We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, September 5. 2013
De Niro is a great actor, but when he and his Hollywood cohorts involve themselves in politics, they really make a hash of it. They reason they can do this? Apathy.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 08:45 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, September 4. 2013
We're two days past the Labor Day holiday weekend, but is it a day off when you're always off?
This is exactly what happened when I walked into the office at 8am yesterday.
Harvard study discovers what most of us already knew. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Do not expect this to impact the national conversation.
What to expect with Obamacare. The NHS is the obvious goal. At least it's 'free'.
One side of the minimum wage debate. I wish everybody could be rich, but that can't happen. If it did, then the whole concept of 'rich' would be meaningless, so it's good to understand rents. The value of anything is based on its relative ease of obtaining it. If you can only dig ditches, and 90% of the population can dig ditches, too, you have to accept a lower wage or find some new skills.
If the minimum wage is increased, we will have higher unemployment, higher prices, and stagnant or reduced profits. So we'd be paying more tax dollars for people who aren't working, paying more for goods and services we need, and stocks would take a hit. Sounds like a plan to me. It doesn't take much to understand why minimum wage legislation fails as a ham-handed attempt to make a nation wealthy via legislation. If it actually worked, we could set the minimum at a very high level, say $100,000 a year, and we'd all be working and all be happy because consumers would have lots of money to spend. Better yet, let's make it $100,000 a year and no layoffs, ever. What could possibly go wrong with that?
More work on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory points to external influences in the boom and bust cycle, rather than irrational behavior. This has been a critical missing piece of Neo-Classical Economics as macroeconomic theory, and is part of the reason why Keynesian thought has dominated. That dominance is eroding.
In other news, Ronald Coase died. A winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics (which, by the way, is not really a Nobel Prize at all), Coase's work opened new windows on the nature of corporations and their optimal size. His work is often cited by conservative activists when government looks to regulate business. Below is Rodney Dangerfield, as Thornton Melon, explaining his version of Coase's work to an economics professor.
Covered regularly here on Maggie's, but of interest to me lately since I have one in college and another to follow - garbage degrees and the ultimate outcome of wasting 4 years to study an otherwise useless topic. I have a number of teachers in my family, but I'd still put "Education" on the list of degrees which won't get you far in terms of career or income. No offense to teachers, I have the highest respect for what they do. We parents can be the biggest problem many teachers face. And vice versa. I continue to believe what my father told me, "You go to college to get an education. You go to grad school to get a job." His point, obviously, was to challenge me so I would study something meaningful.
Bill Maher praises Obama for 'restoring the Constitution' by asking for Congressional approval to strike Syria and takes a potshot at the Tea Party. Obama's 'restoration of the Constitution' is a purely face-saving measure designed to shift blame. After all, he never sought Congressional approval for Libya and continues to insist he doesn't need Congressional approval. Hillary remains invisible, though she helped craft this foreign policy. Perhaps she is spending time consulting on her upcoming Hollywood biopic?
Some interesting views about well-known people and events. I happen to like the first three. The rest aren't quite as good.
I'm glad I don't live in George Soro's Logarithmic Shadow.
Drudge rightfully asks "Why would anyone vote Republican?" But why vote Democrat, either? Neither party is specifically looking out for the best interests of the nation, but rather for themselves and their position in society. As a Libertarian, I view Republicans as a sometimes useful first step toward the goal of reinstating the Constitution as the law of the land. But not the guys currently pushing for attacking Syria or voting for NSA funding of Prism. They need to get back with the program.
The world is a Rorschach Test. I've always disagreed with the concept that perception is reality. If perception is reality, does that mean demons really were coming from the WTC? I believe the job of the individual is to utilize facts to help overcome limitations of our basic perceptions. Just because we like what we perceive doesn't make it reality. This can be applied to Syria. The main tool to utilize in cutting through to the facts is cui bono.
