Friday, February 26, 2016

Shopping and the Gospel

I have, from time to time, discussions with Mrs. Bubba about why on earth we bother making things we think have extraordinary beauty and utility when we can get something that looks like a shirt from Wal-Mart, Target, or Kohl's for $10 or less.  It even covers most of the important areas!  How do we, moreover, persuade our children to take up needle and thread--or hand tools, or whatever, when the competition from China and Bangladesh is so fierce?

The first answer, and that from a purely economic perspective, is that the mindset that moves manufacturing to Bangladesh is the same mindset that starts with cotton and ends up with polyester, or that starts with fell seams but ends up with serging, and the like.   If you start with the premiss "cost cutting is your main goal", you will cut costs not just on labor, but on everything--and the garment where there are some non-negotiables will stick out dramatically.

It also strikes me that there is a Gospel connection here.  When I take part in Matthew 28's command to make disciples, I ought to contemplate that the person I'm working with is someone I'm going to interact with for eternity.  What I build into that person is, for better or worse, going to be there for a long, long time.

Let us then contemplate that in light of the products we buy.  If in my shopping, I'm always going for the cheapest....I'm guessing I just might do so as I make disciples, too.  That doesn't mean I always need to buy the most expensive Bible (where's that Gutenberg now?), but it would suggest that we ought to be strategic, and not just cost focused, in our lives as a whole.

Nasty picture of Drumpf's "populism" given repeatedly by his description of his rivals, Hugh Hewitt, and others as "losers."  Now if he's going to describe Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Hugh Hewitt as this, exactly what chance do you think the common man has of getting any respect out of this blowhard?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A reason to love being a guy

Repeating an experiment done by someone on TV, the mayor of a Canadian town wears the same blue suit to every meeting for 15 months, and nobody notices.  I would add, however, that most of the comments I've heard when a woman wears "the same thing after only a week" happen to be female themselves.   Darned sexists.  :^)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Drumpf as successful businessman?

One of the key things about the appeal of "The Donald Combover" is his supposed success as a businessman.  Now, I have (and will continue) made habit of pointing out that the problem with Drumpf is 4, 3, 2,1; four bankruptcies, three marriages, two political parties, one big problem.  That said, it's not a complete picture of why Drumpf would be a horrendously bad President.

The more complete picture is that Drumpf's early business history was reasonably successful in creating buildings and getting them rented out.  More or less, he learned at his father's knee how to build buildings, especially apartment buildings, and market the apartments well.

Update: except for the fact that he built buildings with illegal immigrant labor, ignoring basic safety regulations and bribing people to stay quiet about the matter. So his vaunted "business acumen" really has a lot to do with being a crook--someone for whom the health and very lives of his workers didn't mean bupkus.

He then, in the late 1980s, went into other businesses like pro football, casinos, and the like, and that resulted in his bankruptcies of 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009.  It's worth noting as well that these bankruptcies had a lot to do with businesses regulated and funded greatly by the government, so his record in dealing with government is suspect. 

He also had disasters with ownership in the USFL, and has had major difficulties with a golf course in Scotland, famously losing a lawsuit to prevent a wind farm from being built. 

In other words, Drumpf does very well at what his father did  ignoring basic immigration and safety regulations to put real estate deals together, but in other areas--say running a government--he is hopelessly out of his league which watchdog organizations will not allow him to do if he by some sad chance is elected to the Presidency.  You might as well give the White House to a kindergartner as to Drumpf.

Note: we are referring to the Combover as "Drumpf" because he, knowing full well that his family had changed their name from "Drumpf" to "Trump", made fun of John Stewart for changing his family name.

Monday, February 22, 2016

From the mouths of babes

Well, not little babies, as my daughters are 11 and in their teens, but they were discussing the possibility of women in combat yesterday, and asked their father how much full pack weighed for a soldier.  When I informed them that it often exceeds 100 lbs, they instantly clued in that being an infantryman would more or less have them carrying one of their friends all the time--and I then chimed in that they would be carrying them for many miles, with a firefight and some hand to hand combat at the end--against their bigger, male friends.

My daughters aren't wimps by any stretch of the imagination, but it was instantly apparent to them why they would not want to serve in combat.  They role-played how the hand to hand combat would go--it was more or less like the jokes people tell about the French Army (women's infantry rifle for sale....never used, only dropped once).  Now if only our government leaders were as smart as kids still in high school. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Real cost of cheap clothes

Gino made the following comment regarding this post, and I'd love to build on it.

 I think its because so much clothing is so affordable (compared to days past) we buy stuff and decide we don't like it after wearing it once or twice (I have lots of new shirts that meet this standard.)
(and a stack of jackets because I always just grab the old reliable that I've worn for almost 15yrs and still looks good)

Now for starters, exactly true.  Many of us, myself included, have had to deal with clothes we purchased because "it was cheap."   But let's price this out fully.  Let me assume that I've got about thirty garments taking up about 2' of my 2' deep closet, and I've got another 2' x 2' in walking space in front of those curtain rods. 

