Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Picture Is Worth 1000 Words



Jack Cafferty Read My Mind

Cafferty puts into words what I've been thinking for quite a while. Many people, myself included, don't see anything to be gained by electing the same old tired retreads over and over. After all, they're the ones who got us into this mess. Why should we expect them to get us out of it?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
It's no wonder the Tea Party has the traction it does.

House Democrats voted Wednesday to adjourn so they can go home and campaign for the midterm elections. There is no budget, there is no decision on what to do about the Bush tax cuts that expire January 1. There is no willingness to confront any of the pressing issues they are paid to deal with.

You see, our lawmakers are cowards. They don't want to have to vote before an election. Could be bad for them. To hell with the American people. At the end of the day it's all about them.

They're getting ready to leave town - again - and won't be back for five weeks.

Before heading out, the House is expected to vote on a measure to keep the federal government operating through December 3. That's necessary because they never bothered to pass a budget.

Here's the problem: Large majorities of Americans disapprove of Congress and only one in four people trust the federal government to do what is right always or most of the time. But when they enter the voting booth, they re-elect the same people over and over: the people who are taking this country right down the drain.
See the tagline above under the blog header.
This year there are signs that the midterm elections might be particularly brutal for the party in power, the Democrats. Experts think the Republicans have a decent chance of picking up the 39 seats needed to take control of the House. The experts also say Republicans have an outside chance of gaining 10 seats to control the Senate.

Things are bad for the Democrats all over, but especially in the Midwest.

One Republican pollster says that part of the country will be a "killing field for Democrats this year."

Here’s my question to you: Why would you vote for any incumbent?

I can't think of a single reason...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ACORN Lives

It should come as no surprise that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's recently released inspector general's report found that ACORN engaged in massive fraud. ACORN was reported to have corruptly funneled taxpayer dollars to its affiliates, paid excessive and unwarranted salaries to ACORN staffers out of HUD grant funds, used taxpayer funds to pay salaries to terminated ACORN employees, and engaged in money laundering. The scathing report recommends that funding for ACORN's still operating housing affiliate be terminated immediately.



What's that, you say? You thought ACORN funding had been cut off last year, after videos surfaced of ACORN staff advising undercover investigators how to evade federal tax laws and other statutes? So did I.

However, it turns out that the de-funding of ACORN was only temporary. Like the Bush tax cuts, there was an expiration date. Like the Bush tax cuts, the decision to extend or let expire is fast approaching (it's Oct. 1). Unlike the Bush tax cuts, you won't hear a word about it in the lamestream media.


(Sources and images here , here , and here .)

Legislative games like this are just one more reason we need sweeping reforms in our legislative process. Those reforms won't come about unless we elect people whose first priority is solving our problems, not getting re-elected.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And Two More

In addition to my prior item mentioning Peter's two captivating posts, now comes Col. Nick Rowe with two outstanding posts of his own. The good Col. provides us with a couple of examples highlighting just how out-of-control the nanny liberal state can get right here in the good ol' U. S. of A.

First we have a substantial list of all the goodies that the 50% of us who do pay taxes subsidize for the other half.

Second is a particularly disturbing case of the beneficiaries of public largess suing because they couldn't turn a profit on their publicly-subsidized houses. 

Of course, all this takes place in San-friggin'-Cisco, which as we all know is part of the People's Republic of California. But it's still technically part of the U.S., so we should be concerned that this blight might spread.

You know, after finding all these gems today I just might stop writing myself and confine my efforts to compiling and aggregating. Sure would be easier...

Two Home Runs

Congrats to Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man. He hit two home runs today. 

One illustrates the cold hard economic reality facing this country unless we drastically - and I mean DRASTICALLY - change the tax system, entitlement programs, and government spending. Little tweaks here and there, like extending the Bush tax cuts, won't matter a tinker's damn. We need true hard-core fundamental reform.

The second builds on the SEIU-backed voter registration shenanigans currently being uncovered in Houston. It paints a chilling picture of massive, wide-spread organized voter fraud in this country's 4th largest city. Peter also questions why these schemes are invariably in favor on the democraps.

Both posts are well-done and well worth checking out.

Neither Academic Nor Professional

This year Sept. 11 fell on a Saturday. Since early September also marks the start of the college football season, there were numerous tributes and remembrances of 9/11 at games across the country. Most were occasions for Americans to honor the fallen and express their pride in their country. However, at least one college administrator was offended on behalf of Muslims.
The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.

The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.

The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.

David Green,

University Academic Professional
Sigh ... where to begin? My reservoir of outrage is dangerously low at this point. I can only shake my head in dismay and wonder what the hell has happened to this country over the last few decades.

David Green is part of the administration at the University of Illinois. More specifically, he is a Research and Policy Specialist in something called the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. I've posted before regarding my disdain for university administrators. They are the parasites of the academic world: "they neither toil nor spin." But this loser carries it to an extreme.

David Green should get down on his knees every night and thank the good Lord above that he lives in a country where he is able to express such views openly and freely. And while he's at it he should give thanks for the same people he denigrates who make it possible for him to spout such loathsome nonsense.

It's bad enough that I have to defend myself now when people find out I'm a college professor. After this maybe I'll just say I'm a piano player in a whore house.


Monday, September 27, 2010

FUD Redux

Before I landed this college professor gig I worked in the financial industry for a couple of decades. I spent some time at a small community Savings & Loan, and then moved on to a large international commercial bank. I don't claim to be an expert, but I do believe I have a decent understanding of the banking industry. In fact, I was at a reunion this weekend of former employees of the large commercial bank. As you might expect, much of the conversation revolved around the economy and the bungling efforts of obama and his stooges. The general consensus was that no one in his administration understood business or the economy, and their reaction to things they don't understand is to try and control them. Hence ridiculous pieces of legislation like the financial overhaul bill passed in July and the just-passed $30 billion small community business lending program.

Back in July I explained why I thought the reform bill would do more harm than good (summary: it was even longer than the obamacare bill; no one had read it; it piled on over 5000 pages of new regulations, but left interpretation and enforcement up to the discretion of regulatory agencies; and most damaging of all, further contributed to the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) that is hamstringing American businesses).

I went on to elaborate about FUD in a later post.

Fast-forward to last week. The clown-in-chief and his cohorts managed to pass a bill that authorizes $30 billion for small banks to lend to small businesses. The idea is that if banks lend more money to small businesses, the businesses will expand, hiring more people and creating jobs. Only two small problems: (1) the banks don't want the money, and (2) neither do the small businesses. Why? FUD.
President Barack Obama's $30 billion small community business lending program faces one big challenge: many of the community banks and businesses it's supposed to help don't want it.
The lending program is part of a bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday and now awaits the president's signature. The legislation contains a mix of tax cuts and credits aimed at helping small businesses. The centerpiece of the bill is an effort to make billions of dollars available to community banks for loans to small businesses.

