Friday, October 30, 2009

Smart does not equal leadership

Going after Fox News wasn't enough. Now the Administration is going after....automotive website

Perhaps Sting is right and Obama is super-smart. But he sure hires some stupid people, and seems to be unable to lead them away from doing stupid things. If that's the case, being super-smart just isn't going to cut it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sting drinks the Obama kool-aid

Sting is going down on record as an Obama devotee:
"In many ways, he's sent from God," he said in an interview, "because the world's a mess."

Huh? The world is a mess, and Obama is elected in the middle of it, so that means Obama is sent from God? By that rationale, Putin's sent from God, Chavez is sent from God, Sarkozy is sent from God, and on and on. Why exactly is it Obama's job to fix the world? At what point does the World become responsible for itself.

At any rate, I'm not likely to take Sting's word (he's agnostic at best) on who is or isn't sent from God. I'm a fan of his music, and this won't change that. And, unlike many famous people with political opinions, Sting has actually done something to try to improve the world. But reading his biography is enough to convince me I don't want to take his word on what is right or wrong without question.

At any rate, he's obviously not open minded when it comes to those of us opposed to Obama:
The British singer, who released the seasonal album "On A Winter's Night" this week, said he's fascinated by American politics, Obama, and also by Obama's opponents on the right.

"It's aggressive and violent and full of fear," he said of the backlash against Obama. "They don't want change, they want things to feel the same because they feel safe there."

If the opposition is aggressive it's because the left taught us that's what protesters need to be before anyone will pay attention to them. As for the violence, I wish he's cite an example. If he's referring to the Tea Party protests this year then he's way off base. By and large, the only violence at those protests came from the counter-protesters.

As for the "full of fear" part, that's pretty rich coming from someone who is seldom exposed to the fears most of the rest of us have. It's not likely any change in government policy is going to put him out of his many homes. I suspect he's not concerned about extended periods of not working.

Perhaps we are full of fear, Mr. Sumner, but that's because we live in the real world, not the jet-setting world of the hyper-rich-and-famous. And unlike you, no journalists are asking us for our political opinions. If we were to call the Iranian government to request the release of political prisoners I wouldn't even get through, though I'd probably be taken no more seriously if I did.

You see, the rest of us--who you are usually quick to dismiss as "medieval", fearful, and unwilling to talk about real issues--actually have to worry about such mundane matters as food and clothes. We have enough trouble paying for one house, let alone several mansions. We're tired of rich well-to-dos telling us WE are the problem and that we should just shut up and let the smart people fix us.

So thank you for your lovely opinion, but no thanks. I'm not convinced that I, in my opposition of Obama, am making the world a worse place than are the Sudanese government or Al Qaeda. Perhaps super-smart Obama and you might want to focus some attention on those problems instead of how to silence Fox News or how to cram yet another bad idea bill down the American throat.

Or how about dealing with AIDS and other diseases in Africa? Oh wait, that was Bush who did that. And we don't like to talk about him. He wasn't sent from God to clean up the mess, and so everything he DID do to help clean it up should be ignored. It's much better to back a president who gets awards for the mere potential to solve problems.

Sting, you are more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize than Obama, and I don't say that lightly. I know at least some of what you've done to try and make the world better. Perhaps in four years Obama will deserve it. But for now, his getting the award just makes light of the real efforts you and thousands of others have made since before Obama was out of high school.

Obama should be singing your praises, not the other way around. But then you've got a new album to promote, so I guess whatever it takes to grab a headline, right?

Teen-age angst-ridden vampires and the girls who love them

It's Halloween Week at the video store where I work, and so we're showing Halloween-related videos on the screens around the store all week. Yesterday was "Twilight" day. I'll admit up front I know very little about Twilight--and I don't care to be enlightened. I find the idea of vampires not being able to go out in sunlight because they "sparkle" to be silly. What the author seems to have done is show laziness by wanting to create tragic immortal beings who were not really vampires without going through the effort of establishing something else.

Anyway, the movie's tag-line keeps bothering me: "If you live forever, what do you live for?", or something like that. It occurred to me that nowhere have I ever seen vampires try to do anything useful with their immortality. At best they create art or something, but most of the time they sit in Gothic mansions and brood, plotting and scheming against their own kind.

Why is it we never seen a vampire given to scientific pursuits? Imagine what an immortal researcher could accomplish? They have all the time they need to ground themselves in the history and theory of their field, all the time in the world to patiently test each hypothesis. They don't need to worry about achieving some great, life-defining work before they die, because they don't.

