Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why I Was in Newport Last Week

Here's the video of my little talk.  My part begins at 18:30.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jamaica Morning Day 4--Heading Home

I'm up bright and early (0510 Jamaica time), and my taxi leaves the hotel at 0825 for the airport.  If it is anything like my trip here from the airport (also at rush hour), it will be at a snail's pace  Immigration on the way in was a mess...very long lines and not enough of them.  I saw at the airport, and then learned while here, of a "service" one could pay for that expedites the entire immigration process.  The front desk was happy to sell me a day's pass in order to expedite today's trip through the lines.

I have spent like a sober-drunken Sailor while here, largely because there was no "bill" waiting for airfare, lodging, and meals, as this was an all-inclusive trip and I paid the bill prior to traveling.  No, I arrived here with a zero balance, dammit, and I was going to do some damage.  My first rule was to be open to any upselling.  I ordered a regular room with an ocean view, but upon checkin was offered a "Junior Suite" with an ocean view for more money.  When I checked in for the flight today, I was offered (at a modest expense) an upgrade to Business/First--yes please.  I bought presents for the Kittens, I bought a bathing suit for me (the one I brought was falling off and I could cinch it no further).  I am quite certain I spent nearly as much since I got here as I spent to get here.

Yesterday was a good day, another day with lots of sun and lots of dark, threatening clouds interspersed throughout the day.  I enjoyed my breakfast in bed while I did some work, I confirmed the necessary arrangements to convey me to the airport today, I ate a good lunch, had a massage, did my PT, had a thirty minute walk, swam in the ocean, processed a ton of emails, took a bath while watching the Duke game, had dinner at the French restaurant and then relaxed here in the room for the evening.  Outside of the conversations I had in order to handle the logistics of the travel, and idle chit chat with people in elevators, I have not had a meaningful conversation with another human being on property.  Not that everything was simply transactional--the employees at the front desk are very conversational and they draw one into more extended conversation.  The females seem universal in their disdain for my having left "my wife" at home, irrespective of this being a working vacation.

Speaking of the females at the front desk.....there are clearly no laws against "face-ism" in Jamaica, as every woman working customer service in this place is fetching.  Every....one....

Let's talk language, shall we?  English is of course, the language of Jamaica.  Every employee at this property speaks it well, with the accent that immediately puts me at ease, whether spoken here or by a Jamaican in the cold of a Washington Metro station.  As soon as your conversation is over, they then turn to each other and speak "Patwa (patois)", which is this amazing English-like language in which your average whiteboy (me) can pick up one word out of ten.  It is spoken very, very quickly, and is nearly indecipherable to an English speaker.  It's actually kind of funny--to see a couple of bellhops going at it in Patwa as you approach, and then to have them stiffen up and speak Queen's English.  I had a chat with my cab driver on the way here (shortly after he had a Patwa chat at a stoplight with the guy driving the beer truck who stopped next to us) who explained all this to me.  It made me think about my flight down, during which I was seated next to two black women.  Very pleasant ladies, on their way to a wedding.  The funny thing was, as they chatted among themselves, they used a sort of "Patwa"--known sometimes as "Black English"--which while it isn't common among white people, we understand pretty clearly.  As soon as one of them would address me though, they went straight into standard English.  I wondered whether this were a conscious act, or whether this is done without thinking.

A heavy morning shower just passed overhead, and it is gone almost as soon as it came.  It's like that here in the Caribbean, unless of course one is in a hurricane.  I thought about hurricanes last night as I scanned "Caribbean Real Estate", as in the back of my mind I see a two bedroom condo on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean as a likely "investment" someday, a place where I (and the Kitten, should she wish to accompany me) can "winter".  I would love to pick up and move--November 1 to May 1--to the Caribbean.  I would care not a whit about what happens back where it is cold, but I would have high speed internet to allow me to observe it from afar should I become concerned.  I would drink strong coffee in small cafes, I would eat at local restaurants, I would take walks along the beach in shoes and socks (see Nixon, R),   The Kitten always puts the Kaibash on ideas like this, asking annoyingly logical questions like "what about the dogs?".  She also, raises the issue of whether such a place would keep us from going to other places--which I guess is a good question, except for the fact that we don't do a lot of going to "other" places now.  I'm a "plant the flag" kind of guy--buy it and you will come.  We'll see--this is a far horizon plan, say 15 years from now or so.

The sun has begun to come up, and I must do my PT if I am to remain on my rigid morning schedule.  I figure if everything I do here is late (Jamaica time), why then everything over which I have control should be disciplined and on time.  I'm sure eyes are rolling across the world reading this--"that dude sure is anal", but it is the little things that keep us sane.

Until tomorrow....

Sunday, March 29, 2015


I'm so glad CW is enjoying his working vacation in Jamaica. Here's another photo of a local "nature tour guide" explaining the benefits of Jamaica's most profitable agricultural export; the possession of which would make CW the most popular oldster at South Padre Island during Spring Break if he had chosen that as his working destination. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about CW's globe trotting even though I haven't been out of the city limits of Tickbite for almost a year (but I'm not bitter), no I'm here to rag on Obama (what else is new?).

You know you may be on the wrong side of history when the Europeans think you're giving away the store and that's just what Obama/Kerry are doing. I wish I could say I was incredulous at our foreign policy follies but I'm not. After six long years of amateurish idiots running the show I think I'm prepared for anything. My God the Middle East is about to blow sky high, the Russians are well on the way to re-establishing their empire, China has the Japanese freaked out so bad they're remilitarizing and we in America are being flooded with a new South-of-the-Border diseased, illiterate and dependent immigrant once every 32 seconds. The question is no longer does Obama love America, the question is why does Obama HATE America and what can we do to stop him? Hell I would argue he hates humanity. The damage he is doing, on so many fronts both domestically and internationally is pretty damned astounding. A Manchurian Candidate with the INTENTION to destroy America and destabilize the world could not do any better. The world and America are going to pay one helluva price for indulging their fantasies and guilt.

Which brings me to Google. There's an interesting article in the NY Post explaining how our tech-nerd friends are a little too nosy for OUR own good. The first thing on the agenda of a new Republican administration (in the unlikely event that were to happen) would be to bust up Google! Break out the old Sherman Antitrust Act and get going. But Hammer, Goggle's monopoly was won fairly in the marketplace, they deserve their EARNED marketshare. Sorry, I don't give a shit. Like our President said, you can't bring a knife to a gun fight and by hook or crook, one way or the other by any means necessary these technoids have got to be brought under control. I do not wish to live in a techno-totalitarian shithole run by an American Stasi. In fact I personally would go a step further. I would throw Eric Schmidt's mindless Judas Goat ass in prison for 12-15. Let him sit at a computer terminal plotting his snoop-topia after that asshole of his has been wrung out the size of a grapefruit.

On a lighter note I was very disappointed in Notre Dame last evening. They played good enough to win, and they were in a position to win. Unfortunately Coach Mike Brey didn't have a play ready when they needed it. With 6 seconds on the clock and the Irish down by two their guard dribbled the ball the length of the court and took a Hail Mary with three Kentucky kids in his face. Steve Vasturia was open on the right wing (2 for 3 from three point range), and I mean WIDE ASS OPEN but nobody saw him. Coach didn't have a play ready, simple as that. They should have practiced this scenario all week and been ready, but they obviously weren't. Look I've got nothing against Kentucky other than they're liars and cheats along the lines of UNC, they just haven't gotten caught yet. Plus if I see that botoxed bimbo of a leftist freakazoid casting couch has-been Ashley Judd on MY tv screen one more time I'm gonna lose it!

Well that's all I got. I leave you with one of me favorites.

Jamaica: Morning Day 3

Somehow I managed to fall asleep during the Kentucky/Notre Dame game last night, and so morning came to me earlier than I'd hoped.  I tried to keep going back to sleep, but at 0615, I gave up and decided to take the day as it was being offered.  It is now nearly seven, and I have opened the sliding door wide to let in the morning breeze and the sound of the ocean to accompany my morning's work.  At 0845, a "champagne breakfast in bed" will be delivered, as I am here at what is not constitutionally a couples' resort, but in practice is sorta like one.  No kids anywhere, but lots of handholding and little romantic dining nooks. Should you have a hankering to take your sweetie to a great place, I do recommend this property, Secrets St. James Montego Bay.