It seems like a simple effort to unclog a credit pipeline that has been blocked since the financial meltdown two years ago. But interviews with seven community bankers, as well as small business owners, show a reluctance to participate.

Bank executives say their customers don't want loans, even at low interest rates, because the sluggish economy has chilled expansion plans. Some say the federal money isn't worth it because they fear it will come with too much regulatory oversight.

"We have taken a strategic decision not to have our primary regulator, the government, also be a partner in our bank," said William Chase Jr., CEO of Triumph Bank in Memphis.

Chase said the bank already has enough capital to meet the paltry demand for loans. "Our business customers are mired in uncertainty and are reluctant to invest in their businesses," Chase said.
The previous two paragraphs just about say it all. The banks don't want the money because of fear of what the government might do to them after they accept it, and the customers don't want to borrow because of uncertainty about the economy.
Ninety-one percent of small business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said all their credit needs were met. Only 4 percent cited a lack of financing as their top business problem. Plans for capital spending were at a 35-year low.
The bill is a solution in search of a problem Ninety-one per cent of the businesses it is supposed to help say they don't need it. So who decided we needed to commit $30 billion to this program? The same people in charge of managing the economy. No wonder we're in this mess.
Jack Rajala just laughs when asked if he wants to take out a loan today. He's in a fight to save his family's lumber business that has been buffeted by the recession and housing meltdown.

"I've seen many ups and downs; this is unquestionably the toughest," said the 71-year-old Rajala, the third-generation owner of Rajala Companies of Deer River, Minn. Since 2008, his company closed two factories and halved the number of employees to less than 100 as orders plummeted for windows, floors and door frames. Annual revenue is down 50 percent since 2008 to $5 million, and the company is losing money.
Rajala is symbolic of the challenges faced by Obama's small business lending initiative... 
Unfortunately, Rajala is probably laughing to keep from crying. His business is half of what it was before obama took office. The last thing he needs now is to borrow money to finance an expansion.
"The crucial questions facing business owners are does it make sense to make an investment right now, and will it generate positive returns?" Josh Lerner, professor of finance and entrepreneurial management at Harvard Business School.
It seems that the small business owners' answer is a resounding "NO!"
Noah Wilcox, CEO of Grand Rapids State Bank, with two branches in Minnesota, said he already has more capital at his $250 million bank than he can lend out.

"Many of our clients, business owners, put their projects on ice in 2008 because their job number one is to see their company through to the other side of this economic crisis," said Wilcox.
When firms are struggling to hang on to what they've got, expansion is the last thing they're worried about.
And then there's concerns that the government money will have strings attached.

The fears stem from what happened under TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, formed at the height of the financial meltdown to pump money into banks. Banks that accepted TARP money had to later cut dividends to shareholders and limit compensation to top executives. They were also penalized for early repayment.
Got that? The rules were changed after the fact. And banks that did well were penalized - PENALIZED!?! - for early repayment. That sounds like a typical government program. Reward the incompetent and punish the successful.
In this new legislation, the government is taking steps to avoid the tarnish that accompanied TARP. The key part of this effort: Banks can return the money without penalty if rules governing the small business loans change.

But Chase, the bank CEO in Memphis, isn't convinced.

"The rules can be changed any time," said Chase.
Smart man. Run as fast as you can as far away as you can from this nonsense. 

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Long Saturday

Hot.

Humid.

Played 36 holes today in a reunion golf tournament.

Many beers.

Tried to upload an image that reflects today's experience. Didn't work. Thrilled to find out it wasn't me, but rather that Blogger screwed up.

So to Hell with them. I'm going to bed...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Young 'Uns

Our 16-year-old son got his drivers license this summer (June 2010). Life was serendipity enough that his 92-year-old grandfather decided about that time to stop driving. So 'The Boy' lucked into becoming the proud possessor of a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria. 

I work out of town from Mon. through Thur. While I'm gone, 'The Boy' parks the '96 Crown Vic in my space in the garage. When I'm back in town he parks his car in a space off our driveway.

Fast forward to Wed. Sep. 22. He knew I was coming home, so he went to move his car. One problem - he neglected to raise the garage door.

The garage door is lightweight aluminum. The damage to the car was negligible (after all, it's a solid-body 90's relic) but there was enough structural damage to the garage door to require that it be replaced.

I can't get too upset. I did exactly the same thing - backed out without opening the garage door - six years ago. Furthermore, my older son ran his car off the road while he was watching a 'cute girl' wiggle down the street. He not only hit a parked car that time, but he did the same thing again a few weeks later and hit a light pole.

So we're moving forward from here. We've all done the same thing or worse, so we'll laugh it off and move on.

The Joke's On Them

Comedian Stephen Colbert will testify before Congress on Friday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration called "Protecting America's Harvest."

Why on God's green earth is a comedian testifying about immigration policy? How does telling jokes for a living qualify a person to be an expert on immigration?
Colbert will testify alongside United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez to discuss the UFW's summer "Take our Jobs" campaign, in which the group invited U.S. citizens and legal residents to replace immigrant field laborers, according to a UFW press release.

Rodriguez appeared on "The Colbert Report" in July to discuss the campaign. During the interview, Colbert agreed to participate in the challenge after Rodriguez reported that only four people had signed up to work in the fields.
Oh, I see. The guy spent one day - one friggin' day - picking crops, and now he's an expert. No wonder congress is so clueless.

Then we have Jon Stewart.
Count Jon Stewart among the legion of frustrated supporters of President Obama.

Appearing on Fox News' The Bill O'Reilly show Wednesday, the liberal comedian said he thought Obama would do a better job when he voted for him in the 2008 presidential election.

"I think people feel a disappointment in that there was a sense that Jesus will walk on water and no you are looking at it like, 'Oh look at that, he's just treading water' … I thought he'd do a better job," said Stewart.
So Stewart equates obama with Jesus. How very typical of the leftist loonies who supported the loser-in-chief. Reminds me of the old joke about obama and Bush out in a boat. The boat sinks and the two walk on top of the water back to shore. The next day the headlines read "Obama walks on water! Bush can't swim."

Finally, for a more serious, but no less enjoyable, discussion of why obama and the dems are faltering, check out Ed Rollins' recent column.
The oldest rule in politics is to control your story.

What that means is that, if there are five weeks to go in an election, and your party -- meaning the Democrats -- is in big trouble, the narrative you want to tell voters is: "Why you should re-elect Democratic majorities."

I have been amazed over the past several weeks by how the White House has lost control of the story.

First everything was President Bush's fault. It was believable for a time early in President Obama's term, but soon people responded by saying, "So what? Fix it. It's your job!"

The next strategy was: "Look at all the wonderful things that Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid and I have done for you." The $850 billion stimulus, health care, the "cash for clunkers" car rebate program. Unfortunately for the White House, a majority of the voters disapproved of those programs and didn't think they worked.

