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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

0-Fer!



William Clay Ford, the owner of the Lions for what seems like millenia--long, dark, purgatorial centuries, mind you--is the ownership equivalent of Captain Ahab. Except he's spent the last four decades hunting for a Great White Clue. In his decision to retain as general manager Martin Mayhew, for years the caddy for the National Punchline Matt Millen, he shows that once again he's the Slowest Harpoon In The West. I mean, it's not like Bill Parcells is going to be avai---oops. Never mind. WCF knows what he's doing. If you keep ramming the iceberg, eventually it's going to crack, right?

The fish rots from the head. And this one's been rotting for a generation.

Go ahead, fans of teams with more competent NFL ownership (that would be all of them)--pile on. I can't really care much anymore.

May God have mercy on her soul.

AIDS truther Christine Maggiore is dead at 52.

Proceeded by rivers of blood. An emblem of the decay of the Western mind.

Following the "If You Can't Say Something Nice..." adage, here are my thoughts about her:












.

Hello, ladies!

Dennis Prager's essay on a wife agreeing to marital-bonding even when she's not in the mood is stirring up an electronic kerfuffle.

Part of the problem is that he buried the caveat at the end:

If her husband is a decent man -- if he is not, nothing written here applies

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

And a big hat tip o' thanks to Kasia, who gave--as in gifted--us her spare DVD player, which is doing yeoman's work today, playing D3's Wall-E DVD. She even delivered it, too. Big giganto thanks from all of us!

Nothing profound from this side today. Here's Robert Earl Keene's Merry Christmas From The Family to send you out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No, really--make yourself at home.

Heather informs me that last night she slept on the back of my neck. I have no difficulty believing that.





I attempted to have chicken soup last night. Cat was intrigued. I managed to finish. Somehow. She also apparently tried to eat raw cookie dough.

Photos courtesy of CM's iPhone. I'll post Maddie's artsy compositions later. Seriously--I rather like them.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Habemus felinum?

So, it's cold yesterday evening. As in single digits (fahrenheit, for my metrified readers), with a wind gusting into the 30 MPH range.

CourageMan arrived (apparently my blats of complaint were unnecessary) Saturday (check your e-mail, Woodrow). We visited the DIA to avoid cabin fever and to exhaust the children, and had great chicken enchiladas for dinner. My M-i-L was visiting and we were playing the kids version of Apples to Apples, a neat word association game.

Heather and Rachel cheat--the force must be strong with them.

CM and my wife heard the knock at the door, and CM graciously answered it.

Garble garble garble. Two of the local kids (at least they were bundled up) were at the door.

CM: "Uh, no, that's not their cat."

He then turned to look at me, executing the handoff.

Kid 1: "We saw this kitten at your door, wanting to get in. It'll freeze if it stays outside."

Me: [Long exhalation, followed by extending my hand to receive the Luckiest Kitten in Michigan.]

Another sigh.

Somewhere deep inside, I recognized the Greek-tragic inevitability of what was occurring.

"You're right--I'll take it."

I even mumbled "thanks" for some reason.

Relieved, the kids left, their good deed complete.

He/she/it was a kitten, all right. All of about 3 months old, to my surprise. White with gray spots, golden eyes. In good shape, if underfed.

And delighted to be indoors. At least until Lucy came galumping up to see the visitor at maximum speed.

Then I discovered that the kitten was also fully-clawed.

Must get higher! Must get higher fast!

The disappointed dog was bundled to her cage and after I extracted the cat from my flesh, I sat down with the surprise visitor, who decided it wanted to go hide for a moment. Under the Christmas tree proves to be ideal.

"Oooohhhh...." chorus the children. Except for Louis, whose excited "Eeeeeeeeee!" is his approximation.

Must pet the kitten, who slowly works its way out from under the tree. Maddie insisted on calling it a "she." Heather wonders for a while if it is Spring's Luckiest Cat. No, I knew that for sure--way too small, if similar coloration.

Plus, my child bride confirmed that it is indeed a "she." Lucky was a lad.

Molly watched the proceedings with antarctic hostility. "What fresh Hell..." But she doesn't confront the kitten, nor does she flee the premises. "I'm too old for this..."

Rachel chimed in with a question: "What do we name her?"

As it turns out, Heather has leftover ibuprofen from Louis' birth.

"Don't get attached," warns Canute/Dad.

I got a tin of cat food down and she proceeded to inhale it in two sittings. Explore, flee, clean self, accept petting, repeat. She was introduced to the litter box and is now using it after one encounter with the bath mat.

Ms.-Used-Up-Three-Lives has also learned how to deter the needlessly enthusastic dog with a clawed shot to the latter's nose, who yelped more in shock than pain.

They--those who outnumber me--are calling her "Gladys." Mostly Heather, but Maddie's catching on, too. She's in very good shape overall, although it took her about a half hour to completely shake the cold out of her bones. I think she may have lost some skin on the bridge of her nose, too, but that's small potatoes.

My vote for a name is "Loviatar," given the cold and pain, but that's headed for veto. Maybe I'll split the difference with them. How about "Ice-G"?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Need a little help.

Yes, buried at work. No, I don't need your help for that. Unless, of course, you have mastered time travel.

But you might be able to help me with these items:

1. Does Bailey's Irish Cream spoil/skunk? It is unopened.

2. Do we need a new DVD player? It cut out in the middle of one of our kids' movies, displaying "Stop" and "HD7" (?--I think). It's not the disk--I put a new one in and it did the same thing. What's more, it was a bugger getting it to open.

3. Want to shovel my sidewalks? We got the biggest December snowfall in decades overnight and it's still continuing.

4. Is there some way to get CM to answer his e-mail that doesn't involve threats from ninjas/mafiosi/six foot talking rabbits?

5. Wish Louis a happy birthday--he was born at 1:58pm, one year ago today.


And finally, a quiz: parthogenesis--yea or nay?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quick DVD review.

I had a chance to watch Cloverfield over the weekend.

Short take: it's very good. I didn't have a problem with the shaky camera, but that's probably because I didn't see it in the theatre. The editing is crucial, as it is what keeps it fresh and moving--you have a sense of "real time" immediacy, but the film covers just shy of seven hours chronologically (in 80 minutes of film time).

Despite the violent subject matter--monster emerges from the sea and decides to trash Manhattan--the film is not gory and keeps the worst matter offscreen or tastefully obscured.

Yes, it owes an obvious debt to Godzilla (the hero of the film just misses going to Japan to avoid the monster, nudgenudge) and plays like that at times. It also strongly reminded me of the sadly-neglected Miracle Mile, which has a similar plot. There are also inescapable nods to 9/11, especially with the destruction of the Woolworth Building and the shockwave of dust which follows. In fact, one of the commentaries admits that Youtubes of 9/11 personal home videos guided the project.

The characters are more types than people: the hero, the damsel in distress, the genuinely funny sidekick, the mother hen, the loner. But they are likeable enough, and the scene where the hero decides to venture into the war zone to rescue his lady love is very well done. The military is depicted as brave and competent, if outmatched, and there's no suggestion of X-Filesish conspiracy here (except in one supposition by the funny sidekick who admits he just wants to hear himself talk).

Well worth a rent.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Storm heaven.

Jeff Culbreath had a heart attack and is in the hospital.

Jeff is one of those blogosphere guys I've always wanted to meet. Just a couple of hours ago I reloaded my day planner with the business cards I bought from his printing company (which he later sold to take up farming).

