Friday, August 28, 2015

A strong hat tip

.....goes out to "Mr. Money Mustasche", as profiled in the Art of Manliness, who has done Dave Ramsey one better by apparently managing to retire at age 30 despite not having huge stock options, executive pay, and the like.  As one would infer from reading The Millionaire Next Door, Pete and his family achieved financial freedom the old fashioned way--by living well below their means and devoting themselves to saving. 

Now I've obviously not achieved the same freedom as he has--for starters, six children instead of one and tithing slows down my saving for reasons I do not regret at all--but there are a number of things he recommends that I can wholeheartedly endorse.  For starters, he's a big proponent of living a bit tougher and riding a bicycle when possible--and that includes when that white stuff is on the ground.  Word.  I especially like this little bit about bicycles--it's a nice parallel to something I wrote a few years back, ROI on a $10,000 bicycle.  He's also an environmentalist who is honest about "eco" cars, noting that you have to burn a lot of fuel to create a Prius or a Tesla.

A final thing I like about Pete; everything he does appears to be free to those who would follow him.  Well done, Pete, and God bless you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thoughts on Target and marketing of toys

Many on "my side of the aisle", including Suzanne Venker, are up in arms because apparently Target is phasing out the gender labeling of toys.  Now I concur fully with Mrs. Venker's assertion that boys are innately different from girls, and that smart toy retailers ought to group the toys usually liked by boys in a separate area from those favored by girls.

But that said, as the daddy of four (not so little anymore) girls, it strikes me that when I walk into the "girls'" section of a toy store, I am bombarded by such an avalanche of pink that I have to wonder whether I'm in a toy store or the visitor's locker room at Kinick Stadium.  (that, or maybe an abandoned brothel or something?) 

It's hideous, and quite frankly unnecessary, because what little girl needs pink to figure out she likes that china doll, and what boy needs camo to figure out he wants a baseball bat?  It's worth noting that the 1950 Schwinn catalog doesn't use garish shades of pink to help girls figure out that they wanted a bike with a drop bar.  The company simply knew that those who wore skirts (or kilts I guess) would want that feature.

Kudos to Target for taking a little step back towards sanity in these matters. 

Common experience?

Apparently, Duke University is recommending that incoming students read a book noted for its salacious content and images as a part of their "Common Experience" program.  Now this is interesting not really because of the intellectual content--I remember that "Gravity's Rainbow" was assigned to my freshman English class when I was a young skull full of mush, and it's got its coarser parts--but rather because it's got a number of questionable images, and because it's supposedly about the "common experience" of incoming freshmen. 

Regarding the images, it's interesting because anyone who saw the 1968 movie "Romeo and Juliet" during high school English class probably remembers only about ten seconds of the movie--and which ten seconds depends on whether you find Olivia Hussey or Leonard Whiting more interesting, if you catch my drift.  So if one desires to impact the minds of incoming students, a graphic novel of the likes of  Fun Home is an odd choice, to put it mildly. 

Or, to be more blunt, a university still dealing with the lacrosse case of 2006, and lampooned by Tom Wolfe in I am Charlotte Simmons, might want to shy away from actions that would likely increase the sexual tension among incoming freshmen.

More importantly, putting the situation described in Fun Home as a normal, "common", it's normal or common for kids to be a lesbian raised by a closeted homosexual who apparently was guilty of molesting high school boys, and then to write a graphic novel depicting many phases of this?  Really?

From what I've read--which does not include the book--I have no trouble with the argument that Fun Home may be a significant book that ought to be read by all kinds of people, including fundamental Christians.  It raises all kinds of questions that ought to interest us.  By choosing the book for common experience, however, it seems to me that Duke is not as interested in raising the questions as it is in giving the politically correct answers.

In other words, it's yet another sign of the death--a suicide, really--of real education in prestigious academies like Duke.  Just what Tom Wolfe noted in I am Charlotte Simmons.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If Hilliary Clinton, Lois Lerner, and

....Caroline Kennedy (among other senior embassy staffers) were all using (likely) unsecured private email accounts for conducting official business, one has to wonder whether the issue is their boss, or whether multiple Presidents--not to mention FOIA recipients and auditing agencies--have missed the fact that multiple government agencies have allowed leaders and others to ignore basic data security procedures.

It also strikes me that a great way to improve the situation is to end the practice of lifelong tenure and pensions for government workers, both of which promote the kind of "on the job retirement" for which government employees are rightly infamous.  To put it gently, it appears that multiple departments need a little bit of the expertise that private sector workers get in employee orientation.  Loosening the golden shackles would be a big improvement.

Friday, August 21, 2015

On state sponsorship of terrorism

Way back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, when I was in college, I took a history class about the 19th century in Europe, and a particular story the professor related still resonates in my mind.

