samedi, novembre 15, 2008

Hillary encore

Relax and take a quick look at this nicely satirical piece by Gail Collins (link) -- one of the more serious questions she raises is: does Hillary have enough pantsuits to make a good Secretary of State?

vendredi, novembre 14, 2008


Last night Mr. C and I were on our way to the gym when "All Things Considered's" Melissa Block did her interview with the naked cyclist from Portland -- not Maine, that would be a little chilly.

Yes, I know some of you will stop reading right here. I considered changing radio stations, but there didn't seem to be anything too objectionable in the story. Colin was quiet, looking out the window.

This young man was arrested for cycling nude in his neighborhood at night. The judge dismissed the case.

In her soft voice, Melissa asked him what the families in the neighborhood might have thought, and whether perhaps he might have considered them before stripping and putting his feet in the stirrups. He didn't seem very open to that notion.

As they talked, it emerged that Portland has a yearly bicycle race -- look ma, no pants!
No shirt.

No umbrellas?

So, at the end, I said wryly to Mr. C -- Oh, these folks on the West Coast.

That's it, he said. I'm not going to Disney Land. I'll go to Disney World instead.

But they only cycle nude in Oregon, I said.

He wasn't going to see his Aunt Marilyn and visit one of the world's big amusement parks next summer because some folks in Oregon can't keep their pants on?

I'm not taking any chances, said Mr. C.

mercredi, novembre 12, 2008

The Romantic John Stossel

I have this theory.

I'm fairly sure I've inflicted it on you before...I think that everyone has to have faith in something. God, biology, aliens, socialism...or free market-capitalism.

Carl Sagan apparently had thought about life on other planets.

John Stossel gets all dreamy-eyed about the lost Eden of free market-capitalism.

Check out this quote from a Stossel piece on what horrors may be perpetrated when the government intervenes in the markets. (Linked from the website

"In a free society, with constitutionally limited government, the president would be a mere executive who sees to it that predictable and understandable laws are enforced. But sadly, the prestige and power of the presidency have grown, and liberty has contracted."

From the beginning of our Republic --well before the beginning -- kings and bishops and Popes and governors were intervening in the marketplace. Some of the most heated correspondence among the men who first governed this nation was about the extent of the power of the Federal government. In other words, there never was a time when government stepped out of the way and let the markets do their magic.

Stossel argues:

"But we cannot raise wages or create jobs or eliminate poverty by executive order. We can do so by freeing people to save and invest and accumulate capital. We can't make medical care universal and inexpensive by legislative fiat. But we can approach that goal by permitting a free market in medicine to work.

Government is force, not eloquence. And force is an attempt to defy economic logic. The consequences are often opposite of those intended. "A subsidy for medical insurance increases the demand for services and raises prices. A price ceiling makes those services less available. A floor under wages makes jobs for unskilled workers more scarce, as employers find it a losing proposition to hire them. A subsidy to production means too much produced relative to something else consumers want. A trade restriction lowers living standards at home and abroad," writes Sheldon Richman on the Foundation for Economic Education website. "

Some economists believe, as Stossel asserts, that "government is force" -- some think government can be a force for the common good.

Beyond certain immutable economic laws, we economists who interpret the same data differently.

Just like we have historians who intepret the facts from the lens of their own bias.

I don't have a solution. But I do want to challenge the idea that some of us are hard-headed realists and some of us fuzzy idealists -- instead, when it comes to crafting a perfect government, most of us aren't so great at wrestling with the messy reality. So we default to our prejudices -- which gives us a greater opportunity to blame the folks who happen to be trying to fix the mess at the time.

Do you believe the Depression was extended by Roosevelt or that he helped get this country going again?

Maybe neither, possibly both....maybe the truth is more complex than we often like to think it is. I guess we're going to find out -- again.

lundi, novembre 10, 2008

Graceful aging

The last post was a segue-way I am not coping with aging as gracefully as I would like to be.

Admittedly, I'm not 91 -- or 84, thank you very much. In the flattering pinkish, soft light of the highly expensive restaurant I don't frequent, I could probably pass for five or so years younger than I am. 78?

But over the past few months bouts with neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain due to some overuse injuries from weightlifting have convinced me that I am indeed fighting a losing battle against time, as are we all.

Yesterday, while preaching a kids sermon I felt a distinct creak in both knees when I got up from the steps to the choir section.

My physical therapist, a babe in the woods at 37, is advising me to run smart, not long.

Hopefully some of these symptoms will be alleviated with a more careful and reverent approach towards fitness. But I can't expect them all to disappear, as they did when I was younger.

So I'm hoping for acceptance of the inevitable -- and maybe someone to take me to one of those restaurants once in a while.

I'll even split the bill.