It's not right.

Pray for him and his family.

[Update, 12/12/08: See Comment 35: No heart attack after all, and he's going to be coming home. Deo gratias.]

Overdue--for Kasia.

Just the thing for preparing for a wedding: recommendations for books on the Crusades.

Sir Steven Runciman's Crusade opus.

What Were the Crusades? by Jonathan Riley-Smith. I got this for Heather in 2007. Hers is the brain to pick about it.

The Crusades: A Short History, by Jonathan Riley-Smith.

Atlas of the Crusades, edited by Jonathan Riley-Smith.

Byzantium and the Crusades by Jonathan Harris.

Brief explanation: Sir Steven's classic is a little creaky, but still quite respected. He also tends to be more sympathetic to the Byzantines (especially) and the Muslims. But not a disqualifying bias by any means.

Riley-Smith is probably the best Crusades historian in the field today. Also, he takes a broader view of crusading, looking at wars outside of the Levant. The Atlas is fantastic in showing the breadth of the conflicts. He makes a pretty solid argument that elements of crusading continued into the late 17th Century, with the wars against the Ottomans. Also, he tries to understand the Crusaders at their own level, and not from (presumed) perfect moral hindsight.

Harris' work is a solid survey of the clash, first of worldviews, then of swords, between Eastern and Western Christians, as a result of crusading.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008





Whee.

I think I saw the Irony Singularity yesterday, just north of Toledo. A car with two bumperstickers, the first the "Coexist" one spelled with various religious symbols. The second one the Darwin Fish.

Modus vivendi to you, too.

Attention, residents of metropolitan Toledo: I truly dislike the new I-280 bridge. Oh, it looks fine--striking, really. But the railings wouldn't stop a Segway from going over. Also someone told me that there are structural problems with some of the support mechanisms. Already.

In other words, you have the Zilwaukee Bridge South.

Oh, and I managed to get on the air during a WDFN segment yesterday, during the "No Effin Way!" bit Stoney and Wojo do. It boils down to this: you offer up something entirely unshocking and predictable and the hosts respond with the tagline and dramatic soap opera music worthy of the Dramatic Prairie Dog.

Mine was "Peter King was cliche' during his column this week." The screener chortled and put me on the air. I had the last word for the segment.

Fame!/
I'm gonna live forever...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Super Terrific Happy Omnibus Fun Post!

Busier than a one-legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond. So you get this.

First, some genuine atonement for Your Moment of Hoff: a link to Celebration, by Kool and the Gang.

Hey, a Michigan sports program that actually rears up and shocks people in a good way. UCLA wasn't a fluke, and Beilein looks like a good coach. I listened to the last 10 minutes or so running my errands Saturday. Fundamentals and free throw shooting. Who'd a thunk it?

Second, the BCS pairings are out. Sorry, Tide fans. I was rooting for you, fwiw. Urban Meyer makes me twitch. I think I'm most intrigued by the Orange Bowl. And since I'm completely free on that day...

Third--the "authors' preferred edition" of Inferno is very good. Yes, there's additional material (and one interesting deletion). Not a lot of new stuff--maybe 1500 words, absolute tops. But it is worthwhile, and in one case, (intentionally) laugh out loud hilarious. Which, given the subject matter, is an achievement.

Also, the authors have appended an afterward which explains the genesis of the book and the rather simple secret of their successful collaborative method. The theological outlook of the book and the sequel are also spelled out, and I'm curious to see how they handle it.

The sequel is eagerly awaited.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bloomington, Indiana Implements Cutting-Edge "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy for Rapists.

Victor Morton, wearing his Washington Times hat, has the details here.


The videotape shows Lila Rose, the president of a university pro-life group and a brunette, posing as a blonde 13-year-old girl named "Brianna" and telling the Planned Parenthood nurse at the clinic in Bloomington, Ind., that she is pregnant by a 31-year-old man.

"I am supposed to report [you] to Child Protective Services," says the nurse on the videotape, though assuring "Brianna" she will not do so if she can tell a plausible different story.

"I didn't hear the age. I don't want to know the age," the nurse says at a later point on the tape.

* * *

A city spokesman said Thursday that the Bloomington City Police is not investigating the clinic or the nurse for possibly violating the statutory-rape notification law, but is beefing up security around the facility to protect it from a possible backlash.

"There's no investigation taking place, but they have stepped up patrols around the area," said Danny Lopez, communications director for the City of Bloomington. Patrols have been stepped up in case anybody has a strong reaction to the situation, but he said there have been no problems.

From me to you.

Sorry for the limited posting lately. To make up for it, a musical interlude.



What can I say?

I care.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zach Frey for Bishop!

Just when you thought the campaign season was over...

The Episcopal diocese for da Yoopers is open.

Thanks to Chris for the heads up.

Bastards.

This is Moshe Holtzberg, a two year old boy whose parents were tortured and murdered during the Bombay terrorist atrocity because of the fact they were Jewish.

He wants his mother.

He'll never see her again in this life.



There was no concession, no root cause remedy, no handshake across a negotiating table that would have dissuaded his parents' murderers.

They don't want to share the planet with anyone else, and this wish should be granted as quickly--and ironically--as possible.

Pour encourager les autres.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back from the northlands.

Had a mostly good Thanksgiving, Louis' grim encounter with the glass door of the fireplace excluded. A second degree burn covering half of the palm of his left hand. I was three feet away and didn't get there in time.

The emergency room personnel at Mid-Michigan Hospital in Clare are top-notch. He's going to be fine, and no permanent damage. That helps, but not all the way. He's himself, right now roaming through the living room jabbering at an inconvenient blanket.

Other than that, a great time. We had an early Christmas with Mom, Dad and my bro's family. BTW, Doug's been promoted to a supervisory role with Customs and Border Protection. Yes, he's gone over to The Man™, sorry to report. Everyone had a great time and the car-top carrier successfully brought back the loot, which included (for me) the authors' (Niven and Pournelle, not Dante) edition of Inferno, which I will sprint through soon as I get a free moment.

Love it up north. There's no sound like the wind surging through several thousand trees.

Certainly no sound like it in the concrete habitrail, that's for sure.

Hope you and yours had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"It's like a nightmare, isn't it? It just keeps getting worse and worse."

The Wolverines were dead man walking from mid-season on. I couldn't conjure a scenario for victory that didn't involve alien invasion/cracks in the earth, and sure enough, neither happened. The DC has to go--they squandered solid talent this year. And one of the new QBs better be the second coming of Pat White, too.

And to the Long National Punchline, the Detroit Lions: they're really going to do it. They're going to make the worst kind of history. Yesterday was the last realistic shot for a victory, facing rag-arm Jeff, who, naturally, picked them to pieces.

The last hypothetical shot at victory is the Vikings on December 7. But I think Peterson's going to run over them like an avalanche.

History in the making. The really bad news is that it will happen on the road, meaning no blackout.

Epic. Just epic.

"Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody banks today."

Citigroup gets a lollipop, a hug, and $326 bn in additional funds and guarantees from the taxpayer. Over the course of a weekend, no less.

I wonder if their CEO has a corporate jet.

Odd that no one's even asking.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Let me see if I have this straight.

(1) Dubious financial minds come up with even more dubious [read: bullshit] derivative "securities" upon which transactions are based, and our Congressional masters sling the financial industry $700bn, no questions asked. In fact, the entire premise upon which the bailout was approved even gets changed in midstream, but no worries.

