Jan 31, 2014

Cold Comfort

Some things are perfectly predictable. This weekend I'll be at the Estherville loophole. I will try to improve my collection. I will see a blue-steel candidate and, after due discourse with the owner, will make what I believe a realistic offer. He will respond: "I got more than that in it," as though that was (a) necessarily true and (b) my problem rather than his. As I say, completely predictable.

Just as are the scrambling apes we hire to represent us. The headline news in the  Midwest is still propane. It is either unobtainable or priced out of reach of poor people,and even some not so poor. ($4.99 per gallon  locally at last report.)

Our politicians are of course very concerned. They feel the pain as they lounge about the overheated Taj Mahals where they meet to dicker with your money. They flood the air waves and strain newsprint budgets with promises to "do something."

It's a tossup between my northern neighbor, Minnesota, and my home state about which looks more cynically ridiculous.

Minnesota state government is responding to the home-heat crisis with a hotline.

"Minnesota Hotline. How may I help you Sir or Madam?"

"Hello. Dis is Ole and it is 'bout 14 below and our tank it is empty and Lena and me are cold."

"We understand, Please press 13 to be connected with the the Minnesota Department of Interior Environmental Comfort."

"You tink dey help us?"

(Under breath: Beats the Hell out of Me.)  "I am sure you will find, Sir, that they understand your concern. Good bye."

We have a sort of hot line too, but our Des Moines politicians also want to throw a little money at Jack Frost, one million dollars. They are telling the media and hoping for praise -- the kind that can be turned into votes come November.

They would really prefer that you stop reaching for your $3 Chinese calculator, especially if you remember that Iowa already provides heating help for about 95,000 homes (under LIHEAP). Because then you might discover that their massive show  of compassion amounts to to ten and a half-bucks per home, or enough propane to heat your average house for maybe four hours.


There's no intent here to belittle the problem, and I'm on record as offering the comfort of the Camp Jiggleview  fire to anyone who won't steal the silver. I  doubt  if I could get any of the legislthings to tell me if they've offered to open their home.

Jan 30, 2014

Don't bury the lede

Okay. I won't:

Yahoo News needs a wire editor who isn't smoking crack on duty.


Home base for YN is here, and it has been a bookmark on my Mac for years.

This morning, the news lineup there begins with a hit piece on Obama by YN's own Matt Bai.

Next, a Daily Beast hit piece on Ted Cruz.

Then a nigh incomprehensible  satire (?) by Ann Coulter, followed by a MatchCom ad dressed up as a news headline, then another D. Beast thumbsucker on pot laws.

A couple of similar items later you get to the first actual news report which, this morning, is offered in Spanish.  And that is probably the first thing the reading masses will catch as a probable journalism screwup.


I speak now of a certain period of time, beginning roughly in the 1880s and ending  about the time the national information system was captured by vidicons imaging beautiful coifs yammering happy talk on the six-o'clock news.

In those days, every daily newspaper bigger than the Bloomington Pantograph employed a wire editor, usually a crusty old reporter too far gone to be of much use on a beat but still possessed of the single  most important thing in journalism: news judgement.

He monitored the old 66 words-per-minute Teletypes*, ripping copy, spiking** most of it, selecting the best and most relevant stories for his readers.  These he massaged in several ways and passed on to the senior editors at the "desk."

The better ones came to work sober and didn't reach for the jug of Jim Beam hidden in the file drawer on the right-hand side of their two-pedestal desk at least until the presses were rolling with the bulldog edition.

The final product was a paper which, whatever its faults of emphasis, story placement, and editorial slant, gave its readers a concise and (more-or-less) dependable  view of changes in the world and the nation since the previous day's editions.

Not even the worst of the damned Hearst rags would have gone to press with the above-mentioned Yahoo cesspool on Page One.


There are still men and women alive who practiced journalism with an almost religious belief in the sanctity of the mission. That's why you see so many of us trudging around with sad basset -hound eyes, fighting the urge to reach down for our hidden flask of Jim Beam.



*Through the WW2/Korea era there were three fierce competitors based in the U.S.  The Associated Press (AP) was the unquestioned leader, followed by United Press  (UP)  and International News Service (INS). INS sold itself to UP, creating United Press International (UPI) which went broke in the 1980s and survives today mostly as an internet logo, a feature service at best.

**Spiking: Unwanted wire copy was slammed on to the spike in case it might be needed later.

If some guy you met in a bar claimed to be a wire editor and could not display several puncture-wound scars on his palms, he was lying to you.

Jan 29, 2014

Brigid on tools. Not only graceful, but wonderfully ludditarian for the most part,  both the implements and the attitude for getting along happily without undue leaning on other people.

A blizzard in paradise

One late-winter day a long time ago, I was King of the World, a legend in my own mind. The Henderson, back from six months in the mysterious Orient,  docked at the San Diego Destroyer Base. I had just sewn on a petty officer crow  (Imagine. Me. Not yet 19, A noncom. I fear I may have strutted a little bit.). I had also qualified for special proficiency pay. My income had about doubled to something like $160 a month.  To top it off, I'd had some luck in the bos'n locker poker session the last night at sea.

