Saturday, December 31, 2011

Something to think about.....

...the next time you're pulled over for a traffic violation.  Apparently, it's a bad thing if a police officer is too intelligent in some municipalities, according to this article uncovered by Vox Day.  Worse yet, we have courts that, despite abundant evidence that intelligence is just as hereditary as skin color or sex, find that discrimination based on this hereditary factor is acceptable.  I would guess that the kinists and klansmen of the world are hoping that this court's precedent gets applied to cases involving other hereditary traits.   I'm personally hoping for a Supreme Court slapdown of this insane decision for that very reason.

And of course, it's not like you would want detectives with a high IQ on the force, people who could pull a "Sherlock Holmes" and solve those difficult cases, is it?  After all, it's not like large numbers of crimes remain unsolved, and it's not like one approach might be to increase the caliber of individual looking at the evidence, is it? 

It's not surprising, either, that the brain surgeons who came up with this idea are the same guys who felt that stealing a thriving neighborhood from its rightful owners was a great way to stimulate development.  That neighborhood is now an empty lot filled with weeds.  Great job, New London.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why you don't want your company paying health insurance.

Yes, it beats the alternative, especially if your company will pay for company paid health insurance, but won't give you the same amount for you to spend yourself, but I had an experience today which brilliantly illustrates why the post-WWII health insurance mandates for companies are foolish.

It started simply; my insurer didn't pay a claim, and I found out that it was a lactation consultation--yes, after four years, Mom and Dad do forget some tricks of the trade and find these tremendously helpful.  At first, I was incredulous that they were unwilling to cover this, as back in 1997, a Kaiser Foundation study found that breastfeeding reduced first-year medical costs by $1500.  OK, $200 for a lactation consultation versus $1500 in medical costs--OK, close to twice that today, most likely.  ROI looks pretty good on that from my perspective, even if these consultations don't always make the difference between nursing and formula.

Then I considered what a nursing mother represents to many companies; a wife who will not be available to work and split insurance costs with her husband--my company requires spouses who can get coverage with their company to get their own coverage.

And so suddenly, it made sense.  My company isn't seeing $1500 or $3000 in savings, but rather a $5000 cost as they need to insure not just employee and children, but rather employee, wife, and children--and a greater cost as they consider that when that employee gets tired of them, it's a lot easier to move to a new opportunity when one doesn't need to find a job for one's spouse, too. 

So just like in Truman's time, employer paid health insurance is not a benefit, but is rather a "golden shackle" to make it more difficult for employees to demand better wages and working conditions.  Perhaps it's time to equalize the tax status of employer paid health insurance and individually paid health insurance, and require employers who provide this shackle "benefit" to provide an equivalent amount should the employee prefer to find his own insurance.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An insult I'm glad to see

Evidently the President of South Africa is blaming Christians for the existence of orphanages and homes for the old, claiming that european influences are responsible for a breakdown in the extended family.  Because, of course, it's not like Moses told us to honor our father and mother or anything. 

So what are the older ways Jacob Zuma is referring to?  Well, here is a quick history of some of the peoples of South Africa prior to European colonization.  As far as I can tell, there were plenty of orphans being created by the wars of the Zulus and others, but on the "bright" side, those same wars did reduce the need for homes for the aged by....well, greatly reducing the likelihood that someone would survive to become aged.

I think I'll take my faith even if it does reach out to help the orphan and the widow, thank you very much, over what apparently is Jacob Zuma's preferred alternative.

Checking the logic on light rail

Apparently, advocates of high speed light rail in California are arguing that two rail lines are the equal of six to eight highway lanes.  Let's check that assumption.  You have one rail line each way versus three to four highway lanes each way.  What is peak capacity?

Well, if what I learned in drivers' ed is indicative, you can have a car every four or five seconds, generally with one or two people on it, and quite frankly you can run a bus every ten seconds or so without endangering anyone.  So a lane of traffic can carry about 900 vehicles per hour--legitimately up to 2000 people or more.  So those three or four lanes can carry 3000 to 8000 people per hour, plus trucks and buses.  If one in ten vehicles is a bus with 30 people on it, each lane could carry as many as 5000 people per hour.

OK, now a rail line.  If you get more than one train every ten minutes, you're really going to run into timing issues, and if you have more than three or four cars per train, you're stretching the limits of mass transit there.  If there are 50 people per carriage, we have up to 200 people per train with six trains per hour, for a maximum of 1200 riders per hour.

In short, the $98 billion California high speed rail idea would achieve about the same as not four, but rather one, lane of traffic in each direction.  Now the cost of one lane each way; apart from buying the rights of way, a lane of highway each way costs about $10 million per mile when done in good reinforced concrete, for a total of about five to ten billion dollars.

In the same way, to get 1200 passengers per hour, you need about 50 more airliners for....about five to ten billion dollars.  So once again, high speed light rail is....at ten times the cost of competitive technology, a solution in search of a problem.

Note: yes, you could theoretically "squeeze" in longer trains with more passengers, but trying to run them more often while maintaining a safe following distance for trains running on steel wheels at 250mph--I'm guessing that's measured in miles just as it is with planes--is going to be very, very difficult, as the horrific deaths in China's high speed lines demonstrate.  Here's an example of a more responsible schedule from Chicago, one of the two or three most rail-dependent cities in the nation. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How do they do that?

I have, over the years, been able to eat a number of things others disdain.  Piglet ears?  No problem!  Haggis?  Sure!  Brioche a la roy?  Absolutely.  Vienna-style fried chicken?  Ducks' feet?  Yum!  Chitterlings?  Sign me up.  You would think that I would qualify for the Iron Stomach Award.

Then, on the other hand, you've got anything canned from Hormel,KFC or Dead Lobster.  Ugh.  I don't know exactly what the big restaurant chains do to make their food so indigestible--huge amounts of oil, white flour, and sugar are of course probably involved--but there are some amazing depths of indigestibility that have been achieved by those fellas.   Do they have chemists working all day to figure this out?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Who's on Sam Hurd's clients list?

If he was serious in claims to be the fourth best President ever, I'm guessing the former Bear was doing business with the President, if you catch my drift.  And yes, it would be refreshing if the entire Chicago political machine got to do a second term in taxpayer paid housing as a result of Mr. Hurd getting caught.  Or, like the abortive investigation of Rod Blagojevich, was Hurd "outed" too early for the clients list to get really interesting?

An interesting thought

I finally made my grandfather's fruitcake recipe the way he sometimes did--soaking the candied fruit with a touch of rum--and when my wife tasted it, she wondered whether the modern disdain for fruitcake might have some of its origins in Prohibition. 

Now, my granddad's fruitcake is still pretty good (it's about 75% fruit and nuts, just like California) even "teetotaler style," but I had to admit she had a point.  It's also worth noting that a key ingredient for baking, diastatic malt (look at the side of your bag of flour), comes from breweries.   One doesn't need to be a lush to see what nasty things legally enforced sobriety can do even to the teetotalers of the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Worldly secularism

This top 11 list is inspired by this post by our dear sister Elspeth.  The top 11 plus one ways you can know your embrace of secular things is leading to worldliness:

11.  You listen to, and appreciate, Satchmo's "Wonderful World."
10.  You bake, and enjoy, brioche.
9.  You enjoy technology developed by secularists like Henry Ford and Karl Benz.
8.  You enjoy technology developed by secularists like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.
7.  You enjoy music written by secularists like Beethoven and Mozart.
6.  You enjoy books written by secularists like Samuel Clemens Mark Twain.
5.  You enjoy Kirkeby and Waller's "All that Meat and No Potatoes."  (this counts even if you enjoy it in private with your spouse!)
4.  You go to a doctor trained at secular medical schools.
3.  You do #9 on roads developed by Roman pagan engineers.
2.  You read the book of Esther, which since it never mentions God, must have come from a secularist.
1.  You make casatiello and enjoy it. 

Plus 1; you think Samoset and Squanto had their priorities in order when they first met the Pilgrims and greeted them.  Looks like I'm pretty worldly by this score, which makes me pretty glad for the doctrines of sola fide and sola gratia.

Monday, December 12, 2011

More "brilliance" from Harry Reid

Apparently, Harry Reid is claiming now that millionaires do not create jobs, apparently under the idea that millionaires somehow manage to buy the things they enjoy and make capital investments without anyone ever getting employed as a result.  In a just society, Reid's closest advisers would be telling him to resign his office for making a comment that stupid.  For the record, I am personally acquainted with several millionaires who have provided jobs for others; my stepfather (a retired dentist), the owner of the local hardware store, a farmer out in far eastern Colorado (unincorporated Nebraska; it's on the state line), and others.  And yes, taxing Jim, Charlie, or Lee more heavily will put someone out of work. 