(2) Auto industry which employs hundreds of thousands (over a million if you kick in the cascade effects) and remains the largest part of the American manufacturing base asks for $25bn to get it through until new cost-saving labor agreements and reduced legacy costs kick in, and the answer is "Clear it with Countrywide Chris and Subprime Barney first." Oh, and you boot John Dingell for the Mayor of Whoville in the process.

Yeah, we're watching here in Michigan. Which reminds me, a word of advice for Senator Dick Shelby: I can't recommend sticking your schnozz north of Toledo for the foreseeable future--you've become a household name on sports radio, of all things. And not remotely in a good way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Because there's no better way to get yourself in an Advent state of mind.

Than to clobber elves with snowballs in this classic timewaster.

You're welcome.

Myself, I'd go, run around the house chanting in Latin, spitting dyed creamed corn at everybody and generally have a good time with the family.

But that's just me.

My father's family, by contrast, sees mental illness as a stigma and has always disagreed with my approach to treatment. Recently, they invited me to my grandmother's birthday party. When I arrived, everyone was sitting solemnly around the living room, and the local pastor was there. He calmly explained to me that I was not actually mentally ill but possessed by agents of Satan and in need of an exorcism. I choked back tears as I explained to them that I did not need any demons driven out, and the evening ended awkwardly. Now they've invited me for Thanksgiving...

Back when country music was country music.

And not Nashville pop.

Mark Sullivan links to a nice tribute to Johnny "Battle of New Orleans" Horton.

Why don't we just all save everybody the time and

nuke my home State instead? The unemployment rate just hit 9.3%. I guess some folks are nostalgic for 20%.

Yes, the leaders of the Smaller-by-the-Day 3 are tone-deaf louts.

And for that, we'll drop the hammer on everybody? In every associated industry across the country?

Say, I don't remember people questioning how AIG or Bear Stearns' CEOs tooled around the country.

Lest we forget, not everybody on the Hill is Mr. Smith, either.

Oh, and here's a solid rebuttal of Romney's "Let 'em eat Chapter 11" argument, which made (a few) good points:

But what Romney got wrong in his piece badly undercuts his strong points.

First, he gives the industry no credit for the huge steps already taken to restructure. He cites the inflated price of vehicles due to high benefits costs for retirees, but doesn't mention the significant off-load of those costs that was achieved with the latest labor contract. Certainly, the companies can do more, but the new cost structure, which kicks in next year, goes a long way toward making them competitive with foreign automakers.

Romney doesn't discuss the excess capacity that has been yanked out of all three automakers' production, so much so that they'll be able to more competitively price cars in a way they haven't for decades. He says nothing of the dramatic shift to making high-efficiency vehicles, which should kick into full gear by 2010.

Romney also fails to address how exactly he'd get rid of the expensive retiree benefits he decries, or what effect that would have in other parts of the economy. Yank health care from retired GM workers, for example, and they'll have to go elsewhere for those benefits, probably at a government expense that would exceed the cost of the assistance the auto companies are seeking. Does that make any sense?

Romney also suggests other things the industry has already done.
He insists management must recruit leaders from "unrelated" industries. But both Alan Mulally at Ford (Boeing) and Robert Nardelli at Chrysler (Home Depot) spent most of their careers doing other things. If outside expertise were a magic pill, both of those automakers would be healthy companies today.

Romney says management and the UAW must end the "enmity" that dooms their relationship, but doesn't even acknowledge the grand progress made on that front just in the last year. The labor contracts signed in 2007 were a wonderful example of both sides recognizing the others' needs, and their common interests.

What Romney gets most wrong, though, is the assumption that bankruptcy will somehow fix the problems he cites rather than exacerbate them and cause a raft of others.

How will the companies restructure when a bankruptcy obliterates sales? How will millions of job losses at the auto companies and their suppliers make it easier for the government to invest in the industry's technological future? Or for that matter, to sell cars?


Yes, this is personal. Rachel's godfather works at Ford and a lot of our friends are either Big 3 employees or work in associated industries.

"Because it's become art. I call it Entrope': With Gourds."

"It's a statement about how all things are passing."

"Daddy, mine has a river of mold and dirty water in it."

"Dead mold, sweetheart. The freezing weather's almost certainly killed it."

"Eeeewwww."

Fine, I'll get rid of the jack o'lanterns on the stoop.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Definitely worth a shot.

Henry Karlson at Vox Nova penned this fine open letter to President-elect Obama on life issues.

It hits all of them and presents the right tone as an opening invitation (which is important to remember--it isn't the final word).

This deserves a lot of publicity, so I'll take a risk and post it in its entirety (with a grateful hat-tip):

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama
November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.
If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.

Sincerely,

Deal W. Hudson
Christopher Blosser
Marjorie Campbell
Mark J. Coughlan
Rev. James A. Nowack
Craig D. Baker
Susan DeBoisblanc
Megan Stout
Joshua D. Brumfield
Ashley M. Brumfield
Michael J. Iafrate
Natalie Navarro
Matthew Talbot
Paul Mitchell
Todd Flowerday
Henry C Karlson III
Adam P Verslype
Josiah Neeley
Michael J. Deem
Katerina M. Deem
Natalie Mixa
Henry Newman
Anthony M. Annett
Mickey Jackson
Veronica Greenwell
Thomas Greenwell PhD
Robert C. Koerpel
Nate Wildermuth

New, Online Signatures:
Steve Dillard

Bailout redux--Wheeled edition.

Two interesting bits on bailing out the Detroit 3.

First, by Tom Piatak, noting the odd concern with economic purity from East Coasters and Sunbelters now that it's the Midwest's ox being gored.

Second, a handy bit of myth-busting showing that the Detroit automakers are, in the main, quality producers.

Myth No. 2

They build unreliable junk.

Reality

The creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and '90s are long gone. Consumer Reports recently found that "Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers." The independent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scored Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mercury, Pontiac and Lincoln brands' overall quality as high or higher than that of Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Power rated the Chevrolet Malibu the highest-quality midsize sedan. Both the Malibu and Ford Fusion scored better than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.


That said, despite my energetic arguments elsewhere, I have serious qualms about the merits of a bailout, at least as structured by Congress. A bridge loan to get them through the hurricane, yes. Micromanagement by Henry Waxman, no.

Then again, the cost of collapse is inconceivable.

0 and 16?

A distinct possibility for the Motor City Kitties.

And one I can't root for, even though some devout Lions fans are.

You'll never get rid of that stench--ever. Even though I dislike the collective idiocy and lack of talent that has brought the team to the brink of dubious history, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Matt Millen included.

It doesn't just stick to the team, either--it's a label for the entire area, one I want no part of.

Toss in the numbness from the Wolverines' epic pratfall this season, and it's been ipecac-through-a-beer-bong, football-wise.

Smoke if you got 'em--this is an open thread.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Throw SoCons from the train.

Happens every bad GOP election cycle and this year it's Charles Johnson's turn to develop a case of the vapors:


This [the David Frum] argument makes sense to us, and we’ve been holding forth in our comments on this very topic. If the GOP decides to go in the Bobby Jindal direction (fundamental Christianity, creationism, hard-line anti-abortionism, aggressively anti-gay rights), it will be committing political suicide. As much as anything else, this election was a referendum on the social conservative agenda, and the social conservatives did not win.


My first prescription for proponents of the Godbotherer Heave-Ho Project, is, as always, to snuggle into one's easy chair with a nice hot mug of Biteme.

With marshmallows.


