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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Some folks won't CLICK...

...and I don't want to wait for "Kipling Tuesday," so...
Here is it is:
The Conundrum of the Workshops
Rudyard Kipling
WHEN the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”
Wherefore he called to his wife, and fled to fashion his work anew—
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;
And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain
When the Devil chuckled “Is it Art?” in the ear of the branded Cain.
They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: “It’s striking, but is it Art?”
The stone was dropped at the quarry-side and the idle derrick swung,
While each man talked of the aims of Art, and each in an alien tongue.
They fought and they talked in the North and the South, they talked and they fought in the West,
Till the waters rose on the pitiful land, and the poor Red Clay had rest—
Had rest till that dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start,
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: “It’s human, but is it Art?”
The tale is as old as the Eden Tree—and new as the new-cut tooth—
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: “You did it, but was it Art?”
We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yelk of an addled egg,
We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart;
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It’s clever, but is it Art?”
When the flicker of London sun falls faint on the Club-room’s green and gold,
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mould—
They scratch with their pens in the mould of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start,
For the Devil mutters behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”
Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the Four Great Rivers flow,
And the Wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept and softly scurry through,
By the favour of God we might know as much—as our father Adam knew!

"It's pretty, but is it art?"

Kipling would gag at what passes for art nowadays

Only folks who know me well (ok, many folks who even know me only in passing) know just how disgusted I am by much of what passes as "art" nowadays. It's beyond disgust into complete ennervation (cue Madeline Kahn singing "I'm Tired") whenever I attempt to actually talk to people who consider themselves "artists" for farting in public or whatever. While a Francois Villon could make a "fart" the occasion for poetry ("Le Roman du Pet au Diable" for example), most "artists"—and their academic and media "critics"—today mistake their passed gasses for art (and their waste product for vanilla ice cream, no doubt).

An example? Gee, try ANY "Top-40" manufactured album or how about this:
  Posted by Hello
"The Gates." *Blech* I mean, really.  This fails even the "It's pretty" part of the question posed in "The Conundrum of the Workshops."  Can anyone say "Airing your dirty laundry in public"? And this is some of the best of "art" hailed by critics as visionary or whatever...
Where's the craftsmanship, the skill, the chops?  No need! "Art" nowadays largely (and successfully) consists of throwing actual (or figurative) feces at buyers and laughing all the way to the bank when they buy the stuff, and it's not even been composted and bagged for use in their garden...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Oh. The Horror.

*sigh* For years I've operated under a misconception
For years I've completed people's sentences for them, etc. in the blithe certainty that I'm a mind reader.  Today, I learned differently.
I am *shudder* a mime reader.
I'll never live it down...

I blame it on global warming

Frost this a.m. (and yesterday and the day before... ); 50 degrees, now that it's "warmed up"; gray, drizzly day
That's a description of April 29, 2005 in America's Third World County™ located in the boonies of the Ozarks.
And with windchiil, it really does seem like hell will freeze over, soon.
It's that damned global warming*...
I'm almost ready to bet on snow.
(*Yeh, I know that implies specious resoning on my part, but if the econazi global warming religionist fakirs can cook their data and lie about what their cooked data says, I can pick and choose mine. So there.)

Let's all go to the Carnival!

No cheesy rides or geek show here: it's all good!
Carnival of the Recipes XXXVII is up and making my mouth water!  What are you wasting time here, for?  CLICK on over and start making out your grocery list!
You still here?  Go!

Musical Survey--not so very

Curmudgeon Mode: Tried to take an online musical survey—discovered I'm an antediluvian...
Yeh.  Noah still owes me two sheep and a dove.
Silly survey.  Purported to delve into my musical taste and determine what (recent) decade I "belonged" in. All it listed was a collection of mostly non-musical pseudo rock bands (and a few actual rock bands thrown in for measure, not-so-good, but some sort of measure nonetheless).
In commenting on the site that had led me to the survey, I asked why this guy was not on the list, as well:

1903–1931 Bix Pic—two years before he began playing a Vincent Bach Strad and six years before his early death in 1931. See bio Posted by Hello
Yeh, that's Bix Beiderbecke in the pic. I wasn't even alive when he was playing, and his music still speaks to me.  Heck, my dad wasn't even a teenager, then (but he still knows who Bix Beiderbecke was, and even, I suspect, played some of Bix's music when he had a band of his own).  But Beiderbecke's music affected a whole buncha folks who were a part of a music revolution, in this country, at least.  And it's still good.  Don't take my word for it.  Sample some for yourself.
There's a whole lotta music beyond the low-level pseudo music of 80s and 90s faux rock bands out there, but there's a generation of folks who apparently have no idea that it's so.
And what of the rest of the 20th, 19th, 18th and other centuries' music? Tons of it (OK, less of the 20th than of the others' *heh*) is more than just worth listening to; tons of it is just mind-bendingly wonderful. (This, for example.)
Against such mahvelous "musicians" as 50 Cent, Ace of Bace, Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys, Anthrax and the rest of the alphabet soup at this so-called music quiz, I'll take Marta Keen's or Nick Glennie-Smith's or any number of musician's current work (any of it) any day and twice on Sundays.
I think, perhaps, that such abortions as (insert any top 40 group or so-called "artist" here) and American Idol may owe their popularity to the fact that this country is full of folks who are simply tone deaf.
*sigh* (Putting PPM& Friends/Lifelines CD from 1995 in so I can hear some real rock, rap, soul, blues, country and more... all on one album, and not some crappy "Best of" either. Emmilou Harris and Noel Paul Stookey: now there's an interesting duo... )
Unless I cool off a tad, there's likely a rant on the state of music NON education in our "prisons for kids" and the influence of "stupid music for stupid people" manufactured by the recording industry coming.  Nah. 
BTW, just spent a lil time re-aquainting myself with the Beiderbecke sound.  Gee.  As Otis Ferguson (yeh, that Otis Ferguson, THE pop culture critic of the 1930s) said, "Bix had swing before the phonies knew the word."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Musical teleology

There is just no other art so strong as a piece of music that knows where it's going...
Every now and then I hear a piece that simply captures me. The piece can be a longer work, even symphonic, or a short song.  The magical part is that it's designed to travel to a specific meaning and it effectively works to arrive where it's designed to go.
It's easy to see why Sibelius' Finlandia was the first piece that strongly struck me so. Mahler's #1 was another such. More recently, such choral pieces as Marta Keen's Homeward Bound and Nick Glennie-Smith and Randall Wallace's Mansions of the Lord. In particular, I have felt a yen to listen to Mansions a lot today/tonight. 
The link above leads to a portion of the performance at Ronald Reagan's funeral. Here are the lyrics.  You tell me: is it as effective a piece as it seems to me?
"The Mansions of the Lord"
Music: Nick Glennie-Smith
Lyrics: Randall Wallace
To fallen soldiers let us sing
where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
to the mansions of the Lord
No more bleeding no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night
just divine embrace, eternal light
in the mansions of the Lord
Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard to the angels' sleep
All through the ages safely keep
the mansions of the Lord

Just Can't Keep Eyes Open

Honestly, I wanted to pay attention to President Bush's press conference, but...
Until Bush says, bluntly, to the Loony Left Moonbat Brigade, "Shut up, sit down and listen: my judicial nomineees ARE going to get a straight up and down vote; you ARE going to stop lying about Social Security and we ARE going to close the damned borders," I'm just not all that interested.

