29 November 2008

The Day of the Crazed Shoppers

Estimated death toll so far: One (a Wal-Mart employee trampled by shoppers).

Oh yeah. Have a merry Christmas.

Without Comment

27 November 2008

Curse you John Derbyshire

I've always known that Derbyshire and some of others at National Review Online were in league with Satan, but now I find out that Derbyshire is a shill for Mora, the bitch-goddess of Procrastination! Just check this post out and follow its link.

then check back in a few hours - or whenever you're done, whichever is first.

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Creeping respect for Obama on National Review Online!

Now I admit it is on a very minor point and is pretty tepid, but it is surely the nose of the camel under the tent, as we say. Still, Lisa Schiffren at the Corner writes:

It's trivial, I know, but here is the one place I have seen a glimmer of our President-elect's personality, where I have just totally identified with him and his attitude: In an interview with Barbara Walters, who has just such a frou-frou pooch, he said,

Obama: "It sounds kinda like a girly dog."

Michelle: "We're girls. We have a house full of girls."

Obama: "We're going to have a big rambunctious dog, of some sort."

Facing the same question — which dog to get for my daughters, one of whom needs a hypoallergenic breed, and without the advantage of a large household staff to take care of it when they don't, — I have been torn between their desire for a tiny, cute, doll of a thing, and my deep conviction that dogs should not be cats. I want the Irish Setter of my own childhood, not some hybrid "shnoodle." In fact, I find Obama's resistence to the current fashion of manicured, blow-dried little white lap dogs charming, inspiring even. I'm the adult. I'll make that decision, damn it. Since I'm the one who is going to walk the thing.

It's only a matter of time before Schiffren gets booted off the Corner like those other liberal traitors like Christopher Buckley and Kathleen Parker.

well, no one can claim that Clemens' dog, the little lummox, is a girly dog. Insane maybe.

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25 November 2008

Without Comment

How to escape a killer whale

This is one plucky little penguin.

Clever too.

courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.

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20 November 2008

What type of mind controls this blog!

I discovered on Andrew Sullivan a new site called typalyzer that claims it can determine your mental type from the blog. So I plugged in Sententiae and this is what it says:

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

So - generally prefers to think things out and often avoids inter-personal conflicts. Ha.
Check out the description of the guy who blogs on Not Mayberry!

must have me confused with someone else. But at least it didn't claim that I was stubborn.


19 November 2008

Christ and the GOP

Mulan's dad is a colleague in the history dept. One of his students, a devout evangelical Christian who helps teach Sunday school at her church, told him that an assistant Sunday school teacher told her that:

Since John McCain was God's Candidate ... and he lost ... and everything happens according to God's will ... the only reason the Evil Obama one won was because we had sinned against God ... and therefore the next four years of Pure Evil were our punishment.

Don't quite know what to say about people like that. Though I would have thought that the Pancreator, maker of billions of galaxies each with billions of stars and billions of planets that might bear creatures of soul, and who loves and is concerned about every single one of the 6 billion plus homo sapiens alive at this very moment, not to mention the billions that have already passed to their reward and the billions to come ...

... might have other things to worry about than the political fortunes of one man of one political party of one nation state (which, as a creation of sinful human beings, might be unworthy of such attention in any case).

But, I could be wrong. God hasn't been cluing me in on such matters (though I am reading Marcus Borg's Jesus with a bunch of Episcopalians).

but just so you Catholics don't feel left out, a uniformed member of a priestly hierarchy under the direct supervision of a foreign potentate has refused communion to anyone voting for Obama.

Carmen wants to know how he knows.

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Exxon and GM

In this post and this one I asked why Exxon didn't just bail out GM by giving each and every employee and every member of their family a brand new top of the line fully loaded SUV. After thinking about it I now know the answer:

1) Americans are still going to drive the same number of cars the same number of miles, so from the perspective of Exxon, what difference would it make?

2) They know GM is going to tank no matter what so why waste the money?

3) They are confident that Uncle Sam will do it anyway.

Take your pick, though I like each and every one.

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A temple of beer bottles

This temple was built by monks in Thailand out of a million green Heineken and brown local beer bottles according to Andrew Sullivan.

But what did they do with the beer?

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Following in Clemens' wake

A few posts back I suggested that the Exxon with its unimaginable billions help bail out the auto industry. Now I read this on andrewsullivan.com from Margaret and Helen:

So the oil companies are once again boasting record profits and yet the auto makers are asking for some government cheese. Does anyone else see the irony here? So I’ve got a little trickle down theory of my own. As long as Detroit continues to make cars for the Gas-Capades let the oil companies bail them out.

