Monday, April 29, 2013

I'm Sorry, She's Busy. Please Come Back Later.

The Head of the Catican Guards protects our Maximum Leader during her afternoon meditations.
Note: The odd stripe coming diagonally down the stairs is an artifact from using the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop. There was a patch of sunlight from our skylight on the stairs and the image came out in a dark section and a very bright section. Sloppy use of the Quick Selection Tool allowed me to increase the brightness on most of the dark section of the image, but I missed that strip. Oh well.

I left the image fairly large, so it might be worth a click to see the big version. I love these two dearly, so that advice comes from a highly biased source.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Underlying Fallacy In Subjective Morality

In 2004, Barack Obama was interviewed by Cathleen Falsani where he gave a reply about sin that typifies subjective morality.
FALSANI: “Do you believe in sin?”
OBAMA: “Yes.”
FALSANI: “What is sin?”
OBAMA: “Being out of alignment with my values.”
Such a concept works for an individual because "my values" includes all moral proscriptions that make sense to them. The interviewer did not come back at Mr. Obama with, "So, you don't have any problem with murder, do you?" even though under his own definition of sin, murder would not be a sin for, say, the gang members in Chicago.

If that seems like a stretch, consider Dr. Gosnell's slaughterhouse and his inhuman employees. For years, they knowingly slew living babies. There's no indication from the transcripts that I've read that this was "out of alignment with their values." Therefore, snipping babies' spines was not a sin.

Again, that might seem like an extreme case. For my examples, I first chose young men raised in a feral environment where civilization has broken down and then I chose what seems to be a unique case of a psychopath who hired people desperate for work. Surely I can't be suggesting that such outliers are indicative of larger moral rot, can I?

Dig this.
In an undercover sting operation, a woman who was 23-plus weeks pregnant (abortion is illegal in New York and other states after 24 weeks) secretly recorded the conversations she had in this abortionist’s office. 
In an exchange laden with euphemisms on both sides to conceal the gruesome nature of the discussion, the pregnant woman wondered aloud what would happen if “it” (her fetus) emerged from her intact and alive. 
The employee assigned to take note of medical history reassured the woman, “We never had that for ages” (a seeming admission that a baby did survive abortion at the clinic at least once) but that should “it” “survive this,” “They would still have to put it in like a jar, a container, with solution, and send it to the lab. . . . We don’t just throw it out in the garbage.” 
Oh, and this innocuous-sounding “solution” was, of course, a toxic substance suitable for killing an infant. 
“Like, what if it was twitching?” asked the pregnant woman. 
“The solution will make it stop,” said the clinic employee. “That’s the whole purpose of the solution . . . It will automatically stop. It won’t be able to breathe anymore.”
In past blog posts, I wondered about Gosnell's employees. At the time, one could assure oneself that they were aberrations like him, freaks of society whose sense of right and wrong had been warped somehow to the point where cracking babies' spines was no different than cracking walnuts.

They don't seem like aberrations any more.

Somehow the abortionists covered in these stings were able to find employees perfectly willing to drown babies in poisonous solutions.

The underlying safety net beneath subjective morality is that no matter how "diverse" someone else's values are, you'd bet the farm that "normal" people would never cross the imaginary line you've got in your head and willingly [insert the worst thing you can think of here].

Are you so willing to place that bet now?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Music For Stressful Times

A while back, I moved my entire music collection up to Google. I now have access to it wherever I am - the office, the car, the Catican, etc. I've made some fun playlists, particularly for my cooking so if I'm cooking French, I hear lots of Jacques Brel and Joe Dassin and if it's N'awlins/Southern, I listen to a mix of Buckwheat Zydeco, Louis Prima and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I've got Ratt, Van Halen and Rolling Stones mixes for times where I need plenty of energy.

But what to listen to when times are really, really stressful?

