Monday, December 07, 2009

Waiting to Exhale

Proving once again that reason, science, and common sense can never trump politics, the EPA has "informed" us all that plant food endangers public health.

Expect regulations soon regarding how often one is allowed to exhale. A likely scenario is that one exhalation for every three or four inhalations will be rationed or allocated to each adult, thus cutting down on deadly CO2. One hopes that no child will be required to hold his breath until he turns blue, but that remains to be seen.
At any rate, it seems clear that all aerobic exercise will need to be regulated or banned, as all such activity significantly increases the production of CO2.
A (possibly) unintended consequence of these regulations will be the rapid decline of both oxygen in the atmosphere and plants to replace it - with no air for plants to breathe there will be none of their byproducts for us to breathe either.

On a more positive note, I see that the EPA has actually railed against CO2 and five other "greenhouse" gases. Given that di-hydrogen monoxide is actually - by far - the most powerful of those chemicals, we should expect regulations regarding the production, use, and storage of that frequently deadly substance.

Idiots. But then again, "Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

RIP Vic Mizzy

Wow. The composer of the themes of two of the most beloved TV Series of all time - The Addams Family and Green Acres - has passed away at the age of 93.

Vic Mizzy was actually a fairly prolific film and TV composer and songwriter, but the man who wrote the theme song for the finest adaptation of Kafka to the small screen would rank right up there whether or not he had ever penned another theme.

The trials and tribulations of Oliver Wendell Douglas on his farm in the greater Hooterville area were probably the finest moments of television since Ernie Kovacs went off the air. Yes, it was that great.

Vic Mizzy, dead at 93. He will be missed, but his music lives on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

RIP Henry Gibson

Sad news this morning: Henry Gibson has died at age 73.

Folks may or may not know that his stint on Laugh-In reciting poetry was a direct inspiration of some of my own poetry (specifically, that stuff we've used at a few Coffee Houses at GPUMC over the years).

A funny man who will be missed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Man looks on the outward appearance,

but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7).

That's true, unless you are former president jimmy carter, of course, who is able to look into the hearts of those who seem to disagree with president Obama's policies and to see that they're actually just a bunch of racists.

After all, who could ever disagree with a socialist who masqueraded as a Democrat but surrounds himself with communists and other policy kooks?

Clearly anyone not enamoured of our fearless leader must be a racist.

jimmy carter was probably the third worst president we've ever had, and he certainly hasn't improved with age.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Health Care "Debate"

I'm still trying to understand this "debate" that's going on these days.

It appears that the whole conversation is centered on what aspects of various proposals are good ideas, or which will work properly, or which won't have unintended consequences (as if anything doesn't).
It seems to me that this misses the whole point - it really doesn't matter which proposal would work better, as they're all so far outside the tightly circumscribed powers of the federal government that they should merit no discussion at all.

This isn't an enumerated power, and thus Washington is prohibited from doing anything at all.

Carnage du Jour - 12 September 09

Mmm - Lamb and Lentil Stew on a chilly night in Sleeper State Park.

OK, I cheated and used electricity to cook dinner for the assembled masses (20 or so), but I really didn't want to have to sit there pumping up the Coleman stove all afternoon, just to keep the slow flame burning under a big pot.

Still, leg of lamb, lentils, onions, carrots, and celery, some stock with tomato paste, and a bit of wine and beer and several hours later it was a happy meal in a bowl.

Oh, and the company was great too!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Carnage du Jour - 24 August 09

Wow -
I asked Jon whether he thought the Norwegian Salmon were worth the extra cost per pound, and he answered from experience. In essence, he told me that he didn't really believe it until he tried it himself, and it's a whole different kind of salmon.
Apparently these salmon are fed in such a way to have double or triple the fat content of our domestic farm-raised types. This lends a roundness and buttery mouth feel - basically, theses are Kobe Salmon, but instead of sake, they get akvavit. (OK, I just made up that last part.)

At any rate, a quick bake / braise with a few herbs and a bit of olive oil later, and I was a convert as well. Delicious with some sour cream-laced mashed potatoes and buttery green beans. (No, not haricots verts - these were good old American green beans.)


Friday, August 07, 2009

A Random-ish Thought

If the federal government had acted on my proposal back 15-20 years ago, we wouldn't be in much of the mess in which we find ourselves.

As you probably know, China is proposing a new base currency, or a new monetary standard to replace the broken or breaking system we've been using for decades - currencies that aren't really backed by anything other than government promises. Ah but promises of what? Certainly not gold any more - you can't go get gold for your dollars from the government, and I don't see many silver certificates out there any more (although I wouldn't mind finding a few).