Ending on an up note, I'm surprised I didn't read anything about Diana Nyad on Maggie's. On Monday morning I learned she was only 5 miles from shore. 53+ hours of swimming, at age 64, is quite an accomplishment. I've done a mile in a lake and it was murder, so I can't imagine what she went through. Her accomplishment is one which is consistent with our values. Persistence, hard work, and a desire to achieve. You really are never too old.
Tuesday, September 3. 2013
Sunday, September 1. 2013
Obama believes attacking Syria will send a message. He's correct, it will, but the message will not be what he thinks. Rather than a forceful show of strength, the world will view it in these terms:
The Syrian situation exists purely because the Obama foreign policy has been weak. As a result, it has fostered situations which allow tyrannical leaders to be overthrown, with tacit approval of the US government, without any support or plan for providing material support afterward.
Each of these situations has become chaotic - which is precisely what should have been expected, since the region in question has never been completely stable and any hint of stability had previously been provided by despotic regimes. When these despotic regimes have faced a populace encouraged to stand up, they have fallen (as expected), and reverted to anarchy.
Obama is faced with a situation which he didn't plan for, but should have. Increased anarchy in a region he hoped he'd guide gently toward democracy. He has learned you can't reason with mobs or tyrants. And now he's learned what every other leader in the world knows - if you want to deal with tyrants, you have to do so from a position of strength.
But he has squandered our strength.
Now he needs to regain it and lacks the ability to do so. He is hoping a show of military force will help. He is wrong. He can only make things worse now. Best to back off, disengage, and let the chips fall where they may.
Saturday, August 31. 2013
I smiled, and replied very simply, "No."
He took offense and commented that younger people knew more, were more adaptable, etc. I again smiled and said, "I know what you're thinking. I was there once, too. We do tend to think, when we're new to the workforce, that business is messed up and we know a better way. Frankly, we probably do when we're younger. But there are a few things lacking when we think this way. For example, experience and perspective. While I can understand you point of view, and to some degree you're correct, the reality is altogether different and it may take time to understand, let alone accept, this."
He was not happy with my response, and his interruptions eventually disrupted the class and we never finished. I had to speak with his director about his behavior. Eventually, he left the company to go with a smaller start-up firm. I hope he found what he was looking for.
Continue reading "Millenials in the Workplace"
Friday, August 30. 2013
A little over a month ago, I posted a piece on Seth Klarman's call for a change in economic policy. The bizarre action in stock and bond markets indicate something is amiss. Is 'tapering' going to tank the market (undoubtedly, if done properly)? Will our increasingly likely involvement with Syria have implications in the economy (of course)?
What all these questions imply is that we're spending too much money, somewhere, on 'stuff', rather than productive capacity. Production is what creates consumption and demand, not vice-versa as Keynesians suggest. The very first consumer had to produce (via hunting/gathering) what he/she consumed before it could be consumed. This is not a chicken-egg question, it's self-evident. Your desire to consume a hard-boiled egg may create the demand needed to have someone, somewhere to boil an egg and sell it to you. This desire, however, cannot be stimulated by providing you with cash or the means to purchase or make the egg. Before you can create that demand, you have to know it can be produced either by yourself or by someone else who you can purchase it from. If the recipe for a hard-boiled egg doesn't exist, but you desire it, your entrepreneurial spirits may be stirred to become a cook and make this for all to enjoy. That process leads to the development of consumer desire for the product.
Today, however, our government believes desires of this sort are generated by moving money, with the benefit of a 'central brain' in Washington, D.C. to guide the money into places where it can be used to increase consumption, which will drive production. This guided shifting of cash will lift all boats. Not all the money will be shifted from the rich to the poor, but some will be shifted from the future into the present, making the present more productive, and the future that much more productive because we'll borrow from tax revenues generated by increased taxes on the future rich.
Aaron Clarey prepared a useful chart showing how well this works, how much GDP we get per government dollar spent.
