Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cat or Dog?

Hmmm . . . Is this worth it?

You Are: 40% Dog, 60% Cat

You and cats have a lot in common.

You're both smart and in charge - with a good amount of attitude.

However, you do have a very playful side that occasionally comes out!

H/T Born Again Redneck

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Watergate Legacy

As I consider the death of Jerry Ford and how he became president, I can't help but think of Watergate and what it really means in American history. Most people think that it meant the Richard Nixon was a crook who disgraced the office, but I would not be suprised if every president, and major candidate, since the technology became available did not do the same thing to their opponents.

The real tragedy is something else entirely. Prior the party out of power accepted, if only in the short term, that someone else was president, not the man they wanted and they made the best of the situation. With Watergate it was learned that a President could be brought down by a scandal and it was at least tried with every president since Ford. The Independent Prosecutor's Office became a partisan hammer and both sides used it. The party that did not have the presidency, instead of bi-partisanship, concentrated on undermining and bringing down the president as was proven possible at Watergate.

Equally tragic was the media. The newspapers saw themselves as Kingslayers and became drunk with a sense of power. Instead of simply reporting the facts they saw themselves as knights in shining armor bringing down a politician.

What happened to Nixon was the least of the horrible things that were brought about by Watergate.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jerry Ford

Jerry Ford was not the greatest or best president we ever had, but he was the right man for the job at the time. He was not perfect, and hardly a true conservative, but he was relatively honest and decent and standing between the crook and the idiot in the timeline of history, he shines like a star.

Yes he made mistakes, but I don't think pardoning Nixon was the wrong thing to do, though Nixon should have acknowledged and apologized for his deeds. It put an end to wasting time and energy on Watergate and allowed the country to begin moving again because a trial for Nixon would have just been a Roman Circus and political free-for-all that America did not need at the time.

I often wonder what would have happened had he defeated Carter in 76. Perhaps the Shah would have never fell and the Jihad would have never gotten off the ground. Perhaps ... We don't know. But we might not have had Ronald Reagan either. We don't know how history flows well enough to guess.

RIP Jerry Ford

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Message

This is a world without hope. That is a strange way to start an upbeat message, but it is the truth. All our highest hopes are illusions. No matter what we do, we are going to individually, as a race, as a biosphere, as a universe, die. Tomorrow is temporary and man cannot defeat death. We can cheat it and we can hold it off, but sooner or later it will win out. Cryonics, life extension, rejuvenation, etc. are only short term solutions to a permanent problem.

And man himself. Look at us! Even the best of us are far more greedy and hedonistic than anyone needs to be. Educational conditioning designed to lessen this does not work and only turns us into a mockery of humanity. Even if we could live forever, would we want to in the condition we are in? Eternal life with an evil heart is only eternal misery and the evil in our hearts would have forever to grow.

Yet there is hope. Hope was born in Bethlehem roughly 2000 years ago in the form of a baby, long foretold, who grew to be the greatest man ever. The perfect blend of the human and divine, He challenged sin and death and defeated both. He is the promise of Eternal Life and Freedom from sin. In Him and Him alone is hope. All this world offers is little more than dust in the wind; our lives are complex sand castles on the edge of a roaring ocean. He, and He alone, offers something substantial that will outlast time itself.

Hope was born on the very first Christmas.

Celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Hope.

Merry Christmas.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from heaven's all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurl
And still their heavenly music floats, O'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing
And ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

O ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.

For lo the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old
When with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold
When the new heaven and earth shall own the prince of peace their King
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Michigan is in Deep Trouble

Economically speaking, Michigan seems to be spinning down the drain. We have the highest unemployment in America and things just seem to be getting worse, with even more job losses coming in 07. Right now, Michigan is losing people instead of gaining them as people leave this state looking for greener pastures. It's a trend that is going to continue until God knows when.

What Michigan needs worse than anything right now is for businesses to invest in this state and it's not going to happen, at least not at the level we need. The reason that businesses don't like to come here is three-fold: taxes, regulations, and our labor situation.

