hand in the achievement of the the moon landing, very private and very unemotional. Much like the "strong silent type" American male of yore, you get the impression that he didn't "work to be calm and unemotional", he just was. Like all things, this provides upside and downside. In 1962, the Armstrongs lost their 2-year old daughter Karen to an inoperable brain tumor. It appears that Neil may have dealt with the pre and post death tradegy by throwing himself into his work, and it may even be that the event was the catalyst for him making the decision to be an astronaut.

The "mistakes" of the Armstrong flying career are clustered around the death, and it may well be that he was adversely affected (who could blame him?). He had an X-15 incident where the craft "skipped" on the atmosphere causing him to be hundreds of miles off course, and he narrowly made it back to the opposite end of the Edwards dry lake bed from where he was supposed to land. Supposedly he came over the last ridge under 100' above ground, but that may well be legend. Getting stuck on a "dry" lake bed that was wet with Chuck Yaeger in the back seat is more humorous than anything, and the "Nellis debacle" where Neil had a gear failure doing simulated X-15 landings in another plane certainly COULD have been serious, but turned out to be again more humorous than anything. If one is going to be adversely affected by a horrific life experience that destroys many who have to live through it, continuing to be a test pilot flying the highest performance craft of the day with only "incidents" to show as "failures" during the core of it it is the kind of makeup that one expects from the guy that did the first moon landing.

Armstrong was also the first astronaut to dock in space with Gemini VIII. I had never realized how close to disaster that flight came as a thruster on the Gemini became stuck and put the craft into a spin where the crew was on the edge of losing concousness at the point they were able to remedy the situation. Had they blacked out, there would have been the loss of a crew in space, and likely the moon landing would have been long delayed.

The book is highly detailed, early on with geneology that I wasn't particularly interested in, later with issues of simulation and crew dynamics that were more to my liking. I never saw a mountain until I was 20 years old, although I read a lot about them, heard people talk about them, and of course saw plenty of pictures. The experience is radically different. Much in the same way, it is clear that all the astronauts that went to the moon were changed by the experience of seeing the earth as a tiny blue marble in the blackness of space, and apparently even more so the onces that stood on the surface of that desolate world and saw their home hanging in the sky. For a number of years we had the wallpaper picture of "earthrise over the moon" in our family room in a previous home. It is an arresting scene, and I'm sure the effect of being there changes people for the rest of their lives.

For me it was a book well worth reading. It is so hard to believe that we are fast coming up on FORTY years since that landing, and except for the immediate missions in the very early 70's, we have never gone back. Space travel is one of those areas lik e "flying cars" where technology has fallen far short of what those of us alive in the 60's thought. Armstrong predicted that man would go to Mars in his lifetime, and to me, "2001 A Space Oddessy" looked almost "conservative", right down the the smart computer. I never imagined the Internet though. The future has a way of not being exactly what we expect.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cool With Popular Culture

The home theatre system is finally starting to get a bit of use, and the other night we screened the '67 classic "Cool Hand Luke" with Paul Newman. The film is entertaining, well acted, and well filmed. As a younger person seeing it, I was less oriented to thinking of "message" than today.

The simple story for the very rare individual who as never seen it is that Luke (Paul Newman) is caught drunk, cutting the heads off parking meters for no apparent reason ends up on a "chain-gang" southern prison detail working on the roads. Luke can't accept "the system" or "rules". He is presented as "basically good", but the evil system wears him down.

Luke is "punished for being an atheist", he REALLY "wants to believe in God", but God just won't show himself and deal Luke a good hand. In as much as there is a hero, Luke is it, but not really. The message is pretty much that we have a choice to either "give into the corrupt system and be corrupted, but at least on the surface have a marginally better life, or "be true to ourselves", and be hounded, chewed up, and destroyed by "the system".

Interestingly, the "high point" of the movie is where Luke spurs the prison work crew to work like demons to complete the tarring of the road ahead of schedule so they have a few hours of daylight with "nothing to do". Ah yes, the pinnacle of human existence, idleness.

The bottom line message, like a lot of Hollywood is "futility", you "can't win". They do it well though, with a lot of emotional appeal, and it is all rolled out so easily. That is one of keys of the modern world. Music, movies, day to day TV, mass media news and modern education. You are told what to think at so many levels, and given a ton of little opportunities to be a "rebel". Get a tattoo, piercing, grow your hair any way you want, etc etc. The odd part is that there aren't any real sanctions anymore for any of it. **BUT** you are TOLD that there are ... Luke was killed after all, "Bush locks up dissenters", "our rights are under assault". Of course, none of it is true, but it SEEMS that way, it especially FEELS that way if we give into enough media control.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Lonely Leader

Tony Blankley has an excellent little column entitled The Lonely President that points to even greater truths. His topic is how lonely the job of the American President is, and how especially lonely and difficult the current situation is for Bush. Criticism is always easy, solutions almost never are. Some quotes from the article:

For rarely has a president stood more alone at a moment of high crisis than does our president now as he makes his crucial policy decisions on the Iraq War. His political opponents stand triumphant, yet barren of useful guidance. Many -- if not most -- of his fellow party men and women in Washington are rapidly joining his opponents in a desperate effort to save their political skins in 2008. Commentators who urged the president on in 2002-03, having fallen out of love with their ideas, are quick to quibble with and defame the president.

James Baker, being called out of his business dealings by Congress to advise the president, has delivered a cynical document intended to build a political consensus for "honorable" surrender. Richard Haas (head of the Council on Foreign Relations) spoke approvingly of the Baker report on "Meet the Press," saying: " It's incredibly important ... that the principle lesson [of our intervention in Iraq] not be that the United States is unreliable or we lacked staying power ... to me it is essentially important for the future of this country that Iraq be seen, if you will, as Iraq's failure, not as America's failure."

That such transparent sophism from the leader of the American foreign policy establishment is dignified with the title of realism only further exemplifies the loneliness of the president in his quest for a workable solution to the current danger.


The person that recognizes how little they know is rare. The natural human tendency, independent of ability, temperament, or training is to think think ourselves wiser than those in leadership. Note that we typically don't want to step IN to any of those leadership posts, but we LOVE to point out what we see as flaws in leaders, especially those with whom we have an ideological difference. The harder the problem and the more real the danger, the greater the desire of people to avoid facing and dealing with the situation. We like to feel good. Facing and dealing with hard problems always makes us feel "bad", at least in the short run. Avoidance seems much nicer.

I've commented before on the fecklessness of something like half the people or more, whom at the time we went into Iraq supported the action with something like an 80% approval, which is now down to something below 30%, and in some polls nearing 20%. The veneer of an excuse is "we were lied to", but I happened to hear a part of the Robert Gates Senate confirmation hearings, where he CLEARLY stated that he and all the Senators there were privy to the information on the WMD as was every intelligence agency in the world. Given the information that everyone had at the time, there was no choice but to take the action taken. The Senate voted to confirm a NEW Secretary of Defense that said in his CURRENT judgment, he would DO IT AGAIN by a vote of 95-2, with the only 2 dissenters being Republicans. Teddy KENNEDY voted FOR him! (I know that the vote of a man that kills his secretary and is an embarrassment to drunkards everywhere is meaningless, but the effect after all his bluster on the topic is at least more testament to his complete lack of character)

From Moses to Lincoln, to Reagan, to Bush, leadership is always lonely. Having sex in the oval office with an employee is a lot less lonely. You have the employee with you, and at least 50%+ of the population will defend your right to sex at work and lying under oath, even though they don't share that right. Do what even lefty drunken murderer Senators know is the right thing, and find out that "right" is not identical to "easy", and and 50% or more of even the people that supported you will abandon you and often sanctimoniously claim that "leadership has failed", while not having a wisp of an idea of how to deal with the problem.

