Friday, May 29, 2009

Empathy is Good

Why wouldn't you want a Supreme Court Justice to be empathetic? We already have our quota of psychopaths on the court.

Most of the justices have lived lives that insulated them from adversity, and this is bound to color their worldview and the way they interpret the law. Frankly, I don't think the Supreme Court really understands or much cares about how its decisions impact ordinary people. Other than their servants, they rarely encounter anyone ordinary.

Someone like Roberts can claim that he's just calling balls and strikes because he reckons that his worldview is the only one. He doesn't get it that his background and life experience color his interpretation of the law as much as anyone else's.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

North Korea Solved

At long last, someone has an idea for how to deal with North Korea's Dear Leader:

For world peace, I'd buy a ticket to River of Blood.

Bring Back Peasantry

At some point, industrialization led many from the laboring classes to abandon the plow and become wage earners in cities and towns. Later, we mechanized, automated and computerized a great many of these folks out of jobs. Then we exported manufacturing and decided to become a nation of bankers and folks who serve burgers to bankers. The low skill manufacturing jobs that pay at least half a living wage are almost all gone, and about a third of us are fit for little else. Some have suggested that these folks can be retrained and educated to handle high tech jobs. This is probably not true.

I propose as a solution to the plight of the urban poor a return to the family farm. Just about anybody can farm with the right training, and peasant farmers enjoy a degree of economic independence that the urban poor can only dream about. Society would benefit from having small family farms widely dispersed throughout the country, and these would add to greater food security.

The return would have to be subsidized, of course, and a training program in sustainable agriculture would have to be maintained. Land, mainly from public holdings, would be provided free of charge and free of property taxes as long as the homesteader or his or her heirs held it and farmed it. A market for their produce would be supported by requiring public schools to purchase local peasant farm products for use in school cafeterias. Also, the formerly blighted neighborhoods now abandoned by the newly made peasant farming class could be gentrified, and the peasant farmers could come in on weekends and run farmers' markets for the yuppies who live in their old apartment buildings.

I reckon that sustainable agriculture and organic farming would be the best market niche for the peasants, in part because the program would have a less furious reaction by Big Food if it didn't compete directly with it. Frankly, small farms can't compete with the mega farms when it comes to providing crops and meat for the processewd food industry. Also, the peasant farmers would have less need for expensive equipment and fertilizers and would not require as much in the way of credit. We don't want them to fall into the debt trap that has all but killed the family farm. We want them to stay on the farm for generations to come.

Peasant farming also builds character. Families work together in a common enterprise, and folks deal with one another on a person to person basis. A peasant farming class would provide a counterweight to our overly depersonalized culture. It might also make for some interesting politics.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tax Deductions I Favor

I have been thinking about the mortgage interest deduction and have concluded that it's a sop to the middle class. While we're giving ourselves sops, why don't we lobby to have other aspects of the "American Dream" made tax deductible.

For example, what young bride wouldn't want a lavish Guinea Wedding, and what parents wouldn't want to throw them for their daughters? If the costs of a Guinea Wedding were tax deductible, families could afford to go even more over the top. Cocktail hour with all you can eat snow crab legs and an omelet bar, an eight course meal, a live band with an open bar, a Vienna Room and stretch limos for the whole wedding party would be available to more brides and grooms. The catering hall industry, dressmakers, and other folks who make their money on weddings would benefit mightily, so this could be a boon to the economy. Also, the tax code would be promoting marriage, wouldn't it?

Or how about the costs of education for the kids? If these were tax deductible, folks could afford to spend more, and schools could charge more and pay teachers better. What middle classer wouldn't want the best possible education for his or kids? It's the American Dream to give your kids a better life than you had.

Americans love dogs. Every household should have at least one dog. Dog ownership builds character and makes for better citizens. Dogs also deter crime. Let's make the costs of keeping dogs tax deductible! Hell, let's establish a tax credit for dog related expenditures. (I work from home a lot and keep confidential files there. I have dogs to protect the house; ergo, I should be able to write off their upkeep as a business expense. Mrs Vache Folle, CPA, disagrees, says it would invite an audit.)

