Thursday, December 24, 2009
Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
God, we know we can be a better people. We thank you tonight for providing the light for our path to you.
(Medieval stained glass depicting the Nativity, Claremont Cathedral, France)
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.
"If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death".
George Graham Vest - c. 1855
Friday, November 27, 2009
On the Cigar Afficionado forums we recently read of a comrade, enjoying a Hoya de Monterey in Maine's great outdoors, confronted by some indignant dowagers who claimed that the odor of his cigar had wrecked their soiree some twenty yards away. Our friend went to great lengths in hydrodynamical and micro-climatical analysis to determine that in no way could the aroma of his stogie have reached the ladies in perceptible concentrations. To which we replied:
"The actions by the Ladies of Disapproval had nothing to do with any real olfactory sensation. They saw you smoking. They have been trained by the Mass Culture, much like Pavlov's dogs, to associate the visual cue of cigar smoking with disgusting smells, and so their brain invented a reaction. You should have asked them to play a game of solitare, waited for the Queen of Diamonds to appear, and reprogrammed them.
"In these times with so few predilections for which the State permits its citizens to possess reservations that when one comes along, such as cigar smoking, where the State actually sanctions disapproval you can expect persecution with a ferocity not unlike the burning of witches."
Another State-sanctioned persecution? Perhaps consider the previous post...
Recently, we have been reacquainted ourselves for the joys of hunting and the shooting sports. In the course our adventures we have also rediscovered the enormous separation between the stratum of our society that enjoy and cherish their rights to firearms possession and that which regard these rights as tasteless, immoral, and threatening; something to be suppressed for the good of all.
As our society falls deeper under the spell of lawyers, ersatz TV-psychologists, behaviorists, and social engineers, we fear the pressure to solve our "problems" by racheting up gun control laws will become unstoppable. It certainly is a far easier to do so than to address the deeper problems of pandemic personal disfunction and the enabling milieu.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Victor Davis Hanson provides sobering context for the attack at Fort Hood:
...some 20 other [Islamist] killers [besides Hasan] since 9/11 [who] have shot, stabbed, or run over innocents at malls, airline counters, military facilities, and Jewish-affiliated centers.
We have wondered with incredulity how the elites in the West could have been so silent about the total evil of Stalinism. Are we reliving those times?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Edmunds.com recently announced their estimate of the cost to Mr. Taxpayer of the the Obama "Clunkers" auto purchase incentive program. It came in a whopping $24K per vehicle. In related news, the estimated cost per job "saved or created" by this year's Spendulus Bill was at least $390K, based on the spending of $250B to support 640K jobs (source: WSJ).
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The Augustine Committee has released its report on the future of the United States' manned space program, concluding that either we adopt more ambitious goals for risking human life, or abandon the effort. In, particular: "the Committe concluded that the ultimate goal of exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system". We concur. We have considered what ultimate fate awaits human freedoms and democracy in a world with an exploding population, a diminishing supply of material and spiritual sustenance, and a metastasizing theocratic movement of intolerance and hatred for Western civilization. It is not a sanguine forecast. We believe it is no coincidence that the political revolution that resulted in the most supreme expression of human liberty occurred in a New World, where the principal challenge was to carve a free society out of a wilderness. When this experiment was attempted in the Old World, with its centuries-old social and economic castes, it degenerated into score-settling masquerading as "social justice". Islamofacism is the most dangerous modern variant now threatening civilization, while the infatuation with statism in our country is a less overtly murderous but no less noxious trend. So let us say farewell, sail to Mars, plant Old Glory, and build a Newer World.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
10:17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
10:18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
10:19 You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not
commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'"
10:20 He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth."
10:21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
10:22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
10:23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
We will not delude ourselves with any sort of "yes, but..." response. We will ask for God's guidance in living our lives to do the most good.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The Boston Globe reports that despite the existence of state laws that mandate coverage and to control costs, as well as extensive participation by non-profit insurers, medical insurance premiums will rise about 10% in the coming year. The article also notes that one unintended consequence of required coverage in the state has been the deluge of physician office visits for physical examinations and other testing. Another substantial component of the cost increase is the movement of the bulk of baby-boomers into older age, accompanied by increased use of medical services and products. Too bad we can't legislate a moratorium on aging, but perhaps this Congress will try.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Chasin' That Demon of the Thin Air...
