A Middle East Solution

Scott Adams (yes, the very same Scott Adams of Dilbert fame) offers a solution to the problem of the ongoing violence in the Middle East – air conditioning.

Let The Games Begin!

I came across this at work in an e-mail from one of the engineering list servers to which I subscribe.

I have always been fascinated by the trebuchet, an exceptional siege engine with a lot of power capable of launching large masses over a long distance. I've seen them launch full-sized pianos well over a thousand feet downrange.

Be careful. This game is addictive and can easily consume a lot of time at work!


Thoughts On A Sunday

We attempted to get the spare propeller mounted on the boat, to no avail. We had to work around some of the nastier milfoil – a foreign water plant that has caused problems in the lakes in New Hampshire for some time – and had to keep an eye on passing boats in case they came a little too close to where we were working.

It turns out that one of the spare parts we had wasn't the right one, making it impossible to mount the prop. In fact, we had to have The Boat lifted out of the water when our first attempts failed.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to leave it up to the pros and let them deal with the parts mismatch. I was told that everything should be squared away by tomorrow and The Boat will be back in its slip when the work is done.

Now all that will be left to do is pick up a new set of spares – prop, line cutter, spinner cone, and main prop bolt – and this time keep them on the boat.

I've damaged props, bent props, and even lost the sacrificial magnesium ring anode that damaged a prop when it came apart, but in all my years on the water, this is the first time I've ever lost a prop.

Well, there's a first time for everything.


As an aside, Cap'n Dave from TowBoatU.S. - the fellow that towed us in after we lost the prop - was surprised to find out that the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout was a 1993 model. He thought is was a lot newer than that. I guess the previous owners and I have managed to keep it in tip-top shape. I just hope I can keep it that way.


Paul over at Wizbang has pulled the plug. As he explains it, “It just ain't fun any more.” As happens with bloggers from time to time, he burned out. The final straw was the pissing contest that was foisted upon him by Ace. In any case he had enough.

We're gonna miss you, Paul.


Doug at GraniteGrok links to an editorial in Germany's De Welt that lambastes Europe's cowardice when it comes to fighting the war on terror. Doug post also includes the English translation for those of us out there who don't speak German.


Mudge tells this story, one he witnessed himself. So this is a mostly true story.

In a grocery store the term 'Service Desk' is most often an oxymoron. My visit there today was worth all the time I have squandered there in the past.

There was a woman, mature but not old, in front of me at the desk. She had a cartload of groceries, but she was at the desk to use her debit card to get cash. The clerk, a young cutie pie, was explaining that the automatic tellers would not dispense cash in excess of change for bills deposited.

Customer- " You ought to post signs to tell people, if they want cash besides their change they have to go to a cashier."

Clerk- "We do recommend that if you want extra cash you should go to a line with a cashier."

Customer- "Recommend? I didn't see any signs.”

Clerk- "We don't need them. We go over the rules all the time in our cashier training sessions."

Customer- "How would I know that?"

Clerk- "I'm recommending it now. It's our rule."

This exchange went on for some time with no progress until the customer went away muttering and shaking her head. Then the cutie pie came to me, with my gray hair and weird beard.

Clerk- "Its a shame. Some old folks just can't understand our modern world."

Actually the exchange went on for an extended period and I would have been annoyed if I weren't struggling not to laugh out loud.


At first I though it was just me. But after asking a number of other local residents I realized that my observations were not in error.

For quite some time a small number of the summer residents here in the Lakes Region would fly in to the local airport on their business jets on Fridays and jet out again late Sunday afternoon. Over the years the number was pretty stable – less than a dozen, all told. But this year the number has doubled, with the number of jets park on the ramp at the airport far larger than it used to be.

I don't know who these folks are, but you know they must be doing well if they have a $35 million business jet sitting on the tarmac, waiting to take them to and from their summer 'cottages'.


John Stossel again takes aim at the education lobby, skewering 'studies' that supposedly show that public schools are just as good as private schools when it comes to educating our kids.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where biz jets have found a new home, summer folks are trying to jam as much summer vacation as they can into the next four weeks, and where my poor boat is sitting on dry land waiting for repair....


Hezbollah And Arab Pride

With the fighting still going on in Lebanon, insurgent activity in Baghdad becoming ever more deadly, and the MSM gleefully announcing the inevitability of doom and gloom in our future, it was interesting to hear Adeed Dawisha, an Iraqi-born American, on NPR talking about Hezbollah and Arab pride, and not in a way one might expect.

It is clear to me from following the Arab and Western media that Hezbollah's actions have infused a sense of intense pride amongst people throughout the Arab world.

Sure, a few have been skeptical about Hezbollah's cross-border raid that triggered the present conflict. But most are unreservedly supportive. Many, simply ecstatic.

Self-esteem is the thing that seems to have returned to the “Arab street” as a result of Hezbollah's actions. In [Nasrallah], the cleric who heads Hezbollah, Arabs have seem to found an iconic hero who, they insist, has restored their self-worth, even their honor.

Arab honor restored by a terrorist organization, one whose strings are pulled by Tehran, a Persian state? Hmm. Something seems a little off here. It's something that Dawisha has also noticed.

You know what I find odd about all this? It is the sheer meagerness of Hezbollah's achievements so far. I could well understand the sentiment if the Arab street was rejoicing in a famous victory by Hezbollah over Israel. But all it takes is for the military organization to simply engage the Israelis in some military action and the people take to the street feeling abundant pride, fortified by skyrocketing morale.

Surely, this says something about the contemporary Arab condition.

Simply put, it is a region that suffers from a perceptible achievement deficit. A region mired by authoritarian rule so suffocating of the creative spirit that it leaves people desperately clutching at the slightest bit of accomplishment that comes their way. Throw them a few bread crumbs and these are devoured as if they were haute cuisine.

A confident people, on the other hand, would have gone slow on the adulation and asked a few pointed questions of Hassan Nasrallah. Was the leader of Hezbollah oblivious to Israel's security doctrine which, by the way, has been in place for more than three decades? The Israelis euphemistically call it the doctrine of massive retaliation. In practice it means the indiscriminate demolition of large chunks of inhabited lands.

Was the cross-border raid worth the risk? The risk of an Israeli response that would wreak havoc and destruction on Lebanon? Equally egregious is Hezbollah's matter-of-fact admission that it had spent months planning its raid.

Really? And during those long months did the thought ever cross Nasrallah's mind that he should consult with the hapless prime minister of Lebanon, who happens to be one of the very few Arab leaders who came to his position through the democratic process?

And now, does Nasrallah have a Plan B as he sits and watches the country descend to the verge of ruin?

It was reported some time earlier that Hezbollah was surprised by Israel's response to the kidnapping of their soldiers after the cross-border raid. After witnessing how the Israeli's responded to the same action committed by Hamas, did Hezbollah really expect a different one when they did the same thing? It's obvious that they did. Or they ignored it and did it anyway. And now that Israel has responded with fury and thunder does Hezbollah pause to see what they wrought? No. Instead Nasrallah eggs them on, promising ever greater attacks. Does he care if innocent Lebanese civilians are killed in the fighting? No. In fact he's counting on it. Hezbollah knew exactly what it was doing when it sited its operations, bases, and weapons caches in heavily populated areas – maximizing civilian casualties for PR purposes should hostilities start.

You know what is so sad about the present conflict? It is that innocent Lebanese are being sacrificed at the altar of Hezbollah's callous adventurism, Israel's unbridled militarism, and, yes of course, Arab pride and self-esteem.

It shows you how caring Hezbollah really is, which is not much. It is the same with their Iranian masters, too. The more innocents that die, the more they like it. And while I agree that Israel is militaristic, it is something that has allowed them to survive an almost constant state of war since 1948. Without it they would have been wiped from the face of the Earth a long time ago by intransigent enemies who do not follow the conventional 'rules of war'.

