Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We are still fighting with generator/boiler issues. The bottom line is that both cannot be on at the same time. I can't explain what is happening, and neither can anyone else. It's not the size of the load on the generator; the well pump pulls ten times the current that the boiler is, and the generator doesn't have a nervous breakdown. In fact, the generator will run every load in the house except the boiler. I still suspect there is a problem with the boiler wiring. It hasn't worked reliably since it was installed. Pretty much like everything else in the house. I've yet to understand the inverse relationship between cost and reliability: cheap stuff lasts forever, but expensive stuff breaks at the slightest touch, or for no reason whatsoever. Think of this in terms of watches. I am wearing a watch that cost me a grand total of $20 that I have dunked in water numerous times, hit with hammers, slammed into walls, dropped, stepped on, zapped with static, DC and AC electrical currents, yet it still works like brand new. If it was a $200 watch, it would have died the first time I set it down too hard. Can someone explain this to me?

We woke up to snow today. Ugh. Not much, but the forecast is for more and more until we are buried up to our necks in the stuff. I'd rather get a root canal than have to deal with snow.

Last night, we watched Mad Hot Ballroom. This was a movie in this summer's film festival that we did not get a chance to see. The movie is a documentary about a ballroom dancing program/competition in the New York City public schools. I have no idea what the ideology of the filmmakers might be, but nothing I have ever seen so dramatically shows what is wrong with our public education.

The first thing you notice is the adults: they are nearly all women. The men are mostly personifications of the stereotype exemplified by the question, "Is he gay, or just European?" Yes, I understand that education has always been heavily female, especially in the early grades. But the near-complete lack of males was obvious. (One school had a male dance instructor that wasn't a fag; other than that, I don't recall anyone that wasn't a female or a fem male.)

But the lesson in modern education began with the competition. Weepy females lamented the existence of "hard competition" and worrying about the students feelings. Selecting the students that will represent the school in the competition is presented as the hardest thing any of the adults have ever done. My first thought was that it must be nice to live such a sheltered life. Then I remembered we were talking about school teachers, who live their entire lives in a sheltered hive, safely walled off from anything that looks like competition. Or competence.

No one competed as an individual or as a dance pair; all scoring and awards were given to the entire school team. There is one little girl who had big dreams of being a professional dancer. She was actually pretty good, maybe the best in her school. But her performance was pulled down to the school average, which wasn't good enough to get past the first round. If you go frame-by-frame, you can see the exact moment that her dreams are crushed like an empty beer can under the wheels of a semi. The hive mind of public schooling at its best. "No, Sally, you can't be a professional dancer because your parents live in a neighboring filled with children who dance like they have cement blocks on their feet, and we couldn't possibly acknowledge that you are better than they are because that might make them feel bad."

And just like in the Special Olympics, everyone goes home with a medal. And the now-ubiquitous gift bag; does every damn thing in our schools have to include consumerism?

The real eye-opener was the reaction of one school team when they were eliminated in the first round. First, the entire setup was so confusing that it took several minutes for them to figure out they had lost. That was understandable because I'm still a little fuzzy on what was going on, and I wasn't an ADD 12-year-old kid in a big, echo-plagued room with 6,000 other ADD kids. In any case, first came the look of shock, then the water-works start up (teacheress joining in, of course). Then the bitching. "We followed the rules; we did just what we were taught to do; we should have won, too." No concept whatsoever of a scored competition. No thought that someone may have done a better job on the dance floor to ruffle the smooth surface of their little minds. Worse, the teacheress is agreeing with them. What was missing from all this was any form of sportsmanship whatsoever. No applause for those who won; not even a perfunctory "Good job." Just bitching about how it was all so unfair because they had done exactly what they were told, and didn't win.


Rent this movie, then remember that these are the people that will have to out-compete the Chinese in order to support you in your old age. Do you suppose this competition would have looked a little different in an Asian school system?

Not much else. Later.

Monday, November 28, 2005

And another whole week slides by. During that week, we had two major snow storms, near hurricane-force winds, single digit temperatures, and since yesterday, 40 degree (F) temps and rain. Needless to say, driving is a challenge. I spent two entire days in the truck trying to get our place, my parents place, and the church parking lot plowed out. I managed to break my truck in the process. Now the generator is acting up, so I am making it a short day at work so I can go home and deal with that.

Did I mention I am seriously beginning to hate living here?

Anyway, gotta run.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'... into the future.