I'm not so naive as to think vampires might do this to benefit humanity. But imagine the things they could do to benefit themselves, at least. But they never do that. Vampires are wasting their immortality. So why do all these vampire fans want to believe that vampires are somehow superior to mere mortals? They waste all the positive aspects of their existence.

It's no wonder vampires are so popular with goths and certain other crowds. Many of these people do with their own mortality what vampires do with their immortality. They waste it on brooding.

I'll settle for half that in cash

The big news story on the front page of my paper today was that the 30,000 jobs created or saved by the Stimulus Bill may have been over-stated.

I'm not so concerned about the numbers being wrong by 5-6,000. I'm concerned that some considered that number to be good news at all. Our economy continues to lose more jobs in a week (some months, in a day) and we're somehow supposed to be convinced that this is a sign that the Stimulus is working?

According to my calculations, that means each one of those jobs cost taxpayers $26,233,333. Give me that money. For what they spent to save just one job I'll create at least 1,000 jobs with that. Deal?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We rented the movie Chocolat this weekend. Yes, we're behind the times. Nearly everyone of the female gender and many of the male gender have already seen that movie and declared it the best movie ever.

It's a good movie, but we're not breaking into best ever territory. But it is a good movie nonetheless. It does much to continue my enjoyment of Alfred Molina and Judi Dench. But I figured early on that this was going to be yet another one of those movies that vilifies religion as the enemy of all things fun. In fact I suspect that this one aspect is the primary reason why this movie is the favorite of some.

This idea is only buried in the last few minutes of the film, but well enough that I believe it was not the intention of the script to make religion the villain yet again. After all, the real trouble was not the Church or its pastor. After all, Pere Henri was a secret Elvis fan, and was just as cowed by Comte de Reynard as everyone else. And once freed of the the Comte's domination he uttered the sermon that supposedly changed everything.

So it could be argued that the enemy was really The State, and the intrusion of The State upon religion. But that also would be too easy, really. Both the State and the Church were but levers of power by which the Comte tried to control everyone and everything. Ultimately the movie had nothing to say about religion--or chocolate, for that matter.

No, the movie was about life and the little dead-end alleys we get ourselves into and lack the drive, the courage, or the moral fiber to get ourselves out of. In this Vianne, the purveyor of chocolate who turns the town upside down, was just as stuck as everyone else. She could see others' problems quite clearly and was able to help them, but she was completely blind to her own. The opposition mounted by the Comte de Reynard only provided her with the excuse to continue as she always had; picking up her daughter and her life and moving off to the next town to solve more problems and continue ignoring her own.

There is much to be found in the movie. It is a tight, well-told story. It it story-telling done right. It is not anti-church or anti-religion or anti-sin or anti-anything, except anti-"stuck". It's just that the plethora of Hollywood dreck that takes the lazy road of vilifying religion makes it all to easy to view this movie as being just one more of the same.

This is a movie about people, and what lies in their hearts; what makes them people. It is about the ability of people to examine their lives and makes something different of them. It is about the ability of people to reach out to one another and help them to take that first step in remaking themselves. The truth in this movie comes from the fact that every single character suffers from the very same problem, even their would-be savior, and that every single person needs someone else.

Not a single character ends the movie the same as they began it, and with only a single exception all are better off for their interactions along the way. It's a lot like life, only better. And that's what good stories are all about.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More on Obama v. Fox News

From Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Magazine:
It’s a cringe-inducing moment, both for those who oppose the White House on policy grounds and those who cheer its every move. As surely as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton allowed their personal flaws to erode the office of the presidency, Obama seems bent on allowing his own flaws (thin-skinnedness, hubris) to do potentially grave damage to the office as well. And over what? Not some grand policy matter or some key personnel matter, but over the desire to exclude a news network that has criticized him.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Obama, the war is in Afghanistan

The White House continues to escalate its war on...Fox News.

Last week, White House communications director Anita Dunn said Fox News operates "almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."

Jay Nordlinger at NRO makes the necessary comparison between Fox News and another news outlet who, evidently is not the research/communications arm of the Republican Party.

Evidently Fox News' sin is not being a hack for a political party, but being a hack for the wrong party. Heaven knows that if there is any vehement glee on the part of Fox news when they break a story that makes Democrats or the Democrat's friends look bad, there is just as much vehement glee by the other networks as they try hard NOT to cover it.