On October 14 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound, piloting the Bell X-1 over the high desert of California. So let us lift a glass of fine sippin' whisky at Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club in thanks to God for creating such men. (the video is a clip from The Right Stuff, the 1983 film adaptation of Tom Wolfe's great book).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Los Angeles County has now banned outdoor smoking, and New York City is considering a similar ordinance. Any claims of collateral damage to innocent bystanders from outdoor second-hand smoke is laughable. This is pure bullying by the Aesthetic Elites.
A good friend made the following observation. A "clunker" that gets 12 mpg, driven 16,000 miles in a year consumes about 1300 gallons of gasoline, while a replacement car at 30 mpg uses about 550 gallons. So retiring a million clunkers will save about 750 million gallons of gasoline, equivalent to 37.5 million barrels of oil (a barrel is normally distilled to yield about 50% gasoline). At $70 a barrel, this means we are spending well in excess of $4B in clunker funding to save $2.7B in petroleum imports this year. This calculation is being very generous in estimating oil savings; the net mpg difference of the clunkers program is substantially smaller, and other distilled petroleum products need the crude oil, too. The clunkers program would have been better run by the Department of Agriculture, for they have extensive experience running subsidy programs.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
In a sense, the health-care debate and the foreign-policy debacle are two sides of the same coin: For Britain and other great powers, the decision to build a hugely expensive welfare state at home entailed inevitably a long retreat from responsibilities abroad, with a thousand small betrayals of peripheral allies along the way. - Mark Steyn
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Andrew Breitbart appeared on Bill Maher's "Real Time", along with (self-)celebrated social critic Michael Eric Dyson*. The results were as one would have expected.
It was an exercise of textbook leftist polemics. To win a debate, you must control the arguement. To control the arguement, you must control the language. As when Dyson defines what Breitbart says as racist code.
Two Russians are on a train, and one asks the other, "where are you going, comrade"? "Kiev", answers the other. "Liar!" shouts the inquisitor, "You say you are going to Kiev so that I will think you are going to Moscow when you in fact are going to Kiev! So why do you lie?"
*Dyson's new book he is now hawking is called "Can You Hear Me Now?: The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson".
Friday, September 18, 2009
The President has declared that the "defining struggle" for America's youth is...health care reform. Not delusions such as defending freedom and supporting our friends in the world who cherish freedom as well.
The President has now reneged on missile defense agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic, embarrassing their pro-NATO governments, and making them second-class citizens of the Atlantic Alliance. It also raises the specter of a Russian "sphere of influence" reclaiming control over liberated Eastern Europe. This is done with the hope of pleasing the Russians so they may be more cooperative on stopping Iran's nuclearization. Fat chance for that.
David Frum summarizes the Pollyanna foreign policy of the Administration in The Week magazine, and it's quite discouraging.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has concluded its national assembly, and the church is forever changed. The passage of the social statement on human sexuality is likely to lead to the secession of many congregations from the national church, as well as a serious schism with Lutherans in other parts of the world.
We mourn the decision of the ELCA that we believe abandons the guidance and authority of Scripture. We also pray for God to light our way along our road to Him.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The "Lion of the Senate" passes from the scene, and with his passing so closes a volume on one of the most significant political families in our country's history. A man fully invested with admirable qualities, and otherwise. The New York Times features a fine, unhagiographic obituary. R.I.P.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
A few facts that may go a long way to explain why Obamacare is foundering:
- An overwhelming majority of Americans find their medical care and health plans to be satisfactory, yet they are asked to support a titanic kitchen-sink program that would produce dramatic changes in the health care system.
- The plan of HR3200 appeared out of thin air, with no prior engagement nor participation of the citizenry, and nobody seems to have an understanding of all the provisions in the 1000+ page document.
- In the not-so-distant past the President has been a vocal advocate for a "single-payer" health care system, and has gone as far as suggesting that such a system will be implemented in a series of (imperceptible?) steps. And most people are aware of this.
