Monday, March 31, 2008

Evil Bunnies and Other Vile Creatures Destroying Your Garden


A friend of my friend Lorne wrote an email describing his woes in the garden. Lorne, who wrote here last week, gardens and keeps chickens. He views himself as a renaissance man in the vein of Thomas Jefferson. He's a dabbler. Lawyer, writer, gardener, hen-house owner, etc. His daily difficulties give me great mirth as I picture him sloshing through the mud and snow (it's Michigan post-winter, pre-spring) defending the worthless birds from the neighbor's dog and most of the times, themselves. Lorne's friend, lawyer Michael Edmunds share's his own difficulties with mother nature. I hope you laugh as much as I did.

***************

More importantly, I hate rabbits. I don't believe god actually created them. I'm convinced they are Satan's evil minions, born of the dark, and designed to make life so miserable that we give up our souls in exchange for relief from their torment.

They have destroyed both my apple trees, reaching further than I had imagined possible. They stripped every limb up to about 4 feet above the ground. At first I thought I had Barry Bonds' pet rabbit in my yard, and I became afraid that if I tried to keep him out, he would fly into a roid rage and attack me. But Ben told me they can reach a lot higher in the winter bec of the snow. I have to do something, but not sure what.

I am becoming resigned to an ugly fence. I don't have the time or money for a nice one, and I'm not convinced there is such a thing anyway. On the other hand, I can't go another year without fencing or I will lose my 4 year old investment in time and money in grapes, blueberries, and apples. The little bastards have even been chewing on the lattice I put up last year, which was all nice and freshly stained, but now has big bite marks all over it. That was just mean. They didn't even eat it--just chewed it up.

Everyone knows that squirrels are right behind rabbits on the hierarchy of demonic beings. Like socks, they can apparently reproduce a-sexually. Furthermore, unless you cut off their heads, they can't be killed . Sometimes I hear this haunting voice at night, which says "there can be only one!"

I have shot them so many times with my pellet gun (which has a muzzle velocity greater than most .22s) that I would have expected them to be dead from lead poisoning by now, not to mention the gaping round hole through their furry little hides. Yet after falling many feet from the top of pine trees, telephone pole, and power lines, they inevitably jump up, scamper away. Then they reappear a couple of days later, even stronger than before, with no apparent effect except for the foresight to run away long before I can get within pellet gun range.

They raid my bird feeder daily, to the detriment of "wanted" guests like cardinals. I left a baited trap, which they tripped, but it can't hold them. Like Houdini, the cage can't hold them for longer than a few minutes. They make a horrible racket, tear up the ground under the cage, attack the cage with fierce determination and brute strength, and get away every time. Unlike Houdini, they also piss all over the place every time they get caught. Instead of a trapped squirrel, I end up with a bare spot of dirt or mud where the grass used to be, a bent cage, a stench of urine that seems to linger for days, but no squirrel.

I enclosed the feeder in metal, but they reinforced their teeth with addamantium, and promptly chewed through the metal. I moved the feeder from the tree, where they would hang upside down from pine needles, like Bulgarian acrobats. I bought a metal pole and anchored it in the ground, with the bird feeder on top. Defying gravity and other principles of physics including surface tension and friction, they climb straight up, not even slipping, where they sit and feast on my bird seed in plain sight of the kitchen table, to the delight of all but me. I greased the pole with Vaseline, enduring the shocked looks of the clerks at Walmart, who had never met someone who needed such a large vat of Vaseline for any purpose not associated with self gratification. They then proved that the evolutionary link between their winged, South American cousins, leaping from my deck to the top of the feeder without touching the pole. I didn't even get the satisfaction of watching one try to climb the newly slathered pole.

I have decided to escalate the conflict, at the risk of achieving a Pyrrhic victory. For example, If I place a rat trap in the bird feeder, do I merely endanger the birds, or will the squirrels chew through my hose (again) and try to flood my basement? I might run leads from my circuit breaker to the metal pole that supports the feeder, and spread peanut butter on the feeder, but how many of my children will remain to help me celebrate when the first squirrel finally begins sending smoke signals to the others about the dangers of screwing with me? I considered lacing the bird feed with ball bearings, and buying a huge electromagnet from ACME, but it never seemed to work for Wile E. Coyote, so I became discouraged.

I only have one idea left, so I have to make it count: guerilla warfare. I plan to dig a deep hole all around the pole from which the bird feeder is hanging, and bury punjii sticks which have been dipped in feces. Then I will cover the hole with small sticks and spread mulch over the sticks to disguise the hole. If necessary, I will also spread walnuts all over the mulch. I'm sure it can't fail.

Good luck. call when spring stops playing jokes on us and is actually here, so we can commiserate about our yards.

Dating 101--UPDATE

Hi all, I was interviewed last week by John Hawkins of Right Wing News about dating. What the hell do I know about dating considering I've been with the same man for 20 years? Not much, currently, but back in the day...... Well, I've always loved men and getting to know different guys and being friends with them even if no relationship ensued. And so I waxed elephant about my opinions and shared some stories.

John also interviewed some fantastic people, some of whom I now count as friends. Cassy Fiano, Karol Sheinin of Alarming News, Sharon Soon of Conservatives with Attitude, Michelle Odis at Human Events, and author and blogger Dawn Eden.

UPDATE:

Well, Ace has some musings on dating women and blogging women, too:

Six female bloggers sound off about mistakes men make in dating, and three of them are put off by... overconfidence and braggin' on what hot shit they are. (Not Karol, of course!)

So, basically, if more women were like female bloggers, Allah and I (and most of you) shouldn't be able to leave the house without raincoat & rubbers for all the downpour of female attention and the splashing in puddles of adoring women.

Which leads me to believe 1) women bloggers are nothing like normal women or most likely 2) women bloggers are exactly like normal women in that they lie their pretty asses off.

Now wait just a minute, Ace. I just want to point out that I didn't say I disliked bragging, although, it is annoying. More than that, I think you might have a point that women bloggers are nothing like normal women. We aren't like normal women. In fact, I think it's safe to say that we're abnormal. Blogging is blood sport and the ladies who hang out and blog are made of tougher stuff than the average girl. I don't think that's the only difference, though. Blogging requires at least a cursory knowledge of things technical and I don't want to make any gender generalizations here, but come on.... Not just that, women political bloggers like politics. Duh! Most women I know glaze over when politics are discussed--even the educated women. So yeah, female bloggers are weird. There's hope for you, is all I'm saying. Keep the faith.

Michelle Malkin asks if you'd date a liberal. The consensus seems to be, "HELL NO!" You know, there are many philosophical differences or can be, but I'm open to all ideologies. I watch the numbers. (In basketball, you defend by watching the numbers not watching the head or listening to the trash talking. The body tells the truth.) What I mean is this: lots of people claim to be liberals because it makes them sound smarter, but in practice, they live conservative lives. So, if a person lives a conservative, traditional life and makes the mistake of voting Democrat, I can live with it. Thankfully, I don't have to.

And then there's the usual liberal b.s. proving the point. It's funny though.

And then there's Rusty Shackleford, who has John Hawkin's number:
John Hawkins, once again, uses his cover as a top blogger to score phone numbers.

I feel so.....used.

Deviant Is The New Normal



A friend and I were discussing furries. Do you know what they are? Well, if you don't, read here about furries. It's not that you need to know that weird freaks exist that get sexually excited by seeing people dressed up like Bugs Bunny or dressing like a giant panda, themselves. It's that you need to know that no behavior is considered out of bounds any more.

Remember the dude from Seattle who got caught having sex with a dead deer next to the road? Yeah, well, he got caught doing it again. And you know the TV show basically extolling the virtues of polygamy? Well, I watched one episode. Polygamy is normal, don't ya know?

In the article linked above, referring to the furries, the critic blames the internet. And while the internet provides fertile soil for every freak to grow his deviant idea, I believe it's the psychology profession that has sanctioned every weird thing as normal. How can any limits to human behavior be imposed? Who is to say it's wrong? And where do you draw the line?