Since my last post, the weather warmed up and melted the foot of snow we got last week, rained for two days, then got cold and is trying to snow. A major storm should be rolling in just in time for us to drive down state for Thanksgiving with Debbie's family. Sweet. Seriously, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. I must be getting too old, or just too lazy to deal with it.

Friday was my birthday, so we had dinner at my parents' place. Nothing elaborate; it's just another birthday. Saturday was a work day, getting things ready for winter. Sunday was just Sunday with some food tossed in after morning service. Yesterday, the three of us had a quiet evening together watching movies and playing board games. I expect about the same level of excitement tonight as we finish up a "short" game of Monopoly.

A while back, I wrote about an 18-year-old high school senior who was elected Mayor on a write-in campaign. I assumed the party machine would find some irregularity and throw the election to the incumbent, but he was sworn in on Monday night. This could get interesting.

I grew up in Flint and lived there long enough to watch it decline from a vibrant, blue-collar city to a vast slum due to General Motors closing numerous plants and sending the work over-seas. Oh sure, they "retrained" the laid-off workers to all be computer programmers. I sat in college classes with many of these future Bill Gate's; watching them struggle with high-school-level math problems, and consume all the computer language instructors' time with questions about how to log on to the network and the difference between writing code and building a spreadsheet. All these 50-something retrained factory workers then moved to California and created the .com bubble. Or something like that. In any case, it looks like more of the same. Many of the Michigan workers being laid off spend a fair chunk of their checks here in the Traverse City area. How and how much that will effect us up here is hard to tell. The business Nestina works at seems to be hanging by a thread. Debbie's employer is showing signs of instability. My job is probably safe, but I'm not sure how much longer I can take sitting in this grey freakin' box banging on 30-year-old COBOL code. Maybe we will get lucky and all lose our jobs at the same time so we can just leave and go someplace warm.

That's it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another quiet day at the Frost household. Debbie got home from her mom's about the same time I finally rolled in from work. We were both delayed by weather: the year's first snow storm. It was a pretty good one with a solid 10 inches on the ground this morning. I even considered putting the plow on the truck until I checked the ten-day forecast. It's supposed to be near-50 by the weekend, so I won't bother trying to move a bunch of wet snow on top of mud; we'll just drive over it until it melts. That seems to be the theory of the Kalkaska Road Commission as well; nothing had been plowed until I was on the highway. Most of the schools were closed, which I found amusing. So far this school year, there have been closings for fog, electrical outages due to high winds, and, in the case of the Drummond Island schools, high waves (a lot of the students ride the ferry to school). Now the first snow storm of the year has most of the schools in northeastern Michigan shut down again. If they keep canceling school at this rate, the little kiddies will be in school until the Fourth of July.

Anyway, the only thing I have from today's skim of the internet is a reminder that we all need to stop thinking in terms of retiring, and just face the reality that we will all be working until we fall over dead. We also need to accept that two-thirds of our paychecks will be taxed away to pay for the foolish promises made over the last 40 or so years. You can blame the unions, you can blame short-sighted corporate executives that caved into union demands they knew could never be fulfilled, you can blame the workers for expecting to be cared for like children in their old age, or you can blame all of the above. None of it matters; we will all pay dearly.

That's it for today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nestina and I cleaned house for a couple hours last night, then watched a couple movies. (Garage Days and Punisher). Neither of them was a really bad movie, but they didn't make an impression on me. I would consider them both worth a discount rental, but certainly not worth the price of a pair of theater tickets, nor would I bother to purchase them unless I found them in a bargain bin for less than $5. Debbie is supposed to be home sometime today, so I'll get the scoop on what is happening down-state. She tried to call me several times last night, but the connection was horrible at the house. I don't know if it was weather-related, or a network issue, but every single call I made or received was lost.

In any case, here is an article that gives a more-sympathetic view of the Paris rioters than I think they deserve. The author repeats the standard line that this has nothing to do with Islam; rather, it is frustration with racism and exclusion from modern life. I'd buy this except what is actually being asked for isn't better schools that assign lots of homework in really hard classes, but more welfare dollars and formalization of Islamic-only enclaves throughout France, including the formal establishment of Islamic law and, presumably, police and courts to enforce those laws. In other words, more of the earnings of non-Islamics flowing in, with no accountability, no attempt at assimilation, and most certainly no citizens loyal to France. This should sound familiar to anyone living in the United States, as it is the broad outline of any speech by any of our black "leaders." Allow me to repeat myself: this is not going away. This is not some minor disturbance by some pissy "young people." Not that I am trying to grant legitimacy to the French rioters, but remember that it was not dissimilar acts of vandalism that presaged our own revolution. And like the British in the 1770's, the French seem to think this can be contained by targeting a few malcontents, while completely missing the deeper cultural change, not to mention the demographic realities. (shrug) Western Civilization had a pretty good run of five centuries. In the grand scheme of history, that certainly doesn't shatter any records, but it is still better than most.