The problem with Keynesianism is its core belief that you can properly shift money to productive areas through a reasonably well guided government process. There are some who claim borrowing from the future limits future productive capacity, due to payments on interest. This is true to a point. One has to remember entrepreneurs borrow from the future to increase productive capacity. That concept is not flawed in business. The reason it is flawed in government is at least two-fold:
1. Dead-weight loss. A government has to pay for bureaucrats to shuffle the money from the taxpayer to the areas of productive value, and is not incentivized to do it in a timely or useful manner. An entrepreneur will do this more efficiently, realizing any wasted money is lost potential.
The government's failure shouldn't be a surprise. If he was an entrepreneur, the massive failure of Obama's economic policies should almost be expected.
It is the source of the money he is using to pursue his goals that are at issue. All investors may be taxpayers, but not all taxpayers are investors. It is wrong to force them to invest when the odds of failure are high and they have no say about who gets the money.
Saturday, August 24. 2013
Nothing bothered me more, in local kids' sports, than the handing out of 'participation trophies'. I never got one as a kid, so I was really angry. It's just not fair! I didn't get one and my kid did!
Actually, the concept is so foreign to me I laughed the first time I heard about it, thinking it was a joke. I was always motivated to try harder if I didn't win. My mother always prodded me if I came in second with "if you studied/practiced/tried harder, you'd have won."
But we're in a brave new world where kids who try harder to penalized and told they win too much.
Why have completion times in the New York Marathon? Everyone who finishes is a winner.
Wednesday, August 21. 2013
It's not enough to accept any government's explanations for censorship or unlawful detention. We have to consider what compels government to do what it does, in general. That is, the pursuit of power.
The promise to "fight terrorism" may provide a fig leaf, but barely that. "Terrorism" is whatever a government chooses it to be, and this definition will be used by those in power to pursue more power.
If a government knows it will draw attention by detaining a somewhat high-profile individual, what prevents that detention or harassment of you or me?
Thursday, August 8. 2013
I recently stumbled on this story. It's very old, and it seems to be well known in Math and Engineering circles. I shared it with my team to give them some idea how to work together and be open to unusual and creative ideas.
Long ago, there was a wealthy man who had 3 sons. Among his most prized posessions were 17 camels. The man was renowned as being very shrewd. In his will, he determined that his oldest son should get 1/2 of his estate(whatever he owned at the time of death), while his second born son should inherit 1/3 of his estate. His youngest son, being the yougest should inherit 1/9 of his estate.
After the father died, the three brothers were quite happy to inherit that wealth. They loved and respected their father very much so they were quite eager to satisfy the will of their father exactly. However, they did not like the idea of killing some of the camels in order to honor the last will of their father:
1/2 of 17 camels makes 8 and 1/2 of a camel figured the oldest brother, 1/3 of 17 camels makes 5 and 2/3 of a camel calculated the second brother, 1/9 of 17 camels makes only 1 and 8/9 camels thought the youngest brother.
Continue reading "3 Sons and a Camel"
Monday, August 5. 2013
Some time ago, I was working at a job that required 'diversity' in hiring practices. It was about 15 or so years, before this became a standard in most corporate hiring practices. I'm still trying to figure out what it means, particularly because I was always taught to hire the best person for the job. I'm not saying diversity is bad. In fact, I'm all for it. But there is no standard gauge for diversity and as a goal it's a moving target. Would 50% female and 20% black be sufficiently diverse? Do we need to have the same percentages of each group as exist in the US population? Or would some close approximation suffice? At what number of employees does diversity become an imperative? I'm not sure we can realistically set numbers for these kinds of things.
At my company, VP level and above employees actually had bonuses based on 'improving the diversity of their departments.' There was no specific guideline provided, the VPs were left to figure it out for themselves. Many got significantly reduced bonuses, which led to the suspicion that it was a corporate method of reducing payouts. I happen to think that was the case.
But the corporation took this all very seriously and each year we were given a 'diversity update,' during which we were showed charts and graphs of women and minorities as a percentage of the company's staff and the executive suite.