So, for about $75,  I bought a 1950 Morris Minor, a little ratty but sound insofar as the word could (or can) be applied to an English mechanical device. I tuned her in my sorta-girl friend's yard and spent a few nice liberties at beaches you couldn't get to by bus -- about as far as Redondo Huntington Beach, I think.

Then came a letter from the real girl friend. She was back in San Francisco from an unhappy career move to  Seattle and  would I care to pop up for a visit?

Wangle a 96-hour liberty. Varoom.

Highway 101 takes you through Los Angeles. No other way. We all hated the traffic even then. But what the Hell.

I'll tell you the Hell. It snowed in L.A. For ten or 12 minutes. Traffic on the wet six-lane stopped. More than one piece of long, fat Detroit iron slewed across a lane or two. I pulled off and drank coffee until the sky brightened and the CHIPS had reorganized the highway. I resumed, pushing the dowager as close to her 64 mph max as I could.

Further adventures of the long weekend need not be spoken of, but Little Morris  created no drama, and I returned from liberty without having to worry about finessing an AWOL chit. The blizzard amidst the palms still sometimes generates a grin when  I scrape a few inches of global warming from my windshield.


She had only one factor of cool. The turn signals spoke semaphore. Hit the lever. Up flips an orange-lighted plastic flag from the pillar. For that reason alone I'd like to have her back.

Jan 28, 2014

SOTU finis

Someone else can do the ringside on GOP responses, though I will report an opinion that  Cathy Whosis, Rodgers, mother of three, is a damn good looking respondent.

ETA: Just cleaning up, I ran quickly through the posts to fix a few typos. I added two dropped words in one of them because the sentence was unreadable. There were no other post-facto changes.


LIVE! NBC cuts away to show the other big snowjob outside.

ETA: Cut to local commercial. Hanging on here for the Giffords anti-gun spot.

ETA: Missed it.


Only two, so far, but one came with a two-hand hug (largish lady in blue print).

Signing autographs. Probably wise congressslugs holding them as inflation  hedge investments against the upcoming ravages of Obama's Ms. Yellin.


Done. Thundrous ape pause.

Don't  bother me for a minute. Gonna count exit kisses.


"For more than 200 years we have put our collective shoulder to the wheel of progess."

Beyond satire. let it lay.


World wide "freedom from fear and want."

He may steal the other two FDRisms in a minute or two. Just warming up on the high-emo close.

Meanwhile, I note the  other plagiarist, on his right, background, has a very spiffy hair style for the occasion.


Large-scale dorking around with guns in Islamic countries may "feed extemism."

Good thought, Sir. It would have been original had you thunk it 25 years ago. c.f. Ron Paul emphatic position since the '80s, at least.


War will be over pretty soon (because Congress wouldn't let me start a new one in Syria to take folk's minds off Obamacare screwup?)

Service men and women are heroes and put themselves in harm's way.

Yes, but how the Hell would he know? (He is a Jody.)


Paraphrase: Goddam guns screwing up my legacy.


Boring. Obamacare ushers in millennium. But everybody help everybody else sign up. If site works.


Help old farts  with "My RA."

Mad Avenue language is in celestial ascendency.

(Privatize Social Security. What acompelling notion. Only with government subsidized interest.)


"Raise minimum wage to $10.10 because it's easy to remember."

Sweet suffering Jesus.


"No one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty."

Even if the sire and dam don't know what causes babies until they achieve a count of 13?"


Women deserve equal pay for equal work.

No shit Sam Spade? What gave you your first clue?

(That premise was agreed to about two generations ago.)


Oh fer krissakes:

"We're still not reaching children and we're not reaching them in time."

Is inroductory logic not taught at Yale?


Editorial comment: Teevee shows even Michelle tired of riotous applause every third sentence.

Suggestion, Mr. President: Interrupt oratorical flow and say: "Oh, stop behaving like silly children. You can clap when I;m done."

Fat chance.



Good idea, IMO.


Global warming. He fixed a lot of it by reducing carbon in past 8 years, but must do more.

Save yo Confederate money boys; the Solyndra's gonna rise again!"


"MY authority to protect (lands)."

Knew he to that get quick.


Usual adoration of "bipartisan." Sort of like it is one of the Bill of Rights.

(Means "Do it my way.")


"Son of a bar keep is speaker of the house."

And Boehner takes the bait, rises, grins, gives the C in C a sloppy salute.


"Income inequality."

Right up front, quickly giving lie to White House pre-spinners that you wouldn't emphasize it.

Also, Michelle fixes schools. (Thank you, ma'am.)


"Create new jobs, not create new crises."

The phrase you're trying to remember, Sir,  is "false dichotomy."


Slices of drama in real life. Farmer did this. Auto worker did that. Doctor "gave" a mom first asthma prescription for her kid that "she could afford." (Translation. Gee, I'm wonderful.)

So much for handlers pre-speech assurance he wouldn't stoop to populist demagoguery this time.


Two more down front, real Power Smacks; Sotomeyer and Kagan.

Buy Lavoris. It works.