Personally, I see it as a match made in heaven. Wonder why no one else is picking it up?

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18 November 2008

The Auto Industry

Do you, as a taxpayer, have any stomach for more bailouts? If you do, read this article in the Washington Post today about GM (of which you may be about to become a co-owner).

A spokesman for G.M., Tony Cervone, said Monday that the G.M. board remains supportive of Mr. Wagoner, who became G.M. chief in 2000 and added the chairman’s title three years later. Mr. Wagoner was paid about $24 million a year in 2006 and 2007 from a combination of salary, stock option grants and other forms of compensation. His 2008 base salary is $2.2 million.

“A solid management team is the most important thing you need in the time of a crisis,” Mr. Cervone said.

Don't know about you but I'm feeling better already. "A solid management team."

and worth every penny. As was the 24 billion dollars in dividends the failing GM has paid out over the last decade.

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16 November 2008

Without Comment

Why I voted Republican

Ha! Thought that would get your attention. But I did vote Republican in two local races. One was a fellow Episcopalian I see at church and at the Y. The other one ... well, there's an interesting story there.

Awhile back Jack and I were writing about the housing implosion. Jack made this comment that I agreed with :
I'd like to see the blame spread a little more, and more thickly. Real estate developers for a long time built giant houses and cooperated with the banks in selling them to people who couldn't afford them.

This certainly struck a chord. Around here, a county where the economy has been a serious problem for years, and where most people are lower middle class or working class, the only new houses Carmen and I have seen being built have been huge things that must cost $250k minimum. Except one.

When we were looking for a house I went to an open house for a small, modest, but well designed, well built and attractive home going for $115K. And the builder was there to explain his work. He told me that like autos it was nearly as much expense, time and trouble to build a small home as a modest one but that you make more money on the big expensive home. He felt, however, that every now and then for the health of the community he should build a smaller, cheaper house and that was what this house represented.

I believed him. And the last two times he has run for local office both Carmen and I have voted for him.

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A Modest Economic Proposal

In an effort to help the economy get back on track ... anything short of actually, you know, spending my own money ... I propose the following.

Since Exxon Mobil's vast earnings are closely tied to the health of the automotive industry it should use some of its huge and expanding profits to buy each and every one of its employees, and every member of their family whether they can drive or not, a top of the line, fully loaded SUV made in America. Driving it would be optional.

For myself, I might try a diesel version of the Ford Fiesta if Ford survives long enough to bring it to America.

ta-dahh! No. No need to thank me. I can toss out these brilliant ideas all day long.


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I suppose I should explain my lack of posting right through the election (and for the record, I was quite happy with the results). It was, simply put, a perfect storm of work that hit me. Suddenly in a very short period of time I found that I had to:

1) create my promotion and tenure file for promotion to full prof. Something I have been unwilling to do for the last 7 or 8 years.

2) bring myself up to speed on a complex series of regulations, deadlines and duties as newly appointed chair of the Honors Program for the History Dept. I think the Dept chair appointed me to this to teach me to actually complete and turn in my request for committee assignments. And since this one means that students may suffer if I don't work hard at it ... well, you can see my dilemma.

3) Write a 50 question multiple choice exam, which I hate using (though it's a snap to grade).

4) Prepare various documents and minutes for the Big Conference in Georgetown where I am executive secretary

5) Read through countless application files for various job offerings here at the University since I am also on the Dept Personnel Committee (which is much worse than you may imagine).

6) Pack and get ready for the Conference in Georgetown - including doing some arcane research into the origins of the Society.

7) Remember to actually put the luggage IN the car before Carmen and I left for Georgetown (long and embarrassing story )

8) Walk the dog

You know, much more of this and this will start feeling like a real job.

You might call it Mora's revenge.


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No rep left unblemished

The toxicity of the Bush years is simply amazing. So much so that I am not sure we can even lay all of the blame at the foot of the Bushies' mismanagement. (Not that I wouldn't be willing to try). Here's a squib from Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post.

Rebecca Christie and Matthew Benjamin write for Bloomberg about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson: "[T]wo months before he leaves office, Paulson is a reduced figure, damaged by the financial-market meltdown that happened on his watch and by the government's struggles to respond to it.