Yesterday was a good day, a mix of work and play with play taking a slight lead that will have to be remediated today.  It looks as though Mother Nature is going to oblige, as there are angry rain clouds gathering outside as I write.  I had to explain the whole "I'm not on vacation" thing to the Kitten on Skype last night (she rarely reads this blog, joining most carbon based life-forms in that decision) when she asked how my vacation was going.  I (re)explained to her that I was not ON vacation, but simply changing my location and doing essentially the same things I was doing in Easton.  She was floored by this--she asserted that I was wasting my money, etc.  As I sit here, happy as a clam, with a full day of work ahead of me, enjoying the sounds of the ocean and a warm breeze, I simply cannot agree.  I am getting my money's worth in a big way.

Ian, our nature tour guide
I went on a nature walk yesterday, a pleasant stroll around the property with Ian who works in grounds maintenance.  Ian showed up for our 1000 walk at 1015 (this is Jamaica, mon), and appeared to be high as a kite (very bloodshot eyes).  This however, did not keep him from giving us a very interesting tour of the grounds, where he named and described all of the flowering plants and how the people of Jamaica enjoyed their fruits.  This place is alive with flowers, and bees, and smells, and birds...exactly the kind of Spring jump start I was looking for.  I grow to appreciate flowers more as I age, and the Kitten does a great job of planting stuff around the farm so that we get a pretty relentless schedule of new flowering offerings during the year.  May and June are particularly beautiful at our place.

In the afternoon, Tercetta delivered unto me a relaxing 50 minute Swedish Massage, as skillful as the one Phyillis provided the evening before.  I get a lot of massages, and I have come to believe that one's techniques are almost like a fingerprint, with no two therapists exactly alike.  The spa here clearly has a training program and a guideline for how the massage will go, as the little introductory conversation was essentially the same, and I had to do the breathing thing at the same point, and the order in which the body was addressed was the same.  But the differences between the two approaches were wide.  Unlike sex, even a bad massage IS a bad massage--and so one takes one's own tender sensibilities into one's hands whenever you have a massage with a new therapist.  And while there were technique differences (Phyllis with killer forearm and hand work, Tercetta with a never before experienced regimen of long, slow, sweeping back work), both turned out to be wonderful.  We find out if good things come in threes this afternoon at 1400.

It appears like I slept through a whale of a game last night between ND and KY--though my interest in the tournament was sucked out of me by UVA's tremendous underperformance.  I had ND beating KY and getting to the Final Four--and I think from what I've read, KY is beatable, but still will be favored over anyone.  It is an extreme thing indeed to be rooting for Duke, but league honor is at stake.  Though I do like the pluck of Gonzaga....

Ok, that's enough for now.  Back to (sort of) work.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jamaica: Morning, Day 2

My apologies for not updating you last night, but I was quite busy with massage, bath, and college basketball.  I shall remedy this sloth with an update here this morning.

It is 0840 Jamaica time, which is one hour behind Eastern.  I am sitting on my balcony with serviceable wifi typing out this little ditty while I avoid a never-ending crush of work.  You see, I am NOT on vacation here in Jamaica.  At least not solely on vacation.  More than anything, this was a change of venue, taken with the full knowledge that I would have to work while I was here, but taken anyway in the spirit of blue skies and inner peace.  This winter took a bit out of me, what with all the snow, the surgery, the dieting, etc.  I know I sound like a big wuss, but by the middle of March--when the kittens trundled off to tropical climes in Mexico, I decided to act.  There's a great book called "The Four Hour Work-Week" by a guy called Tim Ferris.  Ferris is a bit of a polymath, and the techniques he advocates are generally speaking, simply beyond the capability of most people who work in normal, honorable jobs.  But I don't.  I'm a consultant with a Navy pension.  And while that doesn't mean a ton of money, it means decent money and the freedom to work as I will.  There is some classified work in my portfolio, but it is all done in secure environments, mostly the Pentagon.  The overwhelming majority of the rest of my work is done right here at this computer (or the one on my desk at the ManCave), and so in essence, as long as I have connectivity, it doesn't matter where I work. Getting back to Ferris, he is a big fan (for people with jobs like me) of simply combining leisure and work in places that make one feel better.  That's why I am here.

Today, I will write this blog (leisure).  I will put together some ideas for a presentation for a senior executive (work).  I will go on a nature walk (leisure).  I will mark a War College paper or two (work).  I will have a nice French dinner (leisure).  I will cogitate for a while on a study I've been hired to do (work).  And I will watch college basketball at one of the bars here (leisure).  Oh...and I will have another massage (leisure).  And while the clouds are sparse this morning, the reports are they will gather later and give us another afternoon shower--so why not work if it is raining?

As I sit here on the balcony, a couple of Hobie Cats are headed out for a sail, though the wind seems a bit weak.  I'd love to do that while I'm here, but the hip isn't ready yet for all that bending and crawling.  Nor do I think I'm up for paddle boarding, though the surgery will get me ready to do so with more vigor over the Summer with the Kittens. The ability to do active stuff with my family once again was the primary impetus behind doing the cut, and I'd guess two more months or so of healing will get me to where I'll feel comfortable on the water again.

Meals here are interesting.  Breakfast and lunch are buffets, and dinner can be had at one of five or six cuisine restaurants, including Mexican, Italian, French, and Jamaican.  When one is dieting, buffets are a two-edged sword.  First there is the "mass trap", or the plain ugly truth that one can eat as much as one desires, even if one avoids carbs.  On the other hand, if one exercises restraint (as I did at breakfast), there are a number of great things to eat small portions of.  Smoked salmon, hard boild eggs, and curry chicken made up this morning's fare.  Lunch will likely be similar.  The problem comes at dinner, where there are no buffet options.  One must eat a la carte, and while the menus are fantastic, there is the "mass" problem of small portions of even the things I love.  Nothing to bitch about, just have to be prepared.

Not one to kvetch about it, but we Americans are fast becoming a bit ostentatious with our tattoos.  Mine as some of you know, is a small, tasteful mark on my left shoulder, invisible without my shirt on.  That is not the case here.  Forearms, necks, and in one case, skull are festooned with all manner of artistry, and sitting at one of the restaurants (where they try and enforce an island smart dress code) next to a man with a nice silk shirt and linen pants with his head tattooed is a bit of a discontinuity.  But this is life.

Well, enough for now.  I've got some things to tend to.  Enjoy your day.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw...what's got you down, Betty?  Your Mountaineers bite off a little more than they could chew?  Getting a little confused by the fact that we are destroying our relationship with Israel in favor of a an agreement with a country for whom we are providing air cover in Syria/Iraq and against whom we are supporting the Saudi's in Yemen?  Share your pain, friends.  Right here.

This update comes to you from Terminal C at BWI, where I am shortly to begin my quick hit to Jamaica.  I get there early this afternoon and leave on Monday midday.  This trip was driven by a great case of envy when the Kittens went to Mexico and I realized how the winter had--as Hammer's Mrs. might say--taken the piss out of me.  Four days at an all-inclusive little get away all by my lonesome.  The weather is shaking up to be dreadful down there, so I'll have plenty of time to sleep and grade dreadful War College papers.

Hammer is in full celebration as the Tar Heels lost a tough one to Wisconsin last night--I realize the depth of his hatred, but I put away such things when league honor is at stake.  Hell, I'm even rooting for Duke the rest of the way.  Really great to see Notre Dame still humping it.  I predict they will give Kentucky all they can take.

As this is a BFFFFA, I am obliged to provide weight data, but I forgot to weigh myself this morning whilst I floated about my bedroom thinking only about Jamaica.  I managed also to leave the house without my hearing aids, but turned around in the lane to retrieve them.  On the off chance that I engage in conversation with another human over the next couple of days, I suppose I ought to be able to understand them.  Fear not though, friends, it was a good, disciplined week of dieting and progress toward "150's by 50" remains steady.

Until Jamaica, then.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Does Freedom Die?

