Monday, December 31, 2007

Horns of a Dilemma

I'm struggling with an ethical dilemma at the moment. The company that bought my employer and had me canned has arranged for me to perform consulting services. All of us have been brought on as part time consultants. If I were to do a good job as a consultant, I would inform my new client how it could save money and achieve maximum efficiency. This information would, however, if taken to heart, result in one of my former co-workers' being cut loose from his or her consulting contract.

I don't yet know whether the folks at the client company are bigger douchebags than my former colleague, so there is no help there. It is inevitable that the client will become aware of the situation, but I don't know whether they will blame me for not telling them and whether this will have an impact on any career opportunities I might have with them. This may take some time because the client company's personnel are not really able to imagine a scenario in which there is no accountability whatsoever, so they cannot imagine that the selling company tolerated as much useless expense and incompetence as I know that it did.

In either case, I would be betraying someone, either the client or my former colleague. My former colleague made life miserable at work in many ways, but I sort of admired him or her for sticking it to the man by drawing a salary for decades while adding negative value to the organization. That was subversive, but I am pretty sure that he or she didn't know that he or she was being subversive. He or she thought that he or she was indispensable, something that made him or her a source of much amusement and frustration. The new people are just corporate tools, and they appear to be competent. I don't yet know whether they have integrity, but I reckon that their goals and behaviors should be predictable and geared at least ostensibly toward making a profit.

My former colleague would throw me under the bus in a second.

What to do, what to do.

My Single Resolution

Mr Scott eschews New Year’s Resolutions so he won’t be disappointed. This may work for him, but I found out that no matter how low I set the bar I can still find reasons for self loathing and disappointment. So this year I am going to set the bar high so that when I fail I will have failed at something worth failing at. Nothing short of physical, spiritual, intellectual and social perfection will do, and that’s what I’ll be aiming for.

I’m not totally unreasonable. I don’t expect to be perfect on the first day or even the first month. I just want to be perfect in every way by this time next year, and I want there to be clear manifestations that I am approaching perfection by Easter or thereabouts.

Also, I realize that perfection is a relative term. I’m not looking to become a being of pure energy or anything like that, just to realize my full potential as a human being.

This will not be easy, I know. Perfection is something that eludes even people with strong character and personal courage, so you can imagine how much harder it will be for me. Then again, the accomplishment will be so much sweeter because it was done without resort to such resources.

Our Trip to Cooperstown

Mrs Vache Folle and I went to Cooperstown on Thursday where we met one of our old friends and neighbors from Seattle. He was out visting his in-laws in Pennsylvania, but he deprived himself of their company for a couple of days to see us and to worship at the Temple of Baseball. We drove through a blizzard to get there, but the weather settled down during our two day stay.

We visited the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on the afternoon that we arrived. This consists of a more or less chronological journey through the history of baseball ending in a literal hall where the legendary players and other particpants in baseball are memorialized. The origins of baseball are obscure, and even the BHOFAM acknowledges that the claim that it was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown was a complete myth. Old time baseball looked to me to be a more leisurely game, one that you could play while getting drunk. Pitchers finsihed their games and even pitched both ends of double headers, so how hard could they have been throwing? Homers were all but non-existent before the Babe came along and made them de reigeur.

The funny thing about the BHOFAM is that it consists almost entirely of baseballs, bats, gloves and photos. And yet each is more fascinating than the next. There was THE VERY BALL that Roger Maris hit to break the Babe's record. There was THE VERY BAT that slugger so and so used for his 3,000th hot, Ohmigawd!

I learned a lot. Did you know that the Pittsburgh Pirates were known, for a season, as the Pittsburgh Innocents? That the Yankees were the Baltimore Orioles before they were the New York Highlanders? That there was a Negro League player whose nickname was "Cum"? All this and more awaits the visitor to the BHOFAM at Cooperstown.

And if you want baseball related souvenirs, there are plenty of folks on Main Street who would love to sell them to you. There are also some pretty good restaurants.

But Cooperstown isn't just about baseball. There's also the Farming Museum and the James Fenimore Cooper Art Museum, both of which are on my must do list for our next pilgrimage to the Leatherstocking Region, as it is apparently known. There is also the Cooperstown Beverage Trail which consists of a cider house, two breweries, and a winery. The cider house was closed for the season, but we were able to take in a tour and tasting at the Ommegang brewery. Ommegang is devoted to Belgian style ales which are quite delicious but which are, at least to me, a potent soporific. We didn't get to the other stops on the beverage trail. We bought a mixed case of 750 ml bottles because we enjoyed the tasting so much. One ale had been aged in the Howe caverns, and you could really tell the difference between the cave aged stuff and the same product that was not cave aged.

We drove home through the Catskills on Route 28 and settled in to our cozy cabin and a couple of bottles of good ale each with a dog for company.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Born in the USA Not Necessarily Enough?

I found a copy of Mrs Vache Folle's grandfather's passport application from 1923. Even though Aksentyj was born in Jersey City in 1904 or thereabouts, his family had migrated back to the Carpathians shortly thereafter, and he was required by the State Department to establish that he had not manifested an intent to abandon his US citizenship by leaving the country. Aksentyj pointed out that he had not had a choice in the matter, having been an infant when the family left the US and that he had had to wait until his younger brother was old enough to help out on the farm before leaving the family.

To bolster his argument, Aksentyj reported that his father Ambrozy had lived in the US for fifteen years. This was not true. The family spent only about five years in the states. But this does not seem to have an impact on the decision to grant him a passport.

Aksentyj returned to America, settled in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and lived the American dream by working as a coal miner and dying before the age of 60 from lung disease. Had he stayed in the Carpathians, he might have been enslaved by the Nazis like his younger siblings or deported in the Polish Communists' campaign of ethnic cleansing following WW2.

Aksentyj had a bunch of children who now live all across the USA. Some are successful; some are loons. His brothers' descendants still live in Poland, some of them in the same village where the Madzula family has lived for centuries. Mrs VF and I visited them a couple of years ago, and she still keeps in touch with her cousin. They are lovely people.

I wonder. Would a child born in America and having an American birth certificate have difficulty getting a passport today?

Skill Inventory

I’m gradually starting to think about what I want to do when I grow up, and I have been assessing my skills and interests. It turns out that there are a number of areas in which I both excel and which I enjoy.

I am an outstanding editor and am far better at it than I am at writing. I enjoy helping writers tighten up their work, and I used to earn extra cash by editing dissertations and articles here and there. I am especially good at sticking with the writer’s own style and at leaving stuff alone when it suffices. I never make changes solely for the sake of flexing editorial muscles.

I am a highly skilled negotiator, and I enjoy collaborating on complex transactions with other skilled individuals. Nobody drafts contracts better than I do. I prefer plain language and eschew the use of mystifying legal jargon whenever possible. I love to solve problems in the context of negotiating and drafting contracts.

I am a skilled mediator of disputes, and I enjoy the process. I also enjoy coming up with ways to manage ongoing conflict.

I have good investigative skills and know how to get to the bottom of things. I might make a good inspector general or ombudsman or some such thing. This skill also puts me in good stead when working on the due diligence phase of mergers and acquisitions.

I can teach. I don’t like children very much, but I enjoy teaching/training adults. I don’t have any problem speaking in public or speaking extemporaneously. I love to hear myself talk, as a matter of fact.

It also turns out that I have some weak points as well due to my personal preferences. I don’t want to work long hours or travel more than a quarter of the time. I don’t want to be anyone’s boss. I don’t want to work for a douchebag or to do anything cheney and risk eternal damnation.

Christmas Spirit

I had a most enjoyable Christmas and days leading up to it. On Saturday night, we went to the city and saw “The Seafarer” at the Booth Theatre. This play takes place on Christmas Eve in the home of two brothers, Richard and Sharkey (played by Jim Norton and David Morse, respectively) who live outside Dublin. With friends Ivan and Nick and a visitor, Mr Lockhart (Ciaran Hinds), they play in an all night poker game. Mr Lockhart, it turns out, is the devil, and Sharkey’s soul is at stake. The ensemble pulled off the roles of drunken Irishmen most credibly, and the performance of Norton as Richard was priceless.

I was moved by the theological undertones of the play. The devil envied humanity because of God’s love for us. He even envied the broken and desperate sots at the card game. He resented the promise of redemption held out to them. Meanwhile, the men at the card game were unaware of the gifts of grace, love and redemption and sought peace at the bottom of a glass of whiskey. Mr Lockhart’s unstinting description of hell was profoundly disturbing.

In keeping with the theological theme of the weekend and holidays, Sunday and Monday were filled with church doings. I sang at two services on Christmas Eve, and played in recorder ensembles as well. On Christmas, we visited some friends and had a lovely dinner at their house. I got all four seasons of “Blackadder” on DVD and some certificates for massages. Mrs Vache Folle got horseback riding lessons. In addition, we received gifts of love, hope, joy, light, peace and life.

If only we could keep up the spirit of the season all year round. I sometimes despair of this, especially when some of my co-religionists suggest that these are matters that can be compartmentalized and kept away from life outside the church. I had a frustrating discussion with a fellow chorister who reckoned that the church was getting too “political”. How so? All this emphasis on peace and justice seemed to her to infringe on the political sphere. She simply could not imagine the concept of waging peace or doing justice outside of the apparatus of the state, and she supposed that the church ought not to interfere with the state.

I agree that the church should have no truck with the state at all, and I reckon that love and peace and justice and mercy are attributes that are utterly alien to the state. The state is an impediment to these things, not a means to achieving them.

