Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Odd & Ends

Trying to type with a demanding cat is what leads to today's short post. Sid is recovering from an abscessed wound with the side effect of being really demanding now that it is healing. His life has been unhappy ever since we took in another cat from a young couple who moved out West. They hate each other and have tried to kill each other when my dad and I were in Indiana for a funeral. Sid used to be top cat as far as terrorizing our property, but age has caught up to him and he's slowing down. Thing is, he doesn't think he has and has had his butt handed to him repeatedly over the past year or so. Anyway, it's good to see him happy again.

Great post at Captain's Quarters that illustrates why McCain-Feingold has turned out to be the perfect way to protect incumbents from challengers. McCain is a total piece of opportunistic work and I'm sorry so many haven't yet seen through his facade.

Found a new blog, Adamant, that has some fascinating posts of a scientific bent. I particularly liked this post on black coal vs. natural gas emissions. The other posts are well worth reading too.

Here is a good post on religion and the current conflict going on worldwide.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tax Reform and the Fairtax

Last night, my dad and I rolled into the driveway at a quarter of midnight after a round trip of over 250 miles. Now why would anyone be out on a Monday night on that kind of trip?

The answer is we were giving a presentation to a Farm Bureau board in a distant county on the Fairtax. Or I should say, I was assisting my father as he gave the presentation. Yes, it is more volunteer work that I'm writing about. There are important causes that need volunteers and they are the ones people don't think about first. These are civic minded causes, not charities, and are very important because they are about things that affect most of us, not just some of us. In this case, it is one of the two things you can't escape in life and it isn't death. It's the other one, taxes.

We are being taxed to death in this country, mainly because of non-compliance that adds up to the hundreds of billions of dollars and the federal taxes inflicted in every step of production of products. That's one of the big reasons all our factories are being moved overseas, other countries give massive tax breaks as well as have cheaper labor. Most of the taxes we pay are hidden from us, as companies pass their tax burdens to us in the retail price of products but even with that it is still too expensive to manufacture in the USA. Well, unless you are the Japanese, who have it even worse and are building more and more automotive plants in the Midwest. Anyway, we need to do something to simplify taxes and take the burdens off of the middle class and poor, but most of all make taxation completely transparent to the American people.

The best solution to this and the only one that really guarantees fairness is the national sales tax proposal called the Fairtax. Please check out and especially their FAQ here. It will take some studying to understand it totally, but once you do you will most likely approve of it. Right now, 50% of the lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are there lobbying for tax exemptions and legislation to for companies or organizations who want tax breaks. This is how our Senators and Congressmen dispense favors and is a source of great power in the Legislative branch. Pork in earmarks and riders attached to bills often includes specially worded exemptions for specific corporations without actually naming the company. We get the Fairtax in and the 16th Amendment repealed and we'll see the biggest transfer of power from the federal government back to the people since the Bill of Rights was passed.

Whither Moderate Islam?

For years, we've been hearing from the media about all the moderate Muslims who only want peace, but are made to look bad by the extremists. As I've delved more into Islam in an effort to understand the current world situation, it became apparent that the more devout the Muslim, the more true to the Koran and the Hadiths, the more likely to be intolerant and violent toward non-Muslims that Muslim will be. So reading this article at The Washinton Post, I felt sorrow because of the fact that American Muslims are not assimilating, but are actually separating themselves from the rest of America. The oft reviled "melting pot" is what made the USA such a strong and vibrant free society, with a marketplace of ideas and beliefs bouncing off of each other in creative fermentation. We can see in Africa and the Middle East how tribalism keeps violence alive in a perpetual cycle with no end in sight. Over in Europe, we have unassimilated Muslims poised to be the majority around the middle of the century, if not earlier. Forced conversion and conquest are integral parts of the religion since its founding, with dreams of the worldwide caliphate still strong. Lately the terrorist threats being stopped have been from "home grown" Muslims in the USA, UK, and Germany, not from Saudi Arabia or Egypt like the hijackers of 9/11. So reading about the Muslims here becoming more like the Muslims in Europe is alarming to say the least.

Most people don't want to face it, but we are in an epic clash of cultures that most likely won't be resolved peacefully unless Islam itself changes radically. Given that change is forbidden by Islam (there are those who bend the rules, but the reality is everything is supposed to be set in stone), I don't see it happening anytime soon. We are seeing the Muslim world grow more fundamentalist thanks to the petrodollars of Saudi Arabia funding madrassas around the globe. Malaysia and Indonesia are getting more intolerant of other religions with the classic blame the Jews meme being repeated over and over. In Thailand, Muslims are killing schoolgirls walking to school and leaving their heads at the roadside, all in the name of Allah.

