Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Purpose Driven Life

I was all gung-ho to embark on a spiritula journey of uplift and reflection. I'll have to reset. The first day of The Purpose Driven Life was something like It's not about me" I'm God's puppet or some such thing. Anyway, I was all ready. I was watching Reno 911 last night when a commercial came on for Larry the Cable Guy's newest "comedy" concert.

I once watched 45 minutes of Larry the Cable guy. One concert film I figured was a fluke. Two and a recently released movie displays to me a stunning absence of God in the universe. CS Lewis wrote that tragedies are God's way of calling us back to him. This tragedy of entertainment simply puts me off.

Not only does it make me question the existence of God, but also of taste, the crowds clappoing and laughing made me question democracy itself. I'm sure the Jihadis would never allow something like Larry the Cable guy to exist. Maybe there's something to them.

Stay You.
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Rudy Wins!

I'll lay down $10 bucks that the 2008 match up will be Gore v. Rudy - no points.

Gore because Obama is an overrated, underexperience guy and no one is going to nominate Hillary to lose in November. It ain't gonna happen after two bitter losses in '00 and '04. Plus, as much as it pains me. I feel for Gore having come so close - and others will also.

Over on NRO today, Ramesh Ponnuru says abortion should sink Rudy. I don't buy it. Why? My basic principles.

1. Stereotypes are useful.
2. People are greedy.
3. People don't care to end abortion.

Here's the stereotype: Republicans are greedy and racist. Is there truth in it? I think yes. Hey, stereotypes are useful.

A lot of rich people vote democratic because they can afford to. Most good middle class people want to vote democratic. The rhetoric of the dems and libs is better than conservatives. "Let's help people and make the world better" sounds nicer and is easier to say than going into some Burkean dissertation on the fundamental inherent virtue of conservative self-reliance, limited government, and protection of a societies long-established institutions.

But that doesn't matter because most of the middle class doesn't know Burke from bubcus. What they know is the Republicans will lower their taxes. They want their money. It isn't nice to say "Suck it. I want mine" (I know. I've said it - the bad feeling goes away after awhile). So how do you justify to yourself wanting to have low taxes all for yourself. Some Republican hearts are not inspired by and - I think - most Republican minds are not convinced by the economics of conservatism.

So they say they're against baby killing (Yeah, that's the ticket).

Rudy will deliver on lower taxes. And you can picture him dropping the bomb on Tehran. So will abortion doom him? No.

People don't care about abortion. It's cover for them to feel morally good about voting for lower taxes (and I think race plays into it also, but I don't want to lite that powderkeg now).

Here's what to ask someone who says they won't vote for Rudy because of his abortion position: Have you ever attended an abortion rally? How much have you given to a pro-life group? If it's murder, why not throw yourself in-front of the clinic's door and be the next John Brown at Harper's Ferry? Chances are on question 1 the answer is no. Chances are on question 2 that the amount given is less than their cable bill. The answer to question 3 will be who?

If people wanted abortion gone it would be gone. But...there's too many father's who don't want to pay for their teenager's baby, there's too many mothers who are just done raising babies, there's too many guys who don't want to be stuck with a kid (and can spare the $500), and there's too many women who just don't want or can't handle a kid.

Rudy Wins!

Stay You.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Purpose Driving Life - A Blogging Experiment

I'm feeling a bit down. I'm feeling a bit tired. It's hard to get inspired by anything. Maybe it's spiritual. Let's spend the next 40 days finding out.

While at church the other day I came across a free copy of The Purpose Driven Life. At least in suburban Ohio, this book is a hit. Overweight guys who play golf and fret about their 401(k) plans vote Republican and attend a mega church that asks little of them love this book.

Maybe there's something to it. I'll give it a try. The preface says I'm to read a chapter a day for the next 40 days. There's always a "Point to Ponder" at the end of each chapter. I'll ponder it here. Let's see if it changes my life right before your eyes.

My point to ponder?
If there were no God and everything was a result of random chance, there would be no purpose to your life. It all starts with God.
Ponderings tomorrow because today the answer to every question is SUCK IT! and that's probably not what they're looking for.

Today, first blushes. At first glance it seems like Viktor Frankl dressed in an televangelist powder blue suit. Is it Christianity as logotherapy? I don't know, but that's my first impression. It's been a few years since I've read Frankl - once in college and just about 3 years ago (didn't finish the second time, not sure if I understood the first). Maybe I'll check out Man's Search for Meaning tonight - it may serve as a good corollary.