Another aspect of the American Dream that the tax code overlooks is the maintenance of a healthy lawn. Shouldn't lawn care costs be deductible?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Snake Encounters

The long weeked was marked by close encounters with water snakes. On Saturday, Jasper caught Brad, the mack daddy of the water snakes in our pond, and I had to intervene to keep Brad alive and Jasper unbitten. On Monday, Mrs Vache Follw was weeding the daffodils by the pond when two water snakes chased a large frog right where she was kneeling. The frog got away, and the snakes made themselves comfortable and started screwing in the daffodils. The frog seemed way to big for thos particular middling sized snakes. Later that day, Mrs VF happened on a baby water snake in the grass by the deck, further from the water than we've ever seen a water snake before.

Today, I went down to the pond to try out a new net I bought for mucking, and I ran into Brad on the berm with the ass end of a huge frog sticking out of his mouth. His jaw had unhinged, and he was swallowing what seemed to me to be an impossibly large meal. Jasper came over, so Brad swam across the pond to the Jasper free zone where the dog is not permitted to go. Slowly but surely, Brad swallowed that frog and slithered off with a huge lump in his middle. He'll likely not need to eat again for some time.

Mortgage Interest Deduction Doesn't Make Sense (to Me)

We take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction. We considered the impact of the deduction when we determined what we could afford to pay for a house. If the deduction went away, we'd be screwed. I suspect, however, that the deductibility of mortgage interest was somehow factored into the price of our house before we bought it and that we simply paid more for the house than we would have if mortgage interest hadn't been deductible. The real beneficaries of the deduction are real estate brokers and mortgage lenders, since they get bigger commissions and write bigger mortgages.

If the mortgage interest deduction were repealed, it would probably result in a significant fall in the value of houses. Unless existing mortgages were grandfathered in, there would be a glut of houses on the market as folks tried to unload houses they could no longer afford. There doesn't seem to be a way out at this point. The suppression of the wealth effect that comes from elevated home equity would hurt the overall economy.

Yet, the mortgage interest deduction does not appear to serve any useful purpose. It doesn't really promote home ownership since house buyers are paying up front for any value added by the deduction. Moreover, why would the government want to promote house ownership in the first place? What's it to the federal government if I own or rent? If I own, and there's an economic downturn, I'm stuck in my house and can't readily move for a job. If I rent, I'm more mobile.

Are house owners supposed to be better citizens? Do they yield more revenue to the government as a result of their owning a house?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Prophylactic Detention

Some folks seem to think that the government should be able to detain people for no other reason than that they might commit a crime in the future. It starts with potential terrorists, but we all know that it will end up with the preventive detention of anyone with a criminal profile. Actually, it started some time ago with the civil commitments of "sexual predators" who had served their prison sentences.

When I was a prosecutor for the child welfare apparatus in Florida, I was confronted with a case in which the state had taken a child into custody away from its mother solely on the basis that the mother might abuse or neglect the child. It seems that the child welfare bureaucrats had a list of "red flags" with points assigned to them and that enough red flags could add up to a risk assessment that required removal. In the case at hand, the mother was a teenager with a colicky baby, and her own mother who was her main source of help was going on vacation. Add in some factors such as poverty, not having a high school diploma, and what have you and you get to enough points to remove the child even though the law required an immanent threat of abuse or neglect or abandonment. The child welfare bureaucrats were aghast that I had any scruples about prosecuting a speculative case based on their point system. Why wasn't I totally on board with protecting children? What possible objection could there be to such a sensible scheme?

Think about what preventive detention would mean for law enforcement. Police could generate profiles and lock up anyone that fit them whether or not they had actually committed an offense or were even thinking about committing an offense. And the detainess wouldn't have a defense unless they could show that they did not, in fact, meet the profile.

Nowadays, police agencies have to wait until criminals conspire with one another or try to commit a crime in order to act. Or they have to set up crimes and entice criminals to commit them. Soon, they will be able to dispense with all that and detain criminals before they commit crimes. It will be a crime to be a criminal, i.e. to fit the criminal profile.

Law abiders need not worry about their rights in such a system because they will never fit the profile, and if they happen to fit it then they're criminals aren't they? The streets will be safer, and law abiders will enjoy more freedom from crime. At least until law enforcement realizes that it can profile victims and then control their movements for their own protection.