I discovered recently that when the stress meter hits 10, I tune in to Fred Astaire on Google Music or Praise and Worship on Pandora. Don't ask me why, it just happens. Thanks to the pack of ignorant and belligerent SharePoint savages at work, I had a few days this week where our whole team felt like we were under some kind of zombie apocalypse siege*. We were forced to go to meeting after meeting where we were outnumbered and ambushed by drooling, mindless, flesh-eating SharePoint undead. When we finally felt cornered to the point that we took out our guns and started blasting their heads off (an easy thing to do as they mentally move so slowly), we were taken to task for that.

So the needle on the Stress Meter hit 10 and what did I turn on? Fred Astaire and Jesus.

Crazy, man. Just crazy.

A particular favorite of mine.

* - Then we went and did customer support and customer interviews and discovered that the vast majority of the workforce loves us.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Piranhas Nomming

I thought this was pretty cool.

6 Unhappy Million People With A Lot Of Time On Their Hands

In Spain, the unemployment rate has passed 27%.
The ranks of the unemployed in Spain climbed above six million for the first time ever as the jobless rate hit an unprecedented 27 percent in the first quarter of the year, this despite an easing of the recession in the period.
That's a powder keg waiting for a match.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cheezburger of the Day

So We Declare Chicago Gangs To Be Terrorists. Then What?

LZ Granderson, writing at CNN Opinion, wants the government to declare the Chicago street gangs "Terrorist Organizations."

And then ...?

Drone strikes? Waterboarding? Massive POW camps?

Yay! We detained them! Now we'll ... um ...
From a cursory glance, LZ looks to be a generic progressive. More money for schools, lots of awareness-raising, plenty of government intervention. Here's where his thought process takes him.
And if the name attached to all of this violence were al-Qaeda instead of Gangster Disciples; or if instead of "gang violence" the bloodshed were called "terrorism;" or if instead of calling the people spreading fear and mayhem gangs we were to call them what they really are -- terrorists -- the nation would demand more be done.
"Demand more be done" is shorthand for "I win the political argument and the government will now spend more money, start new programs, invest in infrastructure, fight for diversity and stop Global Warming Climate Change."

As the gun violence in Chicago is simply a marker of the decay of civilization as a whole, it's not clear just what declaring the gangs to be terrorists would do. To me, it goes in the wrong direction. Terrorists are aliens, they are distant from American society. They are outsiders that come here to kill us. These aren't aliens, they are the children of our own cultural choices.

If the gangs are terrorists, does that make gangsta rappers their fire-breathing imams and Time Warner their chain of extremist mosques?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Pink Police State Is Unsustainable

James Poulos has a term for America's parallel descents into libertine morals and massive government - the Pink Police State. Here's a sample of what he had to say about it.
So citizens of a Pink Police State (I should say subjects) are apt to surrender more and more political liberty in exchange for more and more cultural or 'personal' license. And the government of a Pink Police State tends to monopolize and totalize administrative control while carving out a permissive playpen for the people.
Read the whole thing. It's excellent.

As I've blogged ad nauseum, the libertine culture's deliberate destruction of the traditional family wrecks the economic foundation of the nation by producing an ever-growing percentage of marginally employable youth. Meanwhile, the State takes greater and greater responsibility and control over our lives to provide what we need so we can pursue excess. Unable to pay for those things because the tax base is shrinking while the spending demands increase, we get juxtapositions like this one from today's Der Spiegel.

We need to keep borrowing. We want to eliminate any hierarchy of sexual relationships.
The culture that produced unsustainable debt is the same one that wants to eliminate any preference for the traditional family. We're not such a complicated species that the same forces aren't at work in the two places.

Enjoy your libertine moment in the sun. It won't last.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dealing With Minor Sabotage And Annoying Snipers At Work

Lately at work, my team has had to interact with individuals who are bitterly clinging to the hope that our organization will shell out huge dollars for a SharePoint instance. Looking through our server logs, we've found that none of the MSFT partisans have used our existing intranet tools - blogs, wiki, social networking, etc. On top of that, none of them could write a line of code if you held a gun to their heads.

They're ignorant, intolerant, aggressive and quite vocal. They are also a small minority. Our stats show massive use of our products, continual growth and declining trouble ticket generation. Despite this, some of our leadership is marginally in their camp and has encouraged their agitations by commissioning a team of them to do an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA).