Good question right? Well lots of ways, and I would argue we're in the midst of real world examples of just how precarious is this liberty thing. The Founders knew it and so did Ronald Reagan when he famously said we're just a generation away from tyranny (unfortunately it appears our latest generation of college knobs is that generation).

But I'd like to talk about business, specifically BIG business and its role in the destruction of freedom. What's that you say, the Hammer speaking out against free enterprise? Eh, HELL NO! You'll never hear a word uttered from these lips disparaging economic freedom. But that's not what we have now. Oh there's economic freedom of sorts down at the Tickbite level of small bidnez, but we're small fry, I have no doubt they'll get around to us eventually. No what I'm talking about is the "public-private partnership" of Bill Clinton which BHO has elevated to the what I would term the "mercantile state" (one step below fascism).

How so you may ask? Well to talk about Clinton a second, he realized that corporate money was an untapped resource by the Democrats. He came from a State where it really wasn't an option to be a player without cozying up to the State's biggest industries (Tyson Foods. Wally World et al.). So rather than being a flaming Marxist ideologue (like the old lady) our amoral and politically malleable Bill, ever the pragmatist, peddled the influence and took the money. This as much as anything swung the pendulum his way both in Arkansas and nationally. But Bill being Bill he eventually sold his administration to the Chinese, but hey, when you're for sale you're for sale. We can't always choose our customers.

Anyway, back to the point. Obama has taken up where the Clintons left off. Wall Street, the tech giants, the entertainment industry have all benefited greatly from Obama's quid pro quo administration. He's the best president they every had. It's ironic (and laughable) that Trumka and big labor is weaker now than when Obama took office. Every policy this President has pushed weakens the middle class and enriches the wealthiest among us. He's taken the Chicago model nationwide.

So, can we as Republicans (a nominal Republican in my case, just like Trumka I have nowhere else to go) exploit all this? Can we overcome our pro-business leanings?

Before you say no let's get something straight. Big business, small business, medium sized business is NOT about freedom. They're about making money. That's it! No more no less, it's ALL about the bottom line. Lenin had us pegged when he said "Don't worry about the capitalists, they'll sell us the rope we hang them with".  No truer words have ever been spoken. If the tech industry CAN import cheap, cut-rate software engineers they will. In fact if Apple could impose sweat shops paying subsistence wages to nine year olds working seven days a week twelve hours a day... they would (in fact they probably do already in some rathole in China). It's not business' job to regulate itself. Think of it as an insect designed to do two things, eat and procreate. Same with business. Therefore business will do whatever it can to achieve its goals, and will make assessments strictly in terms of cost/benefit and risk/reward. They will lie, cheat and steal to attain their goals (which made them and the Clintons a marriage made in heaven). Business has no love of freedom, business has a love of market share.

Our job (among others) will be to shine a light on the Democrats' nefarious and illegal ties to Big Business and to position them as enemies of the working and middle class. Our job should be to ensure that every time a Democrat starts in with the class warfare rhetoric a light goes on in everybody's head saying HYPOCRITE! We can do that, we should do that. It's the right thing to do and it will pave the way for retaking the White House. But we can't do it with Boehner and McConnell snuggling up to the Chamber. We can't get in a bidding war with the Democrats...WE'D LOSE!

So, this next presidential election we have to attack our enemies, and some of these huge multinationals are fair game. Plus big media IS big business! Our attacks on one will be attacks on the other and we'll neutralize most of the media bias (they'll spend all their time defending themselves). Furthermore we cannot allow the Warren Buffetts and Bll Gates of the world to get away with it. If they want to kiss the Democrats ass they have to know there's a price to be paid. So let's get on the phone and see if they'll sell us some rope.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dispatch from the Road: Newport RI

If it's Wednesday, this must be Newport.  I flew here yesterday for a conference thrown by the Naval War College where today I will once again do my "why aircraft carriers don't suck and aren't a waste of money" pitch.  The audience is a group mainly of academics, with most of us having arrived yesterday and attended the opening dinner last night.  Held in the rotunda room of the original War College building (or the traditional one), I was reunited with an old friend who had previously served as the Naval Attache to China.  Dude is the real deal and funny as all hell.  He told marvelous stories, none of which I can share here....

I will be here until tomorrow afternoon, at which point I will fly back to Baltimore and then head over to teach my class at the Naval Academy.  We are in the final phase of the course, two more months or so and then we're done.

I'm staying at the Hotel Viking, a grand old place here in Newport.  The conference is putting us all up here (by us, I mean the speakers), and we were picked up at the airport in Providence too. All of which is very convenient, but without a car, I am left at the mercy of the shuttle bus they provide to get us back and forth to the college.  Last night for instance, there was a cocktail hour before dinner.  My usual habit is to make it to the last 20 minutes of cocktail hours, but since there was only a shuttle to get us there, I had to act like my brother Tom for a full hour of cocktail party chit-chat.  The good news was that I was among several good friends/interesting people.  The bad news is that I ate a ton of bacon wrapped scallops.  Actually not bad from a diet selection standpoint, simply from a total mass ingested standpoint.  Our dinner speaker was a good friend, a retired Brit two-star with whom I traveled to Taiwan last year.  Gave a pretty rousing, 'the world is going to shit if America doesn't get its act together" speech, one I could probably give myself, but I would not sound nearly as wonderful as he does.

It is cold still here in the arctic regions of America, and there was a good bit of snow on the ground as we flew into Providence.  I am weary of winter, and as we've discussed earlier, I will be turning around rather quickly on Friday morning for a solo weekend in Jamaica.  It appears that the weather gods are not smiling on me, as there is a 50% chance of rain each of the four days I am there.  I will not let this bother me though, as I will have good books to sustain me if forced indoors.

That's all for now.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

UVA Hoops: "Here we are not afraid to follow truth, wherever it may lead".

This quotation is etched into the traditional entrance gate to the University of Virginia
For those uninterested in a post about college basketball, move along. Don't even waste the time bitching about the post with a comment, because I won't post it.  And if I am writing for myself and the Hammer, so be it.  He knows my pain.

Virginia just lost for the second year in a row in the NCAA tournament to Michigan State University.  We were a number 2 seed, they were a #7.  They deserved to be a better seed,  but that is another story entirely.  Last year they beat us  61-59.  This year we lost 60-54.  We had a better team this year than last, they did not.  But we still lost.

My purpose in writing this post is to talk about objectivity, and to urge my fellow Wahoos to begin to use some of it when they evaluate our Men's Basketball Program.  First let me try and objectively do so.

We just completed our second straight 30-4 season.  We won the ACC Regular Season Title for the second year in a row, after winning the ACC tournament last year.  UVA is a gutsy team of players who were not recruited by the top programs in the country, and they are exceptionally well-coached by Tony Bennett, who has improved the team each year under his tenure.  By any objective analysis, this is a good team and maybe a great team, and a program on the rise.

Virginia Basketball has a distinctive style; I will not spend this column talking about whether it is exciting or good for basketball, or any of that garbage, because it is unimportant to the point about objectivity I wish to make.  That style flows from two main lines of operation:  the first is a crushing, stifling, defense, one that demands a considerable amount of teamwork and floor intelligence.  Watching UVA play defense is a thing of beauty, and objectively, we are among the top two or three teams in the country in total defense.  There is a great deal of pride among the players in their ability to shut other teams down, and the team's ability to force other teams into bad shots at the end of the 35 second shot clock is a big reason for its success.

The other line of operation is a patient, ball control offense that values ball movement and screens, and which all things being equal, passes up the opportunity for a decent look at the basket early in the possession in order to get an even BETTER, higher percentage look later on in the shot clock.  Because we use up a lot of shot clock, we score relatively less than the other "elite" programs in the country.  Because of our stifling defense, we used this formula to gain 30 victories.  It is however, a long term strategy that will continue to result in gaudy regular season accomplishment and disappointment in the Tournament. Simply put, our offense is average at best, and this is with good players.  It is average because of its design, just as the defense is unparalleled because of its design.  UVA will not advance to the next level until we recognize this. Which brings up the question of fan objectivity.

