Friday, February 29, 2008
Obama on Iraq
Frank J has Obama's response in a guest post by Barack Obama (at least that's what it says) entitled, My Solution to Iraq Is to Never Have Gone There.
As the situation in Iraq continues to improve, the strategy of running away will become even more irrational. The polls have been shifting for some time towards optimism about Iraq. While a majority still believe it was a bad decision to go in, Obama will find out that arguing about decisions made years ago won't work in an election just like Hillary found arguing about experience didn't work. If people don't believe in your vision for the future, they won't vote for you no matter how many times you were right in the past. Just ask Bob Dole.
This Coming Week's Project
Only my little Time Eater will stay white. And it won't have a V-8 like Max's Sunbeam Tiger. But other than that, things will be the same.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
moar funny pictures
Watch Star Trek on your PC
Victor Davis Hanson Hits one out of the Park
JF: The U.S. did steal Texas from the Mexicans in the 19th century. Isn’t there a certain justice in what is happening now, the land being gradually reclaimed by its original owners?
VDH: In the sense of the irony that Mexico stole its land from Spain, that stole it from the Indians. Though unlike Mexico, the U.S. legitimized its forced annexation through a treaty and payment. There surely is irony on all sides that long ago mobs of European Texans encroached on Mexican land and now their descendants face the same from Mexicans. That said, the greatest irony is the majority of Mexican citizens in Mexico who poll that (1) they think the southwestern U.S. really belongs to Mexico, and (2), the majority of such respondents still wish to leave Mexico and emigrate to the U.S.: the subtext being ‚we want the status and prestige of being Mexico, but don’t wish to live in what we subsequently create.’
Read the whole thing.
H/T: The Puppy Blender
Hooray for Henry Paulson!
In an interview yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson branded many of the aid proposals circulating in Washington as "bailouts" for reckless lenders, investors and speculators, rather than measures that would provide meaningful relief to deserving, but cash-strapped, mortgage borrowers.Banks loaned money to people with no income documentation and bad credit. People with bad credit and little income bought houses they couldn't afford. Just why do we need to rescue either side?
"I don't think I've seen any scenario where the American taxpayer needs to be stepping in with more taxpayer dollars," Mr. Paulson told The Wall Street Journal.
Administration officials "have been willing to broker deals, but they haven't been willing to put taxpayer money on the line," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, a West Chester, Pa., consulting firm. "I think they're trying to stick to those principles, and now they're running out of ideas that are consistent with those principles."
What if they had been buying cars with stupid loans, instead?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Cheezburger of the Day
World of Good, USMC Canine Rescue Style
A Request for Feline Theocraticians
Join Technorati. It only takes a couple of minutes and it provides a great service to find out who is linking to you. I use it all the time to track incoming links so I can surf over and thank the bloggers to found my stuff worth noting. If you're a member and you link to me or I link to you, we'll know about it without having to tell each other. It's really convenient and is another great metric to find out just how widely seen your blog is.
Obama's Innocence is the Only Weapon That Will Work Against Him
Republicans should learn from Hillary's campaign that Obama is remarkably adept at ridiculing the old style of campaigning. He cheerfully and in a cool, understated tone will slice and dice overly broad charges, such as Hillary's "inexperience" taunt or her ill-considered "words vs. action" charge...Overly broad charges against him are dangerous. Republicans will make a mistake if they take to calling him "too liberal for America." He is too liberal, but they need to make the charge specific point by specific point.Barack Obama may be the most thoroughly childish and innocent presidential candidate in 100 years. His positions are ones of European socialism, promising monstrous new government programs at a time when Europe is decaying from exactly those policies and the US is being crushed under a mountain of debt. Obama's foreign policy sounds like it was developed by a fifth grader who can't recall which country is which. Allies will be attacked and enemies comforted. You could throw a dart at a world map and say "We will negotiate with them!" and then throw another dart and say, "We will bomb them!" and end up with Obama's foreign policy.
Powerline posted a terrific excerpt of Obama's plans for the military.
This statement shows the depths of Obama's naivete: "I will slow development of future combat systems." Just how much slower are you going to make it? The Navy's aging fleet is eating us out of house and home in repair bills. If you want to save money in the long run, we need to accelerate procurement, not slow it down. This is not a difficult concept, yet Obama cannot seem to grasp it. Older cars are more expensive to maintain. So are older ships, aircraft and tanks. Obama flounders with concepts as basic as that.
So how do you defeat him? You have to educate the public. Unfortunately, from the looks of things, you'll need to educate the press first, fact by fact. In the meantime, their chickadee-sized brains will be absorbed by Oprah, Paris Hilton and Brad Pitt. It's going to take a coordinated effort to educate the voters and the press. At least McCain is starting out within striking distance of Obama and isn't 10 points behind already.
Ralph Nader is Right
Ralph Nader is right. Dig this.
Here's the result.
In November of 2004, 401 of the 435 sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives sought reelection. Of those 401, all but five were reelected. In other words, incumbents seeking reelection to the House had a better than 99% success rate (sic - it's better than 98%, but why quibble?). In the U.S. Senate, only one incumbent seeking reelection was defeated. Twenty-five of twenty-six (96%) were reelected.Ralph Nader said he knew he was going to lose, but he was trying to get the country to see how democracy had been stolen from them. He was willing to spend his time and energy pushing the concept along, one tiny step at a time.
As far as this part of his platform goes, more power to him.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Bay Park Sunset
My Son Driving Means Better Grades for my Daughter
I'm a single father. By the time my daughter has finished her homework at night, we're both too tired to review it. In the past, I had checked it in the morning when I had time. Sometimes I got to it, sometimes I didn't. There's only so much you can do when you've got a hard deadline of getting your son to school on time and his school starts before hers. Now that he's driving, that's all changed.
