Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, is he is or is he ain't?

“I know this has been a pretty mean campaign. I was on a television station the other day and doing a satellite feed to a major network in Florida. And the anchor quotes Karl Marx and says in a sense, isn’t Barack Obama Karl Marx? You know, I mean, folks, this stuff you’re hearing in this campaign, some of it is pretty ugly . . .” — Joe Biden

Dreams from My Father

“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists.” — Barack Obama in his memoir, Dreams from My Father

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Forgotten Man & The Myth of the Great Depression

Chapter One

     Amity Shlaes challenges the received wisdom that the Great Depression occurred because capitalism broke, and that it ended because FDR, and government in general, came to the rescue. According to Shlaes, it was the government that made the Great Depression worse.

Chapter Two

     How much blame does Herbert Hoover deserve for the Great Depression? Shlaes says a good amount since he both misjudged the Wall Street crash and failed in his reaction to it. There also was the depression-inducing Smoot-Hawley tariff, which Hoover — an internationalist by nature — knew better than to sign into law.

Chapter Three

     Was FDR’s progressivism, as evident in the New Deal, really all that new, or was it a step along a progressive continuum that already had been established? Shlaes answers that while the impulse of progressivism was strong in America in the 1930s, FDR’s progressivism was radically more advanced. In addition, Shlaes says the FDR administration “used the excuse of the emergency of the Great Depression” to advance its progressive agenda.

Chapter Four

     Shlaes describes how the New Dealers of the 1920s and 1930s were greatly influenced by the Soviet Union and Mussolini’s Italy. She says they were deeply inspired by the ambition of the collectivists, all while believing there was something intrinsically wrong with the United States.

Chapter Five

     Will we ever be able to put the New Deal and its great social legacies behind us? Shlaes has an optimistic response. "Only a permanent Katrina," says Shlaes, or a permanent national economic disaster, "can make the New Deal vision hold forever."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturnian Contemplations

Saturn - Blue Expanse (JPL)

  1. In the mail this week I received an unsolicited catalog from an outfit called Sounds True promoting "Tools & Teachings for Personal & Spiritual Transformation." On the back cover, in 72pt type-face, they ask, "What's New in Timeless Wisdom?" I pretty sure they're serious.
  2. In my email this week I received a bit of spam offering a $250 McDonald's® gift card. Actually, I received two, which led me to wonder just who in the hell can spend $250 at McDonald's? I mean, the most I've ever spent at the place is maybe ten bucks, and after that I've had enough for a good, long while.
  3. Why am I so gassy all of a sudden?
  4. I'm not talking about burping, folks.
  5. I'm watching TV the other day and on comes this commercial promoting a law firm soliciting clients who've used anything containing quinine in an effort to relieve chronic leg cramps. Apparently, if you've ever had a leg cramp and have ever heard of the drug quinine you may have the basis for a specious lawsuit, so they'd love to talk with you. Call today to find out more about your rights under the law!
  6. My more alert readers will already have guessed what the next commercial was for.
  7. Je$$e Ja¢k$on said something stupid this week, which led me to wonder why in the hell people still pay attention to him.
  8. A guy opened up a shop down the road selling little motor scooter/moped/vespa-type things and has been stuffing flyers in mailboxes and doors and such. His slogan is "Makes It's Fun to Save Fuel."
  9. I was in Walmart the other day and saw on a clearance rack a can of "Low-odor Aircraft Remover." For all those non-aromatic airplanes you have lying around that you just have to get rid of.
  10. I was watching The Blues Brothers yesterday and I wondered if I got myself a vintage Pinto stationwagon, would I be able to get the custom license plate "ILL NAZI". Probably not.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

P'tuesday Ponderances

Deep Thoughts

  1. I could bitch about the economic cluster-fuck with which we're now stuck, but what's the point?
  2. Whatever happened to the little croutons I used to be able to buy?  Now all I can find are these giant "restaurant" style hunks of bread which, frankly, are tough to chew.  I miss the little bite-sized ones.
  3. I took this picture early last year of the first flower I ever noticed on the hibiscus bush just outside my door; you ought to be able to read about it here.  Thanks to the "expert" landscaping services contracted by my landlord, the bush now has a grand total of fifty-four leaves, nineteen of which are yellow and will soon fall to the ground.  Three cheers for the manifold and manifest benefits of imported labor.
  4. While I was going out to the mailbox I kept stepping on all the little green acorns which are now falling from the trees right onto the pavement.  As they made tiny, satisfying crunching noises beneath my feet I though "How futile, shedding your seed all over an impermeable surface."
  5. That reminded me of the way some (most?) fish procreate, spewing sperm and eggs into the water and hoping they somehow meet in the middle.
  6. That reminded me of an article I read a few years ago, probably in Scientific American, about how some idiot thinks that life on land should be properly viewed as an attempt by the oceans to colonize dry land, thus all we really amount to are little, mobile columns of diluted sea water.  It's days like this when I begin to wish fervently for the utter collapse of civilization so that idiots like this will be forced to either fend for themselves or die trying.  Maybe after this guy has become a powerful warlord then he can turn his attention to promoting his "Ugly Bags of Mostly Water" philosophy of life.  If he has enough guns, then who's going to argue?  And if he's dead, then who's going to care?
  7. That reminded me of another idiotic article I once read about how the human race has been domesticated by the wheat plant, seeing as how it used to be found only in the Middle East and is now grown all over creation.  These people have way too much time on their hands.
  8. Why won't my desktop and laptop show up together on my network?  I can ping from one to the other.  I can search for them both from the other.  I can transfer files between them.  The IP addresses assigned by the DHCP server are in the correct range.  My router certainly recognizes them both.  I even forced my desktop rig to be the default Master Computer Browser.  My laptop's shared files show up, but only on my laptop.  Nothing at all shows up on my desktop, and they both tell me the list of servers for the network is unavailable.  What the hell am I doing wrong?
  9. I hate it when I end up with funny-tasting milk.  Not about-to-go-bad tasting, just funny-tasting.
  10. To hell with ten.  Nine is a nice, odd number.