Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waiting with Bated Breath

Tomorrow is the new year. I'm going out on a limb and publishing my resolutions. I'll surely regret it, but, well, it's likely the only serious chance that I'll follow through on them. To avoid embarrassment.

Until then, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections in General

As the old year draws to a close and the holidays slide by, it is easy to think about the things which have happened in our lives. I think this is because in memory we are perhaps most human. Reflection means we can pass judgment on people and things, as well as on ourselves.

Times like these are exactly when we realize what is important to us, and hopefully why whatever that is is meaningful to ourselves. I find that memory brings the strongest emotions forward, and that it is when we live in the moment that memory will serve us best over the years.

For all the pictures and old family movies and now e-mails which I have amassed, it is the things which I do not have a solid record of which mean the most. I have no picture of my oldest son's first T-Ball at bat, my next son's simple groundout which scored a winning run precisely because he hit behind a runner, or my daughter's 7 consecutive foul liners which startled her teammates on the bench every time the ball screamed towards them, yet they mean more to me in remembrance than the few team photos ever will. Even when we have a lot of pictures, as with my wedding, it is what exactly happened on that day which comes to mind more than any quick pic which was taken and stored. I don't need the pictures; I lived the event.

That's why I'm not particularly fond of picture taking or video recording events. It all too often distracts from living the event. And that is what should matter. Be human. Live the day rather than live for the photo op. In the end, the high points of our lives will be much richer.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It doesn't get any worse than this.

They teased us. Teased us right until the very end. Actually scored quickly, which was precisely what they needed to do, after falling ten points behind in the fourth quarter of yesterday's game. Of course, they immediately gave up another touchdown on a long bomb to replace that lead for the Green Bay Packers. In the end they lost 31-21 en route to becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history.

What did I say back in September? Oh, yes: never, EVER, believe in the Detroit Lions. That quick score was a fluke, that 'just enough' they always manage to offer which makes it seem like they might actually pull one out. Horrendous. Simply awful.

Thankfully, it should be the last I'll have to say about the Lions until at least draft day on April 25th. They'll draft exactly the wrong guy, I'm sure, but hey, that's the Lions. Never believe.

Never.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Value of Recycling

Today is the day that we take our recyclables to the recycling center. As I've mentioned before I'm not particularly a fan of recycling. That does not, however, mean I am diametrically opposed to it.

Unless I miss my guess, I think the conservative position on recycling is akin to the conservative position on almost everything else: if it's necessary, truly useful, advances the safety of human beings or, quite frankly, if it pays without violating any moral norms, we are open to it. This list by no means exhausts the questions we might have about recycling or any other issue. It merely sets the table for discussion.

We are not, no matter what liberals may say about us, obstinately opposed to change. We only ask that the change is genuinely worthwhile or serves a greater purpose than what we were doing before. There's no point being fools about it: if recycling is what we have to do to keep planet Earth habitable for us, then we should do it. I am not convinced that it saves the planet all that much wear and tear. I am merely stating that if it can be reliably demonstrated that without recycling we, or our heirs, will die out due to our lack of proper stewardship, then we ought to recycle heavily.

The trouble is that I don't see that being the case, and the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of those who think it is rather than on those of us don't. It is fair to ask: why must I change my habits because you think it good? Give me something concrete and we'll talk. Otherwise, I am well within my rights to wonder whether anything projected over a large scale is actually predictable. Telling me that without recycling we'll be piled with trash or run over with landfills within a couple hundred years is nonsense on its own face. Scare tactics merely scare. How about a little rationality, a little perspective? If you're right, the sanity of your cause will come through.

Why shouldn't I ask whether the process will pay me? It strikes me that we give away paper, plastic, glass jars and so on, solely for someone else to benefit from it. If it pays, why can't I get paid for it? The answer, essentially, is that these products don't really pay anyone unless given to them. They must be had in large quantities or they aren't worth handling; the true value of those products are virtually nil. Yet I can and have gotten cold hard cash out of my scrap iron, aluminum, and copper. Why? Because they hold a decent value even after their initial use. Even now I am willing to concede that if there is a greater necessity, something beyond monetary value which I ought to consider, then I should consider it. If we will die out by about 2025, or especially by next Tuesday, without recycling, then let's do it and forget about who gets paid what. Otherwise, it's just scare tactics again.

Is recycling truly useful? Certainly for a few, but for the general society? You're asking that a lot of people go to a significant effort to turn in garbage; again, where is the empirical proof or practical reason for it? I'm not all that interested in how recyclables are used outside of that context. So there are playgrounds where shredded old tires can soften a kid's fall: would there be no other ways of doing this, ways perhaps better, with new materials? I don't know the answer. I'm only asking. But I am within my rights to expect a good answer.

As it stands now, my attitude is live and let live. If you want to recycle, then recycle. Only don't force your preferences upon me without just cause. Your say so, no matter how heartfelt, is not good enough.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Give Symbols their Meaning.

There is a bit of grumbling going on about some of Barack Obama'a selections of people and things for his inaugural. I commented about one aspect the other day: the evangelical minister who will give an invocation. Many now are complaining about him being sworn in on the Lincoln Bible. "It's only a symbolic gesture", one friend lamented to me yesterday over Christmas dinner.

What the President-elect is doing may well be little more than gestures, sops tossed towards the right in a perhaps overwrought attempt to make us feel comfortable with him, to make us feel 'included'. Indeed if I were a betting man I would be inclined to agree. Liberals generally don't care what conservatives think or feel: they do what they want. Regardless, let's play fair: maybe he does mean it. He surely recognizes that we will agree on little; perhaps this is his way of saying that he nonetheless recognizes our part in the culture, our contributions to our nation.

When all gets said and done, it is at least arguably unfair to say (as we have) that he doesn't care about us and then decry any attempts he makes towards our affinity. But what concerns me more is the idea that he's only 'using' symbols. Again, yes, he may only be using them; but we must be careful about dismissing symbols as 'only' symbolic. We risk putting our own respect and admiration for symbols onto the dustbin.

Old Glory, statues of war heroes, elephants and donkeys even: only symbols, but they represent very real and true people, things, and ideals. Hasn't it been the left, generally, who show no respect for symbols? Do we want to be like that? Once we are, the symbols themselves will grow meaningless. Do we want that?

If you want to be upset at all, be upset that perhaps he is employing symbols wrongly or selfishly. I don't know that such is the case, but that type of concern would at the worst be anger better spent. Don't dismiss his use of symbols lest you dismiss the symbols. At that point, it truly would not matter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Venite, Adoremus Dominum!

I drink too much. I have lazy streak a yard wide and a mile long. I do not do enough for the poor and downtrodden, and I do not do enough for my family. I am unfair and unkind to people I don't even know, and to too many that I do know. I waste time on trifles, time which could and should be used for better purposes. Yet God sent His only Son, for the redemption of souls like mine.

As St. Paul says, Christ 'emptied himself' and became one of us. Because, in part, he had to become like us so that we might understand him. So also that we may not say He was unfair; he faced trials like we do, lost friends, fasted and prayed, and ultimately died on trumped up charges. For the salvation of souls; for my salvation. He wants a personal relationship with each one of us so much that he gave 'that last true measure of devotion', as Lincoln said of the troops at Gettysburg but which sounds more appropriate here at Christmas, to be said for the One who best understood devotion.

He has come. He has come for us!

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Et in terra pax hominibus!

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Spirit

Tonight, as they say, is the night. It's Christmas Eve, and all the preparations are just about in order. I have to thank my wife and daughter for the overwhelming majority of that work; I made a trip or two to the store and that's it. Thanks, ladies! To simply sit back and enjoy is gift enough for me, and I appreciate it.

My favorite part of the whole Christmas season comes now. We'll meet at church before Midnight Mass and sing carols, and the church will be lit up right as Mass starts, with the glory of Christmas morning following. Our parish, Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit, MI, is a spectacular old building, built when they knew what churches should look like. I miss our old parish, St. Dominic's, a victim to declining inner city Catholic population, but this one certainly is a grand old dame.

I don't want to turn this into a rant, but I'll risk that by saying that I would eschew every trapping of the holiday, every inkling of conspicuous consumption, for people to simply sit back and reflect on Christmas itself. What does it mean? How do we properly enjoy it? What exactly would be a decent balance of celebration and reverence?

Personally, I find it in those carols as we wait for Mass. That's when the appreciation appears for me: the anticipation of the Christ Child coming for our sakes. That's when I get the shivers and goose bumps, and come near tears. That's when Christmas comes for me. I hope so for you as well.

Adeste Fidelis. May the blessing of Christmas be upon you, now and for the coming year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Stream of Consciousness Entry.

The Detroit Lions are 0-15. They are the first NFL team to start 0-15, said a sportswriter in today's Detroit Free Press. Not that it matters, but can 15 games into a 16 game season be accurately referred to as a 'start'?

Barack Obama is taking heat over the minister he selected to give an invocation at his inaugural. Rick Warren is too conservative, say the liberals. That is certainly not surprising. More surprising to me is that Obama invited him, under the guise of 'coming together' as a nation. That concerns me more than any backlash against pastor Warren. Is the President-elect on the level or simply offering a sop to the right wing in America? Either way, I hope he sticks to his guns. That would be a true test of his reaching across ideological lines.

Not that I expect any significant compromising from Mr. Obama as president. Inviting an evangelical to speak at a public event is one thing. Actually risking your political neck in upsetting your core supporters is another. I can't see that ever happening, but I'll give him his first 100 days and see.

Really cold here in Day-twa, and more snow tomorrow. maybe a move south wouldn't be such a bad thing. To all you global warming nutbars, PHHHT!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Nature of Knowledge.