This morning, he blasted off to school on his own and I spent the time going over her homework thoroughly. She had many simple mistakes where she understood the material, but had made a trivial error that would have resulted in points taken off. I was able to catch all of them. Her homework grades should improve dramatically.
Meanwhile, I'm not getting to work any earlier than before. I don't mind. I just can't wait to see her grades for the next semester.
Message to the Democrats: We've Won the War in Iraq
In January of 1945, the Allies had yet to capture Berlin. Casualties still occurred. Despite these two facts, just about everyone on both sides knew the game was over. That's where we are right now.
I searched and searched through the article to find anything worth quoting, but only managed to come up with this.
Despite the Democratic presidential candidates' expressed commitment to ending the war in Iraq, there is unease among the party's base. Some ardent activists have suggested that upon election, a new Democratic president will come under inordinate pressure to sustain the U.S. military commitment to Iraq, albeit with some modifications. This concern demonstrates both the difficulty of ending a controversial war and the necessity of doing so.There's not much else to work with. Bush is a jerk and we need to spend the money at home is the theme. Even if we surrendered immediately and fled, we still don't need to spend the money at home, we need to stop spending the money at all. But that's another story.
In the meantime, the casualty rate has dropped dramatically, a key metric for fighting an Islamofascist terror campaign. The various political factions are finding common ground and are beginning to govern as a liberal democracy. One of the few, remaining crime kingpins, Muqtada al Sadr, is taking a pass on renewing his campaign of violence, knowing he'd get his brains beaten out if he did.
The war is just about over. We won. Maybe someone needs to tell the Democrats that.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Cheezburger of the Day
Thoughts on Barack Obama From Around The Theocracy
The Feline Theocracy has been abuzz with Obama fascination as well. Here's a quick sample of thoughts.
Our Court Jester (why isn't he one of your daily reads yet?) has pithy remarks about the messiah angle.
Our Chancellor of the Exchequer has an analysis of anti-business rhetoric from Barack.
Our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands points out that Obama is voting his convictions. Hillary isn't even showing up.
The Monks over at the Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings have a take on Michelle Obama's (innocent?) gaffe about finally being proud of America.
The Cantor of Chemistry has a soul-searching analysis of his opinion of Obama. I was surprised when I read it.
Holy Scholar Mark Shea has a good summary of our electoral choices. A summary that might make you spit coffee all over your monitor.
Lastly, our College of Cardinals has a different take on Michelle Obama's claim to finally have been proud of America.
There, that's a good round up for now. Have fun scoping them out and don't forget to leave a comment when you can!
Weekly Carnival Round Up
This week's Friday Ark has its usual assortment of cool animal links. My favorite this week was this one. Fantastic photography! As an aside, I've been visiting Pharyngula for the Weekly Cephalapod and am always amazed how politics keeps getting into their science. Weird.
This week's Carnival of the Cats was hosted by House of the (Mostly) Black Cats. These cats are curious about the snow. Cold and wet. How dreadful.
The Festival of Frugality has links to a whole bunch of posts about blowing your money on champagne flute-shaped stereo speakers and imported water from Peru. Err, not really. It's got lots of good posts like this one about being inwardly rich. It's worth visiting.
The Carnival of Family Life has all kinds of G-rated fun. Try this one, for example. It combines two of my favorite subjects. You'll see what I mean when you go there.
That's it for this week's carnivals. There are lots more and you can find them at Blogcarnival. For those of you just starting out as bloggers, I highly recomment participating in carnivals. It's an easy way to get links and a little bit of traffic for your site.
Update: This scheduled blog post didn't have it's own URL. How strange!
My Next Computer Will be an ARTiGO
I was taking a PERL class last week when the instructor, an incurable geek, brought in this way cool pico computer, an ARTiGO. It runs Linux and is about the size of a car stereo. It has an ethernet port and four USB ports as well as an output port for your monitor. It uses a standard laptop hard drive. Awesome!
I think I will always need at least one monstrous Windows machine to be able to communicate with all of my peripherals, but my satellite computers, like the ones kids could use for their homework, could all be ARTiGOs. The cost is certainly reasonable. Frys has them for $300, sans hard drive, monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
What Kind of RAM Should I Buy?
Update: Our Court Jester chimed in about crucial.com which, incidentally, is where I ultimately found the software tool to choose the right RAM.
The Perfect Scratching Post Cheezburger
Obama's Cult of Personality is Overblown
Another way to look at this is as an issue of the separation of church and state--for me one of the most important values of our society. Support of Obama has become a religion. And now it threatens to take over the state. It's not separated. And like most religions, it can mean different things to different people. Christ said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" for a very good reason. I'm not a Christian but I thank him for that. Those words made democracy possible. I don't want fainting spells at political rallies, anymore than I want cries of "Viva!" I want concerned voters. I'm worried.He's worried, but I'm not. America is a pretty pragmatic nation. Yes, we have the fanatics on both sides from Dittoheads who believe every word that comes from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh to the hate-encrusted lefties who want the entire Bush administration jailed. Looking to them or to the fainters at an Obama rally is not very instructive.
The worry about Obama's cult of personality is overblown. Yes, that's a big part of what we're dealing with, but an Obama presidency would probably be roughly equivalent to a repeat of Jimmy Carter. As the economy tanked because of his statist policies and we suffered defeats around the globe, Obama's cult of personality would evaporate very, very quickly. You wouldn't see club-wielding fanatics in the streets beating up people critical of Obama the way you do in Venezuela or Zimbabwe. Even now, much of the press adulation is beginning to slough off and reveal the standard American cynicism.