Apparently, at some point in the late 19th century, members of the Reichstag and other influential Germans became very concerned about the situation in Cameroon.  French forces in neighboring French colonies greatly outnumbered the German force in Cameroon, and they wanted Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to reinforce the German garrison.

When von Bismarck refused, they asked why.  So he asked them if it would it be an act of war if French forces invaded Cameroon.  They admitted that yes, it would be an act of war.  Bismarck then pointed out that if the French desired war with Germany, they would get a war along the Rhine.

Apparently there was no more discussion after that; the point had been made.  And it strikes me that when we have state sponsors of terrorism--say like Iran--maybe this ought to be our policy.  Quit messing around with containing proxy armies and strike state sponsors of terrorism at home.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Socialism at work.....

Reports from Venezuela indicate that a possum infestation on the 9th floor of a Venezuelan hospital in AnzoĆ”tegui has resulted in the deaths of 17 newborns.   Now it was funny, if nasty, that a nation that has vast pulpwood forests cannot provide itself sufficient toilet paper.  This, however, is something that should persuade even the most ardent Chavezistas of the truth of Reagan's adage; if you brought socialism to the Sahara, they'd soon have a shortage of sand.

End socialism; it's for the children.  Literally.

Update: reports indicate that Venezuela is also running short of food.  Again, impressive (or more accurately, depressive) that a nation so rich in natural resources to lack something so basic.  But that said, Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe until Lenin and Stalin got a hold of it.  Lesson learned: socialism kills.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It boggles the mind.....

.....that the Obama administration, which began negotiations with Iran under the premiss that Iran could not be trusted to adhere to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, not only decided to allow "secret deals" into the new agreement, but consented to allow Iran to police itself in inspections of its nuclear facilities.

In related news, I'll be approaching my boss about writing my own reviews--I wonder if he'll catch on that I'm getting huge bonuses and a promotion every year. 

Knocking it out of the park again.... Walter Williams' latest column, which points out that at the same time we're contemplating putting women into infantry combat, we're also creating safe rooms with puppies, crayons, and stuffed animals for students who cannot handle it when someone disagrees with them and presents evidence to prove their point.  Williams rightly wonders whether there will be safe rooms in combat where traumatized soldiers can cuddle puppies and see if they can still color in between the lines, too.

Seems to me that in a country where the President, the former Secretary of State, and a top "Republican" candidate show clear signs of narcissistic personality disorder, the very last thing we need is to create hiding places from unpleasant truths.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Speak Loudly and Drop that Stick!

...seems to be the mantra of the Obama administration, which is following up the Iran deal--where the inability of Iran to abide by one treaty (the nuclear non-proliferation treaty) was deemed a reason to conclude a new deal with that country--by "warning" the People's Republic of China not to use spies to pressure Chinese ex-pats to return to China.

Um, yeah.....the PRC is breaking our laws to send spies here to pressure those who have left to return, including threats against family members still in the PRC, and they're going to heed a moral argument from Mr. Obama and his staff?  All I can say is "good luck with that, Mr. President."

Or, more directly, "Mr. President, zip it and pick up the stick.  They will pay attention to you a little more when a few dozen of their agents are in jail, and a few hundred more dissidents are in the U.S. on a visa given for asylum seekers."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My experience with sensitive information

I've made this comment elsewhere, but one thing that will illustrate how big of a deal Hilliary Clinton's email server is is my experience working for a defense contractor in Redondo Beach (think "RTX" from "Falcon and the Snowman").  Although I never held any level of security clearance, it was made very clear at new employee orientation that if you were found mishandling any level of sensitive or classified information, you would be having a very unpleasant meeting with human resources when the matter was found out, and in many cases that would be just prior to (or sometimes after) an even more unpleasant meeting with the FBI or other government officials.  Entire floors and buildings devoted to classified work were behind doors locked to other employees without security clearances--or would be denied even to those with security clearances, but without direct involvement in the project.

In other work I've done where classified and otherwise sensitive information was at hand (ITAR especially), similar procedures were followed.  For the ITAR work, the one non-citizen in the plant was named so we would not show him that data. 

In both cases, it was very clear, and routinely so, that if you mishandled this data, you would quickly find yourself looking for a job, and probably for a good lawyer as well.  Even finding yourself in a room where the matter might be discussed was a matter for concern--let's keep in mind that the Soviets obtained the information necessary to build the atomic bomb and ultraquiet submarines through espionage.  Who knows what they got from Ed Snowden. 

And had I told people at "RTX" or my other employer that I'd be handling my job from my home email, I guarantee you that I'd have been having that very uncomfortable talk with human resources that very day, and depending on the circumstances, the FBI probably would have had my computer before nightfall. 

