Monday, December 28, 2015

Why Rome endured while we might fall

Rome lasted for over 700 years as a republic and then republican empire. It then became a true empire under Octavian /Caesar Augustus which lasted another 4 centuries in the west and in truncated form another 12 to 15 in the east. The Pax Romana lasted roughly 5 centuries.  In those years the threat to Roman rule never really came from anyone but other Romans. The  question is why?  How could one small group of wildly bigoted and superstitious knuckleheads hold sway for so long?

Why did the Pax persist? 

There are deterministic 'explanations':  the Roman Empire coincided with a climate optimum warmer than today which (contrary to today's 'scientific' claims) led to prosperity and population growth. Because of the structure of the Med, after Carthage was destroyed (I have the T shirt updated for Texas:  Dallas delenda Est - and oh my God it certainly must) there were no viable rivals due to the structure of Greek Culture and the somnolence of the Egyptians.  But these ultimately fail to answer the question:  yes I know the weather was good back then, but why Rome?  Yes many city states were quarrelsome and selfish but why not Rome?  Yes, many empires became satiated and somnolent like the Egyptians but the Parthians didn't so why not them? 

I submit that there are two primary reasons that Rome persisted for so long. The first is that their elites believed in themselves and their project far more and for far longer than anyone else did. This intense belief, even faith in the Roman way permeated the entire society, down through the plebs and even the servile.

And uniquely for back then, they believed that their role was a  universal civilizing one rather than a particular one - which leads me to my second reason: Rome had a genius for making outsiders into Roman insiders.  Wherever Rome went it implemented its distinctive package of institutions and cultural artifacts, elevating the local elites culturally and legally to become Romans. In doing so, newly conquered peoples were in due time turned into pacified provinces of the Roman Imperium. That the eastern half of the empire spoke Greek really didn't matter:  it was still Roman rule with the same norms. And the same pride and cultural "autorictus" that both overawed and rewarded other elites. And the outcome? Prosperity, peace and hegemony unrivaled in its scope and length until the modern era.

I'm reminded of this because I've been reading a biography of Julius Caesar, specifically Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy - a true classical scholar, I recommend anything by him, possibly including his grocery list. In it he describes how the Romans built their national and cultural pride via education:


This thinking is no longer acceptable in the west. Indeed the British Empire succumbed not when it ran out of resources (after all they had built their empire when they were far poorer) but when its elites stopped believing that Great Britain was Great.  They abandoned their civilizing mission and instead turned inward to socialism and comfort - they stopped believing, stopped dreaming. Fortunately for the world, the Pax Britannica was saved by an America that still believed in itself, extending a general peace and prosperity for another 60 or so years.  It is now failing - not because America lacks the resources or the technology to continue to lead and dominate the globe but because its ruling elites now largely believe the opposite of what the Roman (or previous generations of British and American) elites believed. Western elites now hold that we are only special in our special wrongness: our unique environmental destructiveness - in spite of living in the cleanest countries in the world, our uniquely evil racism and sexism - despite being the most egalitarian polities in world history,  our unique warmongering - despite building the Pax  into the most peaceful era in the world history.

And just like the Western Roman Empire in the 400s, the West is seeing massive waves of immigration from other cultures who want the comfort, wealth and safety produced by the west but to one degree or another are rejecting the culture that produced it.  And why shouldn't they?  The people with all the power and money in the west often don't believe in their own culture's superiority - indeed they teach the immigrants that their own cultures are superior and not to abandon them. This is a bit odd given that the the very act of immigration testifies to an opposite belief in some important respects.  But of course our elites also don't believe in the validity of people' choices nor their judgement, whether or not immigrant.

“Hey-hey, ho-ho, Western culture’s got to go.
– Slogan from 1988 Stanford University protest led by Jesse Jackson. 
Leaders in America and Europe don’t want to confront Islamic fundamentalism, or other nasty manifestations of post-Western thinking, because they increasingly no longer believe in our own core values. At the same time, devoted to the climate issue, they are squandering our new energy revolution by attempting to “decarbonize,” essentially leaving the field and the financial windfall to our friends in Riyadh, Moscow, Tehran and Raqqa.
In other words many of our leaders use our very success to define our depravity:  are we rich? that's only because we have 'exploited' the environment and others and therefore we need to 'repent'.  But the fact that tens of millions of others are coming to our shores doesn't indicate their need for what we have, instead it gives us the opportunity to abase ourselves and submit to their higher wisdom which oddly enough wasn't sufficient to keep them at home much less attract any of us.
So our elites interpret catastrophic violence and failures of governance in places like Syria and Iraq as evidence of Western failures rather than as a collapse in Islamic and Arab culture.  They then demand that we import large numbers of people who have been raised in and are part of these failed nations' and cultures without reflecting upon why they are fleeing to us in the first place.  Nor do we reflect upon  the paradox that by refusing to assert the superiority of our culture and values by requiring their adoption, we end up importing the same pathogens that are tearing the middle east and central Asia apart.

It seems a religious madness has gotten hold of our educated and wealthy elites so that they cannot see our strengths or others' deadly, contagious weaknesses. Which is a terrifying portent for the future.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Houston Christmas

Chestnuts rotting in the humid air
Fungus nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by the air conditioner
And folks dressed up like life guards

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make a season bright
Tiny tots, with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep in the heat

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his bass boat
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if Alligators really know how to fly

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times
Many ways, Houston Christmas, to you.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zombie Hedge Apples from Outer SpaĆ aaaace.

I was undertaking my mandatory  Thanksgiving postprandial peregrination when I espied a peculiar protuberance from fallen hedge apples in an Austin field. Some of the hedge apples had taken a rust colored hue on one side. At first I though that said rust was simply rot from the dying hedge apple's core but when I drew nearer it became apparent that whatever was brown was also alive. Well not so much alive as not dead.

Before that day I would have characterized things in this world as either "living" or "dead" what the Grammar Dominatrix's (trixi? trixians?) at my high school called a "Mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive" or MECE list. No longer. For the "rust" was actually the furious activity of thousands of alien zombies preparing to decamp their Death...Apples and put Central Texas to the sword or ray gun or whatever. 

Fortunately for the Austinite computer geeks resplendent in their matching hipster habits, the Rust Colored Cohort's grasp of interstellar scale was squat.  The entire million zombie army carried on 20 or so Death Apples weighed no more than a couple table spoons of malt o meal. And looked similar. My brother's dog was with me and he wiped - actually licked - out an entire Death Apple's landing cohort. And for reasons understood only by other alien zombie soldiers, an army that crossed interstellar space at faster than the speed of light decided that they would conquer earth on foot. Which means they will get to my brother's house sometime in early 2017. If the dog doesn't lick them first.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My kids ain't Candyass Yalies

My Grandfather Elmer Elton Savage was born to sharecroppers in the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. He attended school right over the border in Elgin, Kansas - he and his brothers would avoid walking two extra miles by taking a rope swing Tarzan style over the Caney River. He graduated the sixth grade before beginning his career as a "roustabout" on oil rigs. Difficult, dirty, dangerous work and my Grandad started when he was 13, ending his career some 50 years later as Regional Production Superintendent in the Permian Basin. In a real sense he was a key man in the industry that makes our cars go. So you can understand why when one of his Grandsons (moi) matriculated University he would refer to me as a "Yalie" (particularly when I would say "who? Moi?") even though I never got near Yale, attending Tulsa and Chicago (now my father nearly became a Yalie which may have influenced Grandad's rhetoric - sort of a retrospective warning). When I said or did something particularly egregious (which you'll be shocked to know actually happened) he would call me a "candyass Yalie" .

But I think if Grandad had witnessed the utterly unhinged howling and shrieking on display at Yale this last week he would have apologized for associating me with any of them.  Because if I had displayed that type of childish - no toddlerish - behavior in front of him he would have kicked my ass all the way to El Paso.

And so I must take some modest credit (jointly with their mother, Diane) for saving my children from the Yalie fate.  You see I'm a libertarian conservative and by and large I taught my kids to interpret the world that way.  So when they toddled off to school and now University (not Yale, thank God and Man) they had a proto-world view that their much more left wing teachers and professors constantly challenged.  They never had the luxury of having their every bias and whim validated for them in every forum they attended.  And while I don't think they were ever taught by avowed Marxist Leninists or Radical Islamists, I believe they were exposed to some of the widest range of worldviews available in America today. Which will serve them in good stead as they navigate life's slings and arrows (Is that a mixed metaphor?  How can you navigate slings?  Or arrows?  Oh well).