Six kisses so far, and He is barely a third of the way to the well.


You can almost smell the after-shave and Lavoris. They're all grinning and hugging and slapping backs. It is a celebration of power, the unspoken exhilaration that comes from being able to tell other smaller people what to do.

Good Night, Irene

It's declasse around here to say anything nice -- even one tiny word -- about "folk" music and its performers.

Sorry about that, guys, but anyone slapped down hard by J. Edgar Hoover and Nixon's HUAC had to have something going for him

RIP Pete Seeger.

Gabby and Gun

Dumping on Gabby Giffords is not a pleasant thing to do. So let's not.

But why should we cut breaks for  political ghouls using this mentally-diminished woman to gut America by disarming all citizens who did not wound her and kill six other people?

She will be on your teevee tonight, in paid commercials sandwiching Obama's annual paean to Obama. Her handlers would probably just as soon ignore Ms. Giffords one-time delight in center-massing a a nice-looking boy's image with her assault rifle.

Sure, he's pointing his own weapon at her, but maybe he meant merely to shoot the M16 (AR15?)  out of her hands. So she chould have just shot him in the leg.

Jan 27, 2014

Maybe that's why I can't get a raise

I have never been totally pleased with the way my mind works. I have just read that one of the Olympic security threats comes from Islamist thugs in Dagistan.

Which I instantly translated to Dagwoodistan. So made a big sandwich. And wondered how there could fail to be  Blondistan.

Jan 26, 2014

Get Ready for HIllary

Or, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!"


Political operatives have a running Q and A gag: "How far is it to Iowa?"  The answer is ""(xxx) days." meaning the time left until the Iowa caucuses.

For one more presidential election cycle, we Hawkeyes will choose a president for the rest of you. More accurately, we will narrow your choices. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this because of our exceedingly virtuous character and the depth of our wisdom.

Last time around I blogged the damned circus for more than a year under a separate label (Iowa Caucuses 2012) and did my best to keep that part of the TMR objective.  Mostly objective, anyway.

Because some actual working pros in the journalism and political consulting rackets  said they found it useful, I guess I'll try to do it again.

I'll change the format slightly. I made up the last one as I went along, and while it told the story, it was slightly awkward, for me and for the folks who used it. Basically it will be a list, a quick reference -- the dude's name, age,  party, residence, date became a candidate, date dropped out and so forth.

I try to include everyone, from the most serious contenders right down to the 47 guys in big shoes who pile out of a Volkswagen in the center ring.


So why am I telling you now? What  difference does it make??!!  Hillary made me do it. She's here. The overture is playing.

Those Madcap Swedes; Uffdah! Greased Lightning

This is at least half funny. There's even a Jeff Cooper bonus, several Rule 2 and 3 violations. Under the circumstance, I think we can forgive them.

If you see something, say something

I fear I am a bad citizen. A man up the lake committed a crime which I have failed to report.

In clear violation of the Smugleye-On-Lake Zoning Code,  without seeking official sanction, he maliciously slew, dismembered, and burned a tree whose greatest diameter was greater than six inches.  (My eyeball estimate was about 6 1/4 inches, maybe even 6 5/16.)

The removal of trees, six inches (6”) or larger in diameter, may not be removed within thirty-five feet (35’) of the ordinary high water mark unless such tree is dead, diseased, or has significant storm damage. Such removal shall not be accomplished until application for a tree removal permit is filed with the city and approved by the Zoning Administrator and the Chairman of the Board of Adjustment. If either officer fails to approve the application, the application is denied. An application may appeal to the Board of Adjustment from the denial of a tree removal permit. There is a fee for a tree removal permit. Removal of trees six inches or larger, for visual reasons, is not allowed. Absent special and unusual circumstances, the approval of a tree removal permit shall include a condition requiring the planting and maintenance of a replacement tree.

The culprit confessed to me and arrogantly pointed out the grisly stump. His excuse was laughable; it was (a) ugly, and (b)  barred access to his dock. It was also a stunted Chinese elm, and if you ask me that makes him guilty of a racially motivated hate crime, too. Nevertheless I could not summon the will to call 911.


Ere he shall lose an eye for such a trifle... For doing deeds of nature! I'm ashamed. The law is such an ass.   George Chapman, England,1654, Revenge for Honour:

Jan 25, 2014

Mid-Winter Symphony; Minor Chords

1. The disasters continue.  The 15-year-old Sunbeam quit this morning. An emergency trip to WalMart for replacement. Naah. ...  Head for Starbucks? Likewise,  and besides, there isn't one in a hundred miles (another good reason to live here) . ...  Go without coffee? Unthinkable. ... Dump a handful of grounds in a two-quart pan and let 'er boil? Bingo.

 2. Someone is stealing firewood in New Hampshire.  (Live Cold or Steal). A propane dealer in Nebraska is advising customers to burn wood. My Senator Grassley has written a courageous letter to the FTC, requesting public servants there to be on watch for propane price-gouging and other immoralities.

3. The Great of Room of the quarters here at Camp Jiggleview, of which In am Commandant,  is 76 degrees courtesy of a slow  oaken fire, boiling Folgers, and a little watery January sunshine beaming in through the big south window.