And that is all I have time for today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Not much happened last night. I vegg'ed and Nestina worked. Debbie's mom is doing well with her physical therapy. Other than that, nothing to report.

Go read why some guy named Spengler thinks western governments fall apart. To be concise, Spengler says people get the government they vote into office. That may not sound like blinding insight, but it does seem to be completely outside the grasp of the average voter. America has become profoundly anti-intellectual over the last thirty years. In that time, we elected "Peanut" Carter, Ronny Raygun, "No New Lips" Bush, Bill "I didn't have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski" Clinton, and Crusader Bush. Huh. I guess Spengler is right; you vote for what you are. In any case, it is certainly worth thinking about. It is probably worth thinking harder about countries where this isn't happening. There is no rule of the universe that says the United States will always be top dog, or that we even exist. I was discussing this very topic with my mother and a friend of hers. They asked if the cycle of history is so plain, why doesn't anyone learn from it? For the same reason there are stock market bubbles: every new nation or other group of humans thinks they are different than all that have gone before; that history has ended and the New Age has dawned. Well, I hate to be negative, but that hasn't happened in 10,000 years of human history, and this year isn't looking too good to change that record. Next year doesn't look much better.

Body guards have become SOP in Denmark for anyone with even a modest level of public exposure. You are reading it here first. The U.S. usually runs about 5-7 years behind Europe. Expect the same thing here no later than 2012.

And here are five questions non-Muslims would like answered by the leadership of the Religion of Peace (tm). I'll make another prediction (I'm getting to be a regular Nostradamus); the only response will be crickets chirping. There are a couple possibilities why that is. The most obvious is that we are being blatantly lied to about that whole Religion of Peace (tm) thing. The Peace'ers are just a front to lend legitimacy to murderers. Another possibility is that Islam is a morally bankrupt ideology. It has quicksand for foundations, thus no one has the moral authority to call murderers to task. In the end it hardly matters. No answers will be forthcoming, and the U.S. media will make excuses on behalf of the Muslims. (shrug)

How can anyone expect us to learn from history when we are not even capable of learning from current events?

That's it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This will be short, but probably not very sweet.

We hosted the end-of-season all-night soccer party Friday night/Saturday morning. Other than a couple catnaps, I had no sleep from 5am Friday morning until 7pm Saturday evening. I'm getting to old for this, but the kids seemed to have had fun. We got some really good pictures from playing Twister, which, as everyone who has ever played knows, is nothing but a legitimization of extreme teen groping.

Debbie left for her mom's place Saturday afternoon. Her mom had knee surgery, so Debbie is down there helping her out. Once again, Nestina and I are on our own for a few days, so hot meals are appreciated.

Sunday was mostly a lazy day. I was going to do some work on the roof of the house, but the 75 mph wind gusts sort of put a stopper on those plans. It was probably just as well; I needed some serious downtime.

If you need to raise your blood pressure, go read this. Our economic system, and in fact our civilization, is based on the notion of people being able to reasonably assume that they will enjoy the fruits of their own labor. As this story shows, this is no longer the case. Understand, this is not a couple rogue conservators ripping off old people. This is a legitimate industry, operating fully within the law and with the active help of the courts, that seeks to seize the assets of the elderly without their knowledge or consent.

I gave up investing for retirement some time ago when I did the math and figured out that it is impossible to save enough money to outrun inflation. I was saving to the point of serious financial pain, and the money would have run out long before I died unless I worked until I was 80. Of course, now I don't have to worry about it; my diabetes will kill me long before retirement age. But in any case, what is the point of forgoing pleasure now to save for retirement, only to be declared incompetent in a three-minute court hearing you are not even informed of, and having your assets turned over to a complete stranger? According to the article, you get the attention of these vultures by having a lot of assets. So my response is don't have them. Spend all you have now and plan on working until you drop dead, because what inflation doesn't eat will be legally stolen from you by some random "person."