One would figure that men who portray those who purchase luxury cars (as opposed to having the taxpayers pay for them as Reid does) as enemies of the people would at least figure out that the people working at the Mercedes, Cadillac, or Lexus dealership benefit from the deal, but apparently not.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Now this is depressing

Evidently, President Obama's "stimulus" plans are more or less based on a sample of 150 undergraduates saying (honestly or otherwise) how they'd spend an unexpected windfall. 

Of course, it's not as depressing as the fact that too many economists have fallen for the Keynesian fantasy that consumer spending, and not capital formation, drives prosperity, but it's still pretty darned depressing that people in positions of authority and power are taking their lead from people who think that Falstaff, Milwaukee's Beast, or Bug Light are something worth drinking, instead of signs that your family might be eligible for WIC.

Speaking of depressing.....

Monday, December 05, 2011

How do you spot a pathetic bread snob?

Easy.  Show him this picture, which claims to be a brioche:


He will notice that not only did the baker use (shudder!) bleached flour, but he also didn't use too much butter or eggs, either.  This is determined simply from the color of the loaf.  Exposed areas of less-carmelized dough should be yellow, not white, if enough eggs, butter, and unbleached flour are used.  Plus, the baker didn't allow enough time for the Maillard reaction to take place.

This is more what brioche is supposed to look like:


There, that's better.  Note the deep yellow tone of the lighter areas and the deep brown Maillard zones.  And yummier!  Remember, everyone, the Maillard reaction is your friend, at least if you enjoy good food.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yes, "Environmentalist" too often means "Person who can't do math"

How so?  Look at this plan, here and here, to turn the Eiffel Tower into the "lungs of Paris" by covering it with approximately 400 tons of plants.  OK, first of all, 400 tons of plants would be the plants growing on a few acres of land (especially if forested), so this would be an effort dwarfed by the grass on the Champs Elysees.  Never mind that 400 tons of plants aren't exactly going to counter the fuel use of that fair city of millions, either. It might compensate for the half ton pickups driven by most people on my block, but that's about it.

More distressingly for those who love architecture, 400 tons would also be the weight of a watering system for this kind of thing, which would in turn spray water throughout the summer on all portions of that venerable structure while making it difficult, if not impossible, to paint.  In short, it could result in the Tower's collapse within a few years. 

In related news, Aptera, an aspiring maker of electric cars, is bankrupt because they couldn't even get funding from the Obama administration, which is saying something. 

Or, rather, they are bankrupt because no one wants to pay a premium for a car that doesn't go as far as an ordinary gas powered car, which is a natural consequence of physics.  Electric car power comes from lithium or heavier atoms--atomic weight six or greater--while that from gasoline comes from hydrogen.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that physics more or less dooms battery power in all but niche applications.

But, of course, it appears that environmentalists, including Dr. Chu of the Obama administration, are not aware of the work of Dmitri Mendeleev.  Or at least aren't paying attention to it.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Minnesota surplus?

Prediction; tax revenues leave Minnesota a billion in the hole.

Reality: tax revenues leave Minnesota almost $900 million in surplus.

Conclusion; the Keynesian methods for econometrics are not working well in St. Paul.  I think it's time to revisit the Austrian/classical economic view that given man's propensity to act in his own interest, econometrics is largely a fool's errand.  And Mr. Dilettante throws cold water on the figures; the surplus is a figment of our imagination that will be paid back with interest in the future.

In other news, the economic "good news" continues with the unemployment rate dropping from 9% to 8.6%.  So apparently about .4% of workforce adults, or about 500,000 people, found work, right?

Nope.  Only 120,000.  What happened?  Well, the other 400,000 (or so) people dropped out of the work force, as is shown by the drop in workforce participation from 64.2% to 64%.  Again, can we please, please, please revisit the idea that the government knows how to stimulate the economy?  It does not seem as if the hypothesis is working too well right now!

Finally, a prayer and praise note; I'm starting to look for other work for a variety of reasons, and I heard from a recruiter already.  Don't know if it's what I "want," but it's certainly encouraging.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In which I earn the praises of PETA

Call me weird, but part of me wonders why we bothered to ban the inspection of horsemeat a few years back.  It's widely eaten in Europe, and quite frankly, since horses don't do well on grain, it's probably far richer in omega-3 fatty acids than most beef or pork.  I'd eat it.

Of course, part of me also wonders why we let the USDA have such a stranglehold on slaughterhouses, and quite frankly, I'm wondering why I as a taxpayer get to pay to inspect slaughterhouses belonging to others.  Are we to say that inspection of slaughterhouses is something that can't be done to decent standards by states, counties, or for that matter private enterprise?  Let's face it; butchering meat safely is not exactly rocket science, and the USDA has made a hash (pun intended) of it by missing obvious problems with our current meat supply.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thoughts on the Black Friday Massacre

Saturday morning, the paper was filled with reports of people injured and arrested (mostly at Wal-Mart for whatever reason) trying to get the Black Friday loss leader, and it was noteworthy that for many of them, the loss leader was a DVD player--apparently as usual.

Now this is very interesting, as apparently 80% of American households have at least one, and at $50 or less, they're practically giving them away already.  I just bought a DVD/VCR player for $60 at a much safer store, Sears.  So why are so many people so excited about saving a few bucks on a player?

Well, hype certainly has something to do with it, but I'd suggest that another reason is product quality.  My new Magnavox looks, to put it charitably, like the plastic used to make it (there is little metal in the unit, it appears) is a side business of Fisher-Price or Mattel.  So I have to guess that one of the big reasons for the rush to get a new DVD player is that the buyers know their old units are not long for this world.

It's a far cry from the days when your VCR would set you back $500, but would last through ten years of normal use.  And ironically, this happens just as more and  more companies learn how to do accelerated reliability testing to design for long term reliability.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Bike Bubba Weight Loss Plan

Step 1: Make brioche with your second daughter.  She helped, but it took Dad's strength to mix it by hand.


Step 2: go to work while your kids shape, bake, and eat it.  If I'm lucky, I'll get to smell it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sigh.

Thank you to the person at Syracuse who apparently chose to make another atrocity against children public.  Hopefully I will be wrong about the extent, but thank you, whoever you are.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More on that stimulus effect

Earlier, I've approached the idea that somehow the mere fact that government spends money makes it "do more economic work" than money spent in the private sector--more or less, the Keynesian idea that there is somehow a multiplier effect.  To put it mildly, it's absurd that money will do more work just because Uncle Sam's name is on the purchase orders.  It goes through the same banks, gets spent at the same stores....in short, the economy has no way of knowing that the money was stolen taxed from the taxpayer before being used for Uncle Sam's pet projects.  Hence, there is no Keynesian multiplier effect.  As Lott's column indicated, the opposite is closer to the truth--money spent on debacles like PBS, NPR, Solyndra, light rail, and so on does less work for the economy because it's not the taxpayer's favored use for the money.  Hence, there is less incentive to do other things that benefit the economy.  (say, like drill oil wells)

One might object, however, that since so much of the money is borrowed, that what we're doing is impeding not our own economic growth, but rather China's.  Well, let's consider that idea; Chinese companies use their profits to either build their own companies or invest in "safe" securities, more or less.   We sell the safe securities here; what is the flip side?

Well, China buys immense amounts of capital and raw materials from the United States, Japan, and elsewhere.  So what happens when we sell bonds to fund fifty billion dollars worth of trolleys that nobody will ride, or to fund tax cuts for people who buy firetraps electric cars?

Simple; the U.S. taxpayer still takes a hit because honest companies don't get those orders for capital goods.    Hopefully someday government spending decisions will have a little bit more emphasis on "ROI" than is currently the case.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A thought on evangelical feminism and the struggle for the offices

My wife and I are investigating becoming members of a church we've been attending, and one of the things mentioned was the perceived need to give women a meaningful place to serve without violating Scripture's prohibition of female deacons and elders. 

And thinking about that, it occurred to me that what needs to be done is not to provide male roles to women--whether under the aegis of an official church title or otherwise--but rather to provide an environment in which women's natural roles can be allowed to flourish.

To draw a picture, about a decade ago, I was a deacon at a little church in Boulder, and my responsibility included the nurseries.  I'd put together a scheme to reduce the chances that pedophiles would be able to approach the children, but was dreading the difficulty of getting people to work the nurseries, clean up toys,and such.

Enter two women who said "we'd like to coordinate scheduling and clean-up".  What had happened?  The major role was that the pastor had created a place where women were not afraid to be women--it was OK to keep at home, love one's children, and such.  Combine that with a basic structure where it was "safe" to help in the nurseries, and given that opportunity, these ladies took care of everything but the background checks.  Fully 2/3 of the adults served in the nurseries, allowing the rotation to go to once every six weeks.  The church of sixty or so families had a baby boom of six babies that year, and all this while.....the church gained elderly members, too.  There was no generation gap.

