Thursday, July 31, 2014


If you don't visit wannasmile on a regular basis, you should. Here's one reason why.

One of her regular series, "Zen Moment of the Day"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vladimir Lenin, Pitchman

On Twitter, there are plenty of spam accounts constantly throwing out links to products and websites. I've recently been followed by a couple that mix "real" tweets with ads. The best of these is Vladimir Lenin's, @thresagu, which mixes Lenin quotes with ... well, you'll see. These two were back-to-back:

I guess it makes sense. After a long day killing all kinds of counter-revolutionaries, who wouldn't need a soothing facial massage?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Tea Party Is Now Completely Out Of Control

Just look at these crazed, bigoted Teabaggers in their white KKK sheets with all kinds of weapons strapped to them. Sickening! Oh, wait. Those are Hamas guys. Never mind, we're cool with them because they're all ethnic and diverse and stuff.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Perfect Business Plan

Yesterday, my wife and I were looking at burial plots. Not for ourselves, but for a relative who had recently died. One of those we visited was deep in the hood. You didn't really feel safe driving to and from it. I came up with the perfect slogan for the place.

"Here at Restful Acres, we believe in preparing for the day when you're shot to death visiting Restful Acres."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Odds And Ends

Random tidbits and observations today.

You can't change other people, you can only change the way you interact with them.

A "Bovver boy" is a hooligan, sometimes a skinhead.

Google's excellent speech-to-text algorithm knows that when you say, "new paragraph," you want a new paragraph in your text.

Cute tweet seen recently: "The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club."

At Catholic Charities yesterday, one of our customers was a handicapped, probably mentally ill transvestite. He was treated with love and compassion and we were genuinely happy to serve him. Plenty of the progressives on Twitter would have been shocked to see it, figuring we'd pitch him down a flight of stairs and scream at him that he was going to hell.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Link Of The Day

Charles Krauthammer has hit the nail on the head today with this column. Here's one of the payoff bits:
Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat...

Remember when, at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Obama tried to construct for Putin “an off-ramp” from Crimea? Absurd as this idea was, I think Obama was sincere. He actually imagined that he’d be saving Putin from himself, that Crimea could only redound against Russia in the long run.
Italics in the original. If you're wondering why the US hasn't intervened in any meaningful way to stop Russia, ISIS, Syria or anyone else, it's because Obama thinks they've already lost. Like the Marxists, he seems to think that history is relentlessly moving in one direction, in this case towards freedom, civil rights and prosperity. All we have to do is sit back and watch them fail.

What's worse for them, these anti-freedom forces are getting a lot of grit in their eyes from blowing up buildings.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gun Violence Is A Symptom

More shootings in Chicago. More every week. Last weekend, an 11-year-old was killed by stray bullets*. Some are calling for stricter gun control. Just how you'd get stricter gun control is something of a conundrum as Chicago already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. The only thing I can think of is house-to-house gun confiscation searches done on a regular basis.

And after that, what? Do you think people are shooting each other, but aside from that, they're at home playing backgammon quietly in their homes after a long day of working hard to improve themselves?

I'm not sure what the ratio is, but I'm sure that child abuse rates, for example, are orders of magnitude higher than gun violence rates. Dittos for other crimes. That is, for every person killed by a gun, maybe 23 people are robbed, 37 people are beaten, 81 kids are sexually abused and so forth. If you stop the gun violence, you haven't changed any of those.

Ending gun violence will put a stop to finding bodies lying in pools of blood in the streets. I suppose that after that, we can all go back to watching Big Bang Theory with clean consciences. The people being beaten, robbed and assaulted can take care of themselves.

 * - Since this happens nearly every weekend, this post will be forever fresh. Yay.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Love Paramedics, Hate Guardrails

New blogging friend Trigger posted this bit on Conspicuous Forgiveness that's worth a read. It made me think of a sermon I heard recently letting us all know how important forgiveness was. The priest is a thorough lefty, so his sermons lean heavily to the forgiveness side and almost never touch on sin itself. Now that's all well and good and forgiveness is a big part of our faith, but it's only needed after you've screwed up.