The problem with leftish thinking in America today is not so much that the left critique of our society is all wrong but that because of the nature of our educational system and news media it's the only meta narrative that you tend to hear in public (outside of churches and Fox News, that is) and going through childhood without ever having your preconceived notions challenged makes for very weak and emotional thinkers. I have great, guilty fun debating friends who have been marinated their whole life in the standard vaguely leftish received wisdom.  I flummox them, I rabbit punch them, I pull the Ali "I am the greatest rope a dope" on them.  It is so much fun but quite illegitimate.  Because I'm no smarter than them. It's just that I've  spent most of my life sparring with teachers, professors and Phd candidates and doing lots of two and three on me's with friends.  It makes you tough and teaches you your opponents' weaknesses and most importantly:  your own.

And that's what I did for my kids - not because I thought of it but because it's who I am - I'm stupid lucky that way.  Look, I don't know where my kids are going to end up on the political spectrum but I know they won't ever behave like the panicked, shrieking, cursing, spitting leftists at Yale.  They're too tough for that.

So Grandad, I guarantee that your Great Grandkids will never, ever be "Candyass Yalies".

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Chicago Cubs and Isomorphic Mimicry

I've been reflecting on the Cub's recent success and their ongoing campaign to become a "championship" team. I'm afraid it will end in tears.

I say this not as a resentful Cardinal fan but as a concerned citizen who wants to help others avoid terrible, humiliating mistakes.  Because I've been reading Frank Fukuyama (of Fuk! It's the End of History Fame) and I've learned a Big Word - well actually two: "Isomorphic mimicry" which he nicked from a gang of developmental economists gone bad. IM refers to the tendency of less developed non western cultures to adopt the forms of western institutions (parliaments, bills of rights, welfare states and so on) without possessing the underlying cultural attributes from which these institutions sprang. Which results in a mess. I suppose the answer is for everyone to live their own lives and quit sticking their noses into other people's business which of course is the answer to most things. But that's not what I wanted to talk about.

What I wanted to say was this: I'm worried that the Cubs and their legions of Old Style besotted fans are committing the mistake of sports Isomorphic mimicry. You see the Cubs have recently advanced to the National League Championship series - which is a form characteristic of championship cultures like the St. Louis Cardinals. And the problem is that the Cubs represent a "loser" culture. According to developmental economists, trying to graft a championship team onto a loser culture is destined to fail. Recall the last time the Cubs wandered into the playoffs: they had almost won their first trip to the World Championship since God knows when and what happened? A desperately loyal fan reached out and interfered with an easy pop foul which resulted in their loss. It's almost as if the loser culture as embodied in that hapless pawn of a fan reached out and thwarted the attempt by Cub elites to impose an inappropriate isomorph on an institution known the world over for hopeless haplessness (or is that hapless hoplenessness, hmm).

It's better if indigenous cultures develop their own organic sports team forms. For example the Cubs could really build on their league leading "Worst Franchise Ever".....franchise. It is so much easier to go with the grain.

What? You come here and say that! Well then back off man, this is science!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The trials and tribulations of arboreal diversity

There's some early fall color from Red Maples on our street. Of course "Fall" is more a state of mind than a fact of life this time of year on Houston. In fact these maples celebrate fall in the same way that folks from Greece or China celebrate their ethnic festivals. They pick out a time in October when the trees back in the old country are celebrating and go all red themselves. The orange, grapefruit and lemon trees do the same thing around Christmas, turning their fruit bright citrusy  colors that celebrate the season just kust like dear old grandad did. The tropical palm trees (who are also botanical immigrants, more and more coming every day) disapprove of all this polyseasonistic behavior. They hold that "there is no Season but Hot Season and the Date Palm is its Prophet". Occasionally this leads to violence where Maples and Oaks have their tops lopped off. Which ticks off the native Texan Live Oak trees who get all up into the foreign trees' grilles while the Arizona and California Ash trees plead "dudes! Can't we all just get along". Such are the trials and tribulations of arboreal diversity.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Eulogy for Hugh Warren Reeves

"Are we true to ourselves, or do we live for the expectations of others? And if we are open and honest…can we ever truly be loved? Can we find the courage to release our deepest secrets…or in the end, are we all unknowable? Even to ourselves."
Believe it or not, that's a quote from a TV show. It gives voice to one of the great philosophical questions of all time: can we really know someone? Even ourselves? It's an argument that Augustine the famous third century Roman theologian took up. He proposed that only God can know us completely and I suppose that's true. But I knew my father - at least I knew him from the facets that I could see. Because like all of us my father was a precious stone fashioned by God and God's world into a many faceted jewel. A jewel of great complexity and beauty. I could see him only from my perspective - as a son and perhaps a friend. I could not see him as a husband, or a brother, or a colleague although I believe that in the way light shines into one facet of a diamond and refracts out the others I could get a glimpse of my father through your eyes and you of him through mine.

So today I am going to tell you about my father as I saw him, through the facets he presented to me. I hope that my memories shine through him and illuminate your memories of my "pop" Hugh Warren Reeves.

First and foremost my father was True. I have never and suppose I never will meet a truer man. He was honest when it mattered and honest when it was hard - I know there were times in his career where his unwillingness to shade or obscure the truth cost him professionally. Sometimes his truth could be irritating, even in my estimation petty but at crucial times he served me brutal honesty when I needed it so very much, I recall a time when I was in college and described to him a 'prank' that some of my friends had committed and that I thought was so very clever. We were walking together at the time and he stopped, looked me straight in the eye and said "anyone who does that is a blank" stating a certain word which I won't repeat. I had never heard my father use that word before. But it was the right word and I needed to hear it. He was true to his standards and true to me. I have never and could never live up to his.

My father was indega, indegaft, indefatigable - well, I really can't pronounce that word - he was relentless, he never gave up or gave in. Never gave up on himself and he never gave up on us. He had setbacks and frustrations like we all do but they never appeared to affect his efforts on behalf of those he had made commitments to - he just kept on plugging away. When we moved to Singapore my brother and I signed up for little league. We were without a doubt, the worst baseball players on our respective teams. So rather than let us languish on the bench between short stints in Right Field pop got up before dawn to go to work so he could come home early and practice with us before it got dark which in equatorial Singapore was at six PM sharp, every day of the year. In all the months he did that I can't recall seeing any other parent doing the same for their children. Pop didn't give up.

I could give you many more examples of his relentlessness but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about the one, single, solitary time that I am aware of that pop did throw in the towel. My father was a great golfer and he wanted his sons to enjoy the game he loved. So he paid for years of golf lessons for us at the Island Club in Singapore and took us 'golfing' in the same way that he helped us with baseball. Many years later when my brother and I were home for Thanksgiving he took us out for a round here in Houston at Quail Valley. After I had shanked, topped, sliced or plopped my seventh in a row into a pond or someone's yard he turned to me and said "You know, you're never going to be any good at this game". It turns out that pop could also be a realist.

My father was loyal - to us and to the rest of both sides of our family. Pop was the go to guy when people ran into trouble, when they needed help. Once in a while back when I was making a lot of money I would get a call from him giving my 'subscribed' amount to help out another member of our extended family. Despite the fact that I made more than him back then I always knew his number was bigger. And in the fullness of time when things got hard for me, he stood there to help us too. Sometimes his loyalty got the best of him. In particular he did not respond well when he thought someone was failing to show appropriate respect to his family. One time on our way home from Jakarta we laid over for the night at a Hong Kong hotel. It was rather late when we arrived and the desk clerk apologized and said that there were no rooms left but not to worry if we would just follow him and the porters they would walk us to another hotel nearby. My father was having none of that. He could sense that his family was being treated without the respect that we deserved. So despite the clerk's protestations and assurances he demanded that they call a cab to drive us to the new venue. When we got in the cab, the bellman gave directions in Cantonese. The cabbie turned and looked at us quizzically and then shrugged his shoulders and put the car into gear. If you've ever been to Victoria or the Hong Kong Island side of Hong Kong you know that it is very hilly, crowded and back then constantly under construction with many one way roads. So long story short, we spent about fifteen minutes driving in dense traffic up, around, back and then down to other side of the city block where we had started where the porter was waiting with our bags.

But my father always fought for us. He was always on our side.