Envelope, please...

...and the stupidest statement (so far) this week by a politician is...
"I understand what they're trying to do, but when you start targeting a community like the homeless, I think that's poor policy," –[Houston, TX] council member Ada Edwards
What was that? "The homeless" are a "community"? Pardonez moi, but as one who has had close contact with "the homeless" in various venues and locales, I can tell you (as can anyone else with more than ONE working brain cell can) that "the homeless" do not comprise a "community."
And why the bizarre statement about "targeting" so-called "homeless" folk?  Oh, that's rich.  The Houston City Council passed an ordinance designed to get bums to stop using public libraries as their own personal hostels--sleeping, eating, bathing, etc., in libraries. One provision that was apparently particularly offensive to moonbat Edwards was the provision against germ and gas warfare ummm, "offensive bodily hygiene that constitutes a nuisance to others."
What? Sleep, eat, bathe and remove your stench before hauling your bum butt into the library?  How dreadful!  What ever in the world was the Houston City Council thinking!
(Thx to Kris of Anywhere But Here for the link)

I'm a good boy; yes, I am

And don't listen to those voices in your head that say otherwise, you hear me?
Every single time the same (10 year old?) kid calls our number and asks for his lil friend (same kid calling and asking for same lil friend, mind you), I resist telling him he's too stupid to use a phone.  If it had been once or twice, no problem, but over and over and over (and over...) again?
But I resist temptation and merely ask what number he is  trying to call, then correct his error.  Sometimes he calls back immediately, making exactly the same misdial error. *sigh*
I did get a small bit of satisfaction when I checked our answering machine one day and heard several messages from the same kid (to the same lil friend who is not and never has been at this number) "making sure" that friend's name here had his part of the science project due the next day ready, and what changes needed to be made to the project/class presentation.
If he can't learn to dial the silly number (after all this time), he (maybe, just maybe) got slammed on the project grade... I do not care if the kid has a perception problem.  Bugging me because he's too lazy to learn to cope (or just too lazy to look at the touch pad when dialing) is evidence of the need for a little chlorine in the shallow end of the gene pool, or something...
(Now, that felt good.)

What KIND of Polyhedral am I?

Not that it's any of your business, but...

I am a d100

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

Here's what the comments on my quiz results were:

There's [sic] two ways to end up with this result. Either you picked the silliest possible answer to each question, or you answered honestly, and happen to be hyperactive, manic, loon. Assuming you answered honestly, your profile is as follows: You are the 100-sided dice, also known as the legendary Zocchihedron. You are the bit of data that registers so far off the chart that the average person doesn't even know you exist... Your jokes have the lowest laugh ratio, but you go for quantity, not quality. Once you get started on a pointless tangent, it takes a group effort to bring you back to reality and make you shut up... The one secret they aren't telling you, is how they sometimes actually miss the noise when you're gone.

[Update: though update isn't really the word. "Redaction" maybe. The opening comment in the quoted material above, in addition to its glaring grammatical error, makes an error of reasoning, as well.  Of course there's at least one more option to the two mentioned above.  I could have answered each question honestly AND THEREFORE picked the silliest answer to each question.  It's not an exclusive proposition, as the atatement above seems to indicate. heh]

No one who's ever heard me recite P.L. Heath's Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on "Nothing" could possibly agree with that, could they?  Could they?


Oh, and thx for the link to goes Jenna Thomas-McKie , whose blog I found following a link on a comment she made  at Boudicca's Voice .

Hey! You guys do go visit these links, don't you?  Well, get on it!!

B-Movies vs. Junk Fiction Reads

I love B movies, and usually, the cheesier the better
But when it comes to books, stereotyping characters, predictable plots, implausible settings and circumstances just don't cut it for me.  I can suspend disbelief easily enough if the characters, circumstances and settings maintain some plausibility and plots are at least interesting even in the most far-out fantasies.  But authors like Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code, Digital Fortress and others) just give me a rash.  Writing such as Digital Fortress, which I just "gutted through," isn't even good enough to be "suckitudinous"—it's just plain bad fiction, in spite of (or even more so) because of the technical proficiency Brown has with verbs, nouns, adjectives (lord, does he ever love to load on the adjectives! *blech*), etc.  He apparently knows how to construct sentences that parse, he just chooses to construct sentences that are largely not worth reading.
The neat thing about B movies, on the other hand, is that their very cheesiness can provide entertainment that cheesy books cannot.  Chomping on popcorn, mocking stupid plots, ham-handed acting, poor direction, stupid continuity problems, etc., is just plain fun.  Watching B movies that provide unwitting self-mockery and meta-comments on their purveyors and (if they were box-office successes) their audiences is entertainment that's worth far more than the $1.00 rental they can usually be had for.
But spending even half-price at a used book store for a badly-written piece of junk and wasting a couple of hours slogging through it hoping for something—anything!—better to appear is painful at best.
BTW, I didn't buy the Dan Brown book I just read.  I can understand its appeal on one level to folks who have the intestinal fortitude to look past the stereotypical "characterization" and dumb plot because it has a remotely interesting premise.  But for anyone who has the slightest (and by that I mean what some in this neck of the woods would call "teen-eint-siest") clue about computer systems, that premise is so fatally flawed to begin with that it sinks under its own weight almost before one can even notice the book's other HUGE flaws.
Better to go rent a cheesy movie like the 1991 (1992?) Captain America (which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed for its flagrant B-movie-ness last week) than to read another Dan Brown—ANY Dan Brown—book.
Another one marked off the list of authors to check out for entertainment. YMMV, of course.  :-)