A Screw Loose

It was a late morning start to our little trip out onto the lake in the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout. The purpose of our trip was to give BeezleBub more training, helping him to become a competent boater. It wasn't a long jaunt, only an hour.

We had finished with this series of lessons and BeezleBub had just brought The Boat off plane. We switched places at the helm, I put The Boat in gear, added some throttle......and went nowhere.

A quick check of the the throttle connections at both ends found nothing wrong. I killed the engine, tilted the stern drive up to it's maximum travel, leaned over the transom and saw that we no longer had a propeller. It was just the bare shaft. No prop. No line cutter. No nothing.

We had a spare prop. We had a spare spinner cone. We had a spare main prop bolt. No problem.

Unfortunately they were all back at The Manse. Problem.

I had BeezleBub drop the anchor and I got on the marine radio to call TowBoatU.S. (Think of them as the AAA of the water.) After explaining our plight they headed over from Weirs Beach to give us a tow back to our slip.

Twenty minutes later the familiar red tow boat arrived. In a few minutes we were under tow and on our way back to Smith Cove.

An hour later Cap'n Dave of TowBoatU.S. eased us into our slip, helped us tie up, and then tied up the tow boat. It was then a matter of filling out the paperwork. A $250 tow ended up costing us nothing. It's one of the advantages of belonging to AAA's marine analogue.

A quick trip to the local marina's parts department to purchase a replacement line cutter and we were off to The Manse. BeezleBub and I gathered the parts we needed, placed them into the trunk of the trusty Intrepid, and then went into the cool interior of The Manse. There was no need to rush right back.

A return to The Boat to affect repairs is planned for later today. Fortunately the job should only take us about 15 minutes. Unfortunately we will have to make the repairs while in the water.

Oh, the price we pay to enjoy our time out on the lake!


Low Taxes Equals Strong Economy

When it comes to taxes and revenues, I find it disturbing that many of the Democrats on a national and state level don't comprehend the Laffer Curve and the evidence that increasing taxes may give a short term revenue windfall but that the revenues will fall off later. After that the total collected will be less than before the taxes were raised, goading them to raise taxes even higher. Many states in the US have learned that lesson the hard way. Others will be learning it soon.

On the national level, House and Senate Democrats are working hard to kill the economic growth brought about by President Bush's 2003 tax cuts by making sure that the cuts aren't made permanent. (As if there were such a thing in Washington)

As former Delaware governor Pete Du Pont writes, despite the evidence that the tax cuts have almost quadrupled economic growth and increased tax revenues across the board, many congressional Democrats are working hard to reverse the gains of the past three years.

Opposing tax cuts has become the mantra of the liberal left. Sen. John Kerry wants to roll back Bush's "unaffordable tax cuts." Senator Mark Dayton (D., Minn.) called the cuts "dangerous and destructive and dishonorable." Bill Clinton in 2003 said the cuts were "way too big to avoid serious harm." And various New York Times editorials called them "economically unsound," claimed that "they will increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars" and said they were unlikely "to stimulate the wallowing economy." Earlier this month House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised that the election of a Democratic House in November would result in a "rollback of the tax cuts."

Of course they have it backwards. President Bush's personal income, capital gains and dividend tax rate reductions have created economic growth, significantly increased government tax receipts, and reduced the federal deficit by nearly $130 billion. As the New York Times was forced to admit in its front-page headline on July 9, a "Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Curbs U.S. Deficit." But it isn't surprising at all; the truth is that when tax rates go down, economic activity goes up.

It appears that the Democrats want to return us to the status quo ante: reduce our economic growth from 4% back to 1.1% per year; do away with the additional $274 billion in tax revenues we've experienced; and bring the unemployment rate back up to 6.1%. I think they'll have a hard sell in making us believe that they're doing it for the average American working man or woman.

Part of the problem may be that the congressional Democrats think that they know better how to spend our money than we do. Therefore, if they can take more of it away from us they can spend it in our stead.

Let's make sure that we disabuse them of that notion.


The DNC Knows Not What It Seeks To Do

The battle over changing the presidential primary/caucus schedule is heating up.

While I'd certainly like to see New Hampshire retain its 'first in the nation' primary status, the path that the Democratic National Committee is leading us down is fraught with peril, something I've mentioned before.

The big problem with advancing the schedule as the DNC has proposed is that heavy front-loading of the schedule will actually hurt some of the candidates running for the nomination of their party. Only those candidates with deep pockets will be able even to consider a run for the presidency because with such a heavy schedule much of the one-on-one campaigning will cease because of the limited time that will be available. This will be a bad thing for the American electorate. However, not everyone agrees.

In comments to a post I linked over at Outside The Beltway, one commenter thought it would be a good idea in order to wrest selection of the nominees away from the “rich, white, New England liberals .”

My comment to the post that elicited such a response:

If the RNC is smart, they will distance themselves as much as possible from the DNC’s plan to front-load the schedule, even if it means running on an entirely different schedule.

The American voters don’t want a campaign of nothing but sound bites and campaign ads. They want to press the flesh with the candidates, one on one. With such a heavy schedule that won’t be possible. It also means those candidates with less than bulging campaign war chests but better ideas and messages won’t be heard, and that’s bad for everyone.

I have to agree with Brian that the campaign is already too damn long. The DNC wants to make it even more insufferable.

“Michael” responded with:

The DNC’s move isn’t intended to start the election season earlier. Once of the major complaints among democratic primary voters last year was that by the time Iowa and New Hampshire were done, the candidate was already chosen. It was after NH, I believe, that Dean made his famous “scream” speech which made all subsequent elections between Kerry and Edwards. The complaint was that rich, white, New England liberals were deciding the nominee.

The major change being made is to add in states from other demographics early in the election cycle, so that a broader base of the Democratic party has a say before all the other nominees drop out. Nevada will hold a caucus before New Hampshire’s primary, and after Iowa’s caucus, with South Carolina’s primary just days after Iowa. This will get at least some representation from the west and south in the early stages of choosing a Democratic nominee.

Keep in mind this is only for the Presidential nomination, so this won’t effect senate or house races. This will have little to no effect on the length of the campaign season, or the amount of political advertisements you see.

The very last statement in Michael's response is one I disagree with wholeheartedly. With less face to face campaigning the only alternative will be more political advertising, not less. My response to Michael:

That may not be the DNC’s intent, but it might be the result.

I don’t know about you, but by bunching up a number of primaries and holding most of them during the first four months of the year, I find that the campaign season stretches out forever. It also forces all of the candidates to go into “Turbo” mode, campaigning in multiple states simultaneously. This might be fine for after the conventions when each party has chosen its nominee, but not during primary season.

The perception that “by the time Iowa and New Hampshire were done, the candidate was already chosen” is just that, a perception. But it wasn’t so. It was still very much up in the air at that time and there were still lots of primaries and caucuses to go.

Changing the rules because of a mistaken impression isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if the rule changes are only going to make it worse, then why change them?

Frankly, I don’t care who goes first. But I do mind that the push to make the same mistake as 2004, but only worse the next time, is a damn foolish thing to do. It’s only going to piss off more voters and make the campaign season seem even more interminable.

While the length of the campaign season may not be any longer this time, you can bet the farm that it probably will during the 2012 campaign. It's already too long, and with the front-loading and the following 'lull', the American people will be pretty damn bored with the whole thing by the time the party conventions are held. That was the case during the 2004 campaign.

When Election Day finally rolled around in November 2004, the response was one of relief - “Thank god it's here! Let's vote and bring all of this crap to an end!”