For two months, I have conducted a low-level Twitter War with a legion of Wahoo fans who simply do not look at the team with objectivity.  They've fallen in love with Coach Bennett and with his scrappy players (as I have), and they are genuinely (and justifiably) grateful to see UVA Basketball return to a serious level of competition.  I am right there with them.  Having the ability to write a blog post about my disappointment in a 30 win season seemed a distant dream five years ago, but here I am doing it.  That said, UVA has reached "peak basketball", as it has ridden its defensive prowess about as far as it can take them, because when they reach the tournament, they face bigger, stronger, faster teams than Miami, Boston College, Wake Forest and some of the other teams Virginia beat this year during the ACC (sometimes, in very unconvincing fashion).  Unless the offensive "system" makes adjustments, UVA fans are going to have to become satisfied and familiar with the disappointment many feel today.

We played Duke--a generally acknowledged elite program--when we were 19-0 this year.  At home.  At full strength.  A week or so before the game, a friend of mine who I love dearly, but who I fear had fallen victim to the lack of objectivity trap, told me that he thought UVA could beat Kentucky five out of ten times they played.  I was incredulous.  This is a team that got run around on by Davidson, nearly beaten by Virginia Tech, and beat a Maryland team that was missing its two best players.  Duke beat us in no small measure because our offense simply could not produce against them.

Two games later, we beat a spry Louisville team 52-47.  Yes, we won.  But we scored 52 points.  In that game we lost one of our two stars/leading scorers.  But what people forget is that at the time we lost him, he was 1-9 from the field.  In other words, we were again at full strength and nearly lost.

It was actually during the Duke game that I began to publicly question our offensive production, but it wasn't until today that I realized that it isn't a bug in the system, it is a feature of the system.  It is an offensive scheme that will -- all things being equal-- lead to lower scoring games.  And when you encounter another team that plays good defense, or even great defense, and which has an elite offense, we were and are at a great disadvantage.  And that is why unless we figure out how to raise our offensive production, we are going to have to be satisfied with unsatisfying exits from the tournament.

I debuted this sense of systemic flaw in my Twitter ranting today, and the answer I received most prominently was, "there's nothing wrong with the system, we just didn't execute".  Today?  Or against Carolina in the ACC tournament?  Or against Louisville in the final game of the season.  Or against Duke, at our place, when we were at full strength?  No.  This is NOT solely an execution issue. This is an issue of emphasis.  It is an issue of priority.  We have skilled, athletic players who can occasionally get hot shooting.  But we have a system which supports them sub-optimally when we have the ball.  And when they are not executing, the systems architecture--slow, patient, methodical--almost destines the team to long droughts without scoring and subsequent Herculean efforts to dig out.  Which always DEPEND on the stifling defense--which will tend not to be as stifling when you play a quality team.

So back to objectivity.  I think Virginia fans need to be willing to question Tony Bennett's judgment.  I think we need to recognize that we can be constructively critical without begin "Haters".  I think we can all be incredibly happy with our coach, our team, its vibe, and its accomplishments and STILL be able to say, "there is something missing in this team."

Let us not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw...what's got you down, Champ?  Bracket already busted?  People talking about you team like they are pushovers likely to get beaten by a 7 seed?  Share your pain friend.  It is why we are here.

Weighed in today at 173.8, down 3.6 from last week.  Had a bit of a stomach bug the last two days which helped things along a bit.  For those keeping track, that's 25 lbs since 27 December.  And the lightest I've been since 26 February 2010.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dispatch from the Road: San Diego End of Trip

My apologies to faithful readers who hoped there would be daily updates from San Diego.  I worked all day, had dinners with friends at night, then got home to my room and went right to bed...before waking up early and starting the whole shebang all over again the next day.  Sorry.  Sorta boring.

I landed on Sunday evening, and as I walked off the plane through the jetway, I was greeted with a warm blast of air, a welcome event after a particularly tough winter.  It was sunny and in the 80's still at 1630, but this was to be the best weather of the trip.  Sorta cloudy the rest of the time and it cooled down a bit.
The abomination Hertz gave me

I got to Hertz, where I am a Gold Member.  This means I get to hop into a car without having to speak with a human.  My cellphone told me what space the vehicle was in, but I really didn't pay any attention to the make of the car, thinking it would be some formless mid-size.  Instead, when I got to the car, it was an enormous pick-em-up truck.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the counter and said "uh, no".  But I didn't.  Instead, I drove this behemoth around for four days, much of which time included driving around finding parking spots big enough to accommodate it,  I absolutely hated it.  I certainly can see the utility of such a vehicle for lots of things.  But as a rental in a major metropolitan area? Nope.

Things picked up this afternoon though, as brother Tom arrived in San Diego for  a business trip, and our schedules overlapped enough to have dinner before coming out here to the airport.  Tom is a pleasure to dine with, and he was very complimentary of my bethinned condition, at one point informing me that "you look almost as good as I do".  This is what passes for a compliment from Tom.

I am now at the United Club in San Diego, and the TV is droning CNN annoyingly.  I despise cable news, I really do.  I get almost all of my news these days online, and if I didn't, I'd buy a damn newspaper.

When I downloaded my boarding pass earlier today, I got the little bonus of seeing that I had been upgraded to first class.  This is a nice thing, of course, but to some extent it is wasted on me.  I will put my mask on and earplugs in, and as soon as wheels are up I'll be off to sleep.  For the distance.  Hopefully my seatmate will have a large bladder, as I hope not to be disturbed.

That's all for now, friends.

White Privilege plus Black Power equals no Rednecks

White privilege? It's an interesting concept but I'm white and I don't feel very privileged. I do have a question though. As a white guy, I've been told I can't relate to the black or female or (insert your own whiney grievance group here) experience. Ok, fair enough, but then how can they relate to mine?
I've worked my ass off all my life; cropping tobacco, washing cars (detailing they call it now), digging graves, washing dishes (crockery maintenance they call it now). I could go on and on about the shit jobs I've had but my point is I didn't start off as a titan of the Tickbite small bidnez community or a world renowned opinion leader and political thinker. True, I went through college on the GI Bill which I'll point out I earned after putting up with halfwitted Staff Sergeants and super halfwitted officers telling me shit I already knew.  My benefits included a generous and ginormous education stipend of $288.00 per month in January of 1977 (the same month Jimmy Carter took office). At that point in time those federal dollars paid my rent and utilities (for which I am eternally grateful to the American taxpayer). But it gets better, four years later I was hauling down an incredible $340.00 from Uncle Sam, to which I added $10.00 and got my rent paid (thanks again Sam, you da man!). Brother I was riding the welfare gravy train for all it was worth, but unless I'm badly mistaken minorities had access to this largess as well. Yeah, I'm almost positive they did.
I just get the feeling minorities think life for Whitey is like the old Eddie Murphy skit on SNL when he take on the appearance of a white guy.
Two guys waiting at news stand counter in NYC, one black one Eddie Murphy in white-face.
Black guy gets a paper, pays and leaves.
Eddie gets a paper and the clerk says "It's ok, he's gone, you don't have to pay" Eddie is dumbfounded. The clerk repeats "It's OK! You don't have to pay, the black dude is gone!" 
Eddie laughs and leaves, clerks gives him a 'thumbs up' on the way out. 

Little Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate minority second banana behind Harry Reid (wouldn't you LOVE to work for that idiot?) just accused the Republicans of racism because they're not pushing through Loretta Lynch's AG nomination as fast and as enthusiastically as Democrats require. He said Republicans were "pushing her to the back of the bus". Let's see, we just got rid of the most blatantly racist Attorney General since the Jackson administration (Andy not Jesse) and the Senate is vetting Madame Lynch (appropriately so) and this fat little dweeb from a bankrupt, corrupt state where black folks are often living WORSE than Jackson, Missississippi in the 30's, and after the way he and his Democrat colleagues treated some minority Republican nominees...well Dick is a REAL Dick in my estimation.
I always hated that jumped up, smooth talking little bullshit artist. There's been a trend of recent years for Democrats to talk like castrati with these Mr. Rogers voices. Hillary sounds like Hulk Hogan by comparison, in fact so does Barney Fwank. Anyway they probably do it to annoy us, and with me it works.