I would suggest that if you told these ladies they were somehow less worthy or important because they did not hold a title, they would have laughed at you.   So would I.   The way out of the "gender wars" is, as Elisabeth Eliot would tell you, is to listen when women tell us "Let me be a woman."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sad signs for our republic

A sign in the bathroom at work:  "Please flush."  Sorry, but if a man has made it to adulthood without learning to flush the toilet, I'm guessing that "reading" isn't high on his list of abilities, either.

A person asked me where my neighbor in the cube farm was.  Thinking she must have already looked in his cubicle, I told her where he might be.  Turned out that my visitor hadn't bothered to even read the sign on the next cubicle (not five feet from her) announcing the inhabitant of that cubicle.

Sadder; this person has a key to her office.  Like it or not, there are plenty of prospective Obama and Franken voters out there.  I didn't dare ask any other women coworkers whether their bathroom had "please flush" posted inside the stalls. 

In more cheerful news, President Obama pardoned two turkeys from Minnesota today.  Spokesmen for Senator Franken and Governor Dayton immediately expressed their gratitude.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Picking the wrong fight?

I just finished a book I should have read decades ago--Uncle Tom's Cabin--and there are a lot of things that I can say about it, starting with the fact that I now know why I didn't get to read it in school.  It's the same reason that I didn't get to read Pilgrim's Progress, Paradise Lost, and any number of other great works of literature; just "too much religion" for the secular schools.  And it's a shame for all of these.

(but of course we did get to see the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, of which I am ashamed to admit that I remember exactly five seconds, and if you're a man, that's the five seconds you remember, too)

OK, that aside, I almost wonder whether Stowe made the wrong argument; while a system of slavery can only be enforced with violence (at least the threat of it), and unaccountable power over the lives of others can only result in barbarism, is that the best argument, or is there another?

A better argument perhaps being "What gives you the right to the rightful wages of your fellow man?  What gives you the right to make decisions for your fellow man?"  "Losertarian" argument?  Yes, but it forces the opponents to argue inalienable rights, and denies them the opportunity--used by Stowe's detractors--of claiming that the atrocities catalogued were due to "bad actors" and not a bad system.

And there are a lot of things we can apply this to.  Think about who you can ask; "What gives you the right?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A depressing day at work.....

....started with a meeting where our company's ISO registrar had a representative telling us that the ne plus ultra of quality control was effective flow charts for a company's processes, and spent at least 15 minutes illustrating the concept of a flow chart.  Apparently many companies these days are hiring lots of people who have no idea that such a thing exists, and they're putting them on their ISO self-audit teams.  What could possibly go wrong?

More depressing was a meeting this afternoon regarding bribes from vendors, and in the name of cultural diversity, our HR manager never really got around to saying that if you accept more than a modest meal and a mug with the vendor's name on it, you're crossing a moral and ethical line that leaves it open to question whether you've chosen a supplier for business reasons, or for other reasons.  So apparently business ethics rules are being written in Jell-O these days.

(and yes, I know that in many companies, the sales team gets to live like kings--and often perverse ones--on the company dime, but there at least used to be a pretense that the engineers and managers in the factory had a higher code to honor)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alternative theory on Penn State....

....given by Paul Greenberg, one of my favorites. And it also appears that the man who didn't risk a confrontation with a man 30 years older is also out of coaching.  I wish Mr. McQueary well as he repents from a grievous sin here.

And, given that it's estimated that 3% of adult men have sexually abused a minor, it's my prayer that more people stand up to abusers and talk to the police.  Do some math;100 D1-A football programs with ten coaches apiece, and up to 3% of them have a horrible secret.  Maybe others have some talking to do.  It sure beats drinking one's sorrows away at not standing up to protect a child.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hybrid brilliance

Evidently, as any good EE would tell you, there has been a problem with the Chevy Volt in crash testing; the battery caught fire, which is something you can expect of any battery holding a lot of energy when it gets shorted out.  The trouble, of course, is that there are a lot more batteries in the Volt, holding a lot more energy per pound, than in ordinary cars.

So not only is the Volt a technological boondoggle, its powertrain is a major hazard, too.  And as luck would have it, it's still got a gas tank to incinerate you after the battery ignites.  Maybe it's time to leave the car engineering to...say....carmakers and others who understand engineering tradeoffs, eh?

Almost good enough

It's a good thing that Big Red beat Penn State today (sorry Pentamom), but it's a shame that the Huskers didn't win 55-0 and get the coach who failed to stop a horrendous crime fired.

That said, knowing the level of corruption in sport today, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop on some other programs as someone who has seen some barbarity decides to speak up to the police.  For the sake of little ones, I hope that whoever it is does so soon.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Another "triumph" of regulation

Probably like many parents with newer homes, I've been getting better at patching sheetrock because of the weird doorknobs that are in my home.  The kids open the door, not knowing their strength, and no matter how well I set the door stops, the hole in the sheetrock grows.  So I went to the hardware store, and asked if they had any old style doorknobs that didn't have the lock tab protruding, but rather locked simply as you press the doorknob towards the door and rotate it.

No luck, and Charlie--the owner--told me that it was supposed to make life easier for people with disabilities because the old doorknobs needed two actions to lock it instead of one.  He also noted that he was selling a lot more spackle than he used to, for obvious reasons.

So when I went home, I tried out my fancy new OSHA and Americans with Disabilities Act approved doorknobs.  Press, and turn, just like the old ones, and the "benefit" for the disabled appears to be that instead of being able to use your palm or your fingers to work the old ones, you now need to use your fingers to unlock or lock your bathroom door.

I'm sure the arthritis sufferers of the world appreciate it a lot, and if they could only get their hands into that position, would be giving our government the appropriate, one finger salute for their help.  Along with every father who's patched the wall for the tenth time because of those fool things.  

The fix, for what it's worth, are little round things that glue right where the doorknob will hit the wall--some of them even featuring an indent just the size of the lock tab.  I'll be sending the government a bill for this one....

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

When in Seattle....

....you might do well to avoid Dr. Guillotine and anyone named Robespierre.  Apparently the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters are starting to act like they're taking part in the French Revolution.  Let me eat brioche, but we'll do it here in Minnesota, thank you very much. And away from the Jacobins in Minneapolis, of course.

Alternatively, my friend Mark would tell me that the reign of terror started years ago in Seattle when Bill Gates more or less stole the visible parts of Apple's operating system without duplicating the magic inside.  But that's just a Mac-head talking, of course.   Who is also probably not in Seattle right now, either. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Reformation Day fun

While I respect those who abstain from Halloween Reformation Day festivities because of the Druidic roots of Halloween, our family has found a bunch of ways to really enjoy the observance--especially here where it's a lot safer, and not like Detroit at all.

*  Four year old son's costume: dinosaur.  Dad's costume; Ken Ham, of course.
* Posting the 95 Theses on our door.  If people in our heavily Catholic town remembered history, we would have gotten some really dirty looks.  We didn't.
* Greeting "Trick or Treaters" with "Happy Reformation Day!", and getting blank stares.
* Daughter #2's costume: Little Bo Peep.  Daughter #4's costume: duh.
* Ruining about 100 kids in town for cheap chocolate by handing out Lindt and Ghirardelli chocolates.
* Turning off the front porch light when our stash ran out, and daughter #1 noticed that she was handing out candy to kids whose voices had changed.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Please visit my friend Jim's blog

...and read this carefully.  Every time we "soak the rich" and encourage present consumption over capital investment, we impoverish ourselves more quickly than we think.

Or, put differently, if we take $500 million away from Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (and thus Microsoft or Apple) and let President Blagojevich give it to Solyndra or other money pits, do we really think we're doing ourselves any good?  The reality here is that Gates and other wealthy men are more careful with their own billions than any bureaucrat will be with the public's trillions.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blessings of fatherhood versus GATT and NAFTA

I am currently working a situation at work where our Chinese factory has made a bunch of faulty product, and when the customer representatives asked whether I could make a trip, it was great to be able to say "Given that I've got a three week old son at home, I think I'll do well to handle this from home."

And along the same lines, because we insanely tax incomes instead of imports, I know a whole class of people whose resume and paychecks depend primarily on the number of customs stamps on their passports rather than on their actual skills, and whose frequent flier miles would make a decent salary for many people.  I don't want to go back to a 45% tariff of abominations that helped cause the Civil War, but I think it would be appropriate for the nation to pay for the Coast Guard, Border Patrol/ICE, and Navy out of revenues from trade.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Because we need to subsidize law school graduates....