That's not the frame of mind we want in the American electorate. So why is the DNC trying so hard to bring it about?

Maybe hubris?


Thoughts On A Sunday

I can't believe I've made it this far. I figured I'd be long dead and buried by now. But somehow I have survived to the ripe old age of 50 (which is, of course, the new 30). One of the WP sisters has told me she isn't going to allow me to be 50. Instead, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my 40th birthday. It isn't so much me she's doing this but rather herself. She's only two years behind me and is dreading the idea of entering her fifth decade.

Chill out, Sis. It ain't that bad.

Of course, it turns out that the lovely missus conspired to get a photo of yours truly back when I was a young tyke over to the folks at Accidental Verbosity, where they are playing up my having reached the Big Five-Oh.


Deb at Right Truth has an interesting analysis about the motivations of Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and Islamofascist Pinheads in general in regards to Israel and the double standard being applied.


Raven thinks that too many parents are doing too much for their kids, creating a generation that will be incapable of doing anything for themselves.

She may be right.


Thomas Sowell has some thoughts about pacifists and 'peace movements' and how they've caused more wars than they've stopped. More than one commenter to Sowell's piece has warned about not confusing a cease fire with peace. They are two entirely different things, something many of the peace movements fail to understand.


It looks like a break in the weather, with drier air now above us for the next day or two. That means the A/C will be off and the main deck off the back of The Manse will be comfortable enough to use.

We're also hoping to get out on to the lake sometime after work tomorrow.


Matt posts an interesting illustration showing the differences between Israeli soldiers and Hamas/Hezbollah guerrillas.


Outside The Beltway opines that the DNC is front-loading the primary/caucuses schedule so much that by 2016 they'll begin sometime in 2015.

It seems the DNC hasn't learned the lesson of the 2004 campaign: front-loading hurt the Democratic Party in so many ways, one of them being that their nominee ended up being John Kerry, a candidate with deep pockets rather than a coherent message. Front-loading gives the advantage to those campaigns with a lot of funds to burn and places those candidates with much smaller funds but better ideas and messages at a major disadvantage. By compressing the schedule, campaigning is reduced to sound bites and campaign ads while “pressing the flesh”, i.e. retail campaigning, falls by the wayside. This means that many otherwise viable candidates won't be heard.

Let's hope that the RNC won't make that mistake and will resist front-loading the primaries and caucuses, even if it means running a separate schedule that does not coincide with that of the Democrat's. By actually getting out and meeting the people one-on-one, the GOP can one-up the Dems and show that they are more in touch with the American voting public.

Over the past ten years it seems that no matter what they do, the DNC come up with more interesting ways of shooting itself in the foot. Repeating the front-loading fiasco, but to a higher degree, is just another shot into an already bleeding foot.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where drier weather has arrived, so has the dumber/ruder boaters, and where I still plan to spend as much time out on the lake as is possible.


Boating Buttheads

BeezleBub, WP nephew Andrew, and I headed out on The Boat this morning. Our mission was to go over to Lakeport on Paugus Bay and gas up at the marina with the lowest gas price on the entire lake.

In that, we were successful.

However, during our travels on Lake Winnipesaukee we came across an above average number of clueless and/or rude boaters.

First, we came across at least three boaters in the cove where we dock the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout that obviously don't understand what “No Wake” means. For those of you out there who aren't boaters, “No Wake” means proceeding at a speed that leaves no wake behind your boat, or 6mph, which ever slower. Some folks have a strange idea of what constitutes a wake and what doesn't. The easiest indicator that a boater is leaving a wake behind them is when the waves from their passage causes boats tied up at docks to slam against the docks when those waves hit.

Next, while cruising along the north side of Governor's Island we had to take evasive action when a boat approaching us from the port (left) side at high speed. I don't know if he/she didn't see us or was under the mistaken impression that they didn't have to yield the right of way to other boats, but in any case we were forced to give way when it was our boat that had the right of way. It was up to them to change course. But this is one of those incidents where I'd rather give way rather than be right...dead right.

After that we came across a couple of men fishing. That in itself isn't unusual. But the fact that their bass boat was sitting at the entrance to the Weirs Channel, forcing boats entering and exiting the channel to maneuver around them, was. While they were perfectly within their rights to be where they were, it was both rude and dangerous for them to be there. But that didn't bother them one bit.

Then, as we were following another boat through the Weirs Channel, one of the passengers decided it was a good time to break out his fishing rod and started fishing. On his second cast he got a hit and started playing the fish. This didn't bother me. The fact that the guy reeling in the fish wanted the owner of the boat to stop dead in the middle of a heavily traveled waterway did. What was this moron thinking? Or was he thinking at all?

Once at the gas dock we proceeded to fill the tank of the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout, taking on 27 gallons of gas. Once the tank was full and the gas cap tightened, BeezleBub started the blowers while I paid for the gas.

For those non-boaters out there, blowers are a very important piece of equipment. Blowers are used to vent gasoline fumes from the interior of the boat. Unlike cars and trucks, gas fumes will accumulate in the engine compartment. Cars and trucks don't have this problem because the undersides of those vehicles are open to the air and the fumes can escape. (Gas fumes are heavier than air, meaning they will flow to the lowest point). In boats, the gas fumes have no place to go, so they build up in the engine compartment and bilges. Blowers will remove those gas fumes, venting them to the outside air. Once the blowers have been running for a few minutes it is usually safe to start the engine.

Apparently, one unfortunate boater found out the hard way that not using the blowers after fueling their boat is a really bad idea. When the boat's owner started the engine, fire erupted from the engine compartment. The boat fire is under investigation, but I think the investigators will find that either he didn't run his blowers after gassing up, or he didn't run them long enough before starting the engine. In either case, his boat was a total loss.

One of the last things that we witnessed was yet another boater blowing right through a well marked No Wake zone. The boater in question either a). did not to see the buoys that marked the beginning and end of the zone; b). didn't know what the buoys meant; or c). didn't give a damn. The problem is that explanations b) or c) were more likely than a).

For now we have to deal with some of these boating buttheads. Some can be educated about their boating faux pas. Others plain don't care.

To quote one of my favorite philosophers, ”Ignorance can be cured with education. Stupidity can't be fixed and is the only universal capital crime.”

Too true.


One Yankee's Opinion About The War In Lebanon

Other than a few links and offhand remarks, I haven't really commented upon the war between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It could be because I'm lazy. Or it could be because so many others have expressed their opinions, some better than I could ever hope to match. Or maybe, just maybe, I've been thinking it about it, churning it over and over in my mind, looking at what is being said, what is claimed by Israel and Hezbollah, and observing the actions of allies and enemies alike.

While Hezbollah fights to reclaim territory that wasn't theirs to begin with, Israel fights for its very survival. The Holocaust is never far from their minds, so much so that “Never Again!” is a mantra that many Israelis have running in the back of their minds constantly.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned Israel for a disproportionate response, ignoring the fact that Israel had been bombarded by Hezbollah rocket attacks and cross-border incursions for years. The abduction of two Israeli soldiers was merely the last in a long series of incidents that was the straw that broke the camel's back and not the sole incident that brought about Israel's military response.

It seems that there is a double standard at work here, one where dead Israeli civilians are acceptable but dead Lebanese civilians put in harm's way by Hezbollah are not. The cameras are around to show the destruction of southern Lebanon brought about by Israeli weapons but caused by Hezbollah and their Iranian masters. Few cameras were around during shelling of Israeli towns and cities by Hezbollah rockets.

Hezbollah wants to bring about the destruction of Israel. Israel just wants to be left alone.