Of course it makes sense to him--Johnson thinks ID is the next worse thing after Al Qaeda. And for a Californian, he seems to have missed how the residents of the Biggest Blue told gay marriage proponents to stuff it. Political suicide--perhaps not so much?


And 2008 was "a referendum on the social conservative agenda"? In what universe? The one where he tries to fend off Christianist hordes hurling their Bibles and rosaries at his mountain survivalist retreat, maybe. Abortion was mentioned at one debate (two if you count Saddleback). The issue was the economy, plain and simple, and big-spending Barack, with his promises of Much, Much More Spending won big and spending freeze Johnny lost.


Sounds like a referendum on economic conservativism to me. And economic conservatives lost.


Hey, I'm just using what passes for the logic in his argument.

Oh, and let's not forget McCain explicitly campaigning on a more muscular foreign policy. Lost to the candidate of International Chat, big time.

Sounds like a referendum on foreign policy conservatism to me. And the hawks lost.

Any idiot with an axe to grind (and Mr. Johnson has a glittering collection) can spin up the same arguments, of comparable degrees of worthlessness.

The election turned on disgust with George Bush and the financial crisis. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is simply hard at work trying to gore somebody else's ox.

[Thanks to Owen at Southern Appeal for the link.]

More on the Showdown at St. Martin de Porres.

Long-time FotB Maureen provided a link to The Smoking Gun, which has the police report and a mugshot of the star-crossed young protester. Apparently, the daily Massgoers were really, really hacked off:

We advised the parishoners to get off of him, at which time the w/m, John Samuel Ricci, was placed into handcuffs for his safety and our safety until we could ascertain what was going on.



On the bright side, the winter tourism industry will really come into its own.

Earth oscillating toward permanent ice age?

I report, you decide.

Or deride.

And now, for some drooling food pr0n

Metro Detroit's best burgers--via montage.

Your moment of economic horror for the day: the consequences of a bankrupt GM.

I can't believe I just typed "bankrupt GM":

The issue boils down to a historic proposition: Is what's good for GM still good for the country?

"If GM were to go into a free-fall bankruptcy and didn't pay its trade debts, then the entire domestic auto industry shuts down," says Rodriguez. The system — the domestic auto plants and their interconnected group of suppliers — is far bigger than GM. It includes 54 North American manufacturing plants and at least 4,000 so-called Tier 1 suppliers — firms that feed parts and subassemblies directly to those plants. That includes mom-and-pop outfits but also a dozen or so large companies such as Lear, Johnson Controls and GM's former captive Delphi. Beyond those are thousands of the suppliers' suppliers.


Although the Detroit Three directly employed about 240,000 people last year, according to the industry-allied Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., the multiplier effect is large, which is typical in manufacturing. Throw in the partsmakers and other suppliers, and you have an additional 974,000 jobs. Together, says CAR, these 1.2 million workers spend enough to keep 1.7 million more people employed. That gets you to 2.9 million jobs tied to the Detroit Three, and even if you discount the figures because of CAR's allegiance, it's a big number. Shut down Detroit, and the national unemployment rate heads toward 10% in a hurry.

Not to mention putting the State of Michigan into receivership. No, I'm not exaggerating on that one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Urge to eat brains...fading...

Things are getting much better around here. Yesterday, our recovering kids composed this (Maddie did the actual writing) on our dry-erase marker board:

Dear Mom and Dad:

You are the best Mom and Dad on Earth!
I hope you get better!
Mad bad pie man!
You'r the best!

Love, Maddie, Dale and Rachel

P.S. We love you!

Bonus question: Guess which one was Rachel's contribution.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.

Remember that happy talk about the stomach bug missing Heather and me? It's 50% accurate now. If that's not sufficient to guess who's the suffering party, remember that Heather's immune system laughs derisively at Ebola.


If you're going to spew, spew into this.



[Update, 11/8/08: And then there were two. Rachel has it now. And I look like a scarlet-eyed raccoon, having ruptured the capillaries in the skin around my eyes during last night's festivities. It was so bad I missed saying an office in the Liturgy of the Hours for the first time in four years. Prayers for the family requested. If this is rotovirus, we're in for a miserable ride.]

What am I missing here?

I'm talking about those recent essays calling upon Catholics who supported Obama to act as a restraining force on his policies for abortion, etc.

Exqueeze me? Baking powder? Asphinctersayswhat?

OK, so Zippy's is a rhetorical exercise, and no less illuminating for that--note the entertaining subject-change softshoe in the comments box there.

But let's say for the sake of argument that the bulk of them want to go that route (for counter-evidence, go here) and fully intend to tell the President "Whoa--stop right there."

On what basis could they credibly object? More to the point, why should President Obama take them seriously? It's not like he's betraying them--they signed on knowing where he stood. So much for their hypothetical objections to federal embryo farming.

More to the point, they've already conceded on non-industrialized abortion, having entrusted that portfolio to Doug Kmiec's mystical poverty-fighting unicorn, ridden into battle by the suitably-androgynous "Social Justice" (1) Fairy.

Sure, we're abolishing all of the modest limitations on abortion nationwide with FOCA and consigning the Hyde Amendment to the pyre, but it'll still come out a net plus with all of that new spending.

--Yours in Hope and Change,

Some Mid-Level Aide to the President.

P.S. Feel free to call us again starting some time in November 2011.

And they say pro-lifers are dupes of the GOP. What about Obama's pro-life contingent?

--------------
(1) "Social Justice" is not to be confused with actual Catholic Social Justice principles.

Just because.


Lots more picks at the link.

Projectiles.

Maddie and Dale were brought low by the barfing bug. They are better today, but Wednesday night was awful. God willing, it's stopped with them and doesn't go further. Heather was feeling a little out of sorts, but she recovered.

As I've told her time and again, she's not allowed to get sick.

[Crosses fingers.]

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

And now for my one moment of savage post-election recrimination.

Way to get bamboozled and hoodwinked by the human embryo cannibalization lobby, 53% of Michigan voters. Since you are impervious to arguments based on morality ("here, U of M--have one of my leftover kids. She's not all that cute and I wasn't going to do anything with her, anyway"), hard medical evidence (zilch-o results from ESCR--unless you like tumors) or medical progress (we're pretty damn close to getting pluripotent stem cells without dismemberment), let's try your wallet: every. Single. State. which has endorsed embryonic snake-oil has ended up funding it with taxpayer dollars. U of M has already built the frigging center. Hey, remember our budget crisis? No, I guess not.


Oh, and please note that there are already murmurings that our amended Constitution doesn't go far enough and will have to be amended to allow for factory farming if we are going to "remain competitive," as the soulless libertarian editorial goons at the Detroit News admitted. [When the News goes under--as it will soon, being the weakest of the two Detroit dailies--I will not shed the slightest tear for its editorial staff. The rest of the employees, yes. But I'll giggle at the unemployment of its utilitarian editorial board. I'll even give them the Vir Wave.]





America: It's More Carthage than Rome. Only without Hannibal's squeamishness.



Here's the Inside Catholic piece.

Let me know what you think.

Disappointed, but hardly surprised.

Congratulations to President-elect Obama. You have my prayers.

On a related note, I'll have something up on Inside Catholic later this afternoon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"And in news--sport."

OR--I'm Suffering From Electile Dysfunction and Need a Subject Change.

A.I. for Mr. Big Shot and Antonio McDyess?

Interesting...

