Archive for December 2009

Happy Holidays

December 20, 2009

Oh No! I’m part of the homo-commie-atheist-liberal War on Christmas!

Actually, I’m just too lazy to type Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Nevertheless, we’re headed out of town and in case I don’t get a chance to blog again before returning, that is my wish for all.

La The Happiest State

December 19, 2009

According to this study, at least. Makes sense to me, based on their criteria. They asked people how happy they were and also considered objective factors like weather and housing prices. Here’s how one of the authors explains it:

“We were struck by the states that come at the bottom, because a lot of them are on the East Coast, highly prosperous and industrialized,” Oswald said. “That’s another way of saying they have a lot of congestion, high house prices, bad air quality.”

He added, “Many people think these states would be marvelous places to live in. The problem is that if too many individuals think that way, they move into those states, and the resulting congestion and house prices make it a non-fulfilling prophecy.”

Bingo. For us, at least. I’ve always thought about moving back up northeast, but have always decided against it because of the high costs. Down here, we live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and can still afford to have only one of us work full time, and that’s as a teacher. Up there? Two full time all year round jobs wouldn’t come close to allowing us to enjoy the equivalent type of home and neighborhood. We’d be crammed into some dinky two bedroom two hours commute from our jobs. So while we’d be in an objectively nicer area, we sure wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.

“Remember The Reason For The Season.”

December 17, 2009

If that was displayed by a public school for anyone to see, as it is at mine, wouldn’t there be some First Amendment issues? No one within fifty miles of my school would even think about complaining. But suppose someone did? It’s not as explicit as saying “Jesus is the reason” but the intent, I think, is clear. And once that’s established, surely this is a violation. Right?

That 54:40 Was A Fight

December 16, 2009

That being the time it took me to run six miles tonight. Yesterday it took me only twenty seconds more to do another mile and a half. So why did I go from 7:20 minute miles to 9:00 minute miles on a shorter route? A jogger with two toddlers; or, in other words, about ninety pounds of dead weight.

I run with the babies every Wednesday. Tuesdays are a hard run, Thursdays are a hard run, Wednesdays are normally easy. I put them in the jogger and maintain a pace that lets me talk with them through the whole five or six mile route. We look for flags, and boats, and basketball goals. While “Mr. Sun” still shines they find shapes in the clouds. There’s several cars along the route that share traits with those in their favorite movie, causing them to shout at a bright yellow bug we always see on Albert, for example, “Just like Luigi!” Omi also like to randomly shout “Look!, A spaceship!” Not sure where the idea of extraterrestrials originated, but I think trees overhanging the road trigger the shout. Since Thanksgiving, Christmas lights have been the big show. I’ve enjoyed running this season more than any other, and the Wednesday run most of all.

This week, though, I was unsure if time would allow a run on Thursday. To make up for the possibility of a missed hard run, I did a hard run tonight. We ran a mile to the closest hill, made a block that let us go up it four times at a fast pace (with half a block to recover between each “climb”) and then went home by a slightly longer route. I didn’t talk much on this one. In fact, even if time permits a run tomorrow, I don’t think my legs will.

(If you haven’t had American history in a while, here’s the title reference.)

Is It Still Cynicism If You’re Right?

December 15, 2009

This is fantastic: A satirical look at what Congressmen do, in the form of a letter home to the constituents. Gerrymandering, party politics, lobbyists and the legislative process are all there. For example:

Are you shocked that lobbies write the legislation that I introduce? Well, wake up and smell the coffee. Do you really think that my staff and I actually write legislation? I’ll let you in on another little secret: I don’t even read the bills that I introduce. They’re really boring and technical. Besides, I don’t have the time to read any bills, even my own, between committee hearings where I can grandstand for TV and fundraisers for my next campaign.

Sometimes I wonder how I can teach civics when I have such a very low opinion of politicians. Then I remember than I’m right. I’m sure most of them aren’t as bad as this fictional letter writer. But no matter what they say, they’re all in it for themselves. Normally, there’s nothing wrong with someone’s primary goal being Number One. Rational self interest is, of course, the basis of our economy, one that has given all of us the highest standard of living in the history of the world. Private individuals, though, have to persuade you to part with your resources. Congressmen just force you to give it away, all the while telling you they are your servant.

My Students Asked Me Why I Don’t Own A Gun

December 15, 2009

I told them it’s because for every story I read about someone successfully using a gun to defend himself, I read ten stories like this one. (Or this one.)

Ron Webb Is An Asshole

December 13, 2009

What a douche:

Shreveport Councilman Ron Webb on Friday drew the ire of residents who took offense to his comment about denying funding to an organization he considers gay friendly.

During a workshop on the city’s 2010 budget this week, Webb said he didn’t want to give Robinson Film Center additional money. He had talked with organization leader Sylvia Goodman and told her so.