Leadership does fail, but the rank and file fails way more often, and usually with a whole lot less understanding of "why", and therefore progress in learning. The "nice" thing about the real world is that if often comes back to bite and show that the costs of "the easy way" are very much higher than it looks at the point where that fork in the road is taken. Those that follow the path that looks easy somehow aways see the world as having WAY more problems than those that face the truth and often take the harder road. At some point, it always becomes "random / hopeless / unfair / rigged against / impossible". After making enough choices that were effectively "cut and run" at one level or another, that really becomes the only choice available.

Sadly, not taking the easy choices never becomes easy. Like working out every day, at best it becomes a "habit". A habit that just means that when you follow the natural tendencies that always remain, you realize it, and with the grace of God and forgiveness, hopefully one can return to the path that is more difficult, but toward improvement of ones self and the step by step, the rest of the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Force For Peace



James Baker's new ally for peace seems to think that the way to peace is to "wipe out Israel". Interestingly, he compares that with the USSR, which was not "wiped out" (in fact, the Russian Prime Minister is still happlily poisoning adversaries with pelonium the last I heard). The USSR imploded after it was challenged by Ronald Reagan. Israel shows very few signs of implosion, but one would suspect that when a nutcase holocaust denyer that has already indicated that he is bent on creating nukes to destroy says "wipe out", he doesn't mean "implode".

The MSM and apparently a whole bunch of the US wool bearing population think that this guy is going to "help us fix Iraq". I suppose "wipe out" and "fix" could be the same in some quarters.

Oh, Bold prediction. This was up on CNN at 11PM EST, don't expect it to get a lot of coverage. Such things could confuse the sheep ... is denying the holocaust and talking about wiping out Israel a good thing now?

Monday, December 11, 2006

ISG / Holocaust Denial?

The vaunted Iraq Study Group (ISG) thinks that the way to "peace" in Iraq is to bring Iran and Syria in to "help" the US, and to link peace in Iraq with Israel making concessions. The ISG is of course being hailed as "genius", while the MSM wonders if the idiot Bush will be able to take advice.

NPR reported tonight (so it MUST be true), and it is also reported here that one of our prospective "allies" in this diplomatic process is having a major conference sponsored by their President on the subject of "Did the Holocaust Actually Happen?"

I imagine that if the ISG finds Iran to be a credible ally, then this must be considered a credible question that needs to be looked into? Anyone that thinks that the way forward on improving a conflict is to link it with a 4,000 year old conflict would seem to prone to a whole lot of odd thinking, no doubt including holocaust denial. James Baker, your ride is waiting just on the other side of a comet, drink some poison and they will beam you up right away.

Does anyone actually believe that anyone in the MSM, left, Democrat party, Iran, Al Quaeda, Hamas or any other group in favor of "cut and run" has any other objective other than "get US troops out of Iraq NO MATTER WHAT"? When people believe that something is worth "any cost" it is a pretty good indication that the reasoning part of the brain has stopped completely.

North Dakota

This past week was spent traveling to and from North Dakota. The trip on the weekend had been planned for months, a trip to watch the Fighting Sioux play in the Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks North Dakota. That trip came off with only two of us attending rather than three as had been planned due to the events of earlier in the week.

"The Ralph" as they call it was impressive beyond belief. The fact that the little counters where you put the mustard on your hot dog are made of marble was what really impressed me. It is of course full of Fighting Sioux symbols, including inlaid in marble in the floor. The "symbols" are a great example of the liberal doctrine of "consistency is not an issue". PETA has taken action against the Green Bay "Packers" because they feel that the Packer name HONORS the idea of killing animals and the job of meat "Packer". Of course with Indian names, the use of the name is DEROGATORY, and OFFENSIVE! There you have it, on one hand a team name is a point of honor, and on the other side, it is a point of offense. As a true liberal would say, "it is all in how you feel about it", and that is just fine. Individually, we can be "right" all the time even with conflicting internal views, but as a society, we better learn to just number our teams.

The early part of the week was filled with 22 hours of driving in a 42 hour period to attend the funeral of a friends father in Williston ND. The road was long, but once the decision was made to go, it seemed like the right way all the way through. It is just fine to use "emotional reasoning" to decide what funerals to go to, just not to tell everyone else what funerals they ought to go to, what their team ought to be named, or how high their taxes ought to be. "The Peace Garden State" isn't the most scenic in the union by my standards, but at least you can see a lot of many parts of it all at once, and there is certainly not much to get in the way of the wind.

So bogging continues to suffer even though the blogging environment is the best that it as ever been. Hopefully I will be able to make up for lost time soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The New World

For those of you wondering what has happened to me, the "small task" of doing "the last little bit" on our remodel project has been consuming a huge amount of time the last bit more than a week. Once the new cabinets had been installed in my office, the desire to get "everything right" took over and I've been feverishly moving books in as well as getting lighting, cabling, phones, etc up and running. I REALLY wanted to be using my new Viewsonic VX2025WM 20" monitor for this, but alas the pictures are amoung the many things copying over to my new 300GB drive on my main server box where that is connected from. It is a classic case of "one more thing".
The Family Room
The old family room was L shaped with a big old wood burning fireplace. A complete tear-out, wall moves, and reconstruct. Speakers that will mount on the wall are on order.
The Desk Where I Work
There is still some stuff stacked around, and although this was shot last night, the 19" Viewsonic tube was still hooked up to the server. The Techline units are a BIG change from the "before".
The Comfy Chair
This is the location where I do most of my reading when I get to read. So far in the 12 days since the desk and cabinets went in, I haven't spent any time there either. Part of the fault of that was Holiday travel, retrieval of Christmas wreaths for the Scout Troop, retrieval of son from college, doing a late winterization job on the boat that ought to have been done long ago as well as a good deal of "real job work" that always seems to impinge. So many excuses that I sound just like a liberal.
Firepit From Deck
When we started on the project we had no plans of doing a firepit, or re-doing my office for that matter. Adding a bedroom for my youngest son in the basement required the window be dug down which caused the old landscaping to have to change, which caused the thought process to go down the path of taking care of a landscaping problem that was bothering us at the end of the deck. Similarly, when adding a LAN line in my office required moving out a 20yr old Wal-Mart pressed wood desk that simply fell apart, the project became "extended".
Looking At Firepit from Yard
Looking back at the house from the yard completes the tour. At SOME POINT, I'd like to drag out the higher res camera, have everything perfectly clean and picked up, and THEN shoot the pictures. Maybe I'll get there by like 2010 ;-)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Relativism For the Holidays

This nice little "news article" on
Teaching Thanksgiving has been up on CNN since quite early in the week. The highlight is pretty much right at the top:

Teacher Bill Morgan walks into his third-grade class wearing a black Pilgrim hat made of construction paper and begins snatching up pencils, backpacks and glue sticks from his pupils. He tells them the items now belong to him because he "discovered" them.

The reaction is exactly what Morgan expects: The kids get angry and want their things back.

Morgan is among elementary school teachers who have ditched the traditional Thanksgiving lesson, in which children dress up like Indians and Pilgrims and act out a romanticized version of their first meetings.


The left finds it important for Americans to honor and respect all other cultures but our own. It is imperative that we "understand their perspective", so Arabs killing Jews is "understandable", anyone hating the US is of course MORE than understandable, it is to be expected, and really just a sign of having a good grasp of reality. The gay lifestyle, any manner of criminal activity (with the exception of white collar crime of course!), and any religion including devil worship (again, except Christianity!) must be understood and respected.