I was gratified that our pastor felt comfortable enough on Sunday to take a more nuanced approach to prophecy. Isaiah wasn’t predicting the coming of Jesus centuries in the future; he was talking about his own times and proclaiming that God had not abandoned the Israelites. He described the vision of perfect peace that would come with the kingdom of heaven on earth and did so in metaphors involving predators and prey dwelling together. The writers of the Gospels weren’t so much claiming that Jesus was the subject of ancient prophecy as they were pointing out that the coming of Jesus was like what Isaiah wrote about back in the day.

And Christmas has just begun.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The dude at Death Wore a Feathered Mullet has close to the right idea about animal rights, and he posts a picture of Eva Mendes in the buff.

I won’t wear fur, but I don’t seem to have a problem with leather. The leather comes from cows that were dead anyway since we ate them, but the fur comes from cute little critters who are skinned gratuitously. I suppose rabbit fur would be OK as long as you also ate the rabbit. Anyway. I find fur distasteful, but I’m not going to throw blood on you if you wear a fur coat unless it’s made from an endangered species or hairy third world urchins. Even then, I probably wouldn’t throw blood.

It would really bother me if you had a fur coat made from puppies or kittens. A coat made of mouse fur would be OK except for the enormity of the slaughter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Child Visitation Redux

Commenter Zeph called me to task in my post about the drunk who reckons that he “deserves” unsupervised time with his kids. The commenter took from my post the idea that I advocated forcible removal of the man’s children from him. I do not.

I have written in the past on this blog that my preferred way of dealing with child custody and visitation issues is to minimize the involvement of the state. I have determined that the best way to accomplish this would be to have a presumption in favor of the mother’s having full custody and control over visitation with the father. Some fathers would get screwed by this system to be sure, but why should this become everyone else’s problem? Most folks will work out a more or less equitable arrangement based on their own needs and circumstances. That some will not is pitiable but hardly a basis for saddling society with the expense and intrusiveness of a child welfare apparatus.

Why the mother? Frankly, mothers provide far and away most of the child care, and, despite a lot of pissing and moaning from non-custodial fathers, fathers often do next to nothing for their kids. This is a social fact that we have to contend with if we want to design an efficient system with minimal state involvement.

On the other hand, I would abolish mandatory child support payments except those agreed upon between the parents. Most fathers will happily provide for their children. Some will not, and this will mean a hardship for some mothers and their children. I reckon some charitable folks will step up to the plate in such cases, and folks will be a lot choosier about whom they reproduce with. Anyway, not much can be done about deadbeat dads without inconveniencing the rest of us with an expensive and intrusive enforcement apparatus.

In the case at point, I reckon that it should be up to the drunk’s ex-wife to decide what visitation he gets based, it is hoped, on the welfare of the children. Instead, he has used the state to compel her to give him access which she may well regard as unwarranted. After, all she knows him better than any judge. He has initiated force in this instance to override the judgment of the mother.

The situation is a bit more complicated in this case, however, because the father is compelled to pay child support. He claims that he does so willingly out of love for his children, but the threat of force doubtless played a part in his decision- making. Also, if they were voluntary, he could use support payments as an inducement to provide more access to the children.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You Don't Get a Cookie for Staying in Recovery

I had a strange and uncomfortable conversation the other day about a child custody and visitation dispute. The father, an alcoholic who went on a bender that lasted several years, had had supervised visitation with no overnights until recently when he had shown that he had been clean and sober for an entire year. The individual, a partisan pf the father, claimed that he “deserved” unsupervised visits and that it had been wrong of the mother to “punish” the father because of his “disease”. The individual wanted me to join the hooray for Father club, but I would not.

Child custody and visitation proceedings aren’t about justice. They’re ostensibly about the best interests of the children. Frankly, the father had been an outright danger to the children when he would drink until he passed out while they were under his care. They might just as well have been home alone. They might have been safer home alone than with Drunky McNojudgement. The mother, who was incredibly inconvenienced by not having much of a break from the kids, would have been irresponsible if she had not sought to curtail the father’s access to the children. And it was up to him to establish that it would be safe for the kids to be alone with him.

Given the rate of recidivism of severe alcoholics, it only made sense to wait at least a year to see if the father was going to keep his act together. Nobody was punishing him. In fact, the rest of the family suffered because of his untrustworthiness and irresponsibility. The mother was burdened with unceasing responsibility for the kids with little break and lots of anxiety, the father’s family was burdened with having to supervise him and his visits, and the kids were burdened with the whole stupid situation, a situation created entirely by the father.

Perhaps the situation was due to a disease, but it still inconvenienced and harmed a lot of people who have every right to be angry and skeptical about Mr Imallbetternowanditwasntmyfaultbecauseihadadisease.

What really gets my goat is that, while it’s a truly wonderful thing that the father is in recovery, he seems to think that he deserves a frakking medal for not being on a bender. And his partisans are so thrilled that he appears to be getting his act together that they heap praise on him as though he had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Give me a break! You’re supposed to stay sober enough to maintain consciousness, so you don’t get a cookie for not drinking yourself into oblivion. I am happy that the father is on the mend, but I don’t think he has anything to be proud of. And he doesn’t “deserve” any concessions when it comes to his kids. A lot of us expect him to frak up once he gets what he wants, and we are worried sick about the kids.

Stuff About Me

We had an ice storm, so the lovely snow is coated with a crust of slippery ice that even the dogs can’t negotiate. The deer are falling all over the place and can’t get to much in the way of forage. The driveway, though plowed, is a glacier, and I fear that my neighbor, who is supposed to let the dogs out, will kill herself getting to my house. I busted the windshield wipers on the Civic, and I had to replace the battery so the cold starts would not be so dicey. The wind makes it feel even colder than it is. Winter, which is not even officially here yet, sucks so far.

On the plus side, I am now an independent contractor. Even though I am doing many of the same things I did as an employee, it’s way different. I come and go as I please and answer only for my work product. I don’t have to sign in and out or ask permission to leave early. I don’t get any benefits, but I can get these through Mrs Vache Folle. If I get snowed in, I don’t have to explain my absence to anyone.

I am still getting booty from some vendors. I put most stuff in the kitchen to share with others, but I keep any booze or meat or cheese for myself. I’ll let the vendors know after the holidays about my new situation lest the flow of booty be disrupted.

I am allowing my facial hair to grow. We’ll see whether I have the testosterone to pull it off.

Mrs VF, liberal democrat, gave $100 to Ron Paul. The craven Democratic Party is just about dead to her.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I must have been doing the backstroke wrong all these years, because it doesn’t feel as though I’ve been waterboarded.

The way to a man’s heart is through his sternum. You can get there through his stomach, but it’s a much more indirect path.

I love this time of year because kids are especially susceptible to the Santa Claus ruse. They think that they have to be good lest their loot be diminished. My carpool companion claims to have Santa on speed dial and gets pretty good results. Too bad this trick doesn’t work all year round. Then again, if kids weren’t so stupid that they forget about Christmas as soon as it’s over, they wouldn’t fall for the Santa Claus flimflam in the first place. Maybe the groundhog could be endowed with boon bestowing characteristics so that kids could be controlled through January.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Miami Dolphins went 0-16 so as to complement their perfect season from the 1970s? If the Patriots go 18-0 and then lose the Super Bowl, will they be considered better than the 17-0 Dolphins of yore?

Mrs Vache Folle’s train friend lent her “The Biggest Secret” by some lunatic. I’m reading it now, and it reminds me of the stuff one of the nutjobs in Lafayette Park used to scrawl in block letters on pieces of cardboard. If it’s true that the world is run by reptilian space aliens posing as humans, you need a better writer to make the case. This guy’s paragraph divisions are entirely arbitrary and what he cites as evidence consists of supposition piled on supposition. If I were a reptilian space alien who wanted to discredit the idea that reptilian space aliens ruled the world, I’d commission this guy to write the book exposing our conspiracy so it’d be totally unbelievable.

I used to eat lunch in Lafayette Park across from the White House and sometimes share food with a bag lady I often saw there. She claimed that she was keeping an eye on the Reagans to make sure that Ron didn’t get taken over by one of what she called the “Mayo moles”, space aliens working through the Mayo Clinic. Nancy, she said, had already been replaced but as long as she kept watch, Ron would be safe. At the time I figured she was crazy, like all the regular denizens of the park, but looking back it would explain a lot.

It snowed like hell yesterday, and it took hours to get home. It sure is beautiful though, except the part I have to shovel. I never did get around to raking the leaves, but now they are hidden by snow. The dogs love the newly fallen snow. We all hate the snow once the top layer melts and then refreezes into a crust of ice too weak to hold your weight but too strong to walk through easily.

Soon I Will Be Done-a With the Troubles of the Corporate World

Today is my last day as a corporate tool. I am actually excited about the situation since I got a consulting contract that will help to ease the transition to a new position. I won’t have to take the first thing that comes my way.

One of the best things about leaving a job is that you can look forward to losing your boss who, in most cases, is a wanker. One of my recent bosses was outwardly an amiable and kindhearted man, but he had some form of Asperger’s syndrome or something and lacked the capacity to consider the feelings of others or to recognize his own situation. He was a complete impostor who managed, against all odds, to prosper in the corporate bureaucracy while not knowing his ass from a hole in the ground. He didn’t even know that he didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

I am inspired by him and by men such as former Attorney General Gonzo to reach for the stars. I used to think that my bad character and laziness would keep me from the highest echelons in my profession, but they have shown that anything is possible no matter how ineffectual you are.