As time goes on, we either successfully weaken Islamic fundamentalism with democratic ideals or we face what is really coming. It is something that nobody wants to think about, something that most are doing their best to avoid talking about. And what is it? War on a scale that has never before been seen in the modern era. Something that makes WWI and WW2 look like Sunday picnics. It will be a war of survival for the West and it will have to be won. Otherwise, we will be seeing our women in burkas and praying toward Mecca five times a day. Not pleasant thoughts at all, but something that has been brewing since the 6th century. Me, I'd like to avoid it, which is why I support our efforts in Iraq and wish we could stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

If the clash does develop the way I think it will, it won't be the end of the world. It will be catastrophic, but the West has been through that kind of thing before with rampaging hordes of Ghengis Khan and the earlier attempts by Islam to conquer Europe. Even earlier, the Persians (we call them Iranians these days) were turned back by the combined city states of Greece. That war was notable for the famous last stand of a badly outnumbered contingent of 300 Spartans and several thousand supporting troops from other areas against at least 100,000 Persians. They did what had to be done to save all of Greece and I hope that we will be brave enough to do the same for Western culture and Judeo-Christian values when the time comes. Great sacrifice will be required and I fear that we have become terribly weak.

If you want to understand what happened with the Spartans, I have to plug a brilliant novel about the battle of Thermoplyae, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.

It's a pity Hollywood will never adapt it, mainly because of the carnage involved and a non-Hollywood ending, but it is a great depiction of honor and duty, two things not taught enough these days. Instead we get The 300 adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel, complete with gratuitous sex and surreal orc like villains. Ah, well.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Musings on Volunteer Work

For some time now, I've been pondering how to get people more involved in helping others out through volunteer work. So far I've come up with nothing that actually works. Guilt, pressure, enthusiasm, begging -- none of them work. A wise man made a comment that caught my attention recently, "Two percent of the people do ninety percent of the work." That's a disturbing thing to think about, especially since it is very true from what I've seen. No wonder so many burn out after doing everything short of bleeding for a cause.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that the two percent in the area I live in are getting too old to do as much as they used to. There are very few, if any, younger people volunteering these days. By younger, I mean the under 60 crowd, not teenagers. The excuses I hear from that age group is that they don't have time, both spouses have to work just to make a living, etc. Some of these same people have no trouble finding time to golf, go to concerts, take multiple vacations a year, or spend time on other recreational activities. Most volunteer work wouldn't take that much time up a week, especially if we had enough volunteers.

I blame the rampant materialism of our time, this keeping up with the Jones is simply out of control. There is also a lot of money spent on expensive toys we really don't need, but hey they kill a lot of time, don't they? Selfishness is a way of life now, which is a worrisome sign of the times. How to overcome that, I wonder?

Looking back at past generations, I see the big break from charitable work beginning with one generation -- the Baby Boomers. It is no coincidence that they were spoiled rotten by parents who went without during the Great Depression, for it is the spoiled who tend to be the least altruistic. They were the first generation to be marketed heavily to from cradle onward, besieged by TV commercials at their most impressionable age but without the jaded cynicism of later generations to offset the influence. They are still the most voracious consumer generation known and soon will be hitting retirement age. But I don't see them helping others out then, the obsession with staying young and affluent runs too strong there.

Of course, there is a possibility they won't retire permanently, as Social Security will not be able to handle entitlements for the entire generation. Those at the end of the Boom will be in the same boat with all of us who came after, a boat with no Social Security lifesavers.

Perhaps I'm sounding too pessimistic about it all, but I suspect there will be some serious hardship for the USA in the not too distant future and that will change the equation. It is hardship that brings forth the best in us humans, not times of prosperity. As things such as regular long distance travel becomes expensive again, we'll see a rebirth of the concept of community. Often, very good things come out of very bad things and I think the pendulum will swing that way.

