Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Born to Hang

If you are born to hang, you will not drown -- Old Polish Adage

My wife and I recently attended a celebration of our collective 75th birthday for my graduating class at Dartmouth,  It was a generally joyous series of well-planned events, but with the specter of death overhanging things ... as a fraternity brother had just passed and another classmate, who had originated these celebrations, had just entered a hospice.  I myself suffer from a myriad of age-related maladies the have slowed me down considerably.

And so, a retired doctor and fraternity brother just sent me an e-mail, giving me some sage advice about how I should try to restore my cardiovascular health given my other problems.  He said, "it is a cycle: hurts to move, not move, decreased physical capacity, harder to move, move less, gain weight, lose strength and cardio condition, body does not work as well, lungs not work as well, hurts to move, harder to move, not move as much,  more deconditioning, gain more weight, harder to move, etc."  However kind and well-meaning this advice was, I know that I will have difficulty following the specifics of his suggestions.  "You cannot teach an old dog ..."

Almost 15 years ago I wrote a piece anticipating my declining years ... see: Upon Reaching Sixty.  In this forecast I pretty much nailed how things might transpire and marveled how I had actually lived so long, given that my father had died at age 42.  Yes, I want to live beyond age 80 and, I suppose, actuarial tables suggest that I might.  But I doubt that I will have the will-power and courage to do all the things that my fraternity brother has suggested that I do.

(Short story ... a man who lived to age 96 was asked how he had lived so long.  He replied that every morning he had taken a half-hour ice-cold shower.  As it turned out, this was the equivalent of spending the last three years of his waking hours standing under gelid running water.  Moral of the story -- quality of life or life style also counts.)

And so my life style has served me for all these many years ... until it doesn't.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Extra! Extra!

London (CNN) -- With fanfare fit for a prince, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and husband Prince William welcomed their first child Monday. The baby boy was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces. A name has not yet been announced for the child, who is third in line to the throne.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Help Me ...

I'm befuddled.  How can people who have witnessed the repeated and sorry results (however well-meaning) of ultra-liberal politics ... Detroit; Castro's Cuba; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Venezuela; the state of California (and many of its locales); Greece; the old Soviet Union; and on and on and on ... still consider that such an orthodoxy is a winning strategy?  Is it that they don't see ... or if they see, they don't understand ... or if they understand, they only seek the narrow and short-term benefits for themselves?

I dearly wish I could appreciate and possibly even decipher such obsessive and guileless behavior.

Afterward: I think that there actually is another category of Marxists ... and that is comprised of those people who believe, Christ-like, that they are helping the downtrodden.  But clearly this aid is only temporary because, longer-term, the predictable result is that they are always worse-off ... witness the above list.  Rather, "Teach a man to fish ..."

Friday, July 19, 2013


Mitt Romney's campaign prediction has come true.  Detroit, Michigan has declared bankruptcy ... the largest city to ever do so in the United States (see: Detroit News Story).  What a shame! I've only been to Detroit once or twice ... to visit the General Motors headquarters ... so I have not seen the central-city decay there cause by decades of irresponsible fiscal management. But there might be plenty of pain to go around once the courts have divvied up the few remaining assets.

Yes, pensioners there may suffer but, I suspect that the Obama administration will find a sub rosa way of easing their pain.  (There is something called the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation which will probably dump tons of taxpayers money into this financial chasm ... see: Wikipedia Entry.  Yes, this quasi-governmental company is privately-funded now ... but it is running such a huge deficit that we all know that taxpayers will eventually be forced to close this gap.)  The other real sufferers will more likely be all the IRA owners around the country who either are directly or indirectly invested in Detroit municipal bonds.  They, like the previous investors in General Motors debt, will take it in the shorts.

And many other major mismanaged cities around the country are going to find their municipal bond financing costs go up ... possibly dramatically.  So we see that Detroit's pain will likely be shared by all of us ... even though we had no hand in the corruption and fiscal naivete that caused this catastrophe.

I do have a simple suggestion that might allow Detroit to make lemonade out of the bushel of lemons that it now has on hand (a thought I also had for the South Bronx when it was in rampant decay.)  I think that tens if not hundreds of blocks of contiguous abandoned homes and businesses in downtown Detroit should be bulldozed and a gigantic verdant municipal park should be created ... as a centerpiece of an eventually revitalized city.  It might even get Mitt Romney to donate the millions of dollars it will cost ... then name it for his father, George.