And looking out on high I saw Aristotle, the Master of Those Who Know, ringed by the great souls of philosophy.
-Dante, The Inferno

The exact translation of the line I paraphrase above seems in some dispute; what Dante is saying precisely is beyond my poor academic powers to determine. But the gist is reasonably accurate: the poet was speaking of Aristotle, and Aristotle was being commended for seeking and holding and teaching real knowledge.

Not, of course, that Aristotle's knowledge was perfect; no one's is. The overriding point is that we can know; we can hold a real knowledge of and appreciation for persons, things, and events.

Many thinkers today do not accept this preposition. My professors of education (I will not call them teachers) were very open in that they did not believe that there were any things true for all time and all places. In that light, should we be surprised that so many schools do such a poor job of education?

Questions of religion are tossed off as little more than personally interpretive systems which, at best, only help individuals cope with the traumas of this world. Could this be a reason that reverence for anything beyond the person involved has paled lately?

In politics, issues are little more than vague platitudes which help people get elected. Perhaps that is why men and women of depth and understanding eschew elective offices, for they understand that real things are at stake and are too busy actually dealing with them in real time?

Moral virtue is now all too often seen as a myth; should we wonder why there is so little respect for people and institutions?

All of this and far greater errors are based on the idea that we cannot really know anything. The fact is, if that axiom is right (please ignore such irony this moment, for we all know it's there but isn't the point here and now), if there is no universal knowledge which we can all, if we wish, understand, then there is no meaning in the world or to life.

Do not fear. That cannot be the case. Aristotle and all the dead white guys, and a great many others of varying races and creeds (for truth is eternal and thus widely spread across cultures and peoples) have shown us that we can know. Forget the liberal academics who have no respect for that tenet; it shows only their ignorance. Ignore the science trumps religion tribes; they will not accept that knowledge has different tests in different areas. In science, the test of truth is empirical. In philosophy, the test is Reason. With Theology, the standard of evidence is Faith. In the end, all knowledge compliments itself across these three major branches of her, that goddess we call Wisdom.

We can know. Therefore we can act. We can act for the greater good of ourselves and our world. We can do what we must with the clarity that truth is with us, that it dwells among us and at all levels. In the end, that is why we will win and the liberal elements across the spectrum will lose. We have something to stand on. They have a bedrock of air.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Very Catholic Rant Redux - Or - I'm Becoming a Curmudgeon, Part Four in an Everlasting Series.

I cannot believe that I forgot about my vow to curmudgeonliness. My rant the other day was supposed to be cranky, and I ended up being positive. That just fuels to this fire, doesn't it?

The priest should not face the congregation, am I right? He's leading the service, for crying out loud. The bus driver doesn't face the passengers, does he? Face the altar, not the crowd. You're Christ's representative on earth, not to Earth. That was him.

And what about a return to the office of acolyte while we're at it? You want to know why we're not getting enough priests, it's because we aren't encouraging it. Make it so that assisting the priest at Mass, at least if you're male, that's right, ladies, is the first step towards the priesthood. That's how it ought to be.

Why not employ Latin? It's a tradition of the Church, and unites Catholics everywhere. When everything's in the local tongue, you get division, not community. What's more, translations must naturally grow farther from the root language, if we're not very, very careful. We can't readily believe that hundreds of languages say the exact same thing, can we? The prayers of consecration are supposed to be identical all around the globe. If they're in Latin, that ain't a problem.

And people in the pews will learn it, too, if that's the case. Haven't they had to learn all those hokey love one another hymns since the sixties? You expect that, but you don't think can learn a smidgen of a language. What gives?

Start actually refusing to give abortion supporting politicians communion. It's not like it's a secret, where they stand. Challenge them; force them to live by the creed they claim to support or admit they've left it. Why am I supposed to be o-so-open to all yet they can't be told to tow the line on a very basic, straightforward issue? I'm told to change my conservative ways with great frequency. How about they change, and actually act Catholic?

Act Catholic. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? If we act too much like we're only another part of the world, we may soon not be distinguishable from it.

Do I need to say more?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wha....?

Since when do we get two inches of snow per hour in Detroit? My back hurts just thinking about shoveling...

To my son in Cuber with all those detainees...today I have to imagine you're glad you're there! I miss the days I could wake you and your brother up and make you clear the walks!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Knee Jerks and the Moral Imperative.

Yesterday I spoke a bit about how many shallow thinkers are knee jerk, and that liberals take advantage of that. I suppose it is only fair to allow that there are knee jerks across the political and philosophic spectrum. Of course there are; but the more conservative, more traditional thinking ones, however shallow their reactions may be, are safer than the rest.

Those who react to stimuli rather than act on principle, the ones who respond in selfish ways to the conditions in their lives instead of really thinking about what they might truly need or what may be best for society in general, pose a threat to everyone's well being. This includes, yes, right wing reactionaries. But they at least have principle on their side, however tenuously the connection may be. They are, dare I say it, on the right side. We must keep them in our camp for two reasons.

First, if someone is starting from the correct point of view there is a greater chance of leading them into holding the right attitudes for the right reasons. If the foundation is there, a sturdy building may be built. Second, in holding to the best principles they are themselves more likely to lead others into the fold. Perhaps their obstinacy may demonstrate to others that they might actually be on to something, especially considering that truth is its own best calling card, one which can be read even in the dimmest light.

Liberal knee jerks, however, on their own level teach selfishness. They may occasionally lead someone onto the path of righteousness, but that would be incidental in the way that a bad example is good as a lesson in error. Poor thinking by and large only leads to poorer thinking.

We see that in the sexual permissiveness of our society. One of the reasons, for example, that gay marriage is wrong is that acceptance of one type of error easily leads to acceptance of other errors. Once a taboo is broken, and that could be any taboo mind you, it is easier to break more even in seemingly unrelated areas. For we are creatures of habit, and poor habits in one aspect of our lives may lead to poor habits in others. If sexual morality is off the table as liberals wish, then it really is a short hop to wondering whether stealing is wrong. For the moral imperative, the Tao of C.S. Lewis if you will, is a whole. Disease in one part of society is bad for the entire community just as a cancerous lung threatens the whole body.

True, conservative knee jerks may drive people away by their callousness, and shame on them for that when and as it may happen. Yet even then, if we are to believe that we are actually responsible for ourselves, the person driven off is no less responsible for seeking the just and true. For we are still obliged to seek the true and the just and act accordingly. It is how we become better people.

So cut the right wing curmudgeon a little slack. He at least has tradition on his side. The left have only the shallow pool of selfishness. It can dry out in the sun. A pool of good thought is more readily able to become an ocean of justice. It will withstand the heat of the moment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Depths of Ignorance

"Republicans? They evil."

I should not be shocked to hear such commentary, especially after some twenty five years of political commentary. It's reflective of a lower class, knee jerk view of the political scene, an attitude of which liberals take full advantage.

You must understand that the speaker of that quote, I know by first hand knowledge, is not the sharpest tack in the box. He's 'a bubble off plumb' as a heating contractor I know would say. But no matter: the salient point is that the man clearly does not think things through. He wants what he wants because he wants it, and someone should just give it to him. He believes what he believes because it suits his belief system, and nothing more. This is the very definition of modern liberalism. And no fair asking questions about whether it is deserved or moral or merited. Society should simply give him what he wants because he wants it. I know this because I have spoken to him frequently. He is a student of mine, and something of a slacker.

Liberals play to this mentality, obviously enough, by promising him everything he wants. That's essentially how Barack Obama became our president-elect, though Republicans not acting Republican over the last few years surely helped. The left craves power (they are a showy, vain lot) and they get power by relying on the basest aspect of humanity: jealousy. It's not fair that other people should have what I don't. It's not fair that better paying jobs go to other folks. It's not fair that I should have to work for what I get. It's not fair that a rich woman can get an abortion and I can't, that farmers can sell their land to developers when I think that land that I'll never see should be kept pristine or that polar bears in the Alaskan wilderness should be hampered by oil rigs. If it ain't what I want, it's not fair.

And if you don't accept this train of thought?

You're evil.

Here I thought it was the Christians who had the holier than thou market cornered. You learn something new every day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Very Catholic Rant

I am coming to the conclusion that Vatican II was ill advised. I will not do what some of my traditionalist brethren have and call it a mistake; at some point Faith must direct to us that God would not lead His Church into serious error. That does not, however, mean that She will not occasionally employ poor judgment.

The liberalizing effect on the Church has not been without noticeable waves of trouble. It does not seem coincidental that the drop in vocations began in earnest after the Council; The Dominican nun who was the counselor at my son's school has told me that the in the very first year after the changes of Vatican II went into effect candidates for the sisterhood in her Mother House dropped by well over three-quarters. Further, Mass attendance has slipped so far that many churches have closed. The question is, why?

I rather believe that it lies to a degree in the loss of the spiritual aspect of Catholic religious practice. We don't appear so interested in saving souls as we are in social justice and just getting along. Not that social justice and Christian charity are unimportant values. It's just that, social justice without regard for the soul is an empty vessel. Feeding the hungry is one of the key callings of our faith. Yet to feed only their bellies cannot nourish them in the wonders of Heaven or set them on the road to a fruitful relationship with God. It only maintains a body which, on its own, will eventually rot, and nothing more.

I attended a Tridentine Mass for the first time awhile ago and was struck by the the mysticism of it. It was as though something magical was happening: bread and wine became the body and blood of our Lord. It wasn't just Christ sharing a meal with his friends, as some Vatican II supporters have alleged of it. It was a miracle. A miracle of salvation.