How about the context of over 400 years of history and change being applied to the Pilgrims? Must that be "understood"? Nope! No understanding there, and while the media works hard to very much romanticize the gay life as "just as normal as any other", thus in sore need of marriage, the actual statistics on gay monogamy and health tell quite a different story. No need to be "authentic" there though, the message to be transmitted to the sheep is a different one.

Ah yes, the destruction of values and America. An important agenda that has to be begun early in the schools with the little children. We live in a country free enough to allow public dollars to tear down the very culture paying for the schools and teachers doing the deed. As they say, "only in America".

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Notice Anything? 06 Congress

One of my major joys is watching the difference in behavior of the MSM, and indeed most of the general public depending on politics. It is amazing to see how suddenly there are NO QUESTIONS about the elections, no matter how close they were in some districts and senate races, the outcome is GOSPEL. Where is "Diebold"? Where are "the dangers of electronic voting"? Where is "disenfranchised"?

Of course, we know where it all is. From the viewpoint of the MSM, the voters got "the right answer" this time. It is only when the voters get the WRONG answer that they need to go looking for anything. This time "the people have spoken". In 2002 and 2004, which were actually historically the ODD elections, because the party with the Presidency PICKED UP seats, there was a lot of analysis of why the outcomes "didn't mean anything", "might not be valid", and we were "a very divided country". Notice that "we" aren't divided anymore? Certainly from the current view of the MSM, we finally got it right, and now as long as we do 100% what the Democrats want, we will be just fine.

While we are at it, did you notice any convervatives talking about "embarrassment", or "leaving the country"? No? Neither did I, there really hasn't been much in the way of anger or hand-wringing from even the most avowed righties. Isn't that a BIT different from the angry left for the past 6 years? One would think that anyone with their eyes open at all could see that if nothing else, there is a solid difference in temprament as to how conservatives deal with a political loss as opposed to liberals.

Which brings me to a few predictions.

1). Remember when Republicans were last in the minority in the Senate? There were a couple of popular terms back then; "obstructionism" and "not following the will of the people". I boldly declare that those terms will be coming back in the months to come.

2). Remember how courageous it used to be when Clinton brandished the veto pen? I'm betting that "courageous" won't be one of the words used to describe a Bush veto by the MSM.

3). Remember how horrible it was to have investigations of poor Bill Clinton? Why it was positively unfair for the congress to waste it's time investigating the President that was "duly elected by the American people". In fact, any sort of obstruction of Mr "will of the people" was a sign of how evil Republicans were for providing opposition to the wonderful Bill Clinton. Think their tune might be slightly different now?

Well, I'm actually cheating to even call this one a "prediction", NPR and many other liberal outlets are already nearly in heaven over the prospects of a Henry Waxman and others getting a whole bevy of investigations going as rapidly as possible. All of a sudden, the views on "investigations" have turned around precisely 180 degrees!

I can't leave predictions behind without calling up a prediction from last summer made in Why Everyone Believes I predicted that even though the MSM told us a year ago that there would be more and more severe hurricanes every year due to global warming, if there were not, the MSM would fail to tell their followers the sheep about it. Well, hurricane season is now over and even though they did their best to pump up a couple of tropical storms as "MAYBE Hurricanes", they never made it and we had ZERO hurricanes hit the US this year! Darn!

I can't pick where the stock market is going, I can't pick who is going to win major sports events over the next 5 years, but I CAN predict how the MSM is going to react to stories. If they were reporting events as events, that would be impossible. They are predictable becuase they are idealogues and report their BIAS rather than the news.

 It is their BIAS that is predictable! The MSM is always going to tell you that "someone else is misleading you" ... corporations, Republicans, Fox news, technologists, bloggers, "professionals", religion ... the list goes on and on. The MSM and the entertainment industry is still the most pervasive and powerful information organ out there. YES, there are a few alternatives today and that is very refreshing, but you have to LOOK FOR THEM. If your information seeking is on autopilot you will live in the MSM sheep pen! ESCAPE!

 There is a better life in the real world!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pleasing the Terrorists

Last Tuesday was a great day for Democrats the MSM, and apparently Terrorists too. While the "Weekly World News" is certainly a right wing publication, you just can't expect to get some of this information from the MSM.

Terror Leaders: Vote Democrat

"Of course Americans should vote Democrat," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND.

"This is why American Muslims will support the Democrats, because there is an atmosphere in America that encourages those who want to withdraw from Iraq. It is time that the American people support those who want to take them out of this Iraqi mud," said Jaara, speaking to WND from exile in Ireland, where he was sent as part of an internationally brokered deal that ended the church siege.


These are the kinds of things that really don't require all that much thought. Do the terrorist groups like the US being on offense? Of course not, it really messes up operations to have your camps bombed, your communications monitored, and leaders that have funding your suicide bombers families in the past sentenced to hang. Much better to see the US working with known terrorist countries to try to save some small piece of face as the lone superpower sulks away in defeat.

One might think it would give some folks pause to be on the same side as the terrorists, but my guess is that they will be just has happy there as they were being on the same side with the USSR.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Diplomatic Solution

Jim Webb Diplomacy

One of the things that I enjoy the most about watching and listening to the MSM is how their biases are so deep, that they are completely unaware of them. Like "air, gravity, and the sun coming up", they just always see the world as "that way", and it never crosses their mind that there could be alternative thought.

Since Tuesday, the world for them has become suddenly sunny and bright. Prior to the election, even the day of the election, and certainly in 2000, 2002, and 2004, there had been a lot of concerns about electronic voting, suppression of the vote, the accuracy of counts, and a whole set of issues. Wednesday AM, all those concerns magically took wing and flew from the minds of the press as if they had never been there at all. "The people had spoken", there was no way that their could be a question of "irregularities" or any sort of impropriety in this election no matter how close the race. The right answer had clearly and finally been reached.

Unlike in previous elections, notably 1994, 2000, and 2004, when the people looking to take the new positions stood up and said "partnership, not partisanship", they were TOTALLY believeable, there was no need to raise any issue of previous statements by them or their campaign, or to ask specific questions about just what kind of compromise they might think would be a good answer to a tough question in this "partnership". When Bush said "I'm a uniter, not a divider", somehow the MSM just didn't see it as being very believeable. There were many questions that needed to be asked. I have no problem with that stance actually, I think the press SHOULD ask tough questions ... it is just that they ought to be asked to both sides. Politicians of BOTH stripes are very worthy of more than an ounce of skepticism.

The quoted article is a classic. A newly elected Senator, elected by a tiny margin over a Republican incumbent, brought down by saying "Macaca", a term that somebody decided "sounds like it might be monkey". The Republican conceeds not only without askng for a re-count, abut with no complaints of "intimidation, lines at the polls, etc"; he lets the system work like Nixon in '60. Of course the media not only has no questions at all about the outcome of a close election, it doesn't even see it as worthy to ask a SINGLE THING about why a sigle newly elected Senator thinks they set foreign policy, nor any specifics of just who it is that they are going to work this "diplomatic solution" with. It is just flat out "good", no need to ask a single thing.

I'll long remember the Time Magazine cover in '94 that showed a characature of Newt Gingerich made up as the Grinch with the caption "How Mean Is He?". Somehow I don't expect a similar cover with Nancy Pelosi on it? Nope, the press is completely unbiased.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good Day for a Funeral

The news was pretty much all in before I got to sleep last night. The only good news was that Tim Pawlenty retained the Governors seat in MN. It may mean that those of us that work for a living can keep a tiny percentage of our paychecks.

I really did go to a funeral today, an uncle that lived a mile up the road from me in my youth. Eighty eight years old and went pretty fast when he went, lived in his home with his wife right up to the last few weeks. The end doesn't get all that much better, lots of family and freinds at a church where he faithfully attendeded. A good life, a fairly quick end, and hope for a better life in heaven. There are worse things than the right kind of a funeral.