The AoA is a total waste of time. We've got nothing like the kind of money necessary to roll out SharePoint even if it did provide something of value, which the growing AoA tables and charts are showing it does not. The SP partisans aren't any better at business case analysis than they are at HTML or PHP and so they fight on, using any tool that comes to hand to make their case. The result is days like yesterday where a colleague and I had to spend an hour in someone's office defending Google search as a method to find things. He then went on to another hour of a leadership meeting under even worse conditions.

You heard me right, they question the value of Google search.

Rather than enduring this any longer and then boozing it up when I get home to deal with the unvented anger, I sat outside last night with a (small) glass of wine and mused.

The thing to realize is that no matter how complicated things are, there are only a small, finite number of actual issues. I can't find things with Google search, the sites don't have a common look and feel, wiki is an unfamiliar technology and I live a sad and lonely life and hope that MSFT can find me a date.

It's hard to do, but to counter this kind of slander, you've got to separate your emotions from the attacks and develop a sound counter-argument to each one. Those counter-arguments need to be memorized and trotted out every time the snarling starts. You've got to program yourself to robotically spew forth the logic and data that led you to the decisions you made. While they're waving their arms and raging or smirking and taking pot shots, you need to remain calm and detached, slaying each in turn with minimal effort and no venom.

Without a canned, prepared response to each attack, you're just playing a particularly unpleasant game of whack-a-mole.


Monday, April 22, 2013


 All tensed up because it's Monday? Spend a little time gazing at our Maximum Leader in deep meditation and see if that doesn't ease the stress. Click on the image for a full-strength dose of inner peace.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Willpower: An Ivory Tower Bubble Book

With an Audible credit burning a hole in my pocket and all previous titles either heard or dismissed as unfinishable, I scoured my wish list and came across Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Messrs Baumeister and Tierney. I bought the thing and I'm now about 3 hours into what looks to be a pretty tough, 9-hour slog.

It's not that the writing is bad or the information inaccessible. No, the examples they use are easy to follow and the prose is relatively sprightly for a book like this. It's just that almost everything they say is forehead-smackingly obvious to the average person and staggeringly brilliant to themselves. Sociology fans both, Baumeister and Tierney have discovered that low blood sugar saps your willpower. Wowsers! There's lots more like this in the sections I've heard so far.

They were also stunned to find out that willpower existed in the first place. Back when they started, you see, willpower was sneered at by all thinking people in the universities as an appendage of long-dismissed Victorian prudery. Experiments with undergrads as their test subjects in their labs proved that willpower actually existed. Shocking!

Finally, there's a mix of bigotry and ignorance when they write about anything outside of their field of expertise, such as that is. The text is littered with snide comments about religion, centered around the theme that it's all nonsense and Science! is showing how believers were just witnessing things that sociology can now explain. On top of their Thomist-lessness, they use an example of planning from military history that shows they know nothing at all of military history*.

Frankly, they should stick with their sociology and leave it at that.

Or maybe they should go pick tomatoes with some migrant farm workers.

You see, the most salient feature of the book is not the topic itself, but the way in which the authors congratulate themselves for learning things that Jose Garcia, semi-literate farm worker, probably already knows and certainly uses every day. That sociologists have conducted experiments and analyzed data to prove that self-denial leads to success in life isn't an indication that such an assertion is true, it's an indication that sociology itself may be a complete waste of time. Three hours in, they've managed to breathlessly inform me of things that my ignorant, superstitious, Catholic ancestors knew all along.
By remaining closeted inside this building, we learn about the world.

As for strengthening willpower, we'll see where the book goes. That's the only reason I'm clinging to a hope of finishing it - that there might be some nuggets of wisdom in it after all. So far, the best one has been that willpower can be depleted through use, so if you're trying to give up a vice, give up just one at a time.

I've got the feeling that this book is going to end up like the Koran: A desperate struggle to grind my way through the last half.

It will be a real exercise in willpower to do it.