My father loved his family deeply. He didn't show it much in public but among us, at certain times his love blazed through. When my son - who was his first grandchild - was born he and my mother were with my wife's parents at the hospital waiting for the blessed event. It was quite the scene with the grandmothers unable to abide by hospital rules and constantly making unauthorized forays to the birthing room for a peek and being thrown back with increasing stridency by the staff. But eventually Sam came - he's the large bearded one up front - and after all the post birth details were resolved he was plopped into my arms to carry out to meet his grandparents. I knew my Father so I gave Sam to him first and almost immediately his tears began and didn't stop for quite some time. It was very characteristic of him to love so openly. And so very beautiful. And when he was sick, particularly when he was suffering the indignity of one of the many painful procedure he endured, he would always tell me just how much he loved us and how grateful he was to us for what we were doing for him.

One other important thing about his love: he and my mother had their 'moments' of conflict - we all did with him - and sometimes the insensitivity of his truthfulness could wound. But I will say this with absolute certainty: my father never, ever said a disparaging word to me about my mother. He invariably praised her and told me how grateful he was that she had married him. As he proudly told anyone who would listen, she was the love of his life.

My father didn't talk of faith much but later in life I know that he reflected upon it a great deal and that he was a Christian in the traditional, orthodox sense that he placed his faith wholly in Jesus' substitutionary atonement for his salvation. He said that he most felt God's presence when singing with the choir. That one: behind me and I can believe that for my father experienced things of the heart so very deeply.

So that's the man I knew and grew up loving. He wasn't always easy but he was always true. His relentlessness often irritated me but he would not let me give up. His stiff backed Anglo Scottish loyalty to kith and kin sometimes embarrassed me but he showed me how important family is and in his tears and in his life he showed me what it is for a man to love.

To end I'd like to do something that I think my father would have done had he had my literary bent. You see, I write poetry. There I said it. Not only that but from time to time I write love poetry. I know, I know but still (at this point my kids are probably rolling their eyes in the same way that I used to roll mine at my father. And all I can say is be patient, you'll get there). My love poems aren't usually targeted at any particular person, and I used to think that was odd. Yet after quite a bit of reflection I have concluded that what I'm really doing when I write about love is reflecting on all of the love that I have experienced up to that point in my life. And without a doubt one of the great loves of my life has been my father.

So I have a poem. Now most of this poem is irrelevant to Pop, simply the sort of stuff you would expect from a third rate hack like me, but as I reread the last stanza of it yesterday, my father's love suddenly shined through. So if you'll indulge me, I'll recite the last few lines that contain so much of my father's love as my last formal tribute to this great man that I loved so very much. The poem is entitled "To Know You"

And when our time is done

in death, despair or ruin.

I am more for knowing you

and you for knowing me.


And in the end when life

has no more time to run,

You are more for knowing me

and I for knowing you.


To understand you,

Love you,

You.


To live so that at the end of days,

when all this world is done.

All of time cannot deny

that I knew you.


And was found,

known and

changed

by you.


You.


And that was my father, my pop. Thank you so very much for coming

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In Memory of Hugh Warren Reeves




Hugh Warren Reeves passed away on Sunday, August 23rd at 11:04 AM CDT after fighting a glorious eleven year war with cancer. Hugh was born to a noted Wichita oil man and his secretary - after she became his wife, of course.  Being the eldest son of a successful oil man, Hugh was sent back east to the Taft School for his education. But rather than march lockstep with the rest of his classmates to Yale and then Wall Street, Hugh chose to follow his father's footsteps into the oil business, attending the University of Oklahoma and learning to sing "Boomer Sooner" rather than "Boola Boola".  This choice was instrumental in making him a lifelong Sooner fan and a skeptic of all things Longhorn.  In his later years he would  frighten his sons by walking up to very large men who were dressed in University of Texas burnt orange and saying:  "Boomer Sooner".

Hugh was also an outstanding golfer. It is a testament to his commitment to the Game that despite holding a student deferment by the skin of his teeth during the Korean war, Hugh chose to focus on his golf rather than his studies. Fortunately for him, the Army sent him to Germany.  As he told one of his sons much later, he spent far more time on the frauleins than on the front lines. But all that was forgotten when he returned home and met the love of his life - Betty Jean Savage.  In his telling he fell in love with her on first sight and in the fullness of time made her his bride (after he had demonstrated the ability to graduate college and get a job that paid more than an itinerant golf pro) . He never looked at another woman.
Hugh and Jeanne married on December 23rd, 1959. And as is traditional among oil explorers, Hugh promptly dragged his new bride and eventually their two sons off to a seemingly never ending series of the oddest, most out of the way places in creation:  Big Lake, TX, Roundup, MT, Glendive, MT, Williston, ND, Casper, WY, Rifle CO, Red Deer Alberta and so on. This was in spite of his sons' desire to remain in a single location that had quality Saturday morning cartoon programming and large supplies of reasonably priced Dr. Pepper. In fact Hugh helped explore what is now known as the Bakken, the first and one of the largest of the oil fracking plays in North America. Unfortunately at the time they lacked the technology to exploit the find. A fact that - reflecting back on their time in North Dakota - his family looked upon with great relief.

Eventually Hugh's career took him and his family overseas, first to Abu Dhabi back when it was so primitive it didn't even have Dhabis and from there to Singapore during its first great burst of growth and thence to Indonesia where he explored for oil in the wilds of Borneo and Western New Guinea. Eventually Phillips Petroleum called him back to Houston where he retired and where Hugh and Jeanne chose to make their permanent home.  Blessed with health and free time he devoted himself to golf and good works, principally within the Methodist Church, eventually alighting at Christ United Methodist Church in Sugar Land, Texas.  A frustrated artist, Hugh eventually gave in to the siren song of one of the best Church Choirs in the greater Houston area, touring around the world with them several times.  He said that he felt God's presence most deeply when singing God's music.

Eventually illness caught up with Hugh in the form of a series of cancers.  He reacted in his typical “never say die” style by entering an experimental treatment study and outliving every single other member of the program. Saturday before last he was with his family celebrating his younger son's birthday.  It is a testament to his long and varied life that a man who had been born in the radio age was greeted by grandchildren via iPhone video chat.  Late that night Hugh began encountering serious difficulties attributable to his illness and a short time later entered the arms of the Savior that he trusted wholly for his salvation.  He is survived by his Wife Jeanne, his Sons, Bill and Todd, his Granddaughter, Amelia, Grandsons, Sam, Jake and Miles and his Sisters Nancy and Martha and their families. Hugh was a special man from a special time and we shall not see his like again.
Requiescat in pace

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My father died this morning. And I shall never have another.

My father died this morning. And I shall never have another.

He awoke in the wee hours with trouble breathing so we had the ambulance take him to the ER. I rode along. During the trip I had a suprisingly beautiful conversation with the young ambulance driver about life and death and loss. I guess being so close to so much death and pain gives one perspective.

Not long after we got to the ER dad lost consciousness and his vitals began to crash. We had specified do not resuscitate so the ER staff turned off all the beeping cacophony, turned down the lights and left me alone with him and my memories. For four hours I watched  as his breathing got slower and shallower until it finally stopped. I spent those hours alone with him in that dark, quiet room. I held his hand and over and over I told him how much I loved him and how very proud I was to be his son. I told him it was OK to stop fighting, to go into that good night. And then it hit me: I would never hear my father's voice again. There would be no more talks with "Pop" about the weather or the Sooners or the lawn or life. And that's when the tears that had been bottled up in me for him for so long came pouring out. Alone with my father in a dark room as the last grains of his life slipped away.

For my father died this morning. And I shall never have another.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ode to My Larger Brother on the Anniversary of His Birth

Oh larger brother!
Monstrous, looming force from God,
with capacious jaw and large scale nod.
You envelop us in your great embrace,
as we disappear 'neath your solemn face.

Oh larger brother!
Giant of our time!
You expand, back, front, side to side.
Waxing ever greater, ever wide.

Oh larger brother!
Beast of great burden - save when it hurts your back,
hauling kegs and cases home - whatever you lack.
Tap them, pop them,
Drink them, quaff them.

Oh larger brother!
Once you sheltered in my shadow,
now in yours I cower below.
You blot out the sun,
spreading shade from which no one can run.

Oh larger brother!
With booming voice and balding pate.
Friends ask "Is that your big brother?" and I say "yay".
May you always be greater, larger, more.
May I always be the "little" bro that you adore.

Oh larger brother!
On your fifty second year of birth.
At fifty four I marvel at your girth.
Thank you brother, for being so large.
I couldn't have bettered it had I been in charge.