Then we had the "don't give the keys back to the guys that drove the car into the ditch" strategy. That didn't quite work either.

Then the sidebar stories started stepping on the narrative.

We've learned in the last two weeks that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may be getting off the sinking ship to go run for mayor of Chicago, Illinois. The mastermind who got most of the endangered members of Congress elected in 2006 and 2008 is saying "Adios guys. Chicago needs me."

Then last week some genius in the White House apparently got the idea, "Let's go brand all Republicans 'kooks,' like the Tea Party candidates." All that suggestion did was get the most enthused voters/volunteers/activists even more revved up and ready for combat.

Then we have former President Jimmy Carter on his umpteenth book tour telling everyone in all humility how, "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents." What the Carter book tour really did was remind voters how much President Obama reminds them of Carter and his failed presidency.

Then we come to this week. We start the week with a CNBC sponsored and televised town hall meeting with real voters. Well, the real voters tell the president to his face that they really don't like him and are terribly disappointed in his job performance.

Those voters, many of whom voted for the president, are then featured all week on other television shows repeating why they told the president that his administration is failing them.

Then Tuesday we hear that the economics czar, Larry Summers, is resigning to go back to Harvard and teach. He must have read that the recession is over and his job is done. Ask the 18.8 percent who tell the Gallup Poll that they are unemployed or underemployed if the recession is over.

Another sidebar: While everybody is distracted and getting beaten up by former supporters who don't love the president anymore, Harry Reid tries with five weeks to go before Election Day to slip the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" into the defense appropriation bill for the Iraq and Afghan wars.

It of course fails, so blame the Republicans again.

And speaking of bad timing and the Afghan war, we read front page stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post about Bob Woodward's 16th nonfiction book "Obama's Wars" that is to be published Monday.

From the excerpts reprinted in the Times and Post stories, the "wars" he talks about are inside the White House -- tales that make Gen. Stanley McChrystal's staff's comments seem tame by comparison.

It will take at least a week or two of damage control just to get the White House focused back on the elections a few weeks hence.
One of the topics I research is skill sets among the IS workforce. Different types of organizations desire different sets of skills in their employees. The desired skills also vary by organizational level (entry level, mid-level, etc.) and function (marketing, accounting, IT, etc.) Not exactly rocket science, I know, but hey - it beats working for a living.

Anyway, it amazes me that the people who were so effective on the campaign trail are so ineffective in office. I would have thought that some of the skill sets effective in campaigning - organizing, polling, public relations, and so forth) would be equally valuable in governing. Either that premise is false, or the people involved in the campaign are not a part of the administration (or at least have different roles in the administration), or they are more focused on enjoying the perks of governing than on doing a good job.

It's a mystery why, but unfortunately for us the outcomes are clear.

Hurry November...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Idea, Poor Execution

The GOP's Pledge to America is modeled after the Republican's successful 1994 Contract with America. While the concept behind the Pledge is good (e.g., limited government, procedural reforms) it falls short in a couple of ways.

First, unlike the Contract, the Pledge only contains general statements of intent. It does not include specific bills that will be brought up for a vote in the first 100 days of the new congress. Second, the original Contract was signed by all the GOP candidates. The Pledge is unsigned. If you believe in something you should stand up and commit yourself to it.

Furthermore, IMO the Pledge does not go far enough in promising meaningful procedural reforms and legislative transparency. Granted, it includes a provision that will require that every bill have a citation of constitutional authority (which is relatively meaningless, seeing as how the courts have stretched and deformed the Constitution to justify a whole variety of government nonsense). It also promises to give members at least three days to read bills before a vote. That's all well and good, but what about We the People? Shouldn't we get three (or more) days to read pending legislation? And why not post the bills on the Internet, like obama promised?

(UPDATE: The Pledge does in fact call for posting bills on the Internet for at least three days. I relied on a synopsis rather than reading the actual document. My inner democrat must have taken over for a spell.)

It also fails to eliminate earmarks, a rancid source of pork for the folks back home. The only purpose of an earmark is to help your local congresscritter get reelected.
 
And while it includes a nod of the head towards eliminating omnibus bills (the odious type of thing that Harry Reid tried to pull off when he added an amendment on the Dream Act to the recent defense appropriations bill) it doesn't go far enough, or offer a concrete proposal that would prevent waivers. 

In fact, one big failing of the Pledge is that it only includes the House, not the Senate. The [*sarcasm*] 'world's greatest deliberative body' [*end sarcasm*] desperately needs reform, including but not limited to elimination of earmarks, holds, omnibus bills, and other assorted offenses against man and nature.

(For an excellent, albeit quite lengthy, discussion of the 'state of the senate' there's an excellent article in the August New Yorker. For a pretty good synopsis of the article go here.)

So bottom line, if the authors of the Pledge to America were in my class I'd give them a C: a good analysis of the problem, some reasonable suggestions, but a poor implementation plan.

Then I'd go have a beer...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good News Bad News

I've posted before about the increasing and totally unnecessary administrative burden being imposed on college professors. Yesterday was a perfect example. Three meetings lasting a total of six hours that didn't resolve a damn thing, so more meetings will be necessary. I won't bore you with the particulars, but the bottom line was six hours in meetings, three hours in the classroom. That ratio will not help educate the kids.

On the good news front, I found out today that I will be presenting a paper at a prestigious international conference. Even better, the conference will be held next January in Hawaii. And to top it off, the university will be paying a large chunk of my expenses.

At last, a worthwhile use of our tax dollars.

Aloha...

The Wisdom Of Crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds is a form of group wisdom, an emerging field of study in the social psychology arena. It examines the aggregation of information in groups that results in decisions that are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. It's central thesis is that a diverse collection of independently-deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individual experts.

Case in point:
... a majority of a panel of leading economists surveyed by CNNMoney.com said that the tax cuts (passed during the Bush administration) should be renewed for everyone.

"Extend tax cuts for all income levels and do nothing else," said Sean Snaith, economics professor at the University of Central Florida. "More of the same piecemeal, patchwork policies put forth by this administration will undermine confidence and do little to change the path the economy is on."

Higher taxes are generally believed to be a drag on the economy since it leaves consumers and businesses with less money to spend. Those who argue for extending the tax cuts for the wealthy say that raising those tax rates would hit many small businesses and could put a crimp in hiring.
Not to mention the moral argument that taking money from successful and productive members of society at the point of a gun and then transferring that wealth to those who do little isn' t much different from armed robbery, Even if it's prettied up with nice names and disguised as government 'entitlement' programs, it's still an imposition of the tyranny of the majority on the industrious minority.

In any event, it's probably too much to hope for that the obama administration will heed the Wisdom of Crowds. Instead, we will be treated to the Ignorance of Congress...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spotted In Austin Texas

Gotta luv it!!!

Don't They have Anything Better To Do?