4. Today and early tomorrow won't be too bad, then comes a howling three-day-dirge -- the highest temperature to be zero  and the low 19 below. Winds will turn a small Kia into a viable box kite.

5.  During the coming week the average daily high advances one more degree, to 27, and the average low from 7 to 8. For the remainder of my mortal days I shall  defecate on statistics.

Jan 24, 2014

The Renaissance Libertarian Shivers

It is a little chillier than I like here in the Commandant's Quarters this morning, too cold for comfortable showering.

That happens from time to time in wicked cold weather when I don't take proper care of my wood burner. It runs far less efficiently when it wants its ashes hauled, and that chore is overdue.

The ordinary solution is technology.  A lazy twist of the propane dial quickly brings things up to a toasty 77 or so. That's exactly what occurred about 5 a.m., despite yesterday's news that propane had spiked to a painful $3 per gallon. Making my regular morning news scan about 5:05 a.m, I learned that the going price is suddenly  $5. I madly twisted the dial the other way, killing the main flame and the pilot.

I turned on some electricity  (expensive, but cheaper than propane at the going Adam Smith-determined price),  stirred the coals, and put on a hat. As I type, the mercury is 70 and rising. Propane sellers weep.

I've modified the daily tactical plan. First light will find a clean firebox and a  hearth full of special emergency high-output cellulose -- thinner splits of oak and even a piece or two of old cedar fence post. Take that propane hustlers.

An hour later the Command Thermodynamic Production and  Control Center will be ready for normal fueling with big billets of hard wood. I shal then resume the grace of normal life, a breakfast of organic,  free-range eggs shirred with hummingbird tongues and Benedictine in preparation for rigorous fencing practice to a background of Vivaldi.

So it's no real problem, just a flurry of inconvenience. That's offset by a timely object lesson in the extreme ludditarian and free-market positions I've been ranting about lately.

(a) The cure for $5 propane is $5 propane. The more people who turn off the valve, the quicker the cure works. (b) Implementing (a) requires an alternative. In this case it is wood and, to a small extent, grid watts. Beyond that, there is the Knipco heater. Further yet (power failure?) the old Kerosun still works and doesn't need electricity.

So I'm several steps away from spending my days in bed, huddled under a blanket, whining about the evil forces of capitalism making me miserable, dreaming of going on network teevee, telling the world of my misery which, of course, ain't my fault no how.


Footnote 1: If I did decide to tell it to the cameras, I could blame Obama. Or Goldwater. But I suppose Bush would get me the most nods of statist agreement, and a guy can't go wrong reaching for a high Neilson rating.

Footnote 2:  I hope I'm not alarming my family. If worse comes to worst, there's enough gas in the tank to make it to mid-March, at least, when the sun shines warmer and the Invisible Hand tells the propane industry: too much. That gas was sold to me some 13 months ago at c.$1.25 per gallon.

Footnote 3: Betcha my state and local regulators secretly love it. A 300-gallon propane fill at $5 would render unto them $105 in sales tax. Do that enough times and you can build all sorts of neat new bicycle trails and sincere people to adminster them.

Jan 22, 2014

The Renaissance Man Knows

Just teasing -- getting ready for one or more really tiresome  screeds.

With a free math application (newspeak "app" -- oldspeak: "program")  on every magic telephone, why would a guy burden himself by memorizing multiplication tables?

And with advanced technology like this:

Why the heck should anyone bother with learning to tie a tautline hitch?

Security code: Unit of Self-Sufficiency

Got change for a nickel?

It has occurred to our masters that one coin of the realm still carries intrinsic value, the nickel, of course.

A five-cent piece is still worth almost five cents. At 75 per cent copper and the rest nickel,  it is a slug of highly-desirable metal which is worth something all by itself, no matter what Janet Yellen decrees next month when she takes over from Ben as the official decree-er of value.

Can't have that. Mommiedotguv is trying to figure out a way to debase it without irritating the nickelodeon industry too much.

Some preppers have been tucking away nickels for years, just as other skeptics squirrel away the pre-1982 pennies (the poor man's Krugerrand)  from their pocket change. Any bets on who gets the last laugh?

Care to be my neighbor?

Pretty nice digs just up the lake. For 15 million bucks you can move right in, and I'll do my damndest to make you feel welcome.

It's called "Peace Harbor," a little twee, but you can change it after your check clears.

The seller is Tom Bedell who was fortunate smart enough to be born to former Congressman Berkeley Bedell who, prior to serving his nation in Washington, pulled off a classic American Horatio Alger act. Berk started tying flies in his bedroom, and years later owned one of the largest fishing tackle companies in the world.

You'll be an easy half-hour paddle from me for those long afternoons when you're bored with your 16 bedrooms, nine baths, and full-size Irish pub (in the basement, I think). You can beach your canoe near my rear door step and give me a hand with the firewood.

Jan 20, 2014

Negroes and guns.

Rational gun people routinely argue that gun control mania is often a tool for   -- and result of -- racial bigotry. Lately we're getting more help from academia.

