WUI (Writing under the influence)
Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.
I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.
This old house
American wine better than French.
Monday, February 28, 2005
Done with grouting. I'm glad there was nothing interesting on TV because I didn't feel like working yesterday. I've received a good tip from a reader about sealing the grout lines. I think I will try it this time. I used a very light-gray grout in this bathroom (Delorean Gray from Custom Building Products) and, over time, the most trafficked areas (on the floor) will get darker. Sealing should help. However, sealing to avoid mildew is not strictly necessary. All my bathrooms have windows and good fans. I used dark gray in one and dark brown in another and after 4 years the only mildew we see is in the areas where I used some inexpensive caulk between bathtub and the last (first?) row of tiles. So the only lesson is to use a good quality caulk that is no food for mildew.
Taping and mudding starts today. Glad there is nothing interesting on TV. I don't know, like Oscars or something...
Sunday, February 27, 2005
One wall grouted, one more to go. Should be done today. Mudding and taping will start tomorrow and by the end of the week I should have all painted and wainscoted. Installing fixtures should last until mid March. Great opening planned for end of March. That's my plan and I'm sticking with it. On the other hand, none of my plans ever survived the reality of remodeling.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
The purpose of taxation
It would seem on its face that taxes are supposed to pay for things we all use. There are also sin taxes for using things we are not supposed to use. Is the gas tax, for example, a user fee or a sin tax? How about car registration fee? In Seattle, new car buyers may be forced to pay
for things they do not necessarily use. So it must be a penalty for things they do use. What kind of tax is it? Is it fair to ask a small group of people to pay for even smaller group of people? What's wrong with real user fees? You use it, you pay for it. Maybe people would start walking more. That would be good for them and fast food wouldn't have to be taxed.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Foot in mouth
From the Oregonian
"National passenger rail in this country faces serious problems, but killing Amtrak won't solve them. The fundamental issue is that too many people insist that Amtrak, alone among major passenger railroads in the world, be financially self-sufficient. In fact, every one of the thriving rail systems in Europe and Asia requires some level of government financing."
Did the Oregonian just admit that socialism doesn't work?
No pork for Dems
Normally, I'm against any pork that the feds send states' way. But I'm absolutely opposed to wasting money where
even votes can't be had.
Quote of the day
"[...] the gates are nothing less than an unforgivable defacement of a public treasure, and everyone responsible for promoting it—including our publicity-seeking Mayor—should be held accountable, not only for supporting bad taste but for violating public trust."
-- Hilton Kramer
When they don't work...
...pacifists say we waste money. When they do work
, pacifists say we waste money. At least they are consistent.
Tax cuts for the rich
Today's good (if you are a free-marketer and Republican) news
"WASHINGTON (AP) - The economy grew at a solid 3.8 percent annual rate in the final quarter of 2004 - stronger than previously estimated- and an encouraging sign that the business expansion was firmly entrenched at the start of the new year.
"The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Friday, was better than the government's initial calculation made a month ago. That estimate showed the economy growing at a 3.1 percent pace.
"The improvement reflected more robust spending by businesses on capital equipment and to build up inventories of goods. The trade deficit also was less of a drag on fourth-quarter growth than initially thought.
"GDP, the broadest barometer of the country's economic health, measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States.
"The new fourth-quarter GDP figure also was better than the 3.5 percent growth rate that economists had forecast in advance of Friday's release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Although economic growth in the final quarter of last year was a bit slower than the 4 percent pace measured in the third quarter, the performance was still solid.
"For all of 2004, the economy expanded by 4.4 percent, the best showing in five years. This annual estimate was the same as first reported last month."
Facts are stubborn things.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
I'm almost done with tiles. I finished tiling walls today. It went much better than 4 years ago when I finished the first bathroom. I used a manual tile cutter. It worked fine for awhile but after it became dull some tiles broke. This time a neighbor offered to lend me his professional wet saw. I'm almost sorry that I don't need it any more; that thing was sweet. I could cut any shape with no effort.
So I'm grouting the walls on Wednesday and will start installing wainscoting. I have 5 weeks left to finish.
So where do you think is all that tobacco money
? (Besides the lawyers' bank accounts.)
Flu is Bush's fault
First, they were supposed to die because there were
no flu shots. Bush's fault! Now, they will die
. Bush's fault!
Quote of the day
Q. You guys are always ripping liberals. Do you ever
A. No. We made a deal with the New York Times. They
attack conservatives, and we attack liberals.
Actually, we do criticize conservatives from time to
time, but that's a pretty crowded market niche.