FWIW, I've always liked the way Iverson plays (just so long as we're not talking about practice), and he was the only guy going for broke in the 2004 Olympics, which endeared him to me. All he does is score, and this will be the most complete supporting cast he's had in his career. I'll definitely be paying closer attention to the regular season.

All in all, it looks like a salary cap move, believe it or not.

I think it weakens them slightly, but the 'Stons wanted to give Rodney Stuckey a bigger role at point guard. Also, Chauncey had been subpar during the last two playoff runs. Still, he will be missed--we wouldn't have celebrated a championship in 2004 without him.

Oh, and thoughts on Culpepper signing to be the QB for Nobody's Team? He'd better have some of his old mobility, otherwise he'll be retiring again, tout suite.

Help Heather win a contest!

Over at the MCJ. She's captioned this picture of Episcopal overseers:



Speaking of going down swinging.

I spent two and a half hours GOTV phone-banking yesterday. Remarkably easy (we were hitting self-identified GOPers with a history of needing a kick to the backside). Don't have any real (as opposed to anecdotal) impressions, but I wasn't the only first timer.

Alas, no canvassing the undecided voters. Which meant I wasn't able to use my Barry White impression on the ladies and my R. Lee Ermey drill sergeant on the gents.

Oh, and another trespasser decided to try his origamy skills on my McCain sign (again sparing the No On Human Embryo Research sign), during the daylight (!) hours of Saturday while we were gone. I decided to respond by duct-taping a C battery to the sign, running a wire to the battery lead, taping that in place and digging a hole to run the other end of the wire into the ground. It won't do anything but make them think, but so far, so good.

Fighting for time.

Major-General Lew Wallace had been a rising star in the Union Army in 1862. He fought well during the Fort Donelson campaign and had the makings of a superb commander. Then came the disastrous battle of Shiloh, a horrific bloodbath which saw the Confederate Army of Tennessee come within a hairsbreadth of destroying Ulysses S. Grant's forces in a surprise attack. The career of Grant was nearly destroyed in the debacle. Wallace had no nearly.

He had been in charge of the Union reinforcements and had mishandled what were poorly-written orders by Grant. He marched to the aid of the Federals, found they were not there, then marched back too slowly to contribute decisively to the battle. Grant's career was saved by his brilliant record during the Donelson campaign.

Wallace had nothing comparable to fall back on and was kicked to an irrelevant command, an interesting what-if/if-only haunting him all the way.

In July 1864, however, Wallace returned to the front line. Or, rather, the front line found him.

In that blazing hot summer, Jubal Early's rebels came storming out of the Shenandoah, 15,000 strong.

Straight for Washington, D.C., the most fortified city in the world. Or at least it was when there were enough troops to man the walls.

However, the city had been emptied of most of its troops during the extremely bloody Overland campaign earlier that summer, as Grant ground his way to Richmond and ended up setting up a siege around that city and the crucial rail junction of Petersburg.

There were precious few troops at the capital itself, and Grant saw this nearly too late, finally dispatching the hardened veterans of the Sixth Corps, a division at a time, to the capital.

But they hadn't arrived in D.C. when Early's troops marched into Maryland, and disgraced and forgotten Lew Wallace was staring down the barrel of a cannon with almost nothing to stop them.

Until, at nearly the very last minute, the first of the Sixth Corps divisions arrived. Wallace deployed the veterans and some very green troops, including 100-day enlistees, at Monocacy Junction, Maryland. All told, he had roughly 6000 troops, but he'd chosen his ground well. After a day of see-saw fighting, greater numbers told and the Federals were driven from the field, having suffered 20% losses. But they had bought a day's delay and the Confederates were fought out and too tired to march immediately to Washington. The next day, Early's troops arrived at the Washington outworks and saw green conscripts manning the forts, and too few of them. As he got his men in line to attack, he saw a dust cloud to the south.

The rest of the Sixth Corps had arrived and marched into line, with more veterans behind them.

Game over, and Early knew it. To attack now would be folly, and after some skirmishing that saw a young Oliver Wendell Holmes roar "GET DOWN, YOU FOOL!" to a bemused President Lincoln who was visiting the fortifications, Early reluctantly retreated, ending the last Confederate invasion of the north. As Grant said in his memoirs:

If Early had been but one day earlier, he might have entered the capital before the arrival of the reinforcements I had sent. ... General Wallace contributed on this occasion by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by means of a victory.

Wallace, his honor partially restored, survived the war and later went on to write one of the greatest bestsellers of the 19th Century: Ben Hur.

Thanks for the history lesson, Dale, but is there a larger point?

Yep, there is.

This election is the pro-life movement's Battle of Monocacy. Sure, McCain blows an uncertain (or sometimes worse) trumpet on the life issues. No, he's not going to be able to reverse Roe if he gets elected. We're not going to win a decisive victory with him at the helm. But what a McCain triumph does is buy us time to consolidate and protect our (very real) gains and raise up or season the next generation of leaders. Those who can take the fight forward, the ones who have been more committed from the beginning and who breathe it and feel it differently from McCain's generation. Like Palin and Jindal, for starters.

I'm going into this with my eyes wide open, and I don't expect much. But holding the line is good enough, especially given the alternative. Which, after the capital falls, is a minimum of four years of desperate routs and rear-guard actions.

It's your pick, but there's something to be said for fighting even when you can't win the war that very day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Congratulations!

To long-time Friend of the Blog Gerard E, and Catholic bloggers Tom "Disputations" Kreitzberg and that one at the Donegal Express, on the ending of the Philadelphia championship drought.

I was actually favoring the Phillies slightly given that they had Brad Lidge as a closer. His comeback was one of the nice storylines.

Children and cameras.

Shelly has a story. And photos.

Oh, and I have to say this: now that fall has arrived for real, I'm really going to miss the Dialogue of the Deaf.

What's that?

The Dialogue of the Deaf is the shouted discussions across the street between our kids and Shelly and Brian's. It usually involves Kole and Rachel.

Kole: "CAN YOU COME OVER?"

Rachel: "WHAT? HEY, CAN WE COME OVER?"

Kole: "WHAT? MY MOM SAYS IT'S OK!(1)"

Rachel: "WHAT? HAVE YOU ASKED YOUR MOM FIRST?"

Kole: "WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I'M PLAYING IN THE SAND!"

Rachel: "WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I'M PLAYING ON THE SLIDE!"


And so forth. It's like the McLaughlin Group, only with preschooler Gumbys.














__________________

Footnote (1). 95 times out of 100 Kole has not actually cleared it with Mom when he says this. But he means well.

The one absolutely good result of an Obama victory on Tuesday.

[I've been meaning to post this for a while, but wanted to wait until the polls tightened before doing so. Trying not to appear defeatist.]

There will be one indisputably good result from an Obama victory on Tuesday: national unity.

You're probably saying something along the lines of"

"Wha--? As divided as we are? Another corrosively rancorous election? I hope you brought enough of what you're smoking for everyone. [Olbermann voice:] Sir."

Yes. More national unity. An Obama victory will stab racism in the proverbial guts and will do more for real integration and unity than anything we've seen since the end of de jure segregation. It will be irrefutable proof that the sky is the limit for African-Americans. Being black is no bar to the highest office in the land. Black parents will be able to point their children to President-elect Obama and say "That can be you. The most powerful person on earth. Go and do likewise."

Sure, racism and the race card will still exist, but a Rubicon will have been crossed, and both will ring ever more hollow as the years pass. The justifiable sense of alienation among African-Americans will fade, and the scars from the national wound inflicted by chattel slavery will heal more quickly and inexorably vanish.