Of course, I may be too optimistic about that! But I've been a pessimist and I can say being an optimistic realist is a lot more fun.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Demoted to the Minor Leagues

Poor Pluto has never gotten any respect and now has lost its major league status as a planet. It was bad enough that Disney named a none too bright dog after the planet, now it is considered a "small solar system body." Plucky little Pluto used to be our ambassador planet to the outside galaxy, now it is just a "body." Pity poor Pluto.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Perfect Cat Torture Device

For those sadistic souls who like to torture cats, I have found a marvelous and cruel device to use on them. It is called a "weather alert radio" and can be found in catalogs or your nearest Radio Shack. Guaranteed to go off at a minimum of once a week, it randomly screeches loudly depending on the weather. The irritating sound is calculated to flay a cat's soul at a range of 50 feet and if the radio is placed in a high spot, nearly impossible for a feline to turn off. Depending on your house, it may even torment those cats outside. Yes, it is also the perfect thing to Confuse a Cat without the expense of hiring professionals.

Note: No cats were harmed in the writing of this post, including the kitten in my lap.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Kiss of Death...

... Or how every show I like gets cancelled. The latest is Stargate: SG-1 which is currently in its 10th season. What a special present for the fans, a cancellation announcement after the 200th episode aired last Friday. I was a late comer to the series as it was on Showtime and syndication originally, with my only chance to see it being around 11 PM on Saturdays (if that). Once it came to the floundering SciFi channel, it became a much bigger series and I was able to catch up with most of the previous seasons. One of the charms of SG-1 was its sense of humor and willingness to poke fun at itself, which is a nice change from the relentlessly grim scifi and fantasy of the current era. It always struck a nice balance between character development and action, all on a tight budget and under the perpetual threat of cancellation. Some fans didn't like the changes to the cast that happened last year, but I really liked Cam, Vala, and Landry coming in and shaking things up.

Oh well, at least its spinoff, Stargate: Atlantis is getting a 4th season. That series has been banging away on all cylinders this season after having an inconsistent 2nd season. Hopefully, there will be a future for SG-1 as a movie or on another network.

Now for a tally of series that I liked that died early or premature deaths:

Space: Above and Beyond
The Tick
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr
Sledge Hammer
The Night Stalker (original)
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Ned and Stacy
The Flash
Buffalo Bill
Slap Maxwell


I still marvel at how 6000 Nielson families control what we get to see on TV, they are simply too small a sample given the many millions of TV viewers out there.

What a Week!

I'm happy to say Dad and I survived the county fair. At least I had more than one person to spell me at the Republican booth, Dad had only one volunteer on Thursday to give him an extended break. Of the many things I learned over the week, the most important is that you really need at least two people in the booth in order to have fun. All the mean spirited attacks happened on Thursday and things were mellow for the rest of the fair. Even managed to have some good political discussions with some of the fair goers during the slower times, I only got one chapter read of the book I took. All in all, it was a good fair for our local Republicans and Dad managed to get 19 signatures on the Fairtax petition at his booth. Not bad for a first time at the fair and I think he'll do better as more people find out what the Fairtax is.

The fair itself was heavily trafficked despite the rain on Thursday and Friday. In fact, those were the two busiest days we had. Maybe the downpours drove people into the barns and buildings, because the big day of the fair on Saturday was a disappointment at the booths. I expected gangbusters business from what everyone had told me, but it was deathly slow at times. By the time evening came, the booth exhibitors and some of the attendees were getting loopy and the silly things began to happen. Sunday was surprisingly busy, that was the day that was supposed to be dead.

One of the great things about a county fair is getting to interact with a wide variety of people. Add to that the opportunity to talk to the old hands in politics and you have a very educational experience. Great fun having conversations with other volunteers kept things moving along, for I put some long hours in. That included two days straight of 12 hours being at the fair. Needless to say, Dad and I are dragging our sorry butts around.

All in all, it was fun if grueling.

A Dangerous Season

Here it is, August 22, 2006. So far, the Iranians haven't blown anything up other than Kurdish villages during their "wargames". That doesn't mean Israel or the West is off the hook, though. From now until September 11th, the potential for terrorist activities and further war in Lebanon will increase. Iran is the key to this and they are doing nothing BUT saber rattling. Here's a link to excerpts from MEMRI that translate the latest from Iranian leaders in their own country's media. What's amusing is they claim that Article 11 of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty allows countries to secretly build weapons if they fear they are threatened. Powerline shows that to be a lie by quoting Article 11, which would be hilarious if it wasn't such a serious situation. The "multi-faceted" offer Iran gave the UN today won't do a thing to stop their progress in building the bomb, not when Ahmadinejad is making statements like this:
If you want to have good relations with the Iranian people in the future, you should acknowledge the right and the might of the Iranian people, and you should bow and surrender to the might of the Iranian people. If you do not accept this, the Iranian people will force you to bow and surrender.
At least Jerusalem wasn't nuked today and there wasn't a test detonation in the hinterlands of Iran. But it is clear they plan to make the world do what they want.