.....President Obama has issued an executive order capping student loan payments at 10% of income, because it's not like the nation has any interest in giving the burnouts protesting Wall Street an incentive to actually find a decent paying job and start paying off their debts.  Instead, we need more people with little or no incentive to contribute materially to our society, because it's not like we have a $1.3 trillion deficit and over fourteen trillion dollars in "on the books" debt and close to one hundred trillion dollars in debt when calculated according to honest (GAAP) accounting methods.

Except, of course, that this is exactly what's happening, and just like Obama's proposed giveaways to underwater homeowners, it creates a nasty perverse incentive to do the wrong thing financially.  Get that quarter million dollar degree from the Ivy League school and then start working for $25,000/year doing performance art or social work.  It's not like the world needs creative engineers,scientists, doctors, and businessmen, after all.  As any old time barber would tell you, society needs more leeches.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another reason to flee the government's schools

According to the HSLDA's Home School Court Report,the government in Sweden has mandated that all schools, public and private, must use the government approved curriculum, with the education ministress stating that it meets the needs of all children, no matter what the religion, ethicity, and so on.  (report is available to members of the HSLDA....join today!)

Beyond the reality that the new laws effectively ban homeschooling there, I'd like the gentle reader to consider the reality that the government schools in Sweden are "educating" the children more or less by telling them that there are no competing theories. 

I'm not quite sure what is more reprehensible in this; that the kids are being trained to believe anything the government tells them (training for totalitarianism, really), or that they're being trained to believe something that any thinking person knows is patently false.  Or, perhaps, both of my objections are really the same thing, aren't they?

If you love your kids, train them to question and test the assumptions of the ruling class.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Big Ten Logic

Apparently, one of the defensive linemen for my alma mater, a gentleman (loosely speaking) named Gholston has been suspended for one game due to a punch thrown at an offensive lineman who had just dragged him to the ground with his face mask.

OK, apart from whether Gholston was a thug the whole game--and evidently there was a tackle of the QB that put some stress on his neck--I'm at a loss to explain why punches thrown are punished more severely than dragging a guy to the ground with his face mask.  The one leaves a bruise and (if the helmet is off) maybe a concussion, the latter can inflict some serious damage on the victim's neck, perhaps even breaking it. 

If we wonder why football is getting ever more thuggish, this would be a great example of the mindset that is leading to the problem.  I don't contest that the Spartans should face the Badgers without the services of this gentleman.  However, given the provocation, I'd have to suggest that the Wolverines should be facing Purdue one short on the O-line as well.  Offensive linemen have no business grabbing defenders to begin with (unless they pick up a fumble), let alone grabbing a face mask.

Unless, of course, player discipline in the Big Ten is a sham with little resemblance to the likely consequences of thuggish behavior or the rules of how the game is played. 

In the world of Wal-Mart

The last two times I've bought lettuce at Wal-Mart, the checker did not know that what I was buying was red leaf or romaine lettuce.  I am guessing that the average Wal-Mart shopper's diet is not exactly heavy on vegetables and salads.  (a look at the rear ends of many Wal-Mart shoppers would of course tend to give the same impression)

Even sadder and funnier; one time, the "cheat sheet" used by the checker was in grey scale instead of color, so they were trying to match lettuce (in very real color) with a blob of grey that might as well have been garlic mashed potatoes.  I'm thinking that somebody's cost saving method went awry with that one.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do they teach this in business school?

A periodical forwarded to me by my manager had this interesting tidbit; the BBC (yes that BBC) is letting 2000 employees go, including 300 senior managers.

Now I'm not clairvoyant or anything, but I've got a wild guess that one of the BBC's problems is that they were (and probably remain) a wee bit top heavy in their organizational structure.  Just a wild, wild guess.

(if I can assume that a reasonable number of subordinates is at least five, and "senior management" means at least the second level of management, a well run organization should have no more than about 5% senior managers....to let 15% go means that the average manager has no more than three subordinates, which means he's not managing squat)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obligatory cool and cute post

First, the dinner of champions.  At least on Friday evening, or whenever you want it.  A Challah with Nutella!


And some obligatory baby cuteness.  Don't worry, little Benjamin/Ben/Benny/Bibi will be playing cops and robbers soon. Just let him learn to walk and talk!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to protest Wall Street

Upon reading Terri's post about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests--which incidentally does not seem to have done squat to actually, say, shut down Wall Street--some thoughts on how one ought to deal with the very real excesses of Wall Street come to mind. 


First, one ought to remember that government is not the solution to, but rather the cause of, the problem, from promoting and subsidizing employer paid health care to farm subsidies to the Fed to Fannie and Freddie to corporate welfare programs of all kinds--and for that matter, education subsidies.  Write letters to your legislators and vote accordingly.

Next, one needs to remember that the tentacles of big government and big business are made of debt.  It powers the inflation tax, enables the Fed/Fannie/Freddie, and keeps people in miserable corporate jobs.  If you want freedom, use your spare cash flow to pay off debt--remember the money creation power of fractional reserve banking?  You can put a brake on Ben Bernanke.

Finally, don't forget the power of taking care of what's your own, illustrated brilliantly by one of the big differences between the Tea Partiers and OWS demonstrators; Tea Partiers cleaned up after themselves, while OWS demonstrators left a mess for the government to clean up.  In the same way, how many people are in virtual servitude because they allow big corporations to clean up the messes they've made?  It adds up.

You may not think that you can make a difference with your possibly small income and assets, but you just might be surprised.  After all, hasn't the Chief 1%er been pretty angry that more people aren't taking on debt?  Maybe someone is catching on.  Maybe it's time for you to catch on, too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

To what club does he belong?

Mr. Dilettante gives us a helpful reminder of exactly who is the 1% that people are protesting; it is, of course, our President.

OK, so given that Mr. Obama is obviously a 1%er, the question is to which club does he belong?  Perhaps the Hell's Angels, perhaps the Pagans.....of course, given his record on transparency and openness, I'm thinking that the "Sons of Silence" is probably the club which has admitted him.  Or possibly the "Outlaws," given his respect for law shown by executive orders claiming to modify legislation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eric Holder needs a husband

How so?  Well, confronted with the horrific weight of reading 100 pages of critical reports each week, Holder chose not to read them. Or at least that's his excuse on why he said he hadn't learned about the DOJ selling firearms illegally to Mexican drug cartels.  It wasn't perjury, but rather that he simply wasn't doing his job.

Now, ahem.  Isn't Holder a lawyer, supposedly having shown his ability of reading and comprehending thousands of pages of legal documents?  How is it, exactly, that this paragon of legal achievement cannot apparently bother to read 100 pages of critical reports, an amount similar to, ahem, the size of the daily New York Times or Washington Post?

Now some people might suggest that this indicates Holder's incompetence  and/or malfeasance (just like the Black Panthers case and numerous other non-prosecutions of voter intimidation when black perpetrators are involved), and that  because of this he ought to resign, optimally on his way to being disbarred.

I, however, am going to take a more charitable view of the subject, and I'm going to suggest that this 51 year old male is simply going through the same postpartum difficulties that affect millions of women each year.  In short, Eric Holder desperately needs a husband to help him out with critical decisions like this.  Maybe Barney Frank is available?

More on patriarchy

In our interactions with the birth of Benjamin, my dear wife and I noted that a lot of the time, it was the parent without pregnancy hormones coursing through his veins who was remembering various critical details, from dosages of painkillers to techniques for successful feeding to details of why a certain procedure might be the right choice.  The one without swollen breasts was also the one who successfully troubleshot problems when wires got crossed in the medical circles--which happens even when the hospital is part of a system founded by two brothers named after a popular salad dressing ingredient.  Not to be grossly self-congratulatory, but in our case, I'm pretty sure that our family did a lot better because I was keeping an eagle eye on everything going on.  In other cases, I'd have to guess that a husband's eagle eye has literally been the difference between life and death for his wife and/or children. 

In short, God's design for family is more than a spiritual reality mirroring the Father's relationship to the Son, and the Son's relationship to the Church--although it is of course certainly that.  It is also a way of preserving the family through complementary roles, and it's telling that what our grandparents would have told us without hesitation needs to be spelled out today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Very important (for those addicted to drugs adminstered by knitting needle)

Cascade Yarns, Pima Tencel, 50% pima cotton 50% tencel.

Thanks for all the good wishes, y'all. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Benjamin Patrick

Thursday, October 6, 2:02pm, 7 lbs 3.2 oz, 20.5" long, healthy lungs.  Mom and baby are doing fine; pray for a little issue with Mom's spinal block and for Benny to start eating even better. We are very grateful for the doctors and nurses of Immanual-St. Joseph's for their care of us, and more to God for protecting us from things which evidently could have gone wrong very quickly. (yes, this means that W.B. and others are going to need to pick up the slack in childbearing!)






