Friday, May 22, 2015

Glimpses of My Day

Since having my hip replaced, I have been undergoing physical therapy at a local establishment, and I am nearing the end of the treatment regimen.  It has been an abidingly positive experience, and I'm doing just great physically, thank you.   The boss of the establishment is a guy, and he is very good at his job.  He's great to talk to and we've developed a friendship I hope continues after the treatment ends.  The rest of his staff however, is exclusively female, and since he runs a site that is part of a larger chain, he is often out of the office at various other locations. In this time, the level of conversation among his staff dramatically increases, both in density and noise level.  It isn't annoying (generally), and clearly it is part of what makes going to work there each day enjoyable for the women.

But there is one small thing bothering me, and I thought I'd bring you into it.  One of the therapists is going to be married in a few weeks, and for the last 3.5 months, she has discussed virtually nothing else. No element of the nuptials is too mundane for great drama, and as I show up only a couple of times a week, I have to assume that this is a near continuous conversation.  The ladies she works with are either incredibly patient human beings, or they are genuinely interested in the seemingly unending banality of this woman's clucking.  It is hard to conceive of the latter. It is driving me nuts though.  Whenever I drive to therapy, I always hope the manager is there, as the conversations tend to be much more quiet and even a little more diverse.

What's really kind of sad though, is the degree to which this woman is investing herself in this one day--perhaps this is a statement of my views on weddings in general (wasteful, inefficient, etc).  That said, what happens when the honeymoon is over?  Is that it?  Is this woman of 30 or so to be left without another seminal event to chatter about for the rest of her life?

Onto another glimpse.

I got my hair cut this morning here in Easton.  For the longest time, I had been using the Korean Lady (Helen) who has a shop in my old building in Arlington.  All things considered, I'd still rather get my hair cut from Helen, but it hasn't been convenient for a while (parking, Metro, etc) and so I've gotten my last three haircuts locally, the first from a straight stick dude barbershop of the old school, and the last two from a pleasant young woman (Kate) at the Hair Cuttery.  Kate cut my hair a few weeks ago, and I thought she did a good job.  She was given to me at random the last time I walked in, but this time, because I had a safe and trusted alternative, I called to make an appointment.  I was told that they do not take appointments, which was disappointing, but that I should just come in, there would likely not be a wait.  She was right, Kate was available when I arrived and gave me another very acceptable hair cut.  The reason I am sharing this banality with you (yes, I realize it) is the irony (or is it the inconsistency?) of being FIERCELY loyal to a hair cutter who has only cut your hair once, after having been FIERCELY loyal to someone (Helen) who cut my hair every time for five years or so.

A final peek?

The Kitten has an extensive garden right outside the window of the mancave.  She's often out there slaving in it, and I generally watch her with great admiration and gratitude, as I enjoy the fruits (so to speak) of her labor--and I admire the hard work it takes.  Having had a bad hip for the entire time we've been together, I've avoided garden duty just as I've avoided most every other pursuit that involved bending and kneeling.  I no longer have that option, as I have two good, bionic hips.  So I've been trying to get out there and help now and again, and like my previous writing on the joys of cutting grass, there is something renewing about mucking around in the garden. Not that I'm going full-bore on it mind you.

Finally--remember--this weekend is for remembering those who DIED in combat, not slugs like me who drew a paycheck for a few years.  Don't thank Veterans this weekend--do that on November 11th.  Spend a little time in quiet gratitude for those who gave Lincoln's "last full measure".  Cheers.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's the matter, Chumley?  Are you graduating with that coveted Medieval Studies degree, and can't seem to find someone looking for a scholar of Chaucer?  Are the emails you tried to get rid of about to start hitting the street?

Share your pain!

Weighed in today at 164.8.  Down 34.  Five weeks to go, 4.9 lbs....very, very doable.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Elizabeth Warren's letter of the law

Elizabeth Warren apparently has a $1.4 million home equity line from Bank of America, which she chose not to disclose. The reason for this choice seems oddly, or perhaps appropriately, technical, coming as it does from banking's most notorious foe in the United States Senate.