Karate

I was rambling around the local strip shopping center when a came upon a Karate studio. Actually I'm not sure if it was Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Ninja Masters or whatever, but you get the picture.  It's the sort of place where the bullied are supposed to go to get the mojo to bully their bullies like they do in all the movies. Although I've never seen it work that way in real life, probably because the bullies get to these places first.  It has always seemed to me that taking fencing or an NRA marksmanship course would be a better approach to making bullies scarce.  Although applying what you've learned in those courses would to tend to attract the police.  Life is full of trade offs.

So like I said, I was walking by this joint early in the morning and the Sensei or the apprentice to the Sensei was washing the inside windows in preparation for the wimps du jour. And me being me I simply could not resist.  I stopped, rapped the window to get his attention and in my best Karate Kid went with my right hand "wax on" and then with my left hand "wax off".The Sensei - having no idea what I was doing smiled and waved at me. "No!" I said urgently, "wax on, wax off!" which perplexed him, so he went back to his washing.  I rapped again and gesticulated more aggressively "I said wax on, wax off!".  At that he turned around and walked off into the back of the store. I think he may have misunderstood what I was telling him to do as he ended up going into the toilet and closing the door.

But it's obvious that this joint is not run by legitimate Karate experts nor aficionados of late 1980s youth cinema.  Fakers.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Julia Child Calling

So I was beavering away at something particularly unproductive when I got a call from mom at the HEB, "car won't start, popsicles melting". Needless to say, confronted by such pathos (save the popsicles!) I hightailed it over there pronto.

Anyway after transferring Mom and her groceries to my car, I dialed AAA. Got a sweet young thing on the phone. No, seriously, she really was a thing: a computer and she couldn't have been more than six months old. So as is the custom among our cyborg helpers, I entered this number and pressed that pound sign and yessed and noed a bit and voila! I got a real person who sounded neither sweet nor young and of course immediately gave me the third degree: "so who's car is this anyway?"
"my mom's, I'm her wonderful son who is helping her out", bracing myself for the well earned praise.
"Who's on the title?"
"I suppose my mom"
"Well sir I'm sorry but until she calls and tells us she needs help, we can't help her"
"But I know she needs help"
"Yes"
"And she knows she needs help"
"Yes"
"And I just told you she needs help so you know she needs help"
"Yes but she has to tell us herself or we can't help"
"You mean you won't"
"Huh?"
"You won't help even though you could"
"Umm well we can't"
"Won't"
"No, can't"
"Won't"
"Can't"
"Won't, won't, won't"
And that's when she hung up.

Well if you're a regular reader you know that I was 'fit to be tied' which in my case means that I was stomping an imaginary AAA headquarters filled with little imaginary AAA ants as I flailed my arms and foamed like a rabid Irish Setter (they have good hair don't they). I was all set to call back and pretend I was my Dad who was upset because the delay in helping mom had led to the death of that Irish Setter but I decided "why should I play their game?" So instead of lying that I was my Dad I called them back as Betty Jean Savage Reeves. And boy was I savage. Affecting my best Julia Child Locust Valley Lockjaw with her patented combination of ribald condescension and aplomb I conducted a 'Tour de Force' of how dare you's and well I nevers. It was quite fun although I did it in the produce section which caused several grocery patrons to nervously edge away from me.

And this is where I had a bit of an epiphany: up until this point I had always given a hearty 'tchah' to anyone who tried to tell me that anything as central as gender (which just means sex but the dull boy OR girl kind as opposed to the fun boy AND girl kind) could be "socially constructed" which as I understand modern college speak means " made up". Because I think I could seriously pull off the Julia Child thing. After all I like to cook, have a great snotty accent in the higher register and I clearly make a profoundly ugly woman so all I really need are a few mid 20th century frocks, some sensible shoes, a boatload of makeup and Food Network here I come.

I think Big Food could use a cross dressing retro food program where a faux Julia Child. (Moi) socially cuts, dresses down, mocks and otherwise humiliates all the celebrity chefs on TV. I would particularly enjoy making that obnoxious Englishman (you know, the one with dyed hair that's always making all the other cooks cry) snivel and sob about how his mother never loved him or his Creme Brulee.

So if this Silicon Valley gig doesn't work out I've always got that going for me.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

I have a daughter and I forgot her birthday

I have a daughter and I forgot her birthday.  I remember her first one, couldn't forget that.  She came so quickly, I hardly had time to get settled for what I thought would be a long haul and she was there. So insistent, so present, so there.  When we took her home I spent the first night with her so her mother could sleep. On the family room floor next to her, listening to her soft rapid breathing, every couple hours she'd wake and cry and I'd take her to her mother to nurse.  Then back on the floor. With me.  Just me and my only daughter.  And I forgot her birthday.

I remember her growing up, she would get her words mixed up, saying "callipeter" and "beltseat". She had an electric smile that lit up the room, with gleaming eyes under a pageboy haircut.  Like me she was small with dark hair over fair skin - a bundle of energy and joy.  She would go out to the swing set and sing her favorite song from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs.  Of course she was the Mermaid. I would listen to my daughter sing and marvel that she was mine.  And I forgot her birthday.

She had a tough streak:  she had to because she had a big, no BIG brother three years older who went where he would, including into her her room, her things, her space.  We had a rule that Amelia could hit Sam but Sam couldn't hit her.  A rule to his credit he honored.  And Amelia needed all the help she could get simply to keep the big lug from straying to deeply into her precious things, we would hear her shouts of rage and whack whack whacks as he nonchalantly proceeded, almost oblivious to her.  I loved her intensity and prayed that she would keep it her whole life.  I have a daughter and I forgot her birthday.

She and Sam grew to be friends.  We would go to our beach house in Michigan for two  weeks every year and their mother would fret and plan for ways to keep them occupied on the eight hour drive, cleverly devising games and gifts and other fun.  But in the end they entertained each other, communicating in the way that brothers and sisters always do.  I will always remember my son teaching his sis' some important details of of life:  "Hey Ameeeeelia (he always stretched the e, dunno why) do  you know what the "S" word is?"....."no...what?"..."Shut up".  And a few minutes later: "Hey Ameeeeelia, do you know what the F word is?"....."no...what?" ...."Fart".  I almost drove off the road, laughing so hard at my son and my daughter.  And I forgot her birthday.

Amelia was a risk taker in a way that I or Sam or her mother never were.  One day I was working in my office on the third floor in our house which stood on the slope of the hill.  In front of it, further down the slope was a  young white pine tree, four stories high, its top reaching my third floor window.  That windy spring day I was busily beavering away at something and I heard her voice "Hey Dad! Look Here!" It was Amelia, clinging to the highest part of the trunk in the swaying breeze. The last time I left what had been our house I looked up the white pine and there were seats and jump ropes and other things that she had put up there for her and her friends. And I forgot her birthday.

I remember one time I was working outside on something and she was riding her bike. She had just learned - Sam had taught her - he loved her even has he vexed her mightily.  She was driving around the house on the garden paths in her bare feet.  By the neighbor's standards we were "bad parents" because we let our children "run wild". Not really - but we gave them the freedom that our parents ha given us and were willing to take the risks that our choice presented.  Including the risk of a barefoot young girl riding too close to the extra slate roof tiles and slicing her foot open.  She cried so hard that she couldn't breathe - her intensity again - I almost cried with her but soon she calmed down and we dressed the wound and went up the family room where she got a popsicle and I a margarita and we watched Sponge Bob Squarepants together.  Not my favorite but at the time one of my daughter's.  And I forgot her birthday.

As time passed. my situation became more troubled and our marriage more desperate, I didn't spend as much time with Amelia.  I was travelling overseas often and obsessed with making money that I needed to maintain our lifestyle.  She didn't punish me for my lack of attention, continuing to treat me much as she always had.  She was such a beautiful girl and I was so grateful for her.  And I forgot her birthday.

Then there was the day that we told the kids that I was moving out.  That our marriage was at its end and that there was no chance of reconciliation  My wife began the tale of woe and I finished, breaking into tears towards the end.  My son and daughter jumped up and embraced me, the three of us crying together, Amelia's hot tears on my neck.  And I forgot her birthday.

I realized that my daughter was no longer a girl some time later.  I had a partner who had a huge, wonderful yacht and he graciously invited Amelia to have her fifteenth birthday party on it.  She brought seven or eight friends and I was amazed how she had become a beautiful young woman.  While Sam spent most of the time driving the boat (those of you that know him know what I'm talking about) I spent most of my time watching her.  Her poise and grace.  How she carried herself, how she was so very beautiful.  My daughter.  And I forgot her birthday.

