Saturday, July 05, 2008

Raise that Blood Pressure

Mudville Gazette has a lengthy post on Col. Bud Day and why what he says is important.

For When I Feel Blue

Two terrific websites. First, this is truly cute overload. And this one is only for dire emergencies. We started with two, we added one, one died and then we added two more. So I try not to visit it unless I'm really down in the dumps.

Reason #122

Why I am glad not to be a Vegetarian/Jewish/Muslim/Thin. Yes I know I'm probably dying young. But they will have to pry these from my cold, dead, greasy fingers.

Our house smells absolutely delicious right now.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Acting According To Nature

"But let me introduce to you a new friend of mine, the Hungry Tiger."

"Oh! Are you hungry ?' she asked, turning to the other beast, who was just then yawning so widely that he displayed two rows of terrible teeth and
a mouth big enough to startle anyone.

"Dreadfully hungry," answered the Tiger, snapping his jaws together with a fierce click.

"Then why don't you eat something?" she asked.

"It's no use," said the Tiger sadly. "I've tried that, but I always get hungry again."

"Why, it is the same with me," said Dorothy. "Yet I keep on eating."

"But you eat harmless things, so it doesn't matter," replied the Tiger. " For my part, I'm a savage beast, and have an appetite for all sorts of poor
little living creatures, from a chipmonk to fat babies,

"How dreadful!" said Dorothy.

"Isn't it, though?" returned the Hungry Tiger, licking his lips with his long red tongue. " Fat babies! Don't they sound delicious? But I've
never eaten any, because my conscience tells me it is wrong. If I had no conscience I would probably
eat the babies and then get hungry again, which would mean that I had sacrificed the poor babies
for nothing. No; hungry I was born, and hungry I shall die. But I'll not have any cruel deeds on my
conscience to be sorry for."

"I think you are a very good tiger," said Dorothy, patting the huge head of the beast.

"In that you are mistaken," was the reply. "I am a good beast, perhaps, but a disgracefully bad
tiger. For it is the nature of tigers to be cruel and ferocious, and in refusing to eat harmless living
creatures I am acting as no good tiger has ever before acted. That is why I left the forest and joined
my friend the Cowardly Lion."

From "Ozma of Oz" by L Frank Baum


Is Anybody There? - 1776

In honour of the day.

To get really political and alienate everyone, the question the song poses is still valid. We talk about being free and we mostly are, but very few of us are committed to maintaining and defending that freedom. All too many of my fellow citizens are perfectly willing to sell their freedom for the chimera of security.

The lack of outrage over the Human Rights Tribunals in Canada has been disheartening. The news from England is even more depressing. That's not to say there isn't hope. Even as the ACLU has abandoned its core commitments to the Bill of Rights in favour of a leftie agenda, the Internet has provided an extremely valuable tool for organizing freedom lovers from all nations in ad hoc, issue by issue groups. Youtube has proven a huge asset in shining the light of publicity on authoritarian asshats all over the globe.

The last 232 years have been a pretty good run for our country. I hope and pray that our commitment to remaining free does not flag. With some luck, the world may grow more free rather than less. We certainly can try to make it so.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Grandmother

In a moment of tremendous serendipity I came across this post (scroll down to the bottom) about my grandmother. The Bull family reunion was this past weekend, so the timing was absolutely perfect. I do not know how good a man and how good a Christian I am, but I do know that part of whatever good there is, I owe to my grandmother.

I've Always Liked 'Em

It appears that men probably ought to eat watermelons.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reflections on New Jersey

I am ambivalent about New Jersey. As a state, it has been responsible for some of the more odious people in our country's history. Not necessarily the most evil, but the most odious. From its insanely corrupt political scene, including the entirety of its supreme court, to the accents to the post-industrial blight to the drama queenitude of its bloggers, New Jersey has long been the "Me First State". On the other hand, I rather enjoyed living there. It can be surprisingly beautiful (the Great Swamp is especially nice). Three of my best friends live there. A truly wonderful mystery series is set there. And it is responsible for one of my favourite quotes.

So what about New Jersey that makes it 66% evil and nasty and 34% delightful?

Doing it on the Downlow

The rumour is that the bishop of San Diego has authorized same sex blessings, but wants them to be done quietly and discretely.

I do not know if that is true. If it is, I would not be surprised and if it isn't I would be. Which is the point of this post. Too much of our church's policy and discipline has been handled in quiet. Too much of our theology has been two-faced. When Bishop J Jon Bruno boldly proclaims that same sex marriage does not happen in his diocese and at the same time pictures are posted from such a coupling, then things have clearly gone too far.

The goal of most bishops in the Episcopal Church is apparently to maintain plausible deniability as to what is going on while at the same time allowing priests to regularly violate the canons (try googling 'open communion' and 'episcopal church'). I'm all for scandal avoidance. The Episcopal treasurer embezzlement scandal was mortifying. The point is that while hypocrisy is comfortable in the short term, in the long term it bites you on the arse.