And, quoting Don King, I'll at least be able to say "Only in America!" on Wednesday morning. Not that it will do anything to allay my numerous problems with the man and (much moreso) his plans, but it will be a source of real comfort and even pride. A strong ray of light, if you will.

We have it good here.

"We" as in Christians. Not that the things I gripe about are irrelevant, but they are pretty much all less life-and-death than our Christian sisters and brothers around the world are facing.

Consider the brave witness of converts out of Islam. Try watching this without having your heart rent.

Please note that it is women like Sana that upper class twits in Britain are perfectly content to leave to the care and consideration of sharia courts.

Then pray.

Thanks to Lydia at What's Wrong With The World for the link.

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Need your hope for the future of America restored?

I give you the students of the Ron Clark Academy. The song is infectious, but the interview is the best thing about it.

Uh...busy.

As in travel to distant locales. But not too busy to say thanks, Mike--I am humbled by your generosity and praise.

Blogging will commence at whatever rate I can manage. And, yes, I know it's time for the annual Halloween costume rant.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I find this inexplicably hilarious.

Garfield Minus Garfield: the comic strip without the cat.

The description:

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

A sample result:


As I said, I think it's wet-your-pants-funny. However, as I disclosed below, I'm weird. YMMV.

What a horrible person.

Alleged McCain supporter violence victim admits to hoax.

Way to blame "a black guy" for it, too.

Despicable.

A debt I cannot repay.

An overdue note of gratitude to my Mom.

I talk a lot about my Dad here, and for good reason: he's been my hero since I started to talk. My brother and I regarded him as a living god and are still convinced he's immortal, even though we know otherwise. My first published article referred to an incident in my childhood involving a Dad-hater. So I think you have the cut of my jib on Dad.

But.

If you enjoy reading this blog, thank my Mom. From an equally-early age, Mom fed my voracious appetite for all things knowledge-oriented. I became a bibliophile before I hit kindergarten. She plopped the Charlie Brown dictionary down in front of me, got me the 16 volume Book of Knowledge set from a local grocery store--in general, she shaped me into the book-crazed individual I am today.

Yes, Heather, I'm passing the buck. You'll find it harder to blame her. [Worth a shot.]

She went back to college to get her degree when my brother and I were in middle school and let me ransack her college texts (I was especially find of her physical geography text--savannahs! Tundras! Glacial moraines! Yes I'm weird!). In fact, she was the first member of her family to get a college degree, and my sole boast is that I was the first to get the degree right out of high school. She also loves art and worked a lot with ceramics (which rubbed off--you should see our living room wall and bookshelf). Now she's moved on to landscape painting, and one hangs over our computer desk. She also did a neat depiction of Noah's Ark which hangs in the kids' barracks. So, when someone (cough-Heather-cough) asks why I acquired a fifteen volume set of the Encyclopedia of World Art, I think I owe that muse to Mom as well.

Then there's the sense of humor--you'd better be quick on your feet around her or your going to be looking down at a pile of your rhetorical guts. I tend to avoid her when she and Heather are talking--it's usually my intestines looping to the floor in a matter of minutes. You'll walk over--but you'll limp back. Mental quickness isn't a virtue in our household, it's a necessity. Mom, you'll be happy to know that Maddie is using "scare quotes" to punctuate her commentary now.

Oh, I am in such big trouble...

There was another side, too--her professional side. To the extent I care for the least of us, I owe a big debt to her. She was a teacher at the alternative high school in my home town, which was the last chance for a lot of troubled kids. She wept over them and celebrated with them when they bucked the odds. Then she moved on to counseling work with children in the public school system. Same sorrows and rewards.

Finally, there's the Mom side, of course--the one who always waited on me hand and foot when I was wheezing through an asthma attack, the one who was cheering me on during my modest high school football career, and the one who failed to snuff her tears as I left for Europe to study and, later, walked down the aisle on that sunny October day, 9 years ago. The same side that causes all of our kids to swarm over her like a jungle gym whenever we visit.

Thanks, Mom--for everything.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Steve Skojec talks booze and eats.

Over at his new must-escape-politics blog.

Ok, I may have engaged in crude oversimplification in describing it.

I chimed in on the "Good Wine below $10" thread. Nobody's offered Ripple or Boone's yet, I'm glad to see. Steve seems to prefer dry wines, if I'm reading correctly.

Frankly, dry wines leave my taste buds arguing that I just quaffed propane. I have been given to understand that as one's wine palette becomes more discriminating, you actually prefer dry.

Right now, I'm still much more commonsewer than connoisseur on that point.

Nine years, far more good than bad.

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

--Ecclesiastes 9:9 (NASB).

Nine years ago today, my beloved Heather lost her mind and said "yes" at the altar. I was unreasonably happy then, and have only gotten happier since.


The Abduction of Psyche, by Bouguereau.


No, it has nothing to do with our marriage, apart from the fact I sometimes feel like I've gotten away with grand theft, spouse-wise.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Baby and the Babe.

Overdue: new picture of Louis, along with my lovely wife, at swim class last week.








New politics. Change. Trespassing.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and three times is enemy action.
My McCain yard sign has been vandalized three times in this election cycle. I could say four, but that time was the result of goofy kids trying their best Evel Kinevel impression using a two by four off the curb.

Twice the wire has been bent so you couldn't read it and Saturday I found it laying on the ground. No, it wasn't windy and after the first two times I made sure it was hitting bedrock.

Our neighbor found hers in a puddle across the street.

None of this crap happened in 2004. On the bright side, they are leaving our "No on 2" sign alone. Maybe Doug Kmiec is doing drive-bys...


Anecdotal, but somewhat cheering: the number of McCain yard signs is still growing in this neck of the woods, despite the campaign pulling the ripcord a few weeks back. And one of our good friends up the street, a Kerry fan in '04, has no yard sign this cycle.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nice marmot.

Oh: the blog turned six yesterday.




Note the taut phrasing and hip sensibility.

It's why you keep coming back here like lab rats clicking at the lever: quality, quality prose. That and the pointless Big Lebowski quotes.




This is genuinely funny.

Senators McCain and Obama at the Al Smith Dinner in New York last night.

Both men acquit themselves quite well.

By the way, make sure to add American Catholic to your blogroll. A group of fine contributors, including established guys like Chris Blosser, Brendan "Darwin" Hodge and Tito Edwards along with newbies, especially long-time friend-of-this-blog Donald McClarey, who at long last is blogging.

Who will keep the bridge with me?

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods,

"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

"Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"


I disagree with the estimable Jay Anderson and don't regard the conservative pundits delirious to the point of delusion with either Obamafever or Palin Derangement Syndrome as rats leaving a sinking ship. It's neither fair nor accurate--the poor rats are merely unintelligent creatures trying to do what they are hard wired to do. They can't help it.

No, the sauve qui peut quill-penners are much worse. They are comrades in arms who have chosen to flee the battle. And they've made laughable cases for their desertion. Manner, tone, "temperament"? Please. The gentleman who flipped off his opponent, accused her of having a plate-breaking hissy fit, a self-described "uniter" who unapologetically plays the race card--this is a "first class temperament" at work? In any event, we aren't electing the Chief Hotelier of the Republic here.