I'm not saying there won't be due process. The police will have to prove that detainees fit the profiles. Since it won't be a criminal trial, they will be able to this by a preponderance of the evidence. Since it will be a matter of civil commitment, juries won't be needed, either. Except for the costs of detention, this will be an inexpensive program.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Separation of Church and State Is in the Constitution, Only not in So Many Words

I had a discussion with one of my conspecifics some time ago about the "separation of church and state". He insisted that these words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution. True enough. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause are in the Bill of Rights, and these are the two provisions of the Constitution which give rise to the doctrine of Separation of Church and State.

How else can the government avoid running afoul of the two clauses about religion? It can't establish an official religion, and it can't regulate your irrational beliefs about the supernatural. Anything the government does to entangle itself with churches or religious ideas or movements is bound to have the effect of privileging or prejudicing, and that amounts to establishment or interference with free exercise. It's best to keep the government as far from religion as is practicable.

Of course, government is run by folks with religious beliefs, and they will likely govern their own behavior in accordance with their consciences, so religion will necessarily play a role, albeit indirect, in the functioning of the state. It's best not to make a big show of it, though, because carved in stone religious pronouncements are inconsistent with a democratic polity. At some point, one set of normative propositions predicated on a supernatural premise will lose out to a competing set of propositions, and the adherents of the former set will have to be prepared to live with it. Otherwise, sectarian strife ensues. The differences among Protestant denominations are quite sufficient to set Christians to murdering one another if you put religion and politics together too much. God forbid that the religious right should ever get its wish to establish a theocracy, because there would be a bloodbath over the precise nature of theo before too long.


Some folks like to characterize other folks who disagree with them as "unAmerican". What the hell does that even mean? 7Up used to be "the UnCola", and that was taken to mean "not a cola". If one is said to be ungentlemanlike or unladylike, everybody knows what that means. But unAmerican?

Being an American involves nothing other than a geographic accident; therefore, the only way you could be unAmerican would be to hail from somewhere other than the Americas, or since we have coopted the word, the US. There is no way to be American other than to be in America. You can hold all kinds of beliefs and opinions and engage in a variety of practices, all of which would be American because you are in America.

There are no distinct and nearly universally held ideas that comprise an American ethos. So, when someone says of another person or idea "that's unAmerican" this translates to "that's quack woof kerblah"! It's nonsense.

Another nonsensical statement is to attribute something to the "Blame America First" contingent. This label is applied to anyone who criticizes US government policy abroad, and there is already a perfectly cromulent expression "critics of US policy abroad" that is much more accurate and descriptive. The use of Blame America First as a label is an ad hominem attack that says more about the user than about those he or she attacks.

Another idiotic exercise involves exchanges about whether one's patriotism has been questioned or whether it is subject to question. A patriot is one who loves one's country, but some would add an additional requirement that a patriot also be an unquestioning supporter of the government. When someone talks about patriotism, we don't necessarily know what the speaker means, so we should ask for clarification and definitions or just ignore this as nonsense. Patriotism has more often been a cover for douchebaggery than a sign of anything good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Additional Star Trek Questions

Star Trek 's extraterrestrials have over the years gotten less lame (with the exception of the Kazon in Voyager, a race distinguished entirely by very bad haircuts). The effects have gotten better and better. Why then haven't they also been able to get rid of the split infinitive in "to boldly go"? It's "to go boldly", for crying out loud.

Isn't it strange that the English language has not changed much in several centuries? Based on past developments, I'd have expected a lot of borrowings from extraterrestrial languages, especially for newfangled stuff. And how come nobody ever cusses, even when they're under pressure or really pissed off or frightened?

Although racism among humans seems to have been cured, how come those standards aren't applied between species? It seems to be perfectly OK to express hatred for an entire species, as Ryker does about the Ferengi in at least one episode, or to make sweeping generalizations about them.

Is there a chaplain on board the Enterprise? Or has all religion gone by the wayside (other than Bajoran worship of the wormhole aliens)? Perhaps the concept of the chaplaincy has been put aside in view of the likely extreme diversity of beliefs.

