Friday, July 30, 2010

That is Not Your Water

I saw the article above linked to today, and I thought about my neighbors.  They collect rainwater that falls on their house.  In some parts of the land of the free, they would not be free to do this.  If you collect and use your own rainwater that falls on your own home, you are not using the water that the government controls through a monopoly.  Never mind the environmental arguments or economic arguments. 

Our rulers may say that they have a concern for the environment that underlies their policy.  Or they say it is a concern for the children that drives these laws.  Yes, we know that it is only for our own good and for the good of future generations that our rulers control the water.  So pay up.  Water isn't free you know.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Princess Chelsea is Getting Married

Who says we do not have royalty in this country?  Of course we do, it's called the political class.  It is the people who feed off of the taxes that they force you and I to give them to sustain their lifestyles.  And they seem to be doing very well for themselves while more and more people are struggling. 

This reminds me of what I learned about France before the revolution.  While the lives of the average french citizen became more and more difficult, the royalty continued to live it up. 

Oh those poor public servants.  Their defense of the American way of life is truly selfless and thankless

It's amazing how profitable defending the American way of life can be.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Lose $8.7 billion

When I hear that $8.7 billion out of $9.1 billion is unaccounted for, should I be suprised?  After all, it was in the hands of the federal department that is best at making things disappear.  Normally, it's people that disappear, but in this case it is a whole bunch of money.  

Is secretary of defense Robert Gates going to have to come up with this money or else?  Don't count on it.  But you can be sure that if you or I owed the government billions of dollars, they would make sure they got what they wanted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Required Summer Reading

We are coming up on the 41st anniversary one of the more significant moments in rock history.  Half a million people gathered in Bethel, New York in mid August, 1969 for a concert that would become part of the legacy of an entire generation.  Read the story of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival  from one of the main men behind the scenes.

Once you're finished with the book, check out the Academy Award wining documentary about the concert.  The film provides a fascinating look at the concert and the performers.  It is also noteworthy that one of the main editors on the film was Martin Scorsese.

As Jim Ignatowski, Christopher Lloyd's character on Taxi, described the concert, "Yep, half a million people gathered together in peace and harmony,... hey, you know, if I hadn't gone, there would have only been 499,999 people... lucky for them I went."

Jim Ignatowski

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is This the Worst Song Ever?

God Bless the USA

British author Samuel Johnson is famously noted as saying, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."  In the present day United States, I think it is better stated that patriotism is the best refuge of a scoundrel.  Or maybe it should say, patriotism is the last refuge of a hack.  Lee Greenwood's song stirs up plenty of emotion in our post 9/11 world, but let us get a few things straight about this song.

Greenwood says that he is proud to be an American, where at least he knows he's free. And he won't forget the men who died who gave that right to him.

The biggest flaw in this is that no person can give another person any rights.  I do not know which men he is talking about.  It may be the founding fathers or the soldiers of the many wars we have fought, but I assume that the men he refers to are connected to our government.

Depending on what you believe, your rights are either natural or god-given.  They are not given to you by any man or by any government.  Government can only take rights away.  They all do this to some extent.  The Bill of Rights in our constitution protected certain rights, but it did not give any rights. 

Greenwood also states that he knows he is free.  He may think so, but anybody who lives under a powerful government is only as free as those in power allow him to be.  Considering we live under arguably the largest, most powerful, most intrusive government that has ever existed, his position is tenuous.  Then considering that this country not only has the largest prison population on the planet, but also the largest percentage of the population behind bars, maybe we are not as free as we have been told we are.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Save on Diapers and Wipes

Use this link to save up to 30% on diapers and wipes.

Holden Lives

This day in 1951, J.D. Salinger first published the novel that would be his quintessential work, The Catcher in the Rye.  The novels protagonist, Holden Caulfield, still resonates with adolescents some six decades later as he struggles for control of his own small world, while losing control in the modern larger world around him.

This is one of the few novels that I've read multiple times and it always brings me back to my own youth as I tried to find my own way. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MLB Second Half Predictions

My quick second half predictions for the 2010 MLB season.  National League

National League East - Braves
The Braves are quietly setting the pace in the always competitive East.  They will have to hold off the Mets, looking to reverse their recent history of choking down the stretch, who will turn up the heat on the Braves.  Look for Bobby Cox to get the manager of the year award.

National League Central - Reds
The battle between the Reds and Cardinals comes down to the last week, but the Reds come out on top.  Look for Edinson Volquez to help bolster the starting rotation and Jay Bruce's bat to heat up in August and September.  Joey Votto is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous hitters in the league.

National League West - Dodgers
Many people are all aboard the Rockies bandwagon, but the Dodgers' ace in the hole is Joe Torre.  His teams are always in the post season.  Torre will rally his team in the second half and hold off the dangerous Rockies.

Wild Card - Rockies
Ubaldo Jimenez seems to be cooling off a bit, but he is still the favorite for the Cy Young award.  The Rockies will come alive in the second half, in line with recent history. 

Potential Fly in the Ointment - Giants
The Giants have the pitchers to keep them alive in the second half.  They are only four games out right now.  Look for the Giants to keep pace with the Dodgers and Rockies.

National League Champion - Dodgers
The Dodgers have been close the last couple of years.  The Phillies won't be there this year to knock them out.  Joe Torre will return to the World Series.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day

The country is broke after fighting two extended wars.  The citizens are broke after financing runaway government.  Ideas are circulating that question the need for the rulers responsible for this.  And the rulers are living it up.  Does this sound like American in 2010?  Maybe.  But this was the scene in France in 1789 on the eve of the French Revolution.