Why the current angst about the dollar as the world's reserve currency? Well, it goes beyond the Wizard of Oz situation of a man behind the curtain - at this point, when we look at where that man behind the curtain is doing things, we find that there's no there there. It's all based on everyone trusting everyone else to never ask for anything real. And that's fine for a while - clearly it's worked for quite some time now, but the checkbooks are coming home to roost, and there's nothing left to pay the piper, as it were (to mix a metaphor or two).

So what was my proposal? Simply to once again back the dollar with something of real value. Rather than a return to the gold standard, I proposed that we go on the kWh standard.

Whatever the then-prevailing cost of a kilowatt-hour of energy would be the basis for saying that the dollar was worth (for example) 35 kWh. When technology made processes more efficient, that would mean that it took fewer dollars to power things. Dollars would go farther, be worth more, wealth could be directly created by technological advance.

Further, we couldn't reasonably have allowed ourselves to remain dependent upon foreign sources of energy to run our economy - that would have meant buying energy to pay our debts. Instead, we would have developed our own resources (which are huge an largely untapped) as well as making significant forays into nuclear power, almost certainly finding ways to produce electricity more safely than we can today, given the total lack of focus on that industry lo these many years.

Given a currency backed by something "tangible" and real, it would become that much more difficult for the government to take the Doritos approach to the dollar, "Spend all you want, we'll print more." There would have to be a real something there.

And to think, I had the solution years ago.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Not much of a title

but I did want to note that I'll be trying to chronicle just what it's like living here in our post-Contitutional United States.

Disheartening? sure.

Frightening? sometimes.

Angering? almost always.

Uninteresting? never.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wondering Where I've Been?

I'm sure all my readers have been wondering just that.

If you're really interested, take a side-trip over to the Heritage Tour 2009 blog to see what was up the past couple weeks. Ironically, it was quite an excellent trip.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 12 June 09


def. - the act of replacing fallen parts of a construction to their original position

sample - "The old shack looked just as it had before the storm, once we had finished with our molition work."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Steven West, We Hardly Knew You

Following on a piece I wrote here a bit over 2 years ago, we really are at the end of an era.

Not only has the big "F"-shaped sign been denuded, but today it was announced that the abandoned Federal's department store building on Eight Mile in Hazel Park will be demolished.

Hard to imagine that after only 30+ years they've decided to knock down that "landmark," but that seems to be exactly what is about to happen.

If only Geraldo could come comb through the debris (before or after the demo) to explore what might still be there after all these years .... na.

As they say, Hail and Farewell!

NDP Visiting DC

So I read that Jack Layton of the NDP (New Democratic Party) in Canada is going to help president Obama design a health care system for us that resembles the socialized system of Canada.

I thought I'd share a bit of an email I received from Senator Debbie Stabenow regarding health care, and my response. Although I sent my response back on May 11, I have yet to hear from Sen. Stabenow - not that I'm surprised, mind you.

May 11, 2009
Charles Van Becelaere
Thank you . . .
. . for contacting me regarding your opposition to universal health care coverage. I understand your concerns.

When it comes to health care, our families and businesses are in a serious crisis. High health care costs are causing cuts in benefits and increases in premiums, adding to the ranks of the uninsured at alarming rates. But the impact of this problem goes beyond individual families. Skyrocketing health care costs make our businesses less competitive in the global marketplace and cost us good-paying jobs. We are already paying for the uninsured through overuse of the emergency room-the most inefficient and expensive way of providing care.

I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. There is no doubt that the problems we face are complex, but there are real solutions. We can create a system that is uniquely American and shares the cost between the government, businesses, and individuals in a way that is fair and equitable. Now is the time to show the political will to tackle these issues because there is so much at stake. I am committed to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to find solutions to America's health care crisis.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please don't hesitate to do so again if my office can be of assistance to you or your family.

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator
Here's my reply, as noted above, I have yet to receive a response:

Senator Stabenow -

I thank you for contacting me on this extremely important issue. However, I find your comments very troubling, as I can't imagine where you find a right to health care. It's certainly not in the Constitution. Given that you swore to uphold that very Constitution when you took office, I would expect you to work to make sure that federal activities are those prescribed by it, and that the federal government doesn't overstep its bounds, taking rights and powers from the States and the people.

Another confusing thought is that costs would be shared by government, business, and individuals. There is no government money that doesn't come from taxing the latter two entities, and all business taxes are paid with funds received from consumers, so in fact, all the costs would be borne by the individuals, but none of the control would reside with those footing the bills for the care being doled out by the government.