Speaking of the willfully androgynous, did you see the CEO of Starbucks wants to start a "conversation about race" presumably while drinking their $7.50 double latte mocha latte deluxe. First let me just say, I'm sure you can get a better cappuccino at an Italian cat house than Starbucks, and probably with a lot less attitude. But this idiot want to talk about race, like we don't now? Jesus H. Criminy that's ALL we talk about! HE wants to talk about race because HE lives in Seattle in a gated community where HE has ZERO contact with anybody who doesn't share his tax bracket. Asking a bunch of laptop dependent losers sitting around half the day in a coffee shop to talk about people they haven't a clue about seems to me like self-indulgent bullshit! But then again, that's what liberals do isn't it? Liberalism is just the way they forgive themselves their white privilege. Maybe they should wash a few cars.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bracket Time

Yes sports fans it's that time of year again when the finest in tv network hype and over-the-top corporate hucksterism combine to create an unparalleled spectacle of sports competition performed by abused, exploited and UNCOMPENSATED ghetto-rats (mostly) and million dollar salaried coaches (in $3000.00 suits), all for the amusement of barroom drunks and has-been athletes. Yes indeed MARCH MADNESS is upon us. What a wonderful time of year!

I typically wait for 'you know who' to fill out his bracket because hey, the man is always right, but not this year. I am literally chomping at the bit having been denied my just deserts as the greatest prognosticator since Nostradamus! I am the Edgar Cayce of the court, the Wolf Messing of hoops, the Jean Dixon of dunks! And this year I will NOT be denied!

So...the Conservative Wahoo having recently consumed large quantities of DEA Schedule A pain killers (hip) and antidepressants (UVA 67-UNC 71) is now ready and is firing it up over at CBS sports. The bracket password is rosebud and the address is http://conservativewahoochallenge.mayhem.cbssports.com/brackets. Don't be a punk (even if you went to a preppy school and wear Dickie-bows), get that bracket filled out and and be somebody!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dispatch From the Road--En route San Diego

In betrackpantsed travel rig
The hum of the compressor serving the refrigerated cases of drinks available for the taking here in the United Club at Dulles competes
with the gentle sounds of the television over near the bar--but actual human voices are nowhere to be found in this virtually empty little slice of comfort in this otherwise dismal place.

I am taking my first trip back to San Diego in a while, having last traveled there in November.  I am able to track the progress of my hip, as the Bataan Death March from daily parking to the terminal that before the surgery did great violence to my health and attitude, now is simply an inconvenient walk.  I fly United, and sometimes that means terminal D and the ridiculous people movers, and sometimes that means terminal C and the what once was considered to be an improvement of the the people mover tram.  However, since it leaves one off in Leesburg only to walk the rest of the way, I have actually come to prefer the oddly moonscape like people movers.  Today was the tram.

Because I am watching what I eat, and because Dulles is generally considered to be the wasteland of airport dining, I entered terminal C with some trepidation, thinking I would only be able to find some rabbit food of undetermined preparation date.  Much to my surprise, there is something of a little English Pub, and I was able so secure a bacon cheeseburger (no bun, thank you) that actually was pretty damn good.  This should hold me over until what for my stomach will be after 8:30 tonight when I land in SD.

I have three days of work on the left coast, followed by the redeye home Wednesday night.  Each night though (except tonight), I have wonderful dinner companions, which gives me something to look forward to each day.  I am reliably informed that Southern California is currently bathed in great warmth, though my Tuesday and Wednesday are likely to be a bit cooler.  This will be a good break from the DC winter, and will prepare me for my trip to Jamaica at the end of the next week.  Don't worry, I'll have my computer there with me and will likely annoyingly record my thoughts and movements.

The photo appended to this blog is of me just prior to leaving the house, in my customary travel rig of white t-shirt, blue blazer (for business wear during the week), Adidas pants and trainers.  I sometimes were some manner of hat, but because I showered and combed my regulation do today, I am going without.  I include the photo only so that Captain Todd might have a small chuckle, as he seems to get great joy out of having previously only being able to imagine the splendor of this presentation.  For most of the time I have done this, it was because I was a gluttonous mess, and it was a comfortable way to travel without pants riding up into fat folds, etc.  Making some progress toward a lesser me, the track pants are worn simply for comfort today.

At some point during my flight, the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament will be announced, and there is great anxiety in Hooville about whether we will get a #1 seed.  Bottom line?  We shouldn't.  We have lost two of our last three and played crappily against FSU in ACC tourney.  Duke beat us.  In our place.  Period.  They should get a 1 before us.  The only bad draw is to be the 2 in Kentucky's bracket, as 2-8 are all pretty damn close.  That said, you gotta eventually beat Kentucky anyway, so why not in the regional final?  I think The Hammer's Pack are safely in...and they are going to be a tough out.

A good week to all of you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When the Cat's Away....

The Kitten and Kittens are off on a Spring Break adventure, something they take as a natural right, co-equal with life, liberty, property, etc.  For something they hold so incredibly dear, their planning is always rushed and last minute, something in which I can rarely partake as my work schedule is somewhat more defined.  One has to wonder whether or not they play it this way on purpose in order to flee my presence during March Madness, which any sane human would consider wise.

They left on Thursday.  I teach a class on Thursday nights, so I really didn't feel "alone" until I got home late Thursday to a completely silent house.  Yesterday was the first full day of my solitude, and I made the most of it with a good day of hard work and Physical Therapy.  How's the hip, you ask?  Getting better, thank you.  There isn't a noticeable hitch in my get-along anymore, the one associated with my pre-surgery arthritis or the one associated with my post-surgery recovery.  While the procedure done this time was considerably less invasive than the first one (2006), it still does a number on the soft tissue around the joint and it takes a while for the pain and stiffness to completely recede.  By the end of a long day though, the hip is talking to me and a little limp returns.  I view this as a temporary state of affairs.

The absence of the Kittens enabled the lesser angels of my nature last night, as my viewing of the UVA/UNC game was an unbroken string of loudly voiced obscenities that truth be told, had my dogs seeking cover.  For those of you unfamiliar with UVA basketball, we have had another great season built around a crushing defense and a solid team work ethic.  We have had some untimely injuries, but that's the nature of the sport.  What we haven't had is consistent scoring, and this is something I've been bitching about non-stop.  However, the "real" fans of UVA basketball kept talking about our "offensive efficiency", which sounded like a load of bullshit to me.  I could see with my own eyes that our offense simply didn't threaten any team with its own good defense to any real degree.  When one of our biggest scorers went down with an injury, the good news was that it coincided with a softer span in our schedule, which lulled our fanbase into thinking we were still the bees knees.
I think we are a very good team.  A solid 2 seed.  If Justin Anderson returns and can chip in 10 a game, we can make a run.  But we desperately need some scoring.

My practice of eShabbat is shelved for the weekend, or at least dramatically altered.  It is of course, the eschewing of electronic media from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, a move I made because I was working seven day weeks and offering too little of myself to those around me.  Since my rational for even creating this weekly pause is removed, I am only not working this weekend, but still enjoying the wonders of electronic media.  Any Virginia Basketball game over the next couple of weeks that falls in the eShabbat window is also a freebie.

As we discussed last week in my post about not running for political office, I recharge my batteries to some extent from being by myself, so this little stint has that impact.  It is amazing how quickly I fall back into my bachelor habits, the most notable one of which is deciding at breakfast what is for dinner. Today the decision was made seconds after I awoke at 0905, a full four hours after each of my wakeups this entire week.  As I lay there providing one of the cats with his required morning attention, I fixed upon a delicious dinner of shake and bake chicken breast, which while it has a few carbs in it, will keep me under 50 for the day.  