Great--it's nice that David Brooks treasures the opportunity to trade bon mots with the Illinois Senator about Neibuhr. Lovely. Too bad Mr. Temperate comes fully equipped with a set of media and political goons who could find work with Huge-o Chavez. That is, if the Tubby Tyrant decides to "go negative" at some point. Dare to ask The One a simple question about his policies that leads to an unscripted moment? Time to pay.

That's change you can be terrified by.

It's pretty clear that McCain is a flawed candidate in a lot of ways. There's no doubt Palin was unsteady-to-cringe-inducing at the outset. However, their campaign is the only thing standing in the way of a total rout, the only brake pedal on a car that will otherwise have three accelerators for the left foot.

But Palin's the problem here? The embarrassing vulgar cancer? All-righty, then.

Sure. Nevermind the fact the last time McCain had the lead was after he named her as his VP. Rest assured we are keeping track of the savaging disdain here, given that its real target is the social conservatives. Gotta love an officer corps that sneers at its grunts. Note also the beginnings of an attempt to pin the blame on Palin, which has to be apprehended with excessive force.

Which has been approved, by the way.

As I said before, McCain is a flawed candidate. But he has virtues which substantially outweigh the flaws. The Macaulay poem above reminds me of those virtues. Macaulay wove an idealized version of the Roman Republic and its stolid citizens, but it rings true. It was certainly how the Romans saw themselves, SPQR emblazoned on the eagles preceding the legions, long after the Senate had been deprived of any real authority and the citizenry had been reduced to cataphract-fodder and the dole. It is that kind of old-fashioned civic-mindedness that fires him. It also leads him (wrongly) to put our issues on the backburner, for the most part. But I'll take the backburner over the freezer any day of the week. Not to mention goonsquading by the starry-eyed who have made politics their religion.

He may very well lose--right now, the polls (dubious and volatile as they are) point to that. But if he does, remember who did try to keep the bridge--and who didn't. Because the revisionism is going to be piled high and deep.

And who knows? If you stand at the bridge, it has a better chance of being kept.

She'll have the salad.

What did Churchill say about fanatics?

Someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject?

Meet Jennifer Thornburg.

Remember, she's just 19 so it's hopefully just a phase.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here's an idea: Don't be a stupid bigot.

"Obama Bucks."

Speechless.

Or, "Sometimes the Race Card Can't Be Played Enough."

The latest newsletter by an Inland [Central California] Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."


What could possibly be racist about that imagery?

/eye roll

And now, the "apology":


The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club's meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

"It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don't want to go into it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt."


Suuuure. Let me humbly suggest that if Ms. Fedele really didn't see the problem with these hoary staples of racist stereotyping, she isn't competent enough to be the target in a carnival dunk tank, let alone run a political organization not affiliated with David Duke. Oh, and the "Sorry if you were offended" non-apology is one of those things that moves me to Defcon 1. If you are going to apologize, APOLOGIZE.

Which brings us to the "Some of My Favorite Political Candidates are Black" Defense:

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."


Should have gone with the "Wookies on Endor" manuever instead. Count me as one who never quite got the love affair with Alan Keyes.

Finally, the human cost of racism:

Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.

"This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party," she said. "I'm really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes."


Deserves a lot more than "Sorry if you were offended."

Bobbie Reed, rest in peace.



She passed away in her home last evening around 9pm.

She was pure grace, class, and toughness, an Italian lady in the noblest sense of the phrase. I wish I had known her better, but I am glad to say I had the opportunity to know her.

Prayers please, as it has struck home very hard for her whole family, including her bereaved husband, Tom, a true gentleman who was also my high school football coach.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LOLFeds.

The Raven Goes East.

[Bumped up, 10/15/08: OFA is curious about reactions to the Catholic stuff (and probably the book overall. Take this opportunity to fire away!]




The Scourge of God is the second book in the second Changeverse series. Originally a trilogy, the "Rudiverse" is now going to be a tetralogy.

Thanks to the consistent (indeed, increasing) quality of the books, that's good news indeed. The old world continues to pass away, and the new generation continues to rise to the fore.

The Scourge of God ranges widely across the changed (rimshot!) landscape of western North America, from southern Idaho to the banks of the Andui--er, Mississippi at Dubuque.

When we last saw our heroes (adventures like this call for the old standby) they were fleeing the chaos following the climactic battle between the "United States" centered at Boise and the army of the Church Universal and Triumphant. The CUT, for those of you not in the know, is the theosophist cult of bad guys centered at Yellowstone which has taken pretty much the worst features of every religion in history and wrapped it in a gnostic overlay of deadly-serious gibberish.

Led by Sethaz, the adopted son of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the CUT is determined to rid the world of all technology that requires more than a wheel turning another wheel or a wheel turning a shaft. And that's a quote. It also is bent on subjugating women and establishing master and servitor races through selective human breeding. Oh, and they have ties to some pitch-dark powers and can fight like fast zombies. Yes, aim for their heads.

Which brings me to the first substantive point. For all of the hints of the fantastic/cosmic at work in the previous books, TSOG raises the ante considerably past "hint." The Cutters are being wielded by Something very dark, while our heroes are being guided. That, in fact, is the crucial distinction between the two. We have mercifully few encounters with the Cutters, but all of them bear the hallmarks of the diabolic. They are quite literally possessed at points in the narrative. The assistance given to the good guys is indirect, save in one case that should be near and dear to the hearts of mackerel-snappers everywhere. And even then, it's analogous to a blessing. The heroes remain themselves.

The second substantive point is that the narrative works at a good clip, showing us the aftermath of the battle (a tactical "American" victory over the Cutters, who suffer their first grievous losses in combat). The protagonists have to liberate their captured friends and escape the Cutter dragnet. Also, the parricidal dictator in Boise has to be avoided and groundwork laid for his overthrow. Things do not go well--at all--and central characters suffer debilitating injuries and barely evade capture at the hands of the Cutters who are determined to slay Rudi Mackenzie at all costs. Noble Buddhists, sardonic Sioux and a bat-guano crazy Iowan despot all combine to steer the path of our heroes eastward. New characters join and/or assist, with clear significance for the future. If you can't see a coalition being built, I can't help you. There's considerable character development quietly occurring within the Fellowship, especially with Odard, who is becoming very complex.

It doesn't entirely focus on the Fellowship of the Bear. The Corvallis Meeting fields an army to pre-empt the Cutters from establishing a bridgehead to threaten the Willamette states, which leads to a desperate battle between the Meeting and the new Cutter/Boise alliance. Beloved characters remain: Juniper clings tightly to her conscience, the demands of power nothwithstanding, Astrid is still insane/brilliant, though she has a horrific run-in with the darkest powers of the Cutters, Little John Hordle still eats like a hobbit and finds the Sindarinia of the Rangers amusing.

Old perspective characters return to good effect, such as Signe Havel and Eric Larsson, and one pivotal perspective character tragically dies. Another character arrives on scene with great portent for the future.

As always, pop cultural references and homages are slipped in with a subtle wink, and this time Lucifer's Hammer, South Park, and (long overdue) Highlander all get nods.

Third: yes, fellow papists, the "Catholic stuff" remains in good hands. And no, not mine. I'm reviewing that stuff, not writing it. A lot of times my input is a Jared Cofflinesque "Ayup." Leavened with my trademark verbosity, natch.

Finally, if you read closely, I think you get a clear-enough explanation for why the Change happened. Who and how remain in the time-honored "heh, heh" category.