In any case, Karl Rove makes a good point:
Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and former White House adviser to President George W. Bush, said the Obama administration is trying to demonize Fox News for asking questions officials do not like. He compared Obama's approach to that of President Richard Nixon, who included journalists on an "enemies list."

"This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list," Rove said. "And it's unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States to so do."

While the Bush White House did complain about news coverage, I don't recall them ever singling out a network for attack. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Had they done so there would have been a furor, I'm sure. But now we have a White House doing the very the last administration was only accused of, and there is dead silence.

Until the White House also calls out other news networks for their biased defense of the administration they really have no credibility in their claims. It is quite obvious they don't like Fox News only because they are critical of their administration.

In continuing this war all they are really doing is calling more attention to the fact that Fox News is the only source of news that doesn't support Obama's agenda. They can't buy better advertising than that. You'd think that seeing Fox News' market share continue to rise would warn the White House to try a different strategy to silence dissent.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Education in America

The newspaper reported today that Obama wants to extend the school day to help students become more competitive with students in Asia. As the parent of a first grader who already feels he spends too much time in school I don't like the sound of that.

For one thing, this is apparently all based off of standardized test scores. If we want American children to be competitive we don't accomplish that by teaching them to pass rote tests. That accomplishes nothing. We don't produce the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Donald Trump by making sure they all know the same facts and skills as every other kid in the world.

If we're trying to produce a generation of regurgitative drones we've already lost the game. India and China can out-produce us there any day. What America needs to stay on top is innovative creators. I'm afraid Obama's vision for American education is little more than a more PC version of the ads--you know, the ones where kids relate dreams such as "I want to claw my way to middle management," or "I want to have my redundant skills outsourced to India", or other stuff like that.

We don't need kids who can pass tests. We need kids who can dream up the future and then go get it. You don't accomplish that with milquetoast visions of homogeneous classrooms where everyone is made to feel good about themselves whether they actually deliver the goods or not, or where the brighter students are forced to slow down to accommodate the slower learners so they won't feel bad.

No, we need schools that teach kids that you achieve through hard work, perseverance, and by taking risks, and that if Johnny feels bad because he didn't do as well you should see if you can't help him do better next time, but ultimately it's his own responsibility.

The students need to learn that, mind you, not the teachers. The teachers should be just as concerned about Johnny as they are about Jenny the bold, outgoing, future entrepreneur. We should give teachers the tools, support, and respect to teach every kid at their own level. But they should not feel obligated to knock Jenny down a few notches by teaching her that getting ahead is somehow wrong.

Heaven knows Jenny will get a hard enough time from the other kids who are not as motivated. I saw that again and again growing up. The average kids would single out and pick on the high achievers and try to embarrass them into coming down to their level rather than just studying harder themselves. Kids can be mean that way. We don't need the teachers doing that too.

No, if other countries are starting to beat America it's not because their students can pass standardized tests better. It's because somewhere along the line they're instilling their children with confidence, creativity, and drive. Those matter more than whether a child can quote from memory the Pythagorean Theorem. Someone with confidence, creativity and drive will soon be able to hire someone else to remember that for them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If Europe wants him, they can have him

Joel Kotkin poses an interesting explanation of Obama's popularity in Europe:
Barack Obama's seemingly inexplicable winning of the Nobel Peace Prize says less about him than about the current mentality of Europe's leadership class. Lacking any strong, compelling voices of their own, the Europeans are now trying to hijack our president as their spokesman.

I can't quite agree with him that Europe's health care system is better than ours without some clarification of criteria, but his overall premise is sound.

White House declares war on Fox News

From the New York Times:
Attacking the news media is a time-honored White House tactic but to an unusual degree, the Obama administration has narrowed its sights to one specific organization, the Fox News Channel, calling it, in essence, part of the political opposition.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” said Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, in a telephone interview on Sunday. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Of course all it takes to undertake a "war against Barack Obama" is to actually report the news, as opposed to all the "legitimate" news organizations out there who cover up stories, spin everything White-House-ward, provide Obama with free infomercial time, and get tingles up their legs every time their darling boy speaks.

In America, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave, either. Perhaps Fox news will go easier on the White House when the rest of the "legitimate news organizations" start doing their jobs again.

It's no wonder that news organizations across the country are failing--and that the government is so eager to bail them out.