Afterward: For another interesting take on Detroit, see: The Diplomad Blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Coat Hanger

There is one problem with getting old ... and that is that you remember things.  And one thing I distinctly remember is that the big push to legalize abortions 40 years ago was that it would remove coat hangers and back alleys from this practice. Abortions would be performed in sanitary clinics by medical staff who would save countless women's lives.  This seemed sensible to me and I went along with this narrative.

Now, it seems that this practice, which was supposed to be safe, legal and rare (quoth Bill Clinton) has become much less rare and, although it is most often legal, it is becoming far less safe ... witness which recently went down in Philadelphia (see: USA Today Story)

So now to restore some sane, sanitary and safety standards to the practice of abortions, the state of Texas in particular, and other states have passed laws which restrict abortions after 20 weeks, require clinics to have admitting privileges in local hospitals, and mandate periodic sanitary inspections (see: Washington Post Story).  Suddenly, many of those militant women who marched in the streets demanding "women's reproductive health" seem to be changing their tune and are fighting these new abortion guidelines tooth and coat hanger.

I don't get it.

The Punch Bowl Saga

Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Ben Bernanke, is testifying in front of Congress again today ... very likely for the last time.  And he is telling both houses and the stock markets exactly what they want to hear ... that monetary tightening will not be started by the Federal Reserve Bank "for the foreseeable future" (see: CNBC Story). This is in stark contrast to what he said one month ago when he suggested that the Fed's tapering-off of its quantitative easing ($85 billion of money printing per month) would begin later this year and would likely be done by mid-year next (see: How Many Angels). Predictably these previous Bernanke remarks caused interest rates to soar and the stock market to swoon.

So the candy-man, Ben has appeared to reversed himself and promised to keep pumping money into the financial markets ... an action that is now being frequently compared to providing a dope-fix to drug-users. In the past, the Fed's job has been rather compared to taking away the punch bowl just as the party is getting a "glow-on and singing fills the air."  Only this time, Bernanke has seemingly lost his nerve and is refilling the punch bowl with grain alcohol ... probably not the long-term smartest thing to do for the U.S. economy.

But then how many smart things is this country doing these days anyway?


Now that Trayvon Martin's girlfriend, Rachel Jeantel, has given MSNBC's Piers Morgan a primer in Ebonics (see: Huffington Post Story), I am reminded of the School Board of Oakland, California's attempt to teach this same argot in its schools ... all those 17 years ago.  Back then, damning the PC torpedoes, I created a listing of other languages that I thought that Oakland could tutor to its diversified student population.  It was passed around the Internet ... for which I got little credit.  Perhaps this time it will be different:


Afro-American Speak: Ebonics (“Ebony” + “Phonics”)

Irish-American Speak: Leprechaunics                      

Native-American Speak: Kimosabics                           

Italo-American Speak: Spumonics (or Rigatonics)

Chinese-American Speak: Wontonics                           

Japanese-American Speak: Mama-sanics                       

Polish-American Speak: Kielbasanics                         

Jewish-American Speak: Zionics                         

Russian-American Speak: Rasputonics                          

Spanish-American Speak: Flanics                        

Scottish-American Speak: Tartanics                              

Eskimo-American Speak: Harpoonics                           

German-American Speak: Autobahnics (or Teutonics)

French-American Speak: Cornichonics (or Escargonics)

Oakland-School-Board Speak: Moronics

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The American Voter

Yesterday, the United States' Attorney General, Eric Holder, addressed the NAACP convention and made his pitch to negate the "stand your ground" laws in many states.  He based this appeal upon the outcome of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial where, as it turns out, this law was never claimed as a defense by Zimmerman's lawyers.  Never you mind.  Even though Holder obviously knew this, he was clearly confident that his audience and the American public didn't.  So he assumed the majority of American voters would not notice such demagoguery and, except for Fox News and some radio talk shows, they didn't.  All around the country, sleazy politicians, over-paid athletes, nebbish news makers, ego-maniacal movie stars and others wishing to get into or stay in the spotlight are using George Zimmerman's acquittal as a way of burnishing their images with America's dumbed-down populus.