So I'm thinking we ought to get back to tradition, and I am seeing signs of just that. Latin is creeping back into our services, and Catholic prelates are calling out Catholic politicians who don't act Catholic. We are not far removed from the pontificate of John Paul the Great, who had encouraged a return to the old values and norms while working for meaningful dialogue among faiths and nations, an ideal Benedict XIV is building upon. There are even indications that vocations are slowly rebounding.

The future, then, is not so bleak as it may seem to a few of my fellows. We simply must get back to the old idea that if you want people to sacrifice you've got to give them something worth the effort. If you want people in the pews you must appeal to their spirit. Even if all you want is an end to hunger and decent shelter and health care for all, you need an appeal to the eternal. You must speak to the soul. The rest will take of itself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bailout, shmailout.

Just time for a quickie today, but as to the death of the auto industry bailout: at least someone in government still has some principles. The auto industry isn't going to fail. It simply wants easy answers and wants them via your checkbook. If they'd have sent the same message to the mortgage and credit card folks, we'd be better off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leftover Thursday

Today is Leftover Thursday. Got any Thursdays that you don't need?

Seriously, it's the day of the week in our household where everybody eats whatever they want. It's a way of clearing the fridge before trash day, which is Friday. So today we have a veritable smorgasbord of tasty delights.

My daughter and I went tooth and nail over who got the last of the chili from Tuesday. No, you can't split it. That would only be a tease: no one would have enough chili then. All you Obama stands for compromise people, hear this: you cannot compromise a serving of homemade chili. It's impossible, out of the question. No one is happy. Crawl back under your Democratic rocks while Republicans follow the American way and fight it out.

The loser, not that anyone really loses when my wife's cooking is available, can choose among turkey soup from Monday or Wednesday's most excellent sloppy joes. There's even cold pizza left from a party, and we all know how truly good cold pizza is. Don't lie to me; it rules!

So as I go to my teaching job, arm in a sling from losing the chili war to that daughter of mine (where did she learn that painful armlock?) I smile, knowing that plenty of food options remain for when I get back home. Like that sloppy joe.

What's that, hon? Abby got the last of that too? And you're finishing the soup?

I knew I should not have taken the time to blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hockey Nuts

I like Ice Hockey. It is a fast paced, active game, and hence its allure. What I have little stomach for are hockey nuts, players and fans alike.

Take Sean Avery. He's been on the hot seat lately for making disparaging remarks about a former girlfriend. That should not surprise any guy; exes crab about the dumped other or the one who walked out all the time, and it's not limited to the male of the species. Still, Mr. Avery was particularly crass. For that, he has been seen as a pariah, suspended for I think 6 games, and berated to the point that I have heard several hockey nuts of the fan type saying that he should never play in the National Hockey League again.

Look, the guy is a jerk. But to insist he should never play hockey again is way beyond a reasonable objective reaction. Especially considering that all he was being, however indefensible, was crude. This coming from people who have defended Todd Bertuzzi as a mere hockey player doing his job as an enforcer when he stalked a player and viciously attacked him, ending the guy's career. That, I've had explained to me numerous shallow times, is 'just part of the game.'

Calling a woman names is worse than criminal assault. Until the hockey nuts out there can get away from such a dumb mentality, their sport deserves to hold second class status among our major leagues.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Houseful of Women

Today marks the day of my wife's annual ornament exchange. Friends and family come from all over metro Detroit to exchange homemade Christmas ornaments. It's a good time, and the gifts are exchanged randomly, so there's an element of surprise that adds to the festivities.

So what does a manly man do in a houseful of women? He hides on the computer, that's what. Manly men know that you can't take a woman two falls out of three when it's one on one. When there's 18, that just means 18 times the horse whuppin'.

Manly men also don't mind admitting this. The ones who say they can take 'em, well, they lie, and manly men know that. Manly men are comfortable with the limits of their manly man-ness. And they aren't fools, either. They know that manly men play fair, and that the fight will be fair. With the female of the species, they're devious. You don't love them, you don't listen, you just don't 'get' it; these are the tools of their trade when you have the upper hand. Then you capitulate.

All right, maybe manly men don't 'get' it. But they're survivors. They live to fight another day. Whenceforth it happens all over again.

This isn't going the way I had intended. Not at all.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dead Frogs and Sad Clowns

Teaching adult education for twenty odd years now has been fun, and occasionally rewarding. Yet certain moments are bound to stand out; two of the funniest have only just happened.

While grading a short essay for an Economics course, the student was asked the difference between stocks and bonds. In an obvious yet hilarious cut and paste off the Internet (a practice we frown upon and grade accordingly), the answer began: "Stocks were medieval devices of public humiliation and torture." It went on to explain, in some detail, the exact nature of certain forms of torture. Reading this challenged my attempts to stay calm and professional, to not laugh out loud at my desk in a room full of students. I was under control until the last sentence: "Bonds are government issued interest bearing securities."

Well, the student was half right in his answer.

But the funniest to date was last night. In picking out an English assignment to grade I went on to completely lose my composure in peals of laughter. I had to leave the room for ten minutes initially, leaving the other teacher (there are two of us at all times in our teaching arrangement) to lament my difficulty. Lucky it was a slow night.

The assignment was to make comparisons in the form of analogies. The first prompt read: "Tom's car was old." Expected responses were along the lines of, 'Tom's car was older than baseball.' Instead I read, "Tom's car was older than a dead frog."

I was okay; I stifled my giggles, although it took it a few seconds of tongue biting to maintain myself. But I was good.

The next prompt was, 'Abby was hungry.' Harmless enough. Until I read the student's offering.

"Abby was very hungry, like a sad clown who had fell off his bike."

I immediately roared uncontrollably. Shawn, the other teacher asked what was wrong. Giving him the paper I replied, "Read the first two sentences and I'll be back in a few minutes."

On my return, finally beyond any wild laughter, the first thing Shawn said was, "I can see why you didn't give credit for the first answer. The frog may not have been dead that long."

I returned after another twenty minutes. Good times.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Drug Sniffing Dogs in Vancouver.

Vancouver, British Columbia, has announced a plan to use drug sniffing dogs on their mass transit, to randomly seek out users of illegal substances. At one point in my life this type of activity would not have bothered me. I would have said, 'if you're clean, you have nothing to worry about.'

Not so any longer. Governments, at least the ones in the US and Canada to be sure, have begun justifying nearly anything, with protecting the public as the excuse. It is an invalid premise, IF we still believe that people are innocent until proven guilty.

Random sweeps of any sort violate this axiom. Unless you have evidence that I'm involved in illegality, you have no right to sniff my coat, monitor my bank deposits, or hold me at the border trying to get back into my own country. It is an affront to my dignity, to the dignity of every individual, and must be fought at every turn.

I should be secure in my person unless and until there is just cause to look into my activities. If we allow this sort of admittedly minor inconvenience to continue, the jackboots will follow. The terrorists will have won anyway. We will have met the enemy, and he will be us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Clinton Redux?

Of all the political news to report, it is fascinating that Barack Obama has asked Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Granted, flip-flops had happened many times before in politics. But the acrimony between the two and their supporters, I thought anyway, would have precluded such a bridging of the gap.

What does it mean? Given all the other Clinton retreads which the President-elect has enlisted, it seems likely that a replay of failed 1990's policies are in order. I'm sure that the rest of the world still salivates over the Democrats big victory, but really, does anyone here want a snivelling US foreign policy? Not me. I proudly say American First when it comes to foreign issues. Not as, as we are so often accused of, imperialists. A decent respect for other nations commands that we consider their plights. Ultimately, though, our decisions have to be based on what's best for us. Even if it steps on toes.

What this surely means for us that Barack is signaling everyone that we're ready to be more open in our decision making on world events. So long as that doesn't mean letting others dictate our path, I can live that.

I simply skeptical that that will be the case.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lazy Sunday Blues

Gotta buy new shoes today...

Gotta buy new boots too...

At least the Lions won't lose...cause they don't play...

Gonna finish painting the hall this afternoo-oo-oo-oo-oon...

But I got those lazy Sunday blues...

Those lazy Sunday blues...

And I don't know what I'm a-gonna do...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What are We Becoming?

I thought that Black Friday was bad enough simply as a reflection of the consumerism which is gripping our land. Then yesterday's unfortunate incident in New York sinks our already poor culture to new depths.

A worker at a Wal-Mart gets trampled to death for the sake of cheap TV's? Shoppers refuse to leave the store when told of the death because, essentially, they had already waited so long? And in a further bizarre twist to yesterday's deal seeking frenzy, a woman trampled in another Wal-Mart files charges...after she finished her shopping?

An eyewitness reported, in the former incident, that people were acting like savages. Savages? Now that's in the spirit of Christmas. Acting like savages while in search of goodies to make people happy. Or make themselves happy; let's own up, folks, we all know that many of these bargain hunters are simply ponying up for their own new toys.

Who, BTW, is one of the agencies getting the most flak for the attack (for that's what it was, an attack) which cost a worker his life? Wal-Mart. For not providing enough security.

This is beyond sad. It is more than unfortunate. Events like these ought to infuriate every person out there who has an ounce of decency and charity in their body. It is an outrage that in the name of one of the greatest Christian holidays this sort of carnage, and the selfish attitudes which propagate it, should be tolerated at all, let alone promoted by the system which created the opportunity for it to happen. If we cannot look ourselves in the mirror after this tragedy and realize we need to take a breath, a deep one, and several steps back to set our bearings straight, then we are a hopeless race.

I never thought, never considered, that a human life is worth a $69 megapixel digital camera. What kind of animals have we become?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After.