Unemployment is hovering around 10%. The deficit keeps growing by leaps and bounds. Illegal immigration remains a contentious and unsolved problem. Terrorists are doing their damnedest to destroy our way of life. And the senate dithers its time away debating repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT)* policy.

This is one of the main reasons that I'm so disgusted with congress. They play political games instead of addressing the very real and very serious problems facing this country. The democraps are at fault this time, but the repubs have done the same thing in the past. Why can't they just vote on one thing at a time? In this case, vote on the defense appropriations bill. Take care of that piece of business and then move on to the next. But don't conflate funding for our military with gay rights or illegal immigration. That's despicable and cowardly politics, pure and simple, no matter which side does it.

Furthermore, gay rights and immigration policy may be important issues, but right now the economy should be Job One. Get this country back on its feet and then worry about the other stuff.

Grow up and do the job you were elected to do. Don't waste our time and money on crap that you think will help you get re-elected.

*FWIW, I've addressed the DADT issue before. If you're interested here's the link. Below's a preview.
First, a little background. I like to think I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to social issues. For example, I'm okay with gay marriage. As Kinky Friedman says, "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."

And yet, and yet...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Update

Jerry Jones is still an idiot.

Wade Phillips is still an idiot.

Jason Garrett is still an idiot.

Tony Romo is still an idiot.

And oh yeah, obama is still an idiot.

Speaking of idiots, we have the leaders of numerous American Muslim organizations.
Comparing the planners of the Muslim community center and mosque to be built two blocks from ground zero to Rosa Parks, leaders of numerous American Muslim organizations declared their strong support for the project on Monday, and said it should not move.
Are they serious?!? Comparing a real estate scam to the civil rights movement and Rosa Parks? GMAFB. No one is denying they have the right to build whatever they want on whatever property they own. The opposition is based on the insensitive and provocative nature of the proposed mosque. That's a far cry from saying muslims must sit at the back of the bus.
The leaders, representing local as well as national groups, stressed that their primary concern was not this one project, called Park51, but other instances of anti-Muslim sentiment, driven by what they called fear, lack of information and political opportunism, that has led small, vocal groups of residents from Staten Island and Brooklyn to California and Tennessee to oppose the construction of mosques.


Moderate Muslim Leader

First of all, it's not "small, vocal groups." A national poll shows that 68 percent oppose the plan to build the mosque. A poll of New Yorkers shows that more than two-thirds of them oppose it. So their characterization of the opposition is either based on ignorance of the facts, or deliberate misstatement of them. In other words, they're either idiots or liars.

Second, any anti-muslim sentiment has been intensified by this project. If they truly want to advance understanding and reconciliation between muslims and normal people non-muslims, then move the damn mosque. Don't lay this on others. If they decide to spit in the face of the American people by building the damn thing, then they need to man up and live with the consequences. You diss me and I'll diss you right back.

Below is a conceptual rendition of a possible compromise to the Ground Zero mosque design.



Finally, if they want to be accepted by the civilized world, then stop, or at least denounce, suicide bombings, stoning, beheading, treating women like chattel, fatwas against cartoonists, etc. Move up to at least the 20th century, if not the 21st. 

At this point, all I can say is "Screw 'em all, screw 'em all, the long, the short and the tall..."

(Images shamelessly stolen from here and here.)

American Lindsey Vonn Has To Forfeit Her Gold Medal



The International Olympic Committee announced today that it has taken back the gold medal previously awarded to American skier Lindsey Vonn and given it to U.S. President Barack Obama.




Olympic officials said Obama deserved the medal more than Vonn because no one has ever gone downhill faster than he has.

(Dedicated to FOD at GGDF)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Update

Jerry Jones is an idiot.

Wade Phillips is an idiot.

Jason Garrett is an idiot.

Tony Romo is an idiot.

And oh yeah, obama is an idiot.

Gloom And Despair

Poll Reveals Widespread Distrust in U.S.
Few Americans express confidence in those at the helm of major institutions, with the deepest animosity reserved for those in the U.S. Congress, according to a new poll released today by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center.  In addition, Americans remain skeptical of government intervention in the realm of health care, and ratings of the government's performance in living up to the goals set by the U.S. Constitution are shifting negative.

The military tops the list of 18 different institutions in this year's poll, holding the confidence of 43% of Americans, followed by small and local business (39%), the scientific community (30%), organized religion (18%) and the U.S. Supreme Court (16%).  The federal government (10%) and the U.S. Congress (7%) fared worse, about on par with major companies (7%) and banks and other major institutions (6%).  About one-quarter (26%) said they had no confidence at all in Congress, the highest no-confidence read of any institution tested.
It's not surprising that congress comes in at the bottom, at least to anyone who is paying attention. What is sad and disturbing is that less than half the people polled say "they are extremely or very confident " in the military.

On a macro level, it's disturbing that no institution - none, nada, zip, zero - had the confidence of at least half of the country. That speaks volumes about where we are as a country.

On the bright side:
...approximately three-quarters agree that the U.S. Constitution is "an enduring document that remains relevant today," and nearly as many say laws should be followed even if public safety might be at risk.  Most also back the rights of the individual over the whims of the majority (62%), and say even offensive speech should be a constitutional right (70%).

"At a time that seems characterized by deepening political polarization, most Americans remain in strong agreement on our highest democratic values," said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner.  "Across party lines, our poll found that the majority of Americans believe in upholding the rule of law and protecting individual rights.  On this Constitution Day we can celebrate that, even as partisan debates rage around hot-button issues, Americans still share together a vision of a more perfect Union formed under the framework of our nation's most cherished document."
There's more good news:
On some of the central political issues of the day, the poll shows that Americans are highly skeptical of government intervention.  Approximately three-quarters say they would oppose shifting more power to the president even if it would help improve the economy, and more than eight in 10 say the federal government should not have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance and pay a fine if they do not. 
And in an ironic note, "Just 10 percent of Democrats voiced strong trust in Congress, even though their party controls it."

Okay, so we agree in principle. But the devil's in the details. How can we leverage that agreement into laws and regulations that we all can live with?

Simple. Take out the trash on Nov. 2.









There's a lot more detail in the original press release. For those of you interested in the actual survey you can see it here

Saturday, September 18, 2010

E-mail Gems

When I run out of time and/or inspiration I can always turn to my inbox. There's a never-ending source of material there: some good, some not so good, but all of it easy pickin's. Here's today's.
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.

"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota . The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn't give any milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley Cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the '50s. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore movies. "I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada , Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, "We're going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out," he said.

The Herald will be interested to see if Obama can actually raise Mary from the dead in time for the concert! 
The story above has been floating around on the internet since at least 2008. It's attributed to Clive Runnels at the Manitoba Herald. However, the Manitoba Herald's last published issue was August 2, 1877. I haven't been able to track this one to its source, but it really doesn't matter. It's funny and delivers a message at the same time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hoist The Black Flag And Begin To Slit Throats

What to make of the results from Tuesday's primaries and the strong tea party showing? Toby Harnden nails it.
...To say that voters are angry is an understatement. They are furious, disgusted and resentful. They are fed up of being told by besuited party honchos and professional politicians whom they should vote for, and what they should think.

