The Original Dubya 
"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

- from George Washington's Farewell Address, September, 1796.

Happy 275, Mr. President!

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Can't We Wait a Year? 
Instead of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, AKA the First Amendment infringing McCain-Feingold, Congress should have passed reform that limits how far out candidates can announce intention for the presidency; especially if they are currently serving the public as an elected official. We're barely into 2007 and it feels like the spring of 2008. All this talk is way too early. Moreover, sitting Senators should be doing their jobs and not campaigning, especially 625 days away from election 2008.

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Snow/Ice/Sleet Day 
The storm here has passed. I didn't bother measuring the accumulation but I'd estimate about five inches of snow, tops. Of course, that snow had about a 1 1/2 inches of icy mix in the middle and the five felt like ten when shoveling. I don't own a snowblower even though our driveway big enough for at least three cars comfortably. Our road is plowed but the side roads in the neighborhood are not. I just got the 4 wheel-drive fixed on my truck so I took a spin to make sure that it worked.

Incidentally, we have six fewer eggs than we did yesterday, about eight ounces less milk, two fewer beers, about eight ounces less Coca-Cola, and the same about of bread.

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Snowbound ('baund; adj.) - Living in PA and getting 6 inches of snow 
A large winter storm is currently moving through the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast. As usual, people are crowding the stores buying eggs, bread, and milk thinking they'll be stuck for eleven days because of six inches of snow. Anyway, I don't know why they bother even doing that. Personally, the longest I was stuck was three days and that was because it took the apartment management that long to plow out the parking lot. After that, I bought a shovel and kept it in the truck of my car. I was living in Pittsburgh at the time and it started snowing on a Monday evening and stopped on Thursday. We got about two feet out of that one. Even without going to the store, I had more than three days' worth of food in the apartment. If an apartment dweller who, at that time, had just a part-time job had more that three days' of food in the house, I am sure most other people do, too.

Another reason why panic buying because of the weather is silly is that I thought it was the government's job to come bail us out after a major storm. It's nice to know that if I take no precautions whatsoever, no food, no shovels, no ice melt, etc, I can simply wait for them to come to me. If they don't come, I'll simply assume that Dubya doesn't care about suburbanites.

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The woman I won't name seeks to become president. I support her, just not her mission.

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It can't Happen Here 
I just finished reading It can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis; one of my favorite authors. The story was written in 1935 and describes what would happen if the US fell under control of a dictator, complete with storm troopers, concentration camps, book burnings, government seizure of the press, and a mesmerizing candidate running for and being elected to office. He's a Democrat who unseats FDR as the candidate in 1936 who is called "the Chief" by his supporters and by the people once he takes office.

I think the story spirals too far in too short a time. The setting is only about a three-year span. The rights of the people are almost immediately stripped after the Chief takes office. Interestingly enough, before the election, he releases a "Mein Kampf-like" edict of 15 points telling everyone what he would do if elected. Perhaps the aura of the Depression made this kind of state seem not only probable but likely to happen nearly overnight if all the wrong conditions were in place. However, take away the short timeline and look at the events and you can see how something like this can happen. People are unhappy because they think they are poor. A politician promises them a guaranteed income per year while capping the wealthy at 100x that and total wealth that only 6x the latter (Points 5 and 11 from the edict referenced above). It's the basic "your life stinks, it's not your fault, and I will fix all injustices" line. Shad Ledue got what he wished for.

I like Lewis' books and I enjoyed the slightly morose satire of this novel. Overall, it still doesn't top Arrowsmith as my favorite Lewis novel, but like any other Lewis novel I've read, I would recommend it.

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Transition Complete 
The move over to the new blog is now complete. I added my avatar on the right. In case you're wondering, that's a Mauser 98k. It's not mine; the picture was taken at an air show.

The old blog was at /blog so I just replaced the index with an html page with a redirect script in the header:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5; URL=put_url_to_direct_to_here">

Content=x where x is seconds.

I also changed the comments to show the first comment first, like it appeared in my old blog. I just now found the setting here to change that. The newest on top bothered me for some reason. I need to do a little more on the site in general. I've made some changes on some other pages with the goal of trying to make the site a little more consistent. I've even toyed with the idea of making the blog the default entry (index) page for my URL, but I decided against that, for now.