I was with her five short days before she turned nineteen two days ago but that fact never once registered in my mind.  You see after a period of frustration, things are going well for me again - I have a new business and was dating a woman for the first time since my marriage failed. In many respects was in as good a shape as I had been for a decade.  I was so happy - and to be be with both my kids at Lake of the Ozarks at my friend Debra's was a double treat.  I was so full of myself that despite being with my daughter I forgot her birthday.  I know I'm selfish, I know I'm weak but I didn't realize that I was so selfish and weak that I would forget her.  But I did.  She of course forgave me but that did not and can not change the fact that I have a daughter and I forgot her birthday.

The only thing I can say, Amelia is that I'm sorry and that I love you and that I am so very proud that I have a daughter and that she is you.

For I have a daughter and I forgot her birthday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bill Reeves - Errant Knight

So I was at this community hoe down or jamboree or whatever in John - my Lord and CEO's -neighborhood. I've never heard Irish pop played by a country band before - or heard it played by senior citizens although I guess that is the fate of all Irish pop: reinterpreted Grand 'ol Opry style by Senior Strummers in places like Nevada. But that's neither here nor there, well it's here but not about here, although it's there. Ireland, that is. But I digress.

OK Reboot: So I was at this hoe down and one of the 'party' I was with plied me with a snootful of Moscato. Now I don't know if you've ever Moscatoed - I hadn't - but Moscato is apparently the Skittles of the wine family. So with my mouth appropriately puckered I headed for the fountain mewling wwwrrrr, wwwrrrr (serious puckerage) only to be confronted (in a manner that completely blocked the sidewalk) by a moppet of seven or so who pointing to the tree above lisped "I lost my necklace" - which wasn't completely true. What she had done was chuck it up into the tree. And not into some little sapling but into a big tree - about ten feet up. And this is where my whole damned chivalry thing falls apart because while I want to aid damsels in distress, I really prefer to do it when convenient to me. Yet here I was forced to de-damsel the moppet while seriously over puckered.

So long story made short: I ended up IN the tree, swinging back and forth on the branch like a demented macaque while two older gentlemen whacked at the offending jewelry. One of them - who probably should have been in a walker - used a vigorous back and forth slashing motion with his cane which quite impressed me until he started hitting me on the wrist and head. The other gent, who was taller and more strategic, took advantage of the additional downswing that my attempts to avoid the wayward whacks caused and expertly snagged the necklace with his umbrella to the cheers of absolutely no one. The young Jezebel ungratefully pocketed her 75 cent bauble and strolled off without as much as a thank you - after all, her mother DID tell her not to talk to strangers.

So still puckered but now quite pleased with myself (lookit, I'm a hero!), I finished my jaunt to the water fountain. As I returned, I spied our little Delilah: tossing the same damned necklace into the same damned tree. Well you can probably guess what I did next: I drew myself up to my full height and...forcefully strode the other way. There was no way in hell I was going to let that little Mata Hari cry at me again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We need to regulate nudity

For the record:  I am in favor of a certain amount of public nudity I just think there need to be some (to paraphrase politicians who have none) commonsense regulations to protect the tender psyches of....well...me for one.  I know, I know that I'm supposed to be a libertarian who says everything is swell and should be legal but even I have limits.  In my case psychological and physiological ones....I just...well...I just have limits.  So in order to protect those needing protecting I propose the following commonsense nudity regulations built along the lines of our driving regulations:

1. Driving has a minimum age - nuding should have a maximum one.
2. There are student drivers who can drive without being licensed so long as a licensed driver who loves them is in the car with them at all times.  Likewise there can be nuders that are over the maximum age so long as a licensed nuder who loves them is willing to be seen with them at all times, never more than three feet away. And critically, they are not allowed to deny their relationship with the overage nuder.
3. Just as there is a maximum blood alcohol level above which a driver loses his license, there should be a maximum Saggy Skin Level above which a nuder gets his license yanked.
4. We will also need to establish standards for "reckless nuding", "nude rage", "tail nuding" and so on.  The Nuding Cops will need to be trained to deal sensitively with "multi nude pile ups".



In general we really need to think through this whole nude thing and put a framework of law and regulation into place before it is unleashed on an unsuspecting public.  The Precautionary Principle really, really, really needs to be applied here.

More chin stroking about this regulatory dilemma here.

Monday, July 13, 2015

You must understand: Claire McKaskill is a Cronite and Cronite hate true Socialists almost as much as Capitalists

And the Cronite candidate is of course la Clinton.
“Bernie is a socialist and claims that title,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), an early Clinton supporter. “I just don’t believe that someone who is a self-described socialist is going to be elected to be president of the United States.” 
Yeah because the Cronites need a career criminal in office to keep the gravy flowing.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rainy days and First Days always get me down

So I left last Friday morning to go to the board retreat for my first official day working with this left coast software business I've been fooling around with. Mom drove me. I've been staying with my parents to help dad deal with his various cancers and other maladies only to watch him set land survival records and threaten to outlive his doctors (that'll wipe the smug off their faces). It's not as bad as it sounds: I have my own floor and since my mother threw away everything I had ever owned the day I left for college and then promptly moved to Houston (without leaving a forwarding address I might add), I'm not forced to sleep in my old room. But I am forced to sleep while being stared at by many copies of my leering adolescent self. How I got it into my head that I was good looking back then I do not know.

So where was I? Ah yes, with mom on the way to the airport. I thought dear old mom might be regressing a bit because she bought me new underwear. Which is what she used to do every fall when school started. Fortunately she didn’t insist on taking a picture of me with my pencil box and everything before I got on the bloody plane.

Out of the car and into the terminal. Past the huge new International Terminal project. This for the second 'domestic' airport. I'm sorry but I'm afraid this whole "Houston Boom Town of Destiny" thing is getting out of hand.

Beyond that the Southwest greeter was shouting "check in left, bag check only right!" at the top of her lungs. Being a seasoned (basted and roasted) traveler I moved right while avoiding eye contact (of course). Offended by my lack of Texas neighborly-ness, she stopped me and shouted "hey! bag check only" while I nodded and tugged my forelock. It's embarrassing enough, that I, who have been diamond and platinum clubbed the world over had to check a bag, but to be herded. Well let's just say I know how steers feel just after their “steerage” ceremony. Or do I? Because I then was processed through the TSA - or as I like call them: the one percenter's - chute. I call them that not because average comp for these minderbinders crests above $100K but because by my reckoning they will uncover a whole one percent of the security threats that go through an airport. Now follow my math here: according to their own 'quality control' report in the last comprehensive multi airport test they missed 95% of the fake bombs, guns, rocket launchers, bushel bags of Semtex and other ordinance that was lugged past them by bushy bearded guys in man dresses while catching 98% of the little old ladies with weaponized titanium hips. But that's only the beginning of their security theater virtuosity.  One of my favorite pastimes while waiting to be "processed" is to think of all the ways I could get a bomb on a plane without going through the chute. And that's what gets me from 5 to 1 percent effectiveness.

Of course today they had a bomb sniffing dog (who as a Federal Dog was probably pulling down 30Gs with low deductible Veterinary care and retirement to a luxury kennel after five years tossed in) so maybe that doubled their effectiveness to...2%. But in fairness to the TSAistas, I think the existential pointlessness of their job is finally beginning to sink in, because after being directed by a ($100K) federal employee who was literally looking at a screen that alternated a large left and right arrow and then pointing left and right with it (I kid you not) I ended up going through the "Aw fuck it, who gives a rip" or as they euphemistically put it: "Expedited" line. What's next? The pre-cleared terrorist line? "I'm sorry sir but this line is only for pre cleared terrorists from Federally Accredited terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Al Ansar, Boko Haram and ISIS. I'm sure you understand that the Federal Government can't accommodate every Tom, Dick and Crazy that wants to blow up a plane."

Incidentally, a couple hours at an airport listening to the omnipresent happy talk drone of CNN is enough to make you want to shoot that sonofabitch Ted Turner.  My God, My God why have you forsaken me? I blame Jane Fonda. But it's my own fault - tempted by filthy lucre not to mention justifiably showing up for work a few hours late - I took the oversold deal.  The gate agent said "you're in luck Mr. Reeves! Your new flight will get you in ten minutes before this one plus you get $366 to boot!" Which I suppose is "good news" unless you were hoping to screw around in the Las Vegas airport for a few hours the way I was.  Smug bastard.

