January 30, 2009

Situational Awareness

You are on the bus when you suddenly realize... you need to fart real badly.

The music is really loud, so you time your farts with the beat. After a couple of songs, you start to feel better as you approach your stop.

As you are leaving the bus, people are really staring you down, & that's when you realize, you have been listening to your iPod.

A little about me

As of 1/30/2009 10:53:18 AM EST
You are 46 years old.
You are 562 months old.
You are 2,445 weeks old.
You are 17,118 days old.
You are 410,842 hours old.
You are 24,650,573 minutes old.
You are 1,479,034,398 seconds old.

It took almost 47 years for me to be 1.5 BILLION seconds old. If someone handed me five hundred bucks every second beginning the moment I was born, I still would not have enough money to pay for President Obama's stimulus plan.

Munch on that for a while.

Suckers

I took down this video and post because my premise was faulty. We all make mistakes and I committed a huge one in this case. I did not check my source. Erin is right, this video was indeed more than a year old. This measure was rightly defeated already. In this case I was the sucker. Lesson re-learned.

I accept full responsibility. Mea Culpa.

January 29, 2009

Why the Stimulus is bad, part two

We discussed earlier the means a Government uses to get money. The primary ways are through taxation and borrowing. We find ourselves in a sluggish economy. Many have lost their jobs, some, like me, have been forced to take pay cuts. We are all worried about the future and are not spending what money we have. We are girding ourselves against the coming rainy, stormy day we envision on the economic horizon. We are not buying cars, building houses, and getting that new couch or appliance we had our heart set upon. So the makers of couches and appliances and cars are not selling, so they are not building and manufacturing and are letting their workers go, as they cannot afford to pay a person for doing nothing. It is business.

How do we get the economy moving? How do we re inspire confidence? How do we get people to spend their money? We can ride it out. Eventually our cars and refrigerators and couches will fall apart and we will have to replace them. This is how we got through downturns and panics and depressions and recessions for most of our country's history.

Today our President is proposing massive Government spending to promote economic growth. Let us pretend for one moment that the proposed bill is actual stimulus and not 80% pork projects as is actually the case (Pelosi is actually arguing provisions to provide free birth control actually helps the economy). How does increased Government spending actually help the economy? Is the Government going to buy carpet or stoves? Will they buy cars and build new houses? Is Uncle Sam going to wait in the two open lines at the local WalMart to buy Tide and lettuce? Are they going to buy widgets from me to increase orders at our factories?

Some of the President's economic advisers have argued we need to take the long-term unemployed and put them to work building roads and bridges (see below). Let us leave aside the reasons they are long-term unemployed such as education, ability and desire to work. This is the means FDR used to combat the Great Depression. One of my commenters praised the Blue Ridge Parkway in a previous post as a shining example of uneducated, untrained people building a road. We should keep in mind that in the early days of the last century nearly every single American earned a living through some form of manual labor. Most individuals had a basic understanding of building and using tools. Indeed, all roads were built with shovels and lots of manual labor at that time. Today's highways are built with machines and trained operators. Most of us do not do manual labor. Few of us would know how to build a road like they did a century ago. In the early days of the Michigan Road, one of our nation's earliest highways, every taxpayer was expected to give one day a year in labor to maintain the road. Few of us have that skill today. Instead of a week or more to grade a mile of roadbed the job is now done in a day. That work is done by a few trained and skilled individuals instead of by hundreds. Today's roads are better, stronger, more efficient and cost effective. While we would all like to drive a bulldozer, not many of us can (or should).

Let us argue that we would be better served as a nation to build the road the old fashioned way, with workers and shovels. The Government deems they should build their roads in this manner. You should recognize this will be at the cost of the construction industry, so we will employ some and others will lose their jobs, more companies will go out of business. Now the Government will be paying thousands for the work of hundreds. Will the cost of building that road be reduced? Again leaving skill and ability to actually complete the task aside, will the cost go up or down to build the road?

Now consider this, when the private contractor built the road, he took his pay from the same Federal Government. He bid on the job and offered the lowest price to the person paying the bill -- you and I John Taxpayer. He hired local workers to do the job. They bought groceries and cars and built houses to live in. The company owner paid individual, business, and payroll taxes. The workers paid taxes. The Government got 1/3 to 1/2 of their money back in taxes. Dozens of jobs were created. If the Government becomes the contractor, they do not pay the taxes, the payroll withholding, etc. They would be paying themselves, plus where do they get the money to pay? From you and I! Therefore we pay double and triple. Instead of paying a contractor and getting the money back in various taxes, we are foregoing the taxes and paying more to have a road built in an inefficient, high cost manner. Now you know why the Great Depression lasted a decade instead of about three years like the Panic of 1890. The Government cannot spend the economy to growth.