* - It's no surprise that they're ignorant of military history. Mr. Tierney is an NYT reporter and such ignorance seems to be a prerequisite for the job.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Am Filled With Righteous Anger

I'm batching* it this weekend. My wife is working a women's retreat, our oldest son is at Coachella and our daughter is off doing other things. That means I can play my music loud, watch lots and lots and lots of English Premier League soccer and cook smelly food that only appeals to me.

More about the culinary self-gratification later. For now, I have a Crime Against Humanity to report.

I can't find the tweezers.

Were they stolen? Are they hidden in someone's room? Did one of my flown birds take this precious, critical tool with them? Who knows? Who cares? The important thing is that I need them and I can't find them. That alone is worthy of a towering rage.

I just wish someone was here to feel my wrath.

More precious than carbuncles, whatever carbuncles are.
* - I'm a bachelor this weekend. I'm baching it? No, that sounds like a classical composer. It's pronounced batching, so that's the way it must be spelled even though bachelor lacks the t.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mary Curtis Reports On The Nuremberg Trials

... and decides they were a local matter.

Over at the WaPo, Mary Curtis is yammering away about the Gosnell war crimes trial and suggests that it's not at all about industrial mass murder, but instead it's about the handful of individuals who were killed by the maniac.  And his staff. Working as a team. A team that didn't seem to see a problem with the whole thing and lived in a culture where a million plus Gosnellizations a year isn't a big deal. A team that committed orders of magnitude more killings than the records show because as the Allies approached, the records were destroyed. But the less said about those addenda, the better.

Yes, yes, it's all a local matter. Stop bringing politics or religion or whatever your hobby horse is into this thing. Think of the individual woman who was murdered and the couple of nameless babies who were spine-snipped.

Makes sense to me.

Really, there's no point in trying to draw broader conclusions from a single trial.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Happened To Their Hearts?

Link of the day - Front Row At The Gosnell Horror Show. Excerpt:
The evidence that kept emerging the few days I was there is jaw dropping and poignant. Dr. Hellman explained all the charts that medical professionals have to work out the age of a fetus. They measure the length and width of the baby, they weigh organs, and they compare them to charts of previous autopsies of babies whose age they knew. Dr. Hellman said that based on the charts, he conservatively estimated Baby Girl Manning was between 28- and 29-weeks-old.

He was asked about another incident where a member of staff described an “aborted fetus” as being 18 inches to a foot long. Dr. Hellman was asked to estimate the child’s age given those dimensions. He replied simply that such a baby would be “off the charts.” In other words it was a fully formed baby whose delivery was engineered so that Dr. Gosnell could push a pair of scissors into its neck to snip its spinal cord.
Confession: I love babies. I have very strong parental instincts. My wife does, too. We can't wait to have grandchildren. The more the better.

Not everyone has such strong affection for babies, but for crying out loud, what happened to these people? Babies were born, wriggling and crying and doing all those baby things biologically engineered to drive us to instinctively protect and care for them and the staff shoved scissors in their necks.

I'd compare these people to the members of the Einsatzgruppen, but those poor devils at least had some vestiges of morality.
Shooting on this scale, particularly of women and children, was destroying the morale of the Einsatzgruppen. Some committed suicide, or were admitted to mental asylums. As Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski allegedly said to Himmler after the latter had witnessed a shooting action at Minsk in August 1941: "Such men are finished for the rest of their lives! What kind of followers are we creating? Either neurotics or brutes."
I'd read elsewhere that the soldiers in the Einsatzgruppen took to alcoholism in a big way. There's no report that Gosnell's employees had similar problems.

What in the world happened to these people?

Shooting adults at a distance as part of a group sent these men around the bend. Stabbing babies in the necks with scissors did ... what?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Very Nice Stones Fan Video

Driving into work this morning, I tuned in to my Rolling Stones playlist on Google Music. "Too Tight" came up and I wondered if there was a music video for it. It looks like it was a filler track on the album, Bridges to Babylon, and didn't warrant a video. Still, I like the song and was able to find a very nice fan-produced music video for it. It gets a bit redundant as the guy seems to have run out of source material halfway through and I wish he'd matched the beat in his cuts from 2:00 to 2:15 - that would have absolutely rocked. Even so, it's a very nice piece of art.