From a review of  Nicholas Johnson's Negroes and  the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms:

Race has always been part of the unspoken motive for gun control in the United States. Johnson provides the best, most thorough history of the topic, telling the story mainly from the perspective and voices of blacks themselves. Shattering the myth of black passivity in the face of violent racism, the book is full of inspiring stories of genuine American heroes—some of them famous and many who were not—who used their Second Amendment rights to defend the civil rights of their people. Never shying away from the hardest questions, Johnson addresses the moral and practical complexities of armed self-defense, past and present. A major contribution to cultural studies and to the history of race in America.”

—David B. Kopel, research director, Independence Institute, Denver, Colorado

Miss Mossberg of 1948...

(...or so)

Hardly anyone sets out to collect Mossberg .22 rifles. Among firearms aesthetes it's declasse, like acquiring a hoard of museum quality Vegomatics.

I think that's a shame, though I concede that Winchester, Remington, and Browning made prettier rifles for the 1930-1950s mid-price market, good shooters, light and with finer "feel" and more graceful lines than the slightly cheaper Mossies.

O.F. Mossberg and Sons hardly ever played the anorexria game. Steel was cheap, and what are a few  more ounces in a tool designed to contain explosions and deliver energy precisely and consistently?  So some of them could look a bit clunky, like the 144ls or the 151.

I have a near-ugly 151* on the rack, seldom cleaned and never treated to spa day. It sometimes goes afield when the population of dirt clods gets out of hand. It kills them quickly and reliably, hardly ever bitching about the kind of ammunition it is fed.

Trading off the 144 ls was one of my all-time great errors. In the 70s I was mildly interested in four-position, 50-foot bullseye shooting, and it yielded nothing to Winchester 52 shooters (although I often did).

The other one I love is the fake Tommy Gun. I've mentioned I picked up a nice one recently to replace another I gave to a nephew. She's been my companion on the two marginally decent plinking days of this evil January.

Mossberg 152. Not for sale. Or trade. Or gifting.

I may even waste time rooting around in old gun magazine for paper copies of contemporary ads.

This one is from late in the 1948-57 production period.  The flipper became plastic about 1954.

Even in those calmer days you had to cut ad writers some slack. While the 152 was about the size and heft of the M1 Carbine, the forearm made it a Thompson to its target demographic -- imaginative 12-year-kids.

Minor geekery: The same flip-down marketing ploy was used on the bolt-action Model 142. The 152 came with a "peep" sight, the 152 K with opens.  The scoped option never sold well.  Most retail prices were a  few pennies under $30. Factory magazines held seven rounds, and they are now hard to find. Triple K aftermarkets hold 10 and cost $42 with shipping. Mine required tinkering with a file to even seat, then a little more to feed -- which is still does only about two-thirds of the time. After that dreary drill I ran across an OEM.


*The 151 and some others reflect a period in O.F.'s history when it had a serious love affair with Mannlicher stocks and Monte Carlo cheek pieces.  If you like retro-Kraut look, fine. If not you wonder, "what the hell? It's a ,22."

Jan 19, 2014

Other recreations

The MB Heretic; 30'6" loa; 29' lwl; built by Marinette in 1963; welded aluminum; powered by a monster V8  through a Velvet Drive straight-through transmission. Call  it a big boat or a small yacht, what ever you like. Delphine (RIP) and I had raised our kids and usually thought of it as an extended-stay,  second-honeymoon, abode.

As Water Rat said: ""Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Up and down the Mississippi from the St. Croix River southward to the Keokuk lock for five or six nice years.

Jan 18, 2014

A warmup; anarchy; a little light porn for desert rats

Assemble the trumpet chorus of tall vestals in flowing white gowns.  We need to rehearse for the big day tomorrow.

At the coordinates of Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant,  winter is being put to rout. Statistically anyway. On January 19, the average daily high advances. From 25 to 26. Ta da.

As soon as the girls are in good tune, if will come time to unpack my spring fashion ensemble, even to the Speedo in anarchy black.


Anarchy could be a lot of fun, and I have a soft spot in my heart for anarchists, even somewhat dreamy ones like John Zerzan. The internet persona he projects is one of a nice, very thoughtful,  guy who dead centers some of our post-modernist (what the Hell does that mean? dunno.)  ills.

He's part of the anarcho-primitivist school, yearning for a return to the hunter-gatherer system of economics.That makes him a romanticist Luddite, just like me when my reality connections are a little corroded. In some of my nicer fantasies I battle the sabre-tooth tiger approaching my woman in our cave.  She looks a lot like Kim Novak. I always win.

Philosophically, the dream breaks down the next morning when my clan huddles to plan the death of a nice, juicy, mammoth. Quite naturally, I am the leader -- in 20th Century terms the Minister of Plenty. There goes the egalitarianism that Zerzanites like so much.

There are probably some serious Zerzan students among the readers. I've been only vaguely aware of him and his work, but something  triggered a net wander this morning. I think I'll read more of his stuff. He seems too smart to have fallen completely for the serene glamour of the noble savage, and he makes a decent point or two about the dehumanizing effect of this and that in the digital age.