Something-or-other rice

Another "What's there to cook?" quasi-recipe
OK, cupboard looking lean. Had a can of lobster/tomato pasta sauce  (which Wonder Woman will NOT eat) .  Some decent jalapenos. Rice.  Chips.  Hmmm...
That's it, friends, neighbors and countrymen countrymen-women and all the ships at sea...
little lobster/tomato pasta sauce...
water (to make up enough liquid for the amount of rice I had: 2X liquid/rice proportion)
minced jalapenos (keep the seeds, otherwise you're wimping out way, way too much) more is better.
minced onion (Oh, I hadn't mentioned I had some onion, had I?)
curry powder—you decide how much for yourself.  For me, less if fresh, naturally (and this was old: need to replace)
tumeric (was NOT going to use saffron on an experiment... though the way it turned out, maybe I should have!)
A little time and...
Somthing-Or-Other Rice n corn chips for a quick (~20 mins) lunch.
Next time, I'll use saffron.  And there will be a next time.
Hey, while you're here, CLICK on one of the other links in my sidebar. One of my other, non-food posts or someone in my blogroll.  (IMAO has a Carnival of Comedy happenin' right now, you know.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Trite? It's a small world, anyway

Not as much of a shock as it might once have been
Kris, over at Anywhere But Here, revealed today that she's an OBU alum. I had wondered at what her background might have been to produce so many shared memes. Now I know part of it. Different generation, of course, but from all reports (from recent grad who once lived here at home :-) and continuing contacts over the years (including an email from a new contact, a prof in the College of Fine Arts, just the other day), much of the atmosphere and outlook remains very similar to the a&o when I attended.
But the small world effect?  Well, ever since 1971, when I spent a summer touring darned near all the contiguous 48 and found OBU alum in every single state I visited that summer, the small world effect is more of a "Huh, that's nice: add another one" than a shock.  For a school that hovers around a 2,000 enrollment and had, at the last graduation I attended (2003) fewer in the graduating class than were in my high school's graduating class, it's sometimes surprisingly easy to make contact with previously unknown OBU alums, nearly anywhere... but here, in America's Third World County™.

Too dumb to pound sand in a rat hole

So, why not let 'em pound rocks instead?
Paul Jacobs notes, in a recent "Common Sense" newsletter, that Florida legislators are whining that the job's just too hard to learn within the eight year term limit passed by the people of Florida.  Legislators are insisting they need 12 years to become competent at the job.
I say give 'em their 12 years, but let the last four be on a chain gang. (Gee, does the Raiford "State Prison Farm" still have a tough rep?) Either that, or send them to Dr. Tarr and Mr. Fether for job counseling...

Cool? Or just really cold?

Even if you don't need a deep freeze for this kind of forced hibernation, it still could be really cold.  Maybe.
This Reuters article scratches the surface of what may become a really big story: forced hibernation. Yeh, it's just been done in mice, and people aren't mice (for the most part, although many are sheep, some are wolves and a few are snakes ::heh::), but if it can be safely made to work for humans, it opens a Pandora's box of possibilities, which, being humans, will be full of good intentions marred by unintended consequences.  Think about it: who gets the hibernation offered to (or forced upon!) them, for what reasons and at what costs, both economic and social?
This could be one to watch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Instapundit poos the scrootch on this one

Class vs Individual: Glenn Reynolds makes an error of composition*
Darn.  You'd think a guy as sharp as Glenn Reynolds—and a law prof to boot—would know the difference between an individual part and the whole in an argument.  Read this post and come on back.
Yes, I understand he never actually says that all Home Depot stores are like the store he refers to, but he "disses" Home Depot as a whole by implication by including in and framing his remarks around a reference to a site that does "diss" Home Depot Stores in general.
Now, if he were to shop at the Home Depot and Lowes stores nearest me, he'd have a flip-flop of the experience he relates on his site.  Does that mean that I should generalize the nature of the local Lowes store and mention a site that regularly "disses" all Lowes stores, as a group, just because I find the nearest Lowes store to be dysfunctional?  Does it mean that I should imply that all Home Depot stores are as well-run as the one nearest me?  No to both, because I do not know the other Lowes and Home Depot stores. (Well, I do know one more of each, and—in my neck of the woods—they are each like the ones nearest me: Lowes, so-so; Home Depot, very good.)
Of course, do note that Glenn only implies (by framing his remarks in the context of another site's "dissing" of Home Depots in general) that his experience at one Home Depot store is normative for the whole. But that's a sloppiness that really ought not to be in such a widely-read blog... by a law prof.
Error of composition: assuming, implying or stating that what is true of the parts of an entity is true of the whole. "Some whites once owned slaves;  therefore all whites were slave owners," is one such error of composition.  "I know a man who abused his wife, therefore all men are abusers of women," is another such error of composition.  "Shopping at my local Home Depot store is a lousy experience and The Corner doesn't like them, either,  therefore... " heh. Indeed.

Did someone say, "Kipling Tuesday"?

Cold Iron
Rudyard Kipling
"Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade."

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."
So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
"Nay!" said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- shall be master of you all!"
Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron -- Cold Iron -- was master of it all!
Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
"What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?"
"Nay!" said the Baron, "mock not at my fall,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all."
"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown --
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown."

"As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"
Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
"Here is Bread and here is Wine -- sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron -- Cold Iron -- can be master of men all!"
He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
"See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron -- Cold Iron -- to be master of men all."
"Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason -- I redeem thy fall --
For Iron -- Cold Iron -- must be master of men all!"
"Crowns are for the valiant -- sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!"

"Nay!" said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!"

Monday, April 25, 2005

Monday Ironica

This post doesn't exist, because I'm not posting today

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Reformation theology at a slant...

Credenda Agenda: I've enjoyed it for years in both print and online versions
Serious, droll, thought-provoking and hilarious.  Here's a sample from the "Cave of Adullum" column:
Believe Bowling [see it here]
Not that we are against faith or anything, but an outfit called Chinaberry is marketing something called a "believe bowl." The front of the bowl has the raw exhortation to "believe" and the copy drawing our attention to these alluring wares said, "Whether it's faith in God, faeries, or St. Nick, it sure feels good to believe. This small bowl proclaims a powerfully big statement, especially when used as a reminder to believe in yourself. . . ."

On one of those hard mornings, when you find it hard to get going, just get out your luminous blue bowl, and reflect on the fact that it is just as hollow as you are.
The current issue's theme is Cheese.  Try a few slices. 

Email from masochists

I've gotten some email from some folks who hate their eyes...

...asking for a more complete pic of my ugly mug. Well, I've decided to honor their request and take pity on their eyes at the same time.