The best way to spur the economy is the way proposed by JFK. You remember him, the icon of the Democratic Party? It worked for Kennedy, it worked for Reagan. We must cut taxes. That does not mean give money to those who do not pay taxes -- see inflation from the previous post. Imagine if your next few paychecks were increased by 20, 30 or even 50 percent? Would you buy a new stove, a couch, a car?

The problem is if that happened, we would realize just how much of our hard earned money is taken every week. People might actually think -- hey who is this FICA and why does he get my money? This is the same reason the FDR administration adopted withholding -- what we do not see we do not notice. If we had to write a check for our taxes every April 15, there would be a revolution on April 16. As long as nearly half of Americans actually believe the Government is 'giving' them money when they get a tax refund, we are doomed.

If you believe massive Government spending will increase the demand for new houses and cars and stoves and couches and computers and groceries and hot tubs and widgets you are economically ignorant. The Government cannot produce anything, it cannot invent new products, it cannot create jobs. The only Government created jobs are Government jobs. The only way the Government can pay the worker for that job is to take money from a taxpayer. If we are all working for the Government how is the Government going to get the funds to pay for that job -- print money, borrow (from whom?) from taxes (collected from whom?)?

The only way the Government can sustain such monetary outlays is to take over the means of production. If the Government gets the profits from the factories and farms, then it will have the money to pay for the labor used to create that profit. Does that sound familiar? The problem is if the laborer does not share in the profit, if we are all paid the same for the amount of work we do, there is no incentive to work harder. Why should you bust your ass when the guy beside you is not? Welcome my friends to the world of Karl Marx. It has been tried and found wanting at every opportunity. It won't work here either.

Call your Senator, call your Representative -- tell them do not vote for the Stimulus, it stimulates nothing, it will prolong our economic troubles. Do not be a sheep, led by the politicians. Think things through. Just say no!

Just a thought

I for one think it is really cool that our new president is proud of , and ready to embrace his Muslim Heritage, now that he is President. Funny, he avoided all mention of that when he was running for office.

I am also glad his first public interview was for an Arab news source. I am sure that is a coincidence as well.

Why the Stimulus is bad, part one

I trudged through the snow-filled streets yesterday to see why my trusty computer quit working. It was the power supply. For slightly less than $100 I am back up and running. The computer place is a perfect example of the engine that powers the economy. Started by one guy part time, it now employs the owner and three others. I bet none are rich by any real standard, but they are the heart of the local economy. Along with the local appliance shop, carpet place, the plumbers, electricians, contractors, HVAC guys, mechanics, restaurateurs, they all hire and spend money locally. Hand in hand with the big factories they keep the wheels of commerce turning. The only stimulus they want or need is for me to spend money.

The Government can only get money in three ways. They can print it, borrow it, or tax it. If they just print money, it will quickly become worthless. Brazil, prewar Germany and Mexico have all tried this tactic with complete failure. If you want to take a wheelbarrow filled with worthless greenbacks to the store just to buy bread, then you should be for the 'just print more money' theory of economics. For those who advocated the Government to just divide the $700 trillion bank bailout among every family in the US, the result would be the same -- runaway inflation. Because like it or not, every single economy is governed by one simple law -- supply and demand. If we were all suddenly flush with cash, then the prices would rise accordingly. If everyone is buying an item, the price of that item goes up. Just printing money or handing out cash is a horrible idea.

The second way a Government can get money is to borrow that money. Most of us have loans for cars, houses and a few credit cards. What if the interest on those loans was more than your monthly pay? What if you found some sucker to loan you money to pay the interest on the first loan? What if you borrowed money on your retirement account to pay the interest on the second loan? Would you believe then that your kids and grand kids would willing pay for your retirement? What if they have first and second mortgages and have borrowed against their retirement? Would you keep spending at a higher rate every year, borrowing more and more? If you son or daughter told you to reduce spending would you tell them that even though you spent even more than last year, you did not spend as much as you wanted, therefore you HAVE reduced spending? Would you believe it? Would they? This is the way the Government operates today. A cut in a Federal Program means they did not spend as much as they wanted. We borrow from the Fed, from Social Security, and sell long-term notes to anyone that will buy them. In the 1990s it was the Japanese buying oir Treasury Bills. Now we are owned by China.

The third way the Government gets money is from taxes. It takes the money right from your paycheck. You pay Property taxes. You pay sales taxes, you pay, pay, pay. Anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 half of every dollar you make someone takes from you. The Government did not sweat and bleed and break their back to earn their money like you did -- they just take it. They might use it for very good reasons, but they still did not do the work to take it. My local Church might do very good charitable work for the community, but they still do not have a right to my hard earned pay. If you work and do not get paid you are either a fool or a slave.