On Tuesday, Carl Paladino scored another big Tea Party victory in New York, winning the Republican nomination for governor. He quoted, as have many others, the anguished cry of Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network – "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!" If anything, it understates the strength of anti-establishment feeling. The mood is closer to H L Mencken's observation, prominent on the Ace of Spades conservative blog, that "every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats".
Amen, brother. Spit, hoist, and slit away!!!
So the reaction of (Republican) establishment figures ... was as predictable as it was misguided. ... But (their) response showed an arrogance that will fuel the outrage Republicans should be trying to harness.
Typical repubs. They've been dealt a winning hand and they have no idea how to play it.
Democrats are even more out of touch ... their tactic of portraying the Tea Party as racist loons is likely to be disastrous. Mocking populist sentiment in this atmosphere will see Democrats punished at the polls far more severely than Republicans.

There are certainly some eccentric characters at Tea Party events, but the vast majority are small-government conservatives who think Washington is corrupt, complacent and working for itself rather than the people. Those feelings have only been exacerbated by President Obama's policies: elected on a wave of anti-Bush feeling, he interpreted the desire for something different as a mandate for a vast expansion of government, piling trillions on to the already swollen national debt. In Florida the other day, I saw a home-made sign tied to the front gate of a modest home in a black neighbourhood. "No more big plans with my money," it declared. That's the essence of the Tea Party message – and it has huge resonance.

Ironically, a strong Tea Party presence in Congress is likely to lead to further legislative gridlock, especially if there is no rapprochement with the Republican establishment. In 2012, Obama could win re-election with no real mandate at all. That would only fuel the outrage of the Tea Partiers and reinforce their darkest suspicions. In such circumstances, a major realignment of American politics would be inevitable.
We can only hope...

(H/T to Barking Moonbat for the link to Harnden's story)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eye-catching Headline

Posted without comment:

Biden to campaign with Coons

The Bad With The Good

I'm all for freedom of speech, even - or perhaps especially - when I disagree with said speech. But there has to be limits. For example, we have libel and slander laws to protect people from false and malicious allegations. And there's Oliver Wendell Holmes' oft-cited admonition against falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater.
"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
The quote is used as an example of speech which serves no conceivable useful purpose and is extremely and imminently dangerous so that resort to the courts or administrative procedures is not practical and expresses the permissible limitations on free speech consistent with the terms of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Which brings us to such a vile and disgusting abuse of free speech that it boggles the mind.
Manual on How to Molest Children is Legal

A 170-page manual explaining step by step how to molest children which police in Orange County, Fla., believe has been circulating there for months, is not illegal.

"I've never seen anything like it. It was pretty amazing when I first saw it just because how detailed it was," Orange County Sheriff's Office Det. Philip Graves told ABC News Orlando, Fla., affiliate WFTV.

The manual, which was apparently written by someone who calls himself "the mule," is a how-to of child molestation, even explaining where and how to find potential victims, the station reported.

Among the many disturbing topics covered in the book is how to convince a victimized child not to tell his or her parents.

Graves told WFTV that it is not a crime in Orange County to send the manual by e-mail or to possess it
Nothing against Detective Graves, but I just can't believe that this is legal. I can understand that a book advocating child molestation might be considered legal, distasteful though it might be, but a how-to manual?!?! If that isn't a "clear and present danger" that will bring about "substantive evils" then I can't imagine what is. Maybe the Orange Country Sheriff's Department should get a second opinion.

And maybe the good citizens down there should get a rope ... or two ... or more ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Switzerland Ain't Got Nothin' On Texas

I recently posted about Switzerland's drive-thru sex boxes. Turns out that the Lone Star state is home to 7 of America's top 15 sexual hotspots
The scribes at Men's Health magazine just released a list of America's hottest and most-active cities — we're not talking temperatures here — and Texas locales captured seven of the top 15 spots.

In a racy press release trumpeting "America's hotbeds of sex," Austin came in No. 1 and was dubbed the "capital of copulation."

Dallas — Dallas? — came in No. 2.; Arlington was No. 7; Houston, No. 10; Lubbock, No. 11; Fort Worth, No. 12; and San Antonio, No. 15.
Austin at #1 is no surprise. I lived in Austin for almost 10 years, many of them single, and I still smile when I think about it.

Dallas as #2? The saying I always heard was "Dallas for culture - Fort Worth for fun." I've spent a little time in both places, and that sure seems accurate to me. So I'd switch Fort Worth and Dallas on the list.

Arlington placing 7th seems iffy. Must be the Dallas Cowboy influence.

I lived in Houston for around 15 years, most of them married (one happily, one not so happily). Based on the interim years between the two wives, #10 is about right.

I had a good friend who lived in Lubbock, whom I visited often. I also dated a girl from Snyder and another from Post (small towns somewhat near Lubbock). Based on those experiences I'd rate Lubbock higher - much higher. Cowgirls in tight jeans ... (*fond sighs of remembrance*) 

I grew up in and around San Antonio, and moved back there about 10 years ago. I can't argue with its position at #15.

So there you have it. A native's guide to Texas hotspots. Go forth and prosper...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Try This At Home

Two of my pet peeves are college administrators and speed bumps/humps.

Regarding college administrators, there's an old saying:
Those who can, do.
Those who can't teach.
Those who can do neither, administrate.
I'm here to testify that there's a lot of truth in that.

It used to be that college administrators stayed in their offices and developed programs that only affected other administrators. But recently, they have emerged from their lairs and begun to intrude on the faculty and students.
Between 1993 and 2007, student enrollment at America's leading universities rose by 14.5 percent.

Meantime, the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service climbed 17.6 percent.

Over those same years, the number of full-time administrators climbed more than 39 percent.

During that same period, inflation-adjusted instructional spending per student rose by 39 percent, while spending on administration per student increased by nearly 66 percent. 

In short, universities are suffering from administrative bloat, expanding their bureaucracies significantly faster than their numbers of students, instructors, and researchers.
(source: here )

It's not just the money, it's the impact on the core mission of the universities - teaching and research.

I now spend almost as much time on administrative nonsense as I do teaching. My supply of time is finite, so as administrative demands rise, I must take time away from something else. It's not going to be my family, so that leaves teaching or research. My evaluation and incentive package, as implemented by the administrators, is weighted towards research. I get raises and promotions based more on my research productivity than any other factor, so guess which bucket the time for increased administrative chores comes from.

That's right - teaching.