There is no amount of lipstick that can beautify this pig, and there is no number of town halls, websites, speeches, or "spontaneous" rallies of support that can dissuade most Americans of their suspicions as to what they are being asked to buy.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
(Painting: Neptune Offers the Wealth of the Sea to Venice, by Giovan Battista Tiepolo)
In the last several months we have witnessed historic events: legislation has been introduced and passed (The Bailout Bill, The Stimulus Bill, The Carbon Cap and Trade Bill, and the House Health Care Reform Bill) that possess cosmological scales in size, scope, and cost. This government intervention is so reaching and complex that our legislators now concede that they are unable to analyze and deliberate on their provisions. Yet the Administration has aggressively pushed for a fast-track process for these acts through Congress. A torrential storm of unforseen consequences from this legislation hangs like ominous black laden clouds of an approaching squall.
The process and function of our government is seizing up because of the immensity of this legislation. There is a very real danger that we will destroy republican democracy by the powerful majorities continuing to ram these behemoth bills through Congress without some thought to what they will have wrought. We cannot continue to do the business of the people in this manner.
A thousand-page bill cannot be adequately considered in a fortnight. We are reaching a natural limit to the scale and scope of how the Federal Government can intervene in our lives. It is time to back off.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Peggy Noonan writes today in the WSJ on how the President's insistence on a thousand-page, kitchen-sink "comprehensive" approach to health care reform has likely doomed it. Why can't we simply address the most pressing problems in health care coverage, such as assisting the truly needy and providing for insurance portability, where agreement can be found and does not require radical changes?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
FreeOurHealthCareNow has articulated the major elements that health care reform plans must include: (i) the right to choose care providers and plans, (ii) timely, unrestricted, patient-centered care, (iii) fairness between individual insurance programs and tax-subsidized employer programs, (iv) the focus of government assistance on the truly needy, (v) portable health plans, and (vi) maximum freedom for patient decisions on care.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Inspector General overseeing the TARP program will report to Congers today that the total potential exposure (i.e., the amount for which we taxpayers could be on the hook) of federal programs and departments that are "supporting" U.S. financial institutions totals $23.7T. We'll pause to let this fact sink in...
We can only respond with: this insanity must stop. The people of the United States cannot have the futures of their families held hostage by cosigning to such an apocalyptic sum.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
We Americans can only handle serious issues for brief periods of time. The stretch from February through June was as a geologic timescale for us, filled with Pork Bills, Pirates, North Korea, Iran, Gitmo, Carbon Taxes, Obama Motors, and National(ized) Health Care. So do we now hear calliope music in the air? Yes, indeed, the Circus is back in town, courtesy of the sad passing of Mr. Jackson. The Meatpackers will be consumed by the grisly details of the inquest, rumors, rumors about rumors, indictments, legal fistfighting over the estate, 24-hour televigils, and the massteria of the funeral, burial, tributes, riots, and the associated merchandising. A great time for a backcountry vacation or getting some of that summer reading done. A siren will signal the all clear.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an heavily amended version of the Waxman-Markey "Cap and Trade" Bill, which beginning in 2012 levies a tax to emit carbon dioxide at a rate of $13 per ton. This rate will increase steadily over the years, with the goal of forcing reductions of CO2 to less than 17% of current emissions by 2050 (83% by 2020).
The CBO claims that such a tax will cost the average household only $175 in energy costs by 2020. Shall we check the numbers?
The current total US emission of CO2 is about 6400 million US tons per year. The 2012 tax on this CO2 emission will total $83B. If we assume that all of this tax ultimately will be assessed on the 185 million taxpayers in the country (all costs to utilities, manufacturing, transportation, etc. are passed on to the total taxpayer base), the total 2012 tax increase on average per taxpayer is about $450. About one third of the taxpayers actually pay no tax; if we assume that this will also be the case for the CO2 tax (the bill provides for a CO2 tax credit for each lower income household), then the total burden in 2012 per net paying taxpayer will be more like $650. So, a household of two taxpayers will get walloped with an effective $1300 CO2 bill.
To account for the huge disparity with the CBO estimate, either the government will force some entities upstream in the cost flow to eat these costs - with accompanying adverse consequences to the economy, or only a fraction of CO2 emissions will be taxed, which defeats the purpose of the legislation. Something doesn't quite make sense here, and we will post clarifications or revisions to our estimates if the need should become evident.