Here I am somewhere back in the middle of the previous century, being a good boy (for once), even if my mom took away my cowboy hat and messed with my hair (!?!) for the pic...
 Posted by Hello
...took away my cowboy hat. Combed my hair. (Meanie)  Kinda makes you wanna cry, don't it? It's no wonder I turned out so warped. Man, I was a sweet kid to smile so nicely for the mean lady...

Yum!! Worth waiting for! (But didn't have to wait all that long... )

Technical issues (someone pled too many daquiris in the Big Easy) delayed the Carnival of the Recipes a tad, and I missed its posting...
...but it's actually been up since Friday (it Be a great job on short shrift :-), and I've just caught onbto some of the really great recipes. MORNING GLORY MUFFINS! (But Kris, ya gotta know I'll modify the recipe... it's not you; it's me. ::LOL::) Sweet n Sour Chicken, Herbed Rice, UK-Style Shepherd's Pie and lots and lots more of the good stuff.
Ahhh... just go there and start making out your shopping list!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Problem With Penguins

Who says the TSA isn't profiling potential problem passengers?
The Thousands Standing Around  as theater of the absurd:
Yep.  Really. I guess the Thousands Standing Around crew at Denver feared the penguins might've hijacked the plane or something ("Book two to Bogota!")... (tip from a reader of Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor)
Oh, and apparently, one TSA goon in San Jose, CA, thinks that the Thousands Standing Around ban on more than 2 matchbooks means any kind of book. (This is the only report I know of.  But it certainly fits the profile for Thousands Standing Around employees... ::heh::)
They seem get these guys by weeding out anyone with an IQ over 80.  And the normative curve for Thousands Standing Around goons seems (by evidence of reported behavior) to cluster around the average intelligence of yeast.
But they are only doing their duty (as the stupid man claims whenever he finally understands that what he is doing is stupid... ).

"Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you... "

Yeh, you wish... well, at least I do
If only.  Scrappleface has penned a piece of comic "news" that actually posits one of the most significant steps that could be taken to fix public education.  That it would have a salutory effect on public education is, of course, the primary reason politicians will NOT do it... Sample:
"The 'No Bureaucrat Left Behind' reforms will completely shut down the federal Department of Education, however, all former employees are expected to find jobs with education lobbyist firms which will soon have to sell their ideas to thousands of school boards nationwide, instead of just a handful of Congressmen."

Politicians, Lawyers and Creeps, Oh my!

But I repeat myself...
I promise myself, every time I see a particular road sign to write a post about it.  But before I do, a side trip down an apparent rabbit trail.
I once knew a lawyer who had descended beyond scoundrelry and rascelry into downright disgusting. One of his shady—though completely legal—deals was the management of a trust he'd devised for the bequests of a client, a very foolish, trusting client.  (Hereafter, instead of citing this lawyer's name, in its place, I'll simply use the name "Damned Lawyer") When the client died, the lawyer had full control of managing the donations from this trust to various charities and non-profit groups.  In each and every case, the lawyer's name was attched in some way, such as the Damned Lawyer Memorial Methodist Church (the lawyer was still alive, but he stipulated that the church be named after him in that way when he gave the church money from his client's funds to build a new building).  And every road leading into the little town where that church was had a huge billboard proclaiming the Damned Lawyer Memorial Church.
He used someone else's money to proclaim himself benevolent.
Every time I saw those signs, I felt the disgust I feel now when I see a similar sign proclaiming the G. Damned Congressman Highway.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I do not see the idea of naming a portion of a highway after a public servant, as is done around here in naming portions of roads after state troopers who are killed on duty, as a bad thing.  Indeed, naming public works after public servants (such as the slain state troopers) is a good thing.  But naming public works after a politician, someone whose "benevolence" is all taking money from someone else to spend it on something the politician can claim "credit" for is beyond distasteful and into downright disgusting.
The only monuments, IMO, that ought to bear the names of politicians are their headstones.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hide n Seek

revealing at last the secret location of America's Third World County™
Best resolution available to me of satellite image of America's Third World County™. Now you know where I am. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

It's a difference of priorities

It's not that Loony Left Moonbats and Mass Media Podpeople don't care that the country's going to hell in a handbasket...
...It's just that they prioritize things a little differently to real reality-based folks. Jerry Pournelle notes (scroll below after the security warning) a comment from a discussion group he participates in...
"Though only to be fair, it must be admitted that most media/activist/elected Democrats are instead focusing their attention and energy on other extremely important matters, such as the burning issue of whether spousal benefits must necessarily be extended to Wiccans who marry oak trees."
Yep.  It's just a difference in priorities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Stovetop Taco Pie

Food just like I like it: tasty, nutritious and easily-prepared
This recipe is one of my fav ways to use "leftover" chili (when I have any left over, that is... ).
Stovetop Taco Pie
4 C chili (see below)
Large bag of your fav tortilla chips
2 C shredded cheese (your fav: I prefer a mix of cheddar and monterey jack)
2 C
Quick Salsa
1 regular-sized can of whole-kernel corn
Layer: chili, chips, salsa, corn, cheese, chili, chips, salsa... and end with a layer of chips and cheese.
Add some sliced jalapenos or seranos for extra kick if you want (or have them available to add later to taste).
Cover and heat in skillet on medium heat until cheese just melts, then turn heat to LOW and cook for another 10 minutes or so.
Serve with sides of guacamole, rice or refried beans (prep for both here) and lotsa shredded letuce and chopped onions, peppers, sour cream and more salsa available for garnish.
Oh, did I say sliced ripe olives? No, I see I didn't.  Shame on me.  Nice additional garnish.  But don't limit yourself to garnishes/addenda I mention.  Let me know what you try out and like that I haven't mentioned.
Chili: For some reason, I can't seem to find my post of my chili recipe.  I know I had to have posted it sometime or another, but it's slipped into the ether... So, here goes.  It's one of those "more of a process than a recipe" recipes.
1.) About a pound of roast beef, shredded, preferably leftovers.
2.) 3-4 cups of beans, cooked.  See here for the process. *heh*  Pinto beans, only, please.  :-)
3.) A whole, large yellow (sweet) onion, chopped.
4.) A couple of cups of garlic, minced.
5.) About 1/2 to one cup of Red Sauce.  Use the recipe for red enchilada sauce, here. If you have no sense of taste, just use the packaged chili powder junk.  (Blech!)
6.) At least two tablespoonsful of freshly ground cumin. I use more.
7.) A few leaves of dried oregano, crushed between your hands and dusted off into the pan...
8.) A sparse dash or two of chinese five-spice.  Yeh, it'll work.  Just trust me on this one.
9.) A can of chopped tomatoes or some of your fav spaghetti sauce (can cut the earlier oregano if you choose this route).
Get the onions and garlic started clarifying in a medium-heat skillet with some olive or corn oil (diff flavors, your taste). Add the beef (already cooked, preferably "leftover" roast).  Add the herbs and spices and cook, covered at lower heat, until the beef's done (you're way ahead if you went with leftovers!).  Add the red sauce, tomatoes and beans and simmer for an hour or so, checking to see if any added water's needed from time to time.
It's chili. 