Stolen Cross and anti-Christianism
It must have been a coincidence, of course. But it's strangely eerie that the same week when I get banned from a mailing list because I dared defend Christians from rather hateful and misguided attacks the cross that hang over the altar in my church gets stolen
Again, the two events are completely unrelated because they happened in the wrong order. The cross was stolen on Sunday and I got banned on Wednesday.
The circumstances surrounding the theft are very strange. It's hard to explain what happened by blaming the homeless guy who wasn't carrying anything when he ran away. Also, "the job" would have been very difficult for just one person. It's difficult to imagine that somebody would have done this as a prank. So what could it be? Anti-Christianism?
WCCHD is a Yahoo mailing list that I subscribed to before the November election to see what the local socialist were up to. I never posted to the list because I didn't want to be banned for my "radical" views.
Until Wednesday when the following post ended up in my e-mail box.
From the public policy point of view, Anglo-American law has settled the notion that the State has an interest in marriage which gives it the obligation to umpire those relationships. First, the State is benefitted [sic] when individuals are "taken off the streets" so to speak by becoming part of a co-nurturing family. Second, the State is benefitted when "family" takes over the job of securing and nurturing the spouses, relieving the State or the rest of society of that burden. Third, of course, the State is benefitted because the "family" takes over the job of securing and nurturing any children that might be part of the family.
Similar State interests give the State the obligation to provide umpire rules for all other human relationships: shareholder/corporate and partnership relations.
Thus, it is not exceptional for us to view the interest of the State in providing umpire rules for same-sex marital relationships in exactly the same manner. There is no compelling reason for the State to ignore only one out of the myriad human relationships. The overt reason for this deliberate refusal of the State to recognize and umpire same-sex marital relationships is religious objection from a small, ignorant, fringe element, namely fundamentalist Christians.
I found the ideas in the post wrong on many levels, as many others posted to that list, but this time the offensive (and factually false) remarks directed toward Christians made me replied as follows:
11 states passed measures defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Many of those states were blue states. Oregon was one of them. It's not about religion. If you want to win this battle you have to use secular arguments only. You did just fine until you blamed a small group of people for majority opinion. I would expect more from a member of WCCHD.
Measure 36 results:
YES 1,028,546 NO 787,556.
Oregon has the fewest religious people in the country. How can you explain these numbers?
I buy only one argument you listed below: children need stable families. I posit that the state has no interest in the other two.
My reply generated two more posts. One, from the author of the original post.
This is a typical response from the fringe lunatic Christian right wing.
This couldn't have been more funnier considering that, although I do frequent a Christian church and try to adhere to some of its teachings, my reason doesn't come from the Bible which I have not read (yet).
And then came this.
As this is a email list for people who are in accord with the Mission and goals of WCCHD you will be respectfully removed from this list. [...] please be aware that I am familiar with your positions on many issues. I hope you are able to find others groups which will welcome your presence.
Which generated this happy post.
Delightful response. I hope that finally puts him in his place. You go girl!!
What place? A gulag?
So I wonder, living in the state with fewest church-goers, can hate for Christians generate hateful actions in addition to hateful words?
The other side is convinced that hate crimes against the groups they want to "protect" are result of hateful propaganda spewed every day on AM radio (is Air-America included?) Can this work both ways? No, it's impossible.
Open letter to Nic Kristof
Please do us all a favor. Research your thesis
should be easy. Compare the rate of abortions, STDs
and HIV/AIDS cases between graduates of public and
private, religious schools. Please note that I'm
not asking you to research the rate of virginity
before marriage. Stay on topic please.
A case for capitalism
Greed is good, it turns out
First, a lesson in failures of communism.
[Tori Haidinger, a] California teacher invites kids to experience basic economics firsthand: "You are the head of a family that is fed by catching fish," she says. "Our fish are Hershey's Kisses. You will get to eat them." Each table gets a beaker of Kisses. She tells the kids, "Share them with your friends. You can take as many as you want, but any left over will reproduce, just like fish, because I will double them." What happens? The kids quickly empty their beakers. No more Kisses.
Now, let's try some private ownership.
Then, Haidinger tries a different tack. She gives each student a private beaker of Kisses. "What this has actually done," she says, is establish "a sense of privatization." It's as if each student had a private pond and owned all the fish in it. "Privatization" has a bad reputation, but this time, no student overfishes. Kids leave enough in their ponds so the teacher can double their number, and so new generations of chocolate Kisses are born. "So," asks a student, "are you saying that if it's ours, we will care more about it?"
"Yup." Owning [not sharing] is caring.
Who would have thought?
Law works this time but..
...why was this case
in court in the first place? What's happened to the First Amendment? Or does it only apply to the left?