I know you're a strong supporter of the right to choose, and I also expect that you would see that extends to my right to choose my health care options - not to force me and your other constituents into a government run system where my desires and choices are at best a secondary consideration to the overall "efficiency" of the system.

Given the sad experiences of every other nation which has nationalized its health care system, and the fact that we wouldn't have a free nation nearby where we could go to obtain necessary care which "couldn't" be provided by our socialized system, I find it not only surprising, but frightening that we would consider following down that clearly ill-advised path.

Charles J. van Becelaere


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 03 June 09


def. - stranger than can be fully comprehended; the next step beyond bizarre.

sample - "As we attempted to follow the instructions for completing our tax return, things went beyond bizarre, beyond surreal - the whole experience was trizarre.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Road to Search

Just wondering where Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer get their names for stuff.

Once, long ago, we had Microsoft's Bob - a wonderful help for anyone who really shouldn't have been using a computer in the first place.
Now we have Microsoft's Bing - not just a search engine, mind you, but a decision engine - or so they hope.

And that's where my wondering started off.
I'm sure few of you remember the big band era, but Bob Crosby led the band Bob Crosby and the Bobcats - a pretty decent, fun band. He described himself as "the Crosby without Hope."
Sadly, if you don't remember the big band era, you probably don't remember those great Road pictures either (as in "The Road to Morocco," which had a great line in the title song which went, "like Webster's dictionary, we're Morocco-bound.").
At any rate, Bob was the Crosby without Hope, Bing was the Crosby with Hope (Bob Hope, but let's ignore that for now).

So ... my assumption, based on vast amounts of pure speculation and nothing much more, is that after Bob was declared hopeless and consigned to the same bin that now holds Clippy (we can only hope neither ever will escape!) the namers at Microsoft decided to bring out the one with Hope - hence Bing.

or not.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Good Read

I ran across this fine post by John Carney and thought you might enjoy it. At the very least, you ought to read it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Empathy to the Devil

What are the most important qualities for a Supreme Court Justice? Clearly a powerful intellect and grasp of the law joined with an understanding of the limits of the judicial role (that judges interpret and apply laws, they don't make them) are paramount. At least that's what our fearless leader said - until he also mentioned that the life of the law is not logic, but rather experience (drawn from Oliver Wendell Holmes).
Ah, that's right, when the president told us how he was going to choose his nominee to replace the retiring Justice David Souter, he mentioned that one of the requirements was "empathy" - for aggrieved parties, one assumes.
This delicately worded "but" at the end of an otherwise-reasonable pronouncement simply vacates the initial premise: that judges don't make laws.

So, what the president told us he would do - and what he now has done - is to nominate to the Supreme Court a person who would be intentionally biased - both before hearing the facts and arguments of a case as well as after. What, after all, would empathy matter should the decisions be based merely on facts and law? Perhaps a decision might go something like, "I'm sorry we couldn't decide in your favor, but we have to actually base our decision on the merits of the case." That would be all well and good. Instead, it appears we will be treated to decisions more in the mold of, "While plaintiffs failed to prove their case or to even present credible evidence, we feel sorry for them, and thus decide in their favor."

My delight at Souter's retirement is already beginning to fade.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 26 May 09


def. - strongly held beliefs, generally adopted in early to mid- adolescence, and left unexamined since.

sample: "It seems that the president holds fast to his pup tenets, even at an age where most men have grown enough to have embraced mature policy positions."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Carnage du Jour - 19 May 09

Last night I cooked up a rather tasty pair of pork chops.

Seared on both sides (after a nice dose of salt and pepper), the were then topped with a helping of sauerkraut with a bit of a beer and placed in the oven at 325 for a few minutes. (Note, this was simply braising, using beer as the braising liquid. An interesting alternative would be a bière marie, simply a bain marie using beer instead of water as the liquid - imparting the aroma without having the beer actually touch the chop. I'll have to try that in the future.)

Next up, a nice slice of provolone cheese topped each chop and under the broiler it went until the cheese melted nicely into the kraut.

Tasty good!
No need for a grr here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 14 May 09


def. - artistically arranged small portions of food, generally consisting of balls or rolls made of wild rice and raw venison.

sample: "I'm not one for raw fish, but venison tartare and siouxshi are some of my favorite dishes."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 13 May 09

def. The sinking feeling experienced by survivors of yet another round of layoffs.