I didn't care much for it. I am not opposed to diversity, but as I said, I always hired the best person for the job. I never think in terms of women, Asian, Black, Indian, etc. Suddenly I was being told what the company required in this regard when I was doing my interviews. I will never forget the laugh of one VP, when I recommended a young man for a position, as he said "Unless he's a black woman, the interview will not be worth his time." Fair enough, but I sent him in for the interview anyway and he was not hired, despite having stellar credentials and strengths in all the key areas the company was seeking to improve.
Continue reading "Diversity: A Matter of Character"
Saturday, August 3. 2013
I'll open with a statement which is derived from the post I recently made regarding Libertarian thought. I believe if athletes want to use drugs or steroids, the choice is theirs to decide if using them will help them improve.
I know this is a controversial position, but if someone wants to use a product which may well cause cancer, shrink genitalia, or otherwise harm them, why should we stop them?
However, I don't support breaking rules. Rules in sports help focus players on developing talent rather than using technology to short-circuit the system. Golf is well known for its use of guidelines to introduce new products, and recently made a rule change limiting putters. I have used products in golf that can help me reduce my slice, and hit balls which fly further than those allowed on the tour. But the USGA limits what technology can be used by professionals because technology can trump talent.
I don't know how to play the violin, so the technology which makes a Stradivarius a great violin won't make me a better violinist. But if Stradivarius provided a tool which moved my fingers to their proper positions and moved my bow across the strings in proper fashion, I could suddenly compete with Itzhak Perlman and barely take a class!
Continue reading "LSD is a PED"
There are some teams which, for one reason or another can't get out of the way of themselves. I happen to root for these teams, and they come from Philadelphia.
Before I get an email from Doc complaining "oh geez, another sports post," I'll allay his fears and assure him this is about racism.
The Philadelphia Eagles, in the midst of rebuilding a franchise that had been successful for the past decade, lost one of their key players. A Wide Receiver, Jeremy Maclin, blew out his ACL and was lost for the season.
What do you do? Turn to the next guy, of course, who showed flashes of talent, but hadn't broken out yet. Riley Cooper hadn't been nearly as successful, but could potentially fill this huge gap.
If he had kept his mouth shut, of course.
Based on the video, it's hard to tell why he used it. However, he has said that a black security guard didn't allow him to go backstage, and that was the word he chose while reacting.
There are no good reasons to use it. But it is used somewhat regularly by rappers and athletes (I've heard it used in the gym locker room by young black men), and even once by a commentator. It seems to be a term of endearment, at times, though I'm too far removed to give it context.
Certainly, there seems to be a fine line between using the word itself, and adding an "A" to the end of it.
Some comedians have taken this view to task (video is terrible and audio hard to hear, but it's part of a sketch that aired on Comedy Central's "Tosh.0").
This is not a word which should ever be used in any form, with an "A" or not. If people want issues like this to go away, the word has to be avoided by all, including those who use it in friendly or familiar manner. In the meantime, mistakes are going to happen. Overcoming ignorance takes time, effort, and a willingness to forgive and provide support. After all, from my perspective, freedom of speech means you have the freedom to be offended from time to time. Of course, it's better to avoid offending people whenever possible.
Friday, August 2. 2013
I particularly liked the Ascension Island story. Many eco-terrorists focus on the 'damage' humans do to their environment, and claim human intervention is always and everywhere dangerous and deadly.
I also happen to agree with the story about trade. It's surprising to me, after all these years and so many mercantilist failures, that mercantilism is still preached.
When I was first asked to write for Maggie's, I promised Doc Mercury I would outline my thoughts on Libertarianism and why I switched from the Republican Party. He was curious why I thought it was a preferred political stance. In light of the current Rand Paul/Chris Christie 'debate', and my own procrastination, now is as good a time as any to post my opinion.
We choose political views based on our perception of human nature. If you believe humans act primarily in their own self-interest, Libertarianism might be for you. You shouldn’t consider it if you feel you can tell others what to do, or if you think the state knows better and should tell them how to live. For me, it was a question of consistency and honesty with myself. All political views have limited degrees of consistency, and we often rationalize specific situations which seem to compromise our essential principles. This even happens with Libertarians, though I believe it occurs to a lesser degree than most political parties.