As a citizen, I understand it is in my best interest to support a military, a police force, roads, and a certain limited grudging helping hand to my fellow man. I am willing to pay for those services. The very role of Government is to provide those services. The best way for the Government to get those funds is through taxation. In a Representative Democracy we elect people to run the Government and allocate judicious uses of those funds, whether borrowed or taxed.

Given the way the Government can raise money, how does any of those ways invest in the local economy? If we take our money and invest in T-bills or bonds we can expect a certain interest. That may be a good investment for me or you, but it does not provide any jobs(except Government jobs). That investment pays no salaries, provides no employment for anyone. Taxes take money from the local community. Every dollar taken in taxes is one less dollar I have to pay the mechanic, buy carpet or furniture for my house, or to spend at the local store. That is one less purchase at WalMart or Target. If a bunch of us do not have that dollar, then one less person is employed at the big box store. That is where we find ourselves in today's economy.

Part two will explain why the stimulus will not work.

January 27, 2009

Humility

It is really a little humiliating that my 15 tear-old can type text messages into his phone faster than I can type on the computer keyboard. Worse yet, he is doing it with his thumbs. He probably spells better too.

January 26, 2009

What he said...

I am going to be honest, I do not have anything worth writing today. My head feels like it is stuffed with cornmeal mush. Lucky for you, there are alternatives out there on the interwebz. Go read GuyK's essay from yesterday. He says it all pretty well. Too bad they do not teach history in school anymore. Maybe a few people could read the founding documents and draw the conclusion the current government is a far cry from what the founders envisioned.

January 25, 2009

January 24, 2009

Random Ramblings

I have seen a glimpse of the future. My two oldest are away at college. The youngest is 15 and exhibits the typical mid-teen embarrassment at being seen with his parents or even having to talk or communicate with us beyond "pick me up at 4:00" or more typically, "what's for supper?". He is a good kid and I do not take this stuff personally. Anyway, he is spending more time away from home these days, hanging with his friends and such. He is spending this weekend with a friend who moved away a few months ago.

The wife and I are alone together for more than one night for the first time since we brought my daughter home from the hospital more than 22 years ago. The conversation was no different than any typical Friday; how was work, and the mundane trivia that passes as conversation among two lovers of old standing: bills, weather, sports,amusing anecdotes, my bad puns and jokes. There was not the consuming need to fill every moment with conversation, we were as comfortable as a pair of old Levis. We enjoyed a nice restaurant meal and went next door to a bookstore. She wandered to the kid's section to buy books for her class, I meandered the aisles. We drove home in contented silence as we alternated changing the radio to suit our individual tastes -- she to top 40 pop, me to classic rock. She donned her unsexy utilitarian flannel pajamas and curled up on the couch while I read a magazine and a few pages of my O'Brian. I went to bed, my iPod crooning me to slumberland. She joined me sometime in the night. I have no doubt she fell asleep on the couch.

She is still asleep, I am up early. This pattern was established long, long ago. We do not head through life with the stare-into-each-other's eyes we did as twenty-something newlyweds. I do know when I kiss her goodnight I feel electric charges and when I take her in my arms she fits just perfect.

The world spins away on its axis while circling the sun. Politicians decide our fate. Wars and famine and death and birth continue unabated. Bills and work and life heap on my shoulders and I shift the load like Atlas. In the end, I have my kids and I have my family and I have my wife. I am pretty sure they love me. Life is pretty good on a Saturday morning.

Weekend Funny

January 23, 2009

I lied

Can anyone defend these blatant racist comments? Do we really want our roads and bridges built by unqualified people? Has the Congress ever read the 10th Amendment? Are you Union members seeing and hearing this? I bet you are glad of you millions of dollars spent on The Democratic Party and your get out the vote efforts to support President Obama and just this type of social spending. Just think, some of you said I was way-over-the-top when I predicted this kind of future under an Obama Presidency:


"I am concerned that these [infrastructure jobs] not go to white male construction workers." - Robert B Reich
Seriously,you liberals out there that came to criticise me before the election, what say you to this? Yes, I am calling you out Dude/Sammy/RJ/Erin...

A little bit of nothing

Finally Friday. Another long week is nearly in the can. From visits to my customer base I can tell you with absolute certainty things are bad out there people. If your job or industry is protected you are in a minority and you better get down on your knees and thank the god of your choice. Right now many of my customers are looking at sales numbers at half or less of 2007 levels. Note that 2007 levels are down from 2006 sales. My January is down 70% as of now.

Enough of the doom and gloom. I am going to take up an old policy of my Internet buddy GuyK -- no politics Fridays. Heck, most of you agree with me anyway, and preachin' to the choir just makes me thirsty.

I went to bed at 9:30 last night. I do not know what was the matter with me. I usually hit the sack around midnight or so. Maybe as I get older 6 hours of sleep a night is not enough. Of course I was wide awake by 5:00 am. The wife said she had to wake me up several times in the night to get me to turn over and dampen the snores. Just one more joy of being part of my life.

