Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cheap, but no bargain

My friend Chet send me this to let me know I'm not the only person talking about things that are cheap, but not a bargain. Along those lines, I've noticed something interesting while grilling; those of my friends who use the cheap burgers from "le Mart du Wal" get a lot of flame-ups and scorched pieces of charcoal (that should have been burgers) due to the excessively high fat content (I'd guess at least 40%) in them.

Cheap, but since you don't actually get to eat anything, not exactly a bargain. I'll take my father-in-law's grass fed beef at about 95% lean over that any time.

Here's what you could lose....

....with health care reform, according to Fortune Magazine. In a nutshell, if you're one who actually gets a bit of exercise, avoids tobacco, and keeps a healthy weight, you will no longer be able to choose a high deductible health plan to "cash in" on your good choices.

This is, in a nutshell, why the Waxman/Obama plan, even as modified by so-called "conservative" Blue Dog Democrats, has no chance of reducing health care costs except by reducing the quantity and quality of care. In my family's case, "COBRA" coverage would have cost $1200/month--and that for a high deductible plan. The plan I got while unemployed was about $500/month.

By refusing to allow people to cash in on good health choices--like avoiding obesity and saving $1400/person annually--we can virtually guarantee that many Americans will never see the consequences of their actions until that first big heart attack or onset of lung cancer of emphesema.

Don't be fooled; the Blue Dogs have not fixed the problems with Obamacare, nor are they "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination. If your representative is a member of this caucus, remind him of these facts, and if he doesn't listen to sense, work to retire him from Congress come 2010.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Question for my legions of readers

In my experience, I've seen a lot of books about marriage that really mostly deal with the psychology with a little bit of Bible "window dressing" added. I've seen a lot of books for fathers on how to raise sons or daughters, and a lot of books for mothers for the same.

What I can't put my finger on; are there books out there helping women to bless their husbands' leadership, or for men to bless their wives' submission and homemaking? It seems to me that while many (say Focus on the Family) do a great job with the day to day, the spiritual foundation for a truly great marriage is being neglected by most Christian authors. Any thoughts? The closest I can think of these days is some of the work of Douglas Wilson.

And why can't we see this document?

Fox reports that a Hawaii record-keeper has looked at Barack Hussein Blagojevich Daley Jackson Khalidi Wright Pfleger Obama's original birth documents and declared them to be in order.

Fine, as far as it goes, but we're really trusting the testimony of one person, according to the article, when that document can be made public--theoretically without embarassing anyone, and proving his natural born status beyond any reasonable doubt. So why not release it? It's not like any sane person would judge him for something appearing on those documents.

Unless, of course, they show a significant portion of his life story to be a complete fraud. I don't believe they'd show he's foreign born (who in their right mind would have CHOSEN a third world country over Hawaii for obstetrics care, after all?), but this refusal to release pertinent information, like John Kerry's refusal to release his service records, clearly shows that he's got something to hide.

Lucky 13

Last night, my wife and I celebrated 13 awesome years together--as I wore #13 as my church's softball team lost its 13th game of the season to complete a "perfect" 0-13 season.

(for the record, the family went out to eat Sunday because we knew Monday would be packed)

If you try to tell me that baseball and softball are about winning and not about character, well, you'll get a bit of an argument from this lifelong Cubs fan. I hope that's not too self-serving. :^)

Monday, July 27, 2009

About that bank bailout....

...when the bank bailout passed last year, I assumed half-heartedly that it was more or less a choice of either the bailout or lots of bank failures sucking the deposit insurance trust fund dry. Now, it seems that we may be getting both.

Look down at the bottom paragraph, too; $16.8 billion in assets (loans outstanding) backed by $9.4 billion in deposits--which means that half of their loans are backed by money from the Fed. The next time Bernanke and Greenspan try to deny culpability, well, you can know that's not exactly true. While there are other causes (CRA, Fannie and Freddie) in play, half their loans were backed by the Fed--and that doesn't even count the bad loans they sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A good ethnic weekend

Had an absolutely "offal" weekend. How so?

Well, the family went to Kolacky Days, and tried a very interesting Czech sausage--jirnice (don't ask me how it's pronounced). The guy serving us wrinkled up his nose, but the family definitely preferred it to the kielbasa (Polish sausage) they also served. Didn't actually buy any kolacky--they were just store made in a bag, not at all like the treats my dad remembers from growing up in a Bohemian neighborhood (ethnically, not behaviorally) around Chicago. He could get a meal just by walking around the block and accepting a kolack from each mom who offered, more or less, when he was a little guy.