Speaking of smug bastards, while being forced to listen to CNN, Bill Clinton came on saying something in that sobby voice of his about how wonderful it was that South Carolina was pulling old Dixie down (so to speak). This of course is the same Bill Clinton who as a four term governor of corrupt one party post segregationist Democrat Arkansas signed a flag law and accompanying statement specifically describing how the Arkansas flag had a large single star " to honor our Confederate heritage”. Like with Gay marriage where Obama, Clinton (his and hers) and almost all other prominent Democrat pols were agin’ it for “deeply held religious reasons” until the precise moment is became useful to be ‘for’ it (I mean God doesn’t even vote, so screw Him), the Confederate flag has only become anathema since the voters who consider it part of their heritage stopped voting….Democrat. The Port Side party really should change their motto from “Happy Days are Here Again”(because they’re not) to “You tell me what gets me money, power and (if you’re Slick Wilbur) babes and that’s what I’ll say I believe.” Until the moment that some other belief system (Islam?) looks like it will get them more money, power and babes, that is.

At that point I got on the plane and breathed into the airsickness bag until I stopped hyperventilating. God I hate first days.  It's probably going to rain.

In government all the math is terrible.

This is a paraphrase of Douglas Adams' "in the universe all the numbers are terrible". Meaning the numbers are so gigantic we cannot cope with them. This is true with government but the real problem with those we serve, oops - I mean public servants - is that the math is so negative. We cannot cope with the scale of the bankruptcy and profligacy in our own back yard so we focus on Greece or Venezuela or Argentina. Believing - hoping really - that we are different in kind rather than degree from these prodigiously profligate frauds.

But we know that we are simply not quite as far along the Pilgrim's regress. That we have yet to "choose" the bad paths that our corrupt and profligate parents, grandparents choices have made essential so we may regress serenely, comfortably.

Our children - beset by our a
trigger warnings, sexual witch hunts and the appalling anti-racist racism, hetero phobic anti-homophobia and bigoted gender equality that our peers have poisoned the culture with - assume that they can trust us. But only because we stopped teaching them history and instead teach them fantasy.
And before long our grand children will be here and we will lie to them and loot their futures too. As long as we have breath and they have backs for us to pile burdens on.on.l

And a corrupt Illinois shall lead us all.

My friend Mark Glennon runsWirepoints. He was on a radio show recently talking about public pensions.
Public pensions have bankrupted the state of Illinois, counties, and virtually all municipalities in Illinois. Bill Gurtin ofGurtin Fixed Income has said he would decline buying the public debt of two places: Puerto Rico and anywhere in Illinois

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sharkano: Cool, well hot and acidic really

National geographic has a story at the link. Willis E.  points out the obvious challenge to climate dogma regarding ocean acidification. Over and over we discover them dogmas don't hunt.

The assault on suburbia

The left activists and their subsidy whoring business friends have decided that with gay marriage a lock and Trans and gender free rights almost certain now the suburbs must be taken over and transformed. Because controlling virtually every city is a loser if the people move to the 'burbs. So the suburbs must be taken over by the super state.

Kotkin explains why this is such a fraud. The left never stops grasping for more power. They are a borg. They must be stopped.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Push the damned button

So I was driving a rented car and had about an hour to get where I was going. My usual  approach  to pass the time  is to listen to a podcast on some improving topic like a revolutionary new pruning technique or new dance step but my extra clever smart phone was low on juice and I had to save it for work. Now as some of you know, this presents a dilemma for me because this means I could have been left alone with my thoughts for over an hour. And in general I'm not someone I like to spend a lot of time alone with.  It's nothing personal - well I guess it is personal - but it's just that sometimes the conversations I have with myself get a bit bogged down  - it's a little like going on an LSD trip without the lysergic acid or the chaperone....I suppose the mot juste would be "weird".  So anyway I was eyeing myself in the mirror to see what I would say next when I remembered that cars had those old fashioned radio thingies in them. And if you pressed the button they would play songs and rants and try to sell you stuff. So hallelujah! I was saved. I wouldn't have to listen to myself drone, instead I could listen to someone else do it for me which I find more interesting because when I drone I almost always know what I'm going to say next.

So I whipped out onto the freeway and pressed the button. Out came static with a voice that sounded like it was coming all the way from Mars (The deep south of Mars) and then some strange staticky caterwauling by some Martian chick. So I pushed the button again and out came a religious program talking about getting Power from Jesus (my these green energy people are resourceful!) So I ixnayed on the Esusjay and on came National Public Radio so naturally I punched the button lickety split: more staticky Martians. Again: Jesus. Again: NPR. Martians. Jesus. NPR. Martians, Jesus, NPR. Now I am sorry but I don't like southern Martian music and I sure as hell am not going to listen to some self righteous scold preach at me about the end of the world and tell me to repent. On the other hand I would have listened to the Jesus program but it was Baptist and I'm Presbyterian and we have strict rules about listening to people who deliberately add syllables to their words (yay-yess and so on).

So once again I saw myself looming in the mirror and was about to panic when I realized that the radio thingy had two buttons - one for the Band (which I naturally thought meant rock band) and one for the Station which I guess is the one that has the songs. With more relief than you could know unless you've spent a lot if time with me I pushed the Station button and out came Classic Rock 105.7 The Drone. Gratefully I pulled over to the side of the road and thanked (the non-Baptist, non extra-syllabic) God for saving me from myself. I also thanked the Gods of NPR but since I've never been quite sure who they are I thanked 'em all: Moloch, Gaia, Isis (no not the hackemoffs, the Egyptian Chick from way back - who do you think I am?), Cthulu, Zul, the Stay Puft Pastry Monster you name it.

Because I ain't  takin' no chances getting stuck alone with me.

Nosireebob.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

On Iran is Obama a coward, a fool or a traitor?

Even mainstream press outlets like Reuters are (politely) incredulous (perhaps unlike the Obami, Reuters and AP writers love their children even more than their ideology -who knew?).

In the last few days the AP published that the Obama administration’s coziness with Iran is the “new normal,” the WSJ revealed that the administration started secretly seeking reconciliation with Iran almost from day 1, and Reuters assessed that the Obama administration has become Iran’s lawyer. These aren’t neocon opinion pieces. They’re full-blown news articles from top diplomatic writers at some of the world’s leading outlets. The Obama administration will need to somehow overcome these suspicions if it’s going to convince Congress that the White House will enforce an Iran deal. Thus the record has been 100 percent the opposite.

The tragedy is none of this makes a dingoes fetid kidney's worth of difference. Obama never seriously believed that even a Democrat dominated Senate would ratify this madness. But he knows that just signing it will give the world a green light to abandon sanctions, giving the Mullahs all the money, weapons and fissle material necessary to make life a living Islamic hell for hundreds of millions of people.

Attaboy, Barry. Hope and change indeed.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Interview with the guy that makes the little cacti in all those fruity colors

Me:  WTF?

Fruity Color Cactus Promoter:  Yeah, bitchin' innit?

Me:  No, seriously WTF are you doing to those cacti?

FCCP:  I paint 'em different colors so they'll go with people's towels and  sofas.

Me:  But why?

FCCP:  Well to be frank, Mother Nature just wasn't gettin' the job done.  I mean hundreds of species of succulents and they're all green.  Bore-ing.

Me:  Does it hurt the cacti?

FCCP;  Dude, they're cucumbers with pricks, get over it.

Me:  It must be hard to get the paint just on those little tips.

FCCP: Yeah but we've got half of China working it so no problemo.

Me: Who in their right mind would pay money for painted plants?

FCCP:  You got me, I just work here...

Me:  Any plan for patterns?  Stripes, polka dots, paisley?

FCCP: Sure. Our artistry is not constrained by either ethics or good taste.  You want it you got it.  We are not proud.

Me: Do you ever wonder whether your life has any meaning?  I mean painting cacti garish shades of orange and chartreuse is kind of pathetic and tacky isn't it?

FCCP:  Hey buddy, this is America! The rest of the world is counting on us to do the weird new things that nobody else is willing to do.  And when you denigrate Desert Gems Colorized Cacti for being "stupid and tacky" aren't you just putting down creativity?  And when you put down creativity aren't you really bad mouthing the most creative place in the world:  America?  Well I for one will not stand here and listen to you put down the United States of America. Not on the fourth of July.

END OF INTERVIEW

There no longer is either freedom of conscience or speech.

Oregon fined a baker $135,000 - destroying a family with 7 kids livelihood because they declined to bake a custom cake that conveyed a message that violated their conscience. They did not refuse to serve, anyone could come into their bakery - it's just that they reserved the right to only provide custom services fir situations that they believe in. In this they behaved like countless left wing political lawyers who will only take cases and clients they approve of. And no gay service provider will ever be destroyed for telling the Christianists to fuck off.