Was the Republican loss "the right kind of a funeral". Sorry to say, I really don't see how a thinking person would draw that conclusion, but from the MSM and lefty reactions, it is clear that many mostly feeling people "feel different". The Democrats and MSM didn't run on anything but anger and wishful thinking, so the election didn't really decide anything other than "going 100% negative with no agenda can work".

The Democrats are basically the party of human nature, which is often the same as the party of doing what feels good, or wishful thinking. For a century, they were the party of slavery until Lincoln and the Republicans ended the scourge, but at the very high price of 600K lives. The Democrats sought new lower ground and became the party of Jim Crow for the next 100 years.

They followed that act with some overlap as the party of surrender to communism. Counting the USSR, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and China, communism took something in the 50-100million lives at least. Could it have been stopped earlier? It is always hard to tell, but Reagan and the Republicans got it done yet again. Now we face global Islamic terrorism, and the Democrats have found their calling as the party of surrender to a new menace. Yesterday the odds of victory without the loss of millions of lives went down severely. Surgery for cancer is costly even early, it is usually far more expensive or terminal when we wait and "hope for the best".

Something like 80% of Americans were in favor of the war in Iraq when we went in. Osama and company felt that we were weak in Vietnam, Lebannon, and Somalia, and that we would be weak in Iraq. Some of us thought that we would be different after 9-11. More like the WWII generation. Yesterday we proved that Osama is right, we are going to cut and run, and we will pay the price now, the question is just how high it will be.

Some will say "we were lied to". That kind of thinking is beyond wishful and falls to the most human of natures that says "I won't accept responsibility for my own thoughts, decisions, and actions since it makes me feel better to blame someone else". The idea that Bush KNEW that we wouldn't be able to find WMD is simply beyond the pale. Every piece of evidence and rational conjecture that we have says that he acted on the best information he had, as did the CIA, the congress, and indeed the 80% of Americans that felt that we simply couldn't take the risk. The odds that any of our houses will be destroyed by fire are exceedingly low, yet we almost all carry fire insurance. The odds that Saddam harbored WMD were exceedingly high, and seeing him use them or allow others to use them was very beleiveable. WMD wasn't found in the quantity that we expected. Saying that we are CERTAIN that meant he didn't have WMD is like saying that it is certain that there are no fatal car crashes since we have never witnessed one. However, even if he didn't, the VAST majority of Americans, and virtually ALL of our leadership agreed that it was a risk that we could not accept. It is an abdication of responsibility now to suggest that we are not willing to pay the price for carrying through on what in a democracy is a shared responsibility, yet that is what has happened.

Being a Republican means that one is forced to look at reality, but also that we believe in higher good than human nature and therefore hope. It is human to fall short, and Republicans are just has human as anyone, we just try not to worship at the alter of man and praise vice as virtue. Americans voted on emotion. That is very understandable, but also often very expensive. Let us pray to God that undeserved mercy may be ours and the cost in lives is held lower than would be expected by a hand greater than our own.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night

My wife and I are over at the home of a young couple babysitting for their 1 year old boy while they are out on a long awaitned birthday date. Usually I would be glued to the tube and likely will be later, but since this couple isn't a believer in TV, I'm restricted to "only te net", and it is a lot easier to only check a bit less frequently there.

One of the observations of this year is that the MSM seems very happy with "all negative" as long as it is a Democrat strategy. What was the message for the the Democrats this year? At the most innocuous that can be presented, it was "change", but we all know it wasn't really that. "Bush is bad, evil, incompetent, doesn't listen, lies ... etc". "The Republican Congress is corrupt, out of touch, Bush lapdogs, special interest lapdogs, etc".

What positive things did Democrats suggest? None. Then there is the "suppress the vote" move. There is no doubt that Democrats and the MSM had the Foley scandal in their back pocket for a long time, and brought it out when they did simply to suppress the Christian Conservative vote. It is an old trick, they did it in 2000 with the Bush DWI. They even "double dipped" with the Haggard gay sex scandal for good measure under the "nobody has any morals" kind of heading.

At least at this point, the exit polls are showing "corruption" as the top issue. Gee, I wonder if the roles were reversed and Republicans had managed to tag Democrats with that issue, would it be seen as valid by the MSM? Anyone remember how bogus "values" was seen as 2 short years ago?

If this election continues to go like it looks now, at least we will know that 100% negative with a focus on suppression of the base of the other side can work. I'm sure that the MSM will complain bitterly if Republicans ever do anything similar. Think of how much different this is than the "Contract With America". Of course the MSM didn't like that one either, even though it was a very specific agenda. I guess the bottom line is just that the MSM is never going to like Republicans, so one should stop expecting them to somehow give some consideration to being even handed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What A Democrat Hopes For

The following is from What Will It Take to End the War and it does a pretty good job of hitting the key point of the left that the Democrats have become.

If the Democrats take power with the elections tomorrow, congressional hearings will have a lot of such questions to consider. But what about the moral question? For all of the anguish felt over the loss of American lives, can we acknowledge that there is something proper in the way that hubristic American power has been thwarted? Can we admit that the loss of honor will not come with how the war ends, because we lost our honor when we began it? This time, can we accept defeat?


As always, the answer is defeat for America and defeat for all that would stand up for any form of values in which individuals have responsibility. A favorite phrase that they love to use is "Truth to Power", easily translated into the perpetual anthem of anarchy, "death to authority".

In my youth, the hopeful power to destroy the evil of the overly powerful American capitalist system object of hatred for the left was the Marxist religion of the gulags in the USSR, the "Great Leap Forward" of mass death in China, and the killing fields of Pol Pot. All could "somehow" be blamed on America in the special view of the left. In 1968, they took control of the Democrat party, and now they believe they sit ready to control one of the branches of power yet again.

State controlled mass murderers seemed odd allies in the 60's and 70's, but they were positively benign compared to Muslim Jihadists, Kim Jong-Il, and nuke toting Mullahs in Iran we face today. At least the soulless communist killers mostly had addresses. The addition of global terror forces without addresses that can act in concert with the remaining evil axist powers that do makes the new world much more dangerous.

Well, if the polls are right, at least the victorious Democrats and MSM will have struck a blow in making sure that "hubristic American power" is reduced over the next couple years, with a vacum to be filled by Kim, Iran, and Al Quaeda. I'm sure we can trust those folks to be be rational, reserved and benevolent with their increased freedom of action. Let us all cheer for the defeat of America, the goal of every (oxynoron break) "honest lefty".

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Political Football



Don't expect to see the phote above in the MSM very much. They tried to avoid the Kerry gaffe as much as they could, but it still broke out on them, somewhat again because their hand was forced by the bloggers and more conservative media.

My first reaction was that this is a great example of what kind of a guy Kerry really is. I strongly suspect that he just misspoke, but his arrogance and nastiness came through instantly. Call Rush Limbaugh fat, call Bush stupid, and call Tony Snow an empty suit. Gee, if being in Iraq is stupid, then why did Kerry vote for it? Well before he voted for funding the war he had voted for before he voted against funding the same war. One thing that Kerry is very sure of, he is a super smart guy.

My second thought is that while politics has aspects of a game, it would be great if there was some thought of trying to be even handed in the MSM. It is certainly fine when the "other side", Democrat or Republican jump on somebody that screws up, but one would hope that the MSM might be something of a "voice of reason".

Remember Trent Lott? He made a comment at at B-day party for Strom Thurmond about how things might have been better had Strom been elected as a "Dixiecrat" way back in 1948. What did he mean by that? Well, basically nothing but idle comments at an old mans birthday party. The Democrats (fine with me) and the PRESS, piled on completely. Lott was labled a "racist", aplologized immediately, frequently, and abjectly, but to no avail, and he lost is position as majority leader.