Most people are repulsed by pedophilia. It's as natural and instinctual to be disgusted at pedophilia as being disgusted at the smell of three day old fish in the sun. Most people find somebody who gets off on furry anything as freakish. It's called deviance:

Deviance describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules (e.g., crime) as well as informal violations of social norms (e.g., nose-picking).
Deviant behavior is practiced by those who are not knitted into the fabric of society. That is, the less interconnected they are, the more likely to adopt deviant behavior. This, of course, is chicken-egg reasoning. Does the deviant behavior isolate a person? Probably, and before the internet, probably did so even more. Now, a freak can find solace in a support group of sorts through the internet and their "society" becomes an association of freaks just like them. The social pressure to conform to norms no longer exists in the same way.

Couple this technological phenomena with the mental health profession's unwillingness to label anything abnormal and there is a perfect cocktail of dysfunction becoming elevated to normative behavior. In addition to this, the church's influence has sharply declined. The moral constraints of the church worked as a stop gap and shaming mechanism for those outside the societal mainstream. And this was to the good. Shame can be a powerful behavioral influence and a positive one for society at large.

In a more secular society, who will define normal? Will such a thing exist? And what will be the ramifications for society? I think we're already seeing it. There is a balkanization amongst the populace. Women. Gays. Blacks. Furries. Even normal groups, isolated, become weird and calcified in their ideology.

People identify with their identity rather than a unifying idea.

The secular future will be a nihilistic, narcissistic place where all ideas are created equal and there is no abnormal. Behavior isn't deviant, it's individualistic. Essentially, the future will be like Germany is today, and the rest of Europe for that matter. Devoid of meaning because everything has meaning. Devoid of virtue because virtue exists in whatever you wish for it to exist in.

The elevating of the deviant has serious repercussions for society as a whole. Instead of a finely woven fabric, America will be like a unfinished patchwork quilt--all the pieces sitting next to one another but no unifying threads. Our lack of cohesion will be our definition. By elevating everything, we'll be nothing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ferris Beuller, Smoot-Hawley, and Follow The Money When It Comes To Environmentalism and the Economy


Econ teacher in Ferris Bueller:

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. "Voodoo" economics.
Maxed Out Mama explains the Smoot-Hawley Act. I kid you not. But here's what she's really talking about and it's very important students, so pay attention!
I believe that many politicians are being deeply dishonest about their "environmental" concerns. I also believe that instituting a carbon tariff will cause Asian growth to slow remarkably and further destabilize the world economy. The rise in food prices is very dangerous because it has an impact on the ability of emerging market countries to support consumption increases necessary to rebalance trade. If you add to the situation by doing something like this, you could recreate the conditions which caused the Great Depression.

WE SHOULD STOP THE RHETORIC AND THINK VERY SERIOUSLY while we still can.

We have no proof at all that CO2 is dramatically affecting global temperatures or will. We have a bunch of models that don't predict previous temperature changes, so how can we believe that they are accurate in future predictions? We have a lot of hysteria on the subject, but it is mostly occurring in the political realm. Follow the money.
Are the world's main powers continually in a power struggle? Yes. Are the world's main powers subtly (and not so subtly) warring over ideologies and more significantly, right now, economies? I think so. The reliance and interconnectedness of the world economies causes significant vulnerability to states.

How so? Imagine having a billion people hungry because rice and corn and wheat are so expensive and in such a short supply that people and the government can't afford them. Starvation on a massive scale, the disease that follows, tends to make people upset. There was a time when China couldn't go out and take, by force, the resources needed for survival, but that has changed. By the way, I'm not writing as an economist since I'm clueless on that front. This opinion is just based on human nature and history. Oh, and China doesn't need force to hurt America. Go read MoM's full post to see why.

And this also relates to the Obama-Clinton-McCain triumvirate of pandering to leftist dogma. All three seem moved by the environmental clap-trap that passes as truth. Should their economic policy be dictated by environmental policy, I fear for the world and for the United States.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cults of Stupidity-UPDATED

It's intoxicating to be one of the few lucky souls spared from the end of the world. At any given time, there have been those who are absolutely convinced the world will end soon, if not now, and that they have special, secret knowledge that will save them, but more importantly, fry you because you do not believe and you will be left behind. You're an unbelieving stooge. Doomed.

Seven women left a cave in Russia today since the end of the world didn't come at the allotted time. Or was it they didn't have the patience to wait until the allotted time? Either way, the plan seemed to fail. It occurs to me that someone, eventually, is going to be right about the end of the world and have huge bragging rights.

Here's my question: Will the Obama believers come out of the cave before or after the election? For example, the Wright affair seems to have taken the blush off the rose for some, but others are too excited about being saved from the apocalypse to note that the savior might just be the dude hiding behind the curtains and not like, you know, a super awesome savior born of a virgin.

Obama feels a whole lot like Jimmy Carter. And I'm getting the shivers thinking about it.

Update: I forgot to tell you yahoos about this, but you might have already heard. There are huge perks for cult leaders, in case you didn't know. When not holed up in caves, they tend to have nicer digs--and their crazy uncles, too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What's Going On?

I'm weary of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Kudos to Hillary for duking it out all the way to the end. You go girl! Your political instincts are spot on. Barack will implode, no doubt, before the big dance at the convention and then you, the solid, balanced one will ride in and save the Democratic party. Yep, that's exactly what's going to happen. Brendan Loy says that Howard Dean wants the Super delegates to decide by July 1. Yeah, right:

Dean's logic is not necessarily pristine here, alas. Even if every single one of the 794 supers were to "say who they're for" prior to July 1, that doesn't necessarily mean "we don't have to take this into the convention." Indeed, in a formal sense, we "have to take this into the convention" no matter what -- there is, after all, going to be a roll call at the convention, and no other binding roll call will occur before then. The best the Democrats can do is have a nominee presumptive before the convention, not an actual nominee. And that only works if Hillary Clinton plays along.
Ha! As if! When has a Clinton ever played nice?

Now, to the really important stuff. I missed this little piece of Americana, but Gina Cobb, who is always all over it misses nothin'. You can all rest safe, the NAACP is fighting for the right of your boys to show their underwear. I'm serious. Let's keep our priorities straight, here. That's what Dr. King fought the long fight for--to keep us free to show men's panties.

Criminals, are, by definition, dumb, but these guys take the cake. If you were a criminal, where would you go to rob someone for lots of money? Oh, come on! Guess! Wrong.....you'll have to go look.

Are you an easily offended Christian? I find them annoying, actually. Satan is serious. His minions are serious--Hitler, Stalin, Castro. Do they laugh? I think not. A Christian should have perspective. Perspective helps a person see humor in things. It also helps a person see his own ridiculousness and so, it's easier to laugh at self and therefore, others. Now, some things should be offensive to Christians, but not the things you think. The Anchoress explains.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are a cute couple? Um... I'm not sure how to respond to that.

As an aside, my son is watching a Playhouse Disney cartoon extolling the virtues of Melissa the Magnificent Moose. I shit you not. "Melissa, the magnificent moose. Brave and bold." It's a song. Nice.

Good news! Pamela Geller has that film that Network solutions wouldn't support. Go watch it!

Ok, folks, I'll add more cool stuff later. Thanks to you readers who are sending me interesting stuff. Oh, that reminds me, a dear reader sent me a link to this video and I think you should see it. This is what REALLY happened in Bosnia with Hillary. I know. It's terrifying.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is She Fat?--UPDATED & Bumped



This article caught my attention. A teenage girl in the UK named Chloe Marshall wears a size 16 and is competing in the Miss England beauty competition. She is beautiful. She is curvy. Is she fat? I mean, she obviously has fat on her, but is she what most people would consider fat? Go take a look and come back (there is a full body picture).

It seems that the culture has changed somewhat. The definition of thin seems to be anorexic skinny. The definition of fat seems to be....what?

Are you acceptable visually, as a woman, if you can wear 'regular" clothes as opposed to shopping plus sized? Is it how the weight is distributed? I'm putting this up for a poll. You guys let me know what you think.

Chloe Marshall (the beauty contest contestent) is:
Fat
Average
pollcode.com free polls



Update: Rachel Lucas did what I was too lazy to do and put the full body size pictures next to each other for comparison and then she goes on a righteous rant about body image and Hollywood starlets:

But Paris Hilton is not a size 0.