Gunmen And Gosnell

Something to think about.

When some nut runs into a school or a mall and shoots people, he does it alone and it lasts less than half an hour. Dr. Gosnell had a staff and it lasted about 17 years. This wasn't a single, deranged person committing mass murder. This was institutional.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Plumbing Stories Aren't Newsworthy

So by now, I'm guessing many of have heard of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who ran a clinic so gruesome that Roger Corman wouldn't have shown it in his worst slasher movie. If you haven't heard about it, thanks to a near total news blackout, Google the name and prepare to be nauseated.

I read a new detail yesterday that blew my mind. Gosnell performed late term abortions where you induce labor and then try to kill the baby before it escapes. It got so bad that women were giving birth on his toilet to the point they had to call in a plumber to remove the toilet and unclog the pipes below.

Yes, you heard correctly, the pipes were clogged with fetuses.

And that's why Dr. Gosnell's combination torture chamber and slaughterhouse wasn't newsworthy. Who wants to hear stories about plumbers?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Should Poland Have Surrendered To The Nazis On The First Day?

Yesterday, while hanging around in the chapel up here on the retreat, one of the deacons shared a letter he'd received from a 15 year old girl in Juvenile Hall. He ministers to the kids and this one looked to be turning a corner after a serious bout with drugs.

Some folks want to legalize drugs. They say the war is lost and we're just waiting money on it.

The letter was heartbreaking.

Poland knew the jig was up, if not on the first day, then certainly after the first week. Should they have surrendered early? Is there something more important than saving money? Is there such a thing as fighting because it's the right thing to do, regardless of the outcome?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Breaking Out Of Your Rut

...  is a good thing.

I'm working a men's retreat this weekend and blogging from my little Galaxy S3. It's going to be a great weekend.

The thing that has struck me so far is how energizing it is to hang out with a very different set of people. I'm getting to work alongside doctors, cops, business owners, lawyers, caterers and all kinds of people I'd never have a chance to even greet on a normal day.

The conversations are terrific. I wasn't sure I wanted to work this weekend, but I can see now I was guided into it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Don't You Get A Better Job?

Sitting at a dinner table with a bunch of committed lefties or conversing with them on Facebook has led me to come up with a simple question for them.

Why don't you earn more?

In some of my social circles, the people I associate with have no serious problems. They have good educations, they come from stable families and they were given all the advantages in life one has a right to expect. There's nothing holding them back from earning in the mid-6-figure range. If they were ambitious, they could climb the corporate ladder or expand their businesses until they brought in $500,000 or thereabouts. Oh, sure, they'd have to sacrifice other things in their lives, but such income is certainly within the realm of possibilities.

So, among the progressives, why don't they? They vote for spending, spending and more spending by the government, but they don't pay, pay and pay more in taxes. That's left for the rest of us. There's a serious disconnect there.

If you voted for Obama, but you didn't go out and work your tail off to earn more money, then you are implicitly telling the rest of us to pay for your self-regard.

There's a bumper sticker, Internet campaign or slogan in all of this, but I'm not coming up with it right now. Throwing out political personalities, this is the foundational statement made by the Obama voters in a certain class:
"I helped increase government spending. Now you need to pay for it. Get to work."
Next time I get involved in one of these discussions online or at a party, I'll see if I can gently bring this up. I did it once with one of my progressive friends on Facebook and the whole concept floored him. He tried to argue that the deck was stacked against people like him earning lots of money, but I think we both knew that was just an excuse to avoid work. At least I knew. I let him get away with it at the time, but I think I could continue the conversation without being abusive.

After all, why are we paying for someone else's decisions if they're not willing to do so?

Why am I your beast of burden?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sometimes You Just Need Some Sarah Palin

She's referring to this.

Oh yes, I almost forgot.



Breathtakingly Venal

Terse post. In hurry. No time for composition. Probably didn't have time for this introduction*.