Continue reading "Libertarianism and Me"
Monday, July 29. 2013
What do they have in common?
Not much. Until now, as Jesse Spector of the Sporting News tweeted:
Which, of course, led to an email exchange in which we fit Animal House quotes to the event. If you're a fan of Animal House, or baseball, try it. As my brother says, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
"Rodriguez, we've given this a lot of thought, your Delta Tau Chi name is "Juicer""
Continue reading "Animal House and Anabolic Steroids"
Thursday, July 25. 2013
Seth Klarman, billionaire investor and promoter of risk-averse value investing, is concerned. Seth thinks the U.S. should actually try capitalism. He's right, considering the current status of Detroit, with many other cities and states to follow. Living within your means is a good idea. Competition and the market are more effective tools than policies promoting 'fairness' and picking winners.
I tend to agree with Alan Greenspan, that bubbles can't be predicted. I'd go so far as to say they can't even be defined. You 'know them when you see them'. Didier Sornette would disagree and has some basis for his view. However, Sornette's model isn't necessarily predictive of bubbles, and rather charts obsessive investing behaviors. Not all obsessive behaviors lead to bubbles, though his model is still informative. Regardless of how much you trust Sornette's models (and I do), the question is less one of 'what do you do' and rather 'what don't you do'.
It's worth noting if you do something right, it usually appears that you did nothing at all.
Tuesday, July 23. 2013
My wife and I have been scuba diving for 20+ years, and we've seen all kinds of fantastic sights. I was lucky enough to meet a Sea Turtle on my first open water experience, at 120 feet. Barracuda have eyed my wife and I hungrily, while we off-gassed on the hang line. An octopus shot some ink while we watched him in his lair. Probably the most amazing thing we experienced was being buzzed by a pod of Atlantic Bottle-Nosed Dolphin while we ascending from a WWII wreck.
It was a disconcerting experience, at first. As the video below only hints, baitfish will suddenly move in a unified direction as a predator approaches. We were surrounded by baitfish and they disappeared suddenly, as if being washed down a funnel and into the darkness of the ocean. You don't need much experience to know what that mean. Our eyes as big as plates, we anticipated the arrival of a shark. When the Dolphin suddenly appeared, it was as if playtime was declared. They whipped around us two or three times, encouraging us to let go and join them.
But I've never, ever, come this close to being lunch.
Thursday, July 18. 2013
I haven't believed the employment figures the BLS puts out. Not for about 12 years. They've been poked, prodded and altered in so many ways, they barely pass as reliable. But now the former head of the BLS is stepping up and confirming what most of us, including Jack Welch and Donald Trump, have known for some time. The numbers aren't what they seem, the non-recovery isn't adding jobs significantly, and the employment rate is probably closer to the ShadowStats figure.
Keith Hall believes the US economy is a lot sicker than the 7.6 percent unemployment rate would lead you to believe. And he should know.
Tuesday, July 9. 2013
For several years, I've felt the need to drop most of the spare pounds I've been carrying. At six feet tall and weighing anywhere from 208 to 215, I was never obese but I was definitely overweight. My doctor would ask the same question every year, "You don't look like you're over 200, where are you hiding it?"
It was true. I am naturally thin and once I reached about 185 pounds, the difference between that weight and 210 was not terribly noticeable. Except to me. I was slower on the tennis court, my back gave me problems on a regular basis, and my clothing might still fit but was awfully tight. I used to play two man beach volleyball in tournaments, but there was no way I could even consider this after I passed the 185 mark. I would have been worn out in no time.
I'm pleased to say I recently returned to the 185 pound level and I have a goal of 178 pounds. I remember crossing the 200 line the day I was heading down to attend the Preakness, and feeling proud of that small achievement. So far, I've lost 25 pounds in about 16 weeks.