I'm a little hesitant to reach a life changing book simply because my life is pretty good. Sure, it could be better, but I'm not wallowing in depredation. What if the book changes my life and the new life isn't so good. I'll have to tell the world to suck it.

Stay You.
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The Answer to Your Question is...Suck It!

The answer to all questions put to me today is "Suck it."

You need a report? Really, well suck it.
You need a phone call returned? Yeah, I'll get right on that...after you Suck it!
You want to know what I did with that thing? Suck it.
Want my opinion on that? Sure, I think you should suck it.

See how this works - suck it, suck it, suck it.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mickey Mouse Fascism

I took the day off yesterday. I was washing the dishes listening to the radio (Why does it feel weird to listen to the radio while at home? There's a TV - use it dabgumit!) when a string of commercials came on. They were:

Some group reminding us that the Ohio smoking ban - no smokes anywhere - is in effect and it's now a wonderful world.

Some group telling me with memorial day coming up that Kentucky State Police will be making sure I "Click it" or I'll get a "Tick - et".

There there was a radio station news announcement stating with the holiday weekend, there will be several DUI check points around town.

Then a final commercial, teaser for a local TV news station warning me to watch at 11 or else I won't know what at my kids school could harm them?

Maybe this happens during the day a lot. I don't know. I'm not home usually, but within the span of 2 minutes while I'm doing nothing but standing there in my shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops loading up my dishwasher - I was told what to do 3 different times...and the news media - that vigilant watchdog - is scaremongering soccer moms.

I was a little creeped out by it.

I've known this for a while. I'm never an alarmist, but this Mickey Mouse Fascism is easily going to get out of hand.

Stay You.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Kentucky Primary Eve

Who gives a great whoop? I don't. I'm usually a politically minded guy. But this is the first election I've not only sat out on but checked out on.

Our current governor Ernie Fletcher is said to be embattled. Well...aren't all politicians. He seems to have handled his embattlement not too well. How's he going to handle other things? I haven't been blown away like I should be by the first Republican Governer in 30 some odd years.

Billy Harper is a Paducah businessman. Being a "businessman" myself, I'm opposed to businessmen in politics. Nothing wrong with them, I just think they're bad politicians. First off, at some point, they always want to "run this place like a business". But it's not a business. It's a government - the ultimate not-for profit. Besides, running it like a business to them usually means running in the black which usually mens raising my taxes rather than lowering expenses.

Finally, businessmen make bad governors because it's a totally different beast. Only someone who has learned how politics works can really do any good or make any changes.

I don't want to vote for Anne Northrupp because one of her automatic calls came in at 10:30 one night. The campaign said it was a vendor glitch, but it still pissed me off.

Stay You.
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Writing Coming Up Short

I've been given a large portion of the business section to write for Cincinnati Gentlemen magazine. My charge was to write one long feature piece of 800-1000 words then three shorter pieces of 150-300 words (each varied).

In school, I use to hope for short assignments - book reports especially. I remember trying to stretch the word count - this was a very, very, very good book - type of thing. In college I discovered Hemingway and learned how to write. Direct sentences. Simple languarge. How to use rhythm. I got good at it.

The problem with my shorter Cincinnati Gentlemen pieces is that either I've got gassy or the topics I wrote on were just took large. The editors said it was the latter - but maybe they were just being nice (although people usually aren't just being nice to me, so maybe I should trust them.) I rewrote them. Doubled the length and they seemed to like them better.

But I'm thinking I've grown gassy.

I've always judged writers by their word economy. On re-write Gustave Flaubert used to treat extraneous words like offensive weeds in a garden to be torn out. Stephen King said aimed for his second drafts to be a third shorter than his first. Hemingway - my personal savior on word economy - once said (supposedly) the best best short story he ever wrote was six words long. It took the form of a newspaper ad:
For sale: baby shoes; never worn.
That's what I shot for in my writing.

Stay You.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another Reason This War Sucks: No War Brides

Another reason for soldiers to hate this war over others: ugly women.

Looking back at US wars since the 9-months of WWI, they've been in nice places with women that many men find attractive.