Presidents are punished or rewarded based on actual events. They get a lot more blame for things they can't control than praise for their eloquence.
Update: Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to have a great graphic on presidential approval ratings. Other than Bill Clinton, all of the presidents since Truman have seen a downward trend in their approval ratings. Clinton benefitted from his centrist tendencies, the tech bubble and the fiscal restraint of the Gingrich congress. Jimmy Carter got his brains beaten out as the economy fell apart and the Iranians humiliated us. No cult of personality there.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The New York Times Under Assault by McCain's Thugs
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said in an online forum Friday that he was surprised at the critical reaction to a story the paper published a day earlier that highlighted Sen. John McCain's relationship with a female lobbyist.Has the whole world gone upside down? Where's our freedom of the press? It's getting to be so that a publishing juggernaut can hardly print calumny based on unattributed hearsay about a war hero any more. Typical of the conservatives, they can't stand it when the press points out their flaws, particularly when those flaws are made up out of whole cloth.
"Personally, I was surprised by the volume of the reaction," including more than 2,400 comments on the paper's Web site, (Mr. Keller) said. "I was surprised by how lopsided the opinion was against our decision, with readers who described themselves as independents and Democrats joining Republicans in defending Mr. McCain from what they saw as a cheap shot."I miss the old days.
Update: neo-neocon has what might be the ultimate insult to the old, gray
Exxon is bad, Apple is Good
When will we see a massive outcry about Apple's price-gouging, consumer-robbing, grossly unfair, excess profits? How about never? After all, Apple is cool.
Why Florida and Michigan Should Count
The Democratic electorate of these two states comprises individual Democrats, individuals who typically have no control over when the states' primaries are held. This is particularly true in Florida, where the state government is Republican-dominated. You are single-handedly disenfranchising these people.To tell you the truth, I hadn't thought about the whole thing except as it related to the race on the Democratic side. Steve makes a very strong argument. It's not like the individual citizens of Florida had much of a chance to influence the Democratic party power brokers who were making the decisions. The whole thing is a mess.
Friday, February 22, 2008
A Lenten Theological Question
San Diego Rainfall Totals
Having whined about that, I finally got a hit with a Google search. Here's the page for California rainfall totals, updated every 24 hours.
As of this post, we've had 6.07" of rain. Last year was very dry, we had only 2.96" at this point. Our annual average to this point is 6.93", so despite what seems like unnaturally wet weather lately, we're actually a bit behind schedule. After this weekend, I'll bet we catch up.
It would be great to have a widget I could post on one of my sidebars that showed annual rainfall totals, updated automatically. I wonder how hard that would be to write in php.
How Much of the Election is Deterministic?
This question keeps coming into my head as I read about the emotional draw of Barack Obama. If you look at the comments on this blog and others, a lot of his appeal is emotional. If you compare the candidates, McCain is clearly the centrist and is the only one of the two who has actually reached across the aisle for legislative compromises. Barack has voted against all of them. His claim to be a force for national reconciliation is strictly rhetorical.
After his recent victories Barack finally gave a substantive policy speech and his policies are all out of the far left playbook. The concrete embodiments of his offers of hope are nothing more than the creeping (sometimes galloping) socialism of the past.
In last night's debate, he revealed that his beautifully phrased calls for the restoration of our international image amount to treating every regime like our equals. He was not willing to put preconditions on sitting down and talking with anyone. Sitting with despots and filling the air with words is hardly new.
So that leaves me wondering just how much the debates will matter. What difference will it make if McCain makes the point that he's been the driving force behind the bipartisan agreements that Obama opposed? Will anyone care that McCain understands international relations and the implications of war better than most?
How much of the election has already been determined?
Update: Here's a corollary question: How much of Obama's support is strictly hatred of Hillary? Are the Democrats buying a pig in a poke? A little Googling revealed a fund raising letter from Michelle Obama defending partial-birth abortions. If stabbing infants in the backs of their heads with scissors and sucking their brains out isn't extremist and unpopular, I don't know what is. I doubt the primary voters looked that hard at Barack. Buyer's remorse, anyone?
moar funny pictures
By the way, we made this with the Cheezburger builder. It's way cool.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Cheezburger of the Day
This was Pretty Devastating
This also illustrates why I don't like Chris Matthews at all. He finds a single question that rattles or stumps a guest and builds an entire case around it. It's not like anyone thought that Obama was some kind of legislative juggernaut in the first place. Still, the video is pretty telling.
Apparently, I Sleep in on Thursdays
Sleeping in. It's the natural enemy of blogging.
Sorry About That
Is that better?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I Loved This One
A Work Snark
We recently concluded the efforts of an Innovation Team at work. It was four people funded for 6 months to think futuristic thoughts about unmanned vehicles. They communicated their findings with the rest of us by PowerPoint and email. They did not blog, they did not wiki, they did not use our new web hosting capability.
Our futuristic Innovation Team used PowerPoint and email.
I wanted to scream.
Afghanistan Going the way of Iraq
Apparently the Taliban missed the part where al Qaeda got run out of Iraq, by Iraqis, because of the large number of civilians killed by terrorist bombs. The same cycle is playing out in Afghanistan. There were 140 bomb attacks in Afghanistan last year, and the Taliban are apparently trying to up that number this year. The Afghan police are arresting a lot of the terrorists. Many of the most skilled terrorists (who can build bombs and deploy them) are foreigners, and easy to spot. The skill level of Afghan suicide bomb teams is still low, with bomb makers still getting killed by their own creations, and most attacks killing nothing but bombers and civilians.Apparently, AQ has yet to absorb the lessons of Iraq. Bully for them, I say!