I live with women who are caught unaware by the dinner hour on a daily basis.  Not only are they far less regimented in the time in which they eat the meal, but they often stumble upon some concoction that they'd like to have that requires a trip to the market and significant prep time at oh, about 1800, when I am beginning to look at the two cats as possible sources of sustenance.  My habit has always been to figure out what I'm doing for dinner in the morning, and if something is required to thaw, it has the whole day to do so.  There is also the added bonus of being able to look forward all day to whatever little joy I've moved into the fridge,  Again, because I live with people who do not value food as they should, this practice has been discontinued in favor of the phone call made while driving back toward Easton at about 1700 or so that goes something like, "Have you thought about dinner?"  "Not really.  Do you have anything in mind?" "Well, I know what I'd like (insert steak, pork, lamb, chicken, seafood etc)".  "Ok, that sounds good."  Which then requires me coming home, thawing, and cooking (as I do most of the cooking when I'm around).  Often, one or more of the Kittens will have decided that they want to cook some little tofu-infused crime against the palate, and so I am free to cook for me and me only.  This has led to a variation on the them of  "traveling together separately"  , which is "eating together separately".  In this operation, the Kittens usually have or are in the midst of cooking something that either because of its contents or because of its carbs, I won't eat.  I instead, cook my protein and fat dinner, at the same time.  Usually we all sit down together in a delightful family meal.  Sometimes they take too long, and I eat and join them later for coffee whilst they sup.  So it all works out in the end.

My day today will be spent reading and writing, with occasional breaks to play with two black labs who miss their girls.  The rain is peaceful and the house is quiet.  Not a bad day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

It's that time of the week again, friends, when we unburden ourselves of life's cares.  Got a little email issue to worry about?  Your newest Messiah looking increasingly like she's not going to have such an easy path the Presidency?  Share friends.  Share.

Weighed in this AM at 177.4, down a pound from last week.  I'm on the road this week, so I hope I can keep to the good habits....17.5 lbs to go to "150's by 50".

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Racism: Sooner You Than Me

I was listening to "Morning Joe" this AM on sat radio and the Rev. Al Sharpton was partying down, reveling in self-righteous indignation over the OU frat boys and their racist ditty. I sure hope the Rev is doing ok, he's had some bad luck lately you know. TWO FIRES have destroyed key financial records that might have helped with his $4.5 tax liability. But not to worry, from what I understand the IRS is being VERY reasonable and of course his White House credentials are still valid. Thank God HE wasn't the victim of racism!

No he's not the victim, quite the contrary, he's the beneficiary of racism. Racism is what puts food on his table, millions upon millions of dollars in his bank accounts and makes the IRS his bitch (they'll end up paying HIM). Those Sooner white boys are pure gold for the likes of Reverend Al!

I contend that some of the most racist people in America are lower class blacks. They got nothing, they'll never be nothing, they live on the table scraps of society certain in their belief that it makes no difference what they do, Whitey will steal it from them. They're Al's hair-trigger attack dogs ready to be turned loose whenever he chooses. He even rents them out on occasion, in the case of Ferguson to George Soros. They are the source of his power and no government "attack" on his people (like Bill Clinton's welfare reforms) will be tolerated.

But they did bring up something on the show that's interesting (if true); the rise of racism among Millenials. Well I kind of doubt it but for the sake of argument let's assume it's true. The question I have is why, or more to the point why wouldn't they be? Consider just the University of Oklahoma. Some group called The Center of Equality in Opportunity headed by Linda Chavez (a well respected Republican) issued a report on OU's admission standards. My God you have to read this thing! Systemic racism run rampant! I quote:
"If a non-African American applicant had the same credentials as the median African American admittee, he or she would have had a significantly smaller chance of admission. Specifically, while an African American applicant with these credentials would have a 60% chance of admission, an identically credentialed American Indian applicant would have only a 39% chance of admission, a Hispanic applicant only 24%, a white applicant only 22%, and an Asian American applicant only a 15% chance. "

It goes on and on in a lot more detail but you get the drift. I suppose Whitey can take solace in the fact Asians are discriminated against MORE than whites. But my point is when one is discriminated against, when hard work is not rewarded, when injustice is so ingrained it's CODIFIED, then the natural reaction by those discriminated against is fear and hatred for the beneficiaries. Lower class blacks have a point, or ONCE had a point. But 50 years after the Civil Rights Acts of the 60's, with all the affirmative action and set asides and the programs and on and on and on, it's time for black folk to get a friggin' grip. Yes racism exists, along with a million other forms of discrimination. Just shut up and deal with it. I'm sick of your whining and maybe, just maybe so are Millenials. THEY are the ones who never left the starting gate due in part to these policies. THEY are the ones told everyday they are "privileged" due to their race when in fact, at least in terms of government policy, the exact opposite is true.

Bill Clinton wanted to do away with affirmative action but was threatened by Al's predecessor Jesse Jackson (Clinton needed the black vote having never gotten a majority only a plurality). Bill wasn't exactly George Wallace so if Bill was willing to do that, as the liberal he is, that says a lot.

So my black friends, if you want racism to continue then just continue to be an advocate for racism. What we have now is not the color blind society MLK talked about, it's just the other side of the racist coin Bull Connor talked about.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Few Questions for Hillary

I managed to watch Hillary Clinton's performance this afternoon at her hastily organized press conference to respond to the growing questions about her private email server and its exclusive use while conducting business as Secretary of State.  I realize that I don't like the woman, so I am probably biased, but she is just not likable.  Conversely, I don't like Barack Obama, but I can SEE why others like him.

She started out her newser by trying to wrap herself in the women's conference she had just attended, and then by bringing up the Senate Republicans' letter to the Iranian leadership--both obvious attempts to ingratiate herself with her base, and perhaps to sow the seed for a question from the press about anything other than the email.

After a crappy question from a Turkish reporter, the Press did a decent job.  Mrs. Clinton's defense basically sums to this:

1.  I did nothing illegal.
2.  I chose to do this so I didn't have to carry two smartphones (1 gov, 1 personal).  Though it turns out, this is exactly what she did.
3.  In retrospect, I wish I hadn't done this.
4.  I deleted 30,000 personal emails, because they were personal.  You have to trust me on this.
5.  I turned over all the others to State.
6.  Any email I had with other government people was captured on THEIR systems, so I did not have to abide by the Federal records act and save my business related personal emails and turn them in.
7.  The server will not be turned over, it is private.

Her performance was unsympathetic and raised more questions than it answered.  She (once again) revealed herself as wooden, tone deaf, and unlikable.

Here are a few questions I have.

1.  It is claimed that you did not have ANY official State email account, classified or unclassified.  You further claim that you did not pass any classified information on your unclassified email.  How then, did you communicate with other people not actually in the room with you, about classified material?

2.  Your assistant, Ms. Abedin, and presumably others close to you, also had email accounts on your private server.  Given your position that the emails you sent were collected and archived by the computers of the people you sent them to, how then was the official business transacted among you and those who had private accounts on your server archived?

3.  You said you deleted 30,000 personal emails.  Did you do this yourself?  By yourself?  If not, who helped?  And if there was help, what were the guidelines for what was personal and what was business?

4.  Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Select Committee studying the Benghazi attack, says the emails that you turned over have "months and months of gaps".  He states further that during your the trip to Libya you took in which the "iconic" photo above was taken, there are no emails from that trip.  How can you explain this?

If you are a Republican, and you have come to believe Hillary's Presidency is a sure thing, think again.  She is a dead woman walking.  I continue to make one prediction about 2016.  The Republicans may lose, but Hillary will not win.

COMING SOON: America Joins the Third World

Oh what demographics have wrought.

One cannot go to a leftist blog these days without our Progressive friends crowing a variation of the old Harvard football chant "That's alright, that's ok, you'll be working for us someday". So it will be, the you being our children and the us being Third Worlders who reliably vote Democratic. In fact, one could argue that day has already arrived. But immigration is just one facet of our national death spiral.

So, what does history teach us about societies that commit national (and cultural) suicide? Let's look at Rome shall we? Why and how did the greatest civilization (apart from the US) in World history fall? Are there parallels to our own situation we can learn from?

1) Crippling taxation.
2) Constant wars due to over expansion resulting in massive overspending
3) Huge wealth and income disparity due in large measure to cheap labor (slavery)
4) Loss of traditional values (in Rome's case the Christians)
5) Weakening of the military, too many mercenaries not enough citizens
6) Rampant government corruption
7) Invasion by barbarians both internal (importation of slaves) and external (rise of Germanic tribes, Huns, Visigoths etc.)
8) The rise of the Eastern Empire disrupting trade etc.