The only sure and healthy way to lose weight is diet and exercise. However, there are more diets on the market than you can shake a stick at and plenty of exercise gurus who want you to give them money. I chose to focus on reducing caloric intake rather than just removing carbs. I wasn't interested in changing my diet radically.
My method was to engage portion control and self-discipline. I downloaded an iPhone app called "LoseIt". It's free, and all you do is set your goals (I wanted to lose 1 1/2 pounds per week). It's simple. You log your exercise and the food you eat. It will calculate the carbohydrates, protein and fats as well as the calories. I've had an average intake of about 20% protein and 50% fat for the last 16 weeks. I've been going to the gym at least 4 times a week for an hour and a half and mixing bike work with lifting weights. Early on, I did more cardio, and as I lost weight I began to focus on muscle development (which can burn slightly more calories over the course of the day).
There are plenty of apps which do the same thing, and ultimately it will come down to desire, discipline and will-power. I haven't skimped, I haven't starved, and I haven't changed my diet dramatically. All it took was the realization that this would be a good thing to do for myself. I've learned that being aware of what you eat, and counting the calories, actually helps you eat less. Weight Watchers is on to something, it would seem. I don't see the need to pay anyone to help me lose the weight. Except the gym, and only because I sit at a desk for at least 40 hours a week, and usually more.
Thursday, July 4. 2013
I deliberately did not write 'Independence Day'. As I'm sure many Maggie's readers are aware, technically the Fourth of July is not Independence Day. Legally, the day of separation was the Second of July (am I being cynical when I wonder why New York abstained?), which John Adams mentions in his letter to Abigail, regarding the importance of the day the Continental Congress voted to commit treason.
It's intriguing that Adams was so sure of the importance of the day. He knew they would not sign a document and that would be the end of any disagreement. It would be seven more years before independence was assured, during which every signer would face potential death for committing treason. One signer actually recanted after he was captured, imprisoned and treated miserably. Sad to say he comes from my home state of New Jersey. We did name a college after him, and it's worth noting he returned to the fold when he was released. He knew, like every other man signing the document, that this idea was bigger than himself. Possibly one of the greatest ideas in governance ever before conceived.
Despite the risks, Adams' statement of optimism regarding the Congress' decision was well-founded. He, and all the others, realized the power of ideas and the power of the individual. Today isn't a day for the government these men eventually founded, it's a day of us, the individuals which these men entrusted with the liberty they knew would free us to succeed and progress.
Tuesday, June 25. 2013
Ran across a post on ZeroHedge last Friday, about the emasculation of men in the US today. The post itself was not particularly enlightening, but the topic is rather interesting. It's a theme my father and I discuss somewhat frequently.
What does it mean to be a man? There's the Y chromosome, and some private parts. But we are different from women in other ways, and we are under attack, in my view. I suspect one of the reasons we're under attack is because many men were raised with minimal male influence over the last 50 years or so. Divorce may play a huge role in the current attack on male society. My father was not your typical 'guy's guy'. He didn't play a huge role in my upbringing until late in my teens, because my parents were divorced. His personal tastes are less Hemingway and more Fitzgerald (though he enjoys Hemingway in a literary sense). He is definitely a red-blooded American man. He does the lawn, can use a chain saw, and enjoys a good fire. He doesn't share too many of his emotions, except when it's really necessary. I was lucky, however, to have several uncles who stepped in immediately, and later a stepfather, to fill the vacuum of a male presence. Most of the younger men in my office could use a lesson or two on being more masculine, though.
I think it is fairly common for commercials, and TV in general, to exhibit men as outlandishly stupid beings. Men on TV are usually infantile, unable to think about anyone but themselves, engaging in moronic behaviors, if not generally portrayed as drooling neanderthals. The media has gone out of its way to diminish the male psyche. It's evident in many ways. Why are there "Women's Studies" programs at universities and no "Men's Studies"?
I also think many high-profile men today are effete snobs, starting with our president and Joe Biden.