What do we see with Kerry? The press running to his defense, making it seem that the REPUBLICANS are somehow "evil" for "taking advantage", and agreeing with him that somehow it is "improper" for Republicans to take his comment for what he said. What he MEANT to, was of course for a sitting US Senator to call the current US President STUPID in wartime for sending US troops into a situation that the same US Senator voted in favor of. Now THAT is pretty much definition of "intelligent" ... but one which the MSM has no problem with.

If there WERE an unbiased press, one might expect that in BOTH of these cases the parties that looked the worst would be the parties that went after the politician that made a gaff and then promptly and honestly apologized. Kerry would have a bit of a problem with that "prompt and honest", but if he hadn't spent so much history living with the lapdog MSM and thinking that having a "D" next to your name means never having to say you are sorry, may have learned the lesson that when you screw up, you need to apologize.

Will the advent of the press having more than one side with blogs, radio, and Fox eventually drive us to sanity? Maybe, but I suspect that the MSM will continue to tack very hard to the left for a long time to come before a truely moderate middle rises up and provides a voice of reason without the need to look at both sides of the market of ideas to get to the point of reason.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Really Gay

A nice liberal columnist as finally defined what it means to be "really gay". Apparently it involves sending lurid IM messages to underage boys. Not ALL that surprising, since as was pointed out, for at least gay Democrat members of the House of Representatives it also involved having sex with underage boys AND keeping your job for over twenty years.

Leonard Pitts lays it all out for us here. You see Republicans and the "religious right" hate gays because they don't want gay marriage. I guess that is sort of like hating business if you want higher taxes, or hating security for Americans if you want lower military spending. We all know that Democrats and the MSM are totally on board with those ideas, so their views on thinking of gays and gay marriage are totally warranted.

He also points out that Republicans only like blacks that "don't remind anyone they are black". I guess that is sort of like Abdul Jabbar failing to remind people he is tall when he walks into a room. Tallness and being black aren't something apparent, they are much deeper issues. I can only assume that he means that Republicans only like blacks that don't "act black". If pedophilia is part of being gay, I'm wondering what he would require to be certifiably black? Drug use? A criminal record? The mind wanders, but for some reason black people like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel just don't meet his definition. It must fail to include intelligence, dedication, character and career success. Pity, those are the kinds of attributes that evil Republicans find to be completely applicable to both gays and blacks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Foregone Conclusion

In listening to MPR and looking at CNN on the Web, the message is out that "the only way the Republicans can keep control of the House or Senate is if the election is fixed". MPR is positively gleeful that from their polling, virtually every Republican out there including Pawlenty and our local Congressman are going to lose. They can already feel the anticipatory joy of beginning Bush impeachment proceedings.

They may certainly be right, they have used thousands of hours of airtime presenting that the economy is supposed to be bad in the face of record growth GDP, jobs and new market highs. They have presented Iraq as "another Vietnam", even though the casualty figures are an order of magnitude different, and the similarities in most every other way than the media seeing it as "hopeless" are completely DISsimilar. Any sort of Republican ethics issue has been presented as "an example of the corruption of the party", where many similar and worse Democrat issues ($90K of cash in a freezer, Harry Reid with land deals and using campaign funds for "the help") have been barely touched on. The media has fully done their job to fix this election, any allusions of being "even handed" have been fully left behind. It may well be enough.

The following gives another view. It has already been used on the left as "proof that Rove must have a deal with Dibold". I can't help but wonder if some of the certainty hasn't gone too far, and they may be keeping their own base at home because "this election is won for the Democrats". We shall see, even if they win the people that usually end up taking the biggest loss from their policies are the very people that they claim to be helping.


Rove Sees Victory

Karl Rove had lunch with the editors and reporters of the Washington Times yesterday. He apparently exuded confidence:

White House political strategist Karl Rove yesterday confidently predicted that the Republican Party would hold the House and the Senate in next month's elections, dismissing fallout from the sex scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley.

"I'm confident we're going to keep the Senate; I'm confident we're going to keep the House."

Rove said it s "almost impossible" for Democrats to take the Senate; he cited Jim Talent's race in Missouri as one that is moving in the right direction.

Rove's optimism stems in part from the Democrats' dismal record on national security:

"I think they have given us here, especially in the last couple of weeks, a potent set of votes to talk about. You had 90 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-surveillance program, nearly three-quarters of Senate Democrats and 80 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-interrogation act. Something is fundamentally flawed."

Rove also sees Republicans having the financial resources they need for the last three weeks of the campaign; he was confident enough to laugh at some mainstream media reports that exaggerate the Dems' chances:

In the hourlong interview, Mr. Rove was upbeat, telling stories from the campaign trail and joking about skewed political coverage that disproportionately shows Democrats poised to take control of Congress.

Mr. Rove said Republican candidates still hold a huge cash edge over Democrats, which will give them clout in the final three weeks of the campaign.

"This morning, I loved it: The [Associated Press] ran a story saying these Democrat congressional candidates outraised their Republican incumbents in the third quarter. Well, what they didn't say was that part of the reason that they did is that we raised the money earlier so that we'd be able to deploy it," he said.

Rove points out that for most of the undecided voters who will determine the outcome of the election, the campaign has only been going on for around two weeks. He notes that over the next 21 days, Republicans will spend $100 million in targeted House and Senate races.

Rove could be wrong, of course. But I think it is noteworthy that he is not laying the groundwork to deflect blame for defeat by, for example, moaning about the unforeseen consequences of the Foley instant message flap. Instead, he is once again staking his reputation on victory. I find that comforting.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Pirate Looks at 50

While as I commented, Jimmy Buffett isn't very consistent, but I did enjoy the book. It is great that a guy that writes and sings songs, performs, and writes books can create a life as cool as his. Is he really happy? Well it sounds like after a lot of drugs and analysis, and finding a way to finally get along with his second wife, he just may be, at least at a superficial level.

He certainly comes in pretty well on the "he who dies with the most toys wins" scale. Having both a Cessna Citation and a Grumman Albatross is pretty big in the toy department, but it sounds like there are other planes in his private airforce as well. On top of that, houses in Key West, Long Island, Aspen, and it sounds like a Caribbean Island for two. Lack of money and things are not on his list of problems.

It seems that he has discovered a couple of hobbies that he cares about deeply: flying and fishing. He has the resources to be able to pursue those way farther than most people, but he is interested in personally doing well at both of them, and uses the money to help that with guides, co-pilots, training, equipment, etc, but he does get fulfillment out of the accomplishments. He enjoys music, performing, and in many cases the interactions with his fans.

Sort of like the song "Wasting Away in Margaritaville", he pretty much sells escape. The whole Caribbean, Gone Fishing, gone flying, on vacation mentality. He must be a good deal more of a businessman than he lets on, but that is probably part of the deal. To some degree, he IS the product. He is the poster child for the "Jimmy Buffett lifestyle".

The book is well written and fun. While it seems unlikely that the planet could support very many folks living his lifestyle, it is pretty amazing that there is one ... and he doesn't even feel rich!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Top Secret Leak

The following from Michael Barone

The Labor Department Friday announced that the number of jobs increased between April 2005 and March 2006 not by 5.8 million but by 6.6 million. As an editorial in the Wall Street Journal notes, "That's a lot more than a rounding error, more than the entire number of workers in the state of New Hampshire. What's going on here?" The most plausible explanation, advanced by the Journal and by the Hudson Institute's Diana Furchgott-Roth in the New York Sun, is that lots more jobs are being created by small businesses and individuals going into business for themselves than government statisticians can keep track of. Newspaper reports on the number of jobs usually focus on the Labor Department's business establishment survey. But over the past few years, the Labor Department's household survey has consistently shown more job growth than the business establishment survey. The likely explanation: The business establishment survey misses jobs created by new businesses. Our government statistical agencies do an excellent job. But statistics designed to measure the economy of yesterday have a hard time reflecting the economy of tomorrow.

