Friday, February 28, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

My dieting discipline having abandoned me, I have ballooned again to 187.2, basically half way back up to my largest mass.  I must get back in the swing.

But enough of my bitching, what have you got?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cyril Cusack Was Right

This is a clip from one of my favorite movies, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. In it "Control" is briefing a burned out, alcoholic field agent about a mission behind the Iron Curtain. Control makes the point that one cannot be less ruthless than the opposition if one wants to win. Our policies may be "benevolent" but our methods must be just as brutal. This is a universal truth in politics/war be it present day, ten thousand years ago or ten thousand years from now. The denial of this truth is why we lost in Vietnam, lost in Iraq, will eventually lose in Afghanistan and most likely lose the "War on Terror".  It's also why the Republican Party is such a mess.

A case directly on point is the latest threat by the left (and their new butt-boy the NFL) to take away the Super Bowl if Arizona passes The Religious Freedom Restoration Act which basically says any business can deny service based on religious grounds. Gay groups have taken this to mean their local bakery won't be putting Bruce & Bruce on top of that wedding cake because they're Godless sodomites who worship a hairy sphincter muscle rather than an all powerful Supreme Being. 

Now, how should we feel (feelings are everything, screw logic) about this law? Well my opinion is anyone should have the right to do business with whomever they choose; it's called free association. If I owned a pub (my lifelong dream...and death wish) and I choose not to serve kids or gays or Mexkins or even say.... Democrats, then that's my business. To the extent that I turn away paying customers and piss off my community/clientele the marketplace will punish me accordingly (now in my business I don't care if you're having a love affair with your Dyson upright I'm taking your money). But let's get real, discrimination is part of the human condition, we discriminate all the time in all kinds of ways. Let me walk my Redneck ass into the Russian Tea Room wearing an NRA t-shirt and Levis and see how far I get. 

Anyway, back to the point. The left is putting pressure on the NFL through a variety of ways and the league is now ready to do their bidding. 
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. “We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
Clearly the National Football League is frightened, so how can we, as conservatives, show the No Fun League the error of their ways?

I'm glad you asked. Pressure works both ways and if we want to win we cannot afford to be less ruthless than our enemies (see above). So, if Jan Brewer vetoes this bill we immediately call for a boycott of the Super Bowl. Every Republican, every conservative, every freedom loving American will not participate in any event, public or private, which has anything to do whatsoever with the Super Bowl. We will not watch, we will not go to a party, a bar or even talk about the game. Our refusal will be our weapon. If we did this just once, JUST ONE TIME, the revenue lost by the National Football League, by the Networks (yes all of them), the local stations, the advertisers, vendors, host city etc. would be enormous (and catastrophic for some entities). It would reverberate through the political consciousness of America and THE WORLD and scare the living shit out of the powers that be. Billions upon billions would be lost in one fell swoop and we could literally break the back of the left in 12 hours. 

Politics is politics but you mess with somebody's money and you'll get their attention real quick! If they are stupid enough to do this then let's not pussyfoot around. I say go for the throat, MAKE THEM PAY!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

CW Book Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Reading a great book is one of life's most fulfilling gifts.  Receiving that book from a special friend who hands it to you saying "I know you will like this" is a double gift.  There is the experience of the read itself, and then the great gift of someone knowing you so well that they can connect you with the story.  That was my experience with the novel "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet".  This is a period piece, largely taking place at the turn of the 18th to 19th century in Japan, at the Dutch trading compound of Dejima.  It is worthwhile to read the Dejima link in order to get a sense of the conditions under which the Dutch lived and worked in what was essentially a trading isolation ward designed to limit the exposure of the people of Nagasaki to the Europeans who traded there.

Jacob hires on to the Dutch East India Company for a term of five years, hoping to make his fortune and be worthy of his girlfriend at home, whose father insists on his going out to make his way before giving away his daughter.  Jacob winds up at Dejima, where his honesty and diligence as a clerk are clearly orthogonal to the way business was run there.  He is surrounded by a Star Wars Bar of Dutchmen, Americans, Malay, Indonesians, Germans and the always watchful Japanese interpreters.  The most decent of the cast is a Dr. Marius who is famous among the Japanese for the effectiveness of his medical treatments, so famous that the local administrator allows his daughter to study with Dr. Marius.  Orito--the daughter--is thought to be not marriageable due to a burn on the side of her face, and so is permitted to take up the trade of midwife.  Jacob sees her differently and falls in love, but it is a love separated by cultures and by locked and guarded gates. 