Girls see sites like this one, which claims that Paris is 5′8″ and 105 pounds. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. I know what 105 pounds looks like, and it ain’t Paris Hilton.

No, Hilton is not a size 0. Now, Nicole Ritchie in her anorexic stage? Size 0. That's what Size 0 looks like. Earnest Iconoclast commented over at Rachel's site and links to this site that shows how a person looks at a certain height and weight. It's not what you'd think. And, I'm kinda surprised actually. People look better at certain weights than you'd imagine.

Another commenter mentioned that a fit person looks better at the same weight as an unfit person. Well, fat takes up more room than muscle and it's not as smooth either.

Still, a lean, strong person will weigh more than you think. An actress that comes to mind is Jessica Biel. She is very fit and strong, but that girl will never be a Size 0 or Size 6, probably, either. She is at least 5'7" and she's broad. She looks fantastic. But there is no way in hell that she is the 108 pounds I saw at one site or the 118 pounds I saw at another. She is at least 130 pounds, easily, probably more and it's all muscle. I agree with Rachel. Women need to stop lying about this and the actresses themselves need to stop lying about it. It's stupid.

Update again:
Oh, I forgot to link to this chart which is a BMI chart (BMI means Body Mass Indicator). Now, please note, that by this chart, Tom Cruise is considered fat. So is President Bush. Both men are extraordinarily fit for their age. Also note, that for Biel's height, she should be between 117-159 pounds. I'm upping my estimate of her weight to 140. She has such amazing muscle density, that she weighs far more than she looks.

So, just FYI, do NOT rely on the BMI chart if you are very muscular. It will likely count you as obese. The BMI is for average people of average fitness.

Joss Whedon Misogynist? Zoe Boring? All Sex is Rape? Frodo and Sam?

I'm taking a major detour to Nerdsville and you guys are stuck for the ride. Over at Ace's place he links to a discussion of the misogyny of Joss Whedon vis-a-vis the interaction between Mal and Zoe and Mal and Kaylee. Bat crap. But Ace is full of crap, too. He says that Zoe's character is one-dimensional and boring. Whatever. I prefer to view her as battle-worn and stoic. Her comic lines are played straight. She is tough, uncompromising and a warrior. Even Jayne was scared of her. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, lets deal with stupid women writing stupid feminist shit about something they obviously doesn't know shit about. The title of this piece of magnificence is called "A Rapist's View of the World" and the writer says this:

I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.

I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.

For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.
Huh. Having watched Firefly from beginning to end and re-watched many episodes, all I can ask is,"Were you watching the same show I was watching?" The major problem this woman seems to have is understanding the context of this show. It's a ship. It's enclosed. People don't get out or go anywhere for long stretches of time. There is sexual tension. The men are brash. You're unlikely to find a soft, tree-hugging, bunny-affirming male on a ship--any ship. There's a reason why there are lots of pregnant sailors on ships. People like sex. But here, according to the author, is the definition of rape:
"I believe in the radical feminist definition of rape. That is that men who pressure women into sex are rapists. That women who are pressured are not freely consenting and are therefore being raped. There have been a few discussions recently in the rad fem blogosphere debating whether all male initiated sex is rape, given that women are politically, socially and economically subordinate to men. So, in my understanding of Joss Whedon as a rapist is hinges on my definition of rape. I would argue that most 'sex' between men and women, in the contemporary 'sex-positive', pornographic, male-supremacist culture, is rape."
Oh, that's just awesome! No wonder she's a lesbian; it's the only way she can have sex and not be raped. Although, I wonder if she would view consensual sex with a female superior in a strap-on as rape. Probably not. My take from Whedon's elevation of prostitution is that he chose one of two intellectually honest opinions: 1) either prostitution is an accepted profession and should be honored as much as the men retain their honor when using a prostitute's service or 2) everyone should be prosecuted and viewed equally vilely by society. He chose option one. And, actually, prostitutes and concubines were often the educated females--temple prostitutes and whatnot. So Whedon is pulling from history in his space-age adventure and fooling around with expectations for shock value. It worked.

The men in Whedon's world are also interesting. Mal, the captain, is a veteran of war, barely survived and is rather cynical. He gives all his subordinates a hard time, including the women. In one case, the author failed to mention, Mal defends a whore house from an assault because one of the Johns fathered a child and believed it was his right to take the child because his wife was infertile. In one particularly hot scene during that episode, Mal beds one of the prostitutes and treats her with ....respect. Whedon portrays Mal as the reluctant hero, a man at war with society because society sucks--kinda like Robinhood. Read up on Robinhood. Robinhood was the good guy. So is Mal.

But Ace insists that Mal is a bad guy. In what 'verse? He poses as the outsider, but when it comes down to it, he makes the moral choice every time. Well, almost every time. And this is where I'm going to travel deeper into the Nerd village. I see an analogy between Mal and Zoe's relationship and another relationship from literature: Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings. Both are the classic military relationship--Mal is Captain, Zoe is XO. One major difference, besides gender, is that Sam isn't torn between his wife and Captain until the end. For Zoe, the tension enters early. She is loyal in an entirely devoted way to Mal. She is also married. For me, the weakest character isn't Zoe, it's her husband Wash. I wasn't surprised that he was killed off in the end, it was either him or Zoe. The tension couldn't last. And besides being a good pilot, he was a problem in combat operations.

Zoe is sort of one-dimensional, I'll grant Ace that much, but to say she's mechanical seems excessive. She is the strong, silent type who has the ability to surprise. And after the loyalty inspired by Mal, she devotes her life to his mission--stealing stuff. Hey! It's a TV show, it doesn't have to make sense.

Okay, I think I've demonstrated more than enough evidence of not getting out enough. Bottom line, feminism is stupid and Firefly should still be on TV. Oh, and sex is good. And, yeah, The Lord of the Rings is awesome, too.

Spring in San Fran & The Crazies Are A-Bloomin'

Stink! I hate being slow on the uptake and it totally escaped me that on the 5th Anniversary of the War (which I did note), I forgot about the fine citizens of the Golden Gate. They did, of course, come out in force. Dr. Seuss riseth again. Zombie captured the nonsense. Remember last time? The naked tree dwellers? This time, it's just crazy hate. But they love the troops. They really, really love the troops. H/T Little Green Footballs

Charity Begins At Uncle Sam's Home

At least if you're a liberal, that is. The other day, I talked about my experiences receiving government versus church charity. Now, there is a book talking about the personal political and religious philosophies that drive giving. Betsy says this about the Obamas in her post Charitable Giving Through The State:

Of course, individual giving may vary quite widely from these averages. Yet I'd just been thinking of Brooks' findings as Michelle and Barack Obama released their tax returns that showed that they had greatly increased their charitable giving once he had decided to run for president.
The Obamas’ returns are striking on a number of levels. They show that the couple made very few charitable contributions, sometimes less than 1 percent of taxable income, until Mr. Obama began his run for the White House.

In 2004, before Mr. Obama entered the Senate, he and his wife gave $2,500 to charity, 1.2 percent of the taxable income. The next year, the donations jumped, to $77,315, or nearly 5 percent of the taxable income.
The Obamas are just one example, and not typical. They are very well off, obviously, if 5% of their taxable income is nearly $80,000. But the idea behind the giving or lack thereof is philosophical. We pay taxes. Taxes are meant to help the poor. And that's that. It's absolution of sorts and a way to disconnect a person from the need that their money would help meet.

Come Heller High Water

Hi boys and girls! This here is a gun. It's a SIG 229 to be exact and my brother owns one and I like it. A lot. He's on a gun forum and those guys voted for me when I was up for some Blog award a year ago and I just want to give 'em a shout out.

If you don't know, you should know that a big case is before the Supreme Court regarding your right to bear arms. In Washington D.C. there is a hand gun ban and it's being challenged and the case moved through the courts. The case has huge implications for gun owners everywhere and for those who might want to own a gun in the future.