The one notable exception, believe it or not, was former President, Jimmy Carter, who thought the verdict was justified ... based upon the charges and the facts ... see: Politico Story.  It seems about ever ten years or so Jimmy gets it right ... but not so the case with Hillary Clinton's $200,000 30-minute sisterhood speech ... see: Another Politico Story.

To me, our majority-moronic electorate is a very frightening demographic.  If such nose-picking behavior has become the norm in our society, how will we ever retain our military, economic, and moral hegemony in the world?  I sadly suppose we won't ... unless things change.  Perhaps, instead of encouraging absolutely everyone to vote (sometimes more than once), it might be a good idea to limit future voter eligibility by using some reasonable metric of perspicacity?  Perhaps, what was Hillary Clinton's former job?  Or where is Benghazi?  Or, within a few trillion dollars, how big is our national debt?  (But not, who is Justin Bieber?!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good Carbon Dioxide

Maybe it’s my imagination but I seem to discern that trees and other vegetation are particularly lush this year.  Yes, here in Boston, we have had lots of rain, but could it also be that the flora here is feasting on our elevated levels of CO2?  In case you are not up on paleontology, during the Carboniferous Period (280-340 million years ago), CO2 levels were about ten times higher than what they are now. This is when plant life was oversized and rampant and when most of the coal, natural gas and petroleum was squished away underground for our current use.  Of course, this then presaged the gigantic plant-eating dinosaurs which then presaged the carnivorous dinosaurs which ate the plant-eaters.

As opposed to the teachings of the Cult of the Global-Warmers and the Environmental Protection Agency, CO2 is a good gas … not a pollutant.  It is a plant food and absolutely essential for floral life … even though it represents well less than 0.04% of our atmosphere (see: MI Stupid Site).  Are you surprised by such a small number?  If you ask the average person on the street for this percentage, I’m certain you will get a number hundreds of times larger (I know because I’ve done it.)

So why is there such global angst over a very small increase in this beneficial aerosol?  I think that we humans are rightfully concerned about our environment … and yet have very little understanding of how it works.  Therefore, we are easily panicked by self-serving charlatans and equally-ignorant politicians who take advantage of this anxiety. Interestingly the Chinese seems to have taken a much more pragmatic attitude toward this so-called impending global disaster … see: Powerline Blog and note many of the provocative queries therein

So, CO2 feeds all the world’s plants, makes our bread rise, and adds sparkle to our soft drinks and champagne.  It is not poisonous (that is carbon monoxide, CO) and is in much higher concentrations in our globe’s southern hemisphere (where it is getting colder) than in the northern hemisphere (where it might be getting slightly warmer).  This is not only counter-intuitive … but I think proves that there are many other things affecting our world’s climate than the callously castigated CO2.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Role Reversal

There is a recurring question among the liberal apologists for Trayvon Martin insofar as the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict in his Florida trial.  It is, “If the roles were reversed and Trayvon were white (/Hispanic?) and George were black, would Zimmerman have been found guilty?”  This, of course, implies that rampant racism still exists (particularly in the South) to the point where it always trumps our justice system.

Of course such a hypothesis is impossible to answer because the smug posers of this query will accept no answer except in the affirmative. However, we do have an convenient analogy to this posit in the O.J. Simpson trial where a black man brutally killed two whites and yet was found not-guilty.  Yes, it wasn’t in the South, but it involved an immense amount of evidence of O.J.’s guilt which was conveniently ignored by a mostly all-black jury … primarily because one of the arresting officers had once used the N-word.

Let us return to the original supposition where we need to do a total role-reversal:  Imagine that white Trayvon Martin has been suspended (and expelled?) from multiple schools for fighting.  He is a regular user of marijuana … possibly other drugs … and is likely a small-time drug dealer.  He has bragged about his gang connections on Facebook … as well as posting personal pornography there.  Whereas, George Zimmerman is a Afro-American A-student and has ambitions of getting into law enforcement (or, to use the media’s pejorative, is a “wannabe cop”).