“I had her an additional $25,000 to put on this list, and I removed it,” Webb said Monday. “The reason why I did is it bothered me that they supported gay and lesbian rights.”

Here’s his e-mail clarifying his bigotry:

“I was elected to represent the majority of my district. It may not be politically correct, and some folks may choose to be offended because they didn’t get their way. But I stand by my decision to stand with my constituents. Special interest groups should not override the interests of the majority to promote their agenda with the people’s tax dollars.”

A few things here.

One, I have issues with using tax dollars to fund things like theaters. We have too many potholes and too many crimes for that. But once you decide to throw around money, you need to do it equitably. “There be gays there” just isn’t a legitimate reason to deny funding; no more than “there be coloreds there” would be a legitimate reason to deny funding.

Two, at least Webb is honest. I much prefer open bigots to ones who hide behind neutral sounding principles in which they do not really believe.

Three, he’s probably right about his constituents. I grew up in the area he now represents. It’s populated by poorly educated white trash bible thumpers. I say that in Christian love, of course. Still, if I had to choose being doing what’s right and pleasing an ignorant mob, I’d like to think I’d do what’s right. I, though, am not a city councilman.

Four, good for the rest of the council:

Council Chairwoman Joyce Bowman distanced herself and the rest of the board from Webb’s comments. “Those statements are Councilman Webb’s alone, not the view of the entire council.”

Let’s hope, in spite of what Webb thinks, they aren’t the view of most people, either. Surely even Shreveport can move beyond this type of foolishness.

And finally, any bets on how long until Webb becomes involved in a gay s&m scandal with a city council intern?

Store Brand Whiskey + Beer + Meatball Subs = Crazy Dreams But A Great Morning Run

December 13, 2009

I had a lousy training week. I missed a run and was much slower than normal on the ones I did. Even last Saturday was bad, though that was because the day before I gave blood. With that background I did not expect much from yesterday’s long run. Then I woke up to serious rain. I thought I’d wait and go later. Later only brought more rain. I never went running. All this added up to me being in a pretty foul mood by yesterday evening. (It being the first Saturday without college football didn’t help)

Of course, it could have been worse. I could have been forced to see New Moon last night. Praise Jesus, though, my wife went with several of her friends instead of with me. While they did that, me and the other Dads gathered to babysit. That’s where the whiskey, beer and subs enter the story.

Now don’t worry, it’s not like we all got knee walking drunk and forgot about the kids. They all had a good time, ate their dinners and made it through the evening without injury. Of course, a snowglobe fell victim to a helmet tossed across the room. But we cleaned the glass before anyone stepped on it and hurt themselves.

Anyway, you don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that large quantities of  alcohol and meat really aren’t the best meal to have the night before a semi-serious athletic event. And though I am firmly in the run-to-eat rather than eat-to-run crowd and have more than once shown up for a Saturday bike ride still wobbly from Friday, I was a bit concerned about how my good time last night would impact my run time today.

The first thing it did was give me some crazy wild dreams last night, the really vivid kind that make you actually move and jump in the bed. The first part I remember morphed from a fishing trip to a shark attack. Then it somehow changed to buying a house which then became haunted. The last thing I recall before suddenly waking up was doing battle with some kind of Freddy-type monster.

When I woke, I was buzzed. Not tipsy-buzzed. More like a sugar high. I guess that’s from the carbs in the beer and the sub rolls. Might also be from the bowl of ice cream I had just before bed. Anyway, far from being sluggish, I hopped out of bed and ten minutes later started pounding the pavement. I felt great, too. It took a conscious effort to keep my pace down for the first few miles.

I never crashed, either. I went somewhere between 16.5 and 17 miles, finishing in two hours and thirteen minutes. That means I averaged between 7:49 a mile and 8:03 a mile. The best part? I had the same average for the first three miles that I did for the last three miles. I’ve always faded towards the end of long runs, so I’m extremely excited that I’m still managing to hold my pace as I get closer and closer the goal: 26.2 in 3:30.

It was a run that redeemed the whole week. I performed today, so I don’t feel bad about the cruddy  training for the previous seven days. Nor do I feel guilty for drinking too much the night before a run. I’m not dumb enough to think this is a good plan to follow every weekend. Right now, though, I am feeling good, which is a big change from yesterday this time.

Drunken Middle Aged Wanna Be Artists Terrorizing Sam’s Club Shopping Plaza!

December 11, 2009

So this new business wants to open in one of the shopping centers at Youree and 70th:

Looking for a fun evening out while creating your own masterpiece?

We have the answer! Come alone or grab a friend or two, your favorite bottle of wine or beverage, and paint a picture along with a local artist.

Join us for an evening of creativity and camaraderie. We’ll provide your paint, canvas and brushes and you’ll have a fun evening with friends. Plus, at the end of the evening, you’ ll have a one-of-a-kind creation and, hopefully, a newfound talent you’ll want to explore!

