Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Benedictine or Tibetan?

This morning over breakfast my seven-year-old, who seems rather fixated on how quickly time passes these days, noted that "The year seems like a month!"

At that point my three-year-old, who either doesn't hear clearly or has a very developed sense of humor (I'm betting on the latter, based on experience) echoed, "The year sings like a monk!"

Given the events of this year, I'm inclined to picture the year singing like the monks in Monty Python's "Holy Grail", complete with the smacking of heads with boards.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pardon, Your Intolerance Is Showing

It seems gay rights activists are up in arms over Obama's selection of Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration. Why? Because Warren supported Prop 8 in California.

What is odd about this is that Obama himself has gone on record saying he does not support gay marriage for religious reasons. Granted, "not supporting" is not the same as "opposing", but it's still splitting the hair pretty thin for gay activists to support Obama and yet get upset over Warren's selection. Why does Obama get a pass for his stance, while Warren does not?

It's a single prayer at a single event, and yet the gay activists are willing to burn more credibility over this. Obama claims he disagrees with Warren on a number of issues, and probably Warren disagrees with Obama on a number of issues. Yet both are willing to come together on this.

So who is intolerant now?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Return to Bill-dome

The headline on reads "Obama team: No Inappropriate Contact". I have to admit my first thought was "Now there's a sexual harrassment scandal?!"

Nope. It turns out he's released a formal statement about the scandal around his senate seat.

What's more, the official statement was no "inappropriate conversations".

Nice headlining, guys.

Employee Termination

Someone else had to bring to my attention this lovely gem from a company memo today:

"We are excited to off our associates..."

What can I say? We're a tough company! We don't just lay-off employees. We terminate...with extreme prejudice!

A Shoe, A Shoe, To You and You and You...

To their credit, a majority of Iraqis seem to abhor the incident in which a reporter threw shoes at President Bush during a news conference.

Some of the comments following the article suggest that more Americans should consider learning some basic respect. A majority of the Iraqi comments seemed to center around the proper treatment of guests, even if the guest is an enemy.

Manners: You'd think a wealthy country like America could afford some.

On a side note, Bush must keep in good shape! I don't know if I could have dodged so quickly. I also have to wonder if US reporters could throw shoes as accurately as this guy did. Impressive all around!

UPDATE: Some are questioning the response of the Secret Service, suggesting they showed unusual restraint, and that they were slow getting to the president.

I know for myself the first time I watched the video I wondered what took them so long. But when I watch it again I realized that time dilation took over--in times of excitement things appear to slow down. In reality there were about two seconds between when the first shoe flew and when he was being wrestled to the ground. He got the second throw off while he was being grabbed. One to two seconds after that there were agents pouring through the door behind Bush, and an agent appears out of the crowd, only to be waved off by the President.

In reality, that was a pretty fast response time for a situation where everything was so heavily locked down that they felt comfortable to have all security out of sight:
"Everyone in that room passed through several layers of security," Agent Ed Donovan tells ABC News. Screening included magnetometers, sweeps by K9 dogs and U.S. military bomb squads. Donovan says name identification checks were done on all the journalists to confirm they were representing news organizations.
I am surprised there weren't more agents in the crowd who could interpose themselves between Bush and anyone even more determined to do harm, but it's also hard to know what restrictions they were operating under.

My hat is off, though, to the reporter in the red shirt (Star Trek, anyone?) seated in front of where the assailant launched his shoes from. He responded pretty quickly, too. He turned, assessed the situation, and was then up and in the assailant's face, nearly blocking the second shot. Not bad for a reporter. That he responded at all puts him ahead of most people.

As someone points out, the most interesting thing is what you don't see: guns.

My Kingdom for a Dime

Our company has had a policy of letting employees make personal copies for five cents each. Collection has been on the honor system, with little collection boxes by each printer. This has been a wonderful convenience for me, as I can print out my homeowners association newsletters (I'm president) without having to go to a copy shop.

Recently we went through a major renovation of the building, and in the process the collection boxes disappeared. I've had to track down the department secretary and pay her directly, which is still much easier and quicker than going to a copy shop. I printed out another newsletter last week and took her the money to cover it.

A little while ago she contacted me through the company instant messenger to thank me for my integrity. Evidently it's not that common that people pay for their copies, which is sad. People are willing to sell their souls for five cents?

I just hope that everyone else doesn't ruin it for me. It's incredibly convenient. I used to print out the newsletters at the local office supply store, which would take close to an hour out of my evenings. And then there was the time I spent an extended session with a clerk who was either very lousy at math or even more lousy at explaining how billing worked. The way she explained it it would actually cost more to make one double-sided copy than it would cost to get two single-sided copies.