Here’s how the Democrat’s office explained the situation to the Boston Herald: “An aide for Warren said the amount represents a home equity line of credit, not a mortgage. According to the aide, a line of credit does not trigger reporting requirements if the borrower has not borrowed on it, or if the amount owed is less than $10,000. Warren’s account had a zero balance, the aide said.”
Allowing for all of that to be true, Warren has nevertheless sought and obtained a commitment to lend from one of the too-big-to-fail banks, secured by a mortgage and no doubt documented by a note, which definitely makes it a "mortgage" even if it is also a line of credit. So at a minimum we know that Warren's "office" cannot clearly explain a relevant difference other than that there is nothing yet borrowed under the line.

At least we know that Warren will be sympathetic when banks raise literal or technical compliance as a defense to claims they violated the law. Oh, and we also know she lives in a really nice house, because she would never do something like ask a bank to give her a mortgage loan at too large a percentage of market value. Or something.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Travels, Politics, etc.

I've awakened this morning in Newport RI at the stately Hotel Viking, my HQ for the next two days as I consort with "China Hands" at the "China Maritime Studies Institute" of the Naval War College.  Newport isn't quite up to Maryland par when it comes to having implemented the "Spring" memo, but it is trying to make up for lost time.  I like Newport almost to a fault, having spent portions of every season here--though the two winters here were notably brutal.  Christmas time is wonderful, the Summer is insane, Fall brings all the charms of New England--but May--the latter part of Spring--may be best of all.  You get the benefits of an increasingly warming temperature married to the absence of tourists.  I ambled down from my hotel to the main drag for dinner last night and then walked along the waterfront for a bit after dinner.  It was eerily quiet--the sounds of some manner of sport occasionally peeping from a watering hole.

Sometime later today, I will serve as a "discussant" on a panel looking at Chinese Shipyard Infrastructure.  Four academic papers will be presented by their authors, and then I will get to opine about what I found notable in their work.  Many of the people I consort with regularly in DC are here, along with the War College crowd who I have come to know over the years.  I am quite sure there are lesser places to live an academic's life.

Can we talk about a pet peeve of mine for a second?  I call it the "gratuitous fiance reference".  Now, I have some sympathy for the heavy burden carried by attractive young women, what with having to fight off the lecherous advances of oldsters like me on a routine basis.  But sometimes, a comment is not a come-on.  So I was tucked against the window of the Southwest flight yesterday, when a large man sat down on the aisle seat.  As the plane grew more crowded, an attractive young woman pointed at the seat between us and asked it it were empty.  She had in her hands an oddly rectangular red box, which kind of looked like a pizza warmer to me (albeit a pizza in a rectangular vice square box).  As she attempted to seat herself and maneuvered the box under the seat in front of her, I casually stated that "I sure hope that's not a pizza".  It was not a come-on. I was not looking to close the deal. I have a busy schedule ahead of me for the next few days.  I'm quasi-married.  But in an instant came back a small laugh and a "oh no, it's some of my fiance's artwork".  Now, I may be overly sensitive, but my spidey senses tell me that the immediate raising of her status as a woman claimed by another was NOT just casual information.  It was a well-practiced gambit to drive off the lecherous old dude.  I smiled in a friendly way and returned to my work.  She easily could have said, "no, it isn't pizza unfortunately, it is some artwork", at which point I would have returned to my work and she could have returned to whatever it was she was going to do to pass the flight.  It seems to me that she felt it necessary to get the "fiance" out there within the first five seconds of conversation in order to blunt whatever nefarious offensive was represented by my obvious come-hither line.  These are the burdens of being young and beautiful, I suppose.

A little politics?  Don't mind if I do.  It seems that Hillary's "ignore the Press" campaign is beginning to rile up those who are ignored, except that there doesn't seem to be any real evidence that she will pay a price with the American people for it.  It is a gamble, but one that may very well pay off for her, both from the perspective of the indifference of the electorate and the great likelihood that the Press won't get TOO far out of line, for fear of contributing to the Republican cause.