Hezbollah are the barbarians at the gates, wanting to tear down all that is good and replace it with 7th Century “sensibilities.” They want to kill anyone that disagrees with their twisted ideology. The Israelis aren't going to just lie down and take it. Instead, they've stood up to these murderous fascists and said “This far and no farther! Turn back or die!” Hezbollah has decided they'd rather die. All Israel is doing is granting their wishes.

Perhaps those out there pointing the finger at Israel should take a closer look at their adversaries and realize that Hezbollah is not the wronged party.


"WalMart Law" Is Struck Down

It appears that somebody in government has some sense.

A federal judge has struck down Maryland's so-called “WalMart law” which required WalMart to spend 8 percent of its payroll on health care for employees in Maryland. The law, passed by the Maryland legislature, vetoed by the governor, then over-ridden by the legislature was not so much aimed at providing WalMart's Maryland employees with better health care as much as it was aimed against WalMart by organized labor in an effort to punish WalMart. But it was generally accepted that the law wouldn't pass judicial muster. It turns out that the perception was correct.

US District Judge J. Frederick Motz decided that the Maryland Fair Share Health Care Fund Act would have hurt WalMart by requiring it to track and allocate benefits for its Maryland employees in a different way from how it keeps track of employee benefits in other states. Motz wrote that the law “imposes legally cognizable injury upon WalMart.”

Despite the outcome that has spared WalMart the necessity of doing something that no other business in the state had to do, many feel that the “WalMart law” has hurt Maryland's commercial reputation.

"The harm that gets done by proposing, passing and overruling a veto [of the bill] is much longer lasting than a sweet victory in court," said Aris Melissaratos, the secretary of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development.


In a 32-page opinion issued yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz granted a motion declaring that the Wal-Mart bill is pre-empted by a federal law and is therefore invalid. He did not deem it unconstitutional as some business leaders had hoped, though it appears to target one company. The opinion was part of a lawsuit filed by the Retail Industry Leaders Association - a trade group that counts Wal-Mart as a member - against Maryland's Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The failure of the WalMart law to stand judicial scrutiny hasn't stopped the original proponents of the law from continuing their fight against the national retailer. The legislature has said they'll rewrite the law and organized labor has said they'll do what they can to force the issue.

This battle between business and the anti-business groups in Maryland isn't over. It's barely begun.


9/11 On The Big Screen

I first read about the new Oliver Stone film in the local paper, then saw the trailer on television this evening.

I couldn't bring myself to watch United 93 when it was in the theaters. But somehow I think I'll see this one – World Trade Center.

Though it covers the events of that horrible day, it focuses on the true story of two police officers, played by Nicholas Gage and Michael Pena, who survive the collapse of the towers but are trapped in the wreckage.

Unlike United 93, this film somehow feels different. It's nothing I can put my finger on.

Don't Send In The Marines

Jay Tea reminds us that the Marine Corps has a saying that goes beyond Semper Fi.

No better friend. No worse enemy.

While the suggestion has been made to send the Marines into Lebanon as a peacekeeping force, Jay believes that it would be a really bad idea. We must remember that there is bad blood between Hezbollah and the U.S Marines, to whit the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks at the Beirut Airport by a Hezbollah suicide bomber back in 1983.

The Marines have long memory. And they are no friends of Hezbollah.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's the first of two NASCAR Nextel Cup weekends here in New Hampshire. NASCAR fans started arriving at New Hampshire International Speedway during the middle of the week in ever increasing numbers.

Yesterday afternoon Deb and I noticed a rather large number of Lears, Gulfstreams, and Citations already parked on the ramp at Laconia Airport. Early last evening, when I was out on The Boat with a few of the WP nephews, we saw at least eight bizjets landing at the airport in a 45 minute period.

I caught the Nextel Cup race from the best seat in the house: in front of the Official Weekend Pundit Audio/Video Multimedia Center at The Manse. No travel. No crowds. No line for the restroom. Air conditioned comfort.


My characterization of Hezbollah as Iran's Rockem-Sockem Robots was prescient. Cox & Forkum thought the same thing.



It appears that Iran is stepping up the ante, helping Hezbollah with anti-ship missiles. One Israeli warship was damaged and a Camodian freighter sunk by Iranian-built C-802 missiles. It was reported that some of Iran's Revolutionary Guard troops help set up and fire the missiles. If this is so, then Iran may have started down a dangerous path, one that could end with their destruction by Israeli nukes if Israel sees itself on the verge of destruction.


Some have seen Israel's response to both Hamas and Hezbollah attacks as disproportionate. Neo-neocon quotes Betsy Newmark, who asks “I wish that the next time some leader comes out and starts talking about Israel's "disproportionate response" that the journalists would ask them what their definition of a proportionate response would be if some terrorists were sending rockets into their own cities. Perhaps their own citizens might be interested in knowning how these intrepid leaders would respond if they were being attacked.”

Neo-neocon's also delves into the danger of “proportionality” in war.


In another vein, Skip at GraniteGrok ponders whether the US MSM is American, or at least, pro-American. It appears that the answer is no. Skip provides a number of examples showing the media's poor choices that spur on America's enemies. Their actions are not those of pro-American media.


Wretchard points out that there is some confusion between how wars were prosecuted in the past and today. While we have the means for precision strikes that the Allies in WWII could only dream about, it may take more than that to win a war against an intractable enemy that does not recognize the difference between civilians and combatants. What makes it worse is that the US Supreme Court has decided to tie our hands when it comes to dealing with such enemies, giving such enemies protection under the Geneva Convention while overlooking the fact that even the Convention does not recognize them as lawful combatants.


This edition of Thoughts On A Sunday took on a darker tone than I had originally intended. While I usually try to mix up the various subject that I ponder for this weekly post, thoughts about the fighting going on in Israel, Lebanon, and Gaza were at the forefront all day. BeezleBub asked me a number of questions about the war, wondering why it was happening. Many of the answers I gave him came from the various posts I linked to and commented about above.

It's never easy explaining fanaticism of any kind to a twelve-year old, particularly the kind that leads to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents.


Fuzzy Thinking

As I have stated on more than one occasion, I am an engineer, working to develop and design test instruments based upon customer needs and marketing decisions. In our business fuzzy thinking can be the death knell for our company. So it came as a pleasant surprise when I came across this over at Random Jottings. It explains quite well the mindset engineers need to have in order to succeed in developing the products that are required. It also applies to life in general, whether you are talking about politics/family/your town/your country/the world, whether you are an engineer or not. John Weidner calls it a “tool for detecting fuzzy thought.”

I had written: Peter Drucker always taught that the key to making decisions is figuring out what the question actually is.

Reader Mike replied: I learned this when I started working alongside of engineers for a few years. It's probably the single most important thing I learned during that time.

Here's another key: things are defined as much by what they are, as what they are not. For example, when somebody suggests a new product that does A, B, and C, we take pains to clearly specify that the product will not do X, Y, or Z. This additional step is crucial in defining the problem we are trying to solve. In engineering terms, it's the difference between a product specification, and a wish list.

In more abstract terms, it's a great tool for detecting fuzzy thought. For example, ask a 9/11 conspiracy buff what the conspiracy could not have accomplished. What are its limits? If he says that anything was possible, then he's hoist in his own petard - "How do you know that Bill Clinton wasn't behind the whole thing?".

Well-formed thoughts have edges. Poorly-formed thoughts are like clouds that endlessly shift and fill the available space.

The "lack of limits" characterizes a lot of goofix thinking today. Whatever the criticism, people keep raising the bar, and can never be satisfied. A friend wrote to me, "I always point out that the people in the top 10% pay 66% of the taxes and then ask: How much do you think they should pay? What's the right number? I don't think I have ever gotten an answer."

The “lack of limits” is one of the problems with much of the It's-All-The-Fault-Of-The-[place name of group or person they're bitching this time, here] Left. They follow such a convoluted logic path that it is damn near impossible to follow their reasoning.