In essence, forgiveness is the paramedics coming to patch you up after you've rolled your car and find yourself upside down in a ditch. Rules about sin are guardrails designed to keep you on the road and stop you from rolling your car in the first place.

Folks like that priest don't like it when we're judgmental of each other. They don't like to preach about rules and regulations or seem small minded. However, they also don't like to preach about the sins that led to little Taniqua Wilson being abused by her baby mama's live in boyfriend or the ones that led to Joe Smith's meth addiction. We hear a lot about forgiving Taniqua's mom and Joe, but some of us think it might be better to be asked to forgive just a little less often.

Still think you don't need guardrails?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink And Yellow

These are the flowers of some succulent out in our front yard. My wife and mom know what it is, but I don't. In any case, I was out there, fiddling around with my Nikon Artillery Piece and took this shot. I love it. I left it quite large, so I think it's worth a click.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Anti-Bullying Campaign Is Over

... and if your side is getting bullied, for the next two years it's going to be pretty awful.
For the first time in 1,600 years, Mass is not being said in Mosul: an ancient culture has been wiped out in a matter of weeks. It's a war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about. 
Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and the place where many Christians believe Jonah was buried. Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) rode into town, their faith has been forced underground. Bells have been silenced, the hijab enforced with bullets. Tens of thousands fled after being offered an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword. 
There's no one out there with the will or the power to stop the bullying, whether it's from the Muslims, the Russians or the Chinese. If you're hoping America will step in anywhere, you're going to have to wait. Peggy Noonan penned an outstanding piece discussing President Obama's detachment from his job and how he's uninterested in any of these crises.
"The world seems to disappoint him," says the New Yorker's liberal and sympathetic editor, David Remnick.

What kind of illusions do you have to have about the world to be disappointed when it, and its players, act aggressively or foolishly? Presidents aren't supposed to have those illusions, and they're not supposed to check out psychologically when their illusions are shattered.
We've got at least two more years where Christians, among many others, will be murdered without a murmur of protest.

I don't know, he doesn't seem all that disappointed to me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beauty At The Living Coast

My folks took us to the Living Coast Discovery Center yesterday. A good time was had by all, but this had to be the highlight of the trip:

I have no idea who this boy was, but watching him with the tortoise was lovely.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's Open Season On Christians

... because no nation will defend us. Burn down a mosque and tell Moslems to convert or die and you'll have several hundred crazies with guns and bombs slaughtering your citizens the very next day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Q: What Invention Enabled Long-Range Ocean Voyages?

A: Sauerkraut.

I'm currently enjoying The Great Age of Discovery, Volume 2: Captain Cook and the Scientific Explorations after having made my way through the superb Treasure Island. The Great Age of Discovery is fascinating and it begins with one of the most interesting facts I've heard in a long time.

The book starts with a hideous, detailed description of scurvy, written by a mariner from the 18th Century. The author then goes on to describe various unsuccessful hypotheses and treatments developed by the British and the Continentals to deal with the problem. After a long period of study and experimentation, they discovered that the Scandinavians never contracted scurvy and that they always brought barrels of sauerkraut with them on their voyages.

Lieutenant Cook (later Captain Cook) made his first voyage to the Pacific with plenty of the stuff on board and lost no one to scurvy. Until that point, a ship's master could expect half of his crew to die from the malady on a voyage of that length and the remainder to be weakened or crippled.

So there you have it. Just as it did in the World Cup, pickled cabbage wins again.

Sauerkraut. Is there anything it can't do?
Addendum: Natural News calls sauerkraut the original probiotic superfood. Endorsed by rugged, manly seamen and hairy-legged, granola-munching, feminist crazies, you can't go wrong with a big bowl of sauerkraut!

Cheezburger of the Day

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I Saw While Drinking At An Irish Pub

On Saturday, I went to confession. After being shriven by the padre, I needed to sit with my German cookbook somewhere and pick out a recipe for the night's dinner, preparing as we were for Deutschland's World Cup game against Argentina.

Figuring I'd celebrate my newly scrubbed conscience with a pint, I wandered over to a local Irish pub and got a tall glass of Harp to quaff while I perused the recipes.