H/T: The Puppy Blender.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
A Week, a Month, a Year, Half Your Life, Update #3
Space?!? I think you're going there without me, amigo. Cats don't like outer space. No gravity means no beds to lay on.
Our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands has his entries up. I've known him for about 30 years and this is just the kind of thing I don't understand. Every place he names is cold. Every one. Of course, his fantastic photo from Patagonia nearly hooked me, but I quickly realized that there were no tropical beaches involved. On the whole, I was kind of shocked that Ulan Bator didn't make his list.
Another Way McCain Beats Obama
These doubts lead O.C.S. sufferers down the path to the question that is the Unholy of the Unholies for Obama-maniacs: How exactly would all this unity he talks about come to pass?All of the talk about Obama unifying and healing the country can be blown apart with these key facts. McCain is reviled by the "true conservative" suicide bombers in the Republican party for doing exactly what Obama claims he will do, but hasn't.
How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?
The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?
That's a pretty easy ad campaign to prepare and launch. I think it's devastating, too. Once you unveil Obama's claims of being the Great Faith Healer as a fraud, there's not much left of him.
Update: As the true conservative jihadists get the vapors over McCain, Christopher Buckley wisely suggests that they all breathe into a brown paper bag and calm down.
What Sites do you Read Regularly?
First, I perform my sacerdotal duties within the Feline Theocracy - feeding, watering, petting and praising our Maximum Leader, not necessarily in that order.
Next, I make a cup and a half of coffee of which I will typically only drink one cup. My combat with caffeine has been chronicled in the past.
I then go into the game room where our big PC lives and go through a few websites before I start blogging. I read Instapundit, Real Clear Politics, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and as many members of the Feline Theocracy as I can.
I frequently find really cool posts or articles from these sites that I don't want to comment on, but would like to bring to your attention. Many times I don't because I figure that you all have seen them already. I mean, if Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has linked to a post, then what good is it for me to link to it from here? Glenn's readership is in the hundreds of thousands. However, it's beginning to dawn on me, that's not what matters. What matters is if you have seen those interesting tidbits. This is not a megablog and it never will be. It's just a way to reach out and make new friends.
So what do you read regularly? If I post a link that I find on Instapundit is it new to you? How about the WSJ? Is there a blog you recommend I add to my morning routine to share with everyone else? Inquiring minds want to know.
Thanks in advance for any and all comments.
A Few Quick Links
The Festival of Frugality is up. My Dave Ramsey post was included in the set.
Fausta's blog has a roundup of reactions from the blogosphere to Fidel Castro's announcement that he will resign. (H/T: The Puppy Blender)
I Love Scheduling Posts
Will John McCain's Straight Talk Win Men's Votes?
Blue-collar men could also emerge as an important swing constituency in November -- either backing the Democrats' eventual nominee, or shifting to some degree toward Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, whose war record and straight-talking approach could make him appealing to many working-class men.Gooey, nebulous orations about hope and change probably won't work well with the guys who played offensive lineman in high school. Shrill cackling from a harpy probably won't wear well, either.
I would suspect that a war hero talking honestly will play a lot better with these guys than either Obama or Hillary. It's not about race or sex, it's about matching what you think a president should be with what the candidates are. If you want toughness and honesty, it's hard to pick anyone but McCain.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Anyone Want to Nominate Us?
Update: I also would like to recommend nominating our Court Jester for funniest Catholic blog and our Holy Scholar, Christine for best overall Catholic blog. I just went over and nominated them, but if they got a few more votes, they might just get to the voting stage.
A Week, A Month, A Year, Half Your Life Update #2
Our new Friar of Fatherhood posted his entries. A lot of us seem to be going to New Zealand for a year. I like it!
OK, so I just did a Google search. The meme has gone crazy! Always Advent has several sets of answers. This one from his son suggests spending time in Charlie's Chocolate factory. Yuck! Now if it was a tuna factory...
His daughter goes the Magic Treehouse route. I can understand that one.
His other daughter was interested in being in the house band for Jabba the Hut. Ewww!
The perpetual Adventist has his own set of answers and they are much more Earthly. Having said that, they're also a lot colder than mine. Brrr.
If I've missed any, please let me know. I keep thinking that there is someone out there who played, but I didn't link to. Hmmmm.
Update: Yikes! I forgot our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings! So sorry, Dean! Dean's chosen lots of desert places and some cold ones, too. At least we agree on San Diego.
In the meantime, I'm going to tag our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands, new Cantor of Chemistry and our Precentor of Measurements.
Scheduling Posts in Blogger
This week's Carnival of the Cats is up over at Mog's place. My favorite one from the Carnival was this one, also from Mog.
Dave Ramsey Cash Envelope System Report Card
First, I budgeted for all of my known costs. Mortgage, insurance, utilities (estimated), property taxes, averaged car repair per month, savings, school tuition for the kids and so forth. These were all of the items that were going to remain constant regardless of my monthly activities. It is crucial to note that savings was considered a fixed expense.The remaining money from my paychecks was put into an envelope (an electronic one in my case) and was used to cover all variable expenses such as food, gas for the cars, clothes and so forth. Anything that wasn't explicitly budgeted came out of my remaining cash with no exceptions. That "no exceptions" rule proved crucial.
The last several months have taught me a great deal. First, I've learned to be even more frugal than before. As I've tracked the money in my "envelope" I've learned that every dollar counts. Here's why.
Say you earn $5000 per month. Does it make a difference if you save $1 on a purchase? Would it make a difference to you if you had brought home $5001 or $4999 instead? You'd hardly know the difference.
After taking out all of your fixed costs, say you're left with $400 each month out of your $5000. If you've got a big mortgage or major credit cards to pay off, that can happen. That $1 is heck of a lot more important now, isn't it? That concept of marginal utility is what makes Dave Ramsey's system work. A dollar is worth more to a poor person than it is to Bill Gates.