The same “lack of limits” also causes problems with any engineer's job. In my company we usually see it in the form of creeping elegance, where marketing wants to keep adding features until the end result has no resemblance at all to the original specifications. There comes a point where we have to say “No, this isn't going to work. If you want all of these features we'll need to start from scratch because we can't stretch the original design to accomplish everything you want.” If we don't say that, a inexpensive tool ends up becoming a costly does-everything box that very few can afford to buy and that won't work nearly as well as smaller, less expensive individual pieces of equipment designed to perform a specific function. And so it goes with life in general.

How many times have we seen what appears to be an excellent solution to a problem on the local/state/national/international level be turned into a bloated, unworkable boondoggle because fuzzy thinking causes all kinds of 'add-ons' that twist the original idea into something unrecognizable? Far too often, in my opinion. Everybody wants to add something, even if it has nothing to do with the original problem the solution was supposed to solve. We see this happen all the time, particularly in state legislatures and the halls of Congress.

It seems that it's also true that folks come up with solutions to 'problems' that aren't really problems. Or they take a small problem and blow it all out of proportion, trying to make it appear far larger than it really is, and then demanding a solution to the problem. But the solution turns out to be far more harmful than the original problem. Their fuzzy thinking makes connections between unrelated events and comes up with a conclusion that defies all logic. (It can be said that conspiracy theorists are masters at such thinking). Therefore, their solutions make as much sense.

I think that this is a pretty good place to stop this post as my thinking is getting a bit...umm...fuzzy.


A Proxy War

As someone on one of the many blogs I read every day has stated, Israel is involved in a proxy war. Hamas is standing in for Syria and Hezbollah is Iran's Rockem-Sockem Robot.

For the moment, Israel seems to be content to go after the proxies in an attempt to diminish Syria's and Iran's influence in the area. But if it comes to it, Israel may decide to forgo fighting the proxies and strike directly at the masters.

Both Syria and Iran have made no secret about their desires to destroy Israel. Iran is far more powerful than Syria and is more likely to take direct action against Israel. Should that occur, the gloves would come off and Israel would strike hard and fast. And should Iran threaten a nuclear strike I believe Israel would strike first, pre-empting the mad mullahs.

The world watches nervously, waiting to see what will happen.

Let us hope that it progresses no further.


Laffer Proved Right....Again

Much to the chagrin of Democrats, it seems that yet again Arthur Laffer was right.

Many out there may not remember Arthur Laffer or the graph he created that bears his name – the Laffer Curve.

Basically, Laffer created a graph that shows the relationship between tax rates and tax revenue. Ste the taxes too high or too low and the amount of tax revenue the government collects falls off. The trick is to figure out exactly where the along the curve tax rates happen to be and to adjust them accordingly to maximize the revenue.

When President Bush pushed through the tax cuts in 2003, he believed that the tax rates were on the wrong part of the curve, which meant that the government was taking too much out of the economy and, consequently, discouraging investment and the growth of the economy investment spurs.

Many of the congressional Democrats thought that taxes were too low and the only ones who would benefit from tax cuts would be the rich. It turns out they were wrong.

esterday's political flurry over the falling budget deficit shows that even Washington can't avoid the obvious forever: to wit, the gusher of revenues flowing into the Treasury in the wake of the 2003 tax cuts. The trend has been obvious for more than a year...but now it's so large that Republicans are trying to take credit while Democrats explain it away.


The real news, and where the policy credit belongs, is with the 2003 tax cuts. They've succeeded even beyond Art Laffer's dreams, if that's possible. In the nine quarters preceding that cut on dividend and capital gains rates and in marginal income-tax rates, economic growth averaged an annual 1.1%. In the 12 quarters--three full years--since the tax cut passed, growth has averaged a remarkable 4%. Monetary policy has also fueled this expansion, but the tax cuts were perfectly targeted to improve the incentives to take risks among businesses shell-shocked by the dot-com collapse, 9/11 and Sarbanes-Oxley.

This growth in turn has produced a record flood of tax revenues, just as the most ebullient supply-siders predicted. In the first nine months of fiscal 2006, tax revenues have climbed by $206 billion, or nearly 13%. As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, "That increase represents the second-highest rate of growth for that nine-month period in the past 25 years"--exceeded only by the year before. For all of fiscal 2005, revenues rose by $274 billion, or 15%. We should add that CBO itself failed to anticipate this revenue boom. Maybe its economists should rethink their models.

It appears that some of the states in the US could learn from this lesson. One in particular needs to look at both its spending and tax policies: New Jersey.

Both the New Jersey legislature and the governor, John Corzine, have forgotten that ever increasing state spending and taxation does nothing more than discourage businesses and investment in those businesses. Residents have gotten tired of the ever increasing tax burden and are leaving, voting with their feet. Unless New Jersey can get its insatiable lust for spending other people's money under control, its economy is going to fold like a cheap suitcase in the rain.

All New Jersey has to do is look at the history of Massachusetts during the 70's and early 80's to see what fate awaits them. Back then unemployment was high, even higher than the rest of the country, which was in the throes of a deep recession at the time. Businesses were closing up shop and moving, many of them to the bordering states of New Hampshire and Vermont, where the tax burdens were a fraction of that in Taxachusetts. Other businesses just folded up, closing their doors for good. Whether it was because of the recession, the ever increasing state tax burden, or both, is still debated. In either case, the state was on the verge of economic ruin. It was then that the Powers-That-Be woke up and started the realize that they were a major contributing factor of the economic problems. The people also woke up and voted to take control away from the legislature and the special interests by passing two controversial ballot questions. The first, Question 2, also called “Prop 2 1/2”, cut property taxes to 2.5% of the assessed values. The second, Question 3, removed fiscal autonomy from the school systems. (It used to be that the school systems told the towns and cities how much money they wanted and the communities had to deliver. The idea was that the schools would then be adequately funded. However, what it became was a license to steal. Some towns were driven to the edge of bankruptcy because of fiscal autonomy.)

If New Jersey wants to solve their fiscal problems, best that they get around to looking at the examples of Massachusetts and the US Government, both good and bad.


A Tribute To Syd

I've been a fan of Pink Floyd for over 30 years.

There were rarely times in my adult life when there wasn't a Pink Floyd song playing somewhere in the background. Back in my racing days our team couldn't work on our cars unless Pink Floyd was playing on the stereo in the garage.

To hear that one of the founders of Pink Floyd, Syd Barret, had died was sad news. Syd's story in itself was sad, immortalized in the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

We're gonna miss you, Syd.

(H/T to Dean's World for the Pink Floyd video link)


When does “in perpetuity” not mean in perpetuity? When local government decides that it's too long.


Sunset Laws?

An editorial in the July 11th edition of the Union Leader (Manchester, NH) got me to wondering about all the laws that are passed in legislatures throughout the nation as well as Congress. What of the laws are ambiguous? What if they are, on the face of it, totally meaningless? Or what if old laws, not seen or enforced in years, are still languishing on the books, waiting to be used in a manner the framers never intended?

There should be a way to do away with such laws without the need to resort to the courts while still leaving the control in the hands of the people's duly elected representatives.

In the past, New Hampshire had a Sunset Commission. It was tasked with reviewing laws, committees, and agencies in the state and recommending which of them should be repealed, disbanded, or dissolved. Unfortunately, it recommended its own demise, which I believe was a mistake. Other states have has sunset commissions and others have tried to institute them. Some where created for a specific and very limited purpose or for a specified period time.