Taxes have us now in a "damned if we do, damned if we don't" situation. Michigan is facing a huge deficit next year and if we increase taxes to cover it, we will lose even more businesses and not attract many new ones. No business = No revenues to tax. If we don't increase taxes we will have to cut vital services. Neither answer is acceptable and I see no other options. And the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

This situation is not the fault of either party or any politician. I have said before and will say it again, this is a cultural problem brought on by unrealistic expectations and demands by labor, management and investors and will not change until the people of Michigan face the fact that we have to make some changes. Everyone in this state is both the creator of and victim of this situation; we created it and now we must live with it.

Other states, not to mention other countries, have lower taxes, less regulation and lower labor costs and this is what the people of Michigan need to look at and think about. When most people make a purchase they will buy it from the least expensive source that has what they are looking for at an acceptable level of quality; businesses do the same. Why do business in Michigan when it is much cheaper and easier to do it in Georgia or Kentucky? The people of Michigan need an answer to that question.

What is really troubling is that we have more natural resources than most states. We have abundant water, lumber, agriculture, minerals, ores, crude oil deposits and wildlife like few other states do, and possibly no state east of the Mississippi can match our resources. We have a lot going for us and only our own attitude is keeping us from taking advantage of it.

Steven, who has been commenting lately here, also talks about it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is This Me?

I like this

I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

H/T Jarhead's Firing Range.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Move For an Overturn Begins

The people of the State of Michigan spoke clearly about Affirmative Action last November and banned it for most government programs. Some schools have requested a one year delay in implementing it for students who applied under the old rules, but already some "civil rights" groups have begun the process of having the vote by the people ruled null and void.

The ACLU and the NAACP are mounting a legal challenge, that the Supreme Court Decision that allowed Affirmative Action trumps the voting by the people of Michigan and that the UofM must continue to practice affirmative action.

It is it really about diversity? I don't think so. You can have both ethnic and philosophical diversity almost entirely from the best students. The belief that an individual from one group or another cannot compete with individuals from the other groups is racist in itself.

Some of the better schools in California have found a workable alternative, in which the students test scores are compared not only to the rest of the state, but also to rest of their school, so that the top students from any schools, regardless of the quality of that school, have a shot at being admitted. It is imperfect of course, but it would probably work better than affirmative action does.

Oh and this:

Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of NAACP, said the case is not meant to defy the wishes of Michigan citizens who voted in favor of Proposal 2, the constitutional amendment that outlaws preferential treatment for women and minorities in government hiring, contracting and university admissions. It is meant to force an interpretation on the law.

It sounds to me like he is defying our wishes.

Part of the Auto Industry

One of the facts of life in the auto-industry, be it prosperous times or lean times is a week or two off at Christmas and another week or two off around the 4th of July. I start my two weeks plus one day off today. It's going to feel good to actually sleep.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Didn't Know This

Did you know that French was the second language of the UN and that France required any Secretary-General to be fluent in French or they would veto the selection. Learn something useless every day.

The French-speaking world has just discovered that Ban Ki-moon the new Secretary-General of the UN, can't speak French. How horrible. A hundred years ago it was the language of Diplomacy and Paris was the city of Diplomacy. Those days have passed.

The French culture, once considered the height of elegance and class, now reminds me of an old former beauty queen, who despises her youthful "competition" and doesn't realize she's not even in the game any more.

Controlled by Thought

I remember movies and books where people would have little holes put in their heads with I/O units attached to them so they could hook their brains directly to a computer. This is disturbing on a couple of levels. First off there is a considerable "Yuck Factor". Secondly, I would be concerned about any information going into the brain, especially unwanted material (I could just imagine the mental equivalent of a computer virus . . . scary.)

It might not be necessary

Scientists from the University of Washington, led by Rajesh Rao, have created a robot that acts on mental commands picked up by an electrode cap worn on the head. It is not 100% effective and is very limited but it is astonishing.