The students are getting shortchanged while the faculty jumps through all sorts of administrative hoops. Even worse, their nonsense is beginning to intrude into the classroom. Case in point:

At my university we have a program designed to improve the students' writing skills. (It's actually to make up for the failure of the public school system to teach kids how to effectively communicate, but that's beside the point.) Certain courses are designated writing-intensive courses, where the emphasis is on written assignments and feedback to the students. It used to be up to the faculty member how to conduct this course. That's a part of academic freedom, something we professors feel very, very passionate about. Now the administrators are telling us that written assignments must constitute at least 60% of the course grade, and have given us a detailed rubric for grading those assignments. There is little value given to the content of the written assignments. Most of the points are based on the mechanics of writing, and not on mastery of the subject.

I teach courses in Information Systems, one of which has been designated (without any input from me) as a writing intensive course. My grading criteria is based primarily on whether or not the students can develop working systems, not on how well they can write a report explaining why their system failed. I can't seem to get this point through to the administrators in charge of the writing program. 

Evidently I'm not the only one who has a problem with administrators. However, as much as I bitch about them, I don't approve of this solution to the problem.
Jackson County prosecutors today charged a student wearing a bullet-resistant vest with slashing the throat of a dean at the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley.

The suspect — dressed all in black — appeared to be under the influence of drugs, police said.

Other students described him as having demonic tattoos and said he had written symbols on a wall poster before the incident began. Brezik reportedly has a tattoo on his hand of an “A” with a circle around it — an anarchist symbol.

Brezik’s Facebook page paints a portrait of an angry man. He had 26 friends and bragged in June about being the first person arrested at the G-20 Summit.
The slasher is obviously a nutjob, but I know more than a few faculty members who could fit that description. Fortunately, the dean's injuries are not life-threatening.


As for speed bumps/humps, I hate those damn things. The so-called "traffic calming devices" do nothing but divert traffic to other streets, slow emergency vehicle response time, and increase stress on suspension systems and drivers.

They just installed a series of them on a street I frequently drive on. Far from calming me, they have increased my level of road rage to the point where I honk my horn every time I go over one in order to share my aggravation with the nimrods who wanted them installed. Alternatively, I take a parallel street and speed merrily on my way. If officials really wanted to lower the speed, post a radar car along the road a few times a week. That'll do more to change driver behavior than raised chunks of asphalt.

I'm not the only one who hates those infernal humps. Unfortunately, some people just can't control themselves.
Stephen A. Carr worked aggressively, but patiently, to try to slow down the cars that flew past his house in the Burke area of Fairfax County. Most of his neighbors applauded his help, and earlier this year a speed hump was installed in front of his house.

But David A. Patton evidently was not a fan. In June, court and police records show, Patton angrily confronted Carr about the speed hump outside Carr's house. Patton was charged with misdemeanor assault. His trial was set for Thursday.

On Sunday night, police say, Patton went further. Witnesses told police he burst into Carr's house, tied up Carr and his girlfriend and, when Carr struggled, fatally shot him in the head, court records allege.
I obviously don't condone either throat-slashing or tie-up-and-shoot (well, except in a few special cases, like child molesters, rapists, and terrorists), but I can understand the frustration that underlies them. Maybe the solution is to make speed humps out of college administrators...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rough Weekend

Hard drive crashed. Cell phone died. Cowboys lost (stop gloating, Harper).

PC's in the shop where the techs are trying to recover the drive contents. Most of the data is backed up online (twice - Carbonite is good; SugarSync is great) but there's some specialized software, settings, and other assorted stuff that I'd like to transfer over rather than recreate/reinstall. I'm keeping my fingers croseed.

Got a brand new 4G phone today (Samsung Epic). It's much more phone than I'm used to, and more than I need, but my wife needed a new one also (she's a cell phone power user) and we got a deal for buying two. She'll teach me how to use it (the new millennium's version of date night). We'll see how things go.

As for the Cowboys ... Jerry Jones is an idiot. Wade Phillips is an idiot. Jason Garrett is an idiot. Tony Romo is an idiot. And perhaps I'm the biggest idiot of all for continuing to follow that wretched team.

I can't help it. I've been watching them since their inception back in 1960. The early days in the Cotton Bowl. The team's first quarterback battle between Eddie LeBaron and Don Meredith. Those epic playoff games against Lombardi's Packers. Craig Morton vs. Roger the Dodger. Looming over everything was the specter of Tom Landry.

Then came Jerry Jones. Yes, the team won a few Super Bowls after he bought the team. but it was in spite of him, not because of him. About the only thing he did right was to hire Jimmy Johnson, and a few years later he ran him off. They haven't done diddly squat since (I don't count the Switzer Super Bowl - that was Johnson's team. Hell, I could have coached that team to the title.)

Now I'm fixin' to settle down and watch two teams I despise on MNF. The ravens are a bunch of arrogant thugs and criminals. The jets are coached by the asshole son (Rex Ryan) of an even bigger asshole (Buddy Ryan). I don't know which one to root against, so I hope it's a scoreless overtime tie.

Multiple Shiners make just about anything watchable...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember The Fallen


(Image from RangerUp.)

Nine years later the World Trade Center site is again the center of attention in an ongoing war against terrorism. But let's not forget what also happened at the Pentagon and in the sky above Pennsylvania.

If you're a reader, I highly recommend Among the Heroes, a book that tells the story of Flight 93, which was hijacked on 9/11 and then crashed as the passengers and crew battled the hijackers for control of the plane. It's not an easy book to read - I had to stop more than once due to blurry vision - but it does an excellent job of narrating the events that led to that field in Pennsylvania while humanizing without over-embellishing the participants. Ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, they typified the character and spirit that made this country great. 

Let's remember all of those affected by 9-11 in our prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Take On Drive-Thru

Ah, the Swiss. First chocolate, now this.
It looks like police in Zurich are subscribing to the "if you can't beat them, build them little huts to do the nasty in" theory of prostitution control. Only in Europe.

Prostitution has become such a problem in Switzerland that Zurich officials have made proposals to add "sex boxes" to the city. The idea itself is adopted from German cities like Essen and Cologne, and will be a way for prostitution to continue on behind closed, uh, doors.

The boxes will serve as quickie drive-throughs, so-to-speak, and will free up city streets from unsightly acts that haunt Zurich residents whose homes overlook the city's red light district. "They get up to all sorts in broad daylight - and we're sick to death of looking at it," one resident [said].

 
From the looks of things, the boxes are big enough to conceal vehicles while prostitutes and clients handle business, away from the public eye.

This somewhat laissez faire approach to Swiss sex industry control even comes an official police endorsement: "We can't get rid of prostitution, so we have to learn how to control it," Police spokesman Reto Casanova said.
Substitute "the democrat party" for "prostitution" in the sentence above, and you get the prevailing mood going into the Nov. elections...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Storm Aftermath

Those of us in Central and North Texas were all affected to varying degrees by Tropical Storm Hermine as she moved through the state.