Orito is eventually sold into a nunnery by her stepmother upon the death of her father, breaking Jacob's heart.  The nunnery is a place of horror to Orito, where the nuns' primary job is to produce the children of the monks, something she cannot bear. Her story comes to Jacob (in a Japanese scroll), and he spends considerable time (illegally) learning Japanese so that he might unlock the mystery of her order.  Jacob's place in the trading compound also descends, as his honesty brings him into direct conflict with his superiors.  Eventually, his bravery in defending Dejima from the attack of a British Navy frigate catches the eye of powerful Japanese officials, one of whom he is able to convince help him spring Orito.  The rest, as they say, would spoil the story.

The writing is beautiful, the story is tight and well-told, the history is interesting and the characters are likable and well developed.  This is a world that virtually none of us knows about, and David Mitchell does a great job describing it to us. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Contrary to smart-ass Brother Tom's comments, I don't always avoid BFFFFA posts in order to hide bad diet performance.  As a matter of fact, I'm posting today, and avoiding any mention of my piss poor, wussy, fat man diet.

What's on your mind, folks?

Just did your taxes for the first time as a small business owner, and feeling the bite? 

Lose your in the bag hockey game in overtime?

Emote, friends.  Emote.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

CW Book Reviews

Henry Kissinger is one of the most compelling thinkers of our time, and this book, written as he neared ninety years of age, is proof positive of why.  "On China" is a fascinating look inside the Middle Kingdom, from its ancient history to its current (re)rise to world power status.  Anyone who spends time thinking about great power politics should read this book and should think deeply about Kissinger's views on how to contend with China. 

Relying on transcripts/verbatim notes from many of the meetings in which he was directly involved, Kissinger's retelling of Nixon's opening to China is riveting.  China's need to use us to balance the Soviet Union, our need to use China to balance the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union's seeming befuddlement at what it all meant show both Mao and Nixon at their best. 

Where I tend to deviate from Mr. Kissinger is in his tendency to urge readers to treat China "differently" than Western powers; that its history, its Confucianism, its Maoism, its strategic culture, etc. create a situation in which it ought to be understood quite differently than other rising powers.  I think there is something here, and it is worth considering.  But in the meantime, I'd rather play it safe and look at a "worse" case scenario, one in which China's rise is something to be warily watched and shaped.  But, then again, I'm no Henry Kissinger.

Next, in an effort to get a little better acquainted with the contenders for the 2016 Republican nomination, I read Marco Rubio's memoir "An American Son".  Rubio, as some of you may remember, captivated America with his 2012 Republican National Convention speech introducing Mitt Romney.  It was an electric performance, one that put him firmly on the map for 2016.  This is not a great book, or even a good one, but it is worth reading for anyone looking to get a better sense of who Rubio is.  It comes across as authentic, with some effort made to address what he believes are both his strengths and weaknesses.  The book reinforces my view that state politics is a morass, and Florida was no different.  Rubio's rise was through the Florida House of Representatives, where he eventually became Speaker.  I was a little uncomfortable with this portion of the book, as it was during this time that many of the charges Charlie Crist made against him in the 2010 Senate Race were occurring.  Primarily a question of using a Republican Party credit card to charge personal expenses (which Rubio says were all paid off from personal accounts), Rubio chalks up the errors to basic human mistake making.  Whether or not this is true, I hope that his recordkeeping and management improves as he continues his rise.

Rubio is at his best in the telling of the story of the 2010 Senate Race.  Charlie Crist was thought unbeatable in that race, and Rubio pulled off a huge upset.  First he drove Crist out of the Republican nomination, then when Crist ran a third party candidacy, he beat him (and Kendrick Meek) in the three way race.  I remember being captivated by this young force of nature, especially as Charlie Crist exposed himself as the charlatan he is.  Rubio's secret weapon in this campaign was his wife Jeanette, who time and again put a little starch in his shorts when he doubted his prospects or when she thought that his ambition was getting in the way of doing what was right.  We should all have such helpmates.

The bottom line is that very few people in a modern age of nearly 80 year life-spans should be writing autobiographies in their forties.  I don't care of you are Barack Obama or Marco Rubio, there is a certain pretense in it.  But such is our time, and such is the lot of national politics, that one must write a book to "introduce" oneself to the electorate.  In this regard, Rubio has done a good job and generally comes off in a positive light.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CW Doing His Day Job

I did a panel on "Defending the First Island Chain" (in the Pacific) last month in Washington.  The video is below.  My stuff is at 0:49:30,  1:24:00 and 1:44:00

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Zen and the Art of Shoe Repair

Among the many estimable charms of small town Eastern Shore life is the existence of small businesses that do things the old fashioned way.  Mr. Caldwell operates a shoe repair shop just off the main drag in Easton, and I find my every-two-years-or-so trip back in to see him to be an exercise in civility, value, and contentedness.  The shop is not long on creature comforts or decor; it is a place of business, wherein  a man works with his hands.  There is a strong odor of glue in the air.