The possibities boggle the mind. We could make just about anything work on mental commands (provided you where the electrode cap.)

I still have concerns though. If a device can pick up instructions can a "a mind reading device" (which I have long considered impossible -- but I could be wrong) be made? Could the flow of information be reversed? Any of these could be badly abused by the state, our enemies, or even borderline legal businesses. It's a ways off yet but we need to think about it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Want One!!!!

Please alert Santa Claus of this request.

H/T A commenter to Jihad Watch.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

But Will It Only Be Temporary?

Michigan Voters chose to ban affirmative action in most government functions last November, which (like the still-non-existent Right-to-Work legislation) was long overdue.

Now several public colleges and universities are asking for a temporary stay so that students who applied under the old rules would still be judged by those rules. On the surface I say fine, but I have seen too many temporary things done by the government become permanent. Another question is why didn't these schools have a contingency plan in place? They knew the proposal was on the ballot and might possibly pass. Why didn't they plan for that possibility? A good leader creates contingencies for foreseeable problems and this doesn't say much for the schools leadership as they could see this "problem" coming.

He'll Always be "The Monster"

I am saddened to hear of the death of Peter Boyle.

He played so many parts that I enjoyed including a crazy preacher who hated clothing in The Dream Team, a bigoted jerk of a father in Monster's Ball, and several other great ones, but his greatest part ever was the Monster from Young Frankenstein.

Poor guy couldn't even bum a bowl of hot soup from a generous hermit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Unique to the Great Lakes State

There is stone that found almost exclusively in northern Michigan (though glaciers have pushed some so that they are very rarely found as far away as Iowa and somewhat south of Michigan.) It's a fossilized coral that is very ugly to see yet polishes into something of a honeycombed beauty and is used to make jewelry unique to this state and is frequently used to make souveniers of this state.

Behold, the raw Petosky stone: Michigan's official state stone. (Link is a PDF file).

Not much to look at is it? But look at the polished product.

They are frequently polished and shaped into things like the Mitten shape of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, or a fish or a cross, or sometimes just shaped into a cabochon. (rounded, flat on one side in a domed shape.) I have a couple of them, but have never done anything with them. In nature they are an ugly rock, but it's amazing what beauty can be brought out with just a little polishing.

There is even a festival for them.

Mallard Has The Right Idea

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Understanding Reality and War

One thing that puzzles a lot of my fellow conservative bloggers is the failure of secular leftists to understand that the Jihad threatens them as much as it threatens anyone. Why, for example, would feminists be in solidarity with a movement that considers women to be little more than property or why would gays be in solidarity with a movement that would kill them instead of simply denying them marriage rights?

If you consider the worldview of the intellectual left and their understanding of history it makes perfect sense. In the Marxist worldview all violence is a class struggle between the masses and the bourgeois. America is the ultimate in capitalism and thus any attack on them is the attack of their historic "victims" against their oppressors. The attackers (victims in their view) are by definition the good guys. The fact that they would oppress even those who are in solidarity with them is irrelevant as they are supposedly advancing the march of history.

Trouble is that this is political tunnel vision. They are incapable of seeing that this jihad has absolutely nothing to do with the class struggle but is in fact religious and philosophical struggle that completely transcends economic class. This inescapable fact is so out of sync with their worldview that they dismiss it out of hand. By their understanding it has to be a class-struggle because no other kind of struggle exists.

We need to find a way to open their eyes to the fact that history is a matrix of several struggles and far more complicated than Marx thought it was. I don't know how to do it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the Auto Industry

There are several interesting stories in the auto-industry today and a few of them might actually be good news.

First off, the UAW's membership is dropping below 500,000 which is less than a third of what it was in the seventies. A big part of the situation is the decline in big three jobs over the time period, plus the fact that many workers have figured out that the union does not exist for their sake, but they exist for the union's sake and are beginning to turn their backs on it. Most of my co-workers consider the union a necessary evil at best and racket at worst (and some of the union's worst critics in my shop are former committee-people). The good news in the article is that the UAW has finally figured out that if the company is not prospering their not going to either and are thinking in terms of survival. This may bug some of the "workers good! management bad" diehards but it's common sense; no company = no job.

