Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

So they say. Especially these two.

Shown here exhibiting no gumption to go for their morning run because morning hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe at 10:30 or so it will. I heard the newswoman remark that even today, winter solstice, expect the sun to set nine seconds earlier than yesterday. Ohh kay. So I’ll need to gather up my towel, the sun block, and the fold-able chaise lounge and leave the beach today at 3:41:09 instead of 3:41:18. Gotchya.

In reality, today I am housebound. Waiting for UPS to arrive to deliver the wine. Eighteen bottles I think. They demand an adult signature else it’s back on the big brown step van where it will get cold and bounce around for hours until finally it’s delivered back to the warehouse, scanned and scheduled for another try the following day. Failing that, they will leave a Post-It style admonishment on the front door: COME GET IT YOURSELF. And then add, somewhat passive-aggressively, Merry Christmas. Because it always happens this way. You wait and wait and wait, and then think, Okay, I can sneak out for an hour and run the dogs. Sure enough, you get back home and see a little yellow sticky on the front door: Sorry we missed you. Inevitably!

As if there were not enough triggers this time of year to point our mood toward the doldrums, the Packers had to go and lose their first game. So long 19 wins in a row. So long perfect season. I pity the Bears coming to Lambeau field to play Christmas night. My guess is the Cheeseheads are going to bring out some special kind of Whoopass for that game. Look out. And then we (yes, “we”, much to the chagrin of my sister who insists that since I no longer live in Wisconsin I have no business inviting myself into the collective “We”) will have locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Meaning the road to the super bowl necessarily will go through the Frozen Tundra.

Who’s the Whacko

Sometimes people mistake me for a Republican, never a Democrat. In fact I am neither. I derive my political attitude, largely Libertarian, from my moral attitude, which is more or less Objectivist (see Ayn Rand). By comparison to most I was a late comer to Objectivism. I didn’t arrive at my moral attitude from reading Rand. I was well into my thirties lounging on a beach in Hawaii when I first read the Virtue of Selfishness, and discovered there was a philosophical language around the attitude I already knew I possessed. I remember thinking: “That sounds a lot like me.”

All these years later you still see Rand exalted in the darnedest places. The comments there indicate not everyone agrees.

You hear all kinds of epithets lobbed at Democrats and Republicans. A special set is reserved for Libertarians, including, but not limited to, crackpot, whacko, or Utopian. Serious but more generous critics prefer terms like “unrealistic”. These people provide counter-arguments of variable quality why a nation cannot – and never could have – self-organize around the principle of rational self-interest, and apologize instead for the variable amount of coercion that is necessary, they say, to hold the polity together, to keep the dark side of self-interest from ruining freedom and liberty for all.

Problem is, once you grant a little coercion is necessary for X (where x=your favorite reason), then the camel’s nose is under the tent, and before long he’s all the way in. In less than one hundred years in our case. Before long you have politicians at the podium during a nationally televised debate unabashedly approving of making a supposed bad guy feel as though he is being drowned, if that’s what it takes to get important information. Or not. Either way, yes yes, by any means necessary, the AmericanPeople® must be kept safe.

Instead of expressions of outrage at the apologists for torture, we hear even more pressing concerns:

More important, Bachmann’s shoes clash with her clothes. Forgive us if this sounds harsh, but a female candidate cannot convey Commander-In-Chief readiness in backless sandals paired with an evening suit, just as a male candidate wouldn’t score points wearing a suit and tie with mandals. [Source]

In the meantime, the lone Libertarian on stage, the unelectable one, well-coiffed if that really matters, is rarely called on.

I’m quite sure it’s because he is unrealistic.

It’s About Opportunity


Source

If true, then the Occupiers should allocate their protest proportionally, and camp out at hospitals and clinics, colleges and universities, too. This is where ~20% of the 1% hoarding their ill-gotten booty work. People looking to provide encouragement and credibility to this movement have compared it to the seeds of the sixties civil rights movement, in the sense that the civil rights acts were the culmination of grass roots protests like this. The problem with that comparison is that one of the chief objections the Occupiers have is inequality of outcome, e.g. skewed distribution of wealth and income, not inequality of opportunity, which, arguably, is what the civil rights movement was about.

I know don’t know where the movement is headed or what eventually will come of it. I expect a few weeks of cold winter nights should weaken the resolve of many of them. On the other hand…

In an effort to do our part to spur the economy, we and friends bought tickets to the Rocky Horror Picture Show presentation at a local gay bar.

Certain of us got caught up in the interactive spirit of the evening and dressed a tad…well, let’s just say, “festive”.

iWonder

Dear Mr. Jobs, if you’re in-looking from the Other Side you see the outpouring of adulation for you. I have nothing to add or take from all that. While you were with us, on this side, I heard you were at times difficult to work with, and for. I never knew that about you. I didn’t pay much attention really. I’m a Windows user. Sorry. Nothing against you or your products; it was the people who fawned on Apple that often rubbed me the wrong way. I should know better than to associate the merit of products with the mindset of the people who use them. I do have a pod, though. Here’s myPod:

A replacement actually. A little worse for wear but it still works fine. Left my first one on board an Alaska Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. Filed a claim but I’m not hopeful for its return. Or my noise canceling headphones. Man, plugging those babies into myPOD and turning on “Shuffle” made the time fly by. Ha ha. Thank you for that. Nearly a thousand songs inside my shirt pocket, with room left for a pen and chewing gum. That really is cool. So is all your other iStuff. Your biographer said you regretted not having surgery when you were first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A slow growing type he said, you were one of the lucky ones according to your doc. I don’t know, hard for me to think that getting any cancer makes you lucky, but it’s all relative I suppose. I don’t know what’s on the Other Side, or even if there is an Other Side. Save me a seat if you would.