What do you do on the day after Thanksgiving? I'll tell what I do not do: go shopping.

In the first place, that's just nuts. Does anybody really think, in this poor economy, that there won't be any great sales later in the season? Especially as so many ads with so many great prices also end with, 'extremely limited quantities', why bother? You'll get one great deal at best, and only if you're far enough towards the front of the line. That's nothing more than dumb luck, unless you want to be at a store at 1 AM. Skip that.

Then there's the crowds. No way Jose. Wait until later when the shopping ghouls aren't cramming the aisles.

And I never get enough mileage out of this reason: I am not obliged to prop up the American economy on the pretext of a co-opted holiday. Christmas is about Christmas, by golly, and not about buying things. I'm not averse to giving gifts; that should be encouraged. But do it year round, friends, not on someone else's schedule or say so. If you see something someone would like in May, buy it then and give it to them then. That's real charity. That's real concern for them in doing them a good turn and making their day.

I'll tell you what I will do today: put up the Christmas tree. That says more about getting into the spirit of the season: putting up Christmas decorations with your family. Even though I'm sure the lights will be knotted up and half won't work and they'll be frustration at and on several levels, at the end of the day we'll have something far more special than baubles and trinkets. We'll have the best Christmas tree ever.

For that, Sears can wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving.

It would be all too easy to write a blog on the things I should be thankful for today. Except everybody does that, and it would not be original.

I could write on the first Thanksgiving, reflecting on what it means in our history. Yet that's been amply covered as well.

I could post a Happy Thanksgiving shout out to the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who sacrifice their time and, too often, lives for us to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. But that seems stale.

The hell it does. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Iraq, Afghanistan, GITMO, Germany, Korea, Britain; Forts Bliss, Leavenworth, Benning, Lewis, Hood, Riley, Sam Houston, Bragg, Sill, Leonard Wood, on the high seas, and all our Allied forces, Canada, England and all others, who are aiding us in all the trouble spots in the world. Happy Thanksgiving to all in the places I've neglected to mention; you're in our hearts too.

That your turkey dinners are happening in places I can't imagine, thank you for the will to do what you're doing. I hope they taste better as part of a job well done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another bailout?

No we're going to bail out the credit industry? When will the government learn that you simply cannot protect every individual from himself?

Never. Not so long as we tolerate corporate welfare. That's all that it is, truly; I'm no bleeding heart by any stretch of the imagination, but I do wonder how many needy people can't get help when multi-billion dollar corporations screw up and get easy public money.

We'll hear about, have heard about, how the little guy is the one who'll get screwed over when he loses his home or can't pay his credit card bill. And no doubt he'll be hit harder than a mortgage executive. Still, his folly is his folly.

The whole thing's simply a mess. We'll be Europe before we know it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the Detroit Lions.

I am not a big Detroit Lions football fan; the team never really caught my imagination like the hometown Tigers and Red Wings have with their respective sports. It isn't that I don't want them to win. It's simply that they never do, in any significant sense.

One playoff win since 1957. Their last NFL Championship (they've never had the barest whiff of a Super Bowl) was in 1957. My parents were married in 1957; maybe we can blame them. But hey, they've at least led productive lives since then.

What have the Lions done? The one lone win in the playoffs, in 1991, has to be treated as an aberration. Generally, when they do make the playoffs (as they did with some consistency in the 90's) its only to get blown out in the one game they eek into. Or lose even more embarrasingly: they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 5-0 in a 1970 appearance. 5-nil; I think that's when I assumed they were a lost cause. At 10 years old I abandoned all hope of the Lions ever actually producing. How can a professional football team not win when they only give up 5 stinking points?

The thing is, I've always respected their kickers. Eddie Murray hung around a long time as a premier kicker; Jason Hanson has been here 17 years as a true pro. How can you find kicking talent and not talented players at other positions? And why do the Hansons stay with the team? Probably so their holiday plans don't get fouled up.

So the team is 0-11 going into their annual Thanksgiving turkey...classic! They play Tennessee, who only just lost their first game. What that means is they likely want to hammer on the Motor City Kitties for vengeance.

Don't bother, Titans. It would not impress, and you would only appear mean.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Holy Spirit and the Authority of Teaching.

I find myself frequenting more and more blogs, and participating in their discussions so much as I can. On one of the more recent chats, on a Protestant board, we were talking about how obvious the truths of the Bible are, and how therefore no one had the authority to call another wrong on a theological issue.

I don't know, my friends. If everything is so plain why are there so many denominations? It seems to me that much declaring of right and wrong has to be done by the learned, provided there is evidence that they are driven by the Holy Spirit. Because I do of course agree, as several good Christians at that site pointed out, that degrees and citations by themselves cannot make a point of view right. Still, if things were so plain and simple, why are churches even necessary? Why bother our pastors about issues and events in our lives or in the general society if scripture is so clear? Indeed why even discuss things religious with others at all?

While we may not be able to divine the will of the Spirit in all things at all times (we are human, of course, and subject to error) we can make useful judgments about whether the Spirit is speaking to so and so. For starters, if I say that in the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ and you say no, one of us is wrong even if we both claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding us. Unless, that is, the Holy Spirit lies, which is an unacceptable position. If you say divorce is okay yet I read in Scripture where Christ Himself says that he who divorces one to marry another commits adultery, I think I can harbor a reasonable doubt about whether the Spirit is speaking to you or not.

Further, if there is effectively no teaching authority within the fathers of a historical Church, nay even no teaching authority in the hands of the theologically learned, how can we resolve the issues which we must face in creating a closer relationship to God? How can we even lean on the teachings of the Apostles, who would then theoretically be no more than individuals judging the will of the Spirit themselves? Don't forget for a moment that even they could be cautious about what they preached: St. Peter, in an obvious expectation that the early Church was subject to his authority, points out that we must treat St. Paul's words with great respect. They could be difficult to understand, and the 'unstable and ignorant' might misinterpret them to their peril. The Apostles themselves, it seems, expected obedience from their flock. What other reason is there for writing pastoral letters?

I'm really not trying to lambaste my Protestant brethren; I simply believe we have to understand that there are those who have more right than we to call certain parts of theology and Scripture right or wrong.

In short, I don't mind hierarchy, so long as it passes the test of the Spirit. What we must be careful about is the tyranny of the individual. That is a particularly dangerous threat when our souls are at risk.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Saturday! It's chore day!

I used to like Saturdays a lot. Especially way back when (way, way back when) Saturday morning was the biggest cartoon time of the the week. The long lost ten year old in me looked forward to Saturday more than anything. He got out of bed at 6:30 more easily for sugar blasted cereal and poorly animated Hanna-Barbera cartoons than he could get up for school at that time Monday through Friday.

Adulthood and the development of the Cartoon Network have changed that. Oh, Saturday is still an okay day, but it's different. It's the day of getting stuff done that you can't so readily do the rest of the week. It's Chore Day, and it goes something like this:

Wake up at 9AM still a little blurry from Friday night.

Drive daughter to work.

Take the recycling to the recycling center. Sort recycling into proper bins.

Mail a letter.

Stop at party store hoping the Sam Adams holiday packs are in, hoping even more emphatically that they still have the Cranberry Lambic which is so outstanding that it rivals Guinness for the attention of my taste buds.

Write a blog article. Like this one. But hopefully better.

Ship a package, get a tire fixed, get an oil change on the van.

Take other car in for oil change.

Buy new windshield wipers and install them on car.

Look back on day and opine about how hopelessly boring responsibility can be.

But what needs doing gets done. And I can finish the day sipping on a double shot of Jameson's. Something that long lost ten year could never do.

That's when I realize that Saturdays still rule. I may even chase that Jameson's with a Guinness, or a Cranberry Lambic if I'm fortunate enough to find one.

It's a rough life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On Capitalism

I am a free market enthusiast through and through, but I do believe that the capitalists (particularly the more libertarian ones) do need to keep one thing in mind: something is not moral merely because there is a market for it.

What brings this up is a link posted on a blog which I frequent. The link prompted folks to a site where you could buy Obama and/or McCain condoms. It was done for a joke, I'm sure, but as the condoms are actually out there it is equally certain they were produced in order to make money.

Nothing wrong with making money, of course. As a rule. Yet there are ways of making money which are morally abhorrent. The whole sex trade, to be sure, or products which are seriously and significantly offensive. No one ought to see Calvin urinating on a Ford symbol, for example. That people will buy this sort of thing is not the point; nor is the point that human freedom may call for grudging toleration of such things. The ultimate point must be that the act or product must be moral in and of itself in order to be moral in the free market.

I am not saying that the government should become involved in regulating what are admittedly often only juvenile paraphernalia (prostitution and the like are another matter). Still, it would nice if the markets would be a bit more self regulating and eschew such garbage.

To rephrase an old saw, I have come to the conclusion that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the other economic systems. It is a sobering thought.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Put it in Overdrive

Hey Gm, hey Chrysler; I suppose even hey Ford, though they don't seem as concerned. Here's a thought when looking for bailouts using my money:

Fly to Washington coach and not on your private jets. Get to the auto shows rather than skip them like GM is in Los Angeles. Show everyone that you're serious about making a go of things. Bag your lunches, whatever, but how about a sign that you're taking this crisis seriously. Because if you want my money, I need to believe that you aren't going to simply use it on jet fuel.

You too, UAW; this isn't all on big business' shoulders. Big labor has been around driving up costs as well. How sympathetic can I be when the average auto maker makes more than average auto buyer? It's easy to think that what you may need is a comeuppance, a little back down to earth lesson in reality. Now you don't really want to see what's behind the woodshed, do you?