Glenn Reynolds has been all over the Heller case and has been giving great updates. This is how the Wall Street Journal sums up the case (which will be decided by May):

Judging by Tuesday argument, the High Court has a majority in support of the circuit court opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts asked why the Framers included the word "people" if the Amendment only applied to militias. Justice Antonin Scalia discussed the importance the Framers attached to providing citizens the means to protect against tyrannical government. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the Court's swing vote, informed all in attendance that "In my view, there's a general right to bear arms quite without reference to the militia either way."

The debate also focused on what restrictions, if any, government could impose on such an individual right. Several Justices had particular fun with Solicitor General Paul Clement, who was charged with defending his (and thus the Bush Administration's) odd split-the-baby amicus brief arguing that while the Second Amendment is an individual right, the D.C. Circuit opinion would bar governments from banning even such heavy weapons as machine guns.

In fact, that opinion leaves ample room for a government to regulate machine guns, bazookas and the like -- much as even the First Amendment protects speech as an individual right but not as a right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater. We hope the Supreme Court agrees with Judge Silberman that the Second Amendment does protect the right to own pistols, rifles and other guns of the kind the American Founders believed were needed to protect liberty.
Amen to that. No one knows until the court hands down the decision what the outcome of the case will be, but it's important. Jay at The Right to Bear Arms notes this:
The Toledo Blade wades into the Heller case and repeats some of the same drivel we hear all the time:

No sane public purpose would be served if the court manipulates the wording of the Second Amendment to infer that Americans have an unfettered right to carry guns. The amendment says no such thing.

Moreover, while many people in the early days of the nation did carry weapons, they were single-shot muskets and not the rapid-fire Glock 9s or AK-47s that are the firearms of choice of modern-day criminals.

Don’t you just love how the anti-gun crowd loves to talk about what the constitution doesn’t say when it comes to the second amendment? I’m certain if we asked the editorial board of the Toledo Blade about the word abortion not being mentioned at all in the constitution, they’d stutter and spittle and tell us how that’s ‘different.’ Bottom line is, what part of “shall not be infringed” do they not understand?

As for the type of weapons, all the talk about Glock’s and AK-47’s is a non sequitur. Free speech rights don’t change because we have the Internet now and they had quills and parchment paper back then.
It is uncomfortable to think about these days, but the 2nd Amendment is a hedge against governmental tyranny. I don't know what could be done against the government's arsenal, but an armed citizen can do more than an unarmed one, that's for sure. The right to protect life and land is the right to protect liberty. The Heller case is important for everyone--gun owners or not.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Made The List!

I know, I shouldn't be such an eager beaver, but there you go. For the first time, I made John Hawkins' list of favorite bloggers--and I'm not at the bottom either. #17--Not too shabby! Maybe, just maybe, I'll up my game so much that I end up first. Hey, a girl can dream.

Fixing Higher Education--Guest Posted by Lorne Carignan

Editor's Note: I'm including a post from my friend Lorne Carignan, a lawyer and writer living outside Flint, Michigan. Lorne and I debate many things political and policy. He is "left leaning" which I interpret as a statist--that is, he believes the state can solve many things whereas I believe the state can turn pretty much everything to shit. Still, we agree to disagree. In this case, I agree with nearly everything he says and have some additional thoughts at the bottom of his piece. Enjoy.

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Higher education is expensive. Along with K-12, education is usually one of the largest items in states' budgets, consuming as much as half or more of all revenues. It's also a fair chunk of the federal budget. Governments provide funds directly to public universities as well as offering numerous grants and incentives for specific research and development projects.
Governments furthermore subsidize the attendance of students with grants, loans, and tax credits, while parents take out a second mortgage or otherwise find ways to scrape up the several thousands of dollars needed each year to send their child to college. But, of course, all of this money is seldom enough to satiate the ever-widening maw of higher education. Tuition rises each year and schools demand more government funds.
One function of the high cost of education is the amount of time it takes to complete a traditional four-year degree. The raw cost of education is not the only cost of sending a kid to college. Room and board, transportation, entertainment, clothing, and numerous other expenses add up to a substantial portion of the cost of higher education. This cost is multiplied for each year that a student remains a student, which is getting longer and longer for the traditional four-year degree. In some universities, it is taking students six years to graduate with a "four-year" undergraduate degree.
Part of the problem is that the high cost of education forces students to work longer hours, which results in taking fewer classes and staying in school longer. But arguably, a larger part of the problem is that college is a highly enjoyable protracted adolescence where young people live a hedonistic, irresponsible lifestyle funded by mom and dad and easy-to-get government loans. Scholarship quickly takes a back seat to pleasure in today's colleges, and students opt for lighter courseloads so they can allocate more time to extracurricular activities.
In addition to increasing the cost of education, lengthy stays in college increases the time-to-market of trained college graduates. With the ever-increasing pace of technological change and knowledge growth, the job market needs workers to bring state-of-the-art training to the workplace as quickly as possible. In the course of a typical stay at a four-year university, students may well find the first two or three years of coursework obsolete by the time they graduate, particularly if that coursework involves using highly specialized tools and software.
Finally, one of the most disappointing costs of higher education is waste. Too many young people graduate from college with "worthless" degrees -- degrees that do not provide them with necessary professional training to earn a wage that justifies the expense of going to college. Many colleges continue to offer degrees in fields that are already saturated with job candidates and for which there is little or no demand. The result is that, later in life, many graduates are forced to return to college to retrain for another career. This move is complicated by all the cost factors already discussed. But particularly frustrating for graduates is discovering that obtaining a second degree requires completing a number of additional "general education requirements" that were not required in their earlier program. These general education requirements can easily tack another year onto the process of earning a second degree.
What to do?
First, we need to decouple the notion of job training and education. Trade schools already do this for a limited field of vocational occupations. It's an admirable concept that needs to be extended to more traditional four-year programs. Eliminating the general education requirements from degree programs will reduce the amount of time a student has to spend in college. There's no need for a computer scientist to take a certain number of credit hours of humanities, social science, natural science, English, and history. Let them take their computer science courses and get out and go to work!
The ostensible reason for these general education requirements (GERs) is to create a "liberally educated" well-rounded individual, i.e, an "educated" person. The reality is, they are "blow-off" subjects that pad university revenues and students' g.p.a's. They are unnecessary, expensive, and worthless (or nearly worthless) wastes of time and money. Eliminating these GERs would shorten the time to graduation by as much as two years and make obtaining second degrees much more practical for workers in need of job retraining.
Next, consolidate programs at state universities to eliminate redundancies. There's no need for every state university to offer all of the same programs and maintain all of the same departments and faculty when educational functions could be consolidated in one or two schools and adequately serve the demand. Why maintain a half dozen or more state universities that all train teachers along with a host of private schools and community colleges? One or two state universities training teachers would be enough to ensure that the demand for new teachers is met. The same is true for many other degree subjects.
Finally, curtail or eliminate the antiquated and unreasonable "vacations" and "sabbaticals" that pepper the higher education calendar. There's no good justification for completely suspending education during the summer months, allowing a professor to take a year of paid leave, or giving students and teachers several weeks off in spring and winter along with the extended time between terms. The so-called "pressures" of teaching and learning are myths in today's world of graduate assistants and cushy courseloads. The ordinary demands of higher education are no more enervating than those regularly placed on workers in many professions, and often much less. There is simply no justification for these extended breaks and sabbaticals. Students need to get into college, learn quickly what they need to know without unnecessary interruptions, and get out as soon as possible so they can be productive members of the workforce.
These changes would reduce the funding necessary to maintain state universities, reduce the tuition subsidies to parents, make college affordable for more students, make job retraining more practical for displaced workers, shorten the time-to-market of state-of-the-art skills, and make more workers more productive in a shorter period of time.


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One problem in American education is that the broad, liberal education from High School no longer exists. My own American History class in High School was ridiculous. My Honors World History class followed U of M's curriculum and was based on original works, but there was no continuity or time line, no perspective. So students getting into college have spotty liberal education. They leave with spotty education, too:

At universities such as Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley, seniors scored lower on the test, available here, than freshmen, living proof of the broadening relevancy of the old Harvard adage that the university is a storehouse of knowledge because "the freshmen bring so much and the seniors take away so little."