So Social Security needs some help and the Oregonian offers a solution: more taxes
Now, there are communist sympathizers in UoWa as well as in UoWi
. How about an art exhibit showing the good side of SS in Auschwitz?
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Science is so passe
Why ask hard questions and seek the answers if "make it so
" attitude will suffice? Why do they always have to drag a Pole into this?
Seriously, if girls become more mature emotionally sooner than boys (and men never catch up) why isn't it possible that boys develop the part of the brain responsible for analytical and abstract thinking before girls do (with all those emotions there isn't any space left)? Girls probably catch up later but it may be too late for many of them. What if serious research could actually help girls by helping revise math curricula in schools to account for those differences? Do we really learn everything the same way? Why do we always have to assume
that any perceived differences are result of some -ism?
A note to the thought police: the above is a hypothetical question; I'm pretty sure women are
than man. (Or is academia now fond of hate speech?)
Save the state some money
This year, no beer on weekdays, just one glass of wine. It will be tough. A few years back I learned how not to speed in residential areas. It was also tough but I did it and now I try to stay within 5mph of the speed limit. No speeding tickets. Who said religion wasn't good for you? This no-beer-on-weekdays thing may actually help me shed a pound or two.
Hope this one gets adopted
We built it but you swim in it
Footing the bill for the construction was bad enough. At least the Forest Grove Aquatic Center could generate enough revenue to fund day-to-day operations. If Madison, WI can
, why can't we?
False but accurate
The Oregonian admits
that it wanted to create news where there wasn't any. So a reported went looking for a story. He got it. It was so good he didn't bother to do any checks; his editors did the same. Why? Because it hurt Republicans. Haven't we learned anything from CBS?
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Communist may still apply
The Oregonian finds it reprehensible
that the Nazi Party still have first amendment rights. How about Planned Parenthood? Who should decide?
Quote of the day
"If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure
you're wearing a blue helmet."
-- Mark Steyn
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Kitsch in Central Park
Central Park on Saturday:Jed Perl
, The New Republic's art critic on Friday:
"Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates" in Central Park is a fashion statement, not art"
"[...] just because you're being bombarded by sensations doesn't mean that you're in the presence of major art--or even of mediocre art. When all feelings are regarded as aesthetic experiences, art is at risk. What Christo and Jeanne-Claude have brought to New York is their own brand of late-modern philistinism."
But this is probably the most important piece of information about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "art":
"[...] this dynamic duo accepts no public funds."
I just finished tiling the floor in the new bathroom. In fact, I just grouted it and now have to clean it every 30 minutes so the grout doesn't dry in the pores of the tiles. These are Italian tiles that look like stone and have a lot of pores. They look good but are hell to work with.
I have to finish the bathroom before my 4th one is born. I've been promising my wife a bidet. This is the third (and hopeful last) bathroom in our house and it will have a bidet. And my wife deserves it too.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
I've received all the forms so I'm doing my taxes today. No matter how hard I try (probably not hard enough) I will again receive some money back. Normally, because of my itemized deductions (interest on mortgage, charity, property taxes) I claim 12 allowances so only enough federal taxes are withdrawn from my paycheck to cover the tax bill; ideally, I'd like to own the feds somewhere between $0 and 10% of the total tax bill. The problem is that if I go beyond 10%, I will have to pay penalties. On the other hand, I don't want to give the uncle Sam an interest-free loan. 12 allowances would have worked well. The "problem" starts when we receive bonuses. Bonuses are taxed at my bracket rate (25%); no discount for allowances is applied. So for the last 2 months in 2004 I had to claim 22 allowances to stop paying federal taxes but I made the change too late into the year. So again, I will be expecting some dough from the feds. Darn it!
Quote of the day
Commenting on this
story describing Iraqis fighting against "insurgents", James Taranto in Best of the Web from February 4, 2005 says:
"It's quite understandable that Iraqis would be bolder about standing up to the terrorists now than they were last year. Just over three months ago, after all, there was a possibility, no matter how remote, that John Kerry would be elected president, which could have led to an American retreat from Iraq. Iraqis naturally kept their heads down, lest they suffer the same fate as the Vietnamese allies America abandoned at Kerry's urging three decades earlier."
Friday, February 04, 2005
The Oregonian accuses
Bush of creating problems he now wants to fix.
Fixing self-made problems
It's somewhat encouraging that the Oregonian considers Social Security a problem. Social Security is a sham. If FDR was today the CEO of a corporation that pushed Social Security as an retirement investment strategy, he would end up in jail followed by LBJ. But does the Oregonian see the war on terror also as a self-made problem?