She eventually caved in and gave me a discount (ie. the right price), but she made it very, very clear she was only doing so to save me as a customer and to get me to leave. Which I was happy to do. I'll still shop that store, but I'll never get copies there again. It's unfortunate, as other clerks I've worked with were quite nice and understand basic math.

On the other hand, I'm thrilled with the service I get at the Schucks Auto Parts stores in my area. I've had good experiences with the store closest to my house, and last week I had a great experience with another store farther away. I'd been out running errands and remembered I needed a bulb for my car's dome light. I stopped at a competitor store first, but they were already closed.

Farther on up the street I saw a Shucks store, and the "Open" light was still on. I pulled in, and then noticed the Store Hours sign indicated they should have closed ten minutes earlier. I decided to try it anyway. I poked me head in the door and asked the clerk if they were still open.

He said that they were, but if the register hadn't been closed yet he'd be happy to help me. He then personally looked up the bulb I needed and, finding the register was still open, rung up my $3 purchase. He could have told me it was too late and I would have understood. But he didn't, and now I'll never willingly go anywhere else.

Heck, I even sent a email of commendation to the company.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Auto-Destruct System Activated

I'm still ambivalent about the auto industry bailout. I think what I most wish for at this point is that they'd make up their minds and either do something or not, but make the dang decision so the auto-makers can get on with their self-destruction or find other options. I would hope they haven't put all their eggs in the government bread-basket, but if they have, dragging this out is only going to make it worse.

Frankly, for the long term I think it would be a good thing if we lost one or two of the Big Three. The market is saturated. With all the foreign options it's getting hard to tell everyone apart. Too much choice just drives the prices down--good for consumers, bad for businesses. Do we really need five different options for one type of car? From one company? Out of at least eight I can name off the top of my head?

Since I'm into movie quotes today, I'll sum up with this: "Spock says the Klingons will die without our help. I say 'let them die!'"

I'm Not Dead Yet!

I no more than say I'm going out of business when I find this over on Instapundit:
Do "liberals" generally favor liberalization? Do they favor greater freedom to choose? Liberalization is the loosening of restrictions on individual liberty.
The article then goes on to list a number of issues and suggests what true liberalism should do on these issues. The bottom line:
Do we think the Democrats will move to liberalize any of these?

What will they liberalize?

Why again do we call them "liberals"?

An interesting viewpoint. Read the whole thing. I suspect that when it comes to politics, ideologies, and the nomenclature we use, Inigo Montoya sums it up best: "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Heck, these days you can't even tell the players WITH a program.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First Annual Sag Awards

I seem to have been a victim of Election Fervor. Now that most of the election and fallout is over I find I've lost much of my interest in what's going on in politics. I'm still keeping track of things, but I find I have much less to say. I mean really, other than "Oh my gosh!", what can you say about the arrest of Illinois Governor Blagojevich(?)? The only concern here, really, is how much more is going on across the political world that we AREN'T finding out about? For every stupid/clumsy/greedy politician that gets caught there are plenty more who (for now) are keeping things under the radar.

But I digress. I think I'm going to give up on this blog for now. I'm kicking around some ideas for another blog/site right now--one that is both more interesting to me and more original than a political blog.

Thanks for dropping by, but if you're looking for centrist political views, try The Purple Center. As I've said before, he/she/it is doing what I had planned to do, only better.

Ciao for now!

EDIT: Okay, maybe not. Perhaps I should just say "I won't be posting as often."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Obama Cabinet Roundup

I've been focusing on other things lately, but The Purple Center has been following the Obama administration announcements. Publius is perhaps more optimistic about it than I am, but I think we both can agree that so far Obama is showing no signs of yanking America hard to port.

Heck, even Rush Limbaugh seems to approve of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. But perhaps not for the right reasons.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

If you want taxpayer money, be prepared to grovel. Unless, of course, you're the government. First, we have this:
This week, the automakers are going out of their way to show deference to lawmakers and a willingness to flog themselves for past mistakes. “I think we learned a lot from that experience,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally told The Associated Press in an interview.

Mulally said he’d work for $1 per year if his firm had to take any government loan money. The company’s plan also says it will cancel all management employees’ 2009 bonuses, scrap merit increases for its North American salaried employees next year, and sell its five corporate aircraft.

So why shouldn't we have this?:
So in a show of good faith, I would like to see our federal leaders take the lead in fiscal accountability by refusing to accept a salary until, as they've demanded of the automakers seeking a bailout, they can demonstrate a plan to bring their enterprise into the black and repay their debt. Until then, Congress should just be grateful that, like the fat cat executives that they castigate, their pay is not determined by their performance, and avoid drawing undue attention to the fact with their hypocrisy.

I hadn't thought about it this way before, but I have to agree. If the Federal Government wants to lecture companies on poor performance, greed, and excess at the top, they should be required to look in the mirror and hold themselves to the same standards.