Oh, and check this out. Unlike the onion, it is actually amusing.

January 22, 2009

Dear Senator

You will soon be faced with an important decision. Do you confirm the nomination of an admitted willing tax cheat to the office of Secretary of Treasury? This was no overlooked decimal point, no misunderstanding of the law. The man new the taxes were due and did not pay them. Mr. or Ms. Senator, do you have any honor? Has the political process become so corrupt that we no longer expect candidates for office to be held to a higher standard? Do we want to trust the Treasury of the US to a criminal? Do the right thing. Believe me I will hold you to a higher standard the next time I vote.

Dear Supporters of The Obama,

Is this the change you hoped for? Can we not find better candidates for office than an admitted tax cheat? Hold your man accountable. Call the White House, email him, send a letter telling him that you expected more from him. He promised things would change, but it looks like the same old dirty politics -- business Democrats as usual. Shame.

Dear Republican Party

I am going to be blunt and maybe a little crass. The Republican Party needs to grow a set. I am talking about balls. Look it is not your job to be loyal opposition. It is not your job to help the new President be successful. You tried being Democrats-lite in the last election. No one elected you because why vote for the imitation when you can have the real thing? McCain was like dry humping; not really satisfying, but it beat no thrills at all. McCain had no traction until he added Palin to the ticket. Imagine that, people actually flocked to her rallies and the Repubs got support when a Conservative was added to the ticket.

Look Republican Party, take a page from the Pelosi/Reed playbook. Fight for what you believe in. Playing nice has not worked in the past. The liberal press isn't going to show you any love no matter what you do. They are just going to screw you and throw a fifty on the dresser on the way out the door. No kisses, no hugs. Get over it.

If you stand for smaller Government then vote that way. At least when you go down in flames you can do it with your integrity intact. No compromises. When you give in on your principles you may be both holding the stick at the end, but your half will be covered in shit.

People respect those who stand up for their beliefs. Put up the good fight, lose with grace and you will be surprised where you are in two and four years. This administration is headed up by a loser with no accomplishments that has picked losers for advisers and cabinet posts. The Democrat-controlled Congress has even lower approval ratings than outgoing Bush. If you are perceived as part of the plan, instead as opposed to the plan, you will face more losses.

Trust me on this -- Go, fight, win.

January 21, 2009

I cannnn't stopppp crying...

Sniff, uhnnh, sniff, boo hoo, I missed the uuhhnnhh big sniff inauguration yesterday, cry sniff wail. I was working so I can pay my soon to come higher taxes. I heard one snippet of the big speech as I turned on the car, where The Obama was telling me I need to recognize I can't keep living and consuming like I have been. I am a little concerned he thinks I need to reduce my standard of living because it is better than the rest of the world. Fuck you, Pal. I do not care if the rest of the world lives in grass huts and drinks muddy water. Why should I give up so other might have more? Let them work for it. I am glad some little brown man is working his ass off in Vietnam so I can have light comfortable cheap running shoes. You were thinking it, I will say it. Luckily for my blood pressure, I turned over to sports talk.

Does everyone in the Chicago area (and that includes da region) drive like morons, or do I just seem to attract them into my driving sphere?

My GPS freaked out when I turned onto the 'new' 355 extension from I-80. It showed me driving in space and kept trying to get me to turn onto every road I passed. The message told me I was not driving on a known road.

I have a confession to make. I hate being told what to do at any time. It is a minor character flaw. My college roommate used to entice me into having just one more beer by telling me he forbade me to drink it. Wrong answer bucko. Anyway, sometimes I take a route different than that picked by the GPS, just because the female voice I have chosen irritates me. That bitch is not going to tell me how to get somewhere. I do not need her frigging directions. OK, maybe it is a major character flaw...

January 20, 2009

Places I want to visit

I have been lucky enough to travel a small portion of the world. I have been over much of these United States and parts of Europe. There is one place I would really like to see. It is exotic, in fact I do not personally know a person who has been there. No, I am not talking about Nepal or Outer Mongolia. This place is filled with terrific natural beauty. There are majestic mountain ranges, tropical beaches, stunning deserts and vibrant cities. Waterfalls cascade and rivers flow with clear cold water. The oceans are free of red tides and the stink of jellyfish. It sounds like paradise doesn't it? I am sure the cost of living and taxes must be low too, because a great many motion pictures are filmed there. I am not talking of Hollywood either.

In fact I saw three movies over the weekend and all were filmed in this location -- the vacation spot of my dreams. Some day I will go there to see it with my own eyes. You see it on almost every movie made: Filmed in Panavision. I want to visit Panavision.