It's a classic "middle book," so it is unsatisfying for the usual structural reasons. But the geographical range helps make up for that, and we finally see the one place in North America where the shock of the Change had the least impact, fabled and fabulously wealthy Iowa. The book closes with Frodo heading over the Andu---Rudi crossing the Mississippi into the biggest deadzone of them all, determined to right a wrong and continue the quest.

Tolle, lege.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prayer request for my sister-in-law, Maria, and her mother.

Maria's mother, Bobbie, has leukemia and is being moved into hospice care this week. Doctors are giving her until this Friday.

This comes less than five years after Maria's father died.

For all the screaming and yelling about the stock market last week (and I've done my share), this is vastly more important.

Thanks.

Went on a mini-vacation.

Up to 26 Pines to see my parents for an extended weekend. Last chance to stay in the Summer Palace before it gets winterized.

Mom and Dad shovelled on the spoiling, with Mom helping Madeleine make jewelry in Mom's craft room and Dad taking them for a spin in his newly-acquired Yamaha golf cart. Mom's cooking kept us stuffed and happy and I helped Dad with his storage business ("retired" being a relative term).

We also had a chance to enjoy Michigan in all her autumn glory, which has to be seen to be believed.

Oh, and Madeleine, Dale and Rachel all came down with impetigo.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"That's 'p' as in 'phonetic'..."

Picking up a prescription at a chain pharmacy on Friday:

Chain pharmacy employee:"Is that picking up or dropping off?"

Me: "Picking up."

CPE: "Last name?"

Me: "Price."

CPE: "[Pause] How do you spell that?"


Yes, I know. Brice, Rice. Grrr.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The hap-hap-happiest State in the Union!

J.D. Power warns that the global auto market may collapse in 2009. My immediate reaction: great news--that means it technically hasn't already!

Related:

My wife sent me an email earlier this afternoon with this header: "Don't shoot yourself."

She took the kids on a walk around the neighborhood today. She passed a house that's been for sale for about 8-10 months, previously owned by a nice couple who moved to God knows where. They had, then dropped, a realtor and now it's a fizbo. It's 3 bedroom, two full bathrooms and has a 1.5 car garage and a sunroom. It also needs about $5k or so work (you can see water damage in the sunroom, which could also use some drywall an a new window or two). But it's no dump.

Asking price: $24,999.

[Dateline--R'Lyeh: Through a spokesthing today, dead Cthulhu announced that when he finally wakes from his dreamless slumber to inaugurate a reign of madness, "a strange eon where death itself may die," he plans to avoid "the land called Michigan." According the spokesthing, the Great Old One finds the place "depressing beyond the ability of non-Euclidian geometry to express."]

Again, to finish on a positive note, Heather praised me for our decision to get the durable, long lasting linoleum for the kitchen.

Thanks!

To an anonymous benefactor: from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When God made Art Donovan, He broke the mold.

The Hall of Fame defensive lineman lays down his greatest hits on the Tonight Show. Funny even if you don't know any of the particulars. Keep a ear cocked for the Bobby Layne reference.



Via Thoughts From A Fat White Guy, an impressive blog by a starting lineman on the UConn team.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I guess that makes it a really, really valuable antique.



"They don't even make parts" for our furnace anymore.

I know--we'll burn the bills and credit card offers.

The "good" news is that he can probably make it work with "reasonable facsimiles" of the necessary, no-longer-made parts.

Meanwhile, I'll be out crushing heads.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why William Ayers matters.

Just ask John Murtagh.

Here's the first paragraph:

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up "a gentleman named William Ayers," who "was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that." Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: "The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George." Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.

Read the whole thing.

Prayer request.

I don't usually go with the material requests, but I'm at wit's end, so here goes.

Our furnace went out last week and won't restart. We've been quoted $400 for repairs, which we can absorb. Barely.

But the repairman (a guy I trust implicitly) just walked out of the house muttering "you've got issues."

I'm just about ready to punch something inanimate.

Thanks.

The phrase you are looking for is "Flight to Quality."

Behold the Brussels Meltdown.

Let's see--I do have silver....

Remember that scene in Lucifer's Hammer where the surfer tries to ride the tsunami wave to safety? There's some hint America, despite six years of idiot Bush administration spending policies, just might be able to pull it off.

But the risk of a dollar collapse is one for the distant future. Right now the world faces the opposite problem. There is a wild scramble for dollars as a $10 trillion pyramid of global lending based on dollar balance sheets “delevers” with a vengeance.

This is a “short squeeze” on those who have used the dollar for a vast global carry trade. International banks are facing margin calls on their dollar leverage. It is why the Fed is having to provide $1.25 trillion in dollar liquidity for the entire global system, according to estimates by Brad Setser from the Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

The crisis engulfing Europe, Asia and emerging markets, makes life easier for Washington. The United States is becoming a safe-haven again.

The Fed can now hope to pursue monetary stimulus “a l’outrance” without being slapped down by the currency, debt, and commodity markets. Take comfort where you can.

Never been prouder, Maddie edition.

My eldest can ride a bike now. She's still not quite to the point of being able to kick herself into gear, but she's getting closer.

She stumbled and fell and accumulated the usual collection of scrapes, bruises and tears on the way. Each time, she picked herself back up and tried again, me encouraging her all the way.

Now she sails northbound with confidence, confident enough to peek at the clouds and birds.

"It's so much fun!"

What? Oh, allergies have been a monster this year.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Who's the leader of the cult that's made for you and me?



Barry-O, Barry-O...


Forever let us raise his temple high! high! high!

So come along and sing the song and worship faithfully!

B-A-R-A-C-K O-B-A-M-A!

Cinderella.

If you haven't seen Cinderella Man, see it. As in, right now.

All right--quick summary:

CM is the improbable comeback story of boxer James J. Braddock, the heavyweight champion right before Joe Louis. Braddock was a contender in the late 20s until he broke his left hand. His savings wiped out by the Great Depression, he ended up moving into a basement apartment with his wife and three kids. He was lucky enough to get work on the docks, which forced him to use his left hand, progressively strengthening it. He gets a chump match at the last minute at Madison Square Garden and scores a titanic upset of the No. 2 heavyweight, his now hammer-like left hand helping to knock out his stunned opponent before an even more stunned audience.

I think the pivotal scene in Cinderella Man is not the heavyweight match with Max Baer (who was done an injustice by the film, not so BTW), as impressive a bit of sports cinema as it is. No, the crucial scene is Braddock's fight with the No. 1 contender, Art Lasky, the last step before facing Baer. Frankly, Lasky mauls Braddock, breaking a rib and battering him from one end of the ring to the other. Finally, Lasky throws his best shot, a titanic right hook, smashing Braddock to the canvas and knocking his mouth guard out. The count begins, and Braddock is seeing double.

Then he starts flashing back to his family in poverty, being reduced to nothing, and he pulls himself to his feet. Not even wobbling, he smiles at Lasky and walks over to pick up his mouth guard, still smiling. A smile that says, louder than any speech, "Kid, you'd better pray to God that wasn't the best you got."



Alas for Lasky, it was, and the scene shows him watching Braddock in disbelief as the latter takes up residence in his head, shortly before turning the tables and beating the snot out of him.

That's what happened last night. No, not to Biden, but rather to all of Gov. Palin's detractors. Sure, she's had an awful stretch--no one watching the Couric interview could do anything but wince.

But last night she got back off the canvas with a smile after having taken the worst pummeling in modern political history, and sent her detractors to the mat for a ten count. Regardless of what happens this year (and the odds aren't great and haven't been), she's here to stay.