Howay the saved!
It was about 4:30 in the afternoon and while I sipped suds and flipped pages, a pair of young ladies came in and sat at the bar nearby. They had young children with them and it was clear they were regulars. They chatted happily with the barmaid about some adventure or another involving guys, booze and whatnot.

The ladies were sprinkled with tattoos, the kids were familiar with the bar and the topic of conversation was not one you'd associate with bankers, lawyers, captains of industry or their wives. Husbands weren't mentioned so it was a good bet the kids dads weren't in the picture. Be that as it may, they seemed like nice enough girls, if a bit wayward. Such girls have always existed and while we have more than our share these days, they're God's creatures just as much as, say, Cardinal Dolan of New York.

What did strike me was that thanks to our fiscal profligacy, much of it in the name of "compassion," each of them, ladies and children alike, owed $55,200+. The easy girls with children and no husbands from our past were never loaded up with that much debt. People make bad choices all the time, some worse than others. What gave the government the right to pile such a burden on all of them on top of the costs of their own mistakes?

I wished I'd had a congressman or Administration official in the bar with me. I'd have asked them, "What made you think you had the right to push all of that debt on top of them? Didn't you think they had enough problems without having to pay for you to look like a big shot?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Caymanian Crab

The little fellow pictured below was smaller than your fist. He was also climbing up the wall of our house. I pivoted the image because it looked so odd the way it was naturally after I cropped it down to him.

I'm always surprised by crabs coming ashore. Here in San Diego, our crabs are rigorously aquatic. Crawling across lawns and up walls is simply unthinkable to them. Driving around Grand Cayman, we occasionally saw these fellows crossing the street and swerved to avoid them. The crab got a comment from someone in the car every time, too.

I left the image fairly large so it might be worth a click. The little arthropod has some interesting designs on the side of his head. Or is that body?

Where does the head stop and the body begin?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Looking For Comments On Some Self-Help Drivel

I threw this page together with a handful of suggestions for our kids. It's the three things I've found most helpful in my own meanderings - journaling, reading and stories of people who have overcome and accomplished more than could be expected. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Or if you don't want to click on the link, here's a repeat photo of our Maximum Leader keeping a watchful eye on the Catican Compound staff.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Willpower Is Overrated

... when you can just run away.

The best thing I read this weekend was advice to flee temptation. If you're trying to quit doing something and you find yourself in the perfect environment to do that thing, run away!

Exercising willpower takes a lot more energy than simply running away!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Inspirational Carpenter Story

I'm slogging through YouTube, building a list of inspirational videos for a friend who's going through some hard times right now. I came across this one and had to share it with you. It's pretty short and I think it's worth your while.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Is Why I Don't Trust Teachers

At a dinner party last night, I had a philosophy and theology discussion with one of our sons. The lad recently graduated from the University of San Diego, a nominally Catholic school*. Much of our conversation centered around how to understand a philosopher in his original context.

I argued that the great philosophers like Nietzsche, Aquinas and Locke could be understood independent of their time. Digestion of my favorite Christian authors, CS Lewis and GK Chesterton, might be improved with a small amount of context, but their work was perfectly comprehensible without it.

His response was that the teacher in his Pauline theology class had opened his eyes to the historical context of the writings of St. Paul and through that lens, the Letters of Paul seemed to have a very different meaning from what we give them today. In fact, there was some connection made between Hitler's persecution of the Jews and Pauline theology. He couldn't remember the precise connection, but he felt sure that Hitler had been heavily influenced by St. Paul's writings.

That, of course, is complete nonsense.

Hitler saw the Jews as a race, not a faith. That right there ends the discussion. To the Church, race and faith are orthogonal dimensions. In fact, that was one of the central tenets of St. Paul's writings - Christianity was universal and not Israel-centric. To the Nazis, everything was about race. As for the Final Solution in particular, the minutes of the Wannsee conference refer to Darwinistic thought directly, but never to anything even vaguely Christian.
Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)
Emphasis mine.

One of the things I learned when I went to college many, many years ago was that outside of the science and engineering departments, you couldn't trust a lick of what was being taught. Everything needed to be questioned and tested for bias. The bias was omnipresent and always in the same direction, too. Since then, the experiences of our children indicate the situation has only gotten worse.