Think it’s beyond you? Our instructor will guide you through each step of recreating the featured picture, and you’ll have painlessly created a piece of art before you know it.

Would I patronize this business even at the  barrel of a gun? No. Is it an innocuous attempt to make a little money by providing a new type of service to the consumers in the city? Sure.

Yet even though this business could not possibly bother anyone, the busybody teetotalers came out in force to oppose the required zoning change for the store.

City Council on Tuesday approved a zoning board decision — amid protests from a nearby residential neighborhood — to let the local Painting with a Twist franchise serve beer and wine while patrons get creative. The business should open in February in University Place Shopping Center at Youree Drive at East 70th Street, owner Jean Beauclair said.

Alcohol was the main issue for most opponents, residents of nearby University Terrace. The next step for challengers would be a lawsuit. . . .

“I’m concerned mainly about safety,” said Caddo Commissioner Mike Thibodeaux, who lives in University Terrace and represents the area, which already has a lot of foot and vehicle traffic.

“You’re putting yourself at risk by allowing an additional factor for someone that may be coming out. Especially if there’s nothing to eat there.”

Good lord. Look, let’s be clear: The only thing anyone who opposes this is concerned about is alcohol. They’re teetotalers who can’t stand or imagine the thought of anyone, anywhere enjoying a drink.

As far as traffic goes, there is no way one store is going to increase traffic through that neighborhood. For one, already on that same corner are big boxes like Target, Circuit City, Sam’s Club, Lowes, Dick’s, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy and all the other symbiotic stores usually found in those habitats. This is shopping central in Shreveport. The new patrons will not be noticeable. Besides, this business just replaces another, so the none of traffic will be new.

The foot traffic thing is ridiculous. You can’t walk from one store to another over there, never mind into the neighborhood behind the center. No roads connect the two. You’d either have to hop a fence, cross a bayou and hop another fence or risk your life by walking on 70th street west for a bit until you reach the neighborhood entrance. Can you see some forty five year old upper middle class woman carrying an oil painting while tromping down 70th in high heals? Me either.

And as for not wanting alcohol being an “additional factor,” within this same shopping district are at least five restaurants that have real bars in them. Again, a few old women having a few glasses of wine is not going to materially contribute the “risk” created by places like Buffalo Wild Wings or TGI Fridays.

In short, there’s no legitimate reason to oppose this business. Those who do oppose it have too much time on their hands and too high an opinion of themselves.

Why I Don’t Trust The Teabaggers

December 10, 2009

On the way to the store Saturday afternoon we saw some of the locals – about ten or fifteen – standing near the intersection of Southfield and Youree. The goofy signs I saw all had something to do with taxes or debt or healthcare.

My first thought was: “Losers.” I mean, of all the things in this country to protest about, health care is what makes you stand on the side of the road?

The second thought was: “If I thought their cries of ‘liberty,’ vel sim, were at all sincere, I might give them a hearing.” But they’re full of shit.They don’t care about liberty, or freedom, or anything else. Those are just pretexts for policy desires.

Now today, I read a story about some kook in California who is attempting to use the initiative process to pass a law that would force schools to make kids sing Christmas carols. Not only that, but it would create a legal cause of action for anyone whose school fails to mandate the carols. In other words, it lets people sue the schools to enforce the law.

Enter the California teabaggers, who in announcing their support for the initiative have this to say:

“Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas,” said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. “That’s why we have it. It’s not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It’s like, ‘wow you guys, it’s called Christmas for a reason.’ ”

Ryan said Hyatt’s initiative falls under the umbrella of causes the group supports, which concern limited government, following the constitution and fiscal responsibility.

Huh!? The state forcing school children of all and no religions to sing Christian songs is “limited government, [and] following the constitution?” Subjecting recalcitrant schools to lawsuits is “fiscal responsibility?” (Never mind the irresponsibility of passing a law that would immediately be successfully challenged in court) In what universe? It’s absolutely none of those things.

Let me be clear: I think it is an unbelievably stupid idea to mandate Christmas carols in schools. But I’m not really criticising that so much as the even more insane idea that you can support that policy AND call yourself a lover of liberty. No. No. No. A thousand times No. You cannot do it. It’s one or the other. If you really are a big fan of the constitution then you would oppose this initiative even if you think legally requiring Christmas carols in school is a good idea. On the other hand, no matter how many times you blather about limited government, if you support this initiative, I call bullshit.

And that’s what I’m doing. Sure this is one story from California, but five will get you ten that if you polled every self-identified teabagger about  this initiative, ninety percent would support it. That’s because for most of them, the real issue has nothing to do with liberty, the Constitution or limited government. They have an idea of what the world ought to be like and they’ll use whatever power they can to implement it.

What is that idea? Dunno. Something to do with an imaginary view of the 1950’s, I guess. Whatever it is, it’s got nothing to do with freedom.