This isn't a Republic, it's a leftist lawyer hell.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Moderate Democrats: bled dry on the Obama Somme and Barack Marne - "there's no one left"

An entire generation of Democrat pols to the right of Barack Obama eradicated. Democrats stripped of all power in almost half the states. Blindly heading for a general election with the weakest, most corrupt candidate since Tammany Hall and the Ku Klux Klan got together to pick AL Smith. But rainbow flags! And Obamadon'tcare saved! And Lawyers get to loot real estate like they've looted employment law! And environmental mandates and minwage increases that drive costs up, up, up and productivity and employment down, down, down. And cowardice and incompetence overseas so egregious that even Jimmy Carter is condemning it. We've reached peak liberal and an avalanche is coming.

Ever wonder why no interesting center-left Democrats aren't challenging an increasingly vulnerable Hillary Clinton? There aren't any. Nobody. No one.

As Britain and France were bled white by their World War I battles, the Democrats were drained by a series of midterm debacles in which those in swing states were punished by voters, and all but the bluest of blue were cut down. On the altar of healthcare, Democrats sacrificed the fruit of two cycles of party-expansion, the picking of people who could win in red states and red districts, to bolster the party's breadth and appeal.

Now, these Democrats were told by liberal bloggers that it was their duty to lay down their political lives for this unpopular measure that most of their voters despised. As a result, Clinton's most viable challengers are a 75-year-old socialist from deep-blue Vermont, and the colorless former governor of very blue Maryland, who was so weak he could not help to elect his lieutenant governor, who lost to only the second Republican governor in a very long time. The Democrats' bench is not merely weak, it is non-existent. And that is Obamacare's work.

No, it's actually a much broader debacle than just Obamacare. My Dem interlocutors have gone almost silent. On the one hand these mostly white moderate men are frightened to speak out lest they be branded sexist racist homophobes and be marginalized right out of the party. On the other hand they realize that there is no future for them in a party with an intensely racist and sexist  commitment to all identities except....whites and heterosexual men.

The Dems are the Zombie party. Don't think so? Listen to Hillary speak. I dare you. But as this antiquated shambles goes down the enraged roars of all the septuagenarian Pelosiraptors will be something to behold.

Americans are bigots if the don't support same sex marriage but Castro is swell just about sums up bien pensant incoherence

Media bias is not only complete and hypocritical, it's drunk and incoherent.  Hugh Hewitt interviews Politico's Ben Smith who tries to explain but ends up sounding like he needs AA. While Howard Kurtz finally admits the obvious. The left won this week but now no one can argue that our press and institutions are any thing but left wing sluts.

The media is awfully quick to paint Americans as bigots and equivalent racists for having a heterodox opinions on same-sex marriage, but they’re pretty silent about the moral character of regimes that toss gays and lesbians off of roofs as a matter of public policy in order to maintain their supposed objectivity and sensitivity to multicultural concerns. It’s interesting to see where and when the media is willing to allow for two sides on an issue.

So how do you know what you know?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Puerto Rico: the first blue model "state" tips into the toilet

Tax, spend and borrow, high minimum wages,  corruption and identity politics are poisonous. It's happening first to Detroit and PR because they are weak and vulnerable. Rhode Island or perhaps Cleveland, Chicago or even LA are next.
The left had better whoop up their illegitimate black mummu wins now because it is going to get sooooo ugly in blue land. And all the sneering triumphalism is not going to make the Rs that dominate Congress and the Solvent States of America want to cut them down from their self inflicted hangings. Hell right now I'd just as soon yank on their feet to hear them choke more.

What if the one thing we banned was the list of things we must ban?

Lileks notices that liberals want to ban so very much. So much that there aren't liberals. Of course they never were.

The people who are "liberal" in America are the intellectual descendants of the Puritans. They just worship Gaia and the great and glorious super state rather than Yahweh. God help us all.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The rewilding of Europe, North America and the world - an optimistic take on our environmental challenge

From Jesse Ausubel - a Professor at Rockefeller University and a completely establishment figure.  He extends the message that Bjorn Lomborg made back in the nineties and shows how much progress has been made.  I highly recommend you read this to get the sadly under reported good news about the Earth.

My only concern is for the professor's well being:  the Enviro Religious do not take well to people who bring good news, no matter how true.  The Enviro faith is about human sin and the impossibility of redemption without elimination of ourselves.  They hate good news.

Friday, June 26, 2015

King v. Burwell illustrates the folly of nominating lawyers to the Supreme Court

80 percent of lawyers are left of center.  One hundred percent of lawyers earn their living helping people navigate the ever more complex labyrinth of law and regulation.  This labyrinth by its very nature enriches and empowers the legal profession.  It is clearly too much to ask of career lawyers that they act against the interests of their class and guild.  Yet for America to recover and thrive the legal profession must be crushed utterly.  Perhaps the most important constitutional amendment we could pass would be to ban anyone who has ever practiced law from holding a Supreme Court seat.  So long as there is no check on lawyers but other lawyers the state and its laws will continue to metastasize until it's strangling thievery covers every inch of the body politic.

It was Roberts who helped rewrite Obamacare the first time around, making a penalty into a tax and, for the first time in history, allowing American government to coerce every citizen into buying a product from a private company as part of its power to regulate commerce.

Roberts, abandoning law, laments that Obamacare was drafted in a haphazard and vague way, right before ruling that laws can be implemented in any way the executive branch sees fit, as long as judges deem its intentions righteous.

Once we pass massive pieces of legislation that effectively hand entire industries to regulatory agencies, we are allowing the executive branch to govern in any way it sees fit. That said, it's doubtful that SCOTUS would allow the same rationalizations used for King v. Burwell to be employed for any legislation it found distasteful. Though Republican presidents keep nominating judges who disappoint conservatives, you can be assured that Hillary Clinton would not disappoint liberals with her picks.

Lawyers are human ticks. Squish 'em.

America baby! This is what we do.

The mega blockbuster spectacle. Jurassic world hits 1 billion in box office. Dinodaurs! Explosions!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The left is in charge of New York for the first time in over 20 years and boy can you tell.

And New York is once again spiraling downward - with crime, union militancy, hostility to business and ultra profligate spending. And to think 17 short months ago DeBlasio's inauguration was nationally televised with Bill Clinton presiding. American liberals lost whatever capacity they had to govern long ago. Now it's just looting.

It turns out that banning bottled water has no positive benefits and significant negatives

The University of Vermont passed a typically leftist, coercive 'feel good' ban on bottled water.  The results:

The number of bottles per capita shipped to the university campus did not change significantly between spring 2012 (baseline) and fall 2012, when the minimum healthy beverage requirement was put in place. However, between fall 2012 and spring 2013, when bottled water was banned, the per capita number of bottles shipped to campus increased significantly. Thus, the bottled water ban did not reduce the number of bottles entering the waste stream from the university campus, which was the ultimate goal of the ban. Furthermore, with the removal of bottled water, people in the university community increased their consumption of other, less healthy bottled beverages.

Leftists seem to have a fundamental difficulty thinking in economically rational terms.  They instead tend to think in lawyer terms:  bans, regulations, restrictions on the theory "if we pass it they will obey".  This isn't true and is getting less true every day as the sheer volume of coercive regulation and law explodes in the name of 'compassion?', 'greenery?', 'equality?' or God knows what.  

Coercion is a bad thing and should be the last option for civilized people.  For our left elites it is often the first option (although on certain social issues the religious right does the same things). The arrogance of of our greedy clerisies, both left and right has no limit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charleston v. Fort Hood and the moral corruption of a President

One is a politically exploitable tragedy. The other an interference to be elided. Guess which one's which?

Anti American Moral corruption here.

Nikki Haley is a woman of color who's family roots are in Punjab

And the Confederate battle flag was designed by racist white Democrats. It's not the Republicans' flag.

Kevin Williamson on The Great Left Freak Out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dems: "2.2% growth is just swell, the best we can do" Republicans: "can you spell 'malaise'? Now how about "Ronnie Reagan"?

Republicans say we can get the economy growing faster, even 4 percent per annum and argue that should be our primary goal as a nation. Democrats say "that's delusional, besides we need to spend the trillions of dollars of investment that would take to save the planet from burning and stopping the rape epidemic that the FBI can't find and getting income equality and providing subsidized health care and free college and double minwage while saving us from transfats and sugar and nasty free speech and micro agressions and big mean 'ol white men."