On the light side, our next larger child, Sammy, borrowed Benny's cap and looked like he was off to the Shul to study the Torah.  Regarding that cap, it's a pima (long staple) cotton yarn that just feels like butter in a knitter's hands--or on a baby's hands or feet.  If you pick up "taking drugs administered by (knitting) needles not prescribed by a doctor," as the local blood center would ask you, my wife and daughters highly recommend this.

Walnuts; W.B., the U. of MN (and I'd guess Iowa State U. too your way) has great recommendations on processing them.  You can cut the husks off while green or wash them with gravel to remove them.  My eldest also figured out you could remove it by stepping on it, but with the problem that your feet will turn black on the bottom--use gloves or shoes while handling.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Money saving tip

Your neighbors who have fruit or nut trees, but don't know what to do with them, may just let you take a few bushels of walnuts, apples, or other produce for free simply to get it off the yard....and yes, yum.  I guess you can be a farmer without actually owning or renting any land. 

Alternatively, you could say "we are such a wealthy country that people actually cannot be bothered to pick the fruit that grows on their own trees."  Yes, the Obama economy is pretty bad, but someone with a bit of creativity and a will to work can do pretty well these days.

Baby update; little one still inside, scheduled C section (not that bad, y'all!) at noon tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Antinomian, legalist, or both at once?

One thing that I've noticed as our family goes through the Gospels and Pauline epistles (we're getting around to those of Peter, James, John, and the author of Hebrews of course) is the interesting position of the law,and how when the "Judiazers" oppose Paul (or Peter) on the basis of "the law," they often do not appear to be doing so on the basis of not the written Torah or Pentateuch, but on the "Oral Torah" or commentaries on the books of Moses.  Translated, this means that the opposition isn't directly in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy, but rather in traditions of the Pharisees of the day--many of which appear in today's Talmud.

In the same way, we also find that in enforcing this "Oral Torah," many of the provisions of the written Torah are neglected--a famous example being when our Lord chastised the Pharisees for neglecting their own parents if they gave money to the Temple.  And so it seems that in the "legalism" Paul and Christ rightly decry, there is an element of lawlessness, or antinomianism.

What about today?  Well, there are many who would enforce various extra-Biblical rules on believers--don't drink alcohol, don't use any Bible but the KJV, don't use the KJV, sing only hymns or the metric Psalms, don't sing hymns or the metric Psalms, don't dance, women must wear a skirt or a dress but never pants--but in the application of those extra-Biblical laws, Biblical morality is often neglected.  KJV-only advocates viciously attack their opponents, fellow believers are slandered, and accusations are thrown across 17 centuries of history with no substantive evidence. 

In short, if you're not living according to the Gospel of Christ, you are likely to become both a legalist and an antinomian, ironically.  Given what it takes to become either, this makes sense; whether one begins with works righteousness or a rejection of the moral law of God, one must begin by rejecting the Bible's authority and setting up one's own moral law. Legalism and antinomianism are, in practice, synonymous.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Public announcement

Will the couple that brought their eleven children to Michigan Stadium please call them back to their seats?  They just scored another touchdown against the Gophers.  Thank you.

(in more important football news, my alma mater beat the school that plays in the horseshoe 10-7)

Why government funding of businesses is a bad idea

While the White House hotly denies pressuring Ford into taking down an F150 commercial critical of President Obama's bailout of GM and Chrysler the United Auto Workers, it apparently is a fact that the White House did "contact" Ford about the matter.  As if Ford can ignore the fact that the White House has (unconstitutionally) arrogated to itself the right to lend, or withhold, tens of billions of dollars of bailouts and lending, not to mention a "nudge" to the appropriations process for government vehicles.

A bloody knife?  No, but even so a clear reason to end government subsidies of businesses.  More or less, President Obama just told Ford "Nice truck ya got there.  Would be a shame if something happened to it!", and that's something that can't be tolerated in a free country.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Creation Day!

One part of Rosh Hashanah (head of the year, Jewish New Year) that not everyone remembers is that it commemorates the sixth day of Creation.  So Happy Creation day, all!

And for fun, here are some of the best the top eleven reasons to bake your own bread:

1.  Flour: 50 cents per pound.  Decent bread: $2/lb or more.

2.  The joy of seeing that flour come together under your hands to pass the windowpane test.

3.  The joy of realizing that, for about fifty cents per pound, you're beating Panera on taste.

4.  The fact that bread represents our daily need and also the body of Christ.

5.  Kneading is great exercise.

6.  The buttery smell of a pate' fermentee after it's risen, especially from sourdough/wild yeast.

7.  The whoosh of steam rising from the 12" iron skillet you put in the bottom of the oven to bake properly at 500F.

8.  The fun of trying out new grains and methods for squeezing the most out of that grain.

9.  Brioche!

10.  European friends asking you "where did you buy that?"

11.  Realizing that a key ingredient to good bread--diastatic malt--is also a key ingredient for brewing and wondering whether one ought to take up that hobby, too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Medical rule #1; you are your own best advocate

My wife was wondering (with some stress) yesterday whether her obstetrician was cluing in to the difficulties we'd had before (transverse baby C section requiring classical incision), and so she decided to give our previous obstetrician in Colorado a call. 

Data were received here, with a complete change in how they're going to treat her C section, with some alarm.  So remember; the procedures at your local clinic are only as good as the people there, so if you want the full data, you will do well to provide them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manly Monday; intimacy

No, not that kind of intimacy, though if you do it right, yes, it'll tend to lead there if you're married.  I'm talking about the closeness and love that is consistently displayed in Paul's epistles. 

No kidding; we tend to think that we moderns understand what Paul was getting at because, after all, Paul was born in the Greek area of Tarsus, and we have learned our logic from Aristotle, right?  OK, scotch that, because most of us never really learned our logic.  Maybe we'd better recheck our assumptions; do we really understand Paul, or are we simply using his Greekness to impose our own worldview on Paul?

My take is that most of the sermons that I've heard about the epistles concentrate....mostly on what we'd call "dry doctrine" today, and not on the incredible relationship that Paul has with the churches.  Examples?  Sure.  What about the lists of people to greet and the end of each epistle?  What about....the persistent use of "you"?

Or, more directly, look at 1 Thess. 5:12; we are told to "know" them which labor among us--"eidenai" in the Greek, also used for knowing God.  Now it's translated "recognize" in the NKJ, "respect" in the NIV, but the root word is still to "know."  And how would we properly recognize or respect those who work among us if....we did not know them?  Being from the Greek, it's of course not the word we remember from Genesis, but......yes, I have to wonder if Paul is pointing here to some very close relationships existed in these early churches.

So, dear brother, do you know your pastor?  Ever had him and his family over for dinner?  Played golf with him?  Greet him while he's running?  Gotten to understand his struggles and weaknesses?

Are you in a church where that is possible, or has the pastor allowed his flock to grow to where....the sheep do not know the shepherd's voice any more?  How are you ministering to your own flock?  Do they know their shepherd?  Do your precious ewe know her shepherd's voice? 

And now you see how listening to Paul can benefit you in more ways than spiritually.  Listen closely; there is doctrine there, but it's buried in a flood of Paul's affection for those he serves.

Mute donkey question of the day

A representative of our phone company to my wife today:

Do you have a number where I can reach you?
 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Here dieth the republic

Why so ?  Take a look; a guy who says he's got a formula that hasn't failed in the past 30 years is saying that his formula predicts an Obama win in 2012.  No, that's not the thing that dooms our republic in itself, but rather the reason why; the formulator is arguing that it's not the candidate's positions or perceived ethics, but rather his style.

Given that our republic desperately needs thinkers to revive it, it would follow that due to an electorate that apparently cannot get past the election for high school class president, our republic is doomed.

I hope I'm wrong, but these are the data.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Shabbos hilarity

I read this morning on Michelle Malkin's site that President Obama is under the impression that we've built an intercontinental railroad.  As a hippie, of course, this worries me, because imagine how many bombs could be delivered on an intercontinental ballistic railroad.  There is only one thing to say, all together now:

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant (excepting Alice)

Don't forget that if you want to stop war and stuff, you've got to sing loud.  And if you want to stop Obama, you've got to remind him that we built several transcontinental, not an intercontinental, railroads, and that those railroads were sent into bankruptcy by the Great Northern, the only transcontinental railroad built without government money.

In other hilarious news, I saw a picture of a home spa featuring no fewer than twelve "low flow" shower heads.  I am guessing that not only will this give plumbers nightmares (how big of a pipe do I need now to feed this monstrosity?), but will also remind people of how nice it was to take a shower before the government required us to buy low flow shower heads.