Intellectual honesty requires us to disclose that we do detect some faint strains of free-market environmentalism in this approach, which has appeal. Free-market environmentalism applied to fair-value pricing of federally owned timber or mineral resources makes sense, since such environmental effects are nearly wholly confined to the land mass of the United States. We could in principle tax ourselves to oblivion for CO2 and do nothing about the increasing emissions from industrialized China and India. Perhaps we could send them the bill?
P.S. - Intellectual honesty, too, would require Democrats to concede that nuclear power must play a prominent role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation. We will not hold our breath for such a proclamation.
Addendum: The Heritage Foundation has produced a bar graph showing the increased household energy costs caused by Waxman-Markey through 2035.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Most Brilliant Musical Ever.
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" is the Zeitgeist for the early 1960s. All of the numbers in the film version are superb, but here is our favorite (close second: "Gotta Stop That Man"). Robert Morse is brilliant here, and his role as a partner in Don Draper's ad agency in AMC's "Mad Men" was inspired casting. Like bookends for a commentary of those times. Enjoy.
Monday, June 22, 2009
A puzzling phenomena is occurring in Mainstream Meatpacker World: a large-scale insurrection appears to be breaking out in an authoritarian regime, and the President of the United States, the Leader of the Free World, has shown great reluctance to condemn the regime's theft of a recent national election. The reaction of Meatpacker editorial boards? Exercises in pretzel-logic to support the President's diffidence. Quite remarkable.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Many have called for the President to employ additional rhetoric against the Ahmadinejad regime for its theft of the Iranian presidential election. Perhaps it will be useful. The real action, however, will occur behind the scenes, something like the actions of the Reagan Administration to shred the Iron Curtain and push the Soviet Union into the ditch.
One can only hope that neither ideology nor diffidence will prevent President Obama from acting during this decisive moment.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
North Korea is not following the White House script.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
If you are not yet convinced of the psychotic disaster that is the Stimulus Spending, consider this: Uncle Sugar Daddy will be plunking nearly a billion bucks in Michigan to pursue such projects as a Neat-O Futuristic Keen high-speed rail line to connect Ann Arbor to the Cool Places. But meanwhile the roads in Michigan will go unrepaired; Michigan cannot provide matching funds for road repair, and therefore the federal government will be withdrawing their contribution. But as our teeth rattle over the potholes, we can take comfort in the Fantastic High-Speed Rail Report that will be produced.
Massachusetts Congerscritter Barney Frank has decided to override the decision of GM's management to close their 90-employee warehouse in Mr. Frank's district, no doubt reminding CEO Fritz Henderson of the facilities' critical role in carmaker's resurrection.
Monday, June 01, 2009
The Huron River is running at 700+ cfs, and effectively unwadeable. The water at the Zeeb Road Bridge was a sinister looking roiling flow. The good news is that the smallies have plenty of places to spawn. We will tune in toward the end of June; this condition is not going to change quickly.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tell'em Stan 'n Edie!
In recognition of the Michigan House joining the ranks of the bullies by passing a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, we offer this Muriel Cigar commercial from '65. You know, when Americans still had freedom of choice.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life - Supreme Court Nominee Sonya SotomayorHmm.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The reality of war is sinking in to President Obama. During the election - when it was a very effective campaign weapon - it was easy to declare that holding enemies of the country indefinitely to be illegal, immoral, and unnecessary. Now that Mr. Obama is charged with the responsibility to protect the people of the United States, his view of this issue has changed dramatically. We welcome this change in his view. We do not dismiss the concerns of civil libertarians, but conclude that as much consideration and legal discretion that is possible during wartime has been made in the internment of these very, very dangerous enemies.
Now that reasonable minds understand the neccesity of holding these persons, what exactly is the need to close Gitmo? The need for such detentions and such facilities begs a much larger question that has been dodged for years: exactly what will the civilized world do to protect itself from the Barbarians?
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The President attended the commencement ceremonies at Notre Dame University today, and called for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" in a dialogue about abortion.