So for Hilliary to get away with this this just boggles the mind, really.  Some people belong in prison here, and not just the former Secretary of State.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

We stand with Israel

Well, at least Mrs. Bubba and one of our "Bubba-ettes" do.  On the left, Beautifeel,, still in great condition after 15 years, and on the right, new Naot, both from Israel.  They sure make good shoes over there.

Seriously, we stand with Israel and against those who would act as if the Holocaust never happened while working towards another one, not to mention those who would provide over one hundred billion dollars towards Iran's terrorist efforts.  May the mullahs of Iran, and those who stand with them, end up at ground zero of the most terrifying weapon ever developed in Iowa--the hog doot cannon made infamous by Dave Barry.  And may Persia recover its greatness and start producing great Shirazes again.

And  here's a cool shot that another Bubba-ette made recently. 

Just serious coolness there.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Help for Debbie Wasserman Schultz

In a pair of recent videos, DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has found herself hilariously unable to enunciate the differences between Democrats and Socialists.  Well, I'm here to help.

Socialists favor the centralized control and ownership of capital.  Democrats only favor that in certain areas, like student loan funding and K-12 education. 

More often, Democrats favor government control of the use of capital (physical, intellectual, etc..), but with private ownership--a "bundling" of the government with the private sector.   They also favor the integration of the state into all sorts of decisions, downgrading things like religious liberty in the process.  You may know this "bundling" by its Italian name: Fascismo.

I'm sure Ms. Schultz will be very, very grateful for my help here.  You're welcome, Ms. Schultz!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

And here's the butcher's bill......

Now I cannot blame minority communities and others for being unhappy with how Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and others have died in police custody or in confrontations with the police, but recent events in Baltimore (and other cities) indicate how much is at stake for those very communities.  To wit, the homicide rate in Baltimore is about 70 higher than last year and is on pace to reach close to 300, and the drug trade is apparently exploding because the police have been intimidated out of the most dangerous neighborhoods.  Given an overall population of 622,000 people, this murder rate places Baltimore in select company--with Gary, Detroit, and the District of Columbia.

Now this doesn't excuse police misbehavior.  Sure, put an accelerometer in the transport vehicles and punish those who exceed reasonable targets.  Review procedures and get body microphones and cameras on police so people can say "roll tape" when allegations are made?  Absolutely.  Hire lawyers and detectives to review evidence to uncover corrupt investigators and prosecutors who cover up police wrongdoing?  Absolutely.

Chase police out of your neighborhoods?  Think before you act, folks.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Yikes, and huh?

Denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. has started a new initiative to recycle their clothing, citing their studies which indicate that Americans discard about 28 billion pounds of clothing year--about 86 pounds for every man, woman, and child.  To draw a picture, that's about 50 pairs of mid-weight denim jeans each and every year.  Or, for a more representative picture:

7 pairs of jeans and slacks (10 lbs)
12 pair of underwear (1-2 lbs)
12 pair of socks (1-2 lbs)
15 t-shirts and undershirts (15 lbs)
5 pair of shorts (4 lbs)
2 pairs of sweats (6 lbs)
1 coat (5 lbs)
9 sweaters (20 lbs)
2 suits (7 lbs)
5 pairs of shoes (10 lbs) 5-7 lbs of miscellaneous items. 

The significance of this is that this is.....close to my entire wardrobe, and I have yet to achieve Elizabeth Cline-greatness in terms of reducing the amount of clothes I own.  Moreover, my jeans and slacks last from 3-10 years, and it is a rare sweater or coat that I own that does not last at least a decade.  Apart from running shoes, shoes are a similar case.   The same holds for the rest of our family--we give away a fair amount of clothing (much of which we are given), but we do not throw much away.  Certainly not the 75 pounds per person Levi's suggests go into the dumpster.

But let us assume that Levi Strauss' numbers are correct, and that the average American throws away about as many clothes each year as I own.  What then?

Let's consider the fact that all fabrics are made of yarns that are spun, and that fabrics hold together due to how the individual fibers "grasp" one another.  So when you undo all that will find that you've shortened the fibers and reduced their ability to be spun well.  In other words, as anyone who has ever bought recycled wool products will tell you, recycling fibers tends to produce an inferior fabric that doesn't hang or wear well--and you will "recycle" (discard) even more clothing than you were throwing away before.

Or, put differently, if you want to be environmentally sound in your wardrobe, recycling isn't the way to go about it.  Instead, buy good quality garments that are not at the bleeding edge of fashion, get them adjusted to fit you, mend them as needed, and wear them until they're fit for the rag bin.

Or, in the case of a pair of slacks I wore for a decade, you can make the remaining good fabric into cool pants for your three year old son.    How many three year olds have pants made of Super 100s wool--pants that last, despite being made from 10 year old slacks, much better than anything we've gotten for him at the store?