What does it take to get a colony on another planet authorized? It seems to me that it would cost a hell of a lot for private individuals to set up their own planet and that you'd have to get Federation permission and protection.

God Hates People Who Claim to Know Whom God Hates

I don't know whom or what God hates, and I would never presume to speculate about whether some unfortunate event or another is divine wrath directed at some sin or another. That would be blasphemy, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


There was supposed to be a trial in Edwardsville, Illinois this week, so I went there. I drove to Newburgh, NY, took a plane to Philly, another plane to St Louis, and a rental car to Edwardsville. Then I found out the trial had been continued because the plaintiff had had the nerve to die over the weekend without consulting me or considering my convenience and travel plans. So I spent the night in Edwardsville and changed my flight, which for reasons unfathomable became twice as costly. Is US Airways trying to alienate my client, a huge conglomerate that could buy and sell it a hundred times over?

Anyway, I made it home alive, although I had the misfortune on both return legs to have seat mates even fatter than me. I thought we should raise the armrest between us and let our folds of fat interlock, but each considered the armrest indispensable.

I had been keen to go to Edwardsville for this trial because I thought it would give me a chance to look for the grave of my great great great great great grandmother who moved to the vicinity with her two older sons back in the 1830s. Her youngest son, my ancestor, had died young, and his children were being raised by their maternal uncle Samuel Morrow in Knoxville, Tennessee. My branch of the family stayed in Tennessee for a while longer, although my ancestor's daughter, Ann Eliza Warnack Connick, spent some time with her uncle Isaac E. Warnack in Madison County, Illinois.

Isaac E. and Henry D. and their progeny, my ancestor's brothers, used their patrimony from Frederick Christian Warnack II's, their father's, paper company, Eagle Paper, to buy thousands of acres in Illinois and to establish themselves in the stoneware business. My ancestor was apprenticed out to a tailor, an occupation which he took up at the age of 19 in Marysville, Blount County, Tennessee. What became of his patrimony we will never know, but the Morrows were a prosperous lot. Just saying.

Frederick II had been born in Prussia about 1770. His wife, Elisabeth, was born in Pennsylvania of German parents around 1773, and she moved with her sons to Madison County in the late 1830s. Her husband had died in 1821. The paper company was sold after Frederick's death. Family legend has it that Eagle Paper supplied newsprint for the Cherokee Phoenix, the newspaper published in the Cherokee phonetic alphabet. Of course, family legend says a lot of things that can't be verified.

Elisabeth Warnack was still alive in 1860, but I found her not in the 1870 census. Presumably, she died between 1860 and 1870, and I expect she was buried in Upper Alton, Illinois. Alas, I had no opportunity to troll around in old boneyards in Upper Alton on my client's dime.

This abortive trip was not a complete waste, however. I did learn that my progarm of avoiding the gym and overeating had not helped with my hunkification project and that I had to buy new, larger clothes for the trip. Will this be the wake up call that inspires me to lose weight and get in shape? The odds are not good.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Turning Failure to Success by Lowering the Bar

When I was a kid, I had some big career ambitions. My first aspiration, at about age three, was to be a "taxi". When I learned that the best I could hope for would be to drive a taxi, I gave up on that dream. At five, I started shooting for president of the US, but the Kennedy assassination cooled me on that. I thought astronaut for several years, but a documentary suggesting that a Mars landing would happen in 1973 made me believe that I'd miss out on all the glory. Although the Mars mission did not occur, I was right that being an astronaut during my young adulthood would have been less than glorious. The Space Shuttle was kind of lame.

In high school, I flirted with foreign service, but I never pursued it. By the time I got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I majored in anthropology, so I was not prepared for any particular occupation when I graduated. I tried my hand at sales and sold calculators to government and business. A four function calculator with a display was $489, so they were a hard sell. I discovered that I had no talent for sales and that I hated selling. People know what they need, I reasoned, so isn't kind of presumptuos of me to tell them what they need in the way of a calculating machine? Besides, sales was no occupation for an aspiring gentleman.