Such calls in the past appear have served only as props to help to codify even more aggressive abortion "rights". It makes the mind reel to observe the indifference by many so-called advocates of human rights advocates to the current state of affairs: abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even up to the moment of birth. Years ago the public was assured that abortion would be rare, and restricted to the first thirteen weeks of pregancy. The number of abortions per year is now around a million, nearly ten percent of those occur outside of the first trimester. Half of those who receive abortions in the last year have had one before. A "fair-minded" discussion of abortion would address these alarming statistics. Fat chance for that to happen.
The President further said, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually. It has both moral and spiritual dimension. So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.”
Pondering abortion's "moral and spiritual dimensions"? Where was this talk years ago when abortion became synonymous with women's economic and political liberation?
Die shall I in order to live.
Rise again, yes, rise again,
will you, my heart, in an instant!
That for which you suffered,
to God will it lead you! - Gustav Mahler
Music names the unnameable, and communicates the unknowable. - Leonard Bernstein
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Monday, May 04, 2009
Bill Bennett had a marvelous three-hour tribute to his close friend this morning. He and his guests completed all of their passes: Jack Kemp worked tirelessly for the message of opportunity in the American conservative movement. He "got it" way before most did. He was the blacksmith who hammered out the exciting ideas of economic liberty into practical political tools, such as the great tax cuts that Reagan adopted. This author was an enthusiastic supporter of Jack for the Presidency in '88. He will be sorely missed, but he has nurtured a new generation to take up his torch. R.I.P.
Friday, May 01, 2009
A farmer lobbying group is leaning on the Congers to have the EPA bump up the blend requirement on ethanol in gasoline. Their talking points can be found here. Ah, what the free market kills government can revive. Find a way to make it a lot cheaper and using less fossil fuel and water, and we'll talk boys...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
After the White House and the UAW shook down the bondholders of GM, they set their sights on the senior secured debt holders of Chrysler. The bondholders held their ground, and now bankruptcy court will resolve the disposition of the company's assets. The President may rant and rave about the treachery of the bond holders (many are retirement and pension programs), but the essential issue was whether the federal government and the union would be allowed to destroy corporate legal structure by usurping the holders of senior secured debt first claim to restitution in restructuring. Larry Kudlow described the actions of Obama and the UAW accurately and succinctly: theft. And socialist expropriation.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Robert Tracinski recounts a conversation with a recent emigre' from Russia, and discovers the essential risk of a socialized America.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Our anticipation for this year's Trout Opener neared delirium by Friday morning, and we struck out for Grayling at noon after putting in a few hours' toil for The Man. The weather was warm, the sun was bright, and the weekend's forecast for the Ausable and Manistee River areas was for high temperatures in the upper sixties with a less than likely chance of rain. It promised to be a very good Opening Day with good conditions for hatching mayflies and rising fish.
We landed on the banks of the North Branch of the Ausable at 4pm, met our First Platoon of comrades, and commenced dry hackle offerings thrown among the rocks and riffles of fifty-six degree water. The platoon's reconnaissance told of a few fish taken earlier in the day but with action now at a lull. In the next two hours our efforts came to nought, but no matter, for two more solid days of fishing lay ahead. Surely, we thought, things would improve. We sounded recall and headed for Penrod's, our base of operations. We joined the Second Platoon and sought refreshment at Grayling's version of The Russian Tearoom - Spike's "Keg O'Nails" Pub: anybody who is anybody in Crawford County is in Spike's for Opening Eve. We had a wonderfully creamy pint of Guinness, and watched various mating rituals between semi-sober fisherman and the domestic and imported brood mares. Further liquid inspiration followed back at camp, summoning rousing declamations on the glories that awaited us. We also learned that the words for "prairie" and "fire" sound very similar in the Ojibwa langauge, and our Resident Fish Scholar postulated various theories on the future of Michigan salmonids and the Return of the Grayling. He was remarkably coherent even after a substantial helping of a brand-new bottle of Scapa. Hemingway would have been proud to have his company.
With the dawn of Opening Day the stragglers of our Band of Brothers arrived at camp, just in time for a superb breakfast. The group was surprisingly ambulatory given the fervor of the previous night's bacchanal. We girded our loins, packed up our gear, and as we headed toward the cars...