Granted, they're squealing like stuck pigs cos the pressure's on teachers, but the NEA proves that even a stuck clock is right twice a day... even if it's for the wrong reason
Kris, over at Anywhere But Here (and I've fixed the blogroll link to her blog), has a good lining out of some of the major reasons why NCLB is a stupid idea.  Strangely, the NEA thinks it's a dumb idea, too is suing the gummint over NCLB... though for the wrong reasons, as Kris points out.
It occurred to me, as I was posting a comment at Kris' site, that I ought to include the links I posted there, here.  Here are two of them, to two mini-essays by Jerry Pournelle:

MMPA Maverick

Fifth columnist in the Mass Media Podpeople's Army, John Stossel, says "Give me a break"
I read his stuff now and then, but nothing he's written recently is more on-target than his recent column "Soldiers Fighting for right to Smoke?" A sample:
"Freedom includes the right to quit your job, but freedom also includes the right not to employ someone you don't want to employ."
Tell that to the Mass Media Podpeople's Army, the Loony Left Moonbat Brigade and the ever-growing nanny state those groups love so much.

Drive-by post on congresscritters

Nailed by Tony Blankley
"Question: What is the difference between squirrels and members of Congress? Answer: Squirrels make provisions for the future."
Reminds me of Twain.
"Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."—Mark Twain
Update: doggone if I hadn't forgotten about this.  Now, that'd make of our congresscritters something more sensible than they now are. (Warning: it's an mp3 featuring Ray Stephens.  Be prepared to laugh your socks off. Or at least enjoy the picture of such an event translated to a group of our illustrious congresscritters.)

Comment surfacing for air

So, what do YOU think of "Kipling Tuesdays"?
 "Lord how I love Kipling. One of the truly Great Poets." —David Holtz

Glad to hear it.  I plan on one a week, on Tuesdays. At other times, an occasional Stephenson, Burns, Tennyson or other—maybe a Poe poem *heh* every now and then**—but Kipling Tuesdays will continue for at least a while.

I can't recount the number of times that "General Summary" has popped into my head (and sometimes onto my lips) when I hear the latest shennanigans our congresscritters are up to...

"...As it was in the beginning/Is today official sinning/And shall be for evermore."

Kipling is often viewed with disfavor among academics.  Probably because most of academia takes the presciption Holly Lisle gives for "How to Write Suckitudinous Fiction" to be a prescription for writing "great literature."  Kipling was a craftsman.  But a craftsman with a vision.

And his view of critics is in congruance with mine on a 1 to 1 basis in "The Conundrum of the Workshops" (to be featured in an upcoming "Kipling Tuesday" *s* 'S'all right. Most folks will have forgotten it by then, and faithful readers of "Kipling Tuesdays" will appreciate re-reading it.)
**Speaking of Poe. Here's my impression of Edgar Allen Poe on Prozac:
"Pretty bird... " (You imagine the inflection.  Got it in one.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Another Kipling Tuesday

Always a fav, and for good reason. Do NOT read this silently! READ IT ALOUD
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
 tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,
And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride:
He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.
Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides:
"Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?"
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
"If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
At dusk he harries the Abazai -- at dawn he is into Bonair,
But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.
But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen."
The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell
  and the head of the gallows-tree.
The Colonel's son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat --
Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her back,
And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
"Ye shoot like a soldier," Kamal said.  "Show now if ye can ride."
It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,
The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.
The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.
There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.
They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
The dun he fell at a water-course -- in a woful heap fell he,
And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand -- small room was there to strive,
"'Twas only by favour of mine," quoth he, "ye rode so long alive:
There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly."
Lightly answered the Colonel's son:  "Do good to bird and beast,
But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.
If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.
They will feed their horse on the standing crop,
  their men on the garnered grain,
The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
But if thou thinkest the price be fair, -- thy brethren wait to sup,
The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn, -- howl, dog, and call them up!
And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!"
Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
"No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when wolf and gray wolf meet.
May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?"
Lightly answered the Colonel's son:  "I hold by the blood of my clan:
Take up the mare for my father's gift -- by God, she has carried a man!"
The red mare ran to the Colonel's son, and nuzzled against his breast;
"We be two strong men," said Kamal then, "but she loveth the younger best.
So she shall go with a lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain."
The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
"Ye have taken the one from a foe," said he;
  "will ye take the mate from a friend?"
"A gift for a gift," said Kamal straight; "a limb for the risk of a limb.
Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!"
With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest --
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.
"Now here is thy master," Kamal said, "who leads a troop of the Guides,
And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
Thy life is his -- thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.
So, thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border-line,
And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power --
Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur."
They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.
The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the dun,
And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.
And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear --
There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.
"Ha' done! ha' done!" said the Colonel's son.
  "Put up the steel at your sides!
Last night ye had struck at a Border thief --
  to-night 'tis a man of the Guides!"
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

Does 10 years make a difference?

the birthday girl reminded me about the OKC bombing
Yep.  It was her 14th bithday anniversary, 10 years ago today.  Not a happy birthday celebration.  90 miles away, we thought it was just another action out on the artillery range. 90 miles away...
A couple of years earlier? It was the Waco murders (echoes of burning children screaming, ).  For several years after April 19, 1995, she flinched at the thought of her approaching birthday anniversary.
Today, the good Baptist girl (young woman) called with, "They've chosen a new pope!" and cheerful thoughts about how her April 19 birthday anniversary doesn't have to be a harbinger of tragedy.
So, a new pope, eh.  Ratzinger? Or was he the "popemaker" this time?  The news will likely break by end of day.  But it's better news than on some other April 19ths.
Update: Yep, as I thought.  Ratzinger is now Pope Bbenedict XVI, and he certainly "dict-ed bene" going into yesterday's meetings,
"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism," he said, speaking in Italian. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards." (from MyWay News)
Now, those are good words from Pop "Good Speech" XVI. Ratzinger was, of course, the political fav of the college of cardinals going in (he had 2/3 or so of the necessary votes before the thing started), and as John Paul II's right-hand man on church/society interface, he represents a continuation of the previous administration.