Anyway, I aim to take a couple of months to ponder what I want to do when I grow up. I am going to Peru in late January to build houses where the big earthquake hit a couple of months ago. I could never get away to go on these mission trips before, so getting canned has opened an opportunity for me to serve my conspecifics in need. Perhaps that experience will be helpful in examining my options and goals.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Koala Tea of Mercy is Not Strained

My radio show this morning featured audio from a video of a Brooklyn man “going postal” and making an ass of himself in a post office. I can imagine how uncomfortable everyone else in line must have been, and I wonder that nobody pulled him aside and said “just let it go, man” or some such thing. Maybe they figured that he might get violent or something. Anyway, he verbally abused the postal clerks for what seemed like forever.

I used to have anger issues, especially when driving, but I am much more forgiving now. There’s no use getting mad at bad drivers or incompetent clerks because they are probably just doing the best they can. Inconsiderate assholes, like the ones who park their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle or who make you wait in line while they organize their pocketbooks after a transaction, don’t bother me as much anymore. I simply remember that they probably don’t realize that they are being inconsiderate. They just don’t have it in them to think about others around them. I feel sorry for them.

New Years Eve 1985, Mrs Vache Folle and I went to a ski resort in West Virginia for a New Years extravaganza that included a hotel room, dinner, champagne, dancing, and at the end of it all a snack of pastries. We enjoyed the dinner, the room, the hot tub and pool, the party and the booze, but the pastries never materialized. I don’t know why, but this made me very irate, and I made an ass of myself over the pastries. I had been promised a Danish, and by Jove, I was going to get a Danish. I took my complaint to the highest levels of management and made quite a fuss. I even reiterated my complaint the next morning as we checked out (while I was sober). Looking back, I am ashamed but able to laugh at myself for being such a prick over nothing. There was no reasoning with me.

Something else was obviously at issue with me when I went on a rampage over pastry. I was angry at the whole universe because it did not seem just. Now I know that I much prefer mercy to justice, and I am more apt to be merciful. I have been so transformed that I actually find inept service workers amusing rather than irritating, and I try to have fun with the situation rather than getting hot under the collar.

Today, if you mistreat a service worker, even an incompetent one, I am going to consider it a flaw in your character and steer clear of you socially. If you abuse a food service worker, I am not going to eat out with you if I can help it. I don’t want saliva or worse in my food, thank you very much. Have mercy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Congress to Declare Christmas Important

Finally, Christmas will be recognized as significant thanks to Congessscritter Steve King. Nothing really matters, you know, until Congress acknowledges that it does. King’s resolution goes one better and specifies that Congress “recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world”. It’s about time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who "Deserves" a Government that Works?

I don’t watch CNN, but I sometimes see ads on other networks for CNN programming. One ad show the insufferable Lou Dobbs surrounded by fawning sycophants hanging on his every rant. I have never seen his show, but the ad is enough to permit me to surmise that he is a douchebag.

He ends the ad with a rhetorical question: “Doesn’t anyone deserve a government that works?”

What would “a government that works” look like? We have to know that before we can determine whether anyone “deserves” to be so governed. A working government would keep its subjects under surveillance and control and extract as much booty from them as it could at the lowest possible cost in order to enrich the ruling elites. Perhaps there are some whose character is so debased that they can be said to “deserve” such a government, but I am going to have to say that the vast majority of us “deserve” no such thing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Loving the Children of Israel Does not Entail Love of the State of Israel

I have an acquaintance, a co-religionist who seems amiable and completely sane, yet he is a staunch supporter of Rudy Giuliani and the GOP. It is really hard to get past this and his saying things like “As a Baptist growing up I learned to support the state of Israel”. I grew up as a Baptist and learned to love the “Children of Israel”. The “State of Israel” was not an object of reverence except for those oddballs who subscribed to the belief that there would be a Rapture and Seven Years of Tribulation and that this would happen any day now. And they loved the State of Israel only because they reckoned that it would trigger the Apocalypse and bring about the deaths of all but 144,000 of the Jews. With friends like them, who needs Anti-Semites?

I cannot in good conscience support the State of Israel. I don’t support any state, but I especially disdain states with governments that are racist and oppressive and violent. Israel’s government is all these things. May God bless the Jews, but I doubt that the State of Israel is a blessing to Jews or the world. The State of Israel, being predicated on violence and coercion as all states are, will not be the shining example of peace coming out of Jerusalem that the prophet foretold. On the contrary, the State of Israel will doubtless be an impediment to peace. It is something to be overcome, not something to celebrate.

May the Jews thrive and prosper. May they do justice, love mercy and walk in peace with their God. None of these things will be accomplished via the State of Israel but will be accomplished one heart and mind at a time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kids Today Don't Know What Fun Is

WaPo has a list of “Toys to Avoid” because they’re dangerous. Some of these involved pieces that stupid children swallowed. Others, such as lawn darts, were banned because some evil children threw them at their playmates and killed or maimed them. Mostly the list makes me think that kids today are a bunch of coddled pussies.

In my day, we laughed at danger. We didn’t need lawn darts to enjoy playing with deadly projectiles. We made them from sticks and rocks and whipped them at each other at high velocities. Farm implements made excellent toys for kids with active imaginations.

Some of the best toys from my youth would probably be outlawed today. The click-clack, for example, consisted of two glass balls on either end of a thick string. You’d hold the string in the middle and make the balls smash into one another to create a really annoying clacking noise. Lots of fun. As a bonus, sometimes the glass balls would shatter and eject bits of glass into your face.

Lots of our toys involved high temperatures, something kids today are just too stupid to handle. My sister had a little oven that reached the temperature of the surface of the sun. We had a Thingmaker, too, a device for making rubber spiders and such like in molds. I also had a kit for embedding objects in epoxy to use as paperweights and what not. It involved a catalyst that made the epoxy get boiling hot.

I also had a chemistry set with real chemicals and once made cyanide gas. I had an air rifle when I was five years old and a shotgun when I was twelve. We put together model cars and planes and never once choked to death on the pieces or fried our brains inhaling the glue (we inhaled, just didn’t overdo it). We had board games with pieces that might have choked us if we had decided to eat them for some reason.

Even our school supplies were dangerous by today’s standards. I had a ruler with a razor sharp metal edge and a protractor with a stiletto blade several inches long.

Playgrounds had cement surfaces, not soft fall cushioning substances or wood chips. The monkey bars were cold steel, and we played in and on concrete pipes. There was nothing more fun than a discarded spool from the phone company. We’d curl up in the middle and roll down a hill until we crashed into something. For extra fun, there’d be nails and staples poking into your body. Abandoned refrigerators were more readily available back then as well. These made great hiding places.

Kids today don’t know what fun is.

Frak Busybodies

A lot of our choices are restricted, not by laws, but by the fact that we have been conditioned to believe that our choices are limited to the conventional. We are given a choice between A and B, and C through Z don’t even get considered. Also, tradition and convention cause us to avoid unusual choices. We don’t want to have to explain ourselves.

An example from my own life that comes to mind involves the marital sleeping arrangements chez nous. When Mrs Vache Folle and I wed, we shared a bed for many years. Even after it became clear that we were utterly incompatible when it came to sleeping habits, it did not occur to us to do anything except try to compromise (and by compromise I mean do exactly what Mrs VF demands). I like to read in bed a good long time. Also, I toss and turn a lot and turn the covers into a twisted lump in the middle of the bed. Mrs VF likes to turn out the lights pretty much right away and requires complete stillness and silence to sleep. At one point she gradually and secretly reduced the wattage of the bulb in my reading lamp so I’d tire earlier.

We finally hit on the idea of having separate bedrooms about 7 years ago, and this has been a lifesaver. At first, we didn’t tell people that we had such an arrangement because we were concerned about what folks might think. Eventually, I revealed that Mrs VF and I slept apart, and I got the expected reaction. Were we on the outs? Didn’t we love one another? How weird!

Frak them. I realized that I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone, and I decided that I would give folks a hard time for sleeping with their spouses. “Are you some kind of freak?” I would ask. “Who in their right mind would try to sleep in the same bed with their spouse if they could afford their own room?” Seriously, it’s not as if they’re going to miss out on all that spontaneous middle of the night sex that is so much a part of the lives of long time married couples.

To tell the truth, I would much prefer for folks to live as they please without let or hindrance instead of their trying to justify their choices by characterizing them as virtues. But so many people treat their own choices as righteous that it becomes necessary at times to counter their assertions by acting as if I believed that their entirely conventional choices are immoral. To those who chide me for my happily childfree lifestyle, I wonder that they have so few children. Why not ten? If having children is righteous, then isn’t it even more righteous to maximize your output? With fertility drugs, they could have large litters, so it’s an outrage that they don’t take advantage of the technology!

In a perfect world, you’d have kids if you wanted to and would be childfree if you wanted to, and nobody would question your choice. You’d sleep with your spouse if you pleased, or not, and nobody would look askance. You’d do as you pleased, and you’d be free from meddling busybodies.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Golden Tablets

I once found some golden tablets in a cave, and I translated them with the help of a solicitous angel. They were additional books that belong in the Bible. The angel told me that I was chosen as a Prophet to lead the faithful who would follow the new scriptures.

Nobody would believe me, though, when I told them about it. That I had lost the tablets really seemed to make me seem less credible.

Enough With the Parades Already

Dear World War Two Veteran:

Once and for all, thanks for fighting in the Big One. Now could you stop it with the parades and dodder with some dignity for a change? At least be truthful about the war. It sucked. You were afraid. You missed your family. You saw a lot of bad things, and you maybe did some things you weren’t too proud of.