By removing your fixed costs and dealing only with what's left, you find yourself feeling much poorer than before. The math hasn't changed, but your perception of the world certainly has. That change in perception brings with it a change in spending habits.
The second thing I learned was why that "no exceptions" rule was important. When expensive times of the year come around, like Christmas or birthdays, your first impulse is to take these once-a-year purchases off budget. It's not like you're going to be buying gifts for your kids all the time. After all, that money you're saving can be stopped for one month to take care of the things the kids or spouse want, right?
Once you start taking things off budget, discipline breaks down and you can begin excusing all kinds of things. Remember, Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal. As painful as it is, those gifts have to come out of your puny cash envelope. This one bit me in December. I had saved some money through the previous few months and thought I had enough to carry me through Christmas. Here's where my modifications to the Dave Ramsey system hurt me. Instead of using a real, live cash envelope, I used an Excel spreadsheet to track that budget item.
I got busy doing other things and stopped tracking my finances until after the Holidays. It was a classic blunder leading to a classic forehead-smacking moment when I sat down and tallied up the spending. Ouch! I was sorely tempted to give myself a one-time indulgence and write it off, but I decided not to. That was just too much of a slippery slope. Had I been using the real cash envelope, I would have known I was heading towards the rocks. Instead, I ended up in the red in my Excel spreadsheet and have had to really tighten the belt lately to drag myself back out.
That leads to the third lesson of the experiment. If you're not going to use a real envelope with cash in it for this budget, then you need to keep on top of it all the time. If you don't, the situation can get away from you.
The last lesson I learned was that none of this was painful at all. Quite to the contrary, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I have financial peace and I've had a good time finding bargains. Thanks to things like Craig's List, I'm still able to go out and buy some pretty nice stuff. Thanks to my Dave Ramsey system, I'm much more motivated to do it. I recently bought a 36" TV for $40 from Craig's List. Way cool! It took a little patience to wait for one to show up, but it finally did and I've now got a good TV in my living room for hundreds of dollars less than I would have paid retail.
Had I not used the Dave Ramsey Envelope System, I would not have put the same value on my money and probably would have ended up with a new TV and a whole lot of financial stress. I'll take the old one and financial peace any day of the week.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Life Lessons Learned Coaching 5th Grade Girls' Soccer
By the second half, I had a full-scale revolt on my hands.
The girls who had to play defense were rightfully angry at not getting to move into other positions. They played with their arms folded and spent a lot of time talking to each other while on the field. When the ball came down to our end, they only grudgingly went after it.
To make matters worse, in the first half, I had put one of my primadonnas at center midfield. One of her jobs was to get back on defense when the other team pushed the ball into our end. She didn't want to do that and decided instead to play as if she was a forward.
Faced with enraged players on defense, halfway through the second half I swapped positions and made my primadonnas play defense so I could let at least two of the revolutionaries play something else. My primadonnas decided to play as if they were midfielders instead. It was chaos.
We ended the game tied, 1-1, which was far more than we deserved.
The problem was not where the girls were playing, nor was the problem my decisions. The underlying problem is this: You play team sports for your teammates, not for yourself. Everyone was playing for themselves. If this isn't corrected, this team is going to either lose a lot more games or blow apart in catfights and then lose a lot more games.
We're going to have a team meeting on Tuesday and I'm going to try to get the point across that when you don't play your position, you're telling the rest of the team that you're more important than they are. You're saying that you matter than all the rest of them combined. It's not about the coach, it's about your relationship with your friends on the team.
I hate to lose. I hate it. However, I'm willing to blow the rest of the season and miss the playoffs in order to make this point.
What is true on the soccer field is true in life in general. As a husband or father or mother or wife, your performance is about the family, not about yourself. At your job, your performance is about the group, not about yourself. Families and organizations that forget this end up like our soccer team. They become filled with angry, sulking members who just want the whole thing to be over or primadonnas who think they're too good for everyone else.
This isn't LSU football. It's 5th grade, Catholic school, girls' soccer. It's not a big deal if we don't win the championship. However, it is a big deal if we miss the chance to teach the girls about selflessly working together as a team.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Another Two Converts to the Feline Theocracy!
First, let us welcome Ohioan at Heart into the Theocracy, granting him the title Cantor of Chemsitry. Our new Cantor of Chemistry is a good friend from work who is working his way into blogging both in the real world and within the confines of our jobs.
Second, let us welcome in our new Friar of Fatherhood, Ron Up North. He's another realtively new blogger who was very kind to link to The Scratching Post a while back. He has also played in our week-month-year-half your life game, an update to which we shall post shortly.
In the meantime, let the tuna flow into the crystal goblets and let water be drunk straight from the tap! It is a day of wondrous rejoicing for all!
Each member of the Feline Theocracy is given permission to post this handsome graphic on their blogs, designed by the Official Artist of the Theocracy, Justin.
Long live the Theocracy!
You Know you Have too Much to do When...
Friday, February 15, 2008
Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq
After he was injured by an IED, he refused a chance to leave. The money quote from the video comes from this event. "You don't want to go home, you want to come back here to finish the job. You want to be with your troops because you believe in what you're really doing."
The Republicans Have Wrecked Their Own Brand
In a marketing sense, a brand is the aggregate of expecations and feelings that consumers have about the organization behind it. When you think of Hummer, you think of incredibly sturdy, military-type passenger vehicles. When you think of Petco, you think of a one-stop shop for all your pet needs.
Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich branded the Republican party as the group devoted to smaller government and fiscal responsibility. Newt was more successful than Reagan in actually achieving this, but that's because Congress makes the budgets, not the president.