A great KABOOM! heralded the arrival of a fierce and nasty squall line into Grayling. We hunkered down for driving wind and rain for the better part of a hour. The temperature plunged twenty-five degrees. This is not good, we thought. Had one of us sinned against God? Should we stone that transgressor and bring the rest of us back to righteousness and reasonable fishing? No one offered themselves up in sacrifice and we concluded that the sinner was amongst the outsiders from our group. If he had any conscience he would tear out his eyes with No. 2 sized streamer hooks and beg our forgiveness, as well as that of God's. The rain abated, and we set out for the CCC Bridge on the Manistee, where we commenced fishing.
"Slow Fishing" does not do justice to our experience for the next four hours. The sudden and severe change in conditions had put our little friends into a coma. Between bouts of cold, soaking rains and biting winds, our group of five (a sixth was an early casualty to storm-induced demoralization and skeedaddled back to Alpena) landed two fish. One of the fish was identified as a brook trout only after undergoing magnification by reading spectacles. The Master Angler of our group, one with whom we had presumed God was obligated to provide at least one fish per outing, was skunked. This had, in effect, defined the day as a disaster, the flyfishing equivalent of The Apocalypse. We slunk back to Grayling to lick our wounds and to hope for a better Sunday.
No such luck. The Fish Scholar peeled off for home Sunday morning, so demoralized that the prospect of finishing his chorelist at home seemed more appealing. After the remnants of our party reconnoitered the Main Branch of the Ausable and found conditions inimical to even fair fishing for our last day, we headed to Dam Four on the North Branch. Alas, another four hours produced no landed fish and precious few strikes in forty-eight degree water. We surrendered in the midafternoon, struck camp, and headed home.
What is there to be learned from such a Last Saturday in April?
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley - Robert Burns
Monday, April 20, 2009
President Obama has decided to either apologize for American past "misdeeds" around the world (for example, not defending US attempts to oust Castro after he betrayed the Cuban Revolution), or to act much more deferential and conciliatory to international bad apples like Iran. So much for changing the tone: Iran arrests a journalist and a blogger, gives them hour-long trials, and delivers stiff prison sentences for "spying". The New York Times assures us that
Mr. Ahmadinejad will do his utmost (read: not much) to guarantee them due process. Gee, thanks.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Reports on the attendance to the Tax Day Tea Parties across Michigan are quite impressive, from the several hundreds to the few thousands at several locations across the state. If such enthusiasm is being repeated in other states, this event is remarkable.
But not to the New York Times, who confines their coverage to a derisive blog entry.
We have a real fear - yes, fear - that our government is going past the point of no return on spending and taxes. Entitlements now constitute 38% of the federal budget; including quasi-entitlement social program spending brings the total to 57%. Service on the debt adds another 9%, defense accounts for another 20%. This does include the new bailout and stimulus spending.
It's clear that there is no political gain for any leader to restrain entitlements: it will require an act of political sacrifice by the country's leadership to bring this under control. If the President could bring this financial hemorrhaging to an end, would he sacrifice a second term to bring it about?
Saturday, April 11, 2009
There is a deli/restaurant in Washtenaw County that Sensitive Types incessantly rave about. It's heralded for its bakery, its yummy food, and its funky style and cute cartoon advertising. It's been featured on The Sensitive Radio Food Show as the jewel of Ann Arbor eateries. The foodery makes money hand over fist, it pays its employees well with good benefits and its business model has been advocated as a progressive ideal.
The only bug in the whitefish salad about this place is, well, it's expensive. Really expensive. Actually, obscenely expensive. Like thirty-dollar olive oil (it's incredible olive oil!). Or like the recent experience of a friend of mine who stopped there for a bagel with lox & cream cheese, and a side of whitefish salad. After parting with sixteen bucks, he was left with bellyache from the red onions on the sandwich and an inescapable sensation of being had.
This business model is not revolutionary nor progressive. It's the same one that P.T. Barnum employed, or that a famous magic and gag gift company used to lure your author at ten years of age into parting with his chore earnings for a box of tricks the would amaze and astound his family and friends, that would bring to the waiting world a Young Svengali. A photo in a family album records the moment of revelation after opening the box: is this it? Five bucks for this???