The federal budget deficit has been cut in half in three years, three years faster than George W. Bush called for. Why? Tax receipts were up 5.5 percent in FY 2004, 14.5 percent in FY 2005, and 11.7 percent in FY 2006. That's up 34.9 percent in three years. And that's after the 2003 tax cuts. When you cut taxes, you get more economic activity, and when you get more economic activity, the government with a tax system that is still decidedly progressive gets more revenue.

The bottom line: The private-sector economy is much more robust and creative than mainstream media would have you believe.


Wow, good economic news, now THERE is something that the MSM is REALLY able to keep totally secret. The more I let The Long Tail sink in, the more I realize that we are seeing yet another fundamental economic / business / technical change in my lifetime. From a 10K view:

WWII to Mid to late 60's - The post war boom. If you could manufacture with reasonable capability you could make money. The era of the big mass market, the big corporation, and big labor.

The sick '70s - Nothing kills like success. Japan began to undercut us, fuel prices went up, government regulation and taxes had the golden goose of economic growth on the mat. The unions priced and powered themselves out of relevance. It looked like curtains for the US, and Carter told us the best days were behind us.

The go-go 80's and 90's - Reagan cut the regulations and taxes and freed the engine of US business and the US economy sprinted by Japan and Europe with ease. It was a new economy though. Competitive, non-union, low cost, high stock return, and high innovation. "Just showing up" no longer cut it.

The new millennium bubble and beyond - The "new new economy". Efficiency, connectivity, organic growth, the long tail, usage improving the product and the age of very tight TECHNOLOGICAL customer relationships.

There is a great article on this at O'Reilly Web 2.0. The combination of political bias and attachment to the old world of the late 60's means that much of what counts as "intelligentsia" in the MSM and government is now a few generations behind current.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

50

A week ago today I turned 50. It has been a very busy time at work, but I've also done a bit of celebration with family and friends, including my oldest son coming home from college for the weekend to help wish me a happy birthday. Our house is also completely torn up since we are remodeling the family room in the basement, moving my younger son downstairs to a larger bedroom, and re-doing my beloved office with Techline desk, cabinets, and a bunch of really nice bookcase cabinets. A major change that I'm really looking forward to now, but not to be completed until mid-November. I suppose I can be a bit patient at 50.

Some thoughts on turning 50 seem to be in order. The biggest thought is how important it is to maintain an attitude of thankfulness vs one of anger / outrage / sadness / etc for the blessing of living to 50 in generally good health, great wife, great kids, SUPER cats (they demand top billing), great friends, a job that is way better than many, excellent church home, neighborhood ... and literally on and on. The list of things to be thankful for is literally endless, but thankfulness is not a natural human state.

Case in point, my eldest son got me the book "A Pirate Looks at 50" by Jimmy Buffett. It is a fun book, I'm enjoying reading it, and I'm glad that the writer of "Wasting Away in Margaritaville" is a multi-millionaire with a Grumman Albatross seaplane and a Cessna Citation jet, apparently among other planes, along with houses in Aspen, Key West, Long Island and a couple other spots. It sounds like an absolutely amazing life, but I'm struck by a couple of things. First of all, he is obviously liberal, and I suspect that hardly a single liberal out there thinks that Jimmy ought to change his lifestyle. Certainly not Jimmy.

There is a point in the book where he talks about talking to his wife and daughters up in their Citation while he is flying his Albatross below at 150 MPH. Right about that time he breaks into talking about how good he feels about the work he does to protect the environment and how important the environment is. Here is he is with two monster planes sucking as much as fuel as a small town of SUVs would in a year, and it bothers him not at all to point out the poor job the US does on the environment. A few pages later, while talking about checking into the same compound in Costa Rica that Bush I used when he stays there, he comments on how "Americans need to be more humble". I can tell from the writing he sees no irony in this at all, because he "feels good about it in his heart".

Again, it is fine with me that he does all that he does. That is his business. It is also funny to read that he DOESN'T consider himself rich, because he feels he can't afford a Gulfstream IV jet. He has to get by with a Citation. It shows that it truly is all very relative when it comes to money. He has a descent amount of "righteous indignation" about US foreign, environmental, and economic policy (among other things I'm sure). He just has that while celebrating his 50th B-day while flying around Central and South America with two large planes and an entourage of friends and servants. It is indeed a wonder to live in a free country.

Personally, I feel very lucky to have achieved the much more modest level of wealth that I've been blessed with, even though if falls WELL short of the point where either a Albatross or Citation are in my future. I suspect that it may be that money earned by having a hit song gives less of an insight into the "cost of making money" than a 28 year career at a major corporation. He seems to love entertaining, and when you are good at entertaining, you are very highly paid.

Even better, society seems to feel that entertainers are "worth it". Somehow a guy writing a song about drinking too much and ending up with millions is way more acceptable than somebody working their way up some corporate ladder for a lifetime and getting a similar amount of money for taking a CEO job where they are responsible for 100s of K of employees, 10s of billions of dollars of revenue and billions of dollars of profit, and likely 10s or 100s of billions of dollars of market capitalization. It is "unfair" that a guy can make the big bucks for that kind of job, but a good drinking song for the same kind of cabbage goes down a lot easier. That is just the kind of world many folks live in, consistency is truly not an issue.

Given the track that I chose, the "cost of making money" has been plenty, and I have zero desire or envy for the CEO that makes the millions. If I could write a book that made me some millions in the cosmic dollar lottery, that would be great, since I suspect that I'd enjoy writing the book. It isn't that I don't enjoy many aspects of my corporate job, I've just realized over a long career that they tend to not pay you the most for the parts of the job that are the most fun. Programming is so much fun that a lot of folks do it for free in Open Source Software today. Even if they don't, it is now being done in India, China, and beyond. Allocating dollars to tasks, tracking tasks, fighting about what business trade-offs to do make and asking people to do work and bothering them when they are late, off course, or it is just hard to understand what they are doing ... those things tend to be less fun, but often better paid.

As I write on, I realize there is a bit of wistful jealousy in my soul. It would certainly be "nice" to be extremely highly paid for exactly what one wanted to do. There is a core difference there between the conservative and the liberal soul. Yes, it would be nice. It would be nice to be able to eat like a pig, not exercise, and be in great shape. Some folks have the genetics to come a lot closer to that than I do, I guess that is "unfair". The liberal looks at such "unfairness" where they can and tries to figure out how to "fix it" ... or really, how to get someone else like the government to fix it. Conservatives have all the same emotions I think, but at some point we pulled up our socks and said that even falling well short of "nirvana" on our own was way better than a life of bitching and ingratitude.

It is always very human to bitch, and from the vantage point of 50, I can guess that age will always throw some curves that will make it even easier. I'll do my best to remain thankful.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Whose Ox?

The old saw about "whose ox is being gored" is certainly operative with the treatment of the Foley story. Anybody remember Gary Studds? No? Odd isn't it?


This is only Wikipedia, but anyone with a bent that isn't 100% MSM sheep can find a lot more.

Gerry Eastman Studds (born May 12, 1937) is a retired American politician, born in Mineola, New York. He served as a Democratic Congressman for Massachusetts from 1973 until 1997. He was the first openly homosexual member of the US Congress and, more generally, the first openly gay national politician in the US. In 1983, he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and was censured by the House of Representatives.