January 19, 2009

Urgent Update

I am not sure if you have heard the big news. Tomorrow, Barrack Obama, the first black President, will be inaugurated. There has not been anything on the news about it, so I thought I would let you know.


Sheesh, can we get it over with already. There is a thing as too much coverage.

The final reveal


Over the years I have teased you with bits and pieces of my real identity. It is time to tell you my deepest darkest secret.

Some of you will not be surprised to discover I have strong powers. The depth of my abilities will amaze you.

I can shoot electricity from my fingers. I can build up an electric charge in my body. It is so powerful it even affects the very clothing I wear. As I pulled on my Indianapolis Colts T-Shirt yesterday morning, sparks flew from my hair. The shirt built up a strong electric field during the day as I meandered through the house with my shuffling gait. I can even transfer my energy to others by touching them, or even getting close. Bow down to my strength. I am a mutant.

Rest easy that I will use my powers as Electric Boy only for good. But I have not yet learned to control my awesome electric discharge yet. I hope to hear soon from the X-Man School so I can be trained to control my powers. Until then, if you see my hair standing on end, or sparks flying from my coat as I pull It off, beware, I am in charge mode ready to send electric shocks through evil doers everywhere. For I am Electric Boy and I am powerful bwahahahahaha.

January 16, 2009

Seatbelt Laws and the Boston Tea Party

There is an interesting (and actually polite) debate at Erin's place on the role of Government in our lives. It began when I pointed out that few of us live at the nether regions of the political spectrum. There are few die-hard 100% anarchists, socialists, communists, or capitalists in our midst. By that I mean even the most ardent conservative would allow that there is a need for a helping hand for a family in crisis, whether that be loss of a job, health issues, whatnot. The difference in opinion comes from how long, how much, and what form that helping hand should take. For instance is it reasonable to expect Government help after a natural disaster like Katrina? Nearly all of us would answer a grudging yes. Is it reasonable to expect that same Government aid to continue for a year? How about two or three, five or ten? Anyway, I used as an example my own feelings about Government interference. I am completely opposed to seatbelt laws. While I do not even back the car out of the garage without buckling up, I am firm in my belief the mandatory use of seatbelts is over-reaching. I do believe the State has a right to force parents to use car-seats for infants. Babies cannot make judgements on their own safety. With this example I fall somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum.

Jonas and Erin challenged my statements, maintaining the Government did have a role in legislating my safety. I promised a response. I have decided to do it here so I can use the space I need. Let me begin by saying I am not sure I am smart enough or erudite enough to state my case with the accuracy I need. Please step right in and comment your opinion. Please keep in mind I am not picking on Erin's commenter Jonas here. I am using his well argued (albeit wrong) points to rebut my statements. This is my counter rebuttal.

It is my opinion that my failure to buckle up only affects me. Of course it affects my family etc., but the action (failure to take action in this case) only gets me killed. My not wearing a seatbelt has no direct action on any other individual. If I am drunk and drive, I can kill someone else. In the first case the Government has no role to protect me from my own stupidity. In the latter it has a responsibility to protect the public at large from my actions. Jonas argues
"When you say no one else is affected by not wearing a seatbelt, I'm not sure I buy that. Your potential injury and death have trickle down effects. Subsequent trip to the ER, insurance rates, your families loss of income and then the burden on the state if they cannot take care of themselves, etc., etc. Aren't those real affects/costs on other people? Motorcycle helmet laws are another great example."

This moves directly to the core argument, the very essence of the liberal/conservative debate. Jonas believes the State has a vested interest in mandating seatbelts as a means protecting itself from future costs. He justifies the laws against smoking and using drugs as further examples. Jonas later points out that an existence in today's society where we all do what we want as long as it does not hurt anyone is not possible any longer. We are too tied to each other socially and politically. Here he says it much better:
I think we live in a time and place where we can't do what we want at all times. This I mean if nothing else, in legal terms, as well as social-functional terms. Which is to say I'm not making a moral argument. It's just that I don't think our society (or, most others) can actually function if we don't consider other people. I know, that sounds simple and obvious, and you're only making a point about a seatbelt. So, I'm extrapolating a bit. Anyway, that's my point: as much as I may agree with your sentiment (that is, why should I be told what to do if no one gets hurt...which is, sort of the basis for our law system), our society is too complex interwoven to be able to actually live like that anymore. That is, unless you move out to Walden Pond and write every high school student's nightmare.

Such interdependence and interwoven trickle-down is caused by the very type of Governmental interference I am arguing against. His argument is a straw man. Because we have medicare and welfare my refusal to wear a seatbelt and subsequent death might be a drain on society in the form of higher taxes and increased medicare costs. If the government was not in the health insurance business, the charity business, then my stupidity would not be a burden on the general taxpayer.