In a bit of tragic irony, shortly after I posted about tubing down the Guadalupe River two people were missing and feared dead after they jumped from a railroad bridge into the swollen river. I can't be too critical of their judgment. In my younger days I used to jump from the same bridge, although never during flood conditions. 

Contrast this picture with the ones I posted after the Labor Day Weekend. Hard to believe it's the same river.


Not to make light of anyone's loss, but I must include my favorite Hermine-related story.

In LaCoste, southwest of San Antonio, officials were forced to close City Hall due to flooding along Pole Cat Creek.

Why is that my favorite? Because I found it so deliciously ironic and appropriate that the seat of government is located alongside Pole Cat Creek.

What a fitting name...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm A Sissy

Okay, I admit it. I'm nothing but a big cry-baby.

The local news tonight showed a clip about a soldier who was back in town on R&R after 8 months in Afghanistan. It was a short-notice trip, so he didn't get a chance to give his family much of a heads-up.

Somehow, though, one of the local TV stations got wind of it. When he went to his 8-year-old daughter's school to surprise her, a film crew was there. The look on her face - rapidly cycling through surprise, disbelief, and utter joy as she ran to him and threw herself into his arms - caused me to tear up.

As I was sitting there blubbering like a baby all I could think of was my daughter, and how much I would miss her if I was in that soldier's situation.

We often say the right things about how much we appreciate the sacrifices our service men and women make, but sometimes I wonder if we really, really understand what they and their families go through. All I can say is that I will never ever forget that little girl's reaction.

Excuse me. I have to go blow my nose...

Run Harry Run

The Senate race in Nevada has shaped up as a central arena for the broader forces at play in the national 2010 midterm elections.
Across the U.S., a wave of public anger is expected to drive large numbers of voters to the polls who are ready to vote Democratic incumbents out of office.

But incumbency carries advantages that Democrats believe will help protect their endangered lawmakers. In many races, those include a Democratic edge in fund-raising and a longstanding get-out-the-vote machine.

Despite low approval ratings in Nevada and nationally, (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) brings both advantages to his race against (GOP challenger Sharon) Angle

Mr. Reid showed up to rally the troops, telling them their job was similar to that of a baseball team that might not have the best players, but could win with the best execution.

"You steal bases," he said.
What an apt metaphor. The repubs have the "best players" but the dems can still win. Substitute "elections" for "bases" and you have the democraps game plan...

Insanity

A tide of national unhappiness and disenchantment with Washington has been building all year and proving a threat to incumbents of both parties

Good! We should vote ALL incumbents out of office. Ignore what the republican incumbents are saying, and look at their track record. If they've been feeding at the public trough more than a couple of terms they should be terminated (note to Big Bro - that's a figurative statement, not a literal one).

Case in point: my congresscritter is Lamar Smith (R-TX 21st district). He's been in office for 30 years. If you go down a list of issues one by one (illegal immigration, health care, taxes, 2nd amendment, etc.) he and I probably agree on 90+% of them. But if you look at his total body of work, he's part of the problem, not the solution.

Since he's been in office personal freedom has decreased, taxes have increased, the deficit has increased, government regulation has increased ... well, you get the idea. Sorry, Lamar, but you haven't gotten the job done. Time for you to move on. Nothing personal.



There's a lot of optimism out there regarding the fall elections. People seem to think that because the polls indicate that the dems are in trouble, control of the house, and possibly the senate, may shift to the repubs. That's better than the alternative, but it's not what we need. We need new blood in D.C. that will get rid of 'business as usual.'

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon, regardless of which party gains or loses seats this election cycle.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Only In Texas

Quite an eventful Labor Day Weekend:

First, from our home town - the Kendall County Fair and Rodeo takes place every labor Day Weekend. It kicks off with a parade down Main Street (don't you just love a town that calls it's main street "Main Street"?). The cool thing about the parade is that just about everyone watching the parade knows someone in it. The same thing happens with the Christmas parade. About every other year we're in one or the other, usually as part of various kids organizations. After the parade it's on to the Fair and Rodeo.

Americana on Parade at Kendall County Fair
The blaring horns of classic cars and dune buggies greeted children standing along Main Street, waving American flags and carrying plastic bags for storing candy during Saturday morning's Kendall County Fair parade.

The Boerne High School marching band, the Kendall County royalty court, clowns and a float playing the “Boot Scootin' Boogie” entertained the estimated 3,500 who took in the hourlong parade.

Red, white and blue popped up everywhere in the crowd, from hats and T-shirts to chairs and umbrellas. Army veteran Don Rudy said the parade was an excellent educational opportunity for children.

“It is little steps like this that get them believing in our country,” he said, pointing to his grandchildren Jenna and Jacob Deed.




Then there was the announcement from the State Fair of Texas proclaiming the Texas Fried Frito Pie is the winner of the biggest food prize for this year's state fair.
The battered and fried blend of chili, cheese and Fritos won the Best Taste award Monday at the sixth annual Big Tex Choice Awards.

Concoction creator Michael Thomas says he and his partners spent six months experimenting with different batters, chilis and chips.

Fried Beer won the Most Creative award. It will be served this year along with the Deep Fried Frozen Margarita.
I like Frito Pie. I also like beer, margaritas, and fried food. But there are some things that just shouldn't be fried. I'll hold off on condemning the fried frito pie, at least until after I try it, but beer or margaritas should not be mixed with hot grease. 

Texas Fried Frito Pie – "A generous portion of savory Texas born chili accented with a hint of sharp cheddar encased in everybody’s favorite corn chip. Lightly battered and fried to a golden brown perfection. With its smooth medley of hot, meaty, crunchy, salty, cheesy, oozing goodness; “Texas Fried Frito Pie” transports you back to the golden age of Fair Food."


Finally, we have some photos from a long-standing labor Day Weekend tradition here in Central Texas - tubing down the Guadalupe River. I used to do this 30+ years ago. We used old truck inner tubes back then. I had three: one for me, one for my black lab Chump, and one for the ice chest. The rules have changed since then (heck, back then there weren't any rules), but some things are still the same.

 

 



All in all, a damn fine weekend...

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Los Angeles School Named After Al Gore Built On Toxic Soil
He's the first vice president to have an L.A. school named after him ... Fittingly, the campus will be devoted to environmental themes. But there's a catch.

Critics say the campus' location poses a long-term health risk to students and staff.

Construction crews were working at the campus up to the Labor Day  weekend, replacing toxic soil with clean fill. All told, workers removed dirt from two 3,800-square-foot plots to a depth of 45 feet, space enough to hold a four-story building. The soil had contained more than a dozen underground storage tanks serving light industrial businesses.

Groundwater about 45 feet below the surface remains contaminated...
Not to mention all the carbon footprints left behind by replacing dirty dirt with clean dirt...