NOTE, he had SEX with an under age page in '73, and he STAYED as a DEMOCRAT in congress until '97. Slightly mild difference in treatment there isn't there? There wasn't any talk radio, Fox News, or Internet then. The MSM was pretty busy getting rid of Nixon, so what is a little gay sex with an intern as long as the Congressman has a D next to his name? So like "where was their leadership"?

It looks pretty likely that this particular incident is an "October Surprise" to keep the Republican base at home and let the Democrats take over congress. My bottom line though is that if we lose because we have different principals that Democrats, then great. If Politics is just "win at any cost", then it truly isn't worth paying attention to. Bill Clinton perjured himself before a grand jury. Impeaching him cost the Republicans votes. The right thing is worth doing even when it costs something, and really ESPECIALLY when it costs something. Those are Christian, Conservative and RIGHT principals. They are not to be found on the left, in the modern Democrat party, or in the MSM.

Some combination of the MSM or the Democrats got a hold of a good nasty card and they played at exactly the right time. Most likely it isn't recoverable. If Hastert knew there was a problem and he did nothing, then he ought to go down too. To do anything less would be to behave like the Democrats and the MSM, and then not only politics but life becomes meaningless.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Long Tail


Completed the subject book by Chris Anderson on my recent fishing trip. The graphic shows the statistical "long tail" from which the book gets it's title. The old 80/20 rule and a number of other statistical models net a graph where a large number of products, people, profits, or something else are crowded in the head of the graph and then a "long tail" of diminishing numbers heads off to "infinity" on the right of the graph. However, if one can negotiate it, there can be similar, or even more demand in the long tail than in the traditional "hits". The future according to this book is "selling less (units) of more things".

Anderson argues that the long tail in markets is an aberration of the last hundred years of technology. The rise of national newsprint, movies, radio and TV all led to "scarcity marketing". The number of hours, stations, and pages of mass market advertising capability was "scarce" (at least limited), and so was the carrying capacity of even the biggest stores. We became a "hit driven culture", where we all wanted to watch the same shows, see the same movies and follow the same suburban "ideal lifestyle". Everything became about "star power" in people, products, or ideas. He feels that culture peaked somewhere in the 50's - 60's, but then started a slow decline.

The internet has created a tectonic shift, and the "mass culture" is radically changing very rapidly now, and headed toward a "niche culture" where the majority of products and even ideas are out in "the long tail". Amazon, iTunes, Google, eBay, Netflix, Blogs, Wikipedia, and a host of others are all raised as current examples of "connecting with the tail". Amazon and iTunes have nearly infinite "shelf space" and little or no cost of inventory. He points out how Google and other search technologies provide the "filtering capacity" so the infinite choice of the tail can be effectively navigated. Interesting contrast to "The Paradox of Choice" here, partially because the Paradox failed to recognize that the new world of the net also provides more powerful tools that allow the choice to be managed. People that never left their home town had no use for maps and celestial navigation skills. Once a set of people begin to travel, those tools become critical. So it is with the new world of "infinite choice", attempting to deal with it without the tools doesn't work.


He ends the book with some key rules for business in the long tail, the two key ones being:

1). Make everything available
2). Help me find it

For those that have used Google and Amazon, most of the other items are "obvious", but that book is worth a read as a pretty good summary of a major change that seems to be going on the world, even though it doesn't really predict where that change will end up, the information on how to deal with it will no doubt make it one of the key business books.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Paradox of Choice

Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More, Barry Schwartz

I finished up the subject book a week ago, but am up at Williams Narrows Resort on Lake Winnibigoshish in Nothern Minnesota for a few days fishing and have been lazy on the Blog. The first couple days the weather was great and so was the fishing. Decent numbers of fish from the 14" inch size up to 20" on the rockpiles along the N side of the main lake along with some success on crankbaits in Cutfoot Sioux. Yesterday the weather changed and so did the fishing, it has been slow since, but we have still been able to pick up a few, so not the complete drought. It has been nice to have a top for the boat since last night as there has been a good deal of rain.

I really enjoyed the Paradox book, even though I tend to think that the author misses the fact that humans and technology tend very much to adapt to problems. Yes, "too much choice" CAN be a problem, but it doesn't HAVE to be. He points out how all the available choices that we face today can cause anxiety, and regret as we realize that "wow, I could have had a V8!" after having mere tomato juice, but it doesn't have to be that way, and the alternative (not enough choice) is not really that good.

His point is that as the number of available choices rises, the ability of any consumer to select the "best alternative" becomes more and more difficult. Worse, with the increasing rate of change and the available mass information, a consumer is going to see and be able to compare themselves with many others, and are likely to be aware when they make a poor choice. This leads to a greater "decision cost" as they try to decide, and for many consumers it means that they are less satisfied with what they purchase, as they either have specific evidence (or are at least suspicious) that they didn't select the best alternative.

He goes deeper to correctly lament the effect of "loss of values". He uses the example of marriage as a case where people that for religious, cultural, or personal reasons are able to simply decide that "they are married for life" have a happier marriage. It turns out that "always being in the market" creates dissatisfaction and tends to lead to a series of divorces, none of which produces a marriage as happy as the person who "limited their choices". He goes on to talk a bit about how "on average", the Amish are happier than the rest of us, and their lives are simpler and they have less choice. He somehow seems to miss the concept that they also believe in more than a material world and pure consumerism being the basis for a happy life.

It seems he manages to point out some items that are likely obvious to all but the most jaded pure materialist consumer, but misses the idea that deeper meaning doesn't depend on growing a beard, wearing black and living an agrarian lifestyle. For a man of ideas, he seems to miss the fact that ideas are way more powerful for humans than "things", and it is quite possible to realize that while living at even the forefront of the technological world. He also seems to somehow miss the fact that much of the "noise" of the modern world of choice can be filtered with variants of the very same technology that has created it. "Google" being a primary example, but there are countless others. In the area of electronic gadgetry for example, I like CNET for advice. I've decided that I will voluntarily limit my choices to some of their top picks, rather than do all the research myself. Therefore, no matter how many choices there are in the real world, my set of choices is small.

There is a lot of "left world view" in Paradox. I'm often struck by how the far left eventually decides that the "masses" can't be left with the full choice of the market economy, and "something must be done". It is also interesting how frequently they are drawn to the fringes of traditional isolated religious groups like the Amish to attempt to make their point. The left is often driven by envy to such a degree that they become fixated on even the idea that "someone may have chosen better", or "be happier", or even be "enabled" to POTENTIALLY make "better choices" or "live a better life". They tend to have an extreme problem though in their definition of "better". They seek to view economic choices in terms of "objective measures" like income or assets. They then seek to quantify "happiness" in the same way with some sort of "survey says" mentality.

To those who already see life as more than just a materialist chase, it becomes very evident that the "Paradox" thinking has completely missed most everything. A combination of sadness and the danger of the left is very visible as one realizes that once they have completed their "objective analysis", they see "no other alternative" than to forcibly limit choice for ALL in order to "increase happiness" by the measures that THEY choose.

Switchpod

PB Article

The son of a long time friend from work and fishing started up a Podcasting company on his own at age 15 and sold it this summer for $200K in stock and a $40K a year part-time salary to continue working on it. Small part of the opportunity in the new economy that gets not a whole lot of media attention. Note that while his monetary gain is much greater than other teens, he didn't "take anything away" from other teens working at local burger joints or stocking shelves. The value he created is new value, value that didn't exist prior to the innovation of creation of the company. While the left tends to look at all business as a "zero sum game" where when one succeeds, others are forced to fail, MOST of the modern information economy is not this way. New value is created and the entire market rises with the addition of the new value. The left will of course lament that the value creator usually benefits the most, but being on the left means that it is very hard to be happy about anyone doing well, because you have allowed envy to become your dominant thought vs appreciation for the success of others.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hearts, Minds and Calcium

In the process of my physical for age 50 I was treated to a Cardiac CT scan. The procedure is relatively easy as medical tests go. You lay on a slab that moves you in and out of the big CT donut with some leads attached to your chest. The technology allows a calcium score to be calculated that is considered a new indicator for the potential of a cardiac event. Calcium in the arteries is "atherosclerosis" or "hardening of the arteries". It ISN'T "blockage", but they believe that it is a precursor to blockage. I managed to fail it very well with a score for my age that would put only 6 people out of 100 being worse off.