Stop prancing around acting like it was all about honor and glory. Some impressionable young men are going to see your zillionth stupid parade and get the idea that they ought to enlist in the armed forces. It will be partly your fault when they get killed for no good reason. You were in a war and should know better.

Again, thank you for your service.


The Second Greatest Generation

Let's Hope for the Least Evil and Insane Candidate to Be Nominated by Each Party

Mrs Vache Folle reckons that a nominee from one of the two major parties will be the next President. History is on her side. This is not just a display of Mrs VF’s mastery of the obvious. She has an important point, to wit that you don’t want the nominee of either party to be batshit crazy or an asshole of monumental proportions. Even though the GOP has demonstrated that it is incapable of governing and that its ranks are full of frak-ups, crooks and nutjobs, the American electorate has shown that it is capable of voting in large numbers for a ticket unfit for any office.

You want the least crazy and irresponsible candidate to get the nomination in each party. Some partisans will argue that it is good to have an opponent who is too crazy or tainted by scandal to be elected, but Mrs VF knows that there is no such thing as an unelectable candidate. The GOP could nominate Charles Manson, and if some disaster turns enough Americans into cringing bedwetters, he could get elected.

In a perfect world, Ron Paul would get the GOP nomination. (Actually, in a perfect world there wouldn’t be a presidency at all). Let’s hope it happens. If not, we definitely don’t want there to be any chance that Mike Huckabee could become President. He’s a crazy person and an ignoramus. He is a clergyman who, despite professing to follow the Prince of Peace, is an advocate of war and authoritarianism. We don’t want Rudy because he’s the archetypal douchebag with a swirl.

I could live with the creepy Romney or even career frak-up McCain, although both are loathsome in so many ways. They are the least evil and/or crazy of the GOP contenders, so let’s hope one of them gets the nomination if Paul doesn’t pull off a miracle.

I don’t really have nightmares about any of the Democratic candidates, and I don’t worry that any of them would bring about the apocalypse through incompetence or evil.

I have mixed feelings about Clinton. She’s too much like a neo-con for my tastes, but I derive so much joy from the way her success and prosperity piss off wingnuts. It would be worth it to have her as President just to see Sean Hannity’s head explode. I would love it if she achieved greatness and won the Nobel Prize because it would produce an epidemic of apoplexy in people I find it challenging to love.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I am Connected

I know a guy who knows a guy who knows President Bush. The same guy knows all the high up asshats in the government, so I am only two degrees of separation from them. Bush knows Queen Elizabeth and the Pope, so I’m only three degrees from them. Queen Elizabeth knows lots of quality folks, so I’m four degrees from a ton of aristocrats.

It’s possible that one of my quips at a cocktail party will be repeated in the Vatican or the Kremlin or Balmoral, only they won’t know it was me that passed the joke along. “How do you get a London School of Economics graduate to leave your porch? Pay him for the pizza!”

I am much further removed from entertainment celebrities and professional athletes. I can’t think of any way to link with Paris Hilton or Britney Spears unless maybe the Bush twins have partied with them or been in rehab with them. But wait, Bush owned the Texas Rangers and knows some baseball folks! That gets me linked to scads of players, coaches, executives and agents. Some of them may have slept with Paris Hilton!

My Weapons Program is on Hold... For Now

I abandoned my program to develop nuclear weapons for personal home use many years ago. The program was inspired by my desire to harness nuclear energy for home heating and air-conditioning. I explored cold fusion but found that I could not bring it off. I knew I would have to settle for plain old fission.

I figured that if I was going to go to the expense of enriching uranium and running a nuclear power plant in my basement that I might as well produce some nuclear weapons while I was at it. That would be the ultimate in home security.

It turns out that starting a nuclear power plant and a weapons program takes a lot of money and know-how, both of which are in short supply chez nous. So I gave up on the program.

Who’s to say I won’t start it up again in the future?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Would Amanda Marcotte Kill to Keep a Child from Buying a Twinkie at School?

Amanda Marcotte reckons that it’s silly to complain about the “nanny state” in cases where the government is just doing its job and exercising its right to raise people’s children.

“But whining about the “nanny state” when you’re talking about the bona fide child care duties of the state—i.e. the right of the state to restrict the foods brought into the school to be sold or served the children—is puzzling.”

Given Amanda’s view that the state is “in loco parentis” when kids are in its clutches and that the state has “rights”, it is not surprising that she would be puzzled by libertarian objections. Once again, a statist jumps to the conclusion that libertarians object to the point of a law or program rather than to the coercive manner in which it is to be accomplished.

I agree that children in schools should be offered healthy snacks rather than unhealthy ones. I disagree that the federal government should mandate this and use compulsion to bring it about. Let’s review for Amanda. Healthy snacks good. Coercion bad.

I would argue that the issue of what snacks should be available in schools is better decided by parents and the local authorities rather than the Imperial government in Washington. Healthy snacks good. Usurpation of power by the central government bad.

I would go even further and argue that government, even though it is in the business of running schools, should stay its hand when it comes to such matters as snack offerings. Is there no limit to the reach of the state? Is nothing so trivial or personal that the state ought not to interpose itself? Is it really necessary or desirable to manage the issue of school snack offerings with the threat of force?
Healthy snacks good. State thuggery bad.

Let’s run the issue through may patented test of when government action is appropriate. Am I so concerned about what some other people’s children might get from a vending machine at school that I would be willing to send in goons to rough people up to make sure that my will is done? I have to say no. Then again, that’s me. Perhaps it is that important for Amanda. I hope not. I would like to think that she is not a douchebag and that she is simply a victim of the false consciousness that forms the basis for statism.

Monday, December 03, 2007

How Do I Tell My Children....

I watched Louis CK’s most recent HBO comedy special this weekend. He had, among many extremely funny observations, good points about homosexuality and gay marriage. Why, he asked, would homophobes get so worked up about something that had no impact whatsoever on their lives? It’s not as if gangs of gay people are running around forcing themselves sexually on others. And if two gay men married, what would that be to anyone but them and their families? Louis addressed the slippery slope argument brilliantly. If gay folks can marry, then some guy might marry his dog! Good for him, said Louis. Again, it does not affect anyone but the man and the dog and their immediate associates.

I especially appreciated his treatment of the “how do I tell my children” argument. It’s not anybody’s problem but the annoying parent who is posing the question. The whole world has to organize itself in a particular way because some parent wants to avoid a conversation with his child? Thank you, Louis CK.

Friday, November 30, 2007

CNBC, Cockatrice, Carpool Conspecific, Pilgrims, Jane Austen, and Cthulu

The TV in the conference room at the office is perpetually tuned into CNBC, a so called business news network. It’s good for one thing only as far as I am concerned: it shows the DOW and S&P numbers and such like. Otherwise it’s just so much wasted air. Business journalism is, in a world where journalism has reached its nadir overall, the worst of the worst. The challenges are somewhat unique in that businesses carefully manage their image and try to control information. Oh wait, that’s not unique. It is a challenge, though, and business journalists are just not up to it.

Last night at choir practice, we ran through a version of “A Little Child Shall Lead Them”. The part where “the sucking child will play on the hole of the asp” and “the weaned child will place his hand in the cockatrice den” killed me. I couldn’t stop laughing for ten minutes. Apparently, even in paradise, you will need to keep a close eye on your kids. I’m hoping that I will be able to sing this with a straight face when the time comes.

My carpool conspecific reckons that “they ought to outlaw commodity trading”. He blames speculators for high oil prices and the price of gasoline (we paid $3.30.9 the other day). We’ve been commuting together for three years, and my libertarian rants have apparently had little influence on him. I give up.

I’m reading Philbrick’s “The Mayflower”, about the settlement at Plymouth. I’m only a quarter through it and already realize that everything I ever learned about the Pilgrims was a crock. I shouldn’t be surprised since all my education in history from public schools has been more akin to mythology than to history.

I just finished two “annotated” works that I had already read before without annotations and found that the notes made them quite interesting. I liken the experience to watching a DVD with the special features and commentary. The first was “Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen. Having a better understanding of the social order really adds to appreciation for the story.

The second book featured stories by HP Lovecraft, a favorite from my youth. The annotations in that book were more in the way of cross references to other Lovecraft stories or to other authors in the genre, but there were quotes from Lovecraft’s letters and some tidbits about edits in the pulp magazines in which the stories had been published. Rereading Lovecraft these many years later, I didn’t feel the same sense of the “eldritch” that I felt as a kid. Real life is way scarier than anything the Old Ones can unleash. I imagine that the Old Ones couldn’t do any worse at running things than the humans are doing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is America Ready for a New Gilligan's Island?

Jerry Van Dyke could have played the role of Gilligan but decided that he would rather star in “My Mother the Car”. The rest is history as we have experienced it. Imagine how different Gilligan’s Island might have been had Jerry taken the role. Imagine the ripple effect that this one small change would have had on the timeline.

I reckon a Broadway musical based on Gilligan’s Island is long overdue. Perhaps it would be best to start with a movie based on the TV show: Brian Doyle Murray could be the Skipper; Chris Elliott could be Gilligan, or if we had the budget Adam Sandler; Jennifer Love Hewitt could play Mary Ann while Ginger could be played by any number of actresses; let’s get Brent Spiner to play the Professor; the Howells could be Edward Herrmann and any number of actresses. Then we’d make the movie into a Broadway show, after which we’d make another movie based on the Broadway musical.

I Am Not Spam, Even Though I Appear So to Some Robots

JL Wilson is back and is embracing despair concerning political matters. I enjoyed his posting on music and sports, but I have to say that I don’t reckon that a college football championship is necessary or even desirable. So what if folks can disagree about which teams are better? That’s half the fun. Of course, everybody knows that the only real football is played in the SEC.