Meme Tag, Anyone

I never play these games when they come around as email tags. Got put off by all the lousy forwarding... But since it was Kris who tagged me...
Jody of Steal the Bandwagon tagged Kris of Anywhere But Here to participate in this little meme. Kris, in turn, tagged me.
"Immediately following there is a list of different occupations. Select at least 5 of them (feel free to select more). You may add more if you like to your list before you pass it on (after you select 5 of the items as it was passed to you). Each one begins with "If I could be..." Of the 5 you selected, you are to finish each phrase with what you would do as a member of that profession.
For example, if the selected occupation was "pirate" you might take the phrase "If I could be a pirate..." and add to it "I would sail the 7 Seas, dating lasses from around the worlde." See how easy that is? Here's the list [you can tell my additions, because I used the subjunctive mood *heh*]:"
If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be an astronaut...
If I were a dog...
If I were an inventor...
If I were a programmer...
If I were a genius...
If I were a librarian, I'd tell everyone,  "Look it up on the net.  I'm busy with my blog."
If I were a painter, I'd finally get the livingroom finished and the detail in the upstairs bath and... Oh, not that kinda painter?  Well, if I were a painter I'd fix that snarky smirk on the Mona Lisa's face. 
If I were an astronaut, I'd do everything I could to shut down NASA.  It's the biggest thing standing in the way of developing space travel.  The current purpose of NASA?  Support an army of employees.  Waste of money.  Close off the tap to NASA and watch private enterprise (WTG Rutan/SpaceShip1!!) fly. Then maybe I really could become an "astronaut." 
If I were a gardener, I would stop using my brown thumb to kill everything I plant.
If I were a lawyer, I'd find a way to sue the pants off every congresscritter and bureaucrat i could find.  Individually, not in their government roles.  Just to harass the living daylights outa them. (Hey! It's better than my preference of introducing them to Dr. Tarr and Mr. Fether... )
If I were a [real] programmer, I'd invent a way to search for music on the web by midi input (just whistle the tune into a mic, convert wav-to-midi and search for the composer/piece/etc.).
If I were an inventor, I'd invent an alarm clock smasher.  Oh, wait.  I already have one of those at the end of my arm.  OK, I'd invent a cat litter that really worked to absorb odors and was really flushable. (Yeh, there are those that say they are both, but when the neighbors complain about 1.) the stench and 2.) the neighborhood sewer lines being clogged, you know the manufactuers are lying... not that EITHER of those things have happened to me.  I know a guy who knows a guy whose aunt's second cousin had those problems.  But she had 324 cats... )
If I were a dog I'd... nope.  better not go there.
If I were a genius, I'd be doing something other than attempting to spread this meme.
I'm gonna tag Richard at Random Ramblings, cos I think he needs something to write about today. *LOL*  And, I dunno, maybe Boudicca, since she's probably got a list of her own, already. *heh*  Yeh, and what would Alan at Woody's News and Views say about this silly game? "It's a silly game, but somebody has to mock it?"  Maybe.  Maybe not.
Update: Bou's views of the "If I could be... " meme tag game (Bou who? Boudicca, that's who. Listen to her Voice.)  If I had thought of being a missionary the way she does, I'd be on the mission field til the day I died...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tightwad lesson #1,293

Sometimes inexpensive stuff just costs too much
Got a great deal on an Asante wireless 802.11-g router. Works just fine (although I found the configuration software made it difficult to block specific ports—warning sign #1... firmware upgrade helped).  Backward compatible with 802.11-b, so tried it out on a computer downstairs (router upstairs, roughly 15' above the downstairs computer) with an 802.11-b adapter that had worked in the past. No joy.  Apparently signal strength issues.  Can probably fix that with this, but hey! That's a significantly more than the router cost to begin with!
If I can't come up with a better solution, when my daughter comes to visit she's just going to have to
1.) Sit in my office (a couple of feet from the router) and use her lil notebook there
2.) Sit where I can reach her with an ethernet cable or
3.) Use one of the other computers
to connect to the internet, check mail, etc.
The last option is not cool.  Sure, she can use a USB drive to transfer files, but sneakernet is just so uncool compared to the real thing.
Sometimes cheaper (even from a good company) just is not less expensive.
Lesson re-learned... I hope.
Still, even if I have to get the hi-gain antenna, it will have been a relatively inexpensive solution,  overall.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


No, I didn't misspell a skin affliction often suffered by dogs.  The recipes in this week's Carnival of the recipes are a great collection of really good eats.  I'll probably make Sneakeasy's Special Combo Meal or Aussie Wife's Chili Chicken Burders first, but there are other great eats to make n chow down on.  Click on over and check it out!

On B.S.

Princeton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Harry Frankfurt Speaks Out
"...respect for the truth and concern for the truth, these are among the foundations of civilization."—Harry Frankfurt
I regret that time pressed and I simply downloaded and filed the video interview of Dr. Frankfurt speaking on bullshit and only today actually got around to viewing it. While I might argue that he and I have narrowly different views of bullshit—I see at least one useful variety, whereas he seems not to see any useful bullshit whatever—his argument, as far as I can see from the interview and one online article about his little book, On Bullshit, is a solid one.  I too see the destructive nature of all too much bullshit in the public fora, ranging from the epitome of political bullshit in the daily bloviations of congresscritters (nearly one and all) to the nadir of truly poor bullshitting by Dan Blather in his Rathergate pronouncements.
But, of course, Dr Frankfurt's argument cannot sway those who believe in purely personal "truths"—emotionally-based belief systems where all truth is relative and there is no objective reality.  You know, those such as Jean Fraud sKerry who still apparently believe in a White Christmas in Cambodia...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Blame it on the water

It's another one from Caltech Girl. Blame her.
I put in my "name" and...
Your Boobies' Names Are: Cheech and Chong
It would be better were I truly speechless, so I think I'll just quietly retire...

What Kind of English do You Speak?

Click here to take the dialect quiz

Originally uploaded by mnmus.
h/t CaltechGirl

Man, am I slow...