Speaking of which, the difference between a low flow shower head and a standard shower head is, today as in 1993, a rubber gasket that obstructs the free flow of water.  So if you want an old time shower experience, but don't have thirty grand to spend on a custom spa, you can modify your shower head to work like those of old with an adjustable wrench and a swiss army knife.

Not that I would know anything about this, of course, and of course I wouldn't be encouraging people to bypass silly environmental laws or anything.  Perish the thought.  (anyone got a pair of vise grips I can borrow...?)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Proof that the Internet is not a waste of time


Or, quite possibly, yet more evidence that I'm a hippie.  Today it was foccacia (burp) and pumpernickel, and the weight loss is holding.  By the way, Country Curtains is also from Stockbridge, Massachusettts, and if I'm ever sentenced to death and get the chance to sing one final song.....I bet you could shaggy dog this one out for years!

Now to learn the guitar.....or do you think it could be done on a violin fiddle?  But really, we don't want any hangings!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Top 11 signs your host may be a hippie

Now to those who have been reading this blog for a while, or even a little bit, it might appear that the host is a fundamental Baptist with strong libertarian, Calvinistic, and conservative leadings.  Those who think so would be correct.  That said, your host was told by one of his coworkers that he is a hippie, and golly gee, I think he has a point.  Here are the top 11 signs that your blog host may be a hippie:

1.  He homeschools his children--many do not know, but homeschooling was revived in great part revived not by evangelical and fundamental Christians, but rather by hippies in the 1960s and 1970s.

2.  He drives rusty cars that are both over a decade old, one of which has a manual transmission.

3.  He often rides his bike to work, and his bicycles are well over a decade old.

4.  He bakes his own bread.

5.  He gardens.

6.  Most of his clothes are from natural fibers.

7.  He prefers acoustic instruments to electronic.

8.  He loves bluegrass music.

9.  He has personally repaired and restrung a violin fiddle.

10.  He makes a fair amount of his own furniture.

11.  He's deeply suspicious of the military-industrial complex and government.

So there you go.  Your host is not only an conservative fundamental Baptist with libertarian and Calvinistic leanings, but also a hippie.  Cue up the Arlo Guthrie!  (next post; complete text of "Alice's Restaurant")

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All it needs is a pink curly tail

Witness the car to make Edsel Ford shriek with horror; the Citroen Tubik:



Now if it came in pink with flames around the bottom, maybe it could be used for deliveries by Big Bob Gibson's or perhaps the Whole Hog Cafe, and perhaps it would be appropriate as a limo for the President or Congressional Democrats, but other than that, I'm having trouble figuring out a good use for this one.  Like many great works by Citroen, it ranks right down there with padded bras for preteens as something that "just should not be."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

That's just not right.....

Now I don't know why I even bother posting this, because of course all of us reading this are going to be in Dear Leader's political prisons for being reported to "AttackWatch," and we'll be able to share these things in person, not online.

That said, while shopping with my daughters, I saw a bunch of things which quite frankly are almost as creepy as a President setting up ways to report one's fellow citizens to the Geheime-Obama-Polizei.  (on a side note, did you notice how many of Obama's ideas work better in the original German, thanks to Marx, Engels, and that Gefreite von Hoelle?)  The list:

1.   Padded training bras for pre-teens. 
2.  Formal dresses for little girls.
3.  Smelling perfume near the formal dresses for little girls.  (OK, don't we have enough pedophilia already without this kind of nonsense?)
4.  Jeans lines which would not fit my eldest daughter in any size.
5.  Low/mid rise jeans with a ton of white embroidery across the derriere', as if we fat Americans really ought to desire more attention to be brought to our rear ends.
6.  Shiny winter coats in garish colors that just scream "I will be out of style within three months."  (which is a course a problem in any state with six month winters like "Minnesota," where of course I live)
7.  Marketing miniskirts and tank tops for winter here.  (see #6 for why that is a bad idea here)
8.  Pre-ripped jeans.   If anyone wonders why the skating rinks are abandoned these days, you know why now!
9.  Bags from a clothing store for kids and juveniles featuring images of frontal near-nudity.  Well, I guess that says all you need to know about their clothing, doesn't it?
10.  Body-shaping undergarments for men.  As if three ounces of spandex is going to overcome a lifetime of jelly donuts and double quarter pounders.

OK, you can come up with your own list, but suffice it to say that the cultural signs from our country are almost as depressing as a President who wants to set up his own secret police and encourage people to turn their neighbors in to them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What a coincidence!

Evidently one of Ray's kids reported the exactly same thing to AttachWatch.com that my kids did.  Remarkable.  And I think one of Mitch Berg's kids reported him with exactly the same words, and one of Mr. Dilettante's kids to him, one of Terri's daughters to her, and even little W.B. Picklesworth Jr. did the same to his dad.

The words:

My dad has said that you attended a racist church for 20 years.  He doesn’t think you are a secret Muslim, but he is sure that you think more about your golf game than about what is going on in church, because otherwise you might have noticed that your pastor was a black supremacist, anti-semite, and general raving lunatic before it became a campaign issue and you dumped him like a crazy ex-girlfriend.  He also is critical of your speeches at times, and he strongly suspects Michelle wears the pants in the family. He also hopes that the voters retire you in 2012, so you can join the PGA Seniors Tour, because you spend more time on the golf course than Tiger Woods.

What a remarkable coincidence.  Or, on the other hand, maybe it's just the plain truth.  Come and get me, copper!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The President's Jobs Plan, Explained

Now of course, people like Pentadad, Mitch Berg, and Mr. Dilettante have done a great job clarifying what Comrade Obama wants to do to for the country with his joblessness plan, but really, we ought to make it simpler, so even liberals can understand.  It's part of being manly; being concise.  So here it is:

President Obama's plan for creating jobs is to take money from those whose businesses are profitable, and giving it to guys like the clowns who ran Solyndra into Chapter 7.

With friends like Barry Soetoro, our economy needs no enemies.



Thursday, September 08, 2011

Yes, elections matter

Apparently, a federal appeals court, never having heard of the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, has just ruled that the state of Virginia lacked standing to sue regarding President Blagojevich's Obama's health insurance deform law.  So the fact that the law imposes numerous unconstitutional mandates on the Commonwealth of Virginia and financial burdens in her citizens does not, in fact, give the Commonwealth the right to appeal in court.

And yes, if you were wondering, all three judges involved were Democratic appointees, two by Mr. Obama himself.  Yes, Virginia, elections matter, and while the article states that the decision is "highly technical," the more accurate description of this decision is "bizaare."  Yet another case where the proper decision is to overturn the case, then de-bench and disbar all signers of this opinion.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Manly Monday: Train them up

On my "baking kick" (yes, I am guilty of becoming a bread-head--so sue me), I'm learning that the best way to train my kids is....well, to do the tasks with them.  This morning, two kids were helping me with the ciabatta (after obliterating a challah, and yes I know it's the wrong day and we're Gentiles anyway as far as we know) while another was getting a pate fermentee ready for something else--maybe we'll do that sicilian bread that Joanna mentioned  (Gino might appreciate that, but we could be risking him taking another trip to Minnesocold).  So whether it's math, sewing, carpentry, or whatever, the best way to train them up, men, is......to bring them alongside and, well, train them up.

Baking also brings to mind the key issues of what's wrong with our lives and our country; we're in too much of a hurry.  We can't wait to let the bread rise the way our forefathers did, but rather we insist that it be ready NOW.  There are few better ways to illustrate this than by the difference between what you'll see in most cookbooks, and what true "breadheads" do.  The cookbooks will have you start with water that's about 120F, and then let the bread rise in the warmest place you can find.  Great bread, on the other hand, starts with lukewarm or even cold water and can take half a day to rise.    Standard bread is kneaded until it gets stretchy; great bread is often kneaded until you can stretch it until it becomes translucent.  Standard bread smells yeasty; great bread has a full array of smells to entice the nose. 

Standard modern families might, if they are doing well, involve a "couch time" of fifteen minutes or so between husband and wife.  Great families linger over the dinner table for hours. 

So be a man, make great bread, and make a great family.  Just make sure you get out for a walk after dinner to work off the extra carbs!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A gentle reminder

....about those dismal August unemployment numbers.  Zero net jobs created means not only that the economy is not recovering, but rather also that "the economy" has fallen another 150,000 jobs behind in job creation--that's about how many people enter working age each year.  These 150,000 people are of course not counted in the official 9.1% unemployment rate, since they've never been employed and therefore can not collect unemployment benefits.