Then again, this may be a lesson that one periodically relearns (see previous entry).
Thursday, April 09, 2009
We're always looking for perfect flyboxes to have in the vest while fishing. Perhaps even finding the One Box that will hold all of the streamers, nymphs, pupae, emergers, duns, adults, and spinners that we could possibly need for Opening Day. There have been several failed systems, with results such as having the one particular box holding exactly the fly we need left warm and cozy on the cabin table, or watching a flotilla of boxes drifting downstream after spilling from our vest. The Flambeau Blue Ribbon Fly Box may, finally, be the One Box. It contains three Vertical-Friction Foam (VFF) Technology™ panels (gasp!) for smaller flies and one streamer panel. It's compact and waterproof. Stayed tuned for an after-action report on its performance. If the Flambeau Blue Ribbon box lives up to its potential, prepare for a sudden flood of used flyboxes to appear on EBay...
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Erik Reese has penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, "Save Jesus, Ignore Easter". It concludes with:
...The fact is, American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed -- which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the grave three days later -- that it never made much room for the actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher. This is why I'm against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life. If the Easter miracle can save us from this life, then why bother with the harder work of enacting the kingdom of God here? It is, after all, much harder. Which brings me back to that word faith. I believe it plays such a disproportionate role in mainstream American Christianity, be it in the rock and roll mega-churches or the humbler places were I worshipped as a child, because it is a belief in what one cannot see. But that belief -- that faith in a salvational Christ -- is what will guarantee everlasting life. But
when such faith is lost, as in my case, what am I left with?
I'm left with the teachings of Jesus -- words so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.
One can agree, somewhat, with Mr. Reese's first assertion: there appears to be, in some expressions of Christianity, a superficial depiction of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion that emphasizes Christ's physical pain and the guilt that we should feel about it. That guilt, for these dogmas, propels one towards God and Christ: one is obligated to accept Christ because of his suffering. This embrace of Christ is like an atonement for the guilt one may feel after being rescued by a hero who in turn forfeits their own life. But doesn't that place the value of mortal existance and comfort above everything else? That we owe Jesus because he gave up what we value most?
Perhaps the real sacrifice made by Christ in this week was to become totally separated from God in the course of assuming all sin to destroy it ("Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"). And Easter has unbounded joy for us because Christ is reunited with God in ressurection, and with him we are reconciled with God.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
There is a terrible, terrible arguement in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). This arguement has been a hammer and tong affair for at least two decades now, with no signs of resolution.
Isn't it simply an immutable fact that there exists a fundamental and irreconcilable schism in the church between those that believe that homosexual relationships can be consistent with living a God-directed life and those that believe that such relationships are contrary to God's directives for our lives? If so, we must end the relentless cycle of one side employing the political and bureaucratic hammers of the church to attempt to repeatedly bludgeon the other side into submission or silence. Let's stop this nonsense and agree to a divorce. Yes, divorce. A tragedy? Yes, but inescapable. Is this a radical view? How can we think so after all of the pain received by and delivered to both sides by the other?
The Evil One has really enjoyed this one.
12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.
12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-- the King of Israel!"
12:14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
12:15 "Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
Monday, March 30, 2009
They've been assigned to save the American Automobile Industry. It's time to meet the heroes of Obama Motors and the cars they drive:
- Steve Rattner, the "Car Czar", hedge-fund manager, specialist in media mergers and alumnus of the Council for Foreign Relations. Drives a Lexus, an Audi, and slums it with a Lincoln Town Car.
- Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner drives an Acura.
- Larry Summers, White House Economic Adviser, is a Mazda Man.
- OMB Head Peter Orzag loves his Honda.
- Carbon-hating Carol Browner doesn't own a car, nor does Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.
- EPA Chief Lisa Jackson raves about her Prius and her Honda minivan!
The Obama Car Team is forcing the ouster of GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, and probably most of the board of directors of the corporation. Apparently "change" at GM is not happening fast enough, namely the shafting of GM share and debtholders by massive equity dilution and forced bond conversion, and the building of "Smart"-style toy cars that bureaucrats love. The Administration is also dictating that Fiat shall own Chrysler. So much for corporate governance.