The average foreign student studying in an American college learned nothing about the country's history and its civic institutions, according to the study.

This is a problem, but I'm not sure the solution will come in the public schools or in colleges at this rate. The educational standards are too politicized. The post-modern take on subjective "truth" forbids honestly looking at history, economics and civics. The bias against rote memorization precludes a broad base of knowledge.

Basically, any subject outside of science and math means uneven education. The SATs focus their verbal scores on grammar, analogies, comprehension, etc. But the guts of the content is pretty meaningless. And in the business world, a liberal education doesn't serve one much anyway, but a math, science, finance, accounting, engineering or some other specialized degree will.

Beauty Is Truth

The things in the world that interest me are the things that have no "useful" purpose like big ideas, and imagining a future that could be, or fantasizing about technology that will clean my house, go grocery shopping and cook for me. Some "useless" things sit right in front of me. Take flowers for example. James Lileks says:

I think we’re just lucky that flowers are beautiful; it would be a strange world if flowers and most plants revolted the hell out of people the way most large insects do. Well, you can say, our aesthetic preference to flowers is simply the result of millennia of acclimation. There is no inherent beauty there; we mistake our inbred subjective reaction for an object truth. If flowers looked “hideous” in the same sense as big insects – a revulsion that’s also grounded in subjective reactions, not AGGGH THERE’S A COCKROACH ON THE DESK GET IT OFF GET IT OFF

Sorry; it was just a shadow. Anyway: we would have thought “ugly” flowers were beautiful if our species’ consciousness had evolved alongside “ugly” flowers, or perhaps we would have regarded them as neutral, the way we regard most small ordinary rocks. It’s possible another species might land on Earth on a mission
from Voltarus IV, examine our great botanical gardens, throw up en masse and leave, never to come again.

Possible.

So why are the heavens so beautiful? Why, when we look deep into space with the eyes of Hubble and other machines, does everything seem so gorgeous? It’s not as if we evolved looking at that.

It would be interesting if it turned out Keats was right: beauty is truth. Imagine that: an aesthetic standard that exists whether we do or not. The tree that blossoms in the forest with no one around to see it.

Why do flowers exist? Why do manatees exist? I have to admit to a strange fascination with those creatures. They are benign, not very beautiful but seem to be utterly peaceful and gentle. They don't have "usefulness" though--not like a cow or even a dog. Although my dog is completely useless, unless you consider cute and pooping in my office useful, which I don't.

Anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Why is it that we all find the same things beautiful? We tend to all love Halle Berry's physical attributes for example and agree that she has a beautiful face and body. We all look at Denzel Washington and think--wow, he's handsome. And I don't know why I came up with those two examples except they are the first actors to pop into my head. That, and I saw part of that movie American Gangster and boy can Denzel act. He scared me and made me feel sympathetic for him at the same time. That was a weird digression.

Lileks concludes and I agree:
But I suppose if you believe that, you think flowers have inherent beauty, and we’re more than chemicals and subconscious commands from the instinct gland in the bottom of your brain. You do? Me too.
I believe in inherent beauty, transcendent beauty, that is just there for our pleasure. And the pleasure is the purpose.

Michelle Obama's Heart

Sigh. I don't like the candidates this year. And I don't like the Democratic candidate's wife and husband. They are just lame on so many levels it's fatiguing. One week it's Bill Clinton shooting off at the mouth. The next week it's Michelle Obama. She calls to mind a scripture in Matthew 12:34:

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.


Michelle Obama's heart appears to be filled with America loathing. Gateway Pundit reports what she said:
"It's easier to hold on to your own stereotypes and misconceptions, it makes you feel justified in your own ignorance...That's AMERICA"

Michelle Obama
Campaigning for Change at University of South Carolina
January, 2008
Oops!... She did it again!
Michelle Obama bashes America

I watched the video and as usual, it seems rather benign. She is admonishing students to interact more on campus. I remember the self-imposed segregation at my small college. It never seemed like racism or exclusivity to me and it didn't happen all the time. It struck me more as finding people like yourself with similar experiences and finding a connection. Still, it was a color divide sometimes. However, it didn't bug me personally because I counted many in the "black group" as friends.

Obama frames this issue as one of ignorance and stereotypes. I didn't feel that the "black group" was ignorant or steeped in stereotypes any more than I felt the greater majority of white people were ignorant and steeped in stereotypes. It seemed a matter of comfort. And yes, sometimes it's good to push past a person's comfort zone. But no, I don't think that Americans feel generally "justified in their ignorance". What a sweeping statement to make about America. Sure it describes some Americans, but all of America?

And if integration and stepping outside of the comfort zone is so important, why does Ms. Obama go to a black church teaching black superiority, hate toward Jews and weird conspiracy theories designed to inspire paranoia of America? You'd think she'd go to a multiracial church where universal values like love, forgiveness, reconciliation and charity are taught.

"Most Women Are Liars, Manipulators and Backstabbing Bitches"

Yes, well, I'm receiving interesting emails, that's for sure. This one came in over the weekend and I've been debating how to respond to it. Here's what a reader named Komolan asks:

My name is Komalan [I'm striking his middle and last name for anonymity -ed.]. I'm 28yrs-old,grew up between Italy Switzerland and a few years in South-Africa too. I'm currently studying in Manchester UK.
I'll get to the point; I was grown up by my mother to respect a treat women as if they were all nice and righteous... fact is that after being single my whole life, and being treated like scum by women, I've come to the conclusion that, most women, are manipulators, lying and back stabbing bitches. I treat women nicely and get treated badly back. Don't get me wrong, I'm good looking, honest and treat everyone with respect; but I don't get that from women, well, most.
When I greet a woman maybe in a public place, she will "nod" and look at me as if I'm raping her...I can say that I cannot even have a normal conversation with a woman without being harrassed by one of them.
Can you explain why they behave this way...truth is that we men are really second class citizens.

Regards.

Komalon,

I'm sorry your experiences with women have led you to believe that most of them are bad. While it's true, there are some bad women out there, there are some good women, too. Your concerns are legitimate and I will address them in a minute.

First though, I want to talk about the concept of like attracting like. I'm not the only one to notice the pattern that birds of a feather flock together. Often we draw to us the exact sort of people we are like ourselves. Sometimes it's good to look outside your life like an impartial observer and see if you find patterns to the people you attract into your life. A friend of mine dated, successively, men of similar face, build and temperament. If you find yourself attracting a certain kind of woman, you might question what it is about you that attracts this kind. And ultimately, you have no control over how another might act or treat you, but you have control over how your actions and what you find acceptable in the behavior of others. Examine yourself. You say that you treat all people with respect and most women don't treat you with respect. Seek and build relationships with those who do treat you the way you wish to be treated.

Second, and more to what you're asking: Why are women lying, manipulating, backstabbing bitches? Lying: All people have trouble with the truth. Getting a straight answer from a woman can be even more difficult. Maybe conflict bothers her. Maybe she's afraid of hurting you. Maybe she thinks it's okay to lie because she has no moral foundation. Manipulating: People who manipulate see themselves in the one-down position. That is, an overt action would likely be met with confrontation, so manipulation is used to control. It's nasty behavior and difficult to deal with. Backstabbing: I'm taking that to mean that she acts one way to your face, but secretly does things that are mean or awful to you and you find out later. Some people just are out for themselves. Period. They will do anything to anyone to get what they want. It is wise to avoid these people, men or women. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to spot because they seem nice. Here's my advice, though. As soon as you see the bad behavior, bail. When someone shows you herself, believe her.

I'm going to give bitchiness its own paragraph. I have noticed that bitchiness as a character trait in women has come to be extolled especially among the younger women I see. Maybe it's the Paris Hilton effect. I don't know, but women seem to revel in being a trampy looking tease and then biting back and hard when a man appreciates the physical form--an action the woman was obviously trying to provoke. This double-bind is bullshit. Now, I've also known borish, aggressive men, but this post is operating under the assumption of a respectful, appreciative guy. There has been societal support for women to be ungrateful, using, and disrespectful. Maybe it's because they don't respect themselves. Or, more likely, maybe it's because they are spoiled rotten, entitled brats who are used to having things go their way.