Also had chitterlings for the first time at a Chinese restaurant--pretty good, but a little bit salty and greasy. A fun bit for the Muckraker; one of the suckers given to my kids at this (very good) restaurant said "Maricopa County Recycles." Evidently you can buy labeled candies for cheap when the original buyer doesn't come through.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Creating a wardrobe

Commenter Gabrielle noted this column about men's "seen by someone else" attire, and wondered what might a woman do. Let's look at the recommendations for men first:

one or two suits in blue or grey
a blue or black jacket or sports coat
a jacket for summer (khaki or blue cotton or, if you want to be really fancy, seersucker)
a tweed jacket for winter
year-round grey wool trousers (light or dark or both)
a few pairs of khakis
3 white and 3 blue shirts
a selection of ties
2-3 pair of dress shoes in black & burgundy

This ignores the winter coat and casual clothes, of course, but it'll do for church, office, and more for most any man. So what do we do for the ladies?

Knowing that telling a woman what to wear risks sudden death, I made sure I ran the list by my dear wife. :^)

How about this; eliminate the suits and add 3-4 dresses, 3-4 skirts, and add a few blouses of differing colors for variety. The man's wardrobe is filled in 18" of closet space; the woman's probably in 30". By combining a few different colors for shirts and pants/skirts, almost infinite "looks" can be had without breaking the springs on the family 3/4 ton.

Along the same lines, I had a great experience shopping for new shirts recently. I walked into the store, and within five minutes, the owner not only figured out my proper size with a glance, but also set out a dozen shirts that would fit me and my style. I mentioned the experience to my wife and another woman at church, and they agreed that if a woman's clothing store could offer that kind of service, they'd get great business from them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Evidently, the Democratic Party of Michigan has a plan for helping out the economy of that state; raise the minimum wage to $10, mandate employer paid health coverage, slash utility rates, and prevent home foreclosures from occurring.

It appears that these sage men and women are unaware of the fact that businesses might choose not to do business in Michigan, but instead relocate to far away places with a lower cost of doing business like "Indiana," "Ohio", "Ontario", and "Wisconsin." Somebody please get a copy of "The Wealth of Nations" or Bastiat's commentaries to Lansing, stat!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pure Minnesota

Driving through Montgomery, a sign at a liquor store read "reserve your keg for Kolacky Days." Now Kolacky Days is a festival in honor of the Czech pastry, of which there are at least two major variants. The local variant is a sweet yeast dough with fruit preserves or poppyseed paste rolled into it in the same way a crescent roll is rolled; the other is butter and cream cheese pastry with the same, similar to Hamantaschen.

However, I can think of no case where the taste of these delectable pastries would be enhanced by large amounts of "Bug Light" or other cheap american beer. While certainly a mug of Pilsner Urquell or Budvar (the original, real, Budweiser) can go well with a Czech dinner, coffee would probably be the better choice for a few kolacke.

(kolack or kolacek is singular, kolache is plural, they taste so good you won't need to use the singular form very often, if you catch my drift)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not the New York I've visited.....

In debate over a bill that would allow carry permit holders to carry legally in any state with "shall issue" concealed carry laws, New York Senator Charles Schumer said this:

If you walk down the street in New York ... you can have the solace of knowing that if someone has a gun on them they've gone through a rigorous police background check. After this bill, you can have no such comfort," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday.

Actually, in the New York (city especially) that I've visited, if someone is carrying a gun, they are most likely a street thug, not a carry permit holder. I don't know what New York Mr. Schumer is talking about, but it's not the one the Mets, Yankees, and Bills call home!

Never mind the fact that any carry permit IS done with a rigorous police background check in any state that issues them.

Logan's Run to Obamacare

RedState and SayAnything have apparently found that section 1233 of the Obama-favored healthcare bill requires senior citizens to discuss "dying with dignity" with their staff at least once every five years. It's appalling enough that we would have bills with a "Section 1233" (it actually goes up to section 1905), and even more appalling that we would have a proposed law that would refuse care to those who refuse to attend such "training."

Were a private insurer to require this, I'm sure liberals would be crying bloody murder. Apparently it doesn't bother them as much when it's the government. Soylent Green as hospital food?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homeschooling and socialization

I used to resist the NEA and AFT "logic" about homeschooling impeding the social development of children, and then it became completely obvious to me that when I was dealing with an immature adult, the best thing by far would be to put him in a room of junior high school students and let him learn proper behavior by their example.


Sadly, for some adults I've worked with, this could actually be helpful, but thankfully it's not often the case.

Teleprompters and the death of extemporaneous speaking

I caught a moment or two of Comrade Obama's weekly address this Saturday, as well as the so-called "response," and it struck me that as politicians have lost their ability to think on their feet as they've become dependent on the teleprompter. If the GOP can finally find someone to respond who can actually think on his feet, they could make Obama pay dearly for his habit of leading with his chin, rhetorically speaking.

A good example; when Obama talked about the "record-setting" deficits of his predecessor, as if he expects the GOP to pass that one by....and thanks to the teleprompter and a lack of people who can think on their feet, he was sadly right.