Back home when I was a kid, most men divided themselves up according to their favorite college football team and, despite never having attended college, would refer to themselves as an “Auburn man” or a “Tech man” as the case may have been. They were avid followers and partisans of their chosen teams. I could never figure out how these men selected their colleges, and there was no way that I could see to predict what any given man’s preference would be. I attended the University of Georgia for part of my college career, so I feel obliged to root for the Bulldogs. I lived in Gainesville, Florida for a while and grew to loathe the Gators. The same thing happened when I lived in Seattle. I grew to hate the “U-Dub” Huskies. I am an alumnus of Western Washington, so I would root for the Vikings if I were ever called upon to do so.

I have been associated with a number of mascots in my lifetime, and these provided practice for subsequent irrational collectivism. I started first grade as a “Ripple” at Valley Point Elementary. This was a riff on the high school mascot the “Green Wave” which was represented as a water wave apparently overcome with algae. The Ripple was not, as far as I can recall, ever represented pictorially. I then became a Brookwood “Beaver”. I don’t remember what City Park School’s mascot was. My junior high school featured the Dug Gap “Bisons”, chosen because of the school’s proximity to Ed King’s chicken ranch where he kept a small herd of bison. In high school, we had the Dalton High School “Catamounts” which was represented as a kind of lynx. Go Cats!

Dalton College had the “Roadrunners” based on the cartoon bird that eluded the coyote. Dalton had a fantastic basketball team back then. Then there was the University of Georgia “Bulldogs” and The American University “Eagles”. I later became a partisan of the WWU “Vikings” and, at last, the Columbia “Lions”. To sum up, I have had as associated mascots one inanimate object, a rodent, a large ruminant, two felines, a canine, two birds, and some medieval marauders. You’d think there would have been a Native American reference somewhere along the line.

Blogger’s robots decided my blog was spam for some reason, but they have now acknowledged that I am a human blogger and will allow me to post to this blog once again. Most of the spam I get is via e-mail, and 99% gets filtered through some magical program. The 1% that gets through relates to replica watches, hot stock tips, friendly warnings that my co-workers are talking about how fat I am behind my back, and lonely promiscuous women who want to meet me. These women obviously don’t talk to my co-workers. In any event, this quality post should convince any spam detector of my "humanity".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Romney to Deny Necrophilia; Rudy to Evade Questions About Platonic Friend

Is there any truth to the rumor that a certain GOP presidential candidate, whom we will just call “Rudy G.”, has been in a long time gay relationship with a Catholic priest? Or that another GOP candidate, whom we’ll call “Willard”, is a necrophiliac? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Now that the rumors have been mentioned in the blogosphere by a source with no credibility whatsoever, the legitimate media should feel free to run with it. The story will be that the rumors exist (or do they?) not that they are credible or anything.

What Is Meant By Improved?

One of my conspecifics remarked at the water cooler that the war in Iraq is “improving”. He could not explain what that meant, however.

Has it suddenly become lawful? Is there an actual mission that can be described in human language? Is there a way to know when it has been “won”? Can the troops leave now? Are the Iraqi people secure in their persons and property? Is it going to cost less?

Getting Psyched to Look for a New Job!

I’ve been giving a little thought to my future career now that I am about to be unemployed. Frankly, I have become so reconciled to the good points of getting laid off at this point, that I’d be disappointed if it fell through. Firstly, although my boss is well-intentioned, good hearted man, he wants watching and wrangling way too much. Also, he is one of those guys who sincerely believes that he is always the smartest man in the room, and this makes it hard on those of us who really are. Secondly, the principal subject matter of my job, environmental matters and toxic torts, have begun to bore me. I know the sites and the litigation environment of the entities I serve like the back of my hand, and it’s starting to become same-old-same-old to a fault. I’m not learning anything at this point, and I’m not using my skills in problem solving or negotiation as much as I would like. If I didn’t do some work for the other operating companies, I wouldn’t be using them at all.

I will have two weeks at the end of the year to spend in thinking about what I ought to do and to polish up my CV. Then I’ll hit the bricks looking for new opportunities. I have my asinine interview question responses down cold:

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” “In your boss’s job, firing you for asking stupid interview questions.”

“What is your greatest weakness?” “I am sometimes inhumanly productive and efficient, and this can make my co-workers feel inadequate.”

“What is your greatest strength?” “The ability to work with douchebags, which, if this interview is any indication, will come in handy here.”

“What are you looking for in a salary?” “I prefer to be grotesquely and comically overpaid, and I would like to make at least 50% more than you.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Save 71.5 Billion Bucks

If the Department of Education disappeared tomorrow, who, other than the 4,500 bureaucrats who work there, would miss it?

The financial aid departments of universities and other educational institutions would have to turn elsewhere to get money for students, and such institutions would likely have to trim tuition and improve services in order to attract students. I reckon that the additional costs of higher education have eaten up any benefit that students might have gained from access to loans.

Consultants and administrative bureaucrats in school districts all over America would find themselves out of work since the byzantine system of the federal DOE would no longer be around to mystify the laity. Luckily, these are highly intelligent folks who will be able to turn to more productive work.

Would the professionals in school districts find themselves paralyzed by a lack of guidance from Washington? I reckon that they would celebrate the demise of their heavy handed federal overlords.

We’d all get about $200 each if the 71.5 billion smackers that the DOE spends were returned to us. I’d rather have the $200 than the DOE.

Love and Radishes

In the last few weeks, the theme at church has been “radical love”, and I have been gratified by this move even further from legalism and exclusionism. It is supposed that the word “radical” is etymologically related to “radish” and that radicalism involves getting back to root values. Get it? Radishes are roots. I would suggest that radicalism involves striking at the root and replacing it rather than reaffirming old core values. The core values of most churches I have encountered have had little to do with radical love, and embracing this concept will likely require a significant rethinking of core values by most of the congregation, at least if they are much like me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Won't Go to Mars, So Don't Even Ask Me

I have been enjoying the series “Mars Rising” and had long thought that I would jump at the chance to join the crew of a mission to Mars. After last night’s episode on the hardships of the undertaking and the psychological and social problems that would have to be overcome, I am withdrawing my application. The clincher was the part about drinking my recycled urine, but the other complaints of veterans of long term missions had already weakened my resolve.

Apparently, bathing is out of the question, so everybody on board is going to reek. And for some reason it is hard to sleep well in space, so everybody is going to be irritable and on edge. All your fellow cosmonauts will be slowly going mad, as will you, and you will ultimately have to kill them all before they kill you. The diet will soon become monotonous beyond toleration, and the society of your crewmates will become tiresome.

Even if it doesn’t get that bad, even one asshole or douchebag among the crew will make for a miserable journey. It will take months to get to Mars, and you’ll have to hang out on Mars for almost a year before you can return. You will either love or despise your crewmates. In the best case scenario, it will be like the “Breakfast Club”, only longer.

The main problem, as I see it, is that crewmembers are going to have to be geeks with the ability to troubleshoot all the gear, yet, at the same time, they will have to be socially adept and empathetic. How often does that combination occur in nature?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What b psycho Said

bpsycho says it better than I ever could:

“Whether or not something that spends a decent chunk of time being microscopic & cannot yet live outside of its host is equivalent to you or me is in no way whatsoever as obvious as whether or not ones skin color makes them less human.”

Violent Radicalization Worries Congress

Congress is so worried about “Violent Radicalization” that the House of Reprehensibles has passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

What the hell is violet radicalization? “The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.” The War on Drugs would fit the definition as far as I am concerned. Or military recruiting.

Why is this such a concern now? “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.” I bet they are talking about TownHall, Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs. The GOP has an internet presence as does the White House.

What’s to keep the Commission created by this law from trampling on civil liberties? “In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.” Whew! That’s a relief. Congress has left a convenient reminder for the Commission right in the legislation to reign in any despotic impulses.

Here's the thing. Will the Commission consider political advocacy as promoting ideologically based violence? Politics is all about force; therefore, any political advocacy is the advocacy of force. Is this bill designed to squelch dissent from the "mainstream" as espoused by the two ideologically indistuinguishable major parties? I'm going to assume that it is.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Personal Economy is in Recession

It finally happened. As I feared, the latest imbecilic transaction dreamt up by upper management in Europe has resulted in my getting canned. At least I got a month’s notice. I suppose it could have been worse. I might have gotten hired by the wankers who bought the entity that employs me. I reckon that it is infinitely preferable to work for imbeciles than for wankers, and I hope that I will be able to find another situation working for an equally imbecilic organization.

The most ironic aspect of the event is that the reason for carrying out the transaction became moot some time ago, so there was no reason to go forward with it. But certain Europeans have not grasped the concept of having a Plan B. They also don’t seem to realize that this makes them susceptible to getting taken. So I have spent much of the last several months digging my own grave so to speak, and I will doubtless spend the next four weeks helping with “the transition”. You can imagine how helpful I will be. Or any of us. All of us got the heave ho.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lazy Jihadists Are Here

John Amato at C&L posts about a Tancredo ad that problematizes open borders. A taste:

“There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs. Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil, Jihadists who froth with hate here to do as they have in London, Spain, Russia.

The price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.”

These must be the laziest or most inept Islamist terrorists ever. They freely roam US soil and yet commit no terrorist acts! Seriously, the potential targets and opportunities to spread terror abound if you are really interested in scaring Americans. Even minor annoyances, such as felling trees across roads would turn a sizeable number of Americans into bedwetters. Threats alone might do the trick and with little chance of repercussions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Express Opinions

If I want to take the nucleus of one of my cells and put it in an ovum and implant this product in a womb and have someone give birth to it, it’s nobody’s business. I don’t care if you do the same. The result will be a copy of me or you, not some monster, unless we manipulate the genes to promote monsterism. Even that’s nobody’s business as long as our monsters don’t go on rampages.