I wouldn't favor a bailout anyway, true, but come on, folks, when you ask for it act like you truly need it. Show up in off the rack suits or something. Because you won't actually be hurt yourself: the people you claim to have the best interests of at heart are the ones that will get hurt. The ones who can't hop on a jet to speak to Congress because they've been too busy lining your pockets working on the line.

As it is now, at the end of the day it just looks like the rich saving their assets through corporate welfare. That kind of fraud stinks far worse than public gifts to the layabouts who aren't doing anything to improve themselves. They're at least honest about wanting money for nothing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Credo in Unum Deum.

That's it, that my post today. If you don't know what it means, you aren't Catholic enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Crankiness

I feel cranky today, and I don't care who knows it. That's one of the joys of crankiness: you're that way as though it is a right.

Some folks say that we shouldn't be cranky. Maybe so, maybe no; I find that it gets me out of stuff I don't want to do, which I think makes it very useful. "Let's go without Marty; he's cranky" sound so good when it gets you what you want.

People will leave you alone. They'll try to start an inane conversation, realize you're cranky, and shut up. It's great.

So don't leave crankiness to the old codgers. Try it on for size. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, well, then have a reason to be cranky.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What did He say?

So Barack Obama had a big interview on 60 Minutes last night. Did I watch it, you ask?

No. Emphatically.

Part of it may be sour grapes, I'll allow, as I've not always been the most gracious loser. Beyond that, he has nothing to say which I deem worth hearing. The only reason to listen to the man is to know thine enemy. But I expect that I'll have a lot of fodder for that naturally as this ugly, sugary inaugural plays out.

They'll be more bailouts, perhaps cuts to the military, perhaps a terrorist action of some sort that will test him. That's when it gets interesting, and truly worth note: when he has to act. Talking to a studio bound interviewer isn't likely to tell us much about the kind of president Mr. Obama will be. Yet when action is called for, well: will we truly get a leader who is inclusive in his decision making, or one as unilateral as the outgoing president is accused of being?

We'll see. The proof of the pudding, you know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Now it's just getting Sick.

Will the fawning over Barack Obama ever end? It seems that it's become international now: Europeans are demanding greater minority representation in their governments thanks to the Obama ascendancy.

Puh-leese. Can this become any more cloying and treacly? In the first place, the Illinois Senator is not the Second Coming among world leaders. There were minorities in politics top to bottom way before him: need I mention Colin Powell and Condolessa Rice, Secretaries of State, appointed by Republicans no less? Sure, it is historically more significant that Obama has been elected President. But that is not something we ought to be so impressed with in 2008.

As I've said in earlier blogs, in a colorblind society this isn't supposed to matter outside of trivia. Yet now we have folks the world over demanding more minorities in positions of power. Let me tell you something flat out: wanting someone in power solely because of their skin color or national origin is just as racist as NOT wanting them in power for those reasons. We should want people of integrity and ability running our nation regardless of skin tone. Show me someone worth voting for on the issues and I'll vote for him. Ask me to vote for him simply because he's black or white or green and you lose me. You should.

I understand pride in our fellows, and no doubt a lot of that is reflected in Mr. Obama's rise to out nation's top spot. That's okay: a lot of Polish were proud of John Paul II and Germans with Benedict XVI. Just keep it in perspective, friends. If President Obama becomes one of the greats, it can only be because of his leadership, or we are shallow citizens indeed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And Another Thing About those Stupid Do-it-Yourself Shows.

Continued from yesterday's rant...

They make it look so easy, don't they? Put a board here, a splash of paint there, and your house is now the freakin' Taj Mahal.

BZZZZZ! Wrong answer! They're experts, people! They've worked years to be able to work as quickly and smoothly as they do on their shows.

You're not an expert. If you only handle a saw twice a year you're gonna make bad cuts. Period.

Plus, they get outtakes, which we never see aired. Do you get an outtake? NO! You get your wife telling you how easy it was on TV to add a deck and a dormer it's so simple why can't you do it just like they did and what kind of idiot did I get stuck with Mom was right I should have married Roger. That's what you get.

It just ain't that simple, folks. Especially since your house is probably fine just like it is.

Am I right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Becoming a Curmedgeon: Part Three in an Everlasting Series

I swear, if I see one more do-it-yourself show I am so gonna lose it!

DIY, HGTV, and all their sister stations, I hate them. hate them, hate them! It seems that every show I see on those networks all revolve around people redoing rooms and homes that DON'T NEED REDOING! A camera will pan slowly across a room in its 'before' state while an announcer bemoans the fact that SOMETHING simply MUST be done about those dreadful 90's COLORS!

What's wrong with 90's colors? Is the room still functional? I mean, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot people, it's a living room! If your friends care more about the appearance of the room than visiting with you, well, then, I say to Hell with them.

I mean, too, what kind of life do you have when you're embarrassed by a perfectly good living room solely because it hasn't been repainted since 2005? Can't you take a decent shower in a nicely tiled bathroom even if the tile dates to 1977? Come on, folks, get a life!

Decadence, that's what it is, pure and simple. What a crock.

I'll just sign off with mindless, incomprehensible grumbling now. Mumble grumble rackin' frakin' dipwads with too much time on their hands...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Making of History

Today is the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is also one step closer to the history making ascendancy of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States. What might be gleaned from these factors?

The first thing which comes to mind is that eventas have far reaching consequences. The opening up of Eastern Europe lead to the fall of Russian Communism and the freeing of millions, among other good things. On the whole, it brought good tidings.

Whither Obama? While becoming the first African American president is without argument historical, it can only be a trivial fact, an asterisk, if he does not do well. In short, the day is dawning, but is a storm brewing?

Sadly, we won't know for sure for about four years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buy my books!

Hey, c'mon, buy them! It's coming up on Christmas, you know. It'll catch up to you if you aren't careful. Buy early to save time and embarrassment.

For those of you who don't know, my books are: David Gideon (see www.gideonfor president.com), A Subtle Armageddon, Michael's Story, and Triumph of the Ignorant. Do your part to shore up the economy for Obama.

Well, okay, for my personal economy too, but that goes with the territory. But don't you see that this is the chance to be wholly bipartisan? Support a Democratic president and a Republican writer. What could be better?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Too Early to be Awake on a Saturday Blog

Ugh. I have to be at work at 7:45 and I woke up way too early. But I should say something here today, I suppose.

In regards to yesterday's blog in defending Canadian PM Stephen Harper, a friend of mine pointed out that 'disagreement doesn't equal hatred.' That puts it so well I wish I had thought of it when I was writing. She's not only right, but it shines a light on the right approach to disagreement: discuss without being disagreeable, even (or especially) on lightning rod issues. Thanks, Janet, for the insight.

Got a knock on the door at 12:30 this morning by a neighbor to tell me that a window was shattered on my van. Well, I know how I'm helping the poor economy after work.

Cold this morning after a lovely week of temps in the low 70s, which is highly unusual for November but very much welcome. Ah well; it wasn't going to last forever was it?

We are 4-1 after three weeks of curling. Yee-hah!

I'm leaving before I get too silly. Back tomorrow or Monday, Folks!

Friday, November 7, 2008

On the Nature of Morals.

'In morals, it is harmony with nature which is to be prized.'
-Confucius, The Analects

I find myself in the interesting position of defending a Canadian Prime Minister. It seems Stephen Harper is in a bit of a political row over gay marriage, preferring civil unions over actual marriages, as he personally finds active homosexuality immoral. A site which I frequent, westernstandard.ca, has had a bit of a debate on the issue, with one blogger calling Harper 'a evil, cruel, mean, homophobic ... Christian bigot'. On the PM's behalf, I resent that.

Why are people of certain beliefs evil for the sake of those beliefs? Especially with this question. Active homosexuality has been almost universally condemned by almost all societies in human history, and the practice has been frowned upon by virtually every major religion in the same time frame. While that fact in and of itself does not answer the question of whether homosexual behavior is wrong, it does lend a hand to the idea that it may be wrong. Further, calling anyone 'evil, etc.' for holding beliefs in line with historical morals, as well as accusing deep-seated religious teaching as being 'bigoted' strikes me as a rather shallow defense about their own selves and their morals. Isn't attacking the person, not the position, a logical fallacy? Who's really unsure of themselves here?

What we need to remember is that Confucius is right. Our morals must be in harmony with nature, and there is nothing natural about homosexual sex. Sex is clearly intended to be male-female in our species. Further, it is our harmony with nature which is reflected in what we stand for as a society. If we allow acts which are incongruent with nature to be respected as moral, we are saying as a society that we a believe in things not congruent with nature. That we believe in error. Indeed, that we believe in evil.

We are better than that, as a people and as individuals. Once we start refusing to defend rightness for rightness sake, what more can we allow which is even less in line with the intentions of nature? Once we establish that we stand for less than we should, we become mere animals.

We are not. So while I can't agree with Mr. Harper on civil unions, I say bravo for standing against gay marriages. You go, Steve! Don't let anyone tell you that your core values on this issue are wrong.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is it Palin Time?

There are pundits out there today asking, in light of the GOP defeat Tuesday, where does it leave Sarah Palin? Practically speaking, it leaves her as Governor of Alaska. Yet there's more than that. She may well be in the best position to lead the Republican Party from the ashes.

I know that many folks think her selection to the ticket was a mistake. I am not one of them. She's spunky, she has swagger, and she's conservative. Those are the great qualities of an inspiring leader. As such, I'm going to go out on a limb and point out comparisons between her and that great Republican, Ronald Reagan.