It's not clear how introducing this chaos into GM's management will help them to meet the sixty-day deadline to complete their restructuring, the criteria of which seems only to be known to the Administration.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
What is it about a cigar that can bring one's ship hard about from gloom to bliss? Today, with the capable assistance of Number One Son, we conquered the Early Spring Yard Cleanup, topped off with a beautiful new flagstone landing for the deck stairs. But the euphoria for the day's triumphs truly blossomed with the ignition of a fine Rocky Patel Rosado. What a cigar! A sweet floral smoke, with spice on the palate. The clouds of aromatic smoke were like that of drifting remains of cannonade as Wellington surveyed the Waterloo field at the end of that magnificent day.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of the television commercials, cocktail parties and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because, in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup tastes better out there; because maybe someday I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant - and not nearly so much fun. - John Voelker
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The of chorus of outrage at AIG has a disturbing tone: bulldozing the rule of law in order to satisfy the mob's bloodlust. Holman Jenkins summarized it quite well this morning, He concluded with:
And for those of you holding a torch or pitchfork, consider this point of view.
But the biggest lesson here is the old one that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance -- beginning with insistence on the rule of law. Americans clearly cannot trust their elected officials to defend their rights and interests, or care whether justice is served, when the slightest political risk might attach to doing so.
Which brings us back to Mr. Cuomo, whose office has been implicitly threatening to publish names of AIG employees who don't relinquish pay they were contractually entitled to.
Mr. Cuomo is a thug, but at least he reminds us: It can happen here.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Jim Cramer interviewed Gene Klappa, the CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, which has been aggressively experimenting with CO2 scrubbing of coal plant emissions. The field experiments have been a failure so far, and Klappa estimates that a "clean coal" solution that can be practically fielded is at least ten years off. Meanwhile the Obama Cap and Trade Juggernaut rolls along. It is now estimated that when C&T is implemented electricity costs will increase by 50%. Just in time to strangle a recovery of the U.S. economy.
In ten years, we could build five nuclear plants, displacing 25 coal-fired plants. That's if we chose to "put science ahead of politics". Wisconsin, in a spasm of self-righteousness, has banned construction on any new nuclear plants.
By the way: 300 additional 1GW nuclear plants would displace the electricity generation of all of the 1500 coal-fired plants in the U.S. Do we have the political will and the seriousness to consider at least five nukes in ten years?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Administration is touting big savings in health care by adopting universal electronic record-keeping. Two pro-Obama doctors have looked at the performance of such systems and have concluded otherwise.
Perhaps the President should confine policy decisions "based only on scientific merit" for issues with no perceptible moral dimension, such as medical record-keeping. Nat Hentoff reminds us that the President may have political or ideological investments in issues of life and death.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Our flytying skills are, shall we say, rustic. Accordingly, we'll keep our spring flybox very simple. "Syl" Nemes is the great champion of soft hackle patterns, and his DVD on tying them has encouraged us to have plenty of Partridge & Green, Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles, and Midge Soft Hackles on hand for the last Saturday in April. Borcher's Special, a truly superb pattern for the Au Sable, is also an essential. Henrickson Duns, BWOs, Hare's Ears and Pheasant Tail nymphs, and the odd streamer will round out our Opening Day Flybox.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Enough politics! It so ruins the digestion. We will, for now, put aside our lance and shield and defer battle with the dragon. So we shall turn to fishing. This weekend we attended the Midwest Flyfishing Expo in Warren, Michigan. It was a badly needed tonic for a weekend of rain and gloom. Good exhibitions on casting & tying, and a good turnout . There was a very fine demonstration on the double-haul (we will definitely make this part of our repertoire!); we had a delightful conversation with Au Sable legend Jerry Regan, and an inspirational one with volunteers with Project Healing Waters about the efforts to use the holistic powers of flyfishing for physical and spiritual recovery for wounder warriors. We finally saw a copy of Voelker's "Anatomy of a Fisherman". It includes a superb color photo section of the fishing retreats of the 1950s Upper Peninsula. Definitely required for the library.