Few things in life are quite as satisfying as having a pair of dress shoes resoled.  What was once  destined for the dustbin is returned to you not quite new, but in a far better state than when dropped off.  For a pittance ($35 in this case), I will have at least another two years wear from my cordovan wing tips, perhaps my favorite pair of dress shoes.  It feels like stealing. 

I dropped the shoes off two Saturdays ago and picked them up yesterday.  In the meantime, my black wing tips developed the same malady (sole separation at the right toe, the classic "barking dog" issue), and so I delivered them for recrafting yesterday.  I took a pair of shoes in two years ago for repair, and Mr. Caldwell just told me straight out, "I can't fix them".  And then he showed me why.  While there, I had a nice chat with a man I believe to be his brother, who liked my car and asked how I liked it.  We talked cars for a bit (he owned a Corvette and was very happy) and it was a pleasant experience all around--while I was not able to get my shoes repaired, I did walk away with the sense of confidence that I had done all I could do to save them.

So when I went in two Saturdays ago, both Mr. Caldwell and his (likely) brother were there, and wouldn't you know, we had virtually the same car conversation we had two years ago.  Perhaps the glue odor is more potent than I considered.

I am not a parsimonious man, though I am not profligate.  Were there no shoe repair shop convenient to me, I would hop on the interwebs and have a replacement pair delivered.  But there is smug satisfaction in wringing another couple of years from these shoes, and I am happy to try and keep Mr. Caldwell in business in our little town.  I only hope that he is training someone to replace him someday. 

Charity, Thy Name is Black-Redneck

Ok, had me a little pee-peeing contest over on FB with one of CW's pals, a Mr. Jim Rushton. Now I'm sure Jim is wonderful human being and a pillar of his community, but James tried to tell The Hammer et al. that liberals give as much to charitable organizations as conservatives and that America wasn't even in the top ten worldwide in giving. WELL, my bullshit-o-meter pegged immediately! I countered that based on my extensive knowledge of other peoples and cultures Americans were by far the most generous and that among Americans the less Christian the tighter the purse strings. Not so said Mr. Rushton. So, there it is, let's have a look shall we?

First let's talk about methodology. As I'm sure you know statistics are there to be fiddled and there are millions of ways to slice and dice the numbers. Given enough data I could prove most Iranians are George Bush Republicans. But let's be reasonable and factor in our own experiences with a little common sense. Numbers don't always tell the whole story they help us to understand the whole story, so here goes.

In America who gives the most? Jim and I both cited which seems to make it their business to know this stuff. Here's an interactive map of American giving I found useful.

Now as you can see, total contributions tend to support Jim's assertion that liberal states give as much as conservative states (I refuse to use the blue vs. red analogy; we know who the REDS are and they ain't the conservatives!). But considering these states tend to have very dense populations, in my opinion this is the least useful statistic.

A better view is given by the percent given by all incomes chart. As you can plainly see, the more conservative, the more Christian, the more they give. New York represents the only New England state that gives much of anything, which considering the wealth of those states is just appalling!

Now let's take a look at an individual state, one with a fair amount of diversity and see what we come up with. And since I'm a Tar Heel (not to be confused with those OTHER Tar Heels) and since I know this state pretty well and since it meets our criteria I offer up North Carolina.

As you can see Durham, Forsyth, Wake and Mecklenburg along with the coastal counties are the stingiest with the dirt-bomb rural counties (the poorest) giving the most. I wonder why? From Horry County south of the border (Myrtle Beach) to Norfolk nothing but skinflint after skinflint. The reason is that happens to be where our Yankee friends tend to relocate (nobody from New York moves to Jones County; county seat Trenton, population 297). No they go to the cities and retire at our nice beaches... and apparently hoard their cash. But why Moore County? It's not close enough to Raleigh or Durham to be a bedroom community and it's kind of rural. What's up with that? Simple, Southern Pines and Pinehurst have attracted a ton of snowbirds in the past twenty years. Tightwad, miserable, penny-pinching, Country Club liberals who wouldn't give you the time of day.

Even more revealing have a look at this one. These are the zip codes for the Triangle area (Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill) including Johnston County. Look at 27520, Clayton. That is where many Northern liberals live (regrets to CW's sister, she lives there). Then look at 27610 in Wake County, home of the poorest of the poor black population in the entire area. Then on to 27513, Cary, NC, wall-to-wall Yankees with a yearly median income in 2011 of $82,500. Do I need to draw a conclusion for you?