There have been attempts to institute them at a federal level, but they have been met with considerable opposition. Most of the opponents think that they would usurp the power of the Congress, but I believe they would merely help Congress to do away with redundant/superfluous government organizations and poor/bad/onerous laws and regulations. Many of those opponents are also representatives of special interests, i.e. lobbyists. Sunset commissions would make their jobs more difficult, therefore they are opposed to them.

That might be one of the best reasons to create such a commission.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Alas, it is the last day of our vacation. Both Deb and I return to the weekly grind tomorrow morning.

It was a great week to take off, the weather being cooperative and all. We spent a lot of time on the lake or at the town beach, with one day trip up north in the middle of the week.

It gives me the hankerin' to take another week or three off.


Jay Tea has the right of it in regards to Lil' Kim and the rest of his North Korean coterie.

They may or may not have nukes. They may or may not get their long range missile to work. They may or may not mate the two together. They may or may not make the mistake of firing one or more at the US or one of our allies.

Should the last occur, Lil' Kim and his buddies will learn what nuclear war is all about.

It may be time to remind him of a few facts that might have an untoward effect on his beliefs:
1) The nation he is threatening is the one that invented nuclear weapons.
2) It is also the only nation to ever use those weapons in anger.
3) He has, at most, a handful of nuclear weapons, and we are a very, very big nation.
4) We have a hell of a lot more of them, the ability to deliver them to any spot in the world, and he has a very small nation.
5) Our national resolve is largely dependent on the occupant of the White House.
6) The current occupant of the White House has already invaded and overthrown two governments who pissed us off.

So endeth the lesson.


You know that the environmentalists are losing it when they start protesting against projects that are eco-friendly and don't add to green house gases. So many of them are all for wind power, yet once someone proposes to actually build wind farms, they decide that maybe wind power isn't such a great thing after all.

Sometimes you can't win for losing. It seems that no matter what type of alternative and “eco-friendly” kind of energy technology that people are trying to invest in and deploy, there's some tree-hugger out there that decries it as damaging, against nature, and so on ad nauseum.


While we were partaking of breakfast at the Paugus Diner this morning, I had the chance to listen to two young women who were obviously visitors to the area comment about what they'd seen while they've been here. Unlike some of the more condescending “summah people” I've written about in the past, these ladies actually liked what they saw and experienced during their stay. The only complaint I heard them make was that they couldn't stay longer.

These are the type of summer folk we like to see here. I hope they'll come back soon.


I don't know about you, but I haven't paid much attention to the World Cup since the US was eliminated. Not that I'm much of a soccer fan, but I do watch some of the World Cup matches every four years. After all, it's only fair. How many throughout the world watch the SuperBowl every year?

BTW, Italy defeated France in the final, 5-3.


Jeff Goldstein's Protein Wisdom has been hit yet again with a Denial Of Service attack.

Man, I tell you, some of the more extreme left whackos have really lost it this time.


The latest blogroll update for WP will be posted tomorrow. There are a number of changes, many of them blogs that have ceased operation or disappeared altogether.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer fun is in full swing, the tourists are spending their money, and where I...have...to...go...back...to...work...tomorrow. sigh


Speed Limits Need To Be Raised

I have been a proponent of higher speed limits on the Interstates ever since the Safety Nazis and the Anti-Destination League managed to get the 55 MPH national speed limit codified in law back in the 70's by manipulating traffic safety data. When setting speed limits was returned to the purview of the states, I, like many others, rejoiced. The dreaded and universally ignored nationwide speed limit was going to go away. Many others, including the aforementioned Safety Nazis and Anti-Destination League, screamed that doing so would create carnage on the highways at a level never seen in history.

It turns out that they were wrong, and not just a little wrong. They were a lot wrong. The carnage didn't happen. In fact, the fatality and injury rates went down.

Once allowed to do so, many states immediately raised their speed limits back to their pre-55 limits. Others, like my home state of New Hampshire, raised the limit to 65 MPH. The pre-55 the speed limit had been 70 MPH. Today the 65 MPH limit in New Hampshire is, for the most part, ignored. Most of the folks I see on New Hampshire's limited access highways are driving between 70 and 75, not 65. It's not just here in New Hampshire I see this, but in Massachusetts as well. Because of this I believe it's time to raise the limit in New Hampshire to 70 or 75 MPH. Let me tell you why.

Back in the good old days speed limits on major roads and highways were set a number of ways. One of the most prevalent methods traffic engineers used for setting speed limits on limited access highways was the 85th percentile, meaning that the speed limit was set for the speed that that at least 85 percent of the cars and trucks on that highway were traveling.

It has been known that people will drive at the speed that is comfortable for them, regardless of the posted speed limit. They will rarely venture above or below that speed because it makes them uncomfortable to do so. (It is one of the main reasons the 55 MPH limit was universally ignored: it was too damn slow for the road conditions and highway design.) Some have argued that raising the speed limit here in New Hampshire will only encourage people to drive even faster, to 80 or even 90 MPH. But that isn't true. Remember, people will drive at the speed at which they are comfortable. For most folks, it won't be 80 or 90. It is true that there are the few speed demons out there that will drive that fast, but they are doing that already with the speed limit set at 65.

Even if the evidence that increased speed limits hasn't led to hundreds of thousands of additional deaths and maimings doesn't change one's mind about increasing the speed limit, one must keep in mind that lower speed limits decrease the capacity of any given highway. Doing that at a time when traffic totals are going up makes no sense, particularly when it is unlikely that any new highways will be built any time soon. At best all we can hope for is upgrades to existing highways to widen them. Even then there are limits as to how wide they can be made and how quickly such upgrades can be completed.

Let's set the limits to more reasonable levels, one to which a majority of the motoring public will abide.

NOTE: I had started writing this Friday morning after reading the OpinionJournal piece about speed limits but didn't finish it until today. Then I find out Glenn Reynolds had already linked to the Journal piece, so I expanded the original post to include a more personal insight to the issue.


More Information About The Causes Of Global Climate Change

There's more evidence that Dr. Henrik Svensmark may be correct in his theory that it is solar activity, not to be confused with solar luminence, that is the determining factor in global climate change.

In the words of the four solar scientists, their findings indicate that "periods of higher solar activity and lower cosmic ray flux tend to be associated with warmer climate, and vice versa," and that "the major part of this correlation is due to similar long-term trends in the data sets." In fact, both the sunspot number and cosmic ray parameters exhibit low-frequency variations that closely match the declining temperatures of the Roman Warm Period-to-Dark Ages Cold Period transition that was in progress at the start of the 1800-year records, the subsequent warming that produced the Medieval Warm Period, the following cooling that led to the Little Ice Age, and the most recent warming that produced the Current Warm Period. Hence, it would appear that the millennial-scale oscillation of Earth's climate that has given us these distinctive multi-century warm and cold periods was likely driven by a similar-scale oscillation of the solar-modulated cosmic ray flux.

This does not rule out human activity as a contributing factor to global climate change, but it does rule it out as the sole factor.

Links to other related articles and extracts can be found here.

(H/T GraniteGrok)

Superman Returns

I went to see Superman Returns at the local megamulticineplex last night. Thanks to tips from others in the blogosphere, I knew ahead of time that it takes place after Superman II, making it much more logical. It also helps me forget that Superman III and IV ever existed.

It is definitely worth seeing even though it is, as others have commented, a little too long.

Kevin Spacey was great as Lex Luthor, playing the character less as a comedic bad guy and more as the megalomaniac villain with a heart of kryptonite.

Brandon Routh did evoke images of Christopher Reeve, though the affected clumsiness wasn't nearly as evident as in Reeve's portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman.

One scene that surprised me was seeing the same portrayal of the Kent farm in Kansas, though I don't know if it was the actual location or a recreation of the original.

All in all, I liked it.