In WWI, it was France (oooo-la-la). In WWII, it was France (dark and hairy) again, but also Italians (dark and sultry) and Germans (that's for me). A lot of guys married English women they met waiting for D-Day. As far was women go, I don't think English chicks rate high on most guys desirable ethnicity meter, but I'm sure they could have bumped into some Irish lasses while on the isles sometime. At least English women have that accent that no matter how dumb they are makes them sound smart to American ears.

If a guy was sent to fight in the Pacific, he had his pick of Asian/Pacific islanders he could bump into (South Pacific).

As the fighting stopped and occupation began, this seems to have happened more. In heavily German Cincinnati, I know of three older women who came to the states after falling in love with a soldier.

If you're into Asian ladies, Korean women always had a refined quality. In my own limited experience, I've known of two Korean war brides. Too bad after 3 years of destroying their land we had to divide their country and consign half of it to hell.

Same could be said for Vietnamese ladies.

But are any soldiers fraternizing with Iraqi women? I haven't heard that story yet. I'm sure it's out there, but a combination of too much religion, a 30-year totalitarian regime and desert air doesn't make for runway models.

I don't think girls are back in the US worrying their boyfriends might fall in love with a busty burka'd babe like her grandmother worried about her beau falling for a pretty mademoiselle or fraulein.

That's one front of this war that really sucks for soldiers, Marines, and sailors alike.

Stay You.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

All Out War

I've been taking a break from politics because it seems like where in a silly season. Silly people saying silly things because they have a silly ambition to be the most powerful man on the planet.

The silliest being the dems thinking the war is lost and we need to pull out. I say let's do it. Let Bushy have six months to finish up his little adventuring, but everyone else has to shut the f up about it until the deadline is up. Day of the deadline, the last Marine should be lift from the embassy.

The US could win this war. Just slip loose the dogs of war. Right now they are leashed by everything from media monitoring, the Geneva convention, and our own safe at home ideas on how a war should be fought.

Let these guys be soldiers. Let them rain down destruction on anyone we even suspect of being against us.

The US firebombed Tokyo and Berlin. We nuked the hell out of two huge cities. We hit Dresden for no other reason than it looked to pretty at the end of a war and no one stateside gave a hot damn until Hitler was dead his army busted and his remaining peeps were running around South America trying to remember not to give the Roman Salute when served a banana daiquiri left a toughie from the Mosad was sitting next to him at the bar.

Let loose our little arsenal of democracy and let the survivors vote for a democratic government - just keep at least 3 alive so there's no tie vote and - horror - civil war. The only reason this thing is taking so long is because the US has tried to be decent, tried (endangering their own lives in the process) not to hurt civies or hard religious places. All out war implemented by the US would end this thing inside of a month...but I'm guessing that would be bad to.

Bush would be damned. Drum out of office by public opinion - a public who didn't have to worry about a nucular (on purpose) Iran, a terrorist funding Syria, or any trouble from any crackpot who'd been shared shatless by watching CNN because the business of war had been done.

Let's take up the deadline and give up our pretensions.

Stay You.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Left Side of the Bell Curve

More episodes in infantilization:
There's a large billboard on Queen City Ave in Cincinnati that tells me it's never good to shake a baby. Would this same billboard be acceptable in toney parts of town?

Anti-smoking commercials: Obnoxious teenage virgins harassing people about their smoking. Listen up jackass - get yourself a prospectless job, a loveless marriage, an endless mortgage, an unappreciative kids, then come bitch at me for my 5 minutes of pleasure with the Marlboro Man freezing my ass off because that b&%$h in the next cube would do that half hearted (ahh, ahh) cough if I lite up within 5 miles of her. I know it's killing me - the sooner the better. (OK, I don't smoke, but that would be my reaction.)

Ad campaigns that remind people - younins, usually, but not always - that unprotected sex leads to disease and - even worse - children. They know this. Tell them they'd bleed from the ears and they'd still want it. It's sex. Besides... A condom just don't feel right, baby. I don't want anything between us.

Which leads me to my topic for today: Dumb people.

Plot IQ scores on a x-axis and a the number of those people with those IQs on the Y. You'll get a nice clean normal distribution of intelligent. The famed Bell Curve of controversies past.

I think we need to remember that there are dumb people our there. This is hard to take in a society that strives for egalitarianism under "all people are created equal" but the fact is that half of use are below average on the brain-o-meter and the majority of that half are big lummoxes.