St. Paul, Gauleiter of Magdeburg.
* - There aren't many "Catholic" schools left that have remained true to the Church. See also: 1887 Trust.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Religion Causes Wars

... in this case, it's a war between progressives and the religion is secular liberalism.

All blacks are "true" blacks only if they're baptized, confirmed and actively worshiping in the Church of Social Justice Fascism. Deviate from this as an individual and you are excommunicated from the race. Deviate from this as an organization and it's time for a religious war.

The Koch brothers donated $25M to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Apostasy! The Koch brothers are conservatives and libertarians! The AFSCME, orthodox and faithful to the Church, marshaled its forces, preached salvation to those who would fight under its banners and attacked.
In a letter made public Thursday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said it will no longer partner with or raise funds for the fund, known for its iconic motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said the actions of the college fund’s president “are not only deeply hostile to the rights and dignity of public employees, but also a profound betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement.”
Roll that last sentence around on your tongue and savor it. The UNCF provides scholarships to blacks. The Koch brothers' money had the same value and would go to the same purpose as money from Nancy Pelosi. Young blacks going to college can spend a grant from the UNCF the same way no matter the original source of the cash. And yet, to the faithful, a young black going to college with this money is a betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement.

I've been steeped in Catholicism for decades and I've never experienced anything that esoteric and abstruse from the pulpit or the Catechism. Still, there's a certain theological charm to it and one can picture faith-crazed zealots nodding their heads and vowing vengeance on the heretics.

Taking money from the Koch brothers? If that's not a bugle call to the upright and virtuous, I don't know what is.

Here, the AFSCME does righteous battle with the UNCF. Note how the UNCF aren't really black.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Doom Or Growth?

The Fed has announced a schedule to stop, yes stop, their bond purchases. Is it the end of the world?

All along, my thinking has been that they couldn't stop buying bonds because there was no one else out there to sop up the roughly $600B of new bonds the government is issuing every year - about $50B per month. If there's no demand for short-term Treasuries which are practically zero percent investments, then interest rates are going to have to rise until it's worth buying the things.

I'm less pessimistic than I have been in the past, not because the fundamentals have changed, but because all of the predictions of doom I've read have yet to come true. That last is the classic profile of the late-to-the-party sucker who gets drawn into investing in a bubble right before it pops.

We'll see.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Not A World War, But World Turmoil

... or, perhaps, the 19th Century, revisited.

I've read a lot of blog posts and essays lately, upon the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI about how we might be heading into a global conflict now, too. That's silly.

China is squaring off with Vietnam and Japan, the Middle East has wars all over the place and Russia is flexing its muscles. That's not quite a world war. That's more like the conflicts that filled the 1800s. Small to medium-sized wars all over the world, ignited by local rivalries and ethnic tensions. Contrary to the childish views of Barack Obama and John Kerry, it's the way of the world when there's no global cop.

It's not stability, it's just normal.

A Caymanian Wasp For Tim

Even on vacation, we think of our blogging friends.

No trip is complete without an insect photo to share!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Cheezburger of the Day

Why San Diego Has Brush Fires

Our hillsides look like this. Crispy, dry bracken that you could use for kindling. Some hills are dotted with dry trees that act like bombs during a fire.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Channeling Old AC/DC

... is this track by the Newsboys. It sounds like AC/DC from the Bon Scott era.

Here's a studio version with Peter Furler singing lead instead of Michael Tait. That studio version really sounds like AC/DC. Here are the lyrics. I'm a big AC/DC fan and when I heard this on the "In the Hands of God" CD I got for Father's Day, the similarity jumped out at me immediately.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Iraq Vs. Mexico

One more thing on the latest wave of illegal aliens. In Iraq, President Obama tells us that the Iraqis have to solve their own problems and there's no reason for us to get involved until they do. When it comes to the Mexicans and Central Americans, we need to be involved deeply and provide them a refuge from their wretched lives. Iraq has oil. Mexicans are voters, once they're granted citizenship.

No blood for oil. Blood for votes.