News you can abuse

Found this on this morning

...because they plan to conspire with Iran to circumvent any sanctions anyway.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don't tell me the Internet hasn't changed the world

Yesterday my wife and youngest son went to several yard sales and came home with, among other things, a model of the Shuttle Tydirium (a space ship from Star Wars). I knew I'd be the one putting it together, and that I just had my evening planned for me.

I came home from work later in the day to find all three kids clustered around the box, excited for Dad to start work on it. So excited were they that they had removed all the pieces from their sprues. No problem, so long as the instructions were clear enough. Except there were no instructions. I tried to put a adventurous face on it, hoping we could figure out how things went together if we thought really hard.

Then I got the idea to check online. People put all sorts of odd things online these days. Sure enough, there is a gentleman who posts an amazing amount of information about his various modeling projects. I was saved.

I know it's been said many times many ways, but the Internet makes an enormous amount of information available that would have been impossible even ten years ago. And while it may not be that big of deal in the grand scheme of things, it salvaged the day for my kids and prolonged the myth that Dad can fix anything for just a little while longer.

Friday, October 09, 2009

And it's just in time for Oscar season...

President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize?

I'd say they had better do something about their flatulent moose up there in Norway. It's obviously effecting the prize committee's ability to think clearly.

I predict an Oscar win for Obama at the next Academy Awards, even though he's not been in any movies...or was he shown somewhere in Michael Moore's latest dorkumentary?

Well, the world has never really listened to a US president. Perhaps they'll listen to the Nobel committee.

UPDATE: A couple thoughts about what Obama should do about this award:

1 - Decline it, as others have already suggested. He can announce that while he's flattered by the award, and appreciates the vote of confidence, he represents America, where results--not ambitions--define who we are. He can then decline the award, asking that they judge him at the end of his tenure based on his actual accomplishments.

2 - Accept the award on behalf of everyone in the world who hopes and works for peace, even if they have yet to achieve their dreams. Paint himself as no more deserving than the Iraqi shop-owner who has reopened his shop in spite of continued violence, or the Peace Corps volunteer helping immunize children in Africa. Something that both honors others who have done more in a less visible way, while politely showing the committee that he thinks they're full of it.

If he accepts the award as is he'll do himself no favors. Sarkozy's recent criticisms will be validated. Rogue-state leaders will look down their noses at him even more and do everything in their power to undermine his new status as a peacemaker. The Muslim world will laud him publicly and oppose him every step of the way.

This award is the last thing Obama needs if he is to be at all effective in the world.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Had to laugh...

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures


My wife was out walking the dog tonight and found one of our neighbors had put a chair out on the sidewalk, along with a note saying it was free to anyone who wanted it. There was a rip in the fabric in the back, but otherwise a clean, attractive chair. We decided to give it a home.

Our daughter has a chair in her room that we picked up over ten years ago from a thrift store. It's served us well for many years. All three of our kids were nursed in that chair. It never was in all that great shape, but a quilt over it hid most of the problems. It's time it retired, however. Or, since it is in no worse shape than it was when we got it, we may take it back to the thrift store.

This new find will likely take its place in our daughter's room. It would look very cute there, and the best spot for it would also hide the rip.

Thank you, neighbor!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Am I missing something?

The CBO has announced that the current Health Care Reform bill will cost $829 billion over ten years, while reducing the deficit $81 billion over ten years.

Something this is a good thing. We spend ten times what we save. Go try again, and come back with a plan that will cost $81 billion and save $829 billion. Then we'll talk.

All I know is that if I were to take a plan to any of my former bosses that called for spending more than you save by any amount I'd get fired. And rightly so.

Who keeps electing these fools?

Bill Whittle on Game Theory and Obama's foreign policy

Whether you love or hate Obama's foreign policy (I think he's doing us irreparable harm), this video by Bill Whittle is an excellent look into human behavior and how game theory predicts it.

I just wish he could have told us how to punish late mergers at off-ramps. That's always been a bit of a sore spot with me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Knowing when the quit

Orson Scott Card is for unions, but against union leadership that fails to realize that they're pushing to far, and the inevitable backlash will not be pretty:
Workers need the rights that unions have won for them, including the right to organize when they want to. Won't it be a shame if, by attacking the rights of workers, the union leadership class causes the whole union movement to be perceived as just another conspiracy against working people?

Sad but true

An observation made on the webcomic Darths and Droids today:
We're not sure exactly when vampires stopped being horrific and became vehicles for adolescent angst, but we suspect roleplayers might have to own up to some of the blame.