Does genocide work? I’ll say! If you want to solve the problems presented by an inconvenient ethnic category, there’s nothing more final and complete in the way of a solution than killing every last one of them. Why don’t we use it more frequently in view of its effectiveness? I reckon the main objection is that it’s evil. Just like torture. It doesn’t matter if it works because you don’t even want to go there morally. Unless you’re evil, you won’t even make allowances for the possibility of using genocide (or torture).

Global warming really is happening, and humans are contributing to it. It won’t be the first time that living things have had a spectacular impact on global climate. It is the first time that any living thing has had the capability in principle to mitigate the consequences. We won’t, though. Lucky for me I’ll be dead by the time the world gets really unlivable. I understand the global warming deniers. As long as we’re too stupid to do anything about it, we might as well pretend it isn’t happening.

I wish it were legal to possess and consume pot. Then it would be easy for me to find it and buy it without worrying about some jackbooted thugs invading my home. In that case, I would smoke pot every evening and pretty much the whole weekend. Not enough to be really baked but just enough to be a little high. If everyone were smoking weed, it would be a far better world.

I can’t help feeling that I would be a lot happier if I could afford servants to clean my house, do laundry and such, do the routine yard work and run errands for me. It would be even better if I didn’t have to work and could enjoy the clean house and well kept yard for a lot of each day.

I Don't Want to Be Divisive, But...

On Sunday, the pastor emeritus preached on the value of unity and diversity. We should celebrate that we are one but acknowledge that we aren’t always going to agree on everything. We shouldn’t let these disagreements become occasions for divisiveness; rather, we should embrace the opportunity to engage in discussion in community. We should welcome those who differ to the table.

It is difficult for many people of faith to adhere to this ideal for they take the view that they are right, everyone else is wrong, and there is no basis for compromise. “God said it, they believe it, and that settles it.” They lack the capacity to imagine that they might be mistaken, that they don’t know the whole circumstances of others whom they condemn, and that Christian love entails a high degree of tolerance for differences of opinion.

On the other hand, I am challenged by impatience with some of my more legalistic and judgmental co-religionists. It is difficult for me to tolerate their opinions because their opinions include insisting on the adoption of their views and disrespect and condemnation for those who dissent. Perhaps I can find a way to be tolerant of the underlying views while ignoring the requirement that they be applied to everyone and ignoring the divisive aspects. There won’t be any way to keep them from leaving and setting up their own shop, but at least I can try to be loving toward them while they are taking their leave.

Then again, what happens if a legalistic and judgmental faction takes control and closes the tent flaps, so to speak? Am I obliged in the interests of unity to go along with such a program? I would not be welcome, I think, in such a church since my beliefs are strongly anti-legalist.

I think the legalists are wrong and that I am right, but I acknowledge that there is no way to resolve the difference because both beliefs are irrational and predicated on metaphysical assumptions that are beyond debate. I can try to understand how a legalist might feel and acknowledge that he is coming from a position of faith, but I would like for the legalist to show me the same courtesy, an event that has so far never transpired in all my dealings with individuals of the legalistic ilk.

It is a conundrum.

Are We Desperate for Public Intellectuals?

We subscribe to the Atlantic Monthly, but it’s not because they sometimes feature Andrew Sullivan’s writings. In fact, I reckon Sullivan is a wanker whose views on matters are hardly worth considering. Take his most recent work in The Atlantic in which he writes about Senator Obama.

Sullivan thinks that America is facing a most “lethal enemy” in the troglodytes of Al Qaeda at the same time that it is bitterly divided in an unprecedented way by haters on both the left and right. Obama is a possible savior:

“At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.”

Seriously, Sullivan sees America this way? And he sees Al Qaeda as such a monumental threat? What is his evidence?

“ The traces of our long journey to this juncture can be found all around us. Its most obvious manifestation is political rhetoric. The high temperature—Bill O’Reilly’s nightly screeds against anti-Americans on one channel, Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” on the other;’s “General Betray Us” on the one side, Ann Coulter’s Treason on the other; Michael Moore’s accusation of treason at the core of the Iraq War, Sean Hannity’s assertion of treason in the opposition to it—is particularly striking when you examine the generally minor policy choices on the table. Something deeper and more powerful than the actual decisions we face is driving the tone of the debate.”

The posturing Of Bill O and Hannity and Coulter are not comparable to the examples on the left. MoveOn and Olbermann and Moore are at least thoughtful and resort to reason while the right wingers are just plain hateful. The left isn’t calling for mass murder or detentions of dissenters. Bill O, Hannity and Coulter are clowns, and they speak for only the wingnut minority of hard core authoritarians. You can’t seriously hold them up as evidence of anything other than a kind of twisted form of entertainment for yahoos.

Who is to blame for this unprecedented division? Baby Boomers, of course:

“The answer lies mainly with the biggest and most influential generation in America: the Baby Boomers. The divide is still—amazingly—between those who fought in Vietnam and those who didn’t, and between those who fought and dissented and those who fought but never dissented at all. By defining the contours of the Boomer generation, it lasted decades. And with time came a strange intensity.”

Really? This is how the Boomers divide themselves? I’m a Boomer. I was too young to fight in Vietnam or even to have much in the way of an opinion about it. There are millions of Boomers in my position, so we are presumably not engaged in the non-violent civil war in Sullivan’s imagination. Most Boomers did not fight in the Vietnam War, and many who did were conscripts. Many protested, but most people jut tried to get on with their lives in the hope that the government wouldn’t get them killed. Women mostly didn't have to fret about serving against their will.

And look at the Boomer leaders of the right who ought by Sullivan’s reckoning to come down on the non-fighting side: Bush and Cheney fought not. Most of the wingnut punditry sat out Vietnam. The neo-con cabal never served in Vietnam. For crying out loud, does Sullivan just pull this stiff out of his ass?

GW Bush has his chance to set things right after 9/11:

“With 9/11, Bush had a reset moment—a chance to reunite the country in a way that would marginalize the extreme haters on both sides and forge a national consensus. He chose not to do so. It wasn’t entirely his fault. On the left, the truest believers were unprepared to give the president the benefit of any doubt in the wake of the 2000 election, and they even judged the 9/11 attacks to be a legitimate response to decades of U.S. foreign policy.”

I can’t think of a single person on the left (other than arguably Ward Churchill) who ever opined that the attack on the World Trade Center was “legitimate”. It was “understandable” in light of American foreign policy but not “legitimate”. Frankly, there aren’t haters on the left that come close to the haters on the right. That’s why the left is so susceptible to the right’s maneuvering and manipulations and why the left even now is unable to to do much. The left aims to be inclusive, to have dialogues, and what have you. The right just wants to win.

I have not read any cultural analysis ever that was so far off the mark as this article by Sullivan.

More on Corn Farming

Sunni had some questions about my post on corn farming. I claimed that cheap corn contributed to obesity. This is my own opinion based on the assumption that the cheaper food is, the more folks can afford to eat. And corn based processed foods are high in calories. Also, less expensive chicken and beef means that more Americans can afford to eat meat every day, even at every meal. The corn I was discussing is commodity corn, not the stuff we eat qua corn. It’s the stuff that goes into animal feed and other products such as high fructose corn syrup. Of course, I can’t really prove that cheap food contributes to obesity, and I concede that the problem is overdetermined, but it stands to reason.

Until recently, when there has been a spike in prices fueled by demand for ethanol production, corn prices have been lower than the cost to produce corn with the result that farmers had to receive federal subsidies to make up the difference. In the case of smaller farms, these subsidies are inadequate to insure an income level sufficient to sustain farmers and their families. Smaller operators tend to support farm programs that guarantee income levels rather than price assurances. The recent price increases will doubtless be a short term boon to farmers, but the increased cost of oil will in short order add substantially to the costs of production.

Farmers in the corn belt are not readily able to retool and change crops, but are prone to sustain losses over a number of seasons in the hope that prices will increase. The only market is for corn and soybeans, so that is what they have to grow. If they switched to broccoli, they’d have no way to sell it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Omnivore's Dilemma

I picked up Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivores Dilemma” in the Minneapolis airport last week. I passed it on the Mrs Vache Folle because I knew she was between books and would like it, so I haven’t been able to finish it yet. I only got halfway through it and loved it, and Mrs VF gives it a rave review.

The book is a fascinating in depth look at our food supply. Pollan starts with the industrial food chain and follows corn from the field to the hoof or foot or what have you to the consumer. The biggest lesson I learned was that when we eat corn, we are pretty much eating petroleum. It takes a lot of oil to make corn. In fact, it costs more to grow corn than farmers can get when they sell it. Even the federal subsidy doesn’t cover it, so farmers strive to get more yield and drive the prices down even further. They lose money on every bushel but make up for it in volume. Federal policy in corn is to promote cheap food. The obesity epidemic is one outcome.

Another lesson I learned was that cattle in feedlots get very sick because they aren’t designed to gorge on corn all day. The corn makes them ill, so they have to have massive doses of antibiotics. They wallow around in their own shit much of the time, and the shit becomes a pollutant rather than a fertilizer. E coli abounds in the feedlot environment, and the cattle’s rumen is unable to deal with it because of changes in the pH arising from the corn diet.