That's when law school beckoned, the home of the feckless and unskilled. I confess that I didn't have any idea what being a law talking guy entailed. My only model was Perry Mason. I knew after the first semester that I wasn't going to like it, but I stuck it out anyway because I had nowhere else to go. So there I was, a lawyer. I tried several times to escape lawyering. I got my stockbroker's license, but my aversion to sales made that a no go.

I fantasized about becoming an academic. I figured that nothing could be sweeter than to be paid to expostulate anthropological bullshit. Graduate school showed me that academics are actually a miserable lot and that the career had a lot of downside and relatively low pay to boot.

So it was back to the law. I decided that the best I could hope for in a job was for it not to make me want to kill myself. I wish someone had told me that 30 years ago (as if I would have listened). Instead, my mind was filled with "follow your bliss", "find fulfillment in your work", "do what you love", and other such frakked up guidance. They might as well have said "arbeit macht frei". Thanks for nothing, dream inspirers.

I tell young people the truth. I tell them that work is work and that it isn't likely to be fulfilling. For fulfillment, have a life outside work, and good luck with that, too.

I never amounted to anything, and it would have been nice if I hadn't neen led to believe that I was supposed to amount to something. That just makes me feel like a failure. I am trying to get myself to understand that I did alright even if I never became famous or rich or admirable. I did the best I could in light of my abilities, character defects, and origins. In that sense, I am a success. I never really had a shot at amounting.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hummers and Other Things I'm Thankful For

Yesterday was rainy, and I had the blues. I managed to pull myself out of my depressed state by pondering those things that give me joy.

For instance, I love hummingbirds. I don't exactly know why, but nothing cheers me up like a hummer. Multiple hummers are better yet.

Birdsong is a delight beyond compare. We feed the songbirds so they'll hang around, and this has really paid off with a veritable choir of birds.

Spotting wildlife makes me very happy. Having a moose in the backyard was one of the coolest moments ever. The foxes playing with the dog toys in the snow were very exciting. A buzzard on the fence or ducks in the pond gave me great joy.

I can't have too many flowers in the garden. Right now the lilacs are blooming, and I love their fragrance.

I love my pond. I even love mucking the pond. I love nothing better than sitting out back watching the pond.

Some other bliss inducers:

Eating dead animal parts grilled over charcoal.



Playing monkey in the middle with the pit bull.

Mega Sudoku.

My steam shower.


Mowing the grass.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Torture is Evil

My main objection to torture is moral. I ascribe to the normative proposition that torture is evil. There is, however, no way to argue this position rationally. Someone else might very well reckon that torture is not evil or that torture is evil but excusable under certain circumstances. And there we'd be at an impasse in ten seconds flat. It's evil. No, it isn't.

I have other more rational objections that are subject to discussion up to a point. One is an ethical consideration. We ought not to torture because to do so subjects us or our compatriots to torture and it makes us appear barbaric. These have serious consequences for the success of our government in its pursuit of foreign policy and national security objectives.

The question then turns to whether these consequences are outweighed by the benefits to be gained from torture. I rather think not. It is my understanding that statements elicited by coercion are unreliable and that the best that we can hope for with torture are false confessions for propaganda purposes. A little questionable propaganda is hardly worth taking the low road.

Of course, one may dispute the factual bases for my opinions, but I have yet to have the pleasure of discussing the issue with anyone who knows anything about the supposed benefits of coerced statements.

Finally, torture is unlawful. If the adminsitration wanted to torture lawfully, it could have gone to Congress and asked for legislation that made torture lawful. It did not do so even in a political atmosphere where the Congress probably would have gone along with it. To allow the administration to evade the law with impunity sets a dangerous precedent and erodes the balance of powers.

Finally, torture is evil.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek Entertains

We saw the new Star Trek movie on Saturday night. I was heartily diverted, although the picture was so action packed that I felt a wee bit overstimulated. It felt more like Starship Troopers than Star Trek, but in a good way.