Ford, or actually a Ford subsidiary, has a potential sale of a plant that would otherwise be closing. It is being sold to the French company Valeo SA which is an auto-parts manufacturer. Sale is contingent on an acceptable contract with the UAW. Now the UAW has to choose between a "good contract" and a job. While I would prefer American workers working for American companies, but a close second is any company that will create or save jobs for Americans. I was talking to our company president about this today in our breakroom and he pointed out that a lot of European companies are looking to America because it it cheaper to make things here than it is in Europe.

A similar sale is possible for twelve Delphi plants, but again the UAW wold have to agree to lower pay in order to save their jobs (and "lower pay" is still pretty darned good compared to some industries.) This appears to be rumors however as the potential buyer is not talking too much at this point.

There was also a headline in the Detroit Free Press that said that GM's sales slide had bottomed out, but the article was very brief and appears to be wishful thinking. It simply says that the sales chief made the following quote:

“If we grow a tenth of a point next year, I’ll be thrilled out of my mind,” LaNeve said, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

That is not nearly as hopeful as the headline suggests.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Better Say Your Prayers . . . Or Else

People are worried that Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson are crazy but these men have nothing on some people.

Imagine facing the death penalty for not praying at the appropriate times.

It's now that way in Bulo Burto Somalia.

Even the most extreme members of what is called the "religious right" come nowhere near this.

Behold! The Naked Face of Islam.

It is America's future as well if we don't start getting serious. We need to chuck all this P.C. nonsense about "Islamophobia" and start dealing with the threat. Moderate Muslims need to join us against their radicals or they will be killed too for not being hateful enough. We must not be intimidated or afraid but go out and meet the challenge head-on.

Monday, December 04, 2006

We Should Have Been Doing This Years Ago

I was 12 years old when I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon. Everyone I knew was excited about it. I believed that man was on his way to the stars.

Then my oh-so-visionary fellow Americans lost interest.

It was harder, more dangerous and (in terms of percentage of GNP at that time) more expensive for the Spaniards to reach America in 1500 than it is for us to go to the moon today. They did not give up and in the end built an empire because they dared to go and dared the risks.

NASA is formulating plans to set up a moonbase but even now it is preliminary. We have set 2020 as the target year. JFK (the last great Democrat) dared us to do it in less than 10 years and we succeeded. I believe we have the technology to do it in less than 5 years if we really wanted to, but no one has the vision.

We don't have a lander designed yet, but we know how to build one.

We don't know where to build the base but we have a good idea of where.

America is being challenged by the entire world, and this is an area where we can show that there is still some punch left in us. Islam threatens our religious freedom. Socialism threatens our economic freedom. Political Correctness threatens our freedom of speech. We defy them all by planting our flag once again on the moon.

We memorize every episode of Star Trek and yet we neglect the dream that drove the series. The dream needs to live again.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Give the Guy a Hand

One of my closest friends in college, and long afterwards had a little accident shortly after he graduated from High School. Just weeks after graduation he had landed a job in a factory where he was working on a stamping press and he had a little accident and totally lost his right hand.

In spite of this he remained active, pitching in church and city league softball (where he also hit an astonishing number of home runs), married, raised a family, briefly served as a minister and was popular at school with his outgoing personality. He was totally at ease with his missing hand and even enjoyed pranks on total strangers that involved his missing hand.

New possibilities arrive.

A man from the Great Lakes State has a new hand courtesy of a transplant. You know you almost take heart and kidney transplants for granted, but this is every bit as astonishing. I kind of wonder if you can transplant legs and arms as well. I don't know why not but who knows what the limits are? The only limitation could possibly be the availability of donors.

We seem to be able to transplant anything except the central nervous system.