The second part of the book deals with the organic industry and sustainable farming. It turns out that the “organic” label is no guarantee that the food is not the product of an enormous factory farm. Also, the terms “free range” or “cage free” don’t necessarily entail green pastures and wide open spaces. Even Whole Foods buys from the bigger farms, and I’m looking for products that are raised in a sustainable manner, even if the farmer uses some chemicals. It’s the structure and organization of farming that I’m most interested in, not the fact that the food meets certain rather loosy goosy federal standards so as to get the “organic” label. Anyway, I didn’t finish that part yet so I’ll probably learn some more lessons.

The last part concerns foraging.

I heartily recommend this book and aim to finish it.

The Mall is Scarier than Ever

Al Qaeda is lurking in the mall according to a source with low credibility. I reckon that’s one more reason for me to stay home on Black Friday.

Then again, Christmas shopping is punishment enough in itself and is terrifying. I freak out at the mall during the holidays. There’s just too much noise, too much light and too many people for my comfort. I am thankful that we have pretty much given up exchanging gifts at Christmas.

One year I worked at a department store in Seattle over the holidays. I nearly lost my mind. The first day, I refolded sweaters after shoppers looked at them. I must have done it a thousand times, and the next day I could hardly move my sweater folding muscle system and had to be transferred upstairs to fancy foods. I sold fruitcakes and bottles of olive oil with herbs in them and fancy cookies and such like. These made great last minute thoughtless gifts if you couldn’t make it to the Bath and Body Works store or Yankee Candle. Anyway, it was hard to keep up a Christmas spirit while serving so many customers, some of whom were pretty rude.

I might have welcomed a terrorist attack if it would have silenced the annoying brass ensemble that kept playing the same three or four carols incessantly. Or if it would have stopped people from buying that stupid hot dog cooker as gifts. Who has the counter space for a device that just cooks hot dogs? And nobody is ever going to use that yogurt maker.

My hometown of Dalton, Georgia closed its mall on September 11, 2001 figuring that after the WTC attack the Dalton mall would be next on the terrorists' list of targets. Now that this incredible and unsubstantiated threat is out there, will Daltonians have the courage to shop?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Random Opinions and Observations About Stuff

I don’t like the expression “comparing apples and oranges” because I reckon that, to a close approximation, they are pretty much the same thing. Now, if I compared apples and pulsars, that would be nuts.

My candidate for highway superintendent lost by 400 votes, so I need not have wasted the time voting on Tuesday. I voted for the only legitimate reason I recognize: spite. I voted a straight Democrat ticket just because I am so pissed off at the GOP. It’s not that I admire Democrats. I reckon they are spineless, worthless varmints, but I aim to vote for them until I get the bile out of my system over the way the GOP has acted the last decade or so. If you continue to identify yourself as a Republican, then I am not going to vote for you unless you explicitly repudiate your party’s evil agenda. Of course, if the Democrats keep going the way they are going, I am liable to give up voting altogether.

On Bill Maher a couple of weeks ago, one of the guests said that Senator Clinton was “Cheney in a pantsuit”. Cheney wears pantsuits when he wears a suit, so I reckon Cheney is Cheney in a pantsuit.

I have been stopping at McDonalds almost every day on the way to work so I can get a sausage and egg biscuit and a hash brown. This is not helping me lose weight, and I know that this goes against my values when it comes to eating industrial food. I just can’t stop eating those damned sandwiches.

I am astonished that my conspecifics who have stay at home wives don’t have their supper ready when they get home. And they have to help with the housecleaning which has not been done at all during the day. What do their wives do all day, for crying out loud? Do they really have to spend every waking moment entertaining the children? If I stayed at home all day, I’d do all the housework and cooking and errands.

When I was a kid, I imagined that I would one day be a person of consequence. Luckily, a combination of sloth and weak character prevented this from happening. The only way I could have been someone important is if my father had been consequential. He was not. Thanks, Dad. I still resent him for not being rich and setting me up with an inheritance.

I really hate my job sometimes, but where else can I find a position that pays what this one does and expects me to do so little? I should just count my blessings. I could be working somewhere where I would be accountable.

I would be mortified if Pat Robertson endorsed me for anything.

How do they get chicken nuggets into dinosaur shapes? Do they make a chicken slurry and squirt it into molds?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chuck Schumer Sucks

Chuck Schumer is dead to me. His vote on Mukasey was the last straw. He's not my Senator. I renounce him.


I got into a conversation the other day with an African American acquaintance in which she remarked that some preference of hers was the product of her “culture” and that it related back to her African ancestors. I have always been skeptical about such claims about Africanisms ever since I encountered my first pan-Africanist friend in high school. Of course, it’s not just pan-Africanists that look for Africanisms. It used to be a highly respected activity of anthropologists who specialized in the West Indies and urban anthropologists who found the ghettos a rich source of supposed Africanisms.

The idea is that African Americans today are vessels of and driven by African cultural strains that have persisted for centuries despite the upheavals of slavery, industrialization, and urbanization. Some claim that African matrilineal kinship systems persist into the present day African American community. That’s why there are so many father-free households in the African American community, it is said.

I concede that Africans who were imported as slaves to the New World brought with them rich cultural traditions, but I would like to credit them with the ability to adapt and adjust to their circumstances just like all humans do. Household structure is governed predominately by present circumstances and strategies suited to the world in which the members of the household live. If the strategy results in something that resembles some African cultural phenomenon, it is probably a coincidence rather than a “survival”.

I can sympathize with an interest in and pride in one’s heritage. But that does not entail adopting preferences that were suited to the ancestors if these are inconsistent with one’s aims in the present. Some have said that we of Scots-Irish descent are inherently belligerent and boastful, but I doubt this, and I certainly don’t feel obliged to act the cracker in order to fulfill my Scots-Irish destiny. If our forebears were scrappers back in the day, they had reason to be. They weren’t genetically or culturally predisposed to scrappiness, and their descendants aren’t simply vessels of “culture”. Rather, we adapt to our circumstances. “Culture” is made up of tools that we employ, and we are free to pick and choose and engage in the practice of bricolage. We make culture even as culture makes us.

African Americans are as gifted as any people when it comes to invention and re-imagining. Their preferences and values are not determined by what their ancestors did or believed, and I don’t reckon that there is any need to justify them on the basis that these are holdovers from Africa.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Carpool Companion Can be a Dumbass

My carpool companion repeated some nonsense his Naval officer brother told him to the effect that the biggest beef of military personnel about Iraq is that the media doesn't report all the good news from there, such as schools reopening and bombs that don't explode. This is some dumbassery that I don't even bother to respond. If everything is supposed to happen, then it isn't news. If I go to the market and come home, nobody cares, but if I get mugged in the parking lot there's a story. Schools are supposed to reopen. Bombs are supposed to be disarmed without casualties. Of course, Mr Navy guy wants the war to go on forever. It's good for his career. I've never met the guy, but I can tell he's a wanker.

Then my carpool companion announced that he was leaning toward supporting Fred Thompson because Thompson was for "smaller government". How does he know this? Thompson said so in a campaign speech that my companion caught on AOL.

After all this time exposed to my wisdom, this is how my carpool companion thinks.

Monday, November 05, 2007

No Assholes or Douchebags, Please

I’m reading a business book entitled “The No Asshole Rule”, the premise of which is that assholery costs businesses big time and that if companies calculated the costs that assholes represented they would reform them or show them the door. I’ve had the misfortune to work with and for many assholes in my career (they are everywhere), and the book makes perfect sense to me.

I once worked for a company in which the CEO regarded being an asshole as a critical part of good management. If the people under you were happy, then you weren’t doing your job. Fear was the great motivator in his view, and there were none in the organization to gainsay him since he surrounded himself mainly with sycophants. I didn’t last long because I couldn’t stand the Great Business Genius and his fawning aides. I could see that his style resulted in high turnover and lower productivity and an increase in theft. He could not. The company ended up in Chapter 11, thanks in large part to the Genius.

The book defines asshole a little narrowly for my tastes and limits it to overt hostility. I reckon that passive-aggressive managers are just as difficult and costly as regular assholes, although they might more properly be labeled douchebags. Perhaps a sequel “The No Douchebag Rule” would be in order. I am talking about bosses who won’t outright call you an idiot to your face but who, by their actions, let it be known that that is exactly what they think. You know the ones who undermine everything you do and micromanage you to death. The ones who call up someone else right in front of you to check whether your suggestion or statement is on target. The ones who are unnecessarily secretive and withhold information that you need to do your job.

The douchebags are worse than assholes in many ways because they can fall back on plausible deniability.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In Christ There is No Straight or Gay

Last Sunday, our pastor preached on Paul’s writing that in Christ there is no slave or free, Greek or Jew, male or female. We are all one in Christ. There is no need to add to the Gospel, he preached. It’s not Jesus Christ AND some other requirement. It’s just Jesus, and we must focus on Him who unites us and set aside the things that divide us. It’s not Jesus Christ AND no praying to saints, as one anti-Catholic acquaintance of the pastor had it. I reckon that it’s not Jesus Christ AND adult baptism only or Jesus Christ AND predestination or any such formulation.