Ah, Republicans.  I am weary of JV mistakes from men who have had so long to prepare for the process of running for office.  Some of this comes from a lack of preparedness for the obvious, gotchya questions, and some of it comes from a desire not to go back at reporters in an aggressive way so as not to appear aggressive.  Whatever it is, it hasn't been a particularly good week for our growing field, a field whose growth is not improved by numbers, only diluted.  I cannot get over the fact that I think Mitt Romney made a HUGE mistake when he decided not to run.  The circus that is the Republican field needs a ringleader.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Do not care about Greeks bearing gifts

After ten years and thousands of posts, I withdrew from blogging for many reasons. Among them was unreconstructed fatigue with the state of our "national conversation" on almost any topic (including, of course, that we call whatever this is a "national conversation"). To rip an object lesson from the headlines of the current news cycle, consider the latest manufactured outrage to spin up my friends on the right, the arresting news that George Stephanopoulos is a partisan for the Clintons.

As in, who could imagine that the former Communications Director and Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy in the Clinton Administration might actually like and support the Clintons? Did anybody out there need to know that Stephanopolous had given the Clinton Foundation money in order to know he was their friend and supporter? Presumably not readers of this learned blog.

Apart from the sheer tedium of this kerfuffle -- and that is all it is -- the conservative argument implicitly concedes that partisan hackery in the media depends from financial evidence. It doesn't. Quite to the contrary, personal and ideological connections are far more important, especially when reinforced by a shared enterprise as intense as waging and winning a presidential campaign. By attaching totemic significance to the money, conservatives imply that Stephanopolous' sham journalism would otherwise be objective. It isn't, and nobody should expect it to be.

But wait, didn't Stephanopolous violate some network policy about disclosing financial ties? Sure, but that policy is as figgy a leaf as there ever was. How about demanding that journalists be intellectually honest, and reminding viewers that they have a professional and personal history tied to a particular politician, party, or ideology? That might actually give effect to the "ethics" modern journalists cynically assert to legitimize their "profession."

Release the hounds.

Monday, May 11, 2015

On the Future of This Blog

Friends, it has probably become obvious to you that my interest in the blog has waned, that my life has become more full with other matters, or that other social media have risen in importance in how I express myself.

All are true.

And frankly, the blog has suffered.  The plain truth is that when the guy who owns the blog doesn't participate, the guest bloggers feel a hell of a lot less motivated to contribute.  I know this, because I am a guest blogger elsewhere, and this reality certainly applies there.

A blog is a demanding mistress, and maintaining one is not for the faint of heart or the casually involved.

And so, it is with heavy heart....

that I...


that it is nearly time for me to GET MY HEAD OUT OF MY ASS AND GET THIS PLACE HOPPING AGAIN.

That's right.

No surrender.  No wussing out.

I have a couple of projects that are destroying every waking hour right now, but they will pass later in the summer, and I look to re-energize things here to support having a place for engaged intellects to come in order to read the best in politics, culture, and social commentary.

I will soon be reaching out to new guest bloggers to see who might wish to join the team, and I will be corresponding with our current team members to see what their level of interest is in amping things up a bit.

We have work to do friends.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Post Racial Post Mortem