Also before I hie myself off to work, I need to pacify my buddy John of the GMA, a commendable man but also a dude always grumping about the aesthetics of my WWCO selections -- most recently Twiggy of London. He wonders why I didn't choose Whatzername. I'll tell you why, Pardner. Because my apology to Bernanke had substance enough only for an A-Cup.  Anything larger would have been a waste of good silk and wire.

But since you insist:


Jan 17, 2014

Skinny Amends

I keep putting off a moral obligation: apologizing to Ben Bernanke. The tanked United States economy is not totally his fault. He's a tool, a dupe if you will, like some guy who tugs his forelock and says yassah Master when ordered to modify gravity.

The job of the Fed boss for a century has been to palpate the money supply to promote (a) full employment and (b) stable prices.

Ben, like every other Federal Reserve chairman, is too smart to believe that a doable proposition. But, also like his predecessors, he's perfectly willing to play the game in order to be one of the most powerful men in the world, a status which gets a guy invited to all the best parties with super models and single malt. I'd be tempted myself. So consider this a hemi-semi-demi apology, really tiny.

One trouble is that Ben is personally likable and seems so sincere, even when being more than a little dissimulative. For instance:

Last month, hard money hawks (so to speak) finally persuaded him to reduce the  Kwee 3 production of thin-air money a bit -- from $85 billion a month to $75 billion.

He took a deep breath and pronounced that good, but before he could exhale, his inner Keynes leaped forth.

"But don't worry Mr. President and all you vote-buying thugs in Congress. We're still going to be easy, perhaps even easier. So go cheerfully about your business.  Spend away.  Bike trails and ag subsidies and roads to no where;  idiotic billions to political buddies with a solar dream: farting around in the Third World pretending that we know how to build other nations; creating regulations costing ten bucks to administer for every 37 cents in benefits, if that much. Whatever will make the unwashed voter love you." 

(How? HIs Fed promises to keep fiat money gushing by some level of Kweeing, plus interest rates effectively zero for a long, long time -- probably through the first Chelsea administration, at least.)

Would it help if more of us became a little more focused  on Econ 101 as presented by someone other than Paul Samuelson?

Price stability depends on many things, but above all on money stability; that is,  a person should have reasonable confidence that the five-dollar bill in his pocket today will also buy a pound of bacon next year. Lacking that belief, he'll go immediately to Starbucks and piss it away while studying food stamp eligibility rules on his G4 phone.

Full employment depends on a population making, buying, and selling things. Their ability to do so depends in large part on greedy capitalists who somehow get some money and gamble it on factories, drug stores, farms, distilleries, and gas stations. Every man and woman in the mix must have an ordinarily decent character and diligence -- plus an expectation that his wages and profits as measured in money will hold their value, or nearly so.

Excessive taxes discourage that sort of diligence and willingness to take risks, but  currency inflation can make confiscatory taxes seem like a comparative angel kiss.

Ben won't publicly address basics like that, but, as I say, the perks of being a perceived Midas are compelling, so on a strictly personal level, I understand, Sir. Therefore I formally offer my apology for five years of verbally abusing you, an apology heart felt but so wee and flat as to be almost imperceptible.

Jan 15, 2014

Wet your kangaroo down, Sport.

Mad dogs and Englishmen founded Australia and  taught it everything it knows. So the Melbourne Aussies  (probably with great enthusiasm from their tourist bureau) decided to have a big tennis tournament in January, the depth of summer down there.

Givens: Tennis is a hot sport. Melbourne is a hot town in January -- about the same equatorial displacement as St. Louis. People who schedule made-for-teevee tennis extravaganzas should understand those things. So should  the players and spectators.

And, to get to the point,  you would expect the same from world famous reporting heads in the electric teevee news industry. You would be disappointed.  They are so agog with Melbourne weather that they're making it about the second or third lede on their programs about all the vital news this morning.

If it weren't for Justin Bieber getting busted for throwing eggs, Melbourne would be first or second on the lineup.

Jan 14, 2014

Out Out, Damned Nips

Nothing good can come of this. Our brothers of the Rising Sun buying Jim Beam? If I know those guys, and I think I do, they won't even sugar coat this barbaric act of imperialism with a decent geisha house in Clermont, Kentucky.

Please don't think me racist, at least not in this case. After all, I did not protest the Jap purchase of Pebble Beach 24 years ago. What's a goddam golf course between allies, anyway? (I was, however, vaguely pleased when Clint Eastwood bought it back for us.)

But Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey -- American since 1795 --  under the thumb of the guys who make Suntory whiskey, a liquid some people actually drink but which achieves its highest and best purpose as a surface cleaner and disinfectant? Sacrilege. Un-American. Yet another reason to rise up in revolt against the Obama foreign trade policy. Gives me a pain in the sakirilliac.

We can't overpraise Jim Beam, here. It's a justifiable few cents a shot cheaper than Jack  and Turkey and Makers but still a pleasant-enough flavoring for Coke, RC, and Dr. Pepper.  And it's American. Middle American. Blue collar tattoo Levis and Harley American. To arms! God knows what will happen to it when Osaka gets around to experimenting with additives of rice squeezings.