"Like many others who have served in President George W. Bush's administration . . . Paulson, 62, will leave office casting a smaller shadow than when he arrived. . . .

And Chris Matthews seems to be setting up a countdown to when Scooter Libby will be pardoned.

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Without Comment

"FROM a purely financial standpoin there’s no doubt that Exxon’s business strategy has paid off. Despite the broader economic turmoil, Exxon is worth around $375 billion — more than General Electric, Bank of America and Google combined — making it the world’s largest corporation.

Its balance sheet is pristine and its credit rating is better than that of most governments. If Exxon’s revenue were stacked against the world’s G.D.P.’s, it would rank between Austria and Greece as the 26th-largest economy. As oil prices peaked this summer, the company once again set a record as the most profitable American corporation, earning $14.8 billion in the third quarter. Since 2004 alone, the company has rung up profits of about $180 billion."
New York Times.

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12 November 2008

What we thought then

'We' would be me and Joey Sobrino. 'Then' would be March of 2007. The 'what' would be what we thought about the presidential race which was already heating up enough to make me complain.

I know. Some people claim it doesn't take much to make me complain.


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09 November 2008

The "Real America"

The North Carolina county that Sarah Palin claimed was part of "real America" went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.

Just thought I'd point that out. And we got rid of Liddy Dole, too.

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05 November 2008

Avery Co voting and the Wall Street Journal

Here is what the Wall Street Journal has reported about the situation in Avery Co that I reported on yesterday. From the accounts I have heard the election officials were no where near as co-operative nor as gracious as the account portrays. The quote from Cannupp, chairman of the county board of elections, however, in which he threatens to have the person reporting the "mix up" arrested pretty much tells the story.

Something wasn’t right with Spanish-language voting instructions posted in voting booths in Avery County, N.C., a solidly Republican area in the Appalachian mountains that was the focus of a recent Wall Street Journal article.

A Spanish-language instructor at a local college noticed that the voting instructions in Spanish were different from the ones in English. The Spanish version told voters to mark an “X” next to the selected candidate. The English-language version asked voters to fill out entirely the oval next to the chosen candidate, and says an “X” will not record a vote, said Rachel Chrane, the Spanish instructor at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C.

Chrane said she contacted the North Carolina Board of Elections, which confirmed these weren’t the instructions provided by the state. She then filed a formal complaint with the Avery County board of elections, she said.

“It was an old piece of signage,” said Sheila Ollis, director of the Avery County board of elections. “The professor took it upon herself to file a complaint, and we corrected it immediately.” Ollis said the voting system would acknowledge an “X” on the ballot. Chrane said instructions in English said this was not the case.

Chrane said she then checked with several polling stations around the county to see if the changes had been made, and found one voting booth where the old sign remained. Ollis said workers made the changes as quickly as possible.

That might not be the end. Johnny Canupp, chairman of the county board of elections, accused Chrane of breaking the law by tampering with the signage in the booth. He said he warned her in a phone message that if she did it again, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

Carmen looked at the Spanish version and said it was a terrible translation in any case.

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04 November 2008

Palin and I agree!!!

About one thing. At least. Public figures should never discuss who they have voted for as a matter of policy.
Palin was asked during the press conference whether she voted for Sen. Ted Stevens. “I am also exercising my right to privacy and I don’t have to tell anyone who I voted for, nobody does, and that’s really cool about America, also,” she said.

Not sure why I feel that way. And I could be wrong.

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Dirty Tricks (or simple fraud) in Avery County?

One of the more hardcore of the western mountain counties in North Carolina is Avery Co. As red as red can get. Except for a large number of Hispanics, some of whom are citizens and can vote. I don't know the details of the following allegation, nor if it will hold up to scrutiny, but the source that e-mailed it to me is pretty reliable. FWIW, here it is, the instructions on the presidential ballot in Avery Co., North Carolina:

The Spanish instructions for how to vote are completely wrong. In Spanish it says "Para votar un candidate marque con una equis en el cuadro a la izquierda del nombre del candidate." Translation: "To vote for a candidate mark with an X in the square to the left of the name of the candidate.” This is the opposite of the English instructions. In English it clearly says that a vote will only be counted if the oval is filled in completely. An "X" will not be counted.

UPDATE: Seems that a complaint has been filed, embarrassing statements were made by the election officials concerned, and now the Wall Street Journal may be investigating.

Always willing to do my bit to embarrass public officials who screw up. Only a few more hours now.

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