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Ha Ha 
Proof that billionaires can be stupid: ... 94,00.html

It's even funnier when they get stung twice, once for being un-American and once for being stupid.

And I have commented on that company before and been quoted too.

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Due to the cold weather, some schools were closed today. One quote from a superintendent in Connecticut (Link) :
According to the Sprague superintendent's office, school was canceled because of the cold wind chill, and officials don't want children standing at the bus stop to be exposed to frost bite.

First of all, frostbite is not a virus. One gets frost bite from being exposed to the cold for prolonged durations. One exposed to the cold can develop frost bite. So, if the bus gets at the stop at 07:20, get to the stop at 07:15. Five minutes in the cold will not cause frost bite.

Locally, it was cold (8 F) as well and there were twelve school delays or closings. We are turning our children into pusillanimous automations who will grow up unable to cope with any adversity, challenge, or anything that requires effort. The superintendent is engaging in pusillanimous behavior as well; I sense fear of lawsuits is trumping the concern for the children. Some parent doesn't properly clothe a child and the child falls ill, the school will get sued and some feeble-minded lawyer will take and some equally stupid judge will listen to the case.

I have never known anyone to ever get frost bite during the transportation time from home to school; whether by walking or waiting at a bus stop and I, myself, walked to school almost all 13 years I was in public school.

Dumbing down our educational system is bad enough but turning kids into wimps is just another practice that we are all going to pay for in the coming years.

I firmly believe that "pusillanimous" is the true origin of the five letter word that begins with p and has two s's in the middle and is a synonym for coward.

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A Lobbyist? 
Forty-eight Republicans and seven Democrats voted to strip the requirement in lobbying reform bill that would make some bloggers register as lobbyists. Link

One thing that didn't make sense was how they would determine who should be a lobbyist and who shouldn't. For example, I don't know if I have 500 readers of my blog or not. Sure, I can see my site stats and the traffic and what parts of my site are being viewed but that doesn't give me the number of people who read my blog. My site's stats do show which country my readers come from too. If I comment on an issue and someone in Germany reads it, is that still considered a grassroots cause? Additionally, the blog is just one part of my site and I comment on a range of topics, not just politics, so I wasn't sure what the ruling on that would be.

The other thing about this proposed item was that it would have created more lobbyists. It seems to me that a big problem in Washington is too many lobbyists to begin with. Adding more would be crippling, that is if things can actually get worse than they are. If anything, a lobbying reform bill should contain one provision and one provision only - to ban lobbyists.

Well, luckily it's a dead issue right now. It will probably make a comeback soon enough though.

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100 Million still Afflicted 
Information Week reports that downloads of IE 7 have topped 100 million and almost all of them are upgrades from IE 6. It's a shame that so many people are vexed by a new strain of this contagion. The cure can be found here.

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From a recent column by Jonah Goldberg:

The New York Post recently compiled a list of the things that the New York City Council tried to ban not all successfully just in 2006 alone.

The list: pit bulls; trans fats; aluminum baseball bats; the purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds; foie gras; pedicabs in parks; new fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods); lobbyists from the floor of council chambers; lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency; vehicles in Central and Prospect parks; cell phones in upscale restaurants; the sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute; mail-order pharmaceutical plans; candy-flavored cigarettes; gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; Wal-Mart.

NYC really leads the way in trying to infuse government control into all aspects of the private citizen (with San Francisco a strong number two). It's come to this: if someone doesn't like something, then it's banned. It seems like the more liberal the city, the less rights one seems to have. The focus is on the negative rights - what one can't do because it may harm, inconvenience, anger, insult, or isolate someone - instead of the positive rights - what are one can do; yes there are still some of those around. Regulating the harmful may be all well and good and with good intent but when government, at any level, wishes to regulate whether an adult can buy tobacco or whether someone cannot use a cell phone, that reduces government to a sinecure; it has no more useful function yet it still takes our money. Government has no business regulating actions that merely inconvenience or anger someone. Let the restaurant ban the cell phone. Let the paying customer decide if the circus is bad for animals.

Ironically, many people want the citizenry to live like the animals in a circus - free meals, free housing, free health care, being watched night and day, yet they only see the harm it causes the animals, not the people.

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