So those thirty garments--I got 'em cheap for $300, $10 apiece--are requiring eight square feet of space to store, which costs me about $800 to purchase in my home and about $80/year to maintain that space in my home.  Yes, not too many of us buy a bigger home with the intention of filling up that space, but how many of us buy a bigger home because the space is already filled, or so we can get rid of a storage space?

And I've got to say that the $1100 plus $80/year for all those garments could get me a couple of really nice shirts and jackets that I'd be happy with for a long time.  Say that Harris tweed jacket Mrs. Bubba saw last weekend and dearly hoped would have been available in a 48L.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Update on Hilliary's server

It appears that there is evidence that at least one man may have died as a result of his name being put on Hilliary Clinton's illegal, unsecured email server.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


According to journalist Elizabeth Cline, previously profiled on this blog here and here, the average garment purchased in the United States is worn only seven times before being retired or discarded.  Part of me--the part wearing 15 year old boots and a 25 year old belt, both of which have been used hundreds of times--wants to be judgmental, but another part of me remembers how awful some of the dresses my kids have gotten over the years have worn.  Yes, they'd be done after seven wearings or less.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The antidote

Men, I hear you--a well meaning music pastor has used a few "Jesus is my boyfriend"songs (not distinguishable from "Air Supply" except for being about God, sort of) at church, the world is pink and red, and you need something to straighten out your head before the President's Day sales.

Here you go.  You're welcome.

Friday, February 05, 2016

What's wrong with the President's plan for a production tax on petroleum for starters, I'm not entirely against excises or even a carbon tax.  Since I've noted before that all taxes end up as taxes on consumption--and on the middle class and the poor--excises are really a simpler, less costly, and more effective way of taxing.  So it's not that it's a tax on petroleum at all.

What is at issue, however, is that it's a tax on domestic oil production, but not on imported oil, and that President Obama wants to spend the revenues on "green" transportation and infrastructure. 

Regarding the first, only die hard Obama voters need a primer on why that's idiotic--it would incentivize buying foreign oil while putting American oil workers out of work.  It's a long tradition in U.S. taxation (see "income tax" with elimination of tariffs), but not one that really ought to be continued.

The second issue is more subtle, but is even more egregious.  What goes as "green" in transportation really isn't.  Building an electric car (and providing the substitute car for long trips, and the garage to house it) requires tens of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.   In the same way, when you account for how empty most mass transit is during operation,  transit isn't very efficient, either. 

For example, typical passenger-miles per gallon of diesel for urban buses is about 25--just a little better than what you'd get with a diesel-equipped Suburban with a single driver, really.  The energy budget for rail only looks better start counting the metal and concrete you put in place for the rail line.  You don't put $100 billion into a high speed rail project using 1960s technology without putting a lot of steel and concrete in place, after all. 

So the long and short of it is that Obama's proposal not only gets an F for economics, but the same for ecology. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Some more questions about the Hilliary email scandal

Really, all of them have to do with a very simple question; who forwarded the emails from secure locations to Hilliary's server, and who did not?  Let's start with those who had basic ethics and did not forward these emails to Hilliary.

1.  Who refused to do this? 

2.  What happened to them?  Were they punished in any way or "leaned on" to start doing this?

3.  How many times did Hilliary not get critical information because these workers honored their oaths and did not place confidential information on unsecure servers?

4.  How many people suffered or died because the Secretary of State could not get critical information in time?

Now, let's also looked at those who violated their oaths of confidentiality and forwarded 1300 emails with sensitive and confidential information onto private servers.

1.  Who were they? 

2.  Do they still have clearances, and are they still working for the government?

3.  How were they persuaded to violate their oaths and do this?

4.  Who else received their emails who didn't have a right to see them?  Are they still sending sensitive emails on private email?

5.  What other systems besides private email were used to do this?  Is this still going on?  Who were the recipients?

6.  What indications do we have that foreign governments have this information? 

7.  How many people have suffered and died, and are continuing to suffer and die, because confidentiality has been thrown to the wind?

Speaking as a quality engineer, I can assure you that Hilliary did not get this information on her private server without a system in place to (a) get the emails to her and (b) hide the fact that this was happening.  So it's not just Hilliary Clinton that ought to be a resident at 1000 University Dr. SW, Waseca MN 56093, or comparable government facilities.  There are any number of people who should have seen this and sounded the alarm, starting with the senders and recipients of those 1300 emails with confidential and classified information.

Which would include, I presume, the chief resident of another governmental facility: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

well, it's come to this

Not surprisingly, the planned opening of combat roles to women has, according to an article linked by SharperIron, led top officers to testify that women also will need to register for the draft. Ignoring nature--the doubling of injury rates among women embedded among combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the difficulties when you put young & fit people in a place where they're lonely, bored, and scared, and the like--and you get the logical conclusion; young ladies as cannon fodder.

On the serious note, churches need to put a "women out not serve in combat" into their church constitutions--the Prophets do, after all, mock the nations about to be judged by pointing out that "your soldiers are women".    It's certainly not Biblical.

But that said, given the nonexistent respect given to people of faith who don't want to pay for loose people's contraception or bake wedding cakes for homosexuals, men of faith are probably going to need to come up with another strategy, and thankfully Arlo Guthrie is here to help us.  Remember, if you want to keep your daughters out of war, you've got to sing loud.