"Besides", the Donks continue "Its just so hard and everyone is being really mean".

I sort of get their point. I mean with that  agenda the paltry 2.2% real growth achieved since the Great recession's nadir looks pretty darn good rather than the worst since economic records have been kept.

Maybe we need less "hope" and more real change at the top? Let's do it (as the Dems might put it) "for the children".

Monday, June 22, 2015

"the latter is a profoundly evil place."

That would be Anglo American institutions of higher learning who in their grasping greed and utter contempt for constitutional liberties or even fair play are among the darkest, most corrupt institutions in the land.

Steyn here.

Barney Frank cashes in on his regulatory prowess - joins bank board

Big bucks for showing up a few days to rubber stamp stuff.  It's good to be the party hack.  It's a pity his 'reform' is a disaster that makes banking more expensive and at greater risk of contagion.  But the Barn was working his rent seeking game for all the pols and lawyers that make their living sucking the life blood of the country.

Regulation is supposed to stop unethical behavior but what do you call regulation designed to facilitate unethical behavior?  Federal Regulation.

And all this baloney about how Dems 'care for the poor and weak'.  They don't give a damn for anything but their power and perqs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

So when did making fun of stuff become "incorrect"?

Jerry Seinfeld - reacting negatively to the steadily shrinking definition of what is acceptably funny - is fighting back. It used to be that lots of comedians loved to do College shows. Now many of the best avoid them like the plague.

It is ironic that to mock much if our establishment has become an objectively "conservative" act. Of course our "establishment" is now objectively reactionary.

It seems we have gone from sophisticated, highly literate Popes to one with the politics of a Vassar Womyn's Studies major.

In his incomprehension of economics, his contempt for wealth creation and his idiotic enviro-faith Pope Francis is the perfect Pontiff for our benighted secular clerisy.

Pope Francis frames his argument in favor of a heavy-handed environmentalism around the idea that climate change hurts the poor the most. Yet he seems to have little notion of what has helped the world’s poor more than anything: namely, the march of markets and technology, which has lifted billions out of destitution. Instead, Francis rails against those who “doggedly uphold the myth of progress,” the “modern myth of unlimited material progress,” and the “myths of modernity,” including “unlimited progress.” Yet after levying these warnings against progress, the pope calls for a bigger effort to develop sources of renewable energy. Exactly how will this be accomplished, except through giant advances in technology?

Too much of the encyclical reads like a list of green gremlins cooked up by the most ardent environmentalists. Francis finds reason not to like genetically modified foods because, he claims, wherever they’re employed, “productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners” and small farms disappear due to “an expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products.” This claim ignores the good that genetically engineered food does in boosting production and helping to feed people around the world.

The pope also decries the way humans are depleting the world’s natural resources. Under this heading, he includes a lack of fresh drinking water in some areas. He claims that water suitable for drinking “is a basic and universal human right.” But in much of the underdeveloped world, human overuse isn’t responsible for the scarcity of drinking water; rather, lack of technology to discover, pump, and purify water is the issue. Bringing clean water to Africa’s poor, for instance, has nothing to do with Americans or other wealthy peoples using too much of their own water. Instead, the solution lies in transferring the tools we have developed for ourselves—technologies that have drastically reduced disease and dehydration—to the poor.

The most dispiriting thing about the encyclical, however, is the relentlessly bleak vision of the world this pope proffers. He at times sounds like a survivalist warning that time is running out—and not because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Francis talks of impending, large-scale natural disasters, the breakdown of social life on the planet, and warns, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” His critique ignores so much—the extension of democracy and rise of the middle class in the Third World, the decrease in wars, the eradication of deadly diseases, and even the decline in pollution in places, thanks to technological innovations like cleaner engines and fuels.

The pope’s assuming of the apocalyptic tone of the environmentalist is, in the end, ironic. It is the Church’s gospel that offers us the true Apocalypse, which is a hopeful revelation of God’s coming and cause for joy among the good. Laudato Si, by contrast, is perhaps the least hopeful, most joyless document to come out of the Vatican in my lifetime.

What a disaster for poor people to have such a shallow and trendy man in that most august of offices. Better not to have one than to have this benighted clown.

Couch burning and the Optimal Prank Nexus

News reports say that West Virginia U has become so vexed with couch burning incidents that it has banned outdoor sofaing altogether.

So why didn't we think of this? The burning, not the ban. I mean we had lots of cheap couches and most of them did need to be burned for sanitary if not aesthetic reasons. Yet we never put "a want and a need into the deed" so to speak. I suppose it was a failure to achieve the critical  "Optimal Prank Nexus". The OPN was a theory of fraternal living that I developed to explain why a group of relatively intelligent young men/older boys would some times come up with absolutely brilliant forms of mischief while at other times we - I mean they - did the most dumbass things.

Your common variety collegiate prank is trivially easy to produce. All you need to do is throw a few kegs and some high decibel Weezer in the midst of a bunch of college kids. Within minutes the combination will begin emitting a "Seemed Like A Good Idea" field from which all prank  mayhem originates.

But the optimal prank only emerges from the fog of a common SLAGI field if several conditions occur at exactly the same time. For example, to come up with the brilliant, high concept prank of couch burning one must have a certain level of excitement underway - say a party or sports victory or even an abortive narcotics sweep by the local gendarmes. Then you need someone with a weak moral sense but a strong eye for fun to be sober enough to generate "the idea". Thirdly, everyone else needs to be sufficiently inebriated  so that something like "hey let's burn the furniture!" seems like a swell idea rather than arson but not so pickled that they keep trying to get the couch out the door sideways and failing that decide to "light her where she lies" in the hall.

As you can see it is these minor variations at the nexus of the deed that can turn the "brilliant" into the "dumbass" in the ten minutes it takes the fire trucks to arrive. Although I suppose West Virginia has a higher concentration of the essential nexus variables than most - which makes them particularly fiery prank innovators. Burn Mountaineers Burn

Friday, June 19, 2015

The future of finance is tied to trust

You trade with those you trust. The challenge is how do you determine who is trust worthy?

This creates an opening just as a new generation of consumers is coming of age in the era of hyper-personalized à la carte services. We’ve already seen some innovation taking place in the personal lending space, where companies like Kabbage and Lending Club are trying to provide smaller loans to individuals and entrepreneurs using algorithms that take things like social network behavior into account when assessing creditworthiness. And though the luster of the bitcoin experiment faded some as early adopters lost money when hackers hit a couple of exchanges, peer-to-peer platforms remain highly promising.

Systematically focusing on markers of honesty and trust worthiness seem like obvious steps for those wanting to distribute products requiring high levels if trust. Both in and out of Finance
True KYC.

The heart of the matter on AGW

Here's humanity's total contribution to greenhouse gases. It's trivial.


So how can that tiny speck constitute a disaster? .034 of .04 of .02 which equals: .0000272 of the atmosphere. Which for a 200 pound man is the equivalent of two postage stamps in his pocket. And this ignores the mass if the sea (1000x atmosphere), and it's heat absorbing capacity (250x the atmosphere). No one one in power will explain. They really don't want to. Their God tells them to extirpate man's sinful industry and fecundity. As it has ever since Marx brought God's Manifesto to the special people. So God's will be done.

You see their God hates people. 

Carly Fiorina is a truly impressive candidate.

I met her briefly when she had just been named CEO of HP.  I wasn't particularly impressed then but am now.  I recommend you take a close look at her.  Here is a very impressive interview with the View.  Wow.

Justice perpetrates injustice and gags its victims so they can't complain about the travesty that the Justice Department has become

Reason reported on the monstrous over sentencing of the the Silk Road founder.  Many hundreds of commenters voiced their outrage at the brutality of our government.  In response, Justice subpeoned the online identities and ip addressess of Reason's commentators.  And got one of their pocket judges to issue a gag order.  So a news publication is being forced to help the Feds violate their reader's first Amendment rights and is not allowed to report or protest.  This happened in the criminally partisan Scott Walker persecution as well.  Along with Civil Forfeiture and 97 to 99 percent of all cases failing to undergo public audit of a Jury of our peers (many, many of these settlements are also gagged) these are indicators that our criminal justice system serves the State and those who support its massive size and constant expansion while it betrays the rest of us. Government is on the government's side, not yours.

And all this intensifying under a Liberal Democrat. This administration has abused power more wantonly than any since Wilson, and he was fighting WWI.