Had a dinner party with some thoroughly progressive people. After discussing Watergate's meaning (Republicans are evil) and how terribly funny Stephen Colbert is (very!), it was suggested that one teenage daughter's upcoming college tuition might be defrayed by taking all payments for the parents' freelance work under the table, allowing them to go on food stamps and qualify for aid. It was further suggested that she attend Berkley (diversity!), avoid USC (rich people!) and use her mother's birth-Judaism to help her get into college, even though no one but us attended any kind of religious services or were even vaguely aware of basic religious precepts.

Unable to think of an option other than screaming, "You venal guttersnipes!" I said nothing.

What would you have said that would allow you retain these people as friends? Since then, I decided that I might have gently suggested the young lady attend synagogue and learn something of Judaism, but other than that, I'm at a loss.

* - Or that sentence**.

** - Or that footnote.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Stop Complaining About The Culture

... and start making a better alternative!

That's the theme of a terrific new book I'm listening to via Audible: Culture Making by Andy Crouch.

The analogy he uses is making chili for his kids. He makes it with sauteed onions, bell peppers and chunks of tomatoes. They're young children and they don't like the mixed colors or chunky fruit*. They have to eat it anyway because he and his wife like it and they don't cater to the whims of the kids. The surly, little urchins are left with three choices: protest, boycott or learn to cook something better to replace it.

So it goes with not just evangelicals (his directly intended audience), but any of us fed up with the porn / violence / excessive use of wombats / whatever that we loathe in modern culture. We can march and protest against hateful films and music, we can boycott them at the box office or we can make something better and drive the culture in a direction we want. Andy shows how the first two are useless, making the third the only viable option.

I'm not quite halfway through it, but I'm loving it. Right now, he's suggesting we need to be knowledgeable consumers of culture because, like playing sports or working on engineering problems, you can't create culture without a solid background in it.

As I've listened, I've become convinced that the reason orthodox Christianity isn't better represented in the popular culture is that we've opted out of it in a snit. We've taken the boycott route. By divorcing ourselves from culture we've made ourselves culturally ignorant and utterly passive. We don't understand and we don't try to create because we've made popular culture into an enemy.

Great stuff. More on the topic later.

Stop just critiquing and start doing. All that pointless, deep-thinking, snobby analysis of the culture just makes you sleepy.
* - Tomatoes are fruits, after all. It looks strange in print, doesn't it?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Stair Cat Stares

This is one of my all-time favorite photos of our Maximum Leader. She's recently back from the vet, the injection took away most of her arthritis pain and she's relaxed and happy. The vet gave us strict instructions not to let her jump from high places, so the Catican (garage) has been ruled off limits, making her a house and yard cat. She's become much more sociable and affectionate as a result. Click on the image to get a real sense of her mood.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Chassis Is Your Friend

I was back working on the MGB wiring yesterday, teaching myself to braid, solder and shrink-tube triple wire connections so I could run a common ground line through the trunk. After three attempts, I got the hang of it when I realized that running ground wires was stupid. All you need to do is run the ground wire to the nearest bolt that goes into the chassis. The chassis is your wiring harness for grounding!

The left-side rear flasher and a safety light go straight into the screw that holds on the flasher bulb housing. No need to make an elaborate wiring harness.
I didn't feel bad about learning to braid, solder and shrink-tube, though. I'll need it for the feed lines coming back from the engine compartment where they go to more than one bulb at the same time. I used the video below (there are zillions of the things like this on YouTube) and just as advertised, it gave me an incredibly strong, conductive junction.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Well, If You Didn't Build That

... then it stands to reason that the fruits of "that" aren't really yours.

From the files of doom monger Zero Hedge, we have this lovely idea:
President Obama’s budget, to be released next week, will limit how much wealthy individuals ... can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts.

The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.

The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently “accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.
Something they might not have considered: If it's not your business, it's not your money and it's not your retirement, then that national debt they need serviced is not your problem.

Where you go (or just stash your cash) is up to you, but you have to admit, Brazil is nice.

Elsewhere across the SLOBosphere, WC Varones recommends buying gold in foreign countries so your wealth can't be taxed.

Brazil is nice.

Note: The video is a tiny excerpt from the Monkees episode, The Spy Who Came In From The Cool. The song in the background is Steppin Stone.