NFL Update

It turns out that the model for the new Lions helmet and logos was none other than Bert Lahr.

(BTW, if you want to keep Lions out of your backyard, just put up goalposts)

PS: rumors that the new Vikings logo will be modeled after Larry the Cucumber (as Lyle) have not been confirmed.

A very nasty side effect of "Obamacare"

One of the chief difficulties in becoming an entrepreneur, after coming up with the business plan, is healthcare--it's simply not tax-exempt like it is for a corporate plan. Now Obamacare makes it even worse by telling entrepreneurs that they get to pay the full cost of the government plan--with its control over what healthcare they'll actually get.

In a nutshell, it's yet another way that they're trying to kill job creation in this country. Thanks, but no thanks, Comrade Obama.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another reason why logic should be taught in schools

Take a look at the confrontation between a Mr. Alford and Senator Boxer regarding cap and tax; notice that Boxer does not address the evidence at all, but merely presents statements by black groups and claims that her point is made by a "diversity of opinion."

Beyond the racial obnoxiousness of the confrontation, Senatrix Boxer has pulled a neat trick by doing this that should be obvious to anyone familiar with logic; by appealing to "diversity of opinion," she has taken the debate out of the realm of evidence and placed it firmly into the realm of politics. Ad hominem followed by a diversionary tactic; you don't even need to know what a syllogism is to see where that one went wrong.

Given the fact that it was about 50 degrees out when I woke up this morning (even in Minnesota that's unusual), and it's only in the sixties now, Boxer's move makes a lot of sense. The last thing global warming alarmists want these days is for people to look at the evidence. Even so, it's a great reason to teach logic in schools, so that Boxer's intended victims can at least see what's coming.

H/T Muckraker and others, of course.

More on Obamacare

Apparently, it bans people from purchasing their own health insurance--you need to go through your employer or the government. Yeah, that'll cut costs.....not. Generally, I pay about a third for my own health insurance when unemployed compared to what my employers have paid. It's like insurers know that when I'm on the hook for my own insurance, I'm going to do little things like get a bit of exercise, eat well, and avoid tobacco.

Not that Joe Biden would be able to figure that out--thanks to many for pointing me to this. Somebody PLEASE point Mr. Biden to Dave Ramsey's website, stat! It is amazing that a man can get Ivy League degrees and be a senator for over three decades with such a lack of basic understanding about how one "achieves" bankruptcy.

Either he doesn't understand, or (scary thought) he and his boss are trying to push us there in the same way that FDR and Hoover created and sustained the Depression. At least FDR and Hoover had the excuse that they might not have known what they were doing at the time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obamacare: already killing jobs and people

A friend of mine at church (who works in cardiac rhythm management) noted that as far as he could tell, major medical device companies in the Twin Cities area were holding off on as many hiring decisions as possible until they knew what "Obamacare" held for them.

Put differently, before a bill was presented or a single vote was held, "Obamacare" was already delaying or killing job prospects for a lot of people. And yet it gets worse; those jobs were to develop things like cardiac stents, pacemakers, surgical tools, and the like. The very threat of Obamacare is likely to be injurious or lethal to thousands of people.

One wonders if those who would "reform" healthcare (generally by taking the profit out of it) ever stop to consider that, say, a lifelong smoker who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania might someday depend on this kind of innovation. Apparently not.

(reason # 5, 324, 191 why logic really ought to be taught in schools)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interesting commercial

My wife heard an ad this morning for a product that is supposed to help women equalize their moods, lose weight, manage hormones, and increase "marital" drive. We agreed that the product is probably made by Lindt.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Some hilarious things

News around here: the flight attendants' union for former Northwest flight attendants has lodged a complaint against Delta because the new uniforms only go up to a size 18--the old Northwest uniforms evidently went up to a size 28. Now I'm not one who would insist that there ought to be a size limit of size 6 and a weight limit of 95 pounds or anything, but isn't there a point where those extra pounds do, um, affect how they're able to do their job?

It's like they think they're Chicago police officers with 25 years on the force. At least when I was growing up, there was one physical exam when a man joined the force, so you could tell how long he'd been on the force simply with a single glance at his rear end.

Also, the same guy who couldn't figure out schedule SE, and himself has admitted that the economic models he was using couldn't predict the economy more than a month into the future, is claiming that the stimulus (oops, "spend-u-more") package is "on the right path."

With all due respect, if Geithner were to give stock tips, I think the contrarians would make a mint, if you catch my drift.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on California and the "Cash for Clunkers" program

My friend Chet reminded me of this; apparently Kahleefornja is giving out IOUs instead of actual funds to pay its debts these days. It's the only state to do so since the Depression (though Illinois may join them, I believe), and it reminds me of playing Monopoly as a kid.