Here are the spoilers. This is not really a prequel; it's a reimagining. The time line starting in 2232, the year James T Kirk was born, has been altered by a vengeful Romulan from the future. So Kirk grows up fatherless and wild in Iowa and signs up for Star Fleet at the urging of Captain Pike where he defies authority while achieving excellence. Apparently, in the future people will learn to appreciate talent even if it isn't obsequious. Meanwhile, the crazy future Romulan, after waiting 25 years for future Spock to come through the same wormhole that brought him to the past, deploys a planet destroying weapon and implodes Vulcan, killing 6 billion Vulcans. This is in revenge for Spock's failure to prevent the destruction of Romulus (he was too late) in the future. When crazy future Romulan sets out to destroy Earth, the Enterprise and the cadet class are called into action. The rest of the fleet is conveniently tied up elsewhere.

Anyway, a borderline mutinous Cadet KIrk becomes Captain of the Enterprise and saves the world. A grateful Star Fleet makes his rank and position permanent. Meanwhile, Kirk has managed to meet and assemble the familiar crew and have them take up their stations on Enterprise several years before they would have in the old time line. I got the feeling that this film was a set up for a new franchise of Star Trek with younger actors who don't have to get fat and have perms.

Saving the world together bonds the crew, and I bet they'll have lots of exciting adventures. Best of all, they won't have to deal with a 20 year time lag between the cancellation of a series and the introduction of a string of movies.

Wherein I Repent

Yesterday's scripture readings and sermon really got to me. The theme was using communication to build up rather then to destroy, to be clothed in love and kindness rather than in wrath. I feel that I have been way too critical of my conspecifics, and I aim to mend my ways.

I really do love my conspecifics, and I understand that each of them has been made in God's image. Moreover, most of them are doing the best they can under the circumstances in which they find themselves. They don't know any better or different, and they probably never will. They should elicit pity more than anger on my part.

As a Christian anarchist, I look forward to the day, perhaps millions of years in the future, when the transformation of humanity by the Holy Spirit will end any perceived need for government beyond the Kingdom of God. It has pleased God for reasons that I cannot fathom, that this transformation should be deferred and for much of mankind to remain selfish and hostile and a source of self inflicted woe. I must learn to treat my conspecifics with gentleness and love, even those who annoy me and threaten my freedom, if I am to contribute to progress toward the Kingdom.

This is not to say that I cannot disgree with folks. I should just try to do so without being disagreeable. Let's see how well I do.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


bpsycho puts the secessionist talk into perspective:

No state lasts forever.

In my opinion, the US will eventually be absorbed into the Planetary Union along with all the other countries (except Switzerland and the Cayman Islands).

Friday, May 08, 2009

Star Trek Questions

I love Star Trek. I loved it when I was a kid when the series first came out. I don't own a Sterfleet uniform, and I never go to Trekkie meetings, but I catch all the movies and the shows. I'm bummed that there is no current iteration of Star Trek on the tube nowadays.

One of the things that was supposed to make Star Trek so popular was that it was optimistic about the future. Humans would go on to do great things and solve a lot of our problems.

I have a few questions, though.

What happened to all the Chinese people and the Mexicans?

Do people in the future still go to the bathroom? If so, why would the uniforms in the Next Generation consist of one piece jumpers with no fly?

When all the other systems go off line all the time, the artificial gravity never seems to fail. Why is that?

When people go "out of phase" they can walk through bulkheads. How is it that they don't go through the decks as well?

If a transporter malfunction can make people younger, as in the episode where Picard and some others are turned to children, why wouldn't people rejuvenate all the time by tinkering with the transporter controls?

Do members of Starfleet get paid? Is there an accounting department?

How is it that species from different planets can interbreed? Wouldn't it be bestiality to mate with another species?

If you ride a horse on the Holodeck, won't you eventually run into the wall? If you have sex with a holographic character, where does the semen go when you end the program? Remember when Whorf's brother had a village of aliens in a Holodeck? What happened to all their poop?

How could a society as antiintellectual as the Klingons have developed warp capabilities?

Is the Federation of Planets really just an organ of Imperial Earth?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why We Chose Homeschooling (or would have if we had ever had kids)

One of my neighbors tried to homeschool her children. She called the Carmel Central School District for some guidance. The bureaucrat on the other end of the line told her she was "on her own" and hung up on her. Why the hell wouldn't the school district provide support for homeschoolers. Every homeschooled child means one fewer pupil, so I expect that we'd save the $20 K or so we spend on each pupil by having parents do most of the work. Even with the cost of support to homeschoolers, I reckon it would still mean a boatload of savings. Everybody wins.