Let is go a little further. The founders envisioned a government with limited powers. This is clear from a reading of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. In fact, the Constitution spells out specifically what powers the Federal Government has. It is a limiting, rather than empowering document. A cursory study of history would tell you Jefferson is spinning in his grave at the thought of what the Democratic Party stands for today. If you doubt that statement read some history and Jefferson's own words.

That said, those of you who disagree with me on the role of Government might argue that times have changed and whether we think the Government should be involved in the pension, welfare, and health insurance fields, it is, so we have to move forward. OK, then where do we stop? Every action has an effect on another in this case. You argue the society costs of my failure to wear a seatbelt are too high, so to protect us all, I m mandated to protect myself. The same argument is used on smoking bans. Now we see the Government telling us what kinds of cooking oil we can use and french fries will never taste the same. New York is considering telling us what kind of soda we should drink. Various individuals are targeting fast food restaurants claiming the food is not healthy enough. Will the Government have a right to mandate my weight, my Twizzlers consumption? By the same argument, why are Twinkies sold? Shouldn't Oreos and HoHos be kept under lock and key? Just as we have age-limits on cigarettes, should the government use a body fat index to determine our fitness to eat a rasher of bacon?

Should we face mandatory exercise? Some of you might argue in the affirmative. That the fat people and welfare queens are driving health costs to levels that we can no longer afford. The long-term costs of treating cancer patients who smoked their life away is a burden society should not have to accept. You will argue the Government has a role in protecting society as a whole from our individual poor choices.

Be careful for what you wish. Studies show that children do better in school, and live healthier lives when raised in two-parent households. Drop-out rates and college graduation rates are better in the traditional family structure. Studies have also shown that families who go to Church or Synagogue every week have lower divorce rates and are less likely to become single parents. Students who complete high school have a significantly less chance of being on welfare. College graduates are likely to earn more money in their lifetime than a high-school drop out. Should we mandate no divorce? Should we force people to go to church every Sunday?

Medical studies have demonstrated that a glass of wine everyday reduces heart disease. Should you be required by law to toss down a glass of Pinot Noir with dinner? How about we go a step further? Cities and towns and States with less restrictions on gun ownership have lower crime rates. Should you be required to own a gun?

You see, legislating for the better good of society is a slippery slope. If passing a law requiring me to wear a seatbelt helps promote the general welfare, is not a law legislating morality also necessary for the common good?

I am no anarchist or Big L Libertarian. I believe in reasonable restrictions. I believe we need some laws to protect society as a whole. I do believe that when we start legislating individual actions and take away individual responsibilities, we are giving the State too much power. How far are we then from the Government telling us how many kids we can have, what job we do, what God to worship, how to vote? It is our individual responsibility to fight tyranny in every form, no matter how small the act. We owe that to the men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor more than 230 years ago.

January 15, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

It is cold as a frozen Hell today at the old homestead. Too bad I ain't there! I am enjoying the relative warmth of North Carolina. The 40s are not so bad compared to zero plus wind chill. Of course when I hit the airport late tonight my car will be like the inside of a freezer. I hope it starts OK.

Stay warm and snuggle up with a loved one or at least a casual acquaintance tonight. Tell them the HB said it was OK. Like I have always said, a cheap thrill is better than no thrill at all...Cop a feel for me fellas.

January 14, 2009

This is how my day began

I went to the Internet to check in for my flight. I got the big red warning that something was amiss and to call the airline. After the typical "press one" and "please wait" messages I finally spoke to a real-life American. She informed me that my reservation had been cancelled. I called bullshit. She said I should contact my travel agent. I explained the deal to my wonderful agent. She called bullshit and said the reservation was open and available right there on her computer. She called the airline and fixed everything.

These are the headaches of travel. Welcome to my life. This is not the first time this has happened. Missed and cancelled flights, lost hotel and rental car reservations are all part of a typical day for us road warriors. I have completed well in excess of 600 flights. Not many by some standards -- a boat load compared to most people. I remember a memorable year when I posted more than 125 airline flights. You do the math. I also put nearly 70,000 miles on my car that year. Now I am with a different company. I bet you can figure that reason too.

The bottom line is travel is not the fun lifestyle most of you imagine. One Hampton Inn looks a lot like that Holiday Inn Express you stayed in last week. Dining alone is never fun. But in all I have travelled the world on someone else's dollar, and seen things I never could on my own. Even a trip to Fort Wayne or the suburbs of Chicago can give you a new perspective if you just look for it. The real truth is I would rather spend eight hours staring through the slush and road detritus of Interstate 69 caking my windshield than the gray walls of a cubicle or the oil misted air of an assembly line. Dealing with the long waits of airport security beats the heck out of the long waits in commuter traffic on a daily basis.

January 13, 2009

A quick post

Alive. Breathing. Working. Travelling. It is cold. There is your update.