The similarities are striking are they not?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why I Am Not Running for the Senate

Senator Mikulski
The announcement this week by Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski that she would not seek re-election in 2016 unleashed a flurry of political posturing by Democratic pols, sure that the seat in this reliably Democratic state would remain reliably Democratic.  As for the Republican Party in the State, Dan Bongino is expected to run, having lost a 2012 Senate run and a 2014 House run.  There is hope among Republicans for a statewide win, as Larry Hogan shocked the political world by capturing the Governor's race in 2014.

Four serious men reached out to me during the week to talk to me about running for election.  Not in a "hey, wouldn't it be cool if you...." manner, but in ways that showed that they had thought about the race and why I might be competitive in pursuing it.  That these men took the time to do so is humbling, and I am grateful that in their estimation I might be up to the job.  I kept each of them at arms length while I thought about it, and I reached my answer yesterday during a day-long think on the subject enabled by the distance from social media and computers afforded by the eSabbath.

I am not going to run for he Senate, and the simple reason is because I don't wish to be a Senator enough to justify participating in the process of becoming one.  Don't get me wrong---if one of our Senators were to die in office and the Governor asked me to fill in, I would do so, in a heartbeat.  But the actual process of campaigning for the office and all of the sacrifice that it would entail on a personal and professional level lead me to conclude that this is something someone else is going to have to do.  I realize that most of the people reading this blog are shaking their head wondering at the runaway ego behind even writing such a post, but I owe four serious men an answer and that is a good bit of the readership of this blog.    Here are a few more detailed reasons.

I do not burn with desire to be a Senator.  This was made obvious when I asked myself why I was even considering the question--and the answer was that Mikulski was retiring.  If I really had wanted to be a Senator, this would not have mattered.  I would already have been planning to mount a campaign and would have been far more concerned with who would run against me in the primary than who would run in the general from the other side.  Mikulski's decision allowed for the feeding of my vanity in bringing up the topic, but it really should not have played into the decision at all.

I am not a politician; I lack political skills.  Many neophytes win political races, but in almost all of those cases, these men and women possess obvious political skills.  I do not.  As brother Tom will tell you from having traveled with me, I am not a "people person".  On the Myers-Briggs assessment, I am an "ENTJ" (surprise, surprise), with each of the assessments I've done revealing strong N,T,J tendencies--but a just barely over the line measurement of "extroversion".  I crave solitude and gain a great deal of energy from being in the absence of other people.  I don't thrive on meeting new people, and in some circumstances, I shy away from it.  I just booked a four day trip to Jamaica for myself at the end of the month--the Kittens are going to Mexico for Spring Break while I have business, and their sojourn to warmer climes got me thinking I'd like to do so before winter breaks, to recharge a little.  I told the Kitten yesterday while talking about it that aside from the chit chat involved in navigating the necessities of travel and receiving required hotel services, I would probably not seek out anything resembling a real conversation with another human for that four days.  Does this sound like someone ready to run for the Senate?  Now--I imagine there are plenty of successful politicians who overcome similar tendencies and have great careers.  But then we get back to the question of burning desire.  If I had a burning desire to be a Senator, I might bite down hard and challenge myself to develop these skills.  But I don't.  So I won't.  The moment of truth in this regard was when I asked myself whether I'd be willing to take on all that running a campaign entailed if the Secretary of the Navy job were at the end of the process.  The answer to that was an unqualified yes, and the difference between that outcome and this question was stark.

The race itself.  Republicans won the Governor's race in the fall, and we've become liquored  up at the prospect of another statewide win.  I do believe the "right" Republican could win the race, and from a strictly ideological standpoint, my politics are compatible with that approach.  The Democrats believe this seat is a birthright, and they are lining up to step into it.  I predict a bruising Democratic primary, one that drives the ultimate winner far to the left of where even the left-of-center electorate of the State is.  Larry Hogan's win in November was a message to the Democratic Party in the State that voters had enough of the taxes and fees that piled up under Martin O'Malley.  A moderate Republican with a message of growth and enthusiasm about the future, who was libertarian on social issues and right of center on fiscal issues--this type of person could win by siphoning off enough independents and bi-curious Democrats.  But the D's will be more ready for this race, and structurally, it is theirs to lose.  The fact that it is a Presidential election year works significantly  against the Republican candidate.

I told the Kitten last night that I had reached this decision; she asked me if I were OK with it.  I said yes, and I meant it.  But in that moment, I had a flash of a vignette in my head, me standing in the midst of a black church in Baltimore, having a back and forth with people incredibly unlikely to vote for me, trying to explain how the Democratic Party and its policies had failed them and continues to fail them.  And I had a very sharp tinge of regret....

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Progressive Sliding Scale of Truth

A Progressive is to Communism what a Capitalist is to Freedom. If you understand this truth, and the implications thereof, you are way ahead of the game in terms of understanding what is going on today. Marxist-Leninist ideology dictates, not suggests but dictates that anything in the service of advancing the collective is to be pursued. Therefore lying, cheating, double-dealing, terror...if necessary, is not only acceptable but absolutely required. The end justifies the means.

Which brings us to an important tool for the American Progressive movement; the sliding scale of truth. One of its widely used manifestations goes like this:
1) A specific lie is advanced as widely and uniformly as possible.
2) Tie the specific lie to a more general lie. For example; a rape occurred at a particular college, therefore there is a "rape culture" on campus.
2) Use every means possible to perpetuate the lie. The longer the credibility of the lie can be maintained the better.
3) Smear anyone who may oppose the lie by any means necessary. Don't be afraid to be creative.
4) When and if the lie is ever found out, then "slide" the truth from the specific to the general. For example; although this particular rape allegation proved to be false, the larger truth of a "rape culture" is absolutely true.
5) Keep a steady stream of lies in the pipeline so the opposition can't focus on one particular lie. The more the better. Opposition resources are divided, the waters are muddied and confusion sets in. In the end all that will be left in the public conscience is the original lie which will be deemed true by default.

I would like to acknowledge the late Dr. Josef Goebbels without whom this post could not have been written.

Happy Ending to Farm Drama

It turns out the dog we found frolicking with ours yesterday belongs to the farm on the OTHER SIDE of the one we found them on.

When the Kitten brought him (Brock is his name, as it turns out) to the shelter, they were very excited to see him as his owners were just heartsick.  Because they live close to us, The Kitten arranged to drop Brock off with a grateful and tearful couple who really, really missed their dog.

I couldn't be happier.

Quite a Scare on the Farm

Yesterday dawned somewhat disappointingly on the Farm, as the predicted snowmageddon held off longer than anyone had thought.  But at 0900 or so, things got rolling, and for the entire day a heavy, heavy snow fell.  We got a good six inches I'd guess, but what was notable was how fast it all came.  Rare for these parts.

Because all my meetings were canceled, I had the opportunity to work in the ManCave all day, catching up on stuff and working on a deadline project that I emailed to the client a few minutes ago, it now being 0645 Friday.  About 4PM yesterday, I heard the Kitten's voice, or what I thought was the Kitten's voice, calling out nearby my office.  I went out the door to see what was happening, and there was a bundled up Kitten (wearing my boots) calling after our dogs--which wasn't immediately apparent because I couldn't exactly hear her.  When she told me that she was indeed calling the dogs, I realized something was wrong.  Several reasons for this.

First, the dogs have an electronic fence and collars.  The system works very well, but all components must be accounted for, and that means the dogs have to actually wear their receiver collars.  Were it up to me, they would never be taken off--but concerned Kittens often remove them in order to curry favor with two animals who already love them unreservedly.

Second, The Kitten is scarred by a childhood experience in which their family dog just up and ran.  Never came back.  Our dogs' safety and security is a big deal to her--as it is to me.  But there's emotion here that must be reconciled.

Third, because the fence system works well, we let them out the back door to gambol and frolic, and they simply do so in our yard, returning to the back door to bark their displeasure at not being in the same building with us anymore when they have finished their business.  That the Kitten was out calling for them in what passes for a blizzard in these parts was concerning.  Of course, this had to happen when the scheduling Gods had coordinated with the weather Gods to give me a huge gap of free time.  But I digress.