I'm all for women's rights, by the way. So it's not like I'm opposed to women in the workplace, seeing them succeed or even earning a just wage. But I don't understand why, every day, I'm told I need to think, act, or behave more like a woman. Women and men are different, and those differences are positive things. We complement each other extremely well. I don't believe women are more capable or smarter than men. I've taken classes (on the recommendation of women) on "Emotional Intelligence". I was underwhelmed, but I can see why women view the concept of "emotional intelligence" as important. To me, the recommendations were really just another way of saying "Because you're a man, you're incomplete."
Wednesday, June 19. 2013
The last few weeks since Edward Snowden released not only the data he had, but also made his name and face public, have been quite interesting. It has caused many heated discussions in my household, as well as between myself and friends. After all, the US is split regarding whether Snowden did something 'wrong' and put our nation at risk. But I don't think anyone properly understands the case. I'll include myself, because I don't think anyone can fully grasp the various threads of law which surround the story. Primarily, though, it's because this involves classified documents and laws regarding these are arcane and biased toward the support of governmental authority rather than Constitutionally derived freedoms. Regardless, there are some essential facts which even the most simple of us can understand and make good judgements based on.
The most common arguments against my stance, which supports Snowden's actions, are these:
Continue reading "Is Privacy the Issue With the NSA?"
Tuesday, May 21. 2013
Nobody in my family, or any of my friends' families, is graduating from college this year. I have a few high schools graduations to attend, but another month before that occurs.
Yet it is the commencement season. I was cruising the web recently and stumbled on two commentaries which I thought were excellent. One was a commencement speech redone as a 10 minute video. The other was from NPR which published snippets of graduation advice from economists. Both are linked here.
This video was based on a commencement speech from Kenyon College, several years ago. (my apologies, the original link was removed by the author's trust due to copyright issues, but the version I linked to does still work).
The letter to graduates (with link to original) is below the fold.
Continue reading "Commencement"
Saturday, May 18. 2013
Three weekends ago, my wife's company ran a volunteer day. They have one every year, and we will sign up to clean beaches, parks, or do a variety of things which benefit the community. I feel if I use the beach or the park, I should help keep it clean.
This year we signed up to help clean a shore town in New Jersey that was afflicted by Sandy. We were assigned to clean streets and lend a hand to any homeowners who requested assistance in removing trash. Others in our group were assigned to paint the Ambulance Hall. We cleaned a 2 square block area, and our team 'captain' was a local man who not only gave us guidance on what we would be doing, but also filled us in on what transpired in the town.
He pointed out that May 1st would be the 6 month anniversary of Sandy, and requests for FEMA funds would have to be in by then. He said most residents had already applied, but the funds were limited. In addition the payment wasn't enough to help those with any substantial damage. His home had filled with water up to the ceiling of the first floor and his foundation had cracked, so he was renting the house next door in order to keep his kids in the school district. FEMA was a drop in the bucket for him. Charities were few and far between in this section of NJ. He was getting by on his pension and couldn't afford to get work done on his home.
He took some of us on a brief walk around town to point out the damage. The water level had reached 4-18 feet in this 1 square mile town. 7 of the 21 bars and restaurants were open. The police were still operating out of a trailer.
Continue reading "6 1/2 Months and Counting"
Friday, May 17. 2013
Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Jason Collins and one comment made a comparison to the gay Jason Collins getting all the media attention, while Tim Tebow was being run out of the NFL for being a vocal Christian. I think the first part was true, while the second part was primarily a longshot opinion. There are too many Christians, and some very vocal ones, like Kurt Warner, who have played the game and not suffered.
I do believe Christians in the US suffer far more media abuse than gangster rappers, but that's another story. I'm writing this about Tebow, who I happen to like. He's a smart kid, a hard worker, and a good leader.
But sometimes even that just isn't enough. While his introduction to the NFL signaled an appreciable change in the nature of the QB position, unfortunately his skill set is not up to snuff.
That said, the guy still has more playoff wins in Denver than a certain Peyton Manning. Which perhaps says more about Tebow than it does Manning.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 11:11 | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)