Fred Reed discusses the decline of the major media. Anyone with half a brain knows that the reason no one pays attention to network news or any of the major newspapers is that they refuse to talk about what people want to hear about. I haven't bothered with ABCNNBCBS in decades. I haven't touched a newspaper, other than the Northern Express, since I delivered them at age 12. I used to be a real NPR junky, but I grew tired of being told my political positions were stupid by people who are provably from the left side of the bell curve. If the whole lot of them disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't notice. I suspect not many people under the age of 50 would.

Gotta go.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I didn't get home until after 8pm last night, but at least all the shopping is done for tonight. Or at least most of it is. I still have to pick up awards and some little "gee, thanks for playing" type gift for all the players. I feel completely unprepared for this thing; the days just go by one after the other and nothing ever gets done.

In political news, it looks like a teenager is the new mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan. Michael Sessions, a high school senior, beat out the incumbent mayor on a $700 write-in campaign. I'm sure the courts will figure out how to take this away from Sessions and give it to the incumbent. I mean, we can't have some smart-ass outsider, especially an 18-year-old one, getting himself elected. Just think what this could lead to; honest people that live in the real world getting elected to local office on a shoe-string budget, running a campaign based on issues instead of lies? Madness, I say!! Chaos!!


Pat Robertson has once again opened his mouth, which means the entire, world-wide Christian community is embarrassed. Pat's head is like some sort of intellectual black hole; nothing can escape being sucked in and disappearing without a trace. Not logic, not common sense, not sound theology, not even basic human compassion. This "man of God" is gleefully fantasizing about massive death and destruction because 51% of the voters in Dover decided to change the makeup of the local school board. Thanks, Pat, for contributing to the "secularization" of America by your tireless efforts to drive every rational person out of the church and away from God.

And I'm done.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Still not much going on at home other than cleaning up. Last night, the focus was on plowing through old receipts and getting bank accounts and credit card accounts caught up and reconciled. We spent over four hours at it, and got about two-thirds done. Not bad considering nothing has been touched since soccer started in August.

Good one from Jerry Pournelle's site:
President Bush May Send Up To 5 Marines For French Assistance

11/4/2005 - Shelby Trial

President Bush has authorized the Joint Chiefs to begin drawing up a battle plan to pull France's ass out of the fire again. Facing an apparent overwhelming force of up to 400 pissed off teenagers Mr. Bush doubts France's ability to hold off the little pissants. "Hell, if the last two world wars are any indication, I would expect France to surrender any day now", said Bush.

Joint Chiefs head, Gen. Peter Pace, warned the President that it might be necessary to send up to 5 marines to get things under control. The general admitted that 5 Marines may be overkill but he wanted to get this thing under control within 24 hours of arriving on scene. He stated he was having a hard time finding even one marine to help those ungrateful bastards out for a third time but thought that he could persuade a few women marines to do the job before they went on pregnancy leave.

President Bush asked Gen. Pace to get our marines out of there as soon as possible after order was restored. He also reminded Gen. Pace to make sure the marines did not take soap, razors, or deodorant with them. The least they stand out the better.

On a more serious note, even the military has noticed the obvious: Our inner-city schools do no good what so ever, and in fact inflict great harm on the students and our nation. The one problem I see is that the people leaving the urban schools are bringing the same attitudes and expectations to the rural schools that destroyed the urban schools in the first place. Two years ago, I did some research on Kalkaska schools, and, other than the absence of violent crime (give it a few years; that will be changing for the worse as well), they are as bad or worse than inner-city Detroit schools. But I'm sure the Army can recruit foreigners with promises of citizenship.

Sony continues to dig itself into a hole. I've more or less stopped buying music and movies anymore. The entire entertainment industry is simply offensive to me. I refuse to play. We gave up satellite years ago and we currently have zero reception, so no network stations. We watch a lot of movies, but most of those are either free from Nestina's work, 50-cent rentals from Family Video, or movies we already own. All my PC's are pre-DRM and I have no plans on replacing them anytime soon. Given what I use a PC for, all I need is something that can run a web browser, and if it wasn't for the whole blogging thing, I would probably cut that out of my life as well. I just find the whole thing tiresome, and I can't believe I am the only one.