Men struggle to be chivalrous, like I encouraged before, and are met with women who feel entitled to the respectful behavior while being bitchy and disrespectful themselves. Girls are socialized with Bratz dolls, see snotty, ditzy, superficial behavior in young adult role models, and hear how awful men are from the older women in their lives. Boys are made to seem bad by schools throughout and by college, girls are steeped in feminist culture where "sex is rape"--or that's what they hear in class. That message is mingled with "embrace your sexual freedom". So young women have this superficial view of women--empowered cock teases, essentially. And sometimes more than teases. They have sex, empty sex, and are taught to remove their attachment to the man and act "like a guy". They get hardened, because women are NOT wired like men and have a more challenging time having random sex. They feel used instead of empowered. They get bitter. And then they wonder why they hit 50 and don't ever get married. They tell themselves, "Men just can't handle a smart woman". Um, honey, maybe a man doesn't want your brand of woman. And then the woman herself feels betrayed. She bought the feminist crap and believed it and lived it.

Of course, not all women are like this. In fact, most women are not at all like this, but it takes time and patience to discover what sort of woman you're dealing with. And some women let you know up front. You have many years of dating ahead of you. I hope you'll look at yourself first--it's really the biggest part of the puzzle you control. And you also have control over who you ask out.

Be choosy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Pain of A Love Leaving

But you can’t feel sorrow like this without truly loving someone, and I figure, it’s worth it. I know it is, and I feel incredibly lucky to adore someone so much that his absence feels like a hole in my soul.
--Rachel Lucas on her boyfriend leaving for Iraq


Back From The Dead

Have you heard about this guy who was declared dead and then moved and says that he heard them declare him dead? Now, his family had approved of having his organs harvested. Do you wonder how many times people have been alive while presumed dead and had organs removed? How about people who are dead and are just alive and allowed to fade away? These are disturbing thoughts.

Religious Discrimination and More Stifling of Free Thought On Campus

Mike Adams, professor at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, shares his experience:

At first, I thought the decision to ignore our requests was due to the fact that the College Republicans are sponsoring Frank Turek’s talk. Then, I scrolled down the page and saw that the university had advertised a recent voter registration drive sponsored by the College Democrats. Certainly, the university is incapable of engaging in blatant political discrimination. And certainly Mike Adams is incapable of engaging in blatant sarcasm.

Read the whole thing.

Hillary Caught Lying--UPDATED

How do you know a politician is lying? Yeah, yeah, her mouth is moving:



UPDATED:

I thought this clip was so comically hilarious, that I'd leave it to speak for itself. Hillary is a liar. Lie. Lie. Lie. You know what? She always has been. This isn't surprising. Does anyone in the world believe that she hasn't known about Bill's proclivities? Please. She's a Yankees fan, too! And she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary! The list of these "misspeaks" is endless. The Anchoress says (and she has a great round-up):

Ace has more. I’m betting that the press will allow Hillary to get by with the “misspeak” claim and will not press her further. They’ll do that partly out of habit, but also because it’s more fun for them, news-wise, with Hillary in the race than out of it.

My goodness, this is one uninspiring election season. I want all new candidates, please. These have been around so long they are, like fish, raising too great a stench.


Indeed.

Protein Wisdom's "A" Game

Wow.

Today's blog that you must visit is Protein Wisdom. Jeff Goldstein mumbled something about steel genital cups, catch wrestling and a friend in need, so he hasn't been blogging there, but that doesn't mean that there isn't good stuff to read.

Darlene Glick had me laughing out loud with her Photoshopped Trix cereal box with that silly rabbit Barack Obama. She calls Obama: All brand, no nutrition.

Karl does a fantastic job noting how Obama has weaved religion through the campaign and how the religious questions were inevitable with or without Wright. Obama has used "faith based appeals" to reach out to all voters.

And Dan asks, well someone's grandma asks, "Are you a typical white person?"

No Pain, No Gain, Insane

By the "no pain, no gain" measure, I should be gaining big time, right now. My quads and glutes are screaming. Three days ago, my girlfriend thought it would be a good idea to go work out. I did my normal weight, normal work-out, except I added lunges, those heinous, damn to hell exercises that ostensibly lift your ass so it doesn't just perch on your legs like a floppy hat. Well, they hurt and hurt and hurt--not while doing them, mind you, afterward. Walking upstairs is excruciating. Sitting down requires a chair with armrests so I can use my arms to rest my sore ass slowwwwly into the chair.

For those who don't believe in God, I'll have you know, there is one and He has a sense of humor. Taking the kids to the park yesterday, my three year old gets stuck 15 feet up on the jungle gym. Oh yeah.... Mom to the rescue, right? Well, my legs hurt so bad, I'm cursing my tortured muscles as I struggle up the side. It was a lovely sight. The lady watching her little angel clamber up with no problem looked at me with all the mystified scorn she thought she hid well. And then, and then, I try to explain. I sound lame. I know it. That got the tolerant smile. I hate the tolerant smile.

The thing is, with weight lifting, "no pain, no gain" isn't really true. Pain gets you side-lined for a couple days which precludes the gain you could have been making. Steady increases in weights helps build the muscle and really, when you do it right, there isn't pain just fatigue. I did it wrong.

Our relationships can be the same way. Some of us associate pain with people and we kinda like it. Oh, we don't say that we like it. We say that we're tortured and miserable. Sometimes, things just seem too good, so we sabotage them and make them not-so-good so we can have an excuse when it doesn't go well and it doesn't go well because we sabotaged it. If that seems convoluted it's because it is.

Relationships shouldn't be painful. Good ones build and require the same kind of maintenance or at least the respectful willingness to not undo the work that has been done. Sometimes, there just isn't time or energy to devote to relationship building, but care must be taken so that the relationship doesn't end up flabby and neglected.

Or excruciating. Life is challenging enough. If you have the idea that physical pain is required to build your body into some sort of machine, you'll likely injure yourself or frustrate yourself out of physical fitness. The same goes for relationships. The truth is that healthy people gravitate toward pleasure and away from pain and work enough to build the relationship but take care to avoid hurting it. And that's as it should be. When a person gravitates toward discomfort, it's a sign of dysfunction not health.

A caveat: Pain avoidance is not necessarily healthy either. Growing muscles can cause fatigue and requires recovery time. So, a person must push their comfort level to get the body or the life that they want. A fit body doesn't happen magically. It takes work. A fit life takes work, too. Relationships are what a fit life is made of. Truly, rich or poor, sick or healthy, no matter the material circumstances, relationships matter most in the end. They are worth maintaining.

Meanwhile, I won't have any problem remembering these lessons. I'll be laying off the lower body workouts while my sore ass and thighs recover. Waddling is so embarrassing. Insane!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaack

Yeah, well, you probably didn't even know I was gone except for the radio silence on Saturday. Siena beat Vanderbilt so it was cool to see the upset live and in person. No beer at NCAA games. It was rather subdued. Sports needs beer. It's just axiomatic. Change the drinking age to 18, I say, and let the brewskies flow at college games. The world is already too dull. As an aside: Don't give me shit about this people. If you can vote for the president and kill yourself in service to your country, if you can get married and have kids, you should be able to drink a beer to numb the pain. Just sayin'.

Today, if you read one thing, this post by Rachel Lucas must be it. She talks about racism and race in general and it is excellent. I'm not even going to give you an excerpt, because then you'll think that I picked the best paragraph out of the piece (which I would) and then you'll think you've gotten the gist (which you wouldn't). So, just go read it. Her treatise explains why race will be a problem for a long time, probably forever, in America and the rest of the world.

I'm also putting up links for John Hawkins over at Conservative Grapevine. There's some good stuff there. I'm particularly pissed off at the weenie nature of Network Solutions who is currently being chicken assed bucklers to some psycho Hezbollah jihadits. Apparently a Dutch movie about the Quran pisses terrorists off and the American company can't take the heat. Grrrr..... Let freedom tinkle into oblivion one gutless decision at a time.