The test was a week ago Thursday, with the results the following day, so I got a full week to enjoy "limbo" relative to how bad this really is. Friday AM I took a stress test, which fortunately I passed with flying colors. A good hour was spent in the PM talking to a couple of I'm sure very high priced Mayo cardiologists. The bottom line is "it is another risk factor, but it is too early to give a solid % of exactly how bad it is". What it means for sure is "Lipitor, low cholesterol diet, lose weight, more medication to reduce blood pressure and be sure to keep up all the exercise".

Interestingly, we don't really have the technology to predict "sudden death heart attacks", although the Cardiac CT is often oversold as just that. At least at Mayo, the next test after the Cardiac CT is the stress test, and they have no inclination to do a Angiogram where they put a probe into the heart unless there is chest pain and/or a negative indicator on a stress test. Putting a probe into the heart is not without risk, and unless someone is 50% blocked or greater, they aren't going to stent it anyway. They will proceed with the same drug therapies that I'm now on in hopes of some level of reversal, or at least slowing the deposits so that the rest of the population catches up with the patient.

Everyone over "40 or so" carries around an increasing risk that "something will go wrong" and a piece of plaque (that nearly everyone that age has some of) will break off and lodge in the wrong place. When it does, things go bad in a hurry and life is in danger. They have a lot of theories about the mechanism; inflammation is a leading guess, and they check the blood for something called "C-reactive protein", yet another risk factor which was fortunately normal in my case.

So, I embark on an attempt to radically change my weight profile ... even though a relatively svelte Moose at 6'4" 280lbs, it is time to work toward the lower bounds of "lost Moosehood" in the lower 200lb register. Some nut claims that even for 6'4" and "massively boned" (size 14 ring) something like an anorexic 240 is "obese". "Living" seems a better idea than "living large", so a smaller feedbag is already in evidence.

Certainly I would have preferred a great score and no need to make any changes, but being given the opportunity to make changes and hopefully avoid a heart attack seems like a blessing that should be looked at positively. The "easy week" of weight loss is behind me with 6lbs down. It ALWAYS seems easy for the first week ... but when 10% of your bodyweight is 28lbs, it ought to be ;-(

I'm thinking that the logical thing is to "blame the skinny" and lay some sort of a "skinny tax" on them. I've seen some of those high metabolism types eat like there was no tomorrow and not put on weight. Such things are simply "not fair", and any decent Government would find some way to put those folks in their places as fast as possible! It must be Bush's fault that it hasn't been done already!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Will On Wal-Mart

George Will does a few great columns every year, this one is one of his best and WAY worth a read all the way through. Showing my ignorance of how long things live on the Internet, I'm going to both copy it in here and link it. Take your pick, the link is likely prettier, but once it is in here it gets copied to my e-mail, so it goes up in my 2.7GB free Google archive, which means I sure hope it lasts "forever".

I often comment on the nature of what I see as a "looking glass world"; we all have a remarkable tendency to exhibit the same traits or thoughts that we abhor in others in some form that is shifted from the original we think we hate. Like a mirror shows a reversed image. Many times those "shifts" are not as precise as a mirror, but they can be close; a person that constantly harps on greed is easy prey for its mirror, envy. Unfortunately, none of us is exempt from this human trait, and maybe the best we can hope for is awareness, but like awareness of many other things; say aging and death for example, mere knowledge does little to avoid our peril.

But potentially awareness can at least reduce our certainty. The religious can often fall prey to fundamentalism where whey believe that they have discovered the full truth of God and lose their humility. For liberals, typically lacking any God but man, there seems to be no choice but fundamentalism. The must believe in the rightness of their truth, since they have manufactured it, and have no higher power to appeal or bow to. Thus, condescension is pretty much a way of life for the left, and Will captures a piece of it very well here.

Liberalism As Condescension


September 14, 2006
Liberalism as Condescension
By George Will

EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. -- This suburb, contiguous with Chicago's western edge, is 88 percent white. A large majority of the customers of the Wal-Mart that sits here, less than a block outside Chicago, are from the city and more than 90 percent of the store's customers are African-American.

One of whom, a woman pushing a shopping cart with a stoical 3-year-old along for the ride, has a chip on her shoulder about the size of this 141,000 square- foot Wal-Mart. She applied for a job when the store opened in January and was turned down because, she said, the person doing the hiring "had an attitude.'' So why is the woman shopping here anyway? She looks at the questioner as though he is dimwitted and directs his attention to the low prices of the DVDs on the rack next to her.

Sensibly, she compartmentalizes her moods and her money. Besides, she should not brood. She had lots of company in not being hired: More than 25,000 people applied for the 325 openings.

Which vexes liberals like John Kerry. (He and his helpmeet last shopped at Wal-Mart when?) In 2004 he tested what has become one of the Democrats' 2006 themes: Wal-Mart is, he said, "disgraceful'' and symbolic of "what's wrong with America.'' By now, Democrats have succeeded, to their embarrassment (if they are susceptible to that), in making the basic numbers familiar:

The median household income of Wal-Mart shoppers is under $40,000. Wal-Mart, the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector in this galaxy, has almost as many employees (1.3 million) as the U.S. military has uniformed personnel. A McKinsey company study concluded that Wal-Mart accounted for 13 percent of the nation's productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s, which probably made Wal-Mart about as important as the Federal Reserve in holding down inflation. By lowering consumer prices, Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates. Wal-Mart and its effects save shoppers more than $200 billion a year, dwarfing such government programs as food stamps ($28.6 billion) and the earned-income tax credit ($34.6 billion).

People who buy their groceries from Wal-Mart -- it has one-fifth of the nation's grocery business -- save at least 17 percent. But because unions are strong in many grocery stores trying to compete with Wal-Mart, unions are yanking on the Democratic Party's leash, demanding laws to force Wal-Mart to pay wages and benefits higher than those that already are high enough to attract 77 times more applicants than there were jobs at this store.

The big-hearted progressives on Chicago's City Council, evidently unconcerned that the city gets zero sales tax revenues from a half a billion dollars that Chicago residents spend in the 42 suburban Wal-Marts, have passed a bill that, by dictating wages and benefits, would keep Wal-Marts from locating in the city. Richard Daley, a bread-and-butter Democrat, used his first veto in 17 years as mayor to swat it away.

Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by ... liberals.

Before they went on their bender of indignation about Wal-Mart (customers per week: 127 million), liberals had drummed McDonald's (customers per week: 175 million) out of civilized society because it is making us fat, or something. So, what next? Which preferences of ordinary Americans will liberals, in their role as national scolds, next disapprove? Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

No. The current issue of The American Prospect, an impeccably progressive magazine, carries a full-page advertisement denouncing something responsible for "lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses'' and of having brought "great hardship and despair to people and communities throughout the world.''

What is this focus of evil in the modern world? North Korea? The Bush administration? Fox News Channel? No, it is Coca-Cola (number of servings to Americans of the company's products each week: 2.5 billion).

When liberals' presidential nominees consistently fail to carry Kansas, liberals do not rush to read a book titled "What's the Matter With Liberals' Nominees?'' No, the book they turned into a best-seller is titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?'' Notice a pattern here?
georgewill@washpost.com