Sample: "A feeling of déja few came over those gathered in the conference room to figure out how to do the work of their former colleagues along with their own."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Next Big Wrestling Pay Per View?

Just wondering, when will the NWA (Norse Wrestling Association) offer Ringnarokr?

I can't wait to see the sagas leading up to the matches between heroes and giants on the small screen in the comfort of my own house.

Pop open some Akvavit and maybe a Carlsberg or two and just sit back and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

So Stop It Already!

At last, some empirical evidence that I'm not just imagining it. This recession looks quite a bit like the one in 1981 - back when I was having such a great time finding a job in Detroit - and not really like the Great Depression of the 1930's.

Of course, as long as our president tries to nationalize the entire economy, he'll continue to do two things:
  1. Try to make us believe that we're in the Great Depression's uglier and worse cousin. and
  2. Force us down the path to that uglier and worse cousin by "trying to help" our economy get back on its feet.

Check this article for some excellent commentary and charts. As everyone knows, if it's on a chart, it must be true, but in this case they do actually tell an important story.
[The url is in case you're not getting the link above.]

OK now, folks - just stop taxing and spending and let the economy grow itself out of this recession before you do more real harm.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Reading Styles

Just wondering: am I very different from other people in that I tend to read several books at the same time?
When I've discussed this with other folks, the main objection I hear is that it would be impossible to keep track of what's going on in each book if one is reading more than one.
That seems to me to be an empty objection: how many TV series does the typical viewer follow these days? Certainly there's no lack of ability to keep track of which character belongs on which program and is doing what to or with whom. Why would reading be different?

At any rate, I'd be curious to know how many others read more than one book at a time, and how many books you're reading right now.


Monday, May 04, 2009

It's about time, but I'm still excited

Check out this article:

The short take: Pacific Gas & Electric is planning to beam solar energy from a Solaren Company geosynchronous satellite down to Earth - or rather to California.

This is exciting as all get out, and will be an excellent test of the true colours of the various "green" groups out there: are they really about cleaning things up, or about knocking us all back to the 19th century?

Can't wait for launch and the first few megawatts to start beaming their way down.

no grr needed!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Coinage du Jour - 02 May 09

1. To signal intent to an otherwise oblivious person using standard pieces of lumber; the act of such signaling.
2. To communicate across significant distance by waving large brass instruments in predefined patterns; that set of predefined patterns or signals.

Sample: "I got Bubba's attention by slappin' him up-side the head with a tubaphore."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bloody Commies

So, just as they're "saving" Chrysler as an American car company by forcing it into bankruptcy and domination by an Italian "car" company, our Constitutionally deaf federal government is fast tracking its way into taking over our health care.

For a bunch of politicians who are desperately "pro-choice" in certain areas, they seem totally unaware of the value of choice in others. I'm certainly not thrilled with the prospect of finding myself in the same kind of situation our Canadian friends have occupied for years, but without a free country next door where I can turn while the government-run "health care" system spins its wheels while consigning me to a slow death by neglect.

As I said in the title, bloody Commies.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Army Strong

Well, we got him started on being strong, then he made himself still stronger, but now they're going to make Christian Army Strong.

He's excited, we're proud and conflicted, and the Army is lucky to have him.

Congrats, Christian!
(Don't forget to chest him.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Single-Issue Extremist

Yep, the guys and gals down at Homeland Security must be watching me, because I'm one of those single-issue extremists that seem to be worrying them. I'm focused on the single issue of the Constitution.
Of course, if you consider the Bill of Rights as a separate entity (I do not, as that set of amendments were adopted as part of a deal to get the Constitution itself adopted), then I guess I'd be a two-issue extremist.

To quote:
The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.
Of course, the report then goes on to ape the most paranoid fantasies of the Keith Olbermann set. After all, isn't it obvious that if the Left Fringe are violent, anti-social freaks, then the Right Fringe must be as well? Clearly all the things the Left Fringe (or Statists) have done / considered / fantasized must be the same things the Right Fringe are planning to do right now, right?

Just because Penn State thinks that returning veterans are out to harm professors doesn't make it so. Frankly if this weren't so dangerous, it would be laughable.

No doubt it's ludicrous, but it's also dangerous, given the resources of the folks who are lost in their fantasy of evil Americans desperate for revenge for their losses in November. Frankly, that was hardly even the straw that broke the camel's back, if you ask me. We've been trading freedom for a feeding frenzy at the public trough for decades now - with only a little pause under Reagan - all the while slouching toward Gomorrah.

I suppose that once one moves far enough to the Left, any normal person looks to be a Far Right radical kook. Of course, I may just be being too kind by looking for a rational explanation.