This hasn't been covered here, but I just wanted to pass along my love of and devotion to and fascination with Facebook. My goal is to have 1000 friends by the end of 2008 who I actually know, or get to know. The number is totally random, by the way. This weekend the girl who graduated first or second from my class at Chiropractic college found me. She was a complete brainiac and it should comfort you that people that smart are doctors. (I won't talk about the idiots at the bottom, but keep in mind that there are dumb doctors--the screening process isn't that good.) So, if you're on Facebook, make me your friend and send me a virtual cocktail. The nice thing is that they're calorie free. For giggles and grins, I just joined the joined the group Stuff Educated Black People Like. I have an educated black person for a friend. More than one actually. I'm curious if educated black people like different things, say, than educated white people or educated Latino people or educated mixed-race people.

I'll be around. Also will put together a post for John at Right Wing News, so check back.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Keeping Focus On The True Messiah

Well, folks, I'm going to depart from politics for a moment. For my blog readers, that's not a surprise. Lately, all I've been doing is departing from politics. For John's readers, if you haven't visited my blog, it will be a little different.

The church bells ring behind me as I sit on my friend's porch. Beyond the bell tower, I see the gulf where the sun peeks through the clouds as I listen to Ode to Joy. It is a beautiful, meaningful day for Christians around the world. My friend's children exulted in Easter baskets and delighted in found treasures. It has been magical watching another family revel in their tradition.

Holidays are a nice time to slow down, take stock and refocus on what is truly important. Some things in life are so transient and fleeting. The concept of eternity, living forever, puts the temporal in perspective. We aren't here for long and what consumes us day to day often matters little in the big scheme of things.

Now, that concept is something that bothers unbelievers mightily. They feel that belief in God makes a person lazy both in thought and action. It excuses "sin" and forgives sloth. A Christian won't reach his potential because he will wait for God's will. A Christian loses his will when he surrenders to God.

A Christian knows this is not true. A Christian is freed from having to control everything. A Christian controls what is in his power to control and has faith that God is in charge taking care of the rest. Far from absolving a person of responsibility, the Christian feels moved to do more with what he has because he has been given so much.

Okay, so maybe I will talk politics for a minute. The Messianic obsession this election cycle, the live-or-die nature of the attachment to the candidates (on the Left, does anyone feel super passionate about McCain? I think blah feelings is what you get when you're a moderate) reveals a true lack of faith generally. People look to people or people look to government which is just a bunch of people to do what people used to have faith that God would take care of.

Most of us have been recipients of Christian charity at some point in our lives. I know I have. When my sons were in the hospital and every day was a financial struggle, a church I used to attend sent me $5,000. No strings attached. They gave it in faith. And I used it in faith. It paid for food, parking, rent, everything I couldn't afford while I was at the hospital. It was humbling. It was a bit embarrassing. I had never relied on anyone for anything and it was almost more than I could bear needing it so badly. It pricked my pride.

In contrast, when my son came out of the hospital we had no insurance. We were poor by any measure. He was 4 pounds 6 ounces, we were heading into the winter season and one bout of a common cold (RSV) could kill him. I sucked up my pride once again and went to the Welfare office. After hours waiting, I talked to a very kind social worker who understood my plight but explained that we didn't qualify because our car was too new (we needed a newer car, because our old one couldn't make the trip to downtown reliably and we didn't want the car to die with me in it with a tiny, sick baby). You do qualify for food stamps, the man told me. I hung my head. No. Way. There is no way I'd go to the store and buy my food with food stamps, baby or no. I'd starve first. I politely declined and marveled at the horror and humiliation of the whole experience.

Now, you might think that I cursed the government for their arcane rules where someone barely making it couldn't qualify to have a sick child covered. That wasn't my reaction. I decided then and there that we'd have to make more money and we'd find insurance one way or another and that I would never, ever, ever step foot in a government agency that way again. It was one of the most demeaning experiences of my life.

The contrast was real. The church people gave and had faith in me, but more so in God. It wasn't about me. It was about laying up treasure. And they weren't doing it to make brownie points for the afterlife (and if they were, they've had their reward), they were helping from a place of love. The government workers had tied hands. They had rules. They had limitations. They had to be wary of scammers. They were jaded, and understandably so. Had I been more wily, I suppose I could have gamed the system. I could have lied about the car. I could have put things in other people's names. There were all sorts of things people did to comply, but at what cost to the dignity of the individual and to the fabric of society as a whole?

Believing in a man or a woman, like the Hillary and Obama zealots do, is bound to be disappointing. They are human, fallible, selfish, people. They aren't God. Today is a good day to remember who God is and who God isn't. Only one person in history rose from the dead giving hope of a perfect government to the world and that person isn't [Update: oops! I saw the error but my internet connection in Florida lacked power] running in this election.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday? Great Friday!

I want you all to have a great Good Friday so I'm putting together some interesting links for you to peruse at your leisure. Yes, you're spoiled rotten, but since you don't whine and wake me up in the middle of the night, I like you.

First, it's March Madness. Brendan, brace yourself and don't be hatin' (for those who don't remember, Brendan is my blog husband, yes, he's married, yes his wife just had baby, yes, he's a lawyer in Tennessee, yes, he's my junior by a decade, but in an alternate universe we discuss college basketball, Tolkien, politics, and sci-fi and I ignore his weather babbling), anyway, Brendan, I'm going to the NCAA tournament game tonight--Vanderbilt verses Sienna. I care little about either team, but it will be an experience. And it's okay to love Pat Summit. It's okay. If your wife can share, I can share.

Do the Democrats want expensive gas or don't they? My thought? They want to bitch about high gas prices and also tax gases for supposed environmental reasons (aka increase tax revenues to dole out pork). Yes, it's contradictory, but who says that they make sense? That's right, no one.

The Anchoress brings to mind this memory: When I was a toddler, I lived in Detroit on a street where we were the one white family. My best friend was a little black boy my age. We moved out a bit when I got a little older, but went to a church that was half black and half white. My parents were very open about race. My parents liked cards--specifically pinochle, bid whiz, and bridge. We'd go to friends houses all over Detroit, sometimes needing an escort out of the neighborhood after dark. We'd have friends over to our house too. It caused problems once or twice with white neighbors, but my parents didn't buckle. Well, we had a church fundraiser and the ladies made Raggedy Ann dolls and I remember my mom sewing black Raggedy Ann dolls. It seemed normal to me that a black girl would want a black doll. But the store shelves had white dolls only. My sense of justice found this situation angering. It wasn't fair for a girl to not have a doll that looks like her. That has changed, as The Anchoress notes, but some racial attitudes still pervade society. She says this (please, please, read her whole post):

Dolls and action figures have changed, of course, but both this incident and the other, at work, made me think of the psychic duality that must be part and parcel of being black in America. You’re not simply a man or a woman, you’re a black man, a black woman, and when people see you it is what they notice first, and then their brains begin to process stereotypes and horror stories or stories of ridicule. And the psychic duality is that your fundamental personhood is being challenged daily, by a thousand little unintended insults - like the lack of a black doll to play with - that you’re supposed to over-look, and by other, more overt and intentional insults (or buffooneries) that you are supposed to transcend, all while maintaining your dignity.

Some might say all of that is not limited to the black experience, that a fat person faces those same snap-judgments and stereotypes, and that is true, but only to a point. A fat person may shed the extra poundage; a black person cannot shed the skin.

There is absolutely nothing simple in the matter of race in America, and I don’t envy any black man or black woman their daily grind

We do have a long way to go with race in America. A long way. It seems to me that the pass given to Obama is because of his skin color. People are afraid to criticize for fear of being perceived as racist, which is, in itself, racist. We have a long ways to go.

Staying with the race theme, Ann Althouse has a video that was made by some marketing firm, but forwarded by a guy in McCain's camp. She feels it's incendiary and offensive. What do you think? I think this proves The Anchoress's point, is what I think.