Zimmerman is licensed to carry and has volunteered for his neighborhood watch after multiple incidents of white punks invading homes there and robbing black residents.  On the fateful night, Trayvon is suspiciously on his way back to his white father’s house there as he has just been suspended from school for 10 days … probably for punching-out a school-bus driver.  You know the rest of the story … white Trayvon Martin is dead and black George Zimmerman is accused of second-degree murder.  President George W. Bush has said that Trayvon Martin looks like he could have been his son.

Would an all-black jury in Florida have found our transformed George Zimmerman guilty of anything? Come-on, get serious. Justice is blind … but it is not brain-dead.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

He Could've Been ...

my son (quote from Barack Obama) ...  I can't find the words to describe how outrageous it is for the President of the United States to intervene in any criminal prosecution.  It was, at the very least, prejudicial (if you will excuse the term).  But as most awake people know, that is exactly what happened in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin shooting case now wrapping up in Florida.  And this wasn't the first time.  Lapsed lawyer Barack Obama has meddled in other legal matters from which he should have distanced himself.  In the case of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) police acting "stupidly," it cost him a six-pack of beer to smooth things over.  But here, things are a lot more serious.  Not only did our President, but also the race-baiters, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have stuck their greased fingers into this matter.  Even our Attorney General, Eric Holder, has traveled to Florida improperly to insinuate himself into this case.

Shame on all of them.  I have little doubt that, if on the odd chance that George Zimmerman is convicted of anything (which I doubt), that his defense attorneys have oodles of reason to appeal his conviction ... based on nothing more than that former attorney, the surrogate father to Trayvon Martin, and the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States, Barack Obama's mischievous meddling.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Morsi Less

The events in the last few days in Egypt could have (and I expect will have) a profound effect on the events of the next few years. The fact that the Obama administration was a clear backer of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood can do nothing to buff their image among the Middle East modernists.  In fact the rioters in Cairo and throughout Egypt recognized this with placards denouncing Obama and our Egyptian Ambassador.

David Brooks has an oped in Friday's NY Times which is pretty much dead on in his assessment of what the events in Egypt presage for the Muslim Brotherhood (see: NY Times Opinion).  Here is an eerie quote from same:
Islamists might be determined enough to run effective opposition movements and committed enough to provide street-level social services.  But they lack the mental equipment to govern.  Once in office, they are always going to centralize power and undermine the democracy that elevated them.
I can only ask ... is Brooksie also trying to tell us something also about the state of affairs in the U.S of A.?  And, for myself, I believe that this resurgent secularism as recently exhibited in Egypt might find willing imitators in Turkey and possibly even Iran.  I hope we can find the courage and the voice to do something this time around.  And, for those in this country who clearly have been embracing the Islamists, you might have some serious backpedaling to do before the 2016 elections (I think you know whom I mean.)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Out of Africa

One might call it "fiddling while Rome is burning" … or an early case of “senioritis” … or, to use the silly White House term, “leading from behind” … but clearly President Obama is detaching himself from governing (if he ever was attached.)   His extravagant trip (family vacation?) to Africa (see: Breitbart Story) seems to this commentator to be a series of vacuous photo ops and frivolous distractions from important national and world issues.  The many domestic scandals and problems plaguing his administration desperately need his attention … as do the volatile events in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, the European Union, Russia, world-wide central banking systems, etc.  Yet he seems distracted and somehow disinterested … e.g., “I’m not going to scramble jets to capture Snowden.”

Yes Obama is suave … someone who can read a teleprompter as though he knows what it all means.  But he is also the President of the most powerful country in the world (at least in title if not in form) and there are a large number of things that need his attention and leadership: domestic job growth, tax reform, entitlement reform, management of our transition to Obamacare, reduction of our crushing deficits, foreign-policy fibrillation, the threat of growing Islamic extremism, the dramatic increase in student-loan interest rates, our decaying national infrastructure, the scandals plaguing many in his Cabinet, and maybe even immigration reform.  Yet he has really acted on none of these issues.  Yes, he has talked about most of them and made rhetorical promises, but there is a chasm between his talk and his actions.

I am not a historian, but I have a suspicion that Obama is in real danger of becoming the Calvin Coolidge of our time … only as opposed to being labeled Silent Cal (detached and no action), he might be better tagged Blathering Barry (all talk and no action).