The worst policy the Bush administration pushed is No Child Left Behind. It assumes that kids that don't go to college are 'left behind'. No they're not. A lot of smart people just don't go to college (N.B. the converse is also true: a lot of dumb people teach college). But a lot of people on the left side of the curve are just not capable of higher or abstract thought.

This isn't meant to be cruel - it's just a fact. Pressuring them into going to college where they either fail or are passed along doesn't do anyone good - them or the people who actually have the IQ to be there.

Dumb people can do good jobs and worthwhile things, but let's not kid them or ourselves. And I'd rather them be doing those jobs than higher IQ illegal immigrants.

And don't give me any grief that everyone is smart in their own way. That kind of thinking needs to be left behind in about 5th grade. There's just some people who are just plain dumb.

And don't confuse station in life with intelligence either. IQ doesn't guarantee success. Neurosis, society, culture, and self-esteem all factor in, but give a kid with an above average IQ a decent home life and relatively benign neighborhood to grow up in and he'll do ok. The block head won't.

I go on this jag from a favorable review of Saturday Night Fever by John Derbyshire. He rightly claimed it was a movie respectfully about those that live on the left side of the curve. He claimed it was the last. Maybe. But My Name is Earl is a tv show - not so much about trashy people, but about dumb people and their lives. The fact that dumb people are often trashy is not unrelated, but the dumb came first.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Don't Want to Be Infantilized

Friday's WSJ had an article on Girls Gone Wild guy now facing jail time. Apparently some of his subjects weren't of age, but the piece made the larger point that event hose of age weren't of age - maturity wise. The WSJ piece says the young ladies just aren't old enough to consent.

At what age is a girl ready to make that decision, one that she will live with--technologically speaking, at least--for the rest of her life? A woman of 18 may be physically indistinguishable from one who is 21, but they are developmentally worlds apart.
This is just another example of our society infantilizing everyone...and I mean everyone. Look, I'm pretty sure most women - even with a few beers in them isn't going to drop their skirts and raise their tops for a camera crew. Attention hungry skanks are. One of them writes a compelling piece here (bad word warning). But most are not. But at 18, they're well past being absolved of responsibility.

I started getting ticklish about this after the Virginia tech shootings where pundits were talking about "protecting our children". Look, it's tragic but these aren't children. They're college age. If they weren't a little bright and had some cash, they'd be walking a factory floor and not be considered kids.

I may be reading more into this from my limited experience, but a 25 year living at home is still considered a 'kid' in some ways. No. He's a loser. get a job and get an apartment. Splitting a one bedroom with a drunken buddy sucks - but it's time to be on your own.

At a conference last week, I was warned about how states are now protecting seniors from bad financial advisors. Seems fair enough until I learned that a senior is defined as 55 and above.

I know what's happening. Your average 64 year old is cocky and wanting to take on the world until there's a market hiccup. Then all of a sudden they turn into Grampa Simpson reminiscing about about watching Charlie Lindbergh dancing with a flapper on top of a flagpole.

So you're not an adult until your mid-20's and not able to make sound judgments about your finances after 55. Incredible. We get to spend a lifetime as children.

Not me. Like Love Junk sang,
'Cause I'm an adult now
I'm an adult now
I've got the problems of an adult
On my head and on my shoulders
I'm an adult now
And have been since I was, what, 15 or so.

Stay You.
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Monday, May 07, 2007

Lileks Was Killed

Just another reason to give up on humanity.

I read Lileks' blog just about every day. The entire site can kill a week and you'll never be bored. The guy's got some writing chops. He can make a day doing nothing with his daughter interesting for godsakes. I've read running reviews of his of tv shows I never intend to watch - he's that good. He gets a billion hits a day. His blog is older than any others.. The BBC has been to his home to interview him about blogs.

He can write interesting stuff.

His home base is the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As most know, he's been demoted.
They've killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories. Really.
That's the junk I do. Nothing wrong with it. All work is noble. But in a world where it just isn't that hard to write for papers, Lileks stood out. Now he's gonna work a beat and report the facts. No color. No humor. No him.

It's a testament to the guy's skills that it really bummed me out that this was done to him. There really isn't any justice out there.

The corporate world is full of dumbasses.

Stay You.
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Friday, May 04, 2007

Smells Like Whole Lotta Love

When I want to irritate my wife while she's listening to Sting I mention that he's our generation's Neil Diamond. He's got enough of an edge to be acceptable by the youths but not so edgy as to drive the 30-somethings away. And that 30-something demographic - that fills larger venues at $100 a ticket is a sweet spot. The faux-"I'm really a jazz musician earning a rock star's paycheck" schtick he's got also helps with the ladies.