Update: Iran did attack another country's property. It wasn't the Israelis, but the Romanians! This is interesting if strange, it looks like Iran is starting to flex their military muscles with an aim at controlling the oil in the Persian Gulf.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why We Fight in Iraq

After being exposed to a great deal of anger driven rants about the war in Iraq over the past few days, it was nice to run into a post at Captain's Quarters that contains this little nugget:

"Free societies cannot possibly apply the kinds of security procedures that would make mass transit completely safe, not if they want to remain free societies. We can adopt better technology and hopefully screen airline passengers more effectively, but in truth that approach alone always puts us behind the terrorist curve. They only have to be successful once; we have to be successful every single time, and still protect the civil liberties of the travelers in our nations. The only way to effectively fight terrorism is to fight it somewhere else."

This is why we must take the fight elsewhere, in my opinion, we can't fight here and win without sacrificing our personal freedoms in a dangerous way. Once gone, freedoms are hard to get back. Stop taking the fight to the Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and you will soon see the fight back on our shores. My greatest fear after 9/11 wasn't another attack, it was that the American public would suffer from a short attention span and forget that day as the years went by. This is a generational war, something not seen in modern warfare. Even WWI and WWII were short wars compared to some in the past, so this is new territory for this age. It will be long, agonizing, and will result in one of three outcomes: Islam dominates all of humanity, the fundamentalists are crushed, or democracy and Western ways spread virally through the autocratic Islamic states. Right now we are attempting a noble experiment in trying to bring about the last option. The other two will be horrific and there is a good chance of that happening as isolationism is impossible today, mainly because of modern technology shrinking the planet. I don't know about you, but I'd rather try to bring freedom to those oppressed and misguided people in the Middle East than nuke them.

The rest of Ed Morrisey's post is well worth reading.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

August 22 and Iran

First, please go here

I think Lewis does a good job of summarizing why August 22, 2006 may be a major day in world history. The current leadership in Iran either belong to or are influenced by a minor Shia sect that believes that through promoting chaos, the coming of the Mahdi (the 12th Prophet or Hidden Imam) will be provoked. Why do they consider that a good thing? Well, when the Mahdi emerges from his well he is said to inhabit (by that sect), Jesus will be his assistant who will lead him to the center of Tehran. From there, a final reckoning will begin and Islam will take over the world, with the unbelievers converted or slain. This is the Shia Muslim equivalent of Armageddon.

Being a devout Latter-day Saint, it always baffles me when I see truly religious people thinking they can manipulate God into doing things. While prayer is a form of direct communications, it is a supplication without a guarantee of success. It is truly humble and a plea for help. This belief that He can be coerced or forced into doing something is incredibly arrogant and misguided.

There has been messianic overtones to Ahmadinejad's statements since he first became mayor of Tehran and at times he acts as if he is a prophet himself. This is blasphemy in Islam and why the mullahs there haven't cracked down upon him is a mystery. They have supreme power in Iran, yet I almost get the impression they are afraid of him. Or more ominously, they actually believe in him. Either way, it is clear they have an unstable, dictatorial peacock in charge -- one who may have the A-bomb in his possession soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why Is Iran Destroying Satellite Dishes?

It seems the news out of Iran is ever alarming, now they are destroying privately owned satellite dishes. The official reason is to prevent Western culture from corrupting the people, but the dishes have been around for years. The timing looks suspicious, what with the recent increase in censorship of the news available in Iran on nuclear issues.


As I've grown older and gotten personally involved in politics, I've noticed a trend that has been gaining steam of late. That trend is the use of the word "hate", usually in relation to those who oppose your politics. Occasionally, I see it on the Republican and conservative side, but most often it comes from the mouths of those on the left, especially Democrats. It usually comes out in the form, "I hate Bush, he's destroying our country." Lately, I've seen it spread to other Republicans, especially relating to incumbents in Minnesota. What used to be mainly confined to Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) has been applied to the governor and others without any hesitation or real thought. I fail to see any good coming out of this behavior as it polarizes things even further.