More On Improved Photovoltaics

Glenn Reynolds has discovered something I wrote about back in April – a breakthrough that will allow photovoltaic cells to convert the entire visible spectrum of sunlight to electricity. At the moment solar cells favor the green part of the spectrum, with conversion efficiency dropping off dramatically to either side of green. This improvement will create solar cells with conversion efficiencies above 50%, making them far more viable and less costly to use.


A Convenient Lie

And here is Part II of John Stossel Day, where one of my favorite debunkers goes after the hype about how the Kyoto Treaty can save us all, particularly if we destroy the US economy in the process.

I have long maintained that the Kyoto Treaty was a sham, particularly since it only targets successful developed nations while giving a pass to other nations that already pollute far more than the US or Western Europe.

When he was in college, atmospheric-science professor John Christy was told, "it was a certainty that by the year 2000, the world would be starving and out of energy."

That prediction has gone the way of so many others. But environmentalists continue to warn us that we face environmental disaster if we don't accept the economic disaster called the Kyoto treaty.


Christy says, "Doomsday prophecies grabbed headlines but have proven to be completely false. Similar pronouncements today about catastrophes due to human-induced climate change sound all too familiar."

But the media can't get enough of doomsday.

That's part of the problem. Doomsday sells because it generates fear, and the media wants to maintain a “state of fear”, much as Michael Crichton described in his novel of the same name.

It doesn't matter if the doomsday scenarios can't be backed up with science - theories that we have no way of testing any time soon. The media and those with the most to gain by such hysteria are pushing them for all they're worth. Who among them cares if it's true or not? It sells papers, magazines, TV advertising, and generates funding for those within the scientific and pseudo-scientific community pushing these doomsday warnings.

Such an atmosphere makes it almost impossible to have a truly intelligent debate about global climate change, its effects, and its causes. Hysteria reigns and the more moderate or dissenting opinions are drowned out, many times with the doomsayers denouncing those that have the temerity to disagree with them as crackpots, sellouts, or stooges for their corporate masters.

Crichton mentions another doomsday scenario that created quite a stir during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries: Eugenics. Even though it was later debunked, the theory caused immeasurable harm, eventually leading to the so-called “Final Solution” by Hitler and his cronies – extermination of millions of those the Nazis considered undesirable and genetically inferior.

Am I saying that the global warming hysteria will lead to mass slaughter by those abiding by the numerous doomsday theories out there? No. But I have heard of more than one of the more extreme environmentalists suggesting that 90% of humanity should be eliminated in order to “Save-The-Earth.” Just remember that the Final Solution started out as a “what if” speculation. It's not too far a trip from idle speculation to implementation.

When Is Sexism Not Sexism?

This must be John Stossel Day as I have two of Stossel's columns to link to and comment about.

Stossel writes about the EEOC and how ridiculous it has become in its pursuit of employment equality.

You've probably heard of Hooters -- the restaurant chain known for attracting male customers by hiring waitresses who are well-endowed and dressed to show it.

The firm now employs more than 30,000 people. Some would consider this a success story, but our government didn't. Not because Hooters is using sex to sell -- but because its waitresses are -- get ready -- women!

"Discrimination!" cried the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It only goes down hill from there.

I can understand the EEOC wanting to ensure that there is no discrimination being perpetrated by employers, but this is friggin' ridiculous. It is not unlike the EEOC to find that some business somewhere hasn't hired enough minorities in an area where minorities are in short supply. What does a business do under such circumstances? Do they import them from someplace else?

Can such a scenario happen? Knowing how the EEOC works, I'd be surprised if it hasn't already happened somewhere in the US.

Truths Remembered

Every so often we need to be reminded of simple truths, ones that we take for granted and that soon fade from our consciousness. Tom Bowler reminds us of the biggest difference between conservatives/moderates/libertarians and the so-called “progressive” left.

The conservatives, moderates and libertarians believe in equality of opportunity. The progressive left believes in equality of outcome. The problem is that ensuring equality of outcome breeds mediocrity, and ultimately, failure.

Another truth is that too many of the progressive left treat wealth as a zero-sum game, meaning that if someone gets rich that they must have stolen their wealth from the poor. But wealth is not a zero-sum game in a society or civilization where wealth is not based upon the possession of a valuable but rare commodity like gold, silver, or some other precious metal. Wealth is based upon production of some kind of goods or services that are valuable to somebody somewhere. Those who become rich are those that find a way to provide more of such goods and services than somebody else. In the process they create jobs, which allows others to share the wealth. But this is something the progressive left can't seem to grasp, something that is taught in Economics 101!


A Reminder On The Fourth

It is the 230th birthday of our nation, one founded upon inalienable rights and laws based upon those rights. It seems that common sense was far more common back then than it is today. I'd like to think that the Founding Father's realized that this might be the case and set up our government to help minimize the effects of such a lack. That's one reason why we can amend our constitution, but why they made sure it wasn't easy to do so unless 75% of The People agreed it should be changed. While it hasn't always worked – the ill-advised 18th Amendment is a good example – the errors mostly corrected themselves.

While people across America are celebrating the birth of our nation, there are also those within our nation actively working to dismantle or even destroy this, the greatest nation on the earth. For the most part they were born and raised here, yet they see it as their duty to take something that has worked far better than any system before it and twist it into something unrecognizable. In many cases their motivations are not evil, but they have deluded themselves into believing that in order to reach some kind of Utopian ideal that only they can see they have to destroy something they misguidedly see as evil. Almost every nascent totalitarian state has used a variation of the phrase “burn our way to a new paradise.” And every time people have been foolish enough to follow the path of those preaching such an idea they have come under the power of some group that instead brought about hell upon earth. These folks are no different, though they may not use the exact phrase above. They are still dangerous. They want to squander the hard-won freedoms so many have died to protect.

Since these misguided souls don't have armies of followers to spark a revolution, they take a different path, trying to destroy by guile, propaganda, innuendo, fabrication, and legal machinations what they cannot destroy with brute force.

These tactics have a number of names: political correctness, moral relativism, historical revisionism, speciesism, and romantic primativism.

Political Correctness: It is another form of fascism, something George Orwell warned us about in his novel 1984. By changing the language one can change thought. Political correctness allegedly seeks to make language less offensive by changing labels. But it also removes the capability to offend those that badly need to be offended because their actions are reprehensible. By eliminating the bad connotations of language, we also remove the good. Good and evil cease to be defined, meaning that evil can flourish while good whithers away. Whether they realize it or not, the PC crowd is aiming to do just this. But in our society their efforts to offend no one has ended up offending everyone. It is perhaps by this mechanism that political correctness will meet its long overdue and richly deserved demise.

Moral Relativism: Also called moral equivalence, it seeks to equate unrelated actions to each other on a moral level, such as saying that the actions of President Bush in regards to Iraq are no different than those of Adolph Hitler in Europe. But if President Bush's actions were the same, then there would be millions of dead Iraqis, bombed out cities, and death camps all over Iraq. The same type of claim has been made equating the detention center at Guantanamo Bay to Auschwitz. But there are no gas showers, no crematorium ovens, no slave labor, no starvation diets. But there is no moral equivalence. It is purely rhetorical, except to those making the claims. But then, those making the claims usually have no understanding of history, nor do they wish to.

It is these who also try to apply late 20th/early 21st Century morality to events that happened 100, 200, 300 years or more in the past. It is this that leads to....

Historical Revisionism: Taking historical events and reinterpreting them using the aforementioned late 20th/early 21st Century morality, applying modern day motives to those living in the past. I find it incredible that historical revisionists can read all kinds of present day motives into historical figures despite well documented writings – including diaries, journals, and letters – and research into historical records that show otherwise. But that doesn't stop them for making claims that at first glance appears to make sense, but once some thought is put into it, the claims are revealed for the tripe they are.