Black folk are pissed, and I can't say I blame them. But, as usual my perceived reasons for their frustration and anger differ from the establishment elites'. Cops whipping on their asses or otherwise killing them is not the issue, after all African-Americans are 13% of the population but account for about 80% of the anti-social, self destructive behavior that plagues our society (crime, dependency, illiteracy, hip-hop, $2,000 wheels on a '74 Impala worth $300 max, etc). No the cops are, generally speaking, taking it to their asses because they are where the crime is, again generally speaking. Sorry middle-class person of color, but if you'd speak up a little more and not tolerate crime among your own then perhaps you wouldn't get pulled over so much for "driving while black".
Look at Baltimore. Six cops were charged, three were black. The town is run by blacks INCLUDING the police and has been for decades. I don't think a racist cracker hell-bent on whipping black ass would last long in that department. Detroit is the same way, run by of and for blacks for generations, and it's one of the biggest shitholes in the country if not the world. No, white racist cops are not the problem.
The problem, or at least a big part of the problem is a half century of welfare. As I have said many times, in many significant ways black Americans were BETTER OFF under Jim Crow than now. It's just a fact. The welfare state has destroyed the black family (the cornerstone of ANY healthy society) and as a great man once said "If I hated someone's guts I'd give them $1000 a month!" (that would be $3061.43 in today's money).
Baraq Obama made a promise to blacks, to bring them into the fold, to make them part of the American experience. But what he has done is double down on the policies that have kept lower class blacks sucking hind tit since forever. He has been devastating to the black community and I think they're just starting to realize that this "change" thing ain't gonna happen, at least not for them. They are lashing out, which is understandable if not justified, however they're blaming the wrong people. I've heard liberals talk about a "Marshall Plan" for inner cities and the like. This is insane. Their only solution is to throw money at the problem when they know full well money is not the answer to the problem, it IS the damned problem! It's been tried to death, $21 trillion since 1964. Look before you say it I realize there are other issues at play here such as stupid trade deals that export our jobs and increase our trade deficit (like the one the Republicrats are "negotiating" right now). It's not ALL the welfare state. But how do you convince a population of semi-literates that NOT giving them money is the right way to go? And how do you convince Democrats who see ignorant, dependent poor people as a reliable voting bloc so long as they are kept poor, dependent and angry?
I don't have an answer but I think this is going to be a long hot summer and Baltimore may be just the beginning. Who woulda thought when the Democrats were talking "post racial" what they really meant was riots and cop killing?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

WOW! That was close!

I love this photo. It speaks to me. It says "Don't you even THINK of messing with me!". And so it shall be.
There's a good article in Politico about how Hillary's team knocked down Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer. Say what you will about those bastards, they know how to play the game. They had Stephie "He's SOOOO cute" Stephanopoulos interviewing Mr. Schweizer saying stuff like "You're aware that the non-partisan blah-blah-blah foundation says your book is a pack of lies" when the fact is the blah-blah-blah foundation is funded by several of George Soros' front organizations along with half the leftist groups in America. Of course what this friggin' idiot was doing on Stephie's show is another question. Hillary won't go near a reporter but this guy sits down with a Clintonista to get beat up for twenty minutes? It's so typically stupid of those who go after the Clintons. They have always been lucky with their enemies.
Here's the deal, matching up against the Clintons is like USA/Soviet Union in 1980. There is NO ROOM FOR ERROR. You need to know what you're trying to accomplish and EXECUTE PERFECTLY otherwise don't even suit up. They will make very few errors and exploit your errors for maximum effect, and they play dirty. Schweizer is learning this lesson as we speak.
Now, having said that, I'm thrilled Hillary came through this ok. She's tracking left so as to appease the Demokrat lunatic fringe which can only help the Republicans. But whoever the Republican nominee may be, he or she MUST be ready for two things: Number one, be prepared for slander, they will tell lies upon lies upon lies without ever uttering a word themselves. Number two, go on offense and stay on offense. Turn their lies against Hillary. Nothing fights a lie like the truth, don't play Hillary's game. Stay on message, and that message is Hillary is a liar, a cheat, an opportunist and an incompetent. There is AMPLE evidence for this argument, hell the argument makes itself, and it has to be made over and over and over again. When stories come out about how the Republican bullied a kid in the third grade or abused his dog by giving him cooked chicken bones, these must be dealt with and discarded. Attack the media for bringing up Hillary's lies as being pawns of Hillary. Put THEM on the defensive.
One disadvantage Hillary has, and she has several, is that the Clintons are a target rich environment. There are so many things to attack. Knock down the "this is old news" canard and make it about character and competence and the Clintons are deader than Hillary's cooter. People are tired of the lies, they want honesty and competence. Let's give it to them.

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