(They all shout in unison) "How slow are you?" [note the update at bottom] Well, Amanda posted this wonderful recipe last week for the 34th Carnival of the recipes and I'm just now planning on making it... after the National Day of mourning is over, of course. Take note, Amanda is "Aussie Wife" so she calls arugula "rocket" (a perfectly good alternative word for arugula Down Under). Just use "rocket" whenever you go to the store to ask for arugula so you can have the produce guy running in circles. :-) [UPDATE] Hey! I'm even "slower" than I thought! Either that or I have a rapidly advqancing case of "early (though it's becomeing less and less early *heh*) oldtimer's disease"... Amanda posted her wonderful recipe yesterday not last week! *Sheesh!* I'm so slow, I'm ahead of myself! *LOL* Need More Sleep ::heh::

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sand Flea's Plea

Or, rather, the Psammead's wish
1908.  A quote from the world's only recorded encounter with a Psammead (sand fairy), asking a supplicant for one wish of its own: to be forever unmentioned,
'Why, don't you see, if you told grown-ups I should have no peace of my life. They'd get hold of me, and they wouldn't wish silly things like you do, but real earnest things; and the scientific people would hit on some way of making things last after sunset, as likely as not; and they'd ask for a graduated income-tax, and old-age pensions and manhood suffrage, and free secondary education, and dull things like that; and get them, and keep them, and the whole world would be turned topsy-turvy.'
Sadly, it seems that someone found the Psammead, or one of his nearly-extinct brethren and wreaked the very havoc he feared. "...graduated income tax... old-age pensions... manhood suffrage... free secondary education..."  ::shudder::  It's all come to pass.  And on your dime.
The National Day of Mourning is soon upon us...

The problem with so-called "liberals"

as if there were only one :heh:
When you couple ideals that are unconnected to reality with the silly notion that "practice makes perfect" you end up with the current crop of so-called liberals. Think about it.  Every single "liberal" (or as so-called liberals now prefer, "progressive") idea in social engineering, education, government and academics that I can recall from the past thirty-five years (and know of from the past century or so) has proven to be harmful to society. While some may have seemed to have temporary beneficial effects, the law of unintended consequences caught up with every darned one of even the truly well-intentioned "liberal" ideas.
That's what happens when people who refuse to test their ideas against verifiable facts continue to insist that "practice makes perfect."  Anyone who has listened to a beginning music student play the wrong note over and over and over again can tell you that practice does NOT "make perfect"—only perfect practice makes perfect.  And only the practice of good ideas, proven by testing them against their real world results, can produce good policies and practices.
But current "liberals" have no need to test their ideas against reality, you see, because they just know by faith that reality will change to conform to what they think should be.
And folk such as that are a prescription for creating hell in utopia.
Back to regular programming.
(BTW, I usually put "liberal" and "liberals" in quotation marks when referring to the current crop of folk who espouse so-called [heh] progressive ideas, because almost without exception they are not liberal in the classic sense of seeking to expand freedoms and liberties... unless it is for folks who agree with them to be free to say and do what this current crop of "liberals" want.  "Everything not forbidden (by them) is compulsoty" so to speak... Their idea of justice and equal treatment under the law, for example, is to create priviledged classes who recieve benefits because of ethnic or racial backgrounds.  Orwellian indeed... And decidedly UNliberal.)

Ready for "The National Day of Mourning"?

Ambivalence: April 15 approaches
Years ago, I designated April 15 as The National Day of Mourning, for obvious reasons.  While the meme has not yet spread far (enough), my close associates expect that every April 15 they will see me beardless, as a sign of my mourning for liberty wasted. Yes: wasted. If ownership of the fruits of one's labors is, as Madison asserted** in the Federalist papers, indicative of a free or slave state (the slave owing the fruits of his labors to another), then April 15 is perhaps the best day of the year to symbolize the economic slavery of Americans, for it highlights the fact that the fruits of your labors are only as much yours as your political masters say they are.
You do not own your home as long as some government entity can claim it under "eminent domain" and give it to someone else in order to generate more tax income for the slavemasters than you pay on the same property (more and more private property is being seized and turned over to big businesses "for the good of the community").
You do not "own" your income, as long as some political animal can tax it from you any darned time they want and give it to someone else.
And make no mistake: what you pay in hidden taxes is much, much more than you see when you pay the butcher's bill on April 15.  Think anout it for a minute.  How many businesses pay taxes?  Answer: not one single one.  Not one.  Sure, the governments collect taxes from businesses, but those taxes are simply passed on to the purchasers of those businesses' goods and services... all the way down the line.
So, when you buy a $10.00 item at your local grocery, think how many different businesses' taxes you must pay to purchase that item.  The local store remits various taxes and licensing to various governments, and it MUST include those taxes as a part of its cost of doing business... in the cost of the goods it sells you.  Then there's the distributor who delivered the goods.  The (various and sundry) manufacturer(s) of the item.  The shipper of the raw materials to the manufacturer and the suppliers of the raw materials themselves. In this simple (overly  simplified) model, in order to purchase your $10.00 item, yoju have to pay the taxes that are hidden from you of at least five other entities.
And those hidden taxes are just the beginning of how government alone saps your economic freedoms. Consider the enormous burdens of all the various regulatory agencies on each of those businesses. Not a small burden at all. Consider the circumstances Jay Lancaster, a small business owner speaking before the U.S. House Small Business Committee, faces:
“My small eight-person business is regulated by over eight federal agencies. Those eight regulatory agencies are just the tip of the iceberg because we also have to comply with state and local regulations. The amount of paperwork associated with these regulations is staggering and is certainly not something that one person alone can handle. I don’t have compliance officers, accountants and lawyers on staff to handle regulatory compliance. My wife acts as our ‘compliance officer’ and my daughter, much to her dismay, is forced to spend countless hours a month just on compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration....   As a businessman, I do not measure the cost of regulation solely in money spent on outside contractors but I also calculate it in the time my employees and I have to spend on the regulation itself. I think this is the worst cost of all, because every minute I spend on regulation takes me away from growing my business or, better yet, playing with my grandchildren. Every dollar I spend on an accountant is a dollar I cannot reinvest in my business, which is my family’s future.”  
Every dime businessmen like Lancaster must spend to comply with the gargantuan regulatory burden must be shared with the consumer, or Lancaster and his like will simply have to close their doors.
Another piece of change from your pockets to prop up government meddling.
But of course economic slavery isn't solely due to abuse of taxation and other governmental abuses; it is also the result of another weakness of the sheep who submit to such abuses: excessive debt resultant from, well, laziness and greed.
Yep.  The same laziness and greed that produces a "grab the other guy's money and give it to me" attitude toward governmental theft also convinces people that placing their lives in hock to bankers is a good idea, and so millions of us are in debt up to our eyeballs and paying more in interest to creditors than we are gaining in interest from savings.
So, April 15 stands in my mind as a day of mourning for the death of that myth of American independence and self-reliance, of freedom and liberty, as long as our taxes go largely to pay bureaucrats to abuse us whenever the whim hits them (see: TSA, the fear most Americans have of the IRS, the tyranny of the EPA and so many of the other alphabet soup agencies *sigh*) and Americans are willing to, for the most part, place their lives in hock to creditors.
And yet... ambivalence.  While I might prefer that the billions spent liberating Iraq were spent in prize monies for development and implementation of energy independence from outside sources, I recognize that as long as the military is serving in a manner specifically designed to protect American citizens from foreign attacks, then that money is at least being spent in a Constitutionally legitimate fashion for one of the very, very few Constitutionally legitimate functions of our national government.  And so, I waffle a little in my mourning this year, as I have for the past two years.
A little.  I'll leave the moustache when I shave.
**Madison's explaination of the apportionment of representation, addressing the slavery issue and arguing the Southern/slaveholding states' position:
"In being compelled to labor, not for himself, but for a master; in being vendible by one master to another master; and in being subject at all times to be restrained in his liberty and chastised in his body, by the capricious will of
another... " [shades of Martha Stewart and the TSA haunt the final clauses of that comment... ]