He was underrated too, at one point, and look what he achieved. He was seen as an unlearned hack, but he studied and learned, ending up the last century's greatest speaker for liberty and dignity. He was seen as being on the fringe right, only to make the rest of the nation see the truths of conservatism to the point of his election as President. His passion drove that. Her passion can do the same, if channeled properly.

Now's the time, Governor. Time to come from the northwest, the final American frontier, and show a little frontier justice. Give Americans a clear choice opposite the liberal Democrats. Go on the attack. Make it happen.

Why? Because you can. How else did you get this far?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It isn't bad at all.

So we've gone and done it, and Barack Obama is President-elect.

But it wasn't that decisive of an election. It looks like the Dems won't get the filibuster proof Senate they lathered after, and although they gained about 20 seats in the House we must remember there were 29 GOP retirements this election cycle. That made for a tougher fight over the lower house.

Look to 2010 now, folks, when more Democratic Senate seats are up and a few House seats traditionally Republican are back on the block. Until then, it's no mandate, Mr. Obama. You victory pales, in significance and historic fact, next to Reagan's in 1980 or Gingrich's in 1994. Young and photogenic does not translate into long term support, and you'll have to go past your platitudes now. Reagan did; can you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's the day!

After all the time, attack ads, debates, and hype, America votes today. With a huge turnout expected, long lines are expected in many areas. This bothers some folks, as it may cause people to leave rather than wait.

Let them leave. If that's all their voting right means, then they get what they deserve in the end. And while I'm ranting somewhat non-PC anyway, don't vote just to vote either. If it doesn't matter who you vote for then it doesn't matter if you vote. Besides, I'm not like all those other vote regardless types. If you aren't voting for who I want to win, then I don't want you to vote. Everyone feels that way in the hearts, I don't care what they say.

Okay, rant over. Come back tomorrow for my rant on the winner. Or loser. Or both, what they hey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I hate change for change' sake.

The title says it all: I see no point in changing anything just to change. It borders on senseless, quite frankly, and arguably childish.

There's nothing wrong with it per se either, I'll concede. Still, that being the case, why do it at all is a fair question to ask.

Expand your horizons, perhaps? What if the horizon isn't all that clear? Besides, it becomes fair to ask in answer to that, what's wrong with I'm doing now? I realize that either question calls for a certain amount of extrapolation, as it's ultimately all in the details. But remember the question is why change simply to change?

When we took the kids out for ice cream I virtually always got black cherry. Why? I like it. Why try something new when you can get what you know you like.

Am I being obstinate? Perhaps; but aren't you being equally obstinate in trying to get me to change? I mean, what's it to you? It's not like I'm doing anything immoral (on the ice cream question, of course). Further, as I have the right in that sphere to order what I want, what argument can you possibly have against me?

It might be nice to change. Okay, but it might be nice to get what I want too. It's almost a moral wash; wait, no it isn't. It's my right to do what I want among legitimate moral choices. What you think I should do merits nothing for your position. It's only you being bossy.

Maybe I should have labeled this becoming a curmudgeon part three. But so be it. Leave me alone where I've the right be left alone; that's all I ask.

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

It's that time of year! Time for trick or treat, or rocks if you're good ol' Charlie Brown!

Funny thing is, for some reason I'm particularly excited about it this time around. My kids are grown, so no costuming there, and I've missed Halloween several times over the last ten years due to work and not thought much of it. Yet I found myself in Meijer's last night buying more candy, to make sure we had enough, even though my wife had already gotten us well supplied with sugary treats for the little ones. Whaa?

Sure, our second son and our daughter will be around to help pass out candies, and may even dress up to walk around the neighborhood. I'll hike around a few blocks myself just to check out events. As for our eldest, what do they do in Cuba for Halloween? Will Beavis dress up like a soldier?

I'm sorry, that's not fair. Beavis seems like a good guy and is a good friend to my son, and here I am dissing him on my blog. Support the Troops, Marty!

Anyway, I'm geeked, and I really don't know why. Second Childhood? Third more likely, but either way you slice it, I have a couple autumn ales to warm my innards, and can't wait for the goblins to show up this evening.

Happy Halloween to all you at Gitmo! Happy Halloween to all of you here!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Conservation Plan for Everyone!

The Detroit Free Press this morning editorialized on the bad things about gasoline falling back to around two bucks a gallon. Among other things, the paper lamented that it would make people less inclined to conserve natural resources.

Fuel conservation, outside of genuine need (and I mean need on the scale of World War II nationally, or harsh personal finance individually) is really a rather pessimistic principle. You conserve because you have no option (personally), or because you have no hope in the future or see that great or unusual restraint is necessary (nationally). While we each have to deal with our own situations the best we can based on our personal resources, as a nation we can do more. We can tie into the traditional American belief in herself, that someone or something given the opportunity will find us alternatives when the time comes. We can believe that with the freedom we have come to rely on we will find new fuel sources for our cars, homes, and businesses. We can see that if the government would just get out of our way we will get over any over-reliance on limited means. Something will be developed or found or invented to alleviate the current pressures on our current natural resources.

Or do we think that once the oil is gone, we're toast? That's what the liberal 'government is the answer' thinkers apparently believe.

That is patently absurd, unless we allow it to become the case. So we do need certain pressure to keep it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. And the surest pressure to prevent that is exactly what may seem, at a glance, the lousiest choice.

Drill that oil. Process it. Burn it up in our cars. Because if you want something to take the place of oil, then get rid of the oil. Where there's a buck to be made and a need to be filled, someone will satisfactorily address the situation if given the freedom to do it.

So pump that oil out of the ground and into your tank. As P. J. O'Rourke said in one of his books: "Fat lot of good its done lying in the ground for billions of years."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The End of an Era

This is it, folks: the start of my last week with AOL as my primary web provider. It took a long time and a lot , a LOT, of crap from AOL, but I break the ties this week.

It helps that their screen names are now feree,, because one of my holdups has been that I have always had the same e-mail since day one of having internet access. Yeah, I'm funny that way. I never want change. My wife knew that before she married me, but did it anyway. The joke's on her. Except when's she's mad.

Oh well. Sometimes change is thrust upon us. And that isn't entirely bad. I'm just thankful that it only involves my ISP.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vote NO on Proposition #2

Among the other items on the ballot this year in my home state of Michigan is a referendum to amend the state constitution to allow embryonic stem cell research. Until I found out that the measure involved them I was ambivalent towards the issue. Now, I am completely opposed.

Human life begins at conception; there really can be no other reasonable conclusion. Therefore any human life at any stage of development must be treated as though it were fully human, with all the rights of any other man or woman. Anything less is to lack respect for human life. Period.

I know there are people out there who think they might benefit from such research. They are accident victims or born with a defect which hampers their ability to function normally. This is far more flippant than I mean it (because I also want to respect those people as people) but the fact is bad things happen to folks in this world. After a fashion, sometimes all we can do is accept that we simply have limited options as to our future and must deal with our conditions on that level. Violating another person's right to life does not rise up all boats. It lowers us to simple animal status, as the haves (in this case, those with born human lives) merely use the power they hold over the have-nots (those yet to be born) to get what they want.

When we become to view unborn humans in their embryonic state as unhuman, we make a grave error. We begin to treat others as a commodity to be used as those in power want. We forget that a human life can never be treated as a utility.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is There in Truth no Beauty?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aethetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Heating Up!

An Associated press poll shows McCain behind Obama by a mere percentage point. This may mean nothing, as so many other polls show Obama clearly ahead. Still, one never knows what type of momentum may be built from even an individual shift in an individual poll. If people sense a shift, that presumed shift may grow.

Not that I put any real stock in polls. I don't care how scientific it may claim to be, you're still asking for opinions. They can and do change, and we never really know how many people are talking just to hear themselves talk, or saying what they think the pollster wants to hear. Still, they may well drive the election process to some degree; I don't think that anyone actually doubted Obama's lead anyway.

Besides, we're really 50 different elections anyway, so national polls are that much less important.

Too much time left, and too much can happen. But I don't expect a slam dunk from either candidate. They don't expect it themselves, I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Still the Fall Classic.

Today's lead sports story on AOL had comments about the Philadelphia Phillies - Tampa Bay Rays as being weak from a television network's point of view. Well, so bloody what?

We're talking baseball here! America's game! The greatest game in the history of the world! The networks can think what they want; this is the Fall Classic and deserves respect on that ground alone.

So it's not a New York - Los Angeles matchup, or even a Subway series like the Cubs/White Sox matchup so many wags fantacized about. But baseball isn't continental per se: it's the ultimate provincial game. You root for the home team because they're your team and some false national sports symbol like the Dallas Cowboys or even The New York Yankees. You watch it because you love the game and not the parties which surround some games. It isn't like the Super Bowl, which is anymore just an excuse to party as few really care about who's playing, making it not truly about the game.

So shut up and let Philadelphia and Tampa fans enjoy their respective teams' day in the sun. And watch the Series for what it is: America's salute to herself and her culture.

Monday, October 20, 2008

That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, today's the day.

You wait for it, and wait for it. It seems like it's never going to get here.

Then you wake up, let the dog out (she has to go earlier and earlier every morning, it seems, not unlike her owner), have a coffee, check your e-mail, check the webcomic you're following, and then it hits you. You see the date.

October 20th, 2008.

The day the curling season begins this year.

Tonight at 6:30 it all begins anew. The roar of the rocks, the swish of the sweepers, the yells of the skips, the drops of sweat onto the ice creating extra pebble. The curling season is upon us.

You'll hear about it in more detail tomorrow. Whether you want to or not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tee Gee Eye Eff

The title says it all, friends. It's been a long week and I'm glad to be coming out of it. Beer and pizza tomorrow with friends visiting from North Dakota, in a new pub just opened up around the corner, will make it all worthwhile.