Looking at the press releases coming out of Barack Obama's campaign, it's pretty obvious that they are going to try to tie John McCain to president Bush and our upcoming massive deficits, despite the fact that McCain fought the wild increases in spending almost every step of the way. The Republican party has wiped out its brand through profligate spending and fiscal irresponsibility.
Buick could run ads all day long suggesting that they make performance sports cars, but no one would ever believe it. That's because we can all see with our own eyes that Buick actually manufactures sofas on wheels. Ferrari makes performance cars, not Buick. All the ads in the world won't change the brand.
While Rush and Sean Hannity and the entire Republican party can have websites and talk shows and ad campaigns saying they are in favor of limited government and fiscal responsibility, it will do very little good. We can all see with our own eyes that the budget deficit is going to be more than $400B. While the Democrats are now the ones passing these budgets and have plans to drive the deficit even higher, the Republicans deserve plenty of blame for all of it. They can no longer distinguish their brand from that of the Democrats.
That's going to be a heavy burden for McCain to bear as the campaign goes forward even though he doesn't deserve to be tarred with the same brush. Isn't it ironic that the RINO the "true conservatives" all despise is the one who is going to pay the price for their mistakes?
The black band below is the ground and the dark band above are the clouds, still heavy with rain.
Why Football is Better Than School
2. In football, teenagers are encouraged to excel.In his math classes, my son is not trying to reach calculus as fast as he can so he can start dealing with important physics and chemistry problems, he's asked to go at the same pace as everyone else. It's boring because he could be done with the course work by now, but he has to wait it out.
By this, I don't mean performing up to someone's standards (which may already be limited), but to go beyond anything they've ever been asked to do before, to constantly improve. There is no such thing as "good enough." We congratulate players on their improvements, but we don't give them much time to be complacent we ask them to do even more. In the classroom, we give them a test on polynomials, and the best result they can get is to score high enough to never have to deal with polynomials again.
4. In football, a player can let the team down.If my son gets bad grades (he most certainly does not) it has no impact on anyone else. At work, if you're a slacker, the people around you get angry and, er, motivate you to do better.
Personal effort is linked to more than personal achievement: it means the difference between making the team better or making it weaker, the difference between making a player's teammates and coaches grateful for his presence or irritated with his apathy. A single player can make his peers better than they would have been without him. That's a huge incentive that we take away from the classroom with our constant emphasis on individual outcomes.
It's a great post. Read the whole thing.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Blogging Will Be Light This Morning
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
February 12 Sunset Video
Update: The video I uploaded to YouTube got tagged as a copyright infringement because of the 90 seconds worth of the Swing Out Sister song I used as the soundtrack. I haven't had time to remix the video with a different song. When I get a chance to do so, I'll reload this post and put it back up at the top.The music is Swing Out Sister's Don't Say a Word. After watching the camera's auto-exposure software struggle with one sunset after another, I've decided to set the next one manually. When I've tried that in the past, the initial portion of the sunset just blows the video away, awash in bright light as the camera stares directly at the sun. If you don't do this then the remainder of the video is so dark that you miss all the wonderful colors of the sunset. I'm willing to take a chance with that just to see what happens with the rest of the video.
This will also allow me to fix the focus on inifinity. When the light dims in these sunsets, the camera has been trying all different focal lengths which is why the lights of the beach communities keep going in and out of focus.
I know this video is a bit on the slow side. This time I set the video length to match the pace of the song. What do you think? What would you change in these videos?
I Don't See McCain Losing to Obama
Meanwhile, Hillary is Hillary. She is simply the most hated politician in the country. She can't possibly win because she starts with such a huge disadvantage. That's even before Bill gets out on the campaign trail again and starts saying ridiculous things. I don't see the Republicans making any gains at all in the legislature, but I sure think McCain can win the presidency.
I think that the presidential election will be about the person and the congressional elections will be about the parties. There's no question that the Republicans have completely obliterated their brand through corruption and incompetence. They deserve to be beaten there. I just think that McCain will be such an obviously superior choice that he will win.
As an aside, there was a great commentary piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday called McCain and the talk show hosts. Here's a taste of it.
Half a dozen talk-radio hosts whose major talent is that, like hairdressers, they can talk all day long to one client after another as they snip, have decided that the presumptive Republican nominee does not hew sufficiently close to their gospel.The links are mine, not the author's. In any case, I loved it.
As anyone who has listened to them knows, the depth of their thought is truly Oprah-like. And if a great institution of the left can weigh-in as it does in the choice of a nominee, why not its fraternal twins on the right? It doesn't matter that Mitt Romney, suddenly their Reagan, became a conservative in a flash of light sometime last year, or that their other champion, a populist theocrat, is in many ways as conservative as Vladimir Lenin. The task is to stop the devil McCain.
Update: Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive went to an Obama rally and found it to be like a rock concert. That will work in the primaries, but I can't imagine it will sell far beyond that.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A Week, A Month, A Year, Half Your Life - Update 1
All of the responses so far have really brightened my day. I keep smiling as I think of all the cool places the respondents wrote about.
Our Holy Scribe, Niall, gave his responses here. Niall hit the Catholic theme in a way I hadn't thought of. He ends in place that would be fun for me. You'll just have to go check it out and see what I mean.
Wollf our Pater of Prowling, blogged his entry here. It turns out that Wollf and I would spend a year together, but not much else. Too cold, Wollf, too cold! I needs my sunbeams! I must has them! (Sorry, I fell back into lolspeak there.)
Two of our initial tagged bloggers are still working on their responses, but thanks to Niall, I've now found the blog of Sci-Fi Catholic. Niall tagged him and his responses are here. His responses are unusual to say the least.