If I were on the school board I'd advocate for a program to assist homeschoolers and to allow homeschoolers access to all the resources of the school system such as libraries, gyms, extracurricular activities, specialized classes that parents can't provide, guidance counselling, and what have you. After all, the homeschoolers are still paying the exorbitant school tax.

I never had children and am not aiming to have any in the future, but if I did, I have decided that I would have homeschooled them as long as I liked them. If they turned out to be annoying, then I'd pack their asses off to school, possibly even boarding school depending on how awful they were.

Anyway, there's lots of reasons to homeschool. Your kids aren't institutionalized right away. They will get more instruction in less time because they don't have to share the teacher's time and attention with a bunch of other kids (unless you're a grand multiparous superbreeder). The kids will receive individualized instruction tailored to their needs and interests (unless you're an idiot). The kids won't be bringing home all kinds of diseases all the time, so you'll be sick less often. The kids won't be exposed to even worse kids on a regular basis.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Advice to the GOP

Forget about trying to have a "big tent". You're all about exclusion, so stick to what you know best. Throw out all the "moderates" and become a smaller, purer GOP. Let the New England GOP Senators become Democrats. You don't need them. All you need are the dittoheads and loons and authoritarians. That's a guaranteed constituency of 25% of the population. Don't risk alienating that solid base by trying to be less crazy in order to attract votes from nonlunatics.

If the last eight years taught you anything, it's that you can't govern. You might as well embrace the role of crackpot opposition party.

My Prejudices

When I see a guy on the street with a swastika on his armband and he's goose-stepping and shouting "Heil Hitler", I automatically assume that he's a Nazi.

When I see a guy with a Confederate Battle Flag in his front yard on race days together with a huge pennant of a race car driver, I automatically assume that he's a NASCAR enthusiast.

When I see a guy driving a Hummer, I think to myself "that's probably a douchebag."

When someone says they were listening to or watching Limbaugh or Hannity or any of their ilk, I assume that I'm dealing with a dumbass.

These assumptions have never failed me yet.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Supreme Court

I reckon it would make sense for Obama to appoint a woman to replace Justice Souter. For nigh on thirty years or more, more than half of law students and new lawyers have been women. Women should be represented on the court, and it is doubtless an artifact of sexism that at least three or four justices aren't female.

Women live longer than men, so a female appointee could be expected to last longer than a male.

I would advise Obama to look beyond the usual pool of federal appellate judges and find talent anywhere he can. Having been a judge before is not really all that important, if the performance of the former appellate judges on the court is any indication. Let's have somebody with some real life experience or a political career for a change, not some crusty ideologue. How about somebody who has actually worked as a lawyer?


One of my work e-mail addresses is overwhelmed with spam. Hundreds of folks want to help me "Be her love general" or "get a bigger bulge so you can indulge". Others have inexpensive Viagra on offer. Others assure me that a Submariner watch will make me irresisitible. Still others claim they can make me appear to be rich to others around me, although I don't have any notion as to why I'd want to do that.

A lot of folks offer acai berries and other weight loss solutions, which I suppose I should go for before I bother with enhancing the old member. Who wants to have sex with a fat, poor looking dude with a crappy non-Submariner watch? Nobody, that's who!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Death By Flu

Mrs Vache Folle informed me last night that over 30,000 Americans die every year FROM THE FLU! Not even swine flu; just plain old flu. According to a chart I found on the Intertube system at flu and pneumonia kill over 65,000 Americans every year. So what's with the panic about swine flu and its one measly fatality? 65,000 deaths a year and we haven't declared War on Lower Respiratory Disease?

The same chart indicates that more than 40,000 Americans a year are killed in traffic accidents. Doesn't that warrant a War on Bad Driving? How can any parent who loves his children put them in an automobile and subject them to this risk?

Over 13,000 folks die from falls each year in America. Let's declare a War on Gravity. 3,800 plus Americans drown, so a War on Water seems like a good idea.

28,000 Americans are killed by gunshots every year. That, of course, is just a small price to pay for easily obtainable firearms.

You'd think cable news would go wall to wall with one or more of these other causes of fatalities.