Friday, April 05, 2013

If We Can Just Get Another 2.5 Million People To Leave The Workforce, We'll Have Paradise!

Today, the unemployment rate shrank by 0.2% to 7.6%. The Fed said it will stop printing money like crazy once unemployment hits 6.5%. Since the drop in unemployment was due to about 500,000 people giving up on working at all, by my calculations, we just need another 2,500,000 to join them and Zimbabwe Ben will stop the printing presses.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Doing Schtick With The Downtrodden

One of the best things about working at the Catholic Charities Food Resource Center (FRC) this week was the getting the chance to perform for the customers.

The folks coming to see you at the FRC are beaten down. Some live on the street, some have no food at all at home, some are escaping abuse and some are clearly liars and weasels who have made a life of teeny-weeny bits of graft and theft*. After I got the hang of the computer and the Excel spreadsheet we used to track clients, customer intake became pretty boring, so it was a chance to make them feel good about themselves. They'd shuffle in, dejected, either determined not to miss their spot in line or hoping for a chance to get a walk-in appointment and score some food. A bright smile, a bit of mock surprise and some patter cheered them right up.

"I didn't sign in, can I still get some food?"

"Of course! We held the place open hoping you'd show up! To tell you the truth, we've all been waiting for you to come in!" and on and on like that. They'd smile and relax and from then on, the conversation was warm and pleasant. I had a great time. I think I got more out of the job than they did.

Henny Youngman. Now that's some good schtick.

* - It was pretty easy to detect cheating, but I let it go. Who cares? Honey, you're cheating me out of some canned goods. I think we can deal with this.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

An Infidel? I Don't Think So

From our spam mailbag comes this scurrilous* accusation against the smaller of the two Catican Guards who is of mixed parentage - Chihuahua and Cocker Spaniel.
Chihuahua - As the disperse symbol of Infield Dog casino Online, the amount of bountifulness o'er boniface of challenges going away you washed-out and drained out.
A disperse symbol of Infidel Dog? That is an outrageous assertion and it will not go unanswered. You'll be hearing from our lawyers. When the firm of Papandopolis, Ng and O'Reilly gets through with you, you'll be the one feeling washed-out and drained out.

* - That's "scurrilous" not "scurrylous." There's nothing wrong with scurrying or any of its derivative activities.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Acting On A Small Scale

A while back, Tim posed the following problem to the crack editorial staff here at the 'Post:
For a long time, you've mainly just been stating what you see as being wrong with society. But, you're pretty light on suggestions on what to do about it. Frankly, I think your postings are mostly the equivalent of the guy with a sandwich board on the street corner, railing about how the end of the world is coming. And we know how successful those guys are in actually accomplishing anything.

So, how about discussing what, if anything, we can actually do to encourage people to raise children as married couples instead of as individuals
So here's a not-quite-so-answery answer, but not the last time we'll muddle through the topic.

Yesterday, as part of an object lesson for my high school sophomore daughter, we took the bus downtown and worked at the Catholic Charities food assistance program office. She bagged and sorted stock while I processed and interviewed clients. I'll blog the object lesson later because I think it worked quite well.

While there helping the homeless, the elderly and the generally hosed, it didn't matter what was happening in society at large. I was able to discharge my Catholic mission of individual acts of kindness and charity; macroeconomics good or bad doesn't affect that. As Christ said, "the poor will always be with you" (Mark 14:7).

What does matter is what you do in your own life. As Dave Ramsey said, "Poor people can't help anyone" (Ramsey 12:23). In an oblique and very partial answer to Tim's excellent challenge, I'd say you need to pursue success and share the fruits of your labor with others that through your example, your charity and your counsel, you can bring them to success as well.

As my success formula is marriage, thrift, religion and useful skills, living by example and acts of kindness will have some affect on the people around you and more so if you're actively out in the community helping those who have crashed and burned.

It can't hurt.

Monday, April 01, 2013


Tired of replanting her every time she grew, we put Momma Daisy and her progeny in our raised bed garden. I think she likes it there.