Wollf tagged our Grand Inquisitor and her responses can be found on her new blog, The Coffee Shop. I'm with ya on the Maldives, Rose, but after that I'll be content to converse by email. :-)
More updates as the responses roll in.
Nuclear Power is Coming Back
China is doing for coal what it once did for oil: pushing prices to new highs, adding more pressure to the creaking global economy.
China has long been a huge supplier of coal to itself and the rest of the world. But in the first half of last year, it imported more than it exported for the first time, setting off a near-doubling of most coal prices around the world.
This news leads to the question: How will we generate electricity in the future? Here's how we do it now.
With oil and coal prices shooting up, will consumers be willing to pay more for electricity or will they finally get fed up with the endless opposition to nuclear power and demand that some plants get built? Financial pressure has a way of changing the minds of the public and the politicians. I suspect that Yucca Mountain's nuclear waste disposal site will be operational within a decade.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Guest Blogging at Justin's
I'm Getting Enthusiastic for McCain
Despite his myriad apostasies ... the Arizona Republican could do for fiscal responsibility what Ronald Reagan did for tax relief...Now that's a candidate to vote for with enthusiasm!
“Reagan had a Democratic House to contend with, so anything he achieved was to the good,” Tanner explains. “The elder president Bush was sort of a non-event. Clinton and a Republican Congress represented the most fiscally conservative period. And this President Bush and a Republican Congress were a disaster.
McCain largely has refused to be led into temptation. He supported 2001’s $143.4 billion No Child Left Behind Act, but fought 2002’s $180 billion farm bailout, 2003’s $558 billion Medicare drug entitlement, and 2005’s $286.4 billion highway bill, which contained 6,371 earmarks worth $24 billion.
“Those were the four biggest budget-busting bills of the Bush presidency,” notes Heritage Foundation fiscal analyst Brian Riedl. “And McCain voted against three of them.”...
McCain has stayed tightfisted on the hustings. According to a January National Taxpayers Union study of presidential candidates’ promises, McCain wants $6.9 billion in new spending. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee advocates $54.2 billion in government-funded initiatives. Huckabee’s folksy profligacy should worry taxpayers.
“You would not have to look hard for reasons to dislike McCain,” says Cato’s Michael Tanner. “But if spending is what you care about, he is far more conservative than either Romney or Huckabee."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
What's it Like in Pyongyang, North Korea?
A Week, A Month, A Year, Half Your Life
The Rules for A Week, A Month, A Year, Half Your Life
Pick four places on the globe. The first you will stay at for a week, the second for a month, the third for a year and the last one you will live half your life. You can add photos or text if you want to illustrate why you would live there or you can just give one word responses. Link back to this post in your response. Tag three other bloggers and ask them to play. If you don't get tagged, but still want to play, then by all means do so. Let me know when your answers are up and I'll link back to you.
A Week - Thailand
A Month - Cairns, Australia
A Year - Aukland, New Zealand
Half my Life - San Diego, CA
Hmmm. I think I see a thread in all of this. Warm beaches. :-)
OK, let's see here, who to tag? Let's go with our Pater of Prowling, our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings our Holy Scribe and just because I'm making up the rules as I go along, I'll pick a fourth - our Holy Scholar, Mog. I can't wait to see what they come up with!
The ACLU Ranks the Candidates
I have to admit that I'm not quite sure how the ACLU would rank the candidates in the first place. Do you get 3 points if you cower in fear at anything resembling a cross and 5 points if seeing a pedophile with a group of boys makes you feel warm inside?
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Momma's Girls Just Keep Blooming
Thinking of Moving to Linux?
Mitt Romney and Conservative Delusions
Yesterday I was driving home from work and in a fit of schadenfreude, I tuned in to Hugh Hewitt's show just to listen to him eat crow on McCain. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I heard Dean Barnett, filling in for Hugh, enter the right wing echo chamber and proceed to interview some dingbat from NRO and then the "Beltway Boys". He could have just interviewed himself and gotten the same result.
What did they have to say? Well, the theme is that Mitt Romney will be a great candidate for 2012. I don't know how much clearer we have to make this, but let me try one more time.
We don't like Mitt Romney. Not at all. Not even a little bit. The more we got to know him, the less we liked him. That's how and why he lost. His net favorable rating, that is, his positive ratings minus his negative ratings, went down as time went on. Again, the more we got to know him, the less we liked him.
Mitt essentially ran unopposed in the primaries. He outspent his rivals by factors of 5-1, 10-1 or even higher. He owned the airwaves. Talk radio and the right wing establishment adopted him as their favorite son. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt and Laura Ingraham gave him 3-hour campaign commercials every day of the week. Other than Michael Medved pitching for McCain, no other candidate had backers like this. A key difference was that Medved was always respectful of McCain's opponents while the rest were not.
That is a crucial point.
Mitt's ad campaigns were decidedly negative. He attacked his opponents constantly. If his TV and radio commercials were nasty, his radio surrogates were postively vicious. Rush Limbaugh, totally consumed with hatred of McCain, still hasn't given up his childish imitations and venomous commentary.
That's who Mitt is. That's why most of us despise him.
Mr. Clean Cut, All-American Boy
Mr. Family Man Righteous Mormon Christian Conservative was, in fact, a venomous, backstabbing, lying weasel. He talked a good game, but when it came down to it, his campaign was built entirely around destroying everyone opposed to him. Let me make this perfectly clear. He was responsible for the actions of his supporters in the media.
When Rush and Sean and the rest began their attack dog antics against McCain on his behalf, Mitt could easily have called them up and asked them to show respect for the man. It's not like he didn't know it wasn't happening. While Hugh Hewitt was destroying his reputation and making an ass of himself on a daily basis for him, Mitt could have told him to restrain himself. Mitt talked to Hugh frequently.