January 10, 2009

Weekend Funny

You can have your dancing bears. Tree rats riding water skis is mildly amusing. For real entertainment you need to see a monkey dressed like a cowboy, riding a dog, herding sheep. It would almost be worth throwing down your hard earned cash to such a sight I wager. I hear your pitiful cries, "Tell me Oh Blog Author, where can I see such a sight?" You could buy tickets to see the Big Rodeo or you can save those pennies and venture to the interwebz. That might take months of endless research with several sidetracks to p0rn sights and endless viewing of skateboarders getting their nuts wracked videos. The do-it-yourself cost could be more than over-limit fees on already tight Visa bills or ruined relationships. Your life may never be complete. You may never find the monkey dressed like a cowboy, riding a dog, herding sheep video you need to see.

Can you risk the chance of failure? That would be almost like driving right past the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park and not stopping. Such an omission could leave you scarred for life. It is simething you must see before you die. What should you do?

Trust me. I understand your severe jones to see a monkey dressed like a cowboy, riding a dog, herding sheep. I get it myself from time-to-time.

Today, I am your hero. I present Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey:



You are welcome.

January 9, 2009

I quit

There is no reason for me to ever post again. Anything political I ever wanted to say has been written, with far more eloquence than I could ever manage, even if the ghost of Hemingway guided my fingers over the keypad.

Go read this, be amazed and try to refute a single word.

Friday Five (or why eleven is my favorite number)

Friday Five; the feature that will not die. This week I am going to offer the HB movie guide edition. Here are five manly man movies you should own or rent. If you have not seen these movies your life is not complete and you should remedy the situation immediately. These are the movies you must stop and watch, no matter where they are in the film as you surf the channels.

In no particular order:

Jeremiah Johnson

The Duelists

Cool Hand Luke (possibly the greatest movie ever made)

The Dark KnightYes, it is that good.

Enter the Dragon

Dirty Harry

Yeah, I know, that is six.

Honorable mention:

Any Bruce Lee movie
Any of the Dirty Harry movies
The Any Which Way movies
Donovan's Reef
Star Wars
Billy Jack
Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version)
Any Raquel Welch movie -- especially the Kansas City Bomber
Any Esther Williams movie

comedies and westerns will be addressed in a separate post.

What did I miss?

January 8, 2009

Update

Wow what a morning. Work and private issues have kept me hopping. I have not had time to read blogs, newspapers, anything.

The net result is I am wiped out right now. I have nothing for you. I think I will treat myself to lunch out today.

This is a post, just a lousy one.

January 7, 2009

Random Ramblings

The wife comes home from work yesterday and something she never does -- turns on Oprah. I don't know why, I guess she was bored. The Oprah had some doctor as a guest and he was talking about ways to live longer. I heard him say that doubling the amount of sex you have in a year can add three years to your life. It is literally true that if your wife turns you down she is killing you. I looked at the wife and asked if she heard that. Without missing a beat she pointed out that two times zero is still zero. I could not think of a single smart reply. I still can't, and I guess it may be too late.

For some reason I have been afflicted with unbelievable amounts of gas lately -- nasty odoriferous mustard anal bombs of the worst kind. I was at the store yesterday picking up the ingredients to make some baked manicotti. I reached in for some frozen chopped spinach and felt the urge. I looked around an not a soul was in the aisle. I pushed my cart and let it fly. I stopped to get some cheese on the next aisle and heard a woman exclaim " Oh my god, what is that smell?"

You have to be thankful for the little victories life gives you.

This is not a drill

Gas is up here $0.60/gal since last week. The Dems in Congress have done NOTHING to ensure we are safe from spiking crude prices. In fact, there are rumblings they will impose the offshore drilling bans they let expire just before the election. We have oil reserves, why are we letting imported oil affect our economy and foreign policy? Yes, we should investigate alternative fuels. Yes we should conserve, but most importantly we should create jobs, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and drill, drill, drill. I have yet to hear an argument against this policy that makes any sense. As Nathan pointed out in the comments to a previous post, the best economic stimulus is cheap gas. If The Obama and Democrats really want to help the middle class and the poor and the working men and women of this nation they would immediately do everything in their power to find and produce domestic oil. Wake up, see what happens when the suppliers cut off the flow of fuel like the Russians have done to the EU. Since the days of Jimmah Carter we have heard that we need to wean ourselves from foreign oil. Now is the time. Drill now.

January 6, 2009

I hate Democrats

I have come to the conclusion each and every elected Democrat is a thug, a hypocrite and a liar. If a Repub was even accused of this he would have to resign -- last week.

1977

Ice, snow, rain, we have it all today in the heart of Indiana. The boy was a bit down, all of the area schools were on a 2-hour delay, but not his.