Speciesism: This ties in closely with moral relativism. This particular delusion leads people to believe that all species have the same rights as humans. To some of the more radical believers, human rights should be below that of all other creatures and forms of life. These folks show their hatred of their fellow human beings, wishing nothing less than the total destruction of humankind in order to make up for some perceived wrongdoing. One place they have found a foothold is here in America, where they have the right to spout their ridiculous catechism.

Romantic Primativism: This is related to historical revisionism. In their hatred of modern times, the Romantic Primativists have come to believe the lie of the “Noble Savage”, living in harmony with nature rather than defiling it. The problem is that the Noble Savage exists only in literature. Primitive human existence can be described in three words: brutal, short, and nasty.

They have every right to believe what they believe, even if it is short-sighted and destructive in ways they are incapable of understanding. They have little understanding of human nature and believe that everything would be perfect if everybody thought the same way they do, or worse, that everybody already thinks the same way they do.

But let's not let that bother us today. Today is the day to celebrate the creation of something unprecedented in history:

A successful republican democracy that has stood the test of time.


A Great Day At The Lake

It was one of the best days of the summer, so far.

BeezleBub and I were out on the water by 7:15 this morning, on our way over to the south end of Paugus Bay to fill the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout's tank with gas. That early in the morning there are few boats out on the lake, making it a joy to be out there. We also wanted to get to the marina just as the gas dock opened in order to 'beat the rush' to gas up, as happens so often on weekends.

We were back out on the main part of the lake by 8:45 and already the water was getting choppy, the boat traffic having quadrupled compared to an hour earlier.

Later in the day BeezleBub and I headed to the town beach. Needless to say there were a lot of people there as the photo below can attest. But at least it wasn't overcrowded like so many other public beaches can be.

Gilford_Beach004 800X428.jpg

One thing I can say after spending a couple of hours observing all of the folks at the beach is that there are definitely some women that should not, under any circumstances, wear a two piece bathing suits. Some women at the beach should have given up the practice a decade or two ago. Others should never have started. One such would have made my lovely wife Deb look like a refugee from a concentration camp.

One young lass, maybe 17 or 18 years of age, needed to gain about 20 pounds. She was so underweight that we could see every one of her ribs, her face looked shrunken, and every tendon, ligament, and sinew was clearly visible under her skin. It made me want to scream at her “Eat Something!!” Even if she did, I have no doubt that we would be able to see what she ate as it made its way through her digestive tract.

Not that women were the only ones guilty of underdressing. There were plenty of men out there who were guilty of wearing something only a competitive swimmer should wear. I saw quite a few men of all ages wearing Speedos while suffering from Dunlap Disease, as in “My belly done lap over my shorts.” Not a pretty picture. There were plenty of other beach fashion faux pas committed by the male visitors at the beach, some of which are far to disturbing to mention here.

But none of that ruined the day as the weather was quite cooperative.

Even as I post this, our day is not done. We will be heading out once again on the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout to enjoy some fireworks at Weirs Beach. We, like hundreds of others, will anchor off the beach to watch the display. Heck, I might even get a few photos.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a day off yesterday for this member of the WP team.

Yours truly, Deb, BeezleBub, and the WP Parents headed south of the border into the People's Republic of Massachusetts to spend the day with the youngest WP Sister. It was a gathering of the clan to celebrate the Fourth of July as well as my own 50th birthday (even though it doesn't occur until later in the month).

There was plenty of good food, good drink, great conversation, as well as a handy dandy swimming pool in the back yard.

We made it back into the safe haven of the Live Free Or Die state before 9PM without running afoul of the PRM's Revenue Enhancement Squads. I guess the new cloaking device is working well.....


Speaking of traveling south of the border yesterday, we all witnessed the very heavy traffic heading into New Hampshire along I-93 and US-3. It was literally bumper to bumper traffic from the junction of I-95/Rte 128 in Massachusetts to at least Concord, a run of something like 60 miles. It wouldn't surprise me to find that the traffic jam extended another 20 miles to the north of Concord into the Lakes Region.

It made me glad that we were heading in the opposite direction.


As Brent posted earlier, Discovery had to postpone launching yesterday due to weather conditions. They were unable to launch today for the same reason. NASA will try again on Tuesday.


I caught an opinion piece by Daniel Schorr on NPR this morning about the MSM. He still thinks that it is the media's duty to expose secrets, though he seems to pooh-pooh the idea that by revealing such secrets, particularly those dealing with the War On Terror, that people will die.

And people like Schorr wonder why the MSM has become more and more disliked by the American people.

Charles J. Hanley, and AP reporter, writes in the New Hampshire Sunday News, that around the globe reporters, media outlets, and “leakers” are coming under more governmental and legal pressure. (Sorry, no link available)

“It's grotesque that at a time when political rhetoric is full of notions of democracy and liberty that we should have this fundamental right of journalists to investigate and report on public interest matters called into question,” Aidan White, general-secretary of the Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists, told the Associated Press.

But others counter that national interests requires stopping of leaks of classified information, and that some media reports endanger lives by tipping terrorists to government tactics.

“We cannot continue to operate in a system where the government takes steps to counter terrorism while the media actively works to disclose those operations without any regard for protection of lives , sources, and legal methods,” Sen. Pat Roberts said in Washington.

The media claims that the people have a right to know. I agree. But my counter to that argument is that they don't always need to know right now.

But an editorial from the Sunday Citizen (Laconia, NH) disagrees with me.

But then, I have a little more faith in a local paper than the New York Times.

Joe's Dartblog chimes in on this subject, too.


The New Editor looks at how the definition of bigotry has been broadened by the so-called “progressive” Left. This is the same progressive Left that has become the most bigoted bunch since the KKK.

(H/T The Instaprof)


While this article about average families in Maine and New Hampshire having a tougher time making ends meet, the same could be said about average families throughout the US.


GraniteGrok covers one of my favorite all-time topics of discussion – Tyranny Of The Minority.

I have covered this before, something that has been going in the US on for far too long.


Michael Yon writes about the use of picture taken by Lucian Read of wounded Marine Brad Kasal by Time magazine. Unfortunately someone at Time decided to use it in conjunction with a story about Haditha, something that Sergeant Major Kasal had nothing to do with. Though Time didn't say that he had, the implication was there nonetheless by use of the photo, in my opinion.


Cold Fury has a post called Another Day, Another Leftist Threat To Slaughter Conservatives

Need I say more to get you to click on the link?


Bill Whittle has promised Chapter One of his new book will be posted in the next day or two. The chapter is titled The Web Of Trust.

The introduction – Rafts – has been substantially rewritten and reposted. You might want to check it out before reading the first chapter.


Risawn is spending the summer in Yellowstone Park and appears to be having a great time. She has plenty photos to prove it. Just keep scrolling.


Even though it's summer, we've been making preparations for next winter. Considering the cost of heating fuel – in our case, propane – we decided to take steps to lessen our heating costs.

This past Friday we had a wood stove insert installed where our fireplace used to be. We'll be heating a good portion of the Manse with firewood next winter. We already have over a cord of wood dried and stacked with another half cord waiting to be split. We will probably pick up another cord before fall rolls around. We have no idea how much wood we'll use, but I'd rather have too much firewood on hand rather than too little.

We easily spent close to $3000 on propane from May 2005 to May 2006. We hope to spend a fourth of that between May 2006 and May 2007.

There are still other steps we plan to take to decrease our heating costs, including replacing one or both of the sliders leading out onto our decks with real doors. While that won't happen this year, it is in our plans that cover the next three or four years.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the Fourth of July is being celebrated over 4 days, the weather is cooperating, and where I'm still on vacation.....