It's brilliant marketing.

But thinking of my own listening made me realize that my favorite Nirvana is becoming my generation's Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin is good but overplayed - at least in Cincinnati. At any one time at least one of three stations is GETTING THE LED OUT. I'm sick of them. We have a dirth of AAA radio here, but it's what I listen to - and there's a ton of Nirvana being played. Nirvana even makes it over to those other three stations. Nirvana/Zeppelin/Nirvana. You gotta love corporate radio.

So now I'm sick of Nirvana. They are off my iPod. But I'm sure they're going to be played for years on end and when The Divine Mrs. M and I go on our retirement cruise we're going to go down to the ship's bar to dance and we'll have to mosh to Heart Shaped Box.

I'll probably bust a hip.

Stay You.
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Thursday, May 03, 2007

My Book Project

There's an idea I have for a book. It's really good. It's historical fiction. I love it. It's been bouncing around in my head for a year or so. That means it must be good. I sat down a couple of times and cranked out 5,000 words or so. The Divine Mrs. M. read it and said go forth and write.

The only problem is - I don't know when. I hate myself for typing this, but "I don't have the time." Now I really hate myself. Every day I hear people whine that lament. It really bugs me. We all have the time. I just don't want to make time. For example: today I spent 25 minutes bouncing around my favorite blogs. I do this just about every day - usually in the morning and in during hold times.

I could write the great American novel then. I could do it during the 1-2 hours I watch tv a day. But if I don't do those things I get testy. I like the downtime. The only additional plus side of ripping out those chunks of laziness each day would be to concentrate on my boy band career. I could use that anger.

As some of you may know, I'm losing weight - not so much to get healthy but to qualify myself as a slender boy band member. I've decided to be the Scottish version of Justin, but instead of sexy I'm bringing back the surly. My stage name will be James Timberloch. I'll wear a kilt or at least a plaid shirt tied around my waist. I'll do a stomping dance yell obscenities at the crowd then retire to my dark dressing room in a depressive funk. I'll call it "the Family Reunion tour".

I think there's a market for this.

Or I could sit down for a hour a day and write that darned book.

Stay You.
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Purple Gang

I don't read fiction much, but while in Clearwater I read Whiskey River. Mr. Estlemen is that rare writer who can actually write. Very nice quality in a writer. It's a historical novel about the prohibition era in Detroit. I'm sitting by the pool on Sunday reading it and Mr. Estlemen calls the Jewish gang in the book is the Purple Gang.

What a stupid name, I thought. I'm disappointed in you Mr. Estlemen.

But something ticked away in my brain and about 5 minutes later while walking on the beach I realized. The Purple Gang! They were the whole rhythm section. Let's Rock!

So I wikipedia'd The Purple Gang and sure 'nuf it was a real gang. They were named The Purple Gang, according to Mr. Estlemen by a butcher who said they whole lot was rotten like purple meat.

This is the type of thing I learned while in Clearwater. Want me to manage your money?

Classic rock was on my mind because I did this article for our local alt-weekly City Beat. I'm not a big believer in dream interpretations, but I think I gave them a fair shake.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Flew in From Miami Beach

Clearwater Beach really. There on a conference. I don't enjoy conferences. Got through it though.

I'm tired. But when I got back all heaven broke loose. Several people had left messages asking if they could meet with me to be clients. There were e-mails. Opportunities. That's a welcome home I can appreciate.

Things are clicking with the businesses lately. Things seem to be coming easy. Now the challenge is to build on that. What I've got going isn't big - but it's mine. And I've built it my way. I'm proud of it. there's been no compromises with how I've built it. That feels good. If a couple other things break my way, life could suddenly become very good.

That's nice to think about.

I'm not sure what to attribute this to. Maybe the weight loss? Still hanging around 40 lbs. Maybe joining that new club - very positive people. Maybe it's rubbing off. Maybe it's the culmination of 7 years of work finally paying off. I'm not sure.

But this is no time to slack off - time to double down. Put the shoulder to it a little harder and see what happens....tomorrow. I'm tired now.

Didn't sleep well. I never sleep well without The Divine Mrs. M. nor in a strange bed. Tonight - I'll sleep like a snoring king.

Stay You.
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