We must stop selling them scrap metal and embargo all shipments of...

Oh Hell. Shut up, Jim. You're too late. The deal is done. It all  Akadamac now.

Jan 13, 2014

Flash. President to Sue Weight Watchers

The get-skinny company is out with an arresting teevee commercial. An aww-too-cute little girl skips about, chanting that when she grows up she just wants to "float around in her pink bubble"  and wave her "magic wand to make rainbows fall from the skies." 

A narrator intones, "...remember when anything was possible? ... it still is."

Obama is furious and has directed Eric Holder to sue Weight Watchers for violating the copyright on his 2008 campaign message.

Jan 12, 2014

Love your bean counters

They run around in nice suits and polished shoes, but it is rewarding to think of them as  noble Transylvanian peasants. They tolerate a certain degree of evil, but when blood suckers cross the line, it is torches and pitch forks in the night.

I refer to auditors, and I all but worship them. You see, they try to keep the vampires in check and preserve that portion of my life blood not legally available for theft by the politicians and their familiars in the bureaucracy.

The latest instance from these parts has some officials down in southeast Iowa scurrying to come up with proposals for prison reform -- nice buffet meals, thick mattresses, etc. They might actually get it done, being as they are employees of the Department of Corrections, our state jailer.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman has ferreted out close to $800,000 in "improper expenditures " in one of those godawful "public-private partnerships." The actual bite is higher because some documents went missing before Mary's militia knocked on the door. How much higher we don't know, but I always apply a rule of thumb:  Double reported theft to approach the actual total.

The honey dipping apparently began when some mid-level DOC nabobs decided to create, or foster, a not-for-profit 501c3  to help it administer its community corrections programs. My God how the money rolled in, from the state, the feds, and other sources. The state guys and their private-sector pals set up a cozy  interlocking directorate and started an energetic game of catch. Bundles of money flew around the offices, no one worrying overmuch about who had the surest fielder's glove.

Sure enough, after about four years their budget started showing unexplained shortfalls. They could hide them for a while (Toss the money faster, Homer!) and succeeded in getting a c. $600,000 special appropriation from the legislature. That raised some eyebrows. Then, get this, one of the local boss men quickly went back to Des Moines for another $800,000.  (Once I heard of a guy who left his driver's license on the counter of a Stop 'n' Rob that he stopped and robbed.)

To much even for Des Moines, the highest levels called Mary and said sic 'em.

Having sicced, Mary was good enough to turn the file  (pdf)  over to the attorney general's office.  It would be nice if he does his job as well as she seems to do hers.

In fact, if I ever run across her, I think I'll give her a nice hug if she'll let me.


Jan 10, 2014

My Lazarus experience

It isn't fraught with spirituality or human drama. It is downright bestial in fact.

     The polar vortex exhausted my supply of ready firewood behind the burner. A warm and cuddly 30-degree day moved me to replenish from a ragged pile of cottonwood and oak out back, frozen through for  months. The chore almost done, I placed one billet on top of the burner to dry the surface moisture.

      A few minutes later I happened to glance at it, and my wondering eyes spied a happy little black bug. I named him Lazarus. Then I squished him.

      It's too early for bugs in the house.

Jan 7, 2014

Clear overkill

No more back packs at St. Johns. They are the terrorist book bag of choice, also favored by kids who require a clandestine comic book against the chance of an especially boring geography lecture.

Seems to me school bosses are stopping too far short of absolute security. Why not transparent pockets in the kiddies' jeans and pinafores? And mandatory Lucite wallets, particularly useful in nabbing randy (and probably futiley hopeful)  sixth-graders who carry a pack of those elastic things you get at the drug store.

An old-time school prank was floating a firecracker in a toilet bowl and lighting it off. Guys who got caught earned a paddle session and maybe a three-day suspension, but no one thought it a great reason to make Flossie Fine, the curve-breaking hall monitor, carry a see-through purse.

What happened at St. John's, you wonder? Nothing, actually, unless you quake at a couple of notes found in a rest room.

H/T Tam

Bunny Porn, Gun Porn

Yesterday was a savage bitch. In a fit of compassion at minus-17,  I fed Peter Rabbit a little of New Dog Libby's chow. The ingrate still refused to pose while I was outside. So this. The window was clean for a change, but double pane glass still fools the focusing fairies in my 3-volt cockroach.

Today, at last dark of morning, I awoke to rising temperatures, all the way up to three below.  Time to celebrate with Savage pleasure and with gratitude to that fine company for its findy sickle answer to Winchester levers -- especially the 1895.

She's been hanging on pegs since joining the family a few weeks ago, casually wiped down a time or two but still begrimed of long storage.  (Well-oiled storage, however; thank you, Mr. Previous Owner.)  Since there was nothing good on the internet, I decided to run her through my exterior detail shop.

Takedown was limited to pulling the Weaver K2, Redfield mount, and forearm. A little elbow grease with fine steel wool and brass brush left her shiny everywhere I could reach. The stock got a facial with Johnson paste wax, still my favorite cosmetic for oil-finished walnut.