Now, many will say these numbers don't give a true picture because conservatives and most especially rednecks and blacks give a lot to churches and religious organizations whereas liberals do not. Control for that and Massassassachusettes turns into a loving, caring, sharing kinda place we could all be proud of. WRONG! Are not contributions given to Planned Parenthood and NARAL counted? How about the Sierra Club or the Council On Islamic American Relations? Hell I would say NAMBLA money is in there somewhere. If I had to guess (and often times statistical analysis boils down to a good guess) I'd say they cancel each other out.

So, there you have it Mr. Rushton. I stand by my statement, the religious and conservative give FAR MORE than the Godless and liberal. What say you?

(Oh, I'll try to address the America vs. the World at a later date. Mustn't bite off more than we can chew.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Somethin' botherin' you, my friend?  Something you want to share?  Looking for some sympathetic readers?  Have I got the place for you!

Let it all hang out!  Let your whine flag fly!

Today's Weigh In:  180.4
Last Weigh in (01/31/13): 180.4
Diet Start (8/11/13):  198

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Goose Stepping Towards Amerika Inc.

Reagan never trusted George Bush. George the first was the price Reagan paid for the old money Republicans and corporate America to to open up their wallets and bite their damn tongues. You see Reagan was a student of philosophy, he understood the theory of capitalism as well as its practicality. He also knew its opponents and what they were willing to do to undermine freedom. Having very different backgrounds the son of Prescott Bush did not, and neither did his son. It's interesting (and depressing) to see that the undoing of America is coming from the so-called right rather than the left. Pat Buchanan has a good piece on this very subject you might want to take a look at.

Question: What do we owe business? In my view we owe them a free and open marketplace unencumbered by excessive taxes or regulations. In other words we owe them the same freedoms we offer our citizens, no more no less. What we don't owe them is special access, set asides, subsidies or special laws. We now live in a transitional, pre-mercantile, quasi-fascist state, and if you're not quite sure where we're headed have a gander at China.

As the ancient Greeks discovered 2000 years ago one of the pitfalls of democracy comes when the ordinary citizen realizes they can vote themselves money from the public treasury, but it's not the only pitfall. Another, and maybe even more dangerous is that the wealthy corrupt the government for their own ends. I think we see an excellent example of this very thing with the Affordable Care Act (wow...that's like putting a Porsche badge on a VW Rabbit). Do you think for one minute the healthcare/insurance industry would have rolled over for Obamacare if not promised increased profits?

Let's look back at the past 20 years and see what corporations have given us. In their pursuit of profits corporations, the elites and their lapdog politicians have given us an unsustainable welfare state (including corporate welfare) unsurpassed in human history for its corruption and generosity (with other people's money), a nation that can't control it's own borders eaten alive by illegal immigration, an America that is a dumping ground for every third world nation on the planet (legal immigration) resulting in a cheap labor pool and lower wages and diluting the political and economic power of its native born citizens WHO BUILT THE DAMNED COUNTRY, an addiction to deficits and borrowing that will INEVITABLY destroy capitalism and freedom once and for all, and a propaganda industry to maintain this house of cards until its dying day (which will be sooner than you think). Plus the multinationals have taken an undeveloped, authoritarian basket-case of a country like Red China, exploited its cheap labor to the detriment of the ordinary Chinese worker AND MOST ESPECIALLY THE AMERICAN WORKER, and turned it into a malevolent super-power that will likely start acting on old grudges and potentially start a third world war (Serbia 1914?).

I hate to say this but I think the left has corporate America pretty much nailed (as opposed to the Republicans). They understand big business and exploits their greed to further their own agenda. They understand that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and George Soros have only one goal... money and power. Don't get me wrong, that's as it should be. Corporations have an obligation to their shareholders to grow profits, in fact that is their very purpose. If they can control markets etc. then half their work is done. But the purpose of the the American government should be to protect us against such assaults (what's good for GM is NOT necessarily what's good for the country), not to act as a shill for special interest be it corporate or otherwise. The left willingly uses business to undermine America, the right does it out of ignorance.

And that brings me to the greatest pitfall to freedom of all, and that is it gives evil room to operate. No country on Earth has ever tolerated subversion, hate, greed and envy like we do. That's why we need an ever diligent political class that can see past the next election and put the country first. However, between the insanely stupid and frustrating country club Republicans, the leftists, between the bureaucracy and the corporate hustlers, between the parasites and bums, WE, the last remaining Constitutionalist/libertarians/Reaganites are witnessing the demise of the greatest, most powerful, wealthiest and freest meritocracy, and the MOST JUST society in the history of civilization. Thanks Republicans, they couldn't have done it without you.
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