Sugar gives me a headache!

(What is the answer to "One lump or two?")
See the Blogwriter mess below? <sigh> Yeh, it's an unclosed link tag. But the html is such a mess (typical bloated and messy Blogwriter code, from what I've viewed of its efforts to do wysiwyg so far) that rather than take my lumps, I'll just let it stand as an object lesson: TANSTAFL.
See, what I tried was implementing Zoundry's affiliate linking.  Signed up for an affiliate account (it's in beta: you have to request an invitation) and inserted an affiliate link to the book I mentioned, cos I actually like the thing.  Such a messy result... *sigh*
Still, it is a good read. Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's the little things

One of the best things about the internet +
Nice touch, Smallville=
2 lil joys
On the phone last night, my daughter mentioned one of the five books she's currently reading for pleasure. A juvie written in 1908.  Sooooo... since it was likely PD, I searched and found scads of places I could get ebook/etext versions.  Fun book:  Five Children and It  by Edith Nesbit. A tad didactic, but pleasantly told.  Much better, IMO, than the Series of Unfortunate Events tales, which palled after only a few pages.  And now I see that it's a film (upcoming release) featuring Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard, Freddie Highmore, and Zoe Wannamaker.
One to watch for.
[UPDATE: I've seen a trailer for the flick.  It departs from the book on several rather major points, introduces characters and situations not in the book, etc. Nevertheless, it may still be worth a viewing. I'll probably finish the book this evening, between other more pressing tasks.]
The other lil joy: Orson Scott Card, a writer who knows how to craft good stories—sound plotting, credible characters, pace, etc.—wrote a paean extolling Smallville, so I dutifully began watching it when I had a chance.  Saw the latest tonight and it was... passable.  More teenaged sturm und drang filtered through a touchy-feely soap opera-ish hammishness than I like, but not all that bad.  The lil joy was after the show was over, the very last of the credits.  An ink bottle, apparently filled with red ink, labeled Miller Cough Ink is smashed and... a brief lil motif from Mahler's Symphony #1 tinkled past my ears!  Brought the whole darned first movement singing through my head! What a nice touch, Smallville!  Thanks!

Why I like living in America's Third World County™ Part III

Secession is still an option Well-established rumor has it that America's Third World County™ came within an ace of seceding all on its lonesome back in the middle years of the 20th Century (not during the Great Unitarian-Baptist Shootout of the 19th Century).  The feeling is still rather strong in these parts that, though sparsely-populated, America's Third World County™ is still heavily-armed enough to guard its own borders, should it ever come to such a pass... Which is reason number 3 for appreciating this part of the world. See a prediction of where the rest of the country is going here.  Have your speakers on and remove breakables from easy reach. It's a brave new world (and no, I'll not say that with apologies to Aldous Huxley).  Coming to a pizza joint near you Real Soon Now if the socialists (of both major political parties) have their way. They wish h/t "Guitar Man" at Jerry Pournelle's Current Mail page.

Does Blogger work, now?

No Minimally glad that Blogwriter does, though. Except, of course, that I have other stuff to do, and also have lots to bloviate about... decisions, decisions... how to prioritize? That which I ought to do, shall I do it not? Not. So, refining the nomenclature re: subclasses of dumbasses will just have to wait for later...

True Serenity

The Serenity Prayer—real world version
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill, because they REALLY chapped my gizzard!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

tis a poor thing...

...but my own
One of the things that prisons for kids (also called "public schools") has done that is beyond monstrous is that it has endeavored to drive a stake through the very heart of that which educrats view as a vampire that will suck their very lives: minds of imagination and memory and appreciation of Beauty. What is worse is that it has mostly achieved this goal.
OK, here's an example... a poor thing, but my own. I had said in the previous post that I was about to fire up some good music and read a good book as an anodyne to the pain of contemplating contemporary "culture"... but... phone call, hour late, WonderWoman in bed. Listening to music on headphones is just... not right, somehow. So.
Even with tiredness enveloping me, turning up the volume on my tinitus, I can "listen" to Copland's "Fanfare..." by remembering it. By reading it. Whichever and/or both. And still read such as,
"The thing I do not propose to prove, the thing I propose to take as common ground between myself and any average reader, is this desirability of an active and imaginative life, picturesque and full of a poetical curiosity, a life such as western man at any rate always seems to have desired. If a man says that extinction is better than existence or blank existence better than variety and adventure, then he is not one of the ordinary people to whom I am talking. If a man prefers nothing I can give him nothing... "
...from Chesterton's Orthodoxy (a citation from the introduction I ought to have woven into the text of my previous post).
I've learned not to speak of such things in "normal" company, though. Most people look at me like a calf at a new gate if I mention "listening to music" in my head or quote a piece of Kipling, Shakespeare or Stephenson. But I can recall my grandfather quoting chapters of Tennyson's Idylls of the King or Scott's Ivanhoe or Lady of the Lake or any one of many poets he had read in his youth... and memorized extensively, so I do not feel any great accomplishment in the few snatches of the "good stuff" I recall.
But... these poor things that have become my own in memory, these things I can hear and taste and see no matter where I am or in what circumstances I find myself, these are denied (by whatever mechanism—natural or, more often, inculcated stupidity, for the most part) to too many in our land today.
Back to Chesterton and... I think one of the Bs this time. (I never get enough of Ludwig's an freude, let alone everything that builds up to it... I know, I know, musical snobs say it's performed too much, but what do they know?)
Good night, Gracie.