I see the Obama is offering the equivalent of 40 bucks a month in tax savings as a stimulus package. Of course that will cost us all tens of thousands of dollars each after the interest, since the Government will have to borrow the money. The dollar falls, prices for international goods will rise -- especially oil -- and the extra $1.00 a gallon in gas prices will eat that $40 in no time. But hey, those who do not pay taxes will get some extra money and we all will feel good. Even if each of us spends that $40 every month at the local WalMart or corner bookstore, it will have no effect on the economy. If you want to help, buy a house. Buy a car. Get that new appliance or recliner.

I made up a chicken casserole last night it was not too bad. The boy ate four helpings, so I guess he liked it. It was my own recipe, cobbled from three different ones I found. It will need just a tweak or two the next time I try it. Now I have to think of something for tonight's supper. I like doing the cooking. I do not mind cleaning up, but I hate trying to please my passel of picky eaters.

January 5, 2009

Beginings

Good Morning Utah -- and to the rest of the States. And hola, bonjour, gutentag etc. to all you foreigners out there. We are starting a new day, a new work week, and a new year today. I am sorry to report the first Monday of 2009 feels just like any other Monday. It is only different in that I have a ton of work to do after taking the last two weeks off. Sometimes it is just not worth it to take a vacation.

Well it looks like the Atlanta Braves Indianapolis Colts choked again in the playoffs. Another outstanding season followed by postseason disappointment. That seems to be the theme for my favorite teams these days. Maybe I should rent myself out as a fan. If you have a team you hate, I could root for them so they would lose when it matters most. That could be a lucrative side business I think. Oh well, four months to opening day. This just might be the Cubs year...

It sounds like the morning brew has finished. I better grab a cup of java and look at the emails.

January 3, 2009

Listening to You

The wife gifted me a DVD of The Who Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 for Christmas. All I can say is WOW. In this film The Who are at their pounding best. In the days before light shows and dancing, the music was the show.

I am reading a book about one of my favorite bands, the progressive rock group YES. At the first meeting of the band legendary drummer Bill Buford showed up with the words 'Fuck Moon' written on his shoes. The jazz-influenced Buford thought Keith Moon a simple pounding hack.

I am not nuanced enough to make a judgement, but there is no doubt Keith Moon attacks his drums with abandon in the concert. From the first note he plays with an intensity only matched by John Bonham from Led Zep. In the middle of the set, Moon broke the head of his bass drum and plays side-saddle while the tech replaces the head. Townsend does not miss a beat and launches a seamless solo to cover the repair. I am glad the producers did not edit this out, this is what live performances are all about and makes the footage even better.

If you are even a casual fan of The Who, like I am, this is a DVD you do not want to miss.

January 2, 2009

Friday Five

Friday Five; the feature that will not die. This week I am going to offer the HB movie guide edition. Here are five war movies you should own or rent. If you have not seen these movies your life is not complete and you should remedy the situation immediately.

In no particular order:

Zulu

The Battle of the Bulge

Tora Tora Tora

The Blue Max


The Fighting 69th

honorable mention:

The Alamo (John Wayne edition)
Saving Private Ryan
Midway
The Paths of Glory
Gettysburg
We were Soldiers
Hamburger Hill
Glory
Band of Brothers
Patton

What did I leave off that I should see?

Insert title here

I spent yesterday taking down the tree and packing the Christmas decorations. The house looks decidedly un-festive. It is all a little depressing actually. I will take down the wreaths and lights outside today. Now we only have the bitter cold of January to look forward to.

Football is rapidly drawing to a close. Only 12 NFL teams are still playing and that number will dwindle fast for the next few weeks until only two cities care about the Super Bowl (three if you count the host city). It looks like we can almost see the end of the seemingly ten thousand college Bowl game marathon.

There is not much else going on. Everyone is winding down their break/vacation and it is back to the real world of work and school next week.

What are you doing today?

January 1, 2009

Artificial starting points

Here we stand at the beginning of a New year. I am not one given to writing sappy year-in-review posts, so let it suffice to say good riddance to 2008. You could not leave fast enough for me.

Will 2009 be better? I think we have not seen the bottom of the economy. I am continually amazed that people cannot read history and draw conclusions. The steps taken by Hoover in the early days of the Great Depression have been mirrored by the lamest of ducks Bush administration. The Obamaites are calling for FDR-like intervention. Most historians and economists will admit those steps lengthened the depression. Yet here we go again.

In the interest of my health I just cannot get do worked up about things I cannot control. The past year has left me speechless regarding the basic stupidity of people.

It is the first of the year, so it must be resolution time. I resolve to have more patience with my family, co-workers and my fellow man. I will try to be a better father and husband. I will work harder. I will try to be a better servant of my God. I will try to live a healthier life. These are the same things I pray for every day anyhow.

I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year, may it be in every way better than the last.
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