Update: Meanwhile, real, live Americans are going without water in Detroit because they can't pay their bills. Since they already vote for the Social Justice fascists Democrats, there's no reason to get all worked up about them. We need to concentrate on getting new voters.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Votes On The Hoof

... is the way Political-Americans seem to see Mexicans crossing our border. Which party is going to appeal to the Hispanics the most? Who is going to win the votes and give illegals the most goodies?

Above all, we need to be reminded on a daily basis how gosh-darned compassionate the progressives are as they hand out benefits, refuse to enforce immigration laws and fight protecting the border.

Maria Gonzalez*, formerly of La Trinitaria, MX and now resident of some warehouse in Brownsville, TX, was Maria Gonzalez before she crossed the border. Knowing the border wasn't enforced and the benefits were there, she ditched the lousy life in La Trinitaria and headed north.

A four star restaurant in La Trinitaria.
When she was robbed in Puebla, she was Maria Gonzalez. When she was assaulted in San Luis Potosi, she was Maria Gonzalez. When she nearly died of thirst in the back of a van in Tamaulipas, she was Maria Gonzalez.

It wasn't until she crossed into Texas that we cared about Maria. At that point, she became a trophy to our compassion. Speeches were made about Maria. Debates raged over Maria. Pundits pontificated about Maria. Of course, had Maria failed to reach the US because she died, ran out of cash or was enslaved on the way as were so many of her co-travelers, the Very Important People in America wouldn't have said a word about her.

It all started when she made the very reasonable cost-benefits decision in La Trinitaria, taking into account the lack of border enforcement and American government benefits. Until she crossed the border, she wasn't a potential vote.

* - If you're wondering, this name is just a proxy for any of the immigrants.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Trekking Across Mexico

... can't be very healthy for kids.

All of the conversations I've heard and read about the illegal women and children coming across our border focus on how to treat them humanely now that they're here. Everyone wants to wave their Compassion Flag as high as they can.

How was it compassionate to tempt them to come here in the first place? What horrible things happened on the way to the US?

Maybe the most compassionate thing we could have done would have been to control our border.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Your Daily Dose Of Soccer Fun

No matches today, but the Beautiful Game can still bring a smile to our face, thanks to McDonald's.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A Big Diamond In A Thick, Christian Rough

With the end of my daughter's school year, I'm looking at a big change in my life. I'm going to have a lot more free time, enough to take up a new hobby, develop new skills, find a new purpose or something similar. I've been reading several books on the topic of "How Do I Figure Out What I Want To Be When I Grow Up?" While some are good and some are merely adequate, even the marginal ones can have nuggets of wisdom.

I'm not usually one for religious self-help books. I find that merging the two subjects usually makes for an inferior treatment of each. While I'm trying to be a thoroughly Catholic nut case, I prefer my Catholicism to be foundational, informing all of my decisions*, but to leave the mechanics of my decisions to other approaches. Sifting through our library looking for material on this topic, I came across Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life.

Max is a Christian writer and this is a very Christian book. His points are illustrated through the use of stories and excerpts from the Bible. That's all very well and good for Max, but for me, I felt the book wasted a lot of space on Biblical teaching that added very little to finding your calling. For me, a Rosary and Adoration Chapel would accomplish more than all the Bible quotes Max could find.

In spite of this, Max had two diamonds in his rough that changed the way I see my life. The first was to look back on your life to find episodes that had brought pleasure and fulfillment. In a perusal of my checkered past, I quickly saw that I was most energized when I was leading some kind of crusade, whether that was at work, with the family or in my hobbies. When I was trying to do something that was particularly difficult and perhaps never done before, I found practically limitless reservoirs of enthusiasm and determination.

Ironically, the second insight came from one of Max's Bible stories. He used the Parable of the Talents to say that God doesn't want you to think small.

While the rest of the book was skimmable at best, the first of those two nuggets was life-changing and the second reinforced it. When I try to sell people on reading self-help books, I frequently get push back - "Well, that may work for you, but it doesn't work for me. I find too much wrong in the author's work." That attitude is self-defeating and can cause you to miss marvelous nuggets of wisdom. No book has universal, total applicability, but most of them have something unique you can pluck out and use to improve your life.

Thanks, Max.

* - Informing isn't the same as doing. See also: sin.