I would play, but my brother loved the game to the point where he would finagle the issuing of IOUs when luck turned against him. The end result? A brother and a father tired of accepting IOUs, a longer game, and the final result unchanged; my brother always lost with IOUs.

The same result I expect with Kahleefornja, of course. Bankruptcy judges are waiting!

And I was thinking this morning about the "Cash for Clunkers" program. If we can assume that a person has a vehicle with about 100,000 miles and 18mpg, and trades on on an average sedan with 24mpg, one could use about 800 fewer gallons of fuel over the "expected" 50,000 miles of life left on the car.

Maybe. Of course, if it's a true clunker, it doesn't have that kind of mileage in it.

In return, one melts down two tons of old steel and makes it into two tons of new steel and aluminium, and in doing use the equivalent of about four tons of petroleum, or the equivalent of about 1500 gallons of fuel.

Or, since you're burning coal, not oil, probably the carbon equivalent of about 2-3000 gallons of fuel. While of course you'd be buying a new car in a certain amount of time, the end result is that the environmental effect of this bill is probably a wash.

As I've noted before, one definition of "environmentalist" is "person who cannot do math."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thoughts for the Pelosi/Reid/Obama recession

If you're (as I have) suffering some of the effects of the current recession, my wife and I have some thoughts that may be helpful.

1. Learn to buy not clothes, but a wardrobe. 18" of closet space can be entirely sufficient for a well dressed man. Probably somewhat more for a woman, but certain essentials can save you a lot of money while allowing you to enjoy better quality items, too.

2. Stop buying kitchen appliances and create a kitchen. My family eats for about as much as food stamps would allocate, but you wouldn't know it unless you saw the grocery bills.

3. Learn how much your "stuff" is costing you. A $500 sofa seems cheap until you count the 200 square feet that you add to your house to house it, and lots of inexpensive clothes seem "cheap" need a new walk-in closet or storage space to house them.

4. Contemplate what the real cost of the attitudes one sees on the idiot box, or at the movies, might be.

5. Consider that the failure to meet a budget, or keep out of debt, just might be a fairly accurate barometer of your ability to apply "Thou shalt not covet..." to your life. Pursue contentment, and see what happens.

Aiding and abetting

Heard that many thousands were at the Michael Jackson funeral, and millions more watched on TV, and had the thought that these people--and even more, those in his entourage--are likely guilty, morally if not legally speaking, of aiding and abetting the circumstances of his death. Yes, he might have simply ignored those people, but perhaps if enough people challenged him, he might have had a chance. Instead, too many simply kept on buying his records and funding his demise.

The same thing applies to those around Gov. Mark Sanford; they, by not challenging his behavior (starting by not going to church), are guilty in the disaster which was inflicted on his family and his state. And, of course, the same thing applies to any number of other people who have gotten themselves into trouble. As the prophet Nathan would tell us, love loves enough to tell people things that hurt at the time.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Thoughts on the Palin resignation

...on my part are not too many except for one; if it is indeed true that the Palins have accrued $500,000 in legal bills, and the state of Alaska four times as much, it's a wonderful demonstration of the need for a "loser pays" legal system--where plaintiffs who lose their case (all 15 ethics complaints against the Palins were dismissed) pay the legal bills of the winning defendants.

Most of the other claims don't make sense to me, but reality is that if the (frivolous) ethics complaints were truly bleeding her and her family dry, I can see a move like this to stem it.

This also seems to be a clear demonstration of the fact that many people apparently cannot get it through their heads that the courts are intended for real issues, not this kind of harassment.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The reality of daycare

Ever contemplate that one big reason that feminists and pro-government types love daycare--and promote it whenever they can--is that the family is the great bulwark against socialism, and one of the greatest ways faith and morality are passed down is through the loving care of Mother?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gratitude for unemployment

And no, not just because I'll be sending less tax money to the government in the process, although that's certainly an itty-bitty part of it. (see Lori Borgman's column today if you want politics here today)

But really, I'm grateful for a lot of things. Time with the family. More involvement with homeschooling. Getting more people familiar with fine sewing, along with my wife. Making a few bookshelves for our home. Getting a good garden going.

More time to serve the church in helping others and mowing. Cooking some new things (my job search would be different if being a chef paid better at beginning levels). Learning a bit of Latin and Logic (long time goals, really). Learning how much our family can reduce its budget--and learning that it's really not that painful. Getting myself, and the family, in a little bit better shape. Helping my extended family get their businesses running--and learning about the possibilities for myself as well.

That is, though, coming to an end soon. I've accepted a new job down in Waseca, which looks like a very good opportunity. Even if it turns out not to be so, it's income in an era where most of those in the District of Columbia seem to be doing their best to follow every mistake made by Hoover and Roosevelt--the mistakes that created and sustained the Great Depression. I'll at least be trying to follow what my grandfather did to do pretty well by himself at that time.

And so I'm grateful. I hope you are, too.