But perhaps polarization is what the DNC wants after losing three elections in a row. When Howard Dean said, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for," it became a defining moment for the direction of the Democratic Party. Instead of reaching out to the middle ground, they didn't just drift toward the far left, they ran screaming to it. Hmm, maybe that's why they wanted Dean to be chairman. The recent ouster of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary is further evidence of the radicalization going on. Because of his pro-Iraq war, pro-security stance, they railroaded him out of the party despite having a liberal voting record that equals Ted Kennedy! That is plain stupid, as Joe will easily win re-election as an independent. But that is only the beginning, take a gander at Michael Moore's threat to Hillary Clinton here.

This reckless rhetoric is a danger to those moderate Democrats who are still in with the other Donkeys. Right now, it looks like they are getting kicked around by the party base which has abandoned all common sense, not to mention the common folk that make up the majority of our country. So what does all this have to do with the word "hate"?

Hatred is a base, primal emotion that leads to rash decisions (or more accurately, reactions) when confronted with any kind of opposition. What I've been seeing is people reacting emotionally more than carefully contemplating issues. So they say they hate a candidate, usually on one issue and only based on a surface understanding of what is going on. The kicker is that they don't want to hear the facts and don't want to know the context because they enjoy the anger. Anger can be highly addictive and I have known a people who admitted to enjoying being angry.

Many people have a "fight or flight" reaction to anger and that is why the word "hate" is especially dangerous. People will react fearfully in some cases, being cowed and bullied, while others will greet hatred with hatred. Both are dangerous outcomes, with the latter the worst, as it can spiral into a tit-for-tat escalation. I'm getting the uncomfortable feeling we have entered an era much like that of the 1830's, when growing divisions started to ferment into the cauldron that became the Civil War a mere thirty years later.

It takes a great deal of self discipline and true sense of caring about others not to reciprocate hate. Both these attributes are in decline in our society, as the basic family structure has eroded since the 1960's. We learn diplomacy in families, we learn to love those we don't necessarily like, and we learn our morals from our parents. With a solid family foundation missing so often these days, people go out into our communities with an attitude of "me first" and an inability to see the needs of the greater good. Of course this is a generalization, but looking at how people treat each other now compared to when I was growing up, there has been a stark change.

Hate is getting in the way of open dialogue and I wish people would think before they bandied that word around. Nothing constructive can come of it. We need at least a thin veneer of civility in order to work together and it isn't that hard to do, is it? United we stand, divided we fall... And we have too many threats in the world coming at us now and in the future. Me, I'm refusing to hate any politician as my small contribution to America.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Are Zombies Popular?

It is the day to set up the county fair booths, so what am I thinking about after getting up this morning? Is it politics or the logistics of the materials needed for the booth? No, my brain is stuck on the inexplicable popularity of the walking undead, AKA zombies. No, not the drug induced Haitian slaves or the poor souls who followed the Grateful Dead around. I'm talking about cannibalistic, brain chomping, slow shuffling, spreading like lice movie zombies.

It all seems to have started with George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, a low budget B &W movie that tossed in at least a little serious social commentary on race, but mainly was about grossing people out. Ever since then, low budget horror movies about zombies have been churned out with great regularity. True, some of them are direct to video or the SciFi Channel, but they appear to be perennial favorites of horror fans. It has spread to comic books, with an entire miniseries called Marvel Zombies being popular, with heroes like Captain America, Wolverine, and the Fantastic Four becoming villains eating the population.

But why? I can understand the popularity of vampires, because that essentially has been about sex ever since Bram Stoker wrote Dracula and we all know that sex and sensuality sells. Women in particular are drawn to trashy vampire novels and there are even people who live a vampiric lifestyle. Werewolves are popular with the guys and I suspect that has to do with the whole hunting reversal theme in those movies. But what is the appeal of shambling masses of rotting flesh wandering around eating people?

I don't get it. My reaction if this happened in reality would be something like this, "Oh, look. A group of zombies is staggering down the sidewalk. I'd better walk a little faster, maybe cross the street. I bet they'll make good target practice after lunch. I wonder if I left the stove on."