She's from the 1950s in .300 Savage.

My never-sell-a-gun pledge remains in force, but I suppose I'll carry her to my next loophole table to explore trading opportunities. She ought to be even-up for a not-too-bad Garand or M1 Carbine. Maybe even a snazzy AR15 clone with a Pickiepickie rail, but I'd turn that offer down. I respect others' rights to own plastic, but, personally, I have my pride.

Jan 6, 2014

Poor Rahm

Hizzoner Emmanuel may appeal, but if he doesn't -- or if he tangles with appellate judges who have read the Constitution -- citizens will be able to purchase a gun in Chicago.

Well done, Judge Chang.  Well said, too.

"...a fundamental duty of government is to protect its citizens. However ... it's also obligated to protect fundamental rights named in the Constitution, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

There's a happy little side note here. His Ineptness appointed  Judge Chang to the bench at a time when Duh Mare was still Obama's chief of staff and thus in tactical charge of advancing all Obama dreams.

I like schadenfreude so much that I'm hoping Rahm tosses and turns all night, yammering "wudda, cudda, shudda." The president, too.


Tit for Tat

President Obama got off the airplane without his spouse and faces a few lonely nights in a bachelor bed. Who knows if it is the First Lady's residual rage over his Mandela-funeral selfie with

If it is, an opportunity exists for those of us who love symmetrical justice. All it takes is an alert news photographer on hand when Michelle, on the loose in Hawaii, shoots a selfie with, for instance,

Do it Michelle. We don't care if he does throw one of his inept tantrums. At least your subjects will get a grin in return for the added cost of your few happy days on "separate vacation."

That should be the end of this post, but my fingers have been taken over by an evil muse of history who wonders if FDR personally footed the bill for Lucy Mercer's room just down the hall in Hot Springs. Probably not.

Jan 5, 2014

Applied science

My high-speed internet has become low-speed internet. Fortunately I understand and can explain the process. As temperatures approach absolute zero on the Gore/Kelvin scale, internet molecules slow way down and lose interest in feeling one another up.

Jan 4, 2014

You CAN TOO plan for everything

It's just that you may miss a spot or two.

Firewood: check. Propane for backup: check.  Electric heaters near vulnerable plumbing points: check. Neat piles of super-cold-emergency clothing and bedding: check.

Some other things too, because I'm not anxious for a Sam McGee outcome of  this outbreak.


...And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; 
    And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and said: "Please close that door. 
    It's fine in here, but I greatly fear, you'll let in the cold and storm — 
    Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."*


Not to over-dramatize, but people die when consecutive daytime highs peak at a windy 15 or 20 below. Poor planners suffer disproportionately to better ones, and I hope I'm in the latter group, especially since the Commandant's residence here at Camp Jiggleview is, at heart, a summer cabin. Years of rebuilding, insulating, window upgading and so forth have made her snug, but she doesn't often face a challenge like this. 

'course, I could be missing an opportunity for another 15 minutes. Maybe I should just find a shelter,  kick back, wait for the television truck to come around, and tell the camera that the government didn't even offer me no help no how.


*Robert Service, of course. "The Cremation of Sam McGee."

Jan 3, 2014

What gun for cougar?

Our informant is utterly reliable. It's a cougar on my friends'  old family farm southwest of here, not too far from the pretty little Maple River and on the fringe of the semi-wild Loess Hills.

The cat report his morning touched off a small Facebook gigglefest about a trick one of the guys played on my No. 2 grandson a few years ago on the hunt where he came of age. He had just been promoted to armed hunter from his previous condition of servitude -- barehanded, bipedal, auxillary bird dog. The party was walking a wooded draw on the farm when the wag warned him, "Watch out for the cougars." -- sending the lad into a full tactical crouch for the second it took him to realize the chain jerk.

The boy, now man, is, of course, being reminded today that as an experienced lion  hunter, it is his job to venture forth and slay the beast. The old people are advising him on weaponry. The female (who, sigh, routinely outshoots all of us) suggested a mag tube extension for his shotgun. I countered that he had a new .30-06. It's only a matter of time before he's told that nothing less than .50BMG will do.


I've seen only a couple of cougars (far west of here a long time ago)  and never encountered one up close. So I know Jack Schidtt about it. From my reading, though, I don't think the gun bore makes much difference. Br'er Puma apparently likes to jump you from above and behind. He shakes you by the neck a few times, snaps off an appetizer, takes a minute to pee on the gun you never got into play, and hauls you off to a nice picnic spot.


Cougar sightings are becoming almost, but not quite, routine here. They're rare enough to be interesting. They're common enough to make a guy smile when he thinks of the Iowa DNR  experts who for years said there ain't no such critter round these parts; then that, if there were, they were just pets that grew up and got dumped. Or escaped from the circus.  It's only about now that the game cops are admitting that the big cat, like many wild things, can be highly adaptable. Unlike your basic game cop.

Jan 1, 2014

Happy New Year. (or) The Maelstrom Cometh. Again.

Ogden Nash told us about it:

Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it's midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!”