Hope and change.  I'd like mine back, thank you very much, and after five trillion bucks in spendumore waste, I think it's time to admit that the Keynesian multiplier for government spending is far less than one when Dear Leader insists on throwing money down the toilet on things like Solyndra and rail transit.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A serious note on the Paleo Diet

Knowing that dear friends have used this diet, and apparently to good effect (as others have used Atkins, cabbage soup, and so on), I figure I owe my "vast readership" a couple of thoughts on the Paleo diet.

I'll start with the good; the Paleo diet overcomes a lot of the weaknesses of other diets in that it does not demonize the eating of meat; as such, it has a degree of balance that many other diets do not have.

On the flip side, is it really "Paleo"?  Biblically, I think not; the Scriptures describe men as more or less fruit-eaters prior to the Fall, and than afterwards eating what grew in the fields--I would presume that this means grains and legumes primarily.  Hence, pointing back to "cave-men" does not really point to what is the oldest, as the true "Paleo" diet would be Adam's and Noah's vegetarian diet.

That said, I could envision people after the flood going to a "Paleo" diet--the modern version, not Noah's--by killing and eating most of the nastier animals whose physical traits would help humans to "assume environmental temperature," if you catch my drift.  Moreover, as people filled the earth and subdued it, they necessarily moved to places where grains and legumes would not grow, and thus necessarily became rather carnivorous.  They were still descended, however, from vegetarians.

Going to the New Testament, my take is that I have trouble with the idea that our Lord would include panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie (Give us this day our daily bread) in His prayer if that were indeed a substance harmful to most people.  Yes, there are people with gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy and such, but the fact of the matter is that almost all people get large portions of their nutrition from grains, and it hasn't exactly made us extinct yet.

So whatever its virtues and deficiencies, I'd simply encourage believers to recognize that Biblically, the "Paleo" diet is not really the paleo-diet, and when "Paleo" advocates decry grains, they're on dangerous ground, Biblically speaking.  And since my hungry monsters (and their father) have devoured today's batch of pain ancienne, I'm thinking I'd better get up to the kitchen to knead some more, 'cause we knead need some more.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Our family's response to the Paleo diet


We are the Perry baking crew
Kneading on down, doing it for you us
We love our bread and it's getting good
Blowing our minds like we hoped it would
We're not out here looking for trouble
We're just here to do the Supre Boule Shuffle

Your host was called the Fridge, and he's the daddy
He's not so large, just an overgrown laddie
You've seen him post, he used to run
When he makes pain ancienne we'll have more fun!
He'll knead, he'll dance, and you will see
The Bubba-itas all learn from he
He's not out here looking for trouble
He's just here to do the Supre Boule Shuffle!

 Bread; Poilane-style miche (overgrown boule) from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  Scary fact; I've been losing weight since starting to bake these three and a half pound monsters, which disappear in my house in about a day or less.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get fired by quoting Deming!

No, thankfully I've not tried this one out, but I bet that in a lot of companies,you'd get fired if you told people, as did Deming, that 85% of quality problems are problems with management.

For that matter, in all my years in working, I've never seen any trainer of managers and leaders advocating a slavish adherence to quarterly or monthly sales numbers, or to use brute intimidation to "motivate" employees.  I've never seen it recommended that managers micromanage, pushing trivial decisions up to the executive level, and I've never seen anyone recommend that companies pretend to do "housekeeping" by eliminating vital tools.  I've never seen anyone recommend pushing out routine maintenance on vital tools or suspending employee training to make quarterly numbers.

But, that's what I see.  W. Edwards Deming, we miss you.  Or did we ever know you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You just walked past your work

My church has been holding a leadership class with some videos and books by John Maxwell, and one thing of particular note to me is something he said to a member of his pastoral staff many years ago.  The man was rushing into his office to "get some work done" and walked right by about a dozen people on the way in.

As he relates the story, Maxwell notes that he walked into the man's office and asked him what he was doing.  The response, of course, was "I had to get quickly to my work!".  At this, Maxwell reminded him that, as a pastor, people are his job.

Now I'm not a pastor--though I was mistaken for one last week--but even as an engineer, how often do I need to remember that people are my job.  In our age of get what you can, take a chunk out of someone's hide if you can business, this is a welcome reminder.  I don't agree with everything Maxwell says or does, but this one is going to stick.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Manly Monday: Now lead already

In my summer week of fun, one of the adults noted something that my dear sweet wife has both loved and been irritated at--that when push comes to shove in terms of "herding the kittens" at VBS or elsewhere, sometimes it helps when the voice is a testosterone-induced tenor, baritone, or base instead of an estrogen-filled alto or soprano.  That is, whether we like it or not, we are programmed to respond to men differently than we respond to women, and that this makes a difference in all areas of life.

In the same way, a lot of the greatest disasters in homeschooling--a cause I obviously cherish--occur when the husband is passive or unsupportive, and one can also point out that a lot of the greatest failures in marriage occur when the husband has been sidelined from his proper role.  For that matter, what is our welfare state but a mass failure in family and, transitively, masculine leadership?

How to fix things?  Well, this post about music in church demonstrates that we've kind of forgotten how to go about it after fifty years of the "National Association of Gals," and so the best I can come up with is this; men, initiate something.  Now lead already.  As long as it's not criminal or otherwise immoral, I'm not quite sure what you try really matters as long as you try something with your family in mind.

Friday, August 12, 2011

More signs of the times at VBS

Two boys who attend the "Elm Care Day Care" were wearing T-shirts that said

EC/DC Rocks!

It reminds me of the "Disco sucks" and "KISS" T-shirts that some kids wore when I was in elementary school....I never had one, but I might wear at least the first one if I had one.

I learned when a little girl got hurt that M&Ms are at least as good a painkiller as Oxycontin, at least for four year old girls who have just been run over by much larger five year old boys.  Too bad that after I played tug-o-war for half an hour with a horde of rabid four and five year olds (and a few of my fellow adult helpers), I didn't have any in the house.  The VBS diet is still working great, by the way.

Hopefully a picture or two in the next few days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fun with Vacation Bible School

First of all, it's a great way to lose weight when you get out of work after 5pm, and need to be at VBS at 5:30.  Other thoughts:

My wife was taken aback when a little girl asked her if I was her boyfriend.  Well, yes, but we ordinarily call it something more, punkin!

I was taken aback when a little boy I was carrying said "take me all the way to the daycare."

If I keep carrying two or three four and five year olds at a time, I think I'll get some of that upper body strength I used to have back. 

The same little boy who asked me to carry him to the daycare center also is catching on to the full theme of Jesus.  Make of it what you will.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don't tell the ACLU!

I took my daughter to the local elementary school for a babysitting class, and noted that at the entrance are two passages from the Scriptures regarding wisdom--one from Daniel, the other from Proverbs.  I'm no consistent fan of the government schools, but credit given where credit is due.  Don't worry, neighbors, I won't be telling the ACLU!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Little updates....

First, I've added Dan Phillips' fine blog "Hellenisti ginoskeis" to the blogroll--if you enjoy parsing things out in Greek or (like me) are just starting in the New Testament language, this may be an encouragement to you.  Dan is trained in theology, but, alas, is not currently pastoring.  Hopefully this will change soon, but while we wait, praise God he has fun online at "Know Greek" and "Team Pyro," also linked here.  Dan also has a fun site called "Biblical Christianity" that is worth your visits.

(he shares some of my sense of humor, but please, brothers and sisters, don't hold that against him!)

Also, in this line, a thought for "Koinonia Tuesday": all too often, we get into large groups and are more or less manipulated by the "scene"; great orations by a pastor, louder and faster music, and so on.  Now, what have we done to get to know our dear brothers and sisters beside us?  Maybe it's time to sit down--one on one or family with family--with some good coffee or maybe even a glass of wine.  Note carefully Pilgrim's note in the second link, with which I totally agree; when we impose external rules against comforts God has given us in His goodness, we make it harder, not easier, to live a Christian life.

For that matter, isn't that what Paul says with his repeated arguments against these external rules?  I guess it's not just me, praise God.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Manly Monday; how not to be manly

Easy.  Act like Alan Greenspan and note that with fiat money, central banks can simply print their way out of a debt crisis.   Because, of course, it worked SO well for Weimar Germany, and nobody ever complained about what happened after the Reichsbank printed ton after ton of Reichsmarks to pay for the expenses of the inter-war government, and it's not like a discontented Gefreite from the neighboring country of Austria could possibly become Reichskanzler and lead the world into a war that killed over fifty million people.  And it's not like Hungary, Austria, Argentina, Brazil (really most of Latin America), or Zimbabwe ever had any difficulties with hyperinflation, did they?