Realizing of course that there is a brief window for me to display my interest and concern before The Kitten believes me to be unconcerned and uninterested, I sprang to suit up in appropriate gear (having been luxuriating at my desk in LL Bean slippers, track pants and cozy fleece) to join the hunt.

We walked all over the farm, calling and calling.  No joy.  I began the long walk (well, long for a dude with a new hip) down our lane in the snow toward the main road, when the Kitten drove up behind me in her urban assault vehicle, a 2004 Land Cruiser that is a HORSE in the snow.  She suggested (dear girl) that I drive around the nearby environs looking for them, as my hip was probably hurting (no, it was SCREAMING).  I took her up on the offer and began driving up and down our lane and up and down the main road adjoining our farm.

At one point, The Kitten called me and suggested I head down the farm lane to the property next to ours, at the end of which was rumored to be a small cluster of houses, sort of like what we have on our farm.  I had never been down this road, and unlike our little peninsula which displays its houses to those on the water, these dwellings are hidden from the water by trees, the owners having been good stewards of the land over time by allowing the natural flora to flourish.  The overall effect however has been one of shrouding the place in mystery to me.  So, I was none too happy when the Kitten suggested I drive down there and engage Chucky, John Wayne Gacy, the owner in conversation about our dogs.

Their lane is even longer than ours (ours is 1/3 a mile), and as I made my way down it, I made peace with my Maker in case I expired here either as a result of foul play or getting stuck in the snow and falling victim to coyotes and other wild varmints.  I reached the end of the navigable driveway and could see three dwellings, a small caretaker house, a main house, and a third newer, though less stately building.  I approached the main house on foot, and as I got closer, I could see in the doorway the figure of a man, none too happy with my approach.  I actually raised my hands in the "hands up, don't shoot" manner as I mounted his steps, and I heard him say, "Who are you looking for?"   I answered "I'm from the farm next door, and our two black labs have gotten loose.  Have you seen them?"  At this, his face lightened and he became a good bit less scary, my having established a reasonable rationale for being out in a blizzard and approaching his very private residence.  He indicated his understanding, asked for my phone number and told me he'd call if he saw them.  Additionally, he said he'd call the other dwelling's occupants to tell them.  All in all, I couldn't have asked for more.  Well, I guess I could have asked for him to produce the loose dogs, but one can't be choosy in these situations.

As I drove back down the driveway to the main road, I got a call from The Kitten telling me that the Kittens had seen Baloo, the larger of our dogs, near our house, and that she (the Kitten) was hot on the trail of following Baloo's tracks backward--they were leading toward where I just was, the farm next door.  I must admit to being a little dubious of her tracking skills, which I have never before had a reason to admire, but the woman is enormously skilled in a a huge number of very practical things, so I figured she was doing the right thing.  Just then, a strange, local number came up on my phone, and I switched to take the call.  The caller was the fellow I had just talked to, telling me that my two dogs were there near the mailboxes on his lane, he just saw them.  This didn't compute.  The girls just said they saw Baloo at the house, and this man is contemporaneously telling me my two dogs were on his farm.
The Mystery Dog

So I drove back down to his farm and there, in the distance were the two black labs, running and frolicking and having a jolly good time.  I got out of my car and began to call them, all the while watching one of them leaping up and down in an odd manner that I had not seen either of my dogs do before.  When I called, one of them came sprinting at me, and I recognized her at a distance as ZuZu. So the other one must be Baloo.  But how can it be, as Baloo was just reported at the house.  As this strange, as yet unidentified dog began to come near me, I realized it was NOT Baloo, but a smaller, thinner lab mix, a young male full of life and fun, just the kind of playmate to take my two dogs on a wonderful adventure all over the county.

I called the man who had called me and thanked him, and informed him that the second dog was not mine--was it his.  "No one back here has a black lab" was his answer.  So I piled both of these dogs--Zuzu and the playmate--in the car for the drive back.

Everyone at the Farm was overjoyed at the return of our wayward pooches, but we were now presented with the problem of a stray lab mix with no identification on its collar.  I posted a photo and an appeal on Facebook, and the Kitten did likewise on the local humane shelter's BOLO page.  I now have a strange dog living in the crate in the ManCave, a great little pup that we'll bring to the shelter a little later today.  I am assured by my people that this shelter is truly humane, so hopefully he'll eventually be picked up by his owner or by a nice family who needs a great little boy who is full of fun.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's got you downcast, Betty?  Your private email get sniffed out by the Committee that doesn't have any real purpose?  Your star player just ready to come back from one injury now had an appendectomy?  Six more inches of snow making you crazy?  Share, friends.  Share!

Weighed in at 178.4 which is level from last week.  Not a great performance, but such is life.  Was back to work at full speed this week, though the hip starts barking at me around 1500....wondering why I'm not napping.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

An Urgent Call to Action

Somebody in the leftist establishment is out to get Hillary. From revelations about Bill's latest whore (whom the Secret Service euphemistically refer to as the "Energizer Bunny") to dredging up Benghazi to the current private email scandal, some very powerful people inside the Democrat Party and their media lackeys are conducting a coordinated attack on Hillary's credibility.

Why you might ask? Do they see her as vulnerable? Are they just tired of the whole Clinton bullshit machine which BHO proved six years ago was not quite as invincible as everyone thought? Why would they kick Hillary to the curb when she's so deserving? Well the answer my friend is complicated (much like Bill AND HILLARY'S love life).

I think this is just a manifestation of "the war", the war between the Obamas and the Clintons. If you go on the blogs you will see Hillary is still a much beloved figure to leftists...of a certain age. However our young Millennials living in their parent's basement with their Africana and Gender Studies degrees working the 4-11 at GameStop, they don't really have a Woodrow for all things Clinton. Their boner facilitator has a darker hue, hue get my drift? So even though Hillary still polls well (just heard one this AM; 56%) it's all name recognition.

The fact is the big Dem donors, the Soros types, don't want Hillary. She's way too conservative. I know, sounds crazy, but from their perspective they don't want Bill's pragmatism anywhere near Barack Obama's pure ideology. They want PROGRESSION not REGRESSION and Hillary will likely rollback some of BHO's more dictatorial "achievements". Bill worked with a Republican Congress on things like welfare reform, Hillary would probably do the same. Bill presided over a good economy (for the middle class), they can't allow that. Hillary for them is a loose cannon, unreliable and potentially damaging due to her (and Bill's) lifestyle. They want a reliable leftist like maybe Elizabeth Warren (among others).

So, we must do everything we can to support Hillary in her time of need because they're right if they think she's vulnerable. Give the Republicans a good candidate that knows how to go for the throat and Hillary's baggage will spell defeat for all things leftist in 2016. So the leftists (led by BHO) have a choice, support Hillary and lose their gains either at their (her) own hand or a Republican's, or destroy Hillary now and get a tried and true leftist to carry on. They made their choice and we need to make ours...GO HILLARY!    

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bibi's Day in Congress

I have been discomfited at the prospect of Mr. Netanyahu's speech to Congress, not so much at what I thought he would say, but at the concept of legislative branch overreach into foreign policy.  Truth is though, executive overreach got us here (the threat to reach a deal with Iran not requiring Senate approval), so to some extent, this was another Obama foreign policy unforced error.

The Washington Post has a superb critique of Netanyahu's speech and Mr. Obama's reaction thereto. Bibi was measured and logical, making an argument based on facts and commonly held assumptions about Iran's stated desires and conduct.

The sum total of the Obama reaction seems to be, "what's your plan, Bibi?"  This plays into their favorite rhetorical tactic of choice, the Strawman/false choice, which they have built here--as in, there are only two choices, the Obama way or war.  Since Bibi didn't explicitly choose one of these proffered alternatives, he is obviously strategically inept.

Not true.  Staying the course, keeping up sanctions and international pressure, is also a way to go.  Continuing to marginalize and isolate a thug regime remains in play. Read the Post editorial--it gives a fairly sane view of how adults see foreign policy, rather than the churlish, schoolyard crew in power now.
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