In the State of the Union speech, President Bush takes aim at fixable problems that he helped create
The plot thickens. I thought it was FDR (Social Security), OBL and Saddam Hussein (terror) who created problems.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
By his proposals, if not exactly by the words he used Wednesday, President Bush told Americans something most of them already know: The state of the Union could be better.
Was it ever perfect? Oh, that's right, between 1993 and 2000.
The president laid out some of his agenda to address two of our most pressing concerns -- the war in Iraq and the future of the Social Security system without really acknowledging that both of them are, by and large, problems of our own creation.
Wrong. First, Bush did mention that Social Security was good enough (of a sham) for 20th century. Blaming the US for the war in Iraq is like blaming a rape victim for wearing a short skirt.
In Iraq, of course, the president launched a war that now everyone knows was based on false strategic premises. Everyone knows, too -- or should know -- that the administration miscalculated as to the military situation in Iraq. It also failed to correctly assess the forces in Iraqi society that would come into play after the destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Wrong. WMD were just one of many reasons. And the strategy may be working. Free and democratic Iraq has a good chance of "corrupting" other regimes. As for miscalculations, no plan can survive the reality of a war.
Those failures do not relieve the United States of the responsibility for building a new society in Iraq that is capable of serving the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
Who is talking about relieving the US from anything except for Democrats? They, especially Kerry, pushed the US out of Vietnam. Now, they would like to lose another war.
The fact that Iraqis did not pour into the streets to greet their allied liberators, as some in the administration once suggested they might, does not mean Iraq and the world will not be better off with a humane regime in place. Whatever else has been done, and whatever miscalculations now seem obvious, the successful conducting of Sunday's elections was a real victory for Bush, the United States and, most importantly, the Iraqis. The elections offer hope that a better future remains possible.
We did miscalculate how oppressed they were. After the UN left them to fend for themselves in 1991 they didn't trust anybody.
Charles Krauthammer makes the same point
in his recent column:
"Why weren't Iraqis dancing in the streets on the day Saddam Hussein fell, critics have asked sneeringly. Some Iraqis, the young and more reckless, did dance. Others, I suspect, were too scared, waiting to see how things turned out. Would the United States leave them hanging as in 1991? Would it leave behind a 'moderate' Baathist thug in its place?
"Nearly 22 months later, Iraqis seemed convinced that there would indeed be a new day. And that is when the dancing started--voters dancing and singing and celebrating, thrusting into the air their ink-stained fingers, symbol of their initiation into democracy. It was an undeniable, if delayed, feeling of liberation."
Also, can you imagine? Two successful elections for the US in 3 months.
The other big topic was Social Security. "Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options," the president said. "I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms."
Maybe that means Bush will be more flexible than he started out to be. He is right about one thing: The system really does need to be fixed now, and not later, as many of Bush's Democratic opponents suggest.
Good start. But I really hope Bush sticks to his guns. There may only be this one chance to do anything. Let Bush use all his political capital on this issue; after 2008, he won't need it.
In something as complicated as Social Security, you can never know for sure what the limits are to any politician's flexibility. But Bush's words Wednesday suggested that the range of policy choices he'll endorse are quite limited.
It's possible to fix what ails Social Security without turning it on its ear. Relatively minor benefit cuts or relatively minor tax increases, or a combination of the two, would put the program on a sound actuarial footing.
Cut benefits? Yes! In fact, cut the whole thing. Raise taxes? Absolutely not! Social Security is a sham. Unless Americans start reproducing like mice, two workers will have to support one retiree. Why not just tell those two workers to support their own parents? That's the way it's supposed to be anyway.
The president's proposal for diverting some Social Security taxes into voluntary personal investment accounts relies too heavily on rosy economic scenarios and fiscal practices that have the nation facing deficits as far into the future as anyone can reasonably see.
So the Oregonian doesn't believe in free market economies. Without any changes, we will be blinded by those deficits the way the Oregonian is blinded by its partisan zeal.
There is merit in the idea that the United States must become an "ownership" society in order to best face the economic future. But there are, it is clear, ways to promote that without jeopardizing the basic social insurance benefit on which Americans have come to rely in their old age.
Americans have come to rely on a sham that FDR pushed on them. It's time to push back. It's time to rely on families and not the government. Saying that Social Security is an insurance requires a lot of audacity. Social Security has become a big entitlement that will bankrupt this country unless completely reformed.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Tammy Baldwin, one of many reasons I left Madison, WI, doesn't think Social Security is in imminent danger
. Maybe not. But how long does she want to wait? Until we see a mushroom cloud? As Bush said
"Some have said we must not act until Social Security is in imminent danger. If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Democrats is not a strategy, and it is not an option."