Real men, of course, know that dishonest scales--inflationary monetary policy in today's terms--are an abomination unto the Lord.  Playing games with the value of currency to achieve policy goals is unmanly, not to mention disastrous.

Manly Monday; Give us this day

Thinking of the manly art of husbandry, the Lord's Prayer comes to mind, and specifically Matthew 6:11, "Give us this day our daily bread."  How so?  Let's unpack it.

First of all, it speaks of humble contentment in asking Him for our daily bread, and not our daily filet mignon, Chilean sea bass, eighteen year single malt Scotch, Porsche, or whatever else might be luxurious.  How many men have torpedoed their family's financial stability--and faith for that matter--by giving in to the desire for more and better stuff--the big steaks, the new SUV or sports car, the motorcycle, the library full of rare books, the humidor or wine cabinet, or worst of all, a trophy wife or series of girlfriends.

And if we can trust people like Dave Ramsey, guess who leads the way to bankruptcy for most families?  Sorry, lads, you can't blame your wife's purchases at the latest Tupperware party or beauty salon for this one. 

Along the same lines, getting this book this weekend speaks to bread in a different way; specifically, the reality that bread that's worth eating (as opposed to this stuff) takes some real time and effort--just like marriage.  I've not gotten through the whole book yet, and I've learned that previously, I wasn't kneading the dough long enough, that I was adding too much flour, that I was adding too much sourdough, that my sourdough isn't even a true sourdough, I wasn't letting it rise long enough, and I wasn't forming the loaves correctly.  My work was still better than most stuff you'd find in the grocery store, but I was being hasty, and it showed.

How many of us treat our wives and children like I was treating a lump of dough?  "I want this now, now, now," and because we want it now, we never get "it"--and "it" can refer to any number of things, from a wife's affections to our children coming to know the Savior, no?

The good news is that a bit of patience and a tiny bit of knowledge--really only implementing a little bit the book's recommendations--I managed to create five of the best loaves of bread I've ever created in my life over the past weekend.  One of them--a three pound miche, disappeared in the course of ten minutes after last night's prayer service, and there were not that many people eating it.

So if you need your wife--and you know you do--maybe it's time to follow Peter Reinhart's recommendation and knead your wife.  You know she could do with a good backrub, and who knows what good it will do?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A dearth of resources, or of character?

SayAnythingBlog linked to USDA figures regarding food stamp usage and benefits; evidently the average recipient gets $133.79 per month, which is disturbingly close to my family's weekly grocery budget.  If one adds in free school breakfast and lunches (worth about $20/week per child where I live) and WIC (about $20/week per eligible child), I find that government food assistance significantly exceeds my family's weekly food budget--by about 20-30%, really.

Beyond the obvious wisecrack "well, I guess that's why Dinesh D'Souza came here to see fat poor people," it also should remind us that the poor in the United States do not, by and large, have a crisis born of a lack of resources.  Quite frankly, my family could cut our food costs quite a bit by eating more beans instead of meats, switching from butter to margarine, from olive oil to canola, and so on.  It would not surprise me if we could get well below $200/week and still eat quite well.

Or, in other terms, about $120/week less than what our government decides is appropriate for those who are "poor".  So my question is simple; do our poor have a crisis of resources, or do they have a crisis of character, creativity, and such? 

Personally, I'm thinking that teaching poor people how to cook might do far more for them than WIC, SNAP, and all those programs combined!

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may not be a rapist.....

....but the evidence coming in suggests that it's pretty safe bet that he's a creep.  Thank you, Air France, for letting us know for sure that sensible parents ought not allow him anywhere near their daughters by apparently requiring all-male cabin crews when he flies.  Evidently he's been accused of inappropriate behavior hundreds of times while flying. 

He must rate some respect, as I have a hunch that if stewardesses flight attendants had complained about most other people only a few times, Delta and United would have started to suggest going Greyhound.  Not that the bus lines need any more creeps, either, of course.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Did they change Article 1 when I wasn't watching?

President Obama has issued an executive order requiring cost-free (to the patient) coverage of birth control and breast pumps, to begin.....in the beginning of 2013.  Now apart from the basic pandering to his base, and transparent hiding of the costs of his decision until he's hopefully lost his reelection bid, since when does the President get to make these calls?  Did Article 1 of the Constitution begin to allocate the right to legislate to the President while I wasn't watching?

Let's check it out.  Nope, legislation still belongs to Congress.   And yes, along with multiple cases of contempt of court, mis-allocation of TARP funds contrary to law, and other factors, the case is growing that Congress needs to start reviewing another of its powers; that of Impeachment.

A late Manly Monday; how to destroy your children

A while back, I discussed the curious reality that a lot of the sleaziest pop stars were raised in theoretically Bible-believing churches, and it seems appropriate (with the recent death of Amy Winehouse) to revisit how one can destroy one's children if one so desires.

It seems, from much of the evidence, that step one for destroying one's children is often to divorce their mother.  Nothing can align a child's view against the eternal and towards the temporal like deciding that one's life commitments don't matter, and that your personal success and temporary happiness means more than your pledge before God.

Step two, it seems, is to start worshipping--in earnest--what our dear brothers Les Freres Bayly might call the "bitch goddess of success."  When your child begins to uncover her nakedness--just a little of course--at the request of her handlers to be a little bit more "edgy," don't object on the grounds of Leviticus 18, whatever you do.  Just watch the money flowing in and hope the judge wasn't too generous to your ex-wife.

You can even start this step before your child starts earning money by ignoring the things she's learning (or he's learning in school, or by allowing him to drop out of school when you know he doesn't have the basic life skills to make it on his own.  Again, this is all about grasping for the brass ring out there--if only you will surrender your child's immortal soul, you can have wealth that rusts and rots!

Step 3 is to ignore the clear signs that things are wrong; things like broken relationships, heavy drinking and substance use, and glorifying things that lead to death.  Just remember that this is especially "edgy," and those pictures of your child passed out in Vegas and New York are going to translate to album sales, you know?

Because, of course, you are living vicariously through your child--or at least your wallet is--and if you rein in your child with the hope of her returning to her Lord, you're going to have to leave that big mansion you built for yourself, too.  You see, you haven't just destroyed your children, have you?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Time to go to daycare?

My employer has the habit of giving us employer-labeled shirts as a "uniform" for the annual company picnic.  This year, they're a blaze orange polyester polo shirt.  So I'm wondering what their purpose is.  Maybe....

1.  Creative way of headcount reduction by public humiliation of the non-golfers in the company.

2.  Creative way of headcount reduction by heatstroke from polyester shirt at 90F.  Grotesquely appropriate that it will be happening during ViQueens training camp.

3.  Creative way of employee retention; employees will feel guilty about throwing away shirts and will need to buy bigger houses, thus getting a bigger mortgage, due to another shirt to house.  Debtors need to pay their debts, so they'll stick around.

4.  Desire to prove that our human resources department truly is colorblind.  But I'm still not sure the EEOC will take notice and approve.

5.  Cheap blaze for deer season. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Global warming update...

....with a hat tip to Elmer of "Minnesotans for Global Warming" and Rob at SayAnything Blog.  Evidently, new data out of NASA indicate that heat lost out of the atmosphere far exceeds that predicted by our current models.  So if this holds, it would indicate that the horrendous damage suggested by the IPCC and others is, thankfully, an exaggeration. 

Which suggests any number of other questions.  For starters, the satellites measuring this kind of thing have been up for over a decade.  Why did they wait until now to release the data?  I am guessing that they do for the same reason they haven't been overly talkative about how their computer models aren't working too well versus real data.

New song for finals from Campus Crusade/Cru

Sources unknown have provided me with a song which "Cru" members may soon be singing before finals, reflecting the true hope of many college students.  Here it is; let me know if you like it.

Pray Pray Pray
Pray Pray Pray
Pray for the Rapture

 
Oh the test is gonna come right after tonight
And you’ll blank when you see the first page
And don’t you try to lie
And don’t you dare deny
It’s a knife to your back,
engage!
Oh in all of your short life
You never saw such strife
My heads’ spinnin’ round and round
But in the seasons of shiver
We’ll write and deliver
Be strong and laugh and

Pray Pray Pray
Pray for the Rapture
Pray Pray Pray
Pray for the rapture!

Now you remember those days
When in the coffee shop you’d laze
And never open a book
Got no strength for the test
‘cause you spent your days in bed
Thought you’d learned it all before
Like a Cosa Nostra kiss
Putting danger on your lips
Might run scared for the door
But in the seasons of shiver
We’ll write and deliver
Be strong and laugh and

Pray Pray Pray
Pray for the Rapture
Pray Pray Pray
Pray for the Rapture!
 
Repeat verse 1
Repeat chorus twice

(with due apologies to Motley Crue, and of course I made this up.....)