As an aside, I believe Obama has the Democratic nomination sealed. There is no way the Democrats will go for Hillary now. It will seem racist to deny Obama. And Obama will lose to McCain. It's done. MaxedOutMama has a complete and thoughtful analysis of the whole thing and believes the same problem afflicts both Hillary's and Obama's campaign:
The questions about Obama's psychological maturity are what he really has to face. He's relatively young, very inexperienced, and it is reasonable for the voters to care a great deal about his fundamental character. It's fine to be hopeful and optimistic. We could use a heaping load of that in our leaders. We also need that optimism to be deeply infused and engaged with reality - otherwise it's just wishful thinking. And yes, some of Obama's comments about sitting down to talk to certain world leaders do strike me as wishful thinking.

A president infected with victimology would be a disaster, and I think that is precisely what is causing Hillary problems.
Now, to something less weighty but revealing nonetheless. Just keep Shelley's quote in your mind: The eyes bring to seeing what they wish to see. Also, consider this when you contemplating "eye witness" testimony. It's not all that reliable.

Want to be a blog star? I know I do. Will it happen? Not sure. But here's some good points. My least favorite point: Don't expect to make money. Hmph! I want to make money doing this!

Money can buy happiness, but there's a catch. It's an important catch.

Hope you all have a great Friday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

10 Places To Meet Quality Men and Women

Once again, I'm writing about dating stuff. A guy asked where to find good women. Just as a general principle, I think we find what we're looking for. That is, if you expect that all women are conniving witches with a "b", you'll find evidence to support that expectation. Women, if you believe that all men are jerks, you'll tend to find jerks. Or rather, they'll tend to find you.

Also, I do think it's more challenging once you're out of a date-rich environment like college or graduate school to find compatible people. Challenging, but not impossible. So where to go?

1. Go to church. I know. I know. You're more spiritual than religious. Then go to the Unitarian church and meet the hippie woman of your dreams. Many big churches have excellent singles programs. I know a couple people who found their mates through a singles bible study group or a divorce bible study group or a widow's bible study group.

2. Join a club. What interests you? Find other people who like what you like and hang out. Are you a Trekkie? Go to their convention and get in online chat groups. Are you a bibliophile? Go to the local Barnes and Noble's book clubs or start one of your own. Be a joiner. If you love running or biking or motorcycles or books or photography or foreign language or you're a fan of a team, there is a group for you and people who love what you love.

3. Join a support group. Hear me out. My husband's uncle found the perfect woman for him after his wife died by joining a Jewish widows of cancer death support group. His new wife lost her husband. They have much in common--religion, similar life stories, and of course, their loss. People can be bound by their losses and frailties. Recovering together can be powerfully bonding.

4. Look around you. There are nice people at the store. You meet them every day. Are you thinking in terms of dating? If you want a relationship, you should be thinking in those terms. They are in line at the bank. They are behind you in line for gas. They wait at the post office with you. Pay attention!

5. Join a gym. You're working out at home. Or you don't work out. Well, you should work out, anyway. So get out of the house. You'll meet people. They'll get to know you. You'll get to know them. There will be regulars. There will be new people. You want someone who is working on improving him or herself? A gym might have that person.

6. Try online dating. I personally know two people who have meet their soul mates this way. It's a new medium, but the principles are the same. People desiring to meet people are gathering in one place. These people WANT to meet you. It's an added bonus.

7. Tell friends that you're looking. In college, I operated as a matchmaker on a couple of occasions. In both cases, the men were shy or oblivious. In both cases, I encouraged the woman to approach him. I knew the guys and knew they wouldn't be put off--they were shy and would appreciate the interest. Both couples have been married over 15 years. Now, I've had some clunkers, too, but friends can help friends find love.

8. Go to the bar. Oh come on! I know a couple friends who met this way and have had nice long, happy marriages. The key is getting out and meeting new people. There are nice people at a bar or at a club. They are not all immature, superficial poseurs. Find the nice ones.

9. Work. A friend met his wife when she came into his video store. Another friend met his wife when she came into the convenience store he worked at. Another friend met a guy from another division in her company and they got married. Sure, dating a co-worker is dicey, but it happens and should be done with care. The nice thing about meeting someone through work is that you know their education, job, reputation, so you start with a whole lot more information.

10. Just get out of the house. I can guarantee you, you won't find someone by staying at home and complaining that there's no one to date. My friend met someone while acting in a play. He was in the audience and dug her. You have to get out of your normal routine. We can tend to wear ruts into our life and wonder why we have no new experiences. Vacations are another place you can meet someone. But it can be problematic because you live in other parts of the country. Oh well, if he or she is worth it, you'll make it work.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Love is all around. You have to be willing and open and want to be found. Some of you say you want a relationship but carry the weight of your past around like an invisible chastity belt. People get your vibe. People get your insecurity. People get your neediness. People get your fear. People get your suspicion. People get your distrust. It's off-putting.

A friend is doing some online dating and I looked through some profiles for him. It was amazing how people conveyed their cynicism and negativity. We have all been hurt and wounded in love if we've made it past our teen years. Pain is inevitable when we extend ourselves. Still, misery is assured if we wither and involute.

Ultimately, this is a spiritual issue. Our beliefs drive our actions. And our actions, often the same actions we've taken over and over, confirm our beliefs. We always want to be right, even when being right feels really terrible so we find evidence to support our beliefs. Well, when it comes to men and women and dating and love and marriage, it's worthwhile to challenge your beliefs. Maybe they no longer serve you. Maybe they are limiting your life.

And that makes me think of something else, too. If you're looking for the perfect person who will make you happy and make everything all better for you, than a relationship with another person is not what you want. No one person can do that for anyone. That doesn't mean that a love can't help heal some of your past wounds, because it can. But your own mind-body needs to do the healing, another person can only be the catalyst. Too many potential relationships break under the burden of the romantic notion that the "perfect" person will solve everything. Doubtful. Impossible. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. Don't do it.

He or she is waiting for you to find them. Believe it. Now find them.

How to Serve: Tips for Being A Good Waitress

Cassy Fiano balances her views on being a good patron by giving tips to waiters and waitresses. Please forward her articles to anyone in the industry. Dang. It needs help. And I blame the training programs at the restaurants.

Iraq Five Years Later

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of our troops being in Iraq. Here's what's going on:

People are stilling sending their loved ones off and making sacrifices.

Libya is now linked to supporting terror in Iraq. Nuke 'em, I say. Let's just get this clear: the Iraqis are taking the brunt of their Islamic brother's hate. By keeping the fight over there, Muslims are being toasted by Muslims. These people are very brave and would like peace just like everyone else.

Michael Yon's blog has a new look (hey, Michael, it looks good) and if you want the dirt on what's going on, you need Michael Yon.

Want to know the machinations of Iraq's politics? Learn more here. As an aside, I chortle at the Dem's high standards for Iraq when Congress is such a flipping mess. Clean up your own house, boys and girls, and then you can lob pot shots at a new and struggling government.

Austin Bay writes about Al Qaeda's declining influence. At this point, it seems like going to the sources of funding is key and blasting other terrorist states contributing to Iraq's instability would be good too. Everyone needs to shape up so Iraq has a chance.

Giving an honest opinion in a totalitarian regime is dangerous. Recovering from a victim mentality is difficult. Michael Totten explains the strange opinion polls coming out of Iraq.

As it turns out, Saddam did fund terrorism. Wow, shocking.

Personally, I think Bin Laden is dead and met Allah some time ago. But there is news that he's going to be giving one of his pep talks soon. Meh. Okay. I think it's funny how irrelevant he is dead or alive. If he isn't toes up yet, it's got to piss him off.

Is Iraq our ally? Uncle Jimbo says yes. I say yes, too, but I never felt like the Iraqis were the enemy. Saddam Hussein and his merry band of deviants were our enemy. The Iraqi people were victims of this brutal tyrant. It's going to take a while for their minds and hearts to change, but there's nothing like a taste of freedom to make a good friend.

Greyhawk notes that 3%, yes you read that correctly, 3% of the media coverage is dedicated to the war in Iraq. Wow, could it be because it would make the President look good? Would it make America look good? Would it be inspiring? And the MSM wants us to believe they're unbiased. Please.

Matt Sanchez remembers the start of the war and where we've come.

Learn about the geniuses of counterinsurgency: General David Petraeus and Raymond Odiemo. There are heroes and generals and some are one and the same. History will be kind to these men.