And I will call that a day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not much going on at home other than getting ready for the end-of-season soccer party. Just a bunch of cleaning and planning. I need to get certificates printed up for MVP, Most Improved, etc. tonight after work. Tomorrow, we will do all the food shopping and last minute cleaning. After that, we should be good to go.

Paris is still on fire. Of course, Islam has nothing to do with it. It's just "youths." Denmark is also burning, as is Germany. But let me be perfectly clear; this is not about Islam. Islam is the religion of peace. We see that demonstrated everyday in Israel. This is all just "frustration."

I'm no psychotherapist (which, I am sure, comes as great news to mental patients everywhere), but there must be some sort mental disability that makes a person do and say stupid things, then celebrate the resulting ridicule as affirmation. This is ridiculous on so many levels, it defies analysis. Calling myself a Christian gets harder every day. Not because of persecution from "The World" (tm), but a desire to not affiliate myself with provable idiots.

That's all I have for now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Busy weekend, but what's new. Debbie and I spent Friday evening through Saturday morning at Lake Ann Baptist Camp for their Camp Captains retreat. I was just extra baggage; Debbie is the one that organizes camp every year. But the food wasn't bad and the speeches weren't too boring and it is a nice camp.

Anyway, we got home around 2pm. All three of us kicked out some outdoor work. Nestina had to knock off to get ready for work around 3:30 and Debbie and I stopped shortly after. Not much got done, but at least some progress was made. We only have about two or three weekends left before snow moves in, so any little bit helps.

Sunday was just Sunday. Choir is starting up again. I'm not sure I really want to do it, but I don't seem to have a choice in these things. My voice is completely shot and a year of extensive medical treatment from two different doctors doesn't seem to be doing any good. In fact, it just gets worse from one week to the next. My range is down to less than two octaves, and on bad days (which is about 3 out of 5) I can't sing at all. About 1 day in 5, I can't even talk. None of which matters, of course. "Thou shalt be in choir." I think that is in 1 Opinions or something.

I don't know that I have ever bought anything from Sony, but I know for a fact I never will in the future. If a business owner that has been hit by this has brains and balls (a rare combination, to be sure), they will file charges under the various malware statutes that exist. This is a virus that intentionally damages a PC. IANAL, but I can't see how rendering a PC inoperative by inserting a CD could be legal. Of course, Sony is doing it, not some teenage hacker in his parents' basement. Sony, like Disney and Microsoft and Halburton and [insert any multinational corporation], owns Congress, the courts, and the President. Anything they do is, by definition, legal. Anything we do is, by definition, illegal.

The suburbs of Paris are burning. Here is the ABC News take on this. The media seem determined to ignore the story. But we have this thing called the internet. Jerry Pournelle and Fred Reed both have much to say about this. Expect the same thing to happen in black neighborhoods in our major cities sooner rather than later. "We want independence; just don't stop the welfare checks." I live a long way from the nearest black neighborhood. That is by design. And I can get even farther away in a matter of hours.

And enough for one day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Slow week so far at the Frost household. Everyone is just working and sleeping. Let's hear it for the American dream.

I have never been a fan of the anti-abortion movement. Their methods are crude, counter-productive, and unbiblical, while the participants alternately drape themselves in the flag and the Bible (however one would go about draping oneself with a book...). This is one of the best refutations of anti-abortionism that I have ever read. Money quote spoken at an anti-abortion rally:
“Are you here because you really want to help the unborn?” my godfather asks. “Have you taken an unwed mother into your home? Fed her? Cared for her baby? Or are you here because this is where your friends are? Are you here to indulge in a comforting sense of moral superiority? Smug in your certitude you’re not going to hell?”


“We know there’s a hell because Jesus said there’s one. But we don’t know if anyone’s actually in it.”

Statistics from the Barna Group show that self-identified evangelicals get abortions at about the same rate as the general public. Maybe instead of political rallies, churches need to spend the time and effort to clean up their own house.

Or not. There are reasons for the decline in evangelical influence in day-to-day life, and you will find most of them inside the church. Get your hands on any of the video materials from the Barna Group and see for yourself.

Anyone that has been around this blog very long knows that I have no respect for or patience with black "culture." But even I am stunned by the open display of racism by black "leaders." I have nothing to say other than this:

Kweisi Mfume, you are a nigger. Wear the label with pride.

That's not racist, by the way. I'm just "pointing out the obvious."

Remind me again why I should have any respect for these people or anyone who follows them?

And I'm sure that is quite enough for a day.