Once a bishop, or anyone, acquires a reputation for double dealing, trimming, sophistry or pharisaism then his authority as a bishop is shot. Bishops have no tools to compel obedience other than those available to any employer. Whether they want to acknowledge it or not, part of the underlying problem with the Episcopal Church has been the almost universal loss of credibility by our hierarchy. And that is not a new thing, it has been coming on ever since the Bishops took the safe choice in dealing with Bishop Pike.

The big question is whether they as a group possess the will to regain credibility. I truly wish I could believe that they do.

Disclaimer: I graduated from the same college (University of the South) as Bishop and Mrs Mathes. I knew them both well. We were in the same graduating class (1982). I am from the same town as Mrs. Mathes.

Georgia Politics Gets Jiggy

I have to give Otis Marks II the nod here, because he "is the man with the people in his plan."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It's Like Going Back Twenty Years

There's a news article in the London Times that states (factually) that overcrowding in Scottish prisons is quite high (although it does not state capacity). What is eye opening is that the article then goes on to make the point that to reduce over crowding in the aforementioned Scottish prisons, the Government will have to start releasing prisoners early, imprisoning miscreants less and limit judicial sentencing discretion.

The authorities traveled to Finland and Ireland to study alternatives to prison. They also say they went to New York to study what the Yanks have been up to. They apparently did not pay attention to what the NY Correctional people told them.

Here's a tip. It's free, but true nonetheless. If you increase prison capacity and then incarcerate miscreants for the term of their sentences, and start imposing recidivism penalties as well, crime drops dramatically. Whatever the cost of imprisonment, having criminals loose in society committing crimes costs a great deal more.

The frugal thing to do is to build more prisons. That is the only way you have a chance of protecting your citizenry from theft and violence.

Nothing Like A Dame

For my wife.

Church Statistics

Well, we wanted a broad church, now we have and are getting a broad church.

My irreverent take on the Pew survey.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Meta point on Heller

Two things that struck when I was re-reading the Supreme Court's opinion in Heller vs District of Columbia. First, All nine justices believe the right to bear arms is an individual right. Glen Reynolds noticed the same thing. Second, the majority held that the right to self defense must be effective and that it is a natural right that precedes and is made explicit by the Second Amendment.

Do any other countries recognize the right of their citizens to exist? I know the UK does not, but does anyone else?


I promise I'll return to teh subject of 'fake charity' but for now I'd like to write about competition.

Suppose there was a chain of coffee shops that catered to the upscale caffeinated beverage drinker. Let's call it "Tasty Elegant Coffee". Initially it was extremely successful, opening up coffee boutiques in every state, with multiple shoppes in major metropolitan areas. As is common with franchises, it sold territorial licenses to various entrepreneurs, promising them exclusivity as to territory. As part of the franchise agreement, the owners were required to purchase supplies from company headquarters.

Over time, the corporate management at Tasty Elegant Coffee grew worried that their customer base was demographically unbalanced. Their customers were older, whiter and wealthier than America as a whole, so they commissioned some market surveys as to what Americans said they wanted in coffee. Corporate management found out that most of their potential customer base preferred a weaker, less bitter flavour of coffee, more lukewarm and less scalding than what had been previously offered. They were also put off by the simple elegance of the Tasty Elegant Boutiques and the time required by the personal service offered at the shoppes. Price was also considered to be an issue.

Directives fluttered down from headquarters. The coffee blend was altered from all arabica to a robusta and arabica mix. It was given a vanilla flavour. The coffee was made weaker, held for longer and was kept cooler. Many boutiques had their furniture removed. No longer were patrons encouraged to sit and read. Incandescent lights were replaced by fluorescents. The air conditioning was eliminated.

Some franchisees sold their franchises. Others introduced elements from other franchise chains, adding menu item,s such as slushies and hot dogs. Still others struck out on their own, offering their interpretation of what a coffee shoppe ought to be.

Recently the headquarters, refusing to see that the customer base was still continuing to leave, has taken to suing its franchisees who have rebranded but remained where the old shoppes were.

Even more recently, some franchisees have hooked up with some international coffee shoppe owners and formed a new coffee shop chain, Classic Coffee and Pastries. They promise to use all arabica beans, keep the coffee fresh and full strength.

Tasty Elegant Coffee has reacted by decrying Classic Coffee and Pastries' actions as parasitic, asserting that there is only room in the North American market for one coffee chain and that even if they are not serving coffee any more, strictly speaking, nonetheless coffee remains as part of the name of each shoppe and therefore its prior territorial claim must be respected.

Two large global chains, Roy's Coffee Club and The Other Coffee have expressed some interest in cross training with the new entity.

That's where the story ends for now. I do not know about anyone else, but people get really silly about business matters and territoriality. Fair play and equity seem to go right out the window.

{Here is what germinated the little story above}

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Dangerous Affair With Speed

The new season of Top Gear has started up. And joy of joy, the first episode is on Youtube.

Oh and the family reunion/beach trip was lovely. My goodness a lot happened whilst I was enjoying the simple life.