Today people of La Francophonie celebrate the storming of the Bastille.  Members of the Third Estate, or commoners, overtook the armory in Paris and seized vast amounts of arms and ammunition.  This event precipitated the abolishment of the king and touched off years of violence.  The country would never be the same.

As the late great H.L. Mencken noted, " Political revolutions do not often accomplish anything of genuine value; their one undoubted effect is simply to throw out one gang of thieves and put in another."

So today is Bastille Day, the day people in France celebrate throwing out one gang of thieves and putting in another.  Let's open une bouteille de vin rouge and celebrate.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Home Run Derby?

The All-Star break is here for major league baseball and tonight, some of the young power will be showcased in the Home Run Derby. When I look through the list of competitors though, I wonder where the power is. Of the eight entrants, only two have more than twenty home runs in the 2010 season. Only two entrants have more than 200 home runs for there entire careers.

Maybe this is one of the events that just loses something as you get older. I remember being fascinated by the slam dunk contest when I was about seven years old. I remember seeing Spud Webb dunk and think, "I might have a chance someday." I don't think Spud Webb was much taller than I was then.

By the time I was about fourteen, the slam dunk contest really seemed silly. I am not too impressed by guys who are 6'9" slamming a basketball. If a guy is that tall and he cannot slam a ball, that may me be more intruiging. But the whole premise seems silly anymore.

You take a guy who can almost touch the rim flat footed, give him an open court with no defenders, and so what. Yeah he can dunk. But it never looks terribly impressive.

I do think that the Home Run Derby is more impressive. Granted, the pitches are not really pitches. It is more like beer league softball. They throw it to you so you can hit it. But it is impressive to see a ball go 500 ft. I'm not going to get a hard-on over it though, like one particular guy on ESPN. (Some of you know who I am talking about.)

But to look at this years field for the Home Run Derby begs the question, where are all the home runs? Take a guy like Chris Young for the Diamondbacks, 15 HR this year, 86 for his career. I've never even heard of this guy. Alot of people who don't participate in fantasy baseball probably have never heard of him either.

How about Corey Hart? Last year he hit 12 home runs. He has 88 in his career. Is this must-see T.V, watching Corey Hart and Chris Young swing for doubles.

David Ortiz belonged there three years ago, but in his last two years, he has 51 home runs total. Although that is better than Corey Hart.

Vernon Wells hit an average of 17 home runs the last three seasons. Matt Holliday averaged 24.5 the last two seasons. Hanley Ramirez has 13 so far this year and has an average of about 25 home runs per season. Yes he is a superior player, but I don't care about any of these guys in a contest to hit home runs.

Miguel Cabrera is the only player that I really think belongs. This guy has power, averaging 35 home runs the last three years.

I remember when I was younger, watching guys like Ken Griffey Jr. and Juan Gonzalez duel it out, watching Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa just kill the ball. Yes, there were alot of question marks even then, but those guys could knock the shit out of the ball.

Where are the guys who can hit the ball a mile now? How can you have a home run derby and not have Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn or Albert Pujolz to knock the ball into the Pacific Ocean? I want to see the guys who can destroy the ball. Maybe I'm just getting older though, and the whole thing seems silly.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is Lebron a Coward or a Traitor?

I think that the most absurd thing to come out of the Lebron fiasco, is the reaction by the people of Cleveland and the majority of the media. What does Lebron owe to the city of Cleveland? This guy is a basketball player and a celebrity. He made the Cleveland Cavaliers a relevant organization. He devoted seven years to that team. In that time, how much money and attention did he bring to the city of Cleveland? It would be impossible to determine, but I'm sure that it is more than he ever took home.

Is he a coward for going to a team that increases his chances of getting a ring immediately? Again, how can you say this? This happens all the time in sports. Nobody wants to admit that another team or another city offers greener pastures than your home town, but athletes at this level want to win.

I have heard a lot of comparisons to Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan. People say that they never left to form a championship team, they made one where they played. Excuse me, but Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played on teams loaded with Hall of Famers. These were guys that would have made the hall of fame if they never won a Championship. Bird and Johnson were the superstars, but they were both backed up by elite players such as Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, James Worthy, and Kareem. The Cleveland Cavaliers were Lebron James and a collection of role players. Jordan even had Scottie Pippen.

Nothing is guaranteed in professional sports. The people in Cleveland want to talk about loyalty. But what happens to Lebron when his skills start to slip, when he loses a step and he is no longer the dominant force he is today? Will the Cleveland Cavaliers be loyal to Lebron James if they can get rid of him for the right price? How long before the fans start booing and calling for Lebron to hang it up once he is no longer the "king"?

He needs to do what is best for him. He has decided that it is best for him to go to Miami and have a better shot at a ring. Will his legacy suffer? Possibly, but that is yet to be seen.

As for Cleveland, for so many people to expend so much energy over an entertainer is a bit absurd. After all, basketball is just entertainment, and a sport. While I do think the hour long program to announce his decision was a bit over the top, Cleveland has to move on. After all, the Browns take the field in just two short months.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Can't Be True

As unbelievable as it sounds, my hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds, is in first place. Not only are they in first place, but they are pulling ahead. They are now three games ahead of those oh so easy to dislike St. Louis Cardinals.

I really cannot remember the last time their was such optimism surrounding professional sports in Cincinnati. You probably have to go back twenty years to the days when the Bengals were less than a minute away from wining the Super Bowl and the Cincinnati Reds were sweeping the East Bay Steroids Lab known as the Oakland Athletics.

There are plenty of games to go, but for now, optimism reigns.