Mitt knew all of this was going on and allowed Rush and Sean and Hugh to destroy themselves with a good portion of their listeners for his sake. He doesn't give a rat's rear end about anyone but himself. The campaign is over now and Mitt was crushed in California. He will go home to his $200M or whatever he has and Hugh and Rush and Sean will go back in to work every day and face the wreckage they created when they turned into attack dogs for Mitt.
Mitt allowed his supporters to self-destruct. He implicitly encouraged them to become filled with hate for McCain and Huckabee as well. After all, he kept giving them syrupy interviews as they kept slashing and burning their way across the airwaves.
Hugh Hewitt caught on the wire and machine gunned for Mitt.
So now all Mitt's dupes and proxies in the media are blathering on about him being the front runner for 2012. What a pack of morons. Remember, Mitt was not a businessman so much as he was a salesman. As a marketing professional myself, I could see it happen every time he did interviews for these guys. He hooked them all and reeled them in. When a marketer of Mitt's prowess lacks integrity, this is what you get. What the right wing media don't seem to understand is that we didn't get hooked along with them.
We saw right through him.
Carnivals from Last Week
Last week I was too busy to post links to my favorite blog carnivals, so I'll just do it now.
If you want to see the best in pet and animal blogging, stop by the Friday Ark. My favorite part of the Ark is always the invertebrates section. If you have not seen the Backyard Arthropod Project, then you just have to stop by at least once to marvel at this blogger's outstanding work. Myrmecos Blog also has some terrific beetle photography. If you're not a fan of invertebrates, the technical prowess in photographing tiny objects alone is still worth the visit to those blogs.
Carnival of the Cats last week was hosted by When Cats Attack. There's a great story about a cat and a fawn meeting with a very pretty photograph. I've always enjoyed Rahel's Elms in the Yard blog and her post on the Lady in Red is touching. Stop by and take a look.
Both carnivals have lots more to explore. If you get a chance, surf on over and click around.
Friday, February 08, 2008
The Morning Routine
Around 5 AM or so, I finally get up, go downstairs and make coffee and then open the door to the laundry room to let her in. I always find her on top of our stackable washer/dryer. Here's the scene from this morning. The picture has the orange tint because I used the ceiling lights and no flash on the photo. Our Maximum Leader doesn't like the flash in her eyes.
Every day, I say the same thing to her. "Dryer cat...is dry."
We are creatures of habit, she and I.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
If You Ever Wondered What it was Like to be in a Caucus
Mitt Romney is NOT Staying in the Race
So why is he staying in the race? Dig this quote from Romney's top spokesman.
"We feel very confident about our chances moving forward, and frankly, I didn't think (Super Tuesday) was the day Senator McCain hoped it would be," Fehrnstrom said. "He wanted to be the presumptive nominee this morning and, clearly, he's not."Huh? The score is 720-279. Here's an animal graph of the situation.
So Mitt is staying in the race so that he can...what? Get thrashed even more?
Does Southwest Texas Technical College ask for a fifth quarter of football when it plays LSU?
Update: Mitt has decided to suspend his campaign, effectively giving the nomination to McCain. Way to go, Mitt! I changed the title of this post to reflect this new development.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Separated at Birth - Dr. John and Dr. Teeth
Don't believe me? Dig this.
Who knew that Dr. Teeth was so influential in the world of N'awlins jazz?
Mike Huckabee and a Brokered Convention
Mike Huckabee is staying in the race because he hates Mitt Romney. Rudy endorsed McCain for the same reason. Small wonder after Mittens burned through tens of millions of dollars sliming everyone else. Mitt easily ran the most negative campaign of the bunch and his surrogates in talk radio and the blogosphere tripped all over themselves to see who could be the most vile and hate-filled. Dig this post from Hugh Hewitt spreading disinformation about Fred Thompson's cancer.
The moral of the story is that hate doesn't work. It didn't work for the Kos Kids against Joe Lieberman and it didn't work here.
Our good friends over at Stopthe ACLU are wondering if a white knight will come in to save the "true conservatives" during the convention. No way.
All the money in the world can't elect an empty suit that tries to slash and burn his way to the nomination.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Mitt Romney's Theme Song
In case you're wondering, here's Hillary's theme song and Obama's theme song.
Why I am Voting for John McCain
He was against the Bush tax cuts. President Bush just gave congress a budget that is $405B+ in the red. For a family of four, that adds more than $5700 to the debt that they will eventually have to pay off. Cutting taxes in the middle of a deficit amounts to a payday loan.
He was against the prescription drug plan supported by President Bush and all of the other candidates. One more time, that's $5700+ more debt for your family this year and next year as well. We're so far out of money, it's not even funny.
John McCain will win the war on Islamofascism. Period. He'll also call it what it is, not a "War on Terror."
If you hadn't told me that McCain-Feingold existed, I would never have known. I don't see that it's such a big deal. Money will get into politics one way or another, like water going around a rock in a stream. Whatever.
If you want to deport all the illegals, go ahead, but you can do it without me. First, show me how you will replace them in our fields and other businesses. Show a balance sheet for a California Central Valley farm both before and after the illegal aliens have been deported. Yes, I want you to behave like a grown up. Maybe you can work out the numbers on a napkin over a salad.
He can win the general election. You can't win an election with only the fringe, and that's all Huckabee and Romney are drawing right now. President Reagan won with Democrat votes. The hard line, "true" conservative isn't likely to get many crossover votes, particularly when they can't even get the moderates of their own party. Why waste your vote on a doomed nominee?
That just about covers it. I don't agree with everything he says, but for my money, McCain is the best choice.