Don't tread on me, but don't think I'm out to get you - that would just be paranoid.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How 'bout them Seals?

As my boy gets set to start his Army hitch, it's nice to see some positive press for our men in uniform. The Seals did the Navy and the nation proud - shooting from one boat to another in the dark is no mean feat, and they pulled it off as if it were.

I will even give the president some praise for recognizing that he had to give the order to rescue our Merchant Marine Captain - or risk every US flag-flying craft in the vicinity of Somalia.

Now if we could just get enough common sense passed out to allow these crews to be armed, the pirates might have to find another occupation.

To the pirates I say it serves you right - he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword; especially when you take a swipe at American sailors.
If only the UN were able to learn, there might be a chance to end piracy in the Indian Ocean. Sadly, they're too busy trying to make sure we all freeze to death in the next couple decades to pay attention to what's going on in the world.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Great Depression?

Interesting news coming down the wires today. The U.S. unemployment rate soared from 8.1% to 8.5%.

The stunning thing is, this is the highest it's been since 1983, at the height of the Great Depression!

Oh - wait - that's not during the Great Depression, that was back in the 1930s, not the 1980s. I guess they're hoping no one notices that we're still not as bad off as we were about thirty years ago, when the unemployment rate was higher, interest rates were all in the double digits, and inflation was a real thing - not something to be held off by risking deflation.

This reminds me of the Global Warming dopes who moan that it's now the warmest it's been since the 14th Century (back in the heyday of unjustifiably huge SUVs, right?). Nice headline to scare the sheeple, as long as they don't think about what they've been told ... and sheeple don't think, they follow - to the slaughter.


Monday, March 30, 2009

His Royal Highness

All hail King Barack the first of the People's Republic of Amerika!

Showing no respect for persons or property, our fearless leader has fired the CEO of a private corporation, has encouraged ex post facto bills of attainder, has handed over unborn children to the ministrations of modern-day Mengeles, all in the name of Hope and Change.

With the fall of the Constitution, the last vestiges of limited government have finally been shaken off the titanic shoulders of our anointed leader. There is no longer anything to limit our progress toward effective government.

I tremble at the thought of what comes next. After all, if there is nothing in the Constitution itself that can stop the federal government from running rough-shod over the people, why should any of the Amendments - especially the Bill of Rights - matter to them either?
  • Out of control legislators in Connecticut attempt to run the Catholic church
  • The White House - with the benefit of several weeks of "study" - seeing itself as vastly more qualified to run an automotive firm than the folks who've been there restructuring them to meet the confluence of circumstance and misregulation pouring into the heartland from DC
  • Hypocritical politicians (please pardon the redundancy) posturing their outrage at the bonuses they specifically authorized
  • The list - disturbingly - seems only to grow with each passing day.
OK, I've calmed down a little. Here's a quote from the president's statement regarding GM and Chrysler:
"We cannot, and must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish," Obama said at the White House. "This industry is like no other, it's an emblem of the American spirit ... And we cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of taxpayer dollars. These companies -- and this industry -- must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state."
Therefore, the federal government will now make all decisions for these companies?
A few observations:
"We" don't have an auto industry. There is an auto industry, part of which is based in these United States, but it's owned by the shareholders of the various companies - NOT by the people. Sill, it's hard to disagree with the president's assertion that we cannot continue to excuse poor decisions - and one hopes that each and every self-serving ersatz statesman in public "service" who's up for reelection will be bounced out on his or her ear at the earliest possible opportunity.

According the the Washington Post (not one of my usual news sources, in case you were wondering), one of the key points of contention between the companies and the Obama administration is just how large the U.S. auto market will be in the future. General Motors has offered a more optimistic scenario and shaped its business plan accordingly. So, the president is upset that GM is planning not to shrink enough for his taste - all while bloviating about the necessity of "our" maintaining "our" auto industry. Well done.

Of course, in the meanwhile, Treasury's printing presses are being prepped for a workout, the proportions of which haven't been seen since the days of the Weimar Republic. "We'll inflate our way out of debt; yeah, that's the ticket." Can't wait for the wallpapering parties to come: "Anyone have an extra $5? I've got a little space left here on the wall, and I'm out."


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm Back!

OK, I still haven't decided quite how depressed to be (there's certainly more cause for it emerging daily), but I did find a quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers that seems awfully appropriate these days:

“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving it. The government can’t give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody.

“And when half of the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half’s going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody’s going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation."

How true, and how sad that it even needs to be said,