Ain't life grand that a little cheese and pepperoni and alcohol can salve all wounds?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate Number Three

The third and final Presidential debate was held last night, and it wasn't a moment too soon. McCain was on the offensive and made some good points about ACORN and that Ayers guy, but I am beginning to fear that it's too little too late for the GOP nominee.

He should have been hammering on those points months ago, but he didn't want to be 'partisan'. Hell's bell's, John, people want partisan, I don't care what they might say to pollsters and news reporters. They want clear choices. Without them, they'll just go for the more photogenic and charismatic candidate, and quick frankly, that's Obama, not you.

There's still time and I'm not without hope. If McCain keeps up the pressure we may have a race. But momemtum seems to be with Obama, and momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher. I'm afraid it doesn't look good, Senator McCain.

But today does look good for my daughter! Happy birthday sweetheart!

Man, THAT was incongruent.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There are no Devils in Baseball (Except maybe DH's)

The Tampa Bays Rays seemed poised to send the defending champion Boston Red Sox home for the winter, and that's okay. I'm rather hoping they do; I like it when a traditionally poor team rears its head and makes waves in any sport. Even when an underdog makes it big in life, how can we not cheer?

I'm still going to lambaste them for a second anyway.

They were the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays before this season, you know. They dropped the word devil because they felt it was a bad connotation.

I suppose I can accept that on that level. But they were named after a presumably fierce seas creature. Not Old Scratch. It just seems to me inane, that's all.

Like my writing?

Who said that? If I ever get my hands on you...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Theatre of the Absurd

The DOW jumped what, 963 points yesterday, an 11-point-something improvement in its worth. This after arguably the worst week ever for the stock market. I tell you again, I don't understand how it works.

Are all traders bandwagon jumpers? Lemmings, perhaps? How can things be so bad and so good so quickly strung together? What exactly is the layman supposed to take out of all this activity?

Well, I'll take all I can get, and in this case, it's nothing but an easy blog entry. I think of it as a quick profit for a poor writer.

Poor as in not enough money, not talent, you jokers out there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

No, not to my American fans: to my Canadian peeps! Their Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October (unlike the first Monday in October, when our increasingly weird Supreme Court rulings begin rolling out) so I want to give them a shout out!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends! See you soon on the curling ice!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Love Irony

In the interest of trying to get my aging body into some kind of decent shape, especially as curling season approaches and I will be expected to sweep rocks, I am making an effort to spend thirty minutes on a treadmill each day.

So far I've made it two straight days. The journey of a thousand miles and all; it's worth something. And I don't even hurt, nor have I really been all that winded when I've stopped. A bit sweaty, but I'm not truly out of breath. Maybe I'm not in such bad shape after all.

I feel I have the right incentive to keep the regimen going strong. You see, I drink a beer as I walk the treadmill at a pretty brisk pace; I time myself at about 75 steps per minute. The beer is my incentive to keep pushing; a few steps, take a swig.

Now I know some of you purists out there think I'm defeating the purpose of the workout. So it goes; it's nevertheless exercize, and I like the juxtaposition. Besides, how many of us drink when we bowl or curl? So unless you don't believe that bowling or curling qualifies as exercize, I rest my case. And if you don't think curling is exercize, come out to the ice and try it. That'll change your mind.

The beer we drink while playing will surely help you see the light.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Day I'll Recycle this Article

My wife and daughter are very into recycling, and that's okay. There's certainly nothing wrong with it, and they do it all themselves, so it doesn't even really affect me.

Still, our son while on leave from the Army commented on it in a way I had never considered. Watching his mother prepare tuna cans and milk jugs for recycling he remarked, as she was rinsing the items out and even putting the cans through the dishwater, "So we have to wash our trash?"

Which leads me to my point. Do we really need to recycle things for which there is no demand? Steel, aluminum, copper; these things all get paid for by people who have a real use for them. They're worth money, therefore they get recycled. Paper, plastic, even tin cans aren't worth anything and therefore do not get recycled so readily.

Unless the government encourages or demands it. Many recycling projects are underwritten by government or commanded by it through things such as curbside pickup. In short, they wouldn't exist without coersion. Things worth doing get done without any hint of force.

Think of that when you're washing your tuna cans, using extra water, or burning extra gas to take things to a recycling center. Are we really doing anything worth such effort?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is it Just Me?

One week now, and no sign the bailout is working.

Is it just me, or are two factors at work which we all ought to see but don't?

1. Wall Street is conservative and Republican by nature. Are we witnessing skittishness based on a Republican President acting non-republican?

2. Are we seeing the true effect of a potential Obama presidency? The market is reacting to what effect the approach of a socialist president may have on the economy and their investments?

Keep an ear to the ground on this one, friends.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We May Lose even if We Win

I’m the first to admit that I don’t fully understand the economy. I content myself with the knowledge that no one else does, either. There are simply too many millions of people making too many millions of decisions for anyone to claim, reasonably, that they know what’s going on.

That’s why the bailout which Washington has recently enacted makes little sense. I realize that the mortgage industry is a significant part of our economy; surely, though, it is not the totality of it. Why should anyone think that one part no matter how important steers the entire ship?

I mean, it’s not as though there’s a steering wheel and a rudder and Polaris as guides and tools. What I want is what I want and not necessarily what my neighbor desires; likewise, what is bad for me is not necessarily bad for him. Even in times where more bad things are happening (or are threatened to happen, as may or may not be the case with mortgages) there are green lights and opportunities for others not directly affected. To react in such a massive and intrusive way seems to me an attempt, however well intentioned, to tie the unharmed and unhurt to the mast of the ship of those in danger. Toss in the fact that many are in danger because of their own devices and we are faced with a very real moral dilemma: why ought the innocent prop up the guilty?

Yet I see today that many nations are following suit in what one wag called ‘a concerted global effort to stop’ a disaster. All we little people can do now is hope that it works, and hope that the respective governments back off when it does.

I’m afraid that they won’t. I’m afraid that it’s only one step closer to the small world. One step closer to a loss of sovereignty.

One step closer to the stifling of human liberty.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Maher Markets

Today I was going to facetiously praise the nation's economic bailout plan; then the DOW fell under 10,000 and that seemed like a bad idea. Or maybe I could have made something good out of that. Oh well; I'm tired of the subject anyway.

Then I saw an article in today's Detroit Free Press about Bill Maher's new mockumentary, 'Religulousity' or something like that. He goes around basically mocking organized religion as though it were good journalism. And probably for some laughs too, him being a comedian.

I am curious to see it, although I'm sure it will inflame me a la Michael Moore's junky attempts at satire and slander. But why should I? When he avows in an interview that all the seriously religious are extremists, I think we can safely assume that fair play is out the window. If he really wants us, the seriously religious, to forsake our creeds, he needs to find a better way to channel his energy. You get more flies with honey...

I know that some will readily dismiss me as closeminded. After all, if I haven't seen the film I can't judge it.

Rubbish. I know that naked women are in Playboy without opening the cover. And I suspect that Mr. Maher is closeminded too. That's how films like his get made: those all so very sure of themselves just love to point out the folly of us fools. So bear in mind that if you see it, it was almost certainly made with the same zealotry and arrogance which we are accused of employing against nonbelievers.

The difference is, if we are true to our creed, we love him anyway.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Waiting with Bated Breath

Well, today's the day, folks. Probably by now we already have an idea whether the mortgage bailout is working, as the Asian and Eurpean markets are well underway. As I haven't checked, I don't know. The most massive intrusion of government in our private lives outside of a state of genuine emergency had better work.

At least I suppose it had better work. There's danger if it does: what new attempts at government expansion will rise from the ashes if it does? Still, I am not so naive as to not understanding the practical reality: if it doesn't work, we may well be on our way to third world status if not outright bankruptcy and breakdown. That's extreme, to be sure, but then, so is this plan.

Either way, we're stuck. So it may as well be hoped that it works, and that cooler, more thoughtful heads will prevail when the next crisis appears, or that we will actually experience this only as an abberation and future Congresses will resist using this (possible) success as reason to increase federal power all the more.

Don't bet on it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Send Sarah!

The McCain campaign has decided to give up on Michigan. Whether this is a good move or not I can't comment on; I doubt myself that he can carry my home state and not knowing the exact nature of his resources, he may well have the right idea in spending them elsewhere. But I am reminded of his view on attacking Pakistan (Pak-ess-tan, as Barack calls it): never tell an opponent what you might do.

Don't overtly give up on Michigan, Senator. This will only help the Obama campaign paint you as uncaring about its plight. But if you need to reallocate resources, then attack Michigan on the cheap. In this case, send your vice presidential nominee as she encourages you to do. Send Sarah here.

Face it, John. She's the best thing you've got going for you right now. You don't inspire many folks, including me. I was only intending to vote for you because the alternative was completely unpalatable. But Governor Palin is sincere, homespun, fresh, and without that Washington political glare. She plays to an audience better than you. Use that, as you had started to but for whatever reason backed away from, becuse it's your best chance.

Send Sarah to Michigan. And Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and Florida. Send her before the voters send the wrong message to you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Like Kissing Your Sister?

It's been said that a tie is liking kissing your sister, and the pundits are calling last night's Vice Presidential debate a tie. Maybe so, maybe no; I rather think Sarah Palin took the day by a teensy bit, but I am, admittedly, partisan.