I was pleasantly surprised when the pastor extended the reasoning of the sermon and the passage to homosexuality and related how the church had dealt with this divisive issue in the past. It’s not Jesus Christ AND you must hate the gays. I wasn’t sure that we would ever get to the point where the pastor could broach such a subject. There are a lot of staunch conservatives in the congregation, and I had assumed that this kind of preaching would be too politically dangerous for the pastor. It may turn out that I’m right. For all I know, we’re looking ahead to a shit storm (I’ve been out of town all week and wouldn’t have heard anything). I hope not. I hope that the pastor has the consistory in his camp and that would be dividers will fail.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gustatory Priapism

When I was fading in and out of consciousness the other day on the sofa with the TV on, I chanced on some food porn that has given me a kind of gustatory priapism. This Georgian woman was making biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. She baked the biscuits in a cast iron pan, so they came out really uniformly scrumptious looking. She took some cubed round steak, seasoned it with what she called “house seasoning”, dunked the pieces in buttermilk and flour, and fried them in some grease. I didn’t hear what kind of grease she was using, but pretty much all grease is good. Then she took a couple of tablespoons of the grease, added a couple of tablespoons of flour, and then added some sweet milk (what we southrons call whole milk) to make white gravy, the food of the gods. She poured some of this on a couple of broken biscuits and a couple of pieces of steak and started eating it right in front of me (and any other viewer).

Since then, I have not been able to get that meal out of my mind, and I aim to make me some chicken fried steak this Saturday. If I don’t, I think I will go mad.

I’m pretty sure that between me and Mrs Vache Folle, who is an able cook, we will be able to handle the steak. We will also be able to make some pretty good biscuits. Mrs Vache Folle gets lazy sometimes and just makes drop biscuits, but we’re going to roll them out and cut them into proper biscuits this time, as God is my witness.

My big fear is that we will not get the gravy right. I have never mastered gravy making. I was never meant to cook and was kept out of the kitchen as a young’un. Males did not belong in the kitchen. Mrs VF has failed to master gravy making despite instruction from my mother, whose gravy is as good as anyone’s in the whole southland except for the Goddess of Gravy. My mother did send me a bunch of gravy mix one time that produced an acceptable and palatable gravy-like substance, but I can’t find that up here in the heart of Yankee country.

My problem is that I have tasted the best gravy in the world, made by my sainted Aunt Jewell (the aforementioned deity) on a wood stove. I have been looking for that gravy everywhere ever since, and all gravy falls short of the glory of Aunt Jewell’s ambrosia. I’m not saying that there are not some gravies that are edible. My mother’s gravy is wonderful, about 80% as good as her sister-in-law’s. Cracker Barrel serves up a pretty good gravy, about 50% of the quality of the good stuff I am craving. There was a place in Blue Ridge that had some excellent gravy, as good as 70%. Shipway’s Truck Stop in Flintstone, Maryland had remarkable gravy, almost as good as Mom’s.

We should perhaps practice the gravy making art and work on our technique, experiment with greases, until we come up with something worthy of my heritage.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

While I was laid up, I devoured Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union”. It’s a murder mystery with a hard-boiled, alcoholic detective, Meyer Landsman. Only it’s set in an alternate reality where things didn’t work out exactly the same since the 1930s. Israel never got off the ground, and the US set up a refuge for Jews in and around Sitka. Landsman works for the District of Sitka PD, and he works his way through the closed world of the Hasidim (at least a fictional group of Hasidim that resembles the Cosa Nostra more than religious sect) and the subculture of chess aficionados.

I was taken in by the story and was conscious of the writing (but not in a bad way) as Chabon uses a lot of surprising but effective metaphors. Anyway, there’s a messiah and a red heifer involved, and Landsman’s partner is his half Tlingit cousin.

God and Al Qaeda Burning California?

I suppose it was inevitable that God would get the blame (or credit) for the fires in California. It’s because Californians allow gay people to live. And God must be pissed because Sodom and Gomorrah were surgical strikes compared to this. If I were a gay obsessed loon, I’d probably attribute every bad thing to the existence of gays. Why wait for major disasters? September swoon of the Mets? The gays. That paper cut you got at the office on Monday morning? The gays.

Or the Islamofascists started the fires as some bedwetters speculate. If I were a terrorist group, I’d take credit for the fires even if we didn’t have anything to do with them. Heck, I’d take credit for the Santa Ana winds! I’d take credit for every disaster and even every inconvenience and annoyance. You know that traffic jam on 287 last Friday? That was us, infidel swine! You know how the honeybees are dying off? We did it! No honey for you, unbeliever!

Then again, maybe God used Al Qaeda to start the fires like some say He did on 9/11.

Fight KIller Monkeys with Killier Monkeys

I am beset by bronchitis and missed two days of work. To cheer me up, Mrs Vache Folle brought home a news story about the monkeys who killed a politician in Delhi. No, it wasn’t the horrible and humiliating death that cheered me up or that the victim was a politician. It was the bit about some of the ideas that have been floated about how to deal with the homicidal monkey problem. My favorite? Train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to attack the miscreants!

It’s brilliant! Surely, there could be no possible downside to inciting simian gang warfare to control the murderous monkeys. If the langurs start making trouble for humans, they could just bring in some chimpanzees from Africa to take care of them. This would expand the range of chimpanzees and remedy the langur problem, if this even happens and who’s to say? It’s a classic win-win, if you ask me.

Some will poo-poo my potential solution because it involves importing an invasive species. I’ve always thought that the “problem” of invasive species was overblown. If you have cane toads running amok, get yourself some cane toad eating animal. If that presents a problem, there’s always some predator that will step up to solve it for you if you look hard enough. It will all balance out in the end as long as you stay committed to importing species without regard to the impact on indigenous fauna. It’s called globalization, and just as the free movement of goods and people can never be bad, so the movement of species is always a positive, even if there is some short term catastrophe or extinctions or whatever. Let’s face it, if your indigenous species can’t cut the mustard, they are just going to have to make room for some less delicate fauna to take over their niches.

I reckon Siberian tigers and upstate New York were made for each other.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Mischief Proof Religion

One of Richard Dawkins’ big beefs with religion, as he writes in the “God Delusion”, is that it is responsible for so much mischief and destruction. I reckon, however, that my particular religious beliefs are utterly harmless and unobjectionable on that account. Love God and love your neighbor. What mischief could come of that? Some might argue that such a belief might lead me to neglect my own comfort and well being for others. Those people don’t know me very well.

Whom Would God Vote for in East Fishkill?

During one of the prayers at church yesterday, the emergency back up pastor (assisting a guest pastor from a pulpit exchange) included a prayer for guidance in pulling the levers in the upcoming local elections. He wanted us to know how to vote in a way that would further God’s plan in East Fishkill.

As far as I can tell, none of the candidates for any of the offices is running on a platform of ushering in the Kingdom of God in East Fishkill. I reckon God is going to be indifferent to whether any of us votes for this parasite, that parasite or the other parasite to become the next Receiver of Taxes or Superintendent of Highways or what have you. He probably would prefer that we didn’t vote at all, that we didn’t require a government in East Fishkill at all, that none of us participated in or had to acquiesce in the administration of coercion. None of the candidates is running on a platform of dismantling the government.

Besides, it has already been laid down from the beginning of time which candidates will prevail and what they will do in office. Presumably, this is in furtherance of God’s plan, much in the same manner as plagues of locusts or flu epidemics further it.

Saving Baseball

Via b psycho I read this gem of a post by Tom DiLorenzo:

"re: Abolish the Home Run

Posted by Thomas DiLorenzo at October 19, 2007 02:36 PM

And abolish dunking in basketball as well. Make it a 3 point penalty for dunking, and change it back to a game of skill, coordination and athelticism instead of a competetiton (sic) among giants, striding down the court like Jolly Green Giants hellbent on destroying the backboard with their next "dunk."

Perhaps a new league would be required. "

Forget about it, Tom. There’s never going to be a league tailored to your level of ability in either basketball or baseball. Oh wait, I forgot about tee league, and there is donkey basketball. Why are there scare quotes around "dunk"?

Tom was adding his two cents to this much more elegant argument about salvaging baseball. The author cited by Lew Rockwell suggests that the out of the parker be an out. We played that way when I was a kid but only because we usually had only one ball, usually made mostly of duct tape, and hitting it over the fence meant that it might be lost. In most games, there wasn’t even a fence, just acres of pasture, so all our home runs were “inside the park” in a manner of speaking.

I don’t know that the home run has killed baseball. Baseball was doing fine for decades after Ruth began swatting them out of the park in the dozens. Cricket has its sixes (out of bounds on the fly) and fours (out of bounds on a roll), and nobody reckons that these are bad for cricket. They’re harder to hit, I suppose, but nobody reckons that a strong batsman capable of whacking the ball out of the pitch is a bad thing. It’s exciting.

Home runs are exciting, too. There is an enormous fan base of baseball dilettantes who have no appreciation for the subtleties of the game. They want home runs and strike outs to break up what seems to them the monotony of other aspects of the game. The aficionado views the monotonous as exciting because of his superior competence and enjoyment of the nuances, but he owes the success of the leagues to the dilettantes and should humor them if he knows what is good for him and his sport. Some dilettantes will grow into aficionados. Most will not. It’s the same in the other sports. They are in a sense “dumbed down” for the masses, but the elite fans need them to subsidize the games. The elite fans ought to patronize amateur leagues if they are looking for more old-fashioned play.

That said, I have some suggestions for improving baseball as well. Let the players carry their bats with them as they run the bases and use them to their advantage. When a batsman hits a homer, he gets to keep batting until he ends up on base again or is put out. A batsman should have the option on putting a ball into play whether to run or not. The pitch won’t count as a strike, and as long as the batsman stays in the box, he cannot be put out. Or if he returns to the box before the catcher has the ball, he is not out. Fielders should be able to put players out by hitting them with the ball while they are off base. The runners may use their bats to defend against this. Pitchers should be able to bounce the ball over the plate if they are capable of this feat.

These changes would make the game both more exciting and more interesting. Everybody wins.