The only reason I can figure for zombies being scary is we have become such a lazy society that a slow moving and unintelligent predator is a threat. Is this horror born of loafing around too much combined with our ever shortening attention spans? "DUDE! I'd have to get off this couch and walk to escape this flesh eating monster. That is so unfair! Oh look, Britney's taking her clothes off in her new video... *CHOMP!*"

Forget nukes, all our enemies need is to invent zombies like in the movies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What You Don't See on Broadcast TV

I just read the full transcript of Mike Wallace's unedited interview with President Ahmadinejad which aired on C-SPAN. It appears much was cut out for the 60 Minutes segment. Thank you Vital Perspective for posting this for everyone to read, as it shows just how arrogant and combative Iran's "elected" leader is. Not to mention how openly vain he is, which reminds me all too much of a certain European leader who rose to power in the 1930's. This is a must read for anyone concerned with the state of world affairs right now, as Iran is most likely to become the next nuclear power and controls Hezbollah in Lebanon.

What is really chilling is the verification that the letter he sent President Bush was a classic call to Islam. This is what a true Muslim is supposed to do before attacking an infidel country, so theologically speaking, Ahmadinejad is now permitted to strike first without guilt. Having already called for the destruction of Israel, it is clear that we are next on the list. A letter much like that one was sent to Germany as well, which I found strange - they aren't a direct threat in any way or form. Unless he thinks the Nazis are still in power and really thought they would come over to his side. In that case, he may be crazy as well as fanatic.

Sadly, I don't see anything to indicate anyone will hit Iran before they get the bomb, Western culture is simply too weak to do what is necessary despite how apparent the danger is. We simply have become too civilized.

The Perils of Loving Books

My greatest challenge at the moment outside of poor health is one all too many bibliophiles suffer from -- too many started books lazing about the house. To properly appreciate a book, one must spend quality time with it, doting on it with constant attention. Alas, modern living is about rushing about, multitasking, and dealing with that most infernal of inventions: the telephone. As a consequence, one starts reading a book and is invariably interrupted if not called away entirely. The result is a misplaced book that finds itself abandoned and oft forgotten when another tome captures the reader's fancy. Spurned and bitter, these tomes become depressed and apathetic, sulking and gathering dust. Ah, such a fickle lover of prose I have become! Loving and leaving far too many books as my attention wanders... This is a habit that must be broken.

But enough with the confessional, I come here to praise a book that I am truly smitten with. Around the beginning of the year, I joined Easton Press' 100 Greatest Books
Ever Written club. These beautifully leather bound editions are well worth their premium and I encourage book lovers to at least try Moby Dick, though I am of the opinion that the book is not for everyone. It is a dark book about the nature of evil and a fascinating insight into Herman Melville's own bitter soul, with an almost experimental style of writing. I suspect that men will enjoy it more than women, for it is a very masculine book.

But I digress! One of the volumes I've received is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving. Having only been familiar with the kiddified stories of Rip Van Winkle and the title, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I've discovered is that I have a new favorite early American author in Irving. His prose is eloquent with a true love of the flowery language of his era, the book originally published as The Sketch Book by Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1820. As much as I love Mark Twain's works, I've found a kindred spirit in Washington Irving, his gentle satire being mixed with true insight into human nature and behavior. Rip Van Winkle is actually a biting satire on politics and marriage, not a child's tale. The Country Church and The Widow's Son are brilliant vignettes on country living in England with its class structure written with thoughtful warmth. The other stories are well worth reading and I confess I'm only halfway through the book. But I come away with a smile on my face every time I read from it and that is a true rarity, a book that can evoke that kind of sweet sentiment. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Work in Progress

It looks like this blog will be a work in progress for awhile, as I'm still trying to figure the HTML out in the template. Most likely it is time to find where I put that book on HTML I purchased a couple of years ago. IF the dust bunnies haven't eaten it. I'm fairly sure they ate one of our old encyclopedia volumes from the early 1980's a few years back and aren't to be trusted.

In the beginning...

After threatening to start a blog for years, I now have found myself compelled to just because I wanted to leave a comment on a friend's blog. Odd how such a small requirement leads to further action, I think I hear a butterfly's wings flapping somewhere in the Pacific islands. Eventually, I will get around to properly posting here, but it may be some time as being a political volunteer has mushroomed into far more than I expected this year.

The county fair is nearly here and I have to prepare for it, as nearly everything is falling onto my shoulders. It will be a long week of manning the booth and also assisting my father at his Fairtax booth. Come Wednesday my life as I know it will end (well, at least until the following week) while I hope to stir up some enthusiasm for the election in November.

Alas, I'm running out of time before I must get my Monday workout in on our brand spanking new home gym, a Hoist V2 with the VLP leg press. So far I love the thing and have regained some of my flexibility back after only a week of use. Now to get the strength back!

Note: Written under difficult conditions involving a small white kitten who is having entirely too much fun.