Still, she was the one who had something to prove. Say what you want about Joe Biden, he has been in the Senate since 1972 and is a known quality. Governor Palin is not, honestly, and everyone has been waiting for her to commit a major gaffe. She did not, and even showed no fear in going on the offensive a time or two. Indeed I thought that she rather held back, trying to measure her remarks for safety's sake.

Sure, she ignored some questions for the sake of empacizing the party line, but so did Biden, and anyway, no candidate should ever let a moderator overshadow or control the types of comments they would like to make. It's their one chance to address Americans generally, and I'm not going to hold it against anyone if they tacitly set the format aside for the sake of sound bites. It's just good strategy.

She didn't look like an airhead or make a mistake; neither did Biden. Yet he had wiggle room and she did not; on that point alone, Sarah Palin won. But will it be enough for November?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm Becoming a Curmudgeon, Part Two in an Everlasting Series.

I took my daughter to buy a new cell phone. Why? Because the old one was, well, old. You can't have an old cell phone that still works, can you? Kids these days..

Anyway, it was just my luck that the salespersons we encountered were young ladies about Abby's age. They expressed shock that her phone was from (gasp!) 2006! "How could you use that old thing?" one asked incredulously, before sheepishly noticing the old thing standing there with his daughter. "You flip it open and dial it, sweetheart." Sorry, punch the numbers; they hadn't a clue as to dial phones. I know, because I got that teenage 'Da-ad' look from all three. Right before the saleswomen gave Abby sympathetic looks and nods.

They then flew into all the things that the prospective new phone could do. "It's a slide front that has a radio and you can IM your friends and of course a camera and earphones and internet capabilities and it's available in pink or red or black or silver..." followed by oohs and aaahhs and cooing to be finally interrupted by a snippy, "But she can make calls on it, right?"

"Da-a-ad!" Kids today...

So we got the phone and Abby is happy. Dad is happy because Abby paid for it. So why should I crab?

On principle, okay? What happened to things being used until they couldn't be used any more? What happened to phones which were just phones? What happened to the times Dads understood technology better than daughters? It's disrespectful, just plain dispespectful.

Kids these days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's up Wit Dat?

The Dow regains well over half of what it lost Monday, and some analysts call it a temporary gain. Why couldn't Monday have been a mere temporary loss? I think some people want us to fall into depression.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What? Me Partisan?

So the salvation of the mortgage industry will have to wait for a few days; I can't believe that should be a cause for panic. Yet the shrillness of the politicians certainly paint it that way.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blames Republicans despite the fact that 95 of her own party members voted against the bailout. The Democrats should have carried the day without a single vote from across the aisle; why are Bush policies and supporters to blame for the failure of the legislation? Heck, it would have only taken 12 of those recalcitrant Dems to sway the outcome. What does it mean?

It suggests to me that a significant number of lawmakers are simply questioning a dangerous proposal. Shouldn't it calm the market and the body politic that Congress is actually taking the challenge seriously enough to NOT act rashly? Yet we, before and after hand, get politically tinged snarky remarks from the Speaker.

That's not the way to be bi-partisan, my friends. That's the way to cause dissent.

Perhaps that's what the market is actually responding to: uncertainty about political intent. Bickering, particularly when unwarranted (as bickering usually is) simply annoys and unnerves. Maybe that's our real lesson. If so, look closely at who is teaching it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Turning the Channel

I watched for what I am telling myself the Fox network shows Family Guy and American Dad for the last time last night. They are simply too crude and vulgar for the taste of anyone with an ounce of respect for other people. So I am using my option of turning the channel on Sunday nights from here forward.

The trouble is that response doesn’t come near to recognizing the whole problem. No one should put garbage that offensive on the air, and no one ought to watch it. Yet when I protest that, I am yelled at shrilly about free speech and to turn off the TV then if I don’t want to see it. That’s all well and good...for me. It says nothing about the makers’ of such shows obligation to me or other prospective viewers.

Like it or not, folks, you do have an obligation to the general society to keep things clean, and to be respectful of the legitimate concerns of the individual. He has a right, and no less than that, to not be offended when it comes to things truly offensive. Merely turning off the TV does not address that question: it begs it.

I would like to ask the Seth McFarlanes of the world if I have an obligation to help, say, the poor. If he says that I do, then I have the right to ask him about his obligations towards me. Because if I have obligations outside of myself, then so does he. Conversely, if he has no obligations to me, then I likewise have none towards others. That’s the real question: do I owe something to humanity or not, and on what grounds?

It’s the question which does not get asked when the media (and cartooning on network television is as much part of the media as a news show) want what they want. Their silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Maize and Blue Sunday.

Perhaps my ill feeling about Michigan football was off base. With an impressive come from behind victory over the Wisconsin Badgers yesterday it looks like the team may not be so far away from contention after all. It was a great gift to the fans, who have endured losses to unimpressive squads from Utah and Notre Dame.

There's a long way to go, though, with a tough Illinois team next week. Still, with all the bad economic news lately, it was nice to wake up this morning looking forward to seeing at least the sports section of the paper.

The Sports and Comics are only truly important parts of the newspapers anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain 1, Obama 0.

There were no knockout blows, but last night's debate was more a success for John McCain than Barack Obama. The Arizona Senator kept to his talking points better than the one from Illinois, and Obama actually seemed a little flustered and off his game. But everyone expected this match to be more in McCain's favor, as he has foreign policy experience which Obama lacks. Considering too that Republicans generally look to foreign policy more than Democrats, I suppose the outcome was to easily forseen.

Neither man made a terrible gaffe, no did either say anything particularly resounding or memorable. I thought McCain attacked better than Obama, never letting himself be interrupted while keeping his Democratic rival more on the run; he never appeared under pressure himself. But Democrats are known for smooth talkers, so McCain needs to be better at concise remarks in the future.

Anyway, I'm happy. Andexpecting Sarah Palin to roast Joe Biden alive next Thursday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Real Deal.

I mentioned the other day how Barack Obama being touted as a consensus builder does not impress me. Nor do I think highly of consensus as consensus. It isn’t that I don’t recognize the need for sometimes disagreeable agreement in order to move things along; it’s simply that most people who preach ‘consensus first’ really aren’t ready or willing to concede anything substantial at all.

Liberals are great at this game. They want consensus on abortion or gay rights, for example. Yet they are in favor of both; conservatives are not. They talk about tolerance: they want us to tolerate both. That’s easy for them as they find both issues tolerable. They aren’t moving towards consensus in any way shape or form because they aren’t conceding anything. Yet we right wingers are essentially being asked to give up entirely on core values which we believe in very deeply. In short, it isn’t consensus they request. It’s total acceptance of their world view.

Try this on for size: I don’t merely tolerate the Catholic Church. I am Catholic. It is beyond toleration: it is recognition of the truth of the Creed. I do not ask anyone to join the Church unless they are willing to make that same commitment. There is no consensus: you accept it or you do not. If you do not, I will then tolerate your not being Catholic because that too is part of the Creed: the truths of the Church must be freely accepted or they are valueless. Either way, we can get along.

Not so with liberals. We are pariahs, neanderthals, if we do not go beyond tolerance (which truly is only a recognition of error which we can not, at a given time anyway, overcome) and embrace their ways. There is no room, in their creed or in their philosophy, for us to be us. They are hypocrites who sound like they’re being inclusive when they are in fact less considerate of beliefs anathema to theirs than they accuse us of being. They are, to use the Illinois Senator’s phrase, pigs with lipstick. We need to step back far enough that we may see the sty they wallow in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The $700 Billion Swindle

Just what in the world does President Bush think he’s doing? I’m not saying that the mortgage issue isn’t important, but why this proposed significant expansion of the government’s power in ‘saving’ the industry? Why should the government (which in fact of course means you and me, folks) save these people from their own folly?

Are we to believe that the whole country will all fall down without a bailout? It strikes me as too fantastic a scenario to put any real credence in it. Besides, shouldn’t something poorly managed fail if for no other reason than to allow for something better to take its place? I cannot believe that a market system would not cure itself if only Washington got out of the way.

But that’s dreaming; we are so far beyond a true market system that there’s really little point in discussing that option. The real issue here is the very thought that government is the answer rather than the solution, and sadly, Republicans hold a lot of blame for that rancid idea becoming so prominent lately. I adore Ronald Reagan and think he’ll eventually be seen as one of our greatest Presidents; but he should have never bailed out Chrysler. My original wholehearted support for George W. Bush has waned in light of his No Child Left Behind Act and his current push for the mortgage bailout. The GOP isn’t supposed to be in favor of such schemes. That’s why I vote Republican.

The party is simply leaving its roots, my friends, and that’s sad. Without good roots, things die. Generally painfully.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do My Ears Deceive Me?

Is it true? Have the Lions actually let Matt Millen go?

They must have. I've just seen a flying pig, and reports are that Hell has frozen over.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Really Good Weekend.

As I warned my reader, this Tuesday morning marks my first post since last Friday when my son and I left for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And we did indeed relax, as I had promised: drank beer and Boone’s Farm Orange Hurricane (in Tang glasses, no less; a classic juxtaposition of alcohol and breakfast drinks) while playing darts and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. That’s the life, I must say.

It was a great weekend. You figure you’ll miss your kids being kids when they’re older (and you will to a point), only to find out that in many ways they’re more fun as adults. You can have intelligent conversations with them, enjoy adult beverages with them, laugh at the same humor as them. You also appreciate that, with the help of the Almighty, that you has a hand in that development.

All right, maybe not in fine art of watching MST3K; some things one has to learn to like on their own. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic and rewarding experience. The kind of times that make the diaper changes and school reviews of times gone by worth the effort. Thanks, Mom, for letting us guys go it alone, and thanks, Son, for going. Let’s do it again some day.