New Oval Office Rug Gets History Wrong
President Obama's new presidential rug seemed beyond reproach, with quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. woven along its curved edge.
Except the quote attributed to King is actually from Theodore Parker, a mid-19th century abolitionist and thinker. (It should be noted that King used the quote often, but always gave credit to Parker. The error, not surprisingly, lies fully with obama's people.)

Geez, they can't even get quotes right. No wonder the country is in such a mess.


Democrats Eat Their Young
As Democrats brace for a November wave that threatens their control of the House, party leaders are preparing a brutal triage of their own members in hopes of saving enough seats to keep a slim grip on the majority.

In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers. 

“In 2008, there was this sense of hope and this sense of being able to change the world,” said Representative Zack Space, Democrat of Ohio. “A lot of that enthusiasm doesn’t exist now...
Does anyone seriously wonder why?


They Talk About Me Like A Dog
Those following President Obama's prepared remarks during a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Monday were thrown a bit of a curveball when it came to a description of his critics:

"Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time and they're not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog..." 
Bad president! Bad! No vote for you! Not until you quit making messes in the House. And the Senate. And overseas. And...

FOD Supplement

Too worn out to say much today, so here's some pictures that are worth multiple 1000's of words, inspired by FOD at GGDF.






(Click on the picture to enlarge it. Then check out the decal on the truck's back window. Typical obama voter...)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another Example Of Why We're In This Mess

As The Whited Sepulchre has pointed out, the current administration's policy is "Pass it so we can see what's in it, write it so the author can read it, and re-educate the masses so they can appreciate all we're doing for them."

Of course, this leads to all sorts of counterproductive Easter eggs being tucked away in those massive tomes that are today's version of legislation. They manage to raise more questions than they answer, and invoke the law of unintended consequences. Case in point: the so-called Dodd-Frank financial reform act (Geez, even the name of that abomination reeks of irony). From the Financial Times:
A little-noticed provision in the mammoth Dodd-Frank financial reform act will force companies to disclose regularly the ratio of the median annual pay of all their employees to that of their chief executive.

The provision was inserted into the Dodd-Frank bill “at the last minute, with no discussion and not based on any particular problem”, says Charles Elson, a corporate governance professor at the University of Delaware. He categorised the pay ratio as a “thrill disclosure” that would generate headlines without offering meaningful comparisons.
A solution in search of a problem. I'm all in favor of transparency and disclosure, but for publicly held firms their executive compensation, number of employees, and overall salary expense is a matter of public record. What else is needed?   
“This is a political disclosure, as opposed to an economic disclosure, and that’s the problem,” Prof Elson adds.
Oh, that explains it. It's political (insert surprised/shocked expression here).
Lawyers caution that the formula mandated by the act has some seemingly perverse consequences, in terms of factors that will produce a low ratio – an apparent but potentially misleading sign of a company without excessive executive remuneration.
 “It will favour companies that outsource and use independent contractors, and those that use franchised rather than company-owned stores, since these relatively low paid jobs will not count towards the median tally,” says Richard Susko, a partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb.
Unintended consequences. Just what the economy needs - another driver that encourages firms to shed jobs.
Many of the crucial factors affecting the ratio have been left to the discretion of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has to draw up the regulations to implement the new rule…
Ah yes. Pass it first, then figure out how to implement it.
But whatever the SEC decides, the regulation is expected to create a potentially significant administrative burden. George Paulin, chairman and chief executive of the pay consultancy Frederick W. Cook & Co, predicts that the “procedure will be so complex that you will have to hire someone whose sole job will be to manage the preparation of the CEO pay ratio”.
Ah ha!!! It's a job creation bill...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy LDW

In spite of some people's negative perspective on Labor Day Weekend (LDW), I'd like to point out a positive aspect of it. (Nothing personal, WS. I agree with you on principle.)

Namely, I don't have to work.

While that's enough to satisfy me, I acknowledge that some of you, my loyal followers (both of you) may want a little more justification. So here 'tis:

My wife and I worked hard in our earlier years. We were fortunate enough - no, strike that - we were capable and dedicated and diligent enough to amass a reasonable amount of capital. Not enough to make us Snotty Rich Fucks a la Denny, but enough to make us Snotty Upper Middle Class Fucks.

We spent some of that capital on a weekend place on Lake Buchanan. Nothing fancy - just a 40+ year old dwelling that started out as a bungalow and has been added to over the years. But it is a nice, simple house on a quiet lake with little traffic.

Because it's an old house it requires a lot of maintenance. Not just your ordinary, everyday maintenance, but some specialized stuff. For example, it lacks a public sewer system. So we have a septic tank. However, because of the regulations regarding septic systems and the lake, our septic discharge zone must be a designated distance from the lake. In our case, that means the discharge zone must be uphill from our house.

I don't have a problem with that. But what I do have a problem with is our grinder pump.

The way things work is that we have a holding tank in the front yard. The tank is 3' X 3', and about 5' deep. That depth is enough to enable the wastewater from the house to flow 'uphill' to the bottom of the holding tank. From there, something called a grinder pump (it does what its name implies - grinds up solid waste and pumps it uphill) sends it several hundred yards uphill to a traditional septic tank discharge zone.

The regulatory intent is that sewage waste must be discharged a certain distance away from the lake. Otherwise some of the lake trash around here (pardon my elitism, but there's just not a more PC way to put it) would discharge their waste directly into the lake.

My tasks this weekend are to replace the grinder pump and the wooden cover over the holding tank. Replacing the cover is not fun, but doable. Replacing the pump, however, requires venturing down into the holding tank. 

I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that the wife and kids aren't coming up until late tomorrow afternoon.

Cowards...

In the meantime, I had the opportunity to spend tonight (Friday) up here by myself.

It was fabulous.

A cool front blew through, dropping the temperature into the low 70s. There was no moon and no clouds, meaning that the night sky was so clear I could see twinkling stars and the Milky Way. It was so quiet that the bird and insect noises overwhelmed the sound of the waves on the beach.

Tough life ... but tomorrow's going to suck big time.

Anyone want to join me?

Meanwhile, Back On The Surface

The saga of the trapped Chilean miners continues. Rescue efforts are underway, but in the meantime they have access to air, water, food, and communications. Their loved ones are providing support. That, however, may be problematic.  
One of the trapped Chilean miners is in no rush to be rescued -- because both his wife and his longtime mistress will be waiting for him when he finally sees the light of day.

Neither woman was aware of the other's existence until they met at a candlelight vigil for the miners, The Sun newspaper of Britain reported.

Yonni Barrios' wife, Marta Salinas, was shocked to hear another woman shouting her husband's name at the gathering held to support the 33 men who are trapped 2,300 feet underground, the paper said.

They compared notes and figured out that they both had been shafted.
Love that last line. (Rest of the story here.) 
Nothing gets a guy's attention like the possibility of a good cat fight, especially when it involves a couple of sultry Latin beauties.
Okay, I admit it - I'm a pig. I can't help it. It's hardwired in my jeans genes.