One Is Enough

Rufus @ 11 years.

His “Radiance” is reluctant to post on this celebratory day, so ya’ll will have to endure my brief bemoanment of America’s game.

I wholeheartedly agree with Frank Deford, one is enough. Especially in baseball, where plays are separated by a yawning span of pitcher-catcher agreement, standing, leaning, bending, peeking (at the runner), crotch scratching (catcher), and then further pondering until, finally – throw the damn ball already! – the pitch. Then sometimes the batter won’t swing. Or worse, the pitch isn’t even thrown! – consider the balk. Copy paste, all over again. Is it any wonder drunkenness is rampant among the fans? When the moments of actual athleticism on the field, over the course of hours of otherwise mind-numbing nothingness, may be replayed in sixty seconds or less of real-time? And they make this spectacle of somnambulism the best of seven? Puh-leez.

I will never again mock synchronized swimming.

Better Days

Funniest advice heard in the past few months: As you get older…

“Never trust a fart.”

With that wisdom in mind we went for a walk near Eklutna Lake this weekend, a place none of us have been in many years. Nothing has changed there, including its Autumnal beauty.

I’ve presented at two conferences in as many weeks, one in Philadelphia, one in Alaska, participated in three (productive) days of meetings in Cleveland around the company we’re trying to get off the ground. Everyone present was enthusiastic around the blue ocean of opportunity out there. Back at home Fall is still in full swing. Only the highest peaks in the Chugach mountains are dusted by snow. Winter will bring peace, but oddly, nobody will say they are anxious for it to arrive. Like wanting to go to heaven, but not anxious to die.

In Philadelphia I walked by Independence Hall. It was under renovation, and a man I spoke with said it’s been under renovation, it felt to him, forever. I felt sad walking around it. Like our best years are now behind us. The odor of last night’s urine was palpable, re-hydrated by wet air pouring out of manhole covers. A few people had queued up at the entrance to the Liberty Bell exhibit. Maybe it was the hour of the day, the fact it was mid-week, or the overall malaise the country is feeling right now,  but there was a distinct feeling of neglect and a rude indifference to the events that had occurred here. I ran the gauntlet of homelessness surrounding the park on my walk back to the hotel. Most people paid me no mind but some glared at me and hissed, like their situation was partly my fault.

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What went wrong with the POTUS

An opinion piece1 in the New York Times written by someone who apparently voted for Obama and was enthusiastic about his presidency, concludes with a few hypotheses to account for what went wrong. I found this one most likely:

A second possibility is that he [Obama] is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.

1. Hat tip Friedman

Don’t raise the ceiling, lower the floor.

Ron Paul’s solution to the debt ceiling impasse. It would buy the government more time to continue arguing over how to bring about a more permanent fix.

So far as I understand the plan: Imagine one day you loan yourself a considerable sum of money. Months or years later you find you can no longer pay all your bills, which includes the interest on the loan you made to yourself, because 1) over the years you’ve over-committed yourself (bought too much stuff), and 2) there’s no longer enough revenue coming in to pay all your bills – maybe you lost your job. Instead of borrowing on your Visa to pay your bills, you merely forgive the loan you made to yourself, thus you no longer have to pay the interest, and this leaves you with enough money to pay your other bills. In the case of the government and the Fed (Federal Reserve), the “loan” was made in the form of a bond sale, the Fed bought the bonds from the government.

Paul’s suggestion is to have congress tell the Fed – whose assets belong to the government – to destroy the bonds. This would lower the government’s debt by $1.6 trillion, effectively “lowering the floor” and leaving the ceiling unchanged, and allow the government to borrow more money now.

Brilliant. So far as it goes anyway.

The real problem is to get the government to stop over committing itself. Paul has some ideas for that as well.

Red Slayers

Flies meticulously tied with generations old wisdom. The fly rod balanced, perfect, well-worn but ready. Alone, you weave your way along the bank of a serene stream. A warm breeze ripples the water. Your secret hole cuddles a cut bank. The philosophical arc of the line; your first cast. The fly lights on the water, disappears in a sun glinted eddy. Drift. You wait, expectant. All is calm. Until, that first strike!

The quintessential fishing experience, right? Not ours! Instead, we – my bride and I – donned our chest waders, put on our slop boots, slogged along a muddy bank at low tide, stepped into the icy, silty water of the Kasilof river where it empties into Cook Inlet, shouldered our way into position among countless other netters, and noisily awaited the push of red (sockeye) salmon.


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For an hour or more all we did is sift water. We felt foolish, outwitted by the fish. Because you can’t see them run, the water is too murky. Someone standing next to me claimed he felt one bump into his leg. And I thought, “Maybe they’re swimming upstream behind us!” Clever suckers. Nutty Alaskan kids running barefoot through the surf. It was a mystery how they avoided turning blue.

But the weather was fabulous!

Mount Redoubt Volcano looms in the distance.

Dip netting is a uniquely Alaskan experience, as only Alaskans are legally allowed to dip net for personal use catch, which is 25 per person, and an additional 10 for each household member, none of whom need be present to fish for themselves. My bride and I fished the evening high tide, spent a sleepless night camped on the beach, thanks to the all night partiers camped next to us, and then I trundled out of the tent early (3 am!) and fished the morning high tide. We came home with ten in the cooler, just like these:

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When you consider we had to clean, fillet, vacuum seal and freeze these bad boys (actually, 3 were female) ourselves… well, it was a blessing we didn’t get more. Should last us through winter.

Next year, as Arnold says, “We’ll be back.”