12/31/11

Good reads

Good reads, we think:

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

This is a Dallas Willard work. Dallas is a pretty good writer.

And:

The Things They Carried

"Taught everywhere—from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing—it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing."

I dunno about that "taught everywhere" thing ... it seems to be a Great Mystery in the Smile Hi and Holy Land and JUCO educational systems. In any case, it's their loss, for Tim O'Brien is surely one of America's great contemporary authors.

and

Dien Cai Dau (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

having read some of  Komunyakaa's other stuff, I'm really looking forward to this one, which has actually been around awhile now.

Happy New Year, one and all!

12/29/11

How the Vietnam war ended

We went in the front door of The Holy Land Quickee's, intent on scarfing up on a couple of convenience store crappacinos. We weren't on our bikes; there was too much ice on the roads. It was a brisk minus 8, but the sky was a nice blue, and it was clear.

DinkyDau Billy was sitting at his favorite table. He was wearing his new McKinley AFDB. There was an extra-large diet Dr. Pepper at his elbow, and a well-gnawed Juan Diego breakfast burrito beside the Dr. Pepper.

There was also a pair of Hanes briefs on the table in front of Billy. Dark blue ones.

"Billy! Why do you have underwear on the table where you're eating!?" Leece both exclaimed and questioned at the same time.

"Huh? Huh?" Billy seemed somewhat dazed.

"What's with the underwear, dude?" I asked, "Who puts underwear on the breakfast table?"

"Oh. Oh. Ummmm ... they's clean. Akshully, they's brand new," he told us.

"So what's the deal?" We both asked, in unison.

"I wuz thinkin' a the last time I visited The Wall," DinkyDau Billy mused, "an I was thinkin' a that first Chrismus I spent in The Smile Hi, and I was thinkin' a absent companions."

Billy was clearly in a funk, and it was over the war, which he sometimes does. The War. Yep. That one. The one they really don't even mention other than in passing, in the history classes over at The Princeton of the Plains, and certainly not in very many other schools, these days.

"So what's the deal?" We both asked, in unison, again.

"Lookit the label on them shorts," he urged us.

We did.

"Hecho in Vietnam?" Leece was somewhat incredulous.

"Yeah. Yeah. An the label's in Spanitch, like you sees there, and in Englitch, right under it."

And it was. Yep. "Hecho in Vietnam" on one line, and "Made in Vietnam" on the other.

"Huh. Huh." That was me, pulling a Billy. I was wondering if our Peace-loving Socialist Peoples of the Republic of Vietnam were making these undies in the same underground factories they used to use for making weapons and uniforms. Nothing like a bit of capitalistic entrepreneurialism to beat swords into plowshares. Or clothing factories.

"So are you OK?" Leece enquired, solicitously.

"Huh? Huh?" There was a lot of that going around this morning.

"Are you OK, Billy?" Billy could get into some serious depressive states when he got to thinking about the war.

"Oh. Yeah. Yeah. I done adapted to the fack that the war's over, and this here proof a that."

"How have you done that?" Leece asked. She was quite concerned. So was I.

"Check this," he said, while he discreetly pulled up his shirt, and lowered his trousers' beltline enough to expose a bit of his dainty underthings.

He was wearing bright red "Hecho in Vietnam" Hanes briefs. "I gots the red ones to show there ain't no hard feelins," he confided.

So I guess the war is officially over, and peace reigneth over the land.

We snuffled the rest of Billy's breakfast burrito, while contemplating The Whichness of What, and The Thisness of That.

Update 16 July 2013:

McDonalds to open in Vietnam

Woohoo! And who said the war was a waste? My only question is ... will they be dipping their fries in nuoc mam?

12/22/11

Keynesian economics in The Smile Hi City

We were sitting on the rail of the bridge over the Arkansas, north of The Holy Land. We were admiring the sun, sparkling off the snow and ice, and watching the ice floes drifting downstream. We were freezing our buns off.

"Hey! Hey!" exclaimed DinkyDau Billy, adjusting his new AFDB, "have ya heard about the new ekernomic inishatives?"

"Initiatives? Here?" asked TootSweet, in wondering wonderment.

"Yeah. Yeah. They's gonna bolster the tourism industry and give a local business a shot in the arm at the same time, usin' them tourist tax bux. Kinda like The Smile Hi City's own Recovery and Reinvestment Act!" Billy was quite excited. "It's a practical application of Keynesian thought to our own macroeconomic sitchyashun right here in our own backyards!"

"Before you tell us about that, why don't you tell us about your new AFDB?" Leece asked our stalwart, "I'm very impressed with the new design."

"Yeah. Yeah. Ain't it somethin'?" Billy was effusive in his enthusiasm. His new AFDB was in the shape of a finely crafted Stetson 1000x Diamante, and about as smoothly molded.

"It's the new McKinley model,"  he shared with us.

"Very nice," I said. We all nodded in agreement.

"Well, they's gonna use them lodgin' tax bux to fund newspaper subscriptions for all the hotels in town," Billy went on, "so's motel visitors kin check out all the stuff ta do here."

"They're using tax revenues to take out subscriptions to the local paper, for the local motels? Are you serious?"

"Well ... yeah. Beverly Babb done brung it up at the tourism board meetin', and they took it to council, and council voted fer it," Billy revealed, "since only one a them motels takes the paper now, they's thinkin' all them motel patrons is missin' the good stuff."

"Do you mean they are going to deliver a copy of the paper to everyone staying in the hotel, like they do with USA Today?" Leece seemed a bit baffled by it all.

"Naw. Naw. The paper's gots a special offerin', where you gits six months for 12 bux. They's gittin' each motel one a them six month specials," Billy clarified.

"Oh. So there is just one paper per day per motel? So what do they do? Check it out to patrons, like a library book?" Tookie was curious.

"Well, I dunno, maybe they's gonna pass it around at breakfast or somethin?" Billy was essentially clueless.

"When did they decide to do this?"

"At the last council meetin'. It's in the minnits," Billy explained.

"Well, at 12 bux for six months, it's about a dime a copy. Why not just invest a dime a day for every motel patron?"

"I think it's a great idea," Toots said, gushing enthusiasm, "but that's just an example of how they didn't go far enough outside the box. They should add a subscription for the Burlington Northern terminal, the one the Amtraks use, for the passengers there. You never know when a person might be moved to cash in all the chips and move here to the Smile Hi!!! Or maybe they could just put a stack of papers at the entrance way to the new pedestrian bridge?"

"Good thinking!" I agreed, "and they should also give subscriptions to all the restaurants, and the rest of the businesses downtown, because all of them have something to do with, like, you know, new customers and such like. They entice passers-through from the highway. And let's not forget the sale barns on this one."

"Or the golf course," added Leece, "because as we know, golfers driving through town like to stop at every little burg that has a golf course, and play it."

"You been reedin' the paper?" axed Billy, "cuz that's exactly what's goin' on, what with the golf association wantin' a new sign to be paid for out of tax revenues. Because they bring in a lot of tourism bidness, you see."

"I agree," agreed Tookie, who was in a very agreeable state of mind," and I agree that we should have a sign downtown for the Copper Kitchen, and the other restaurants, who bring in customers off the highway, who might otherwise drive through! This is a great way to spend those tax dollars!" She was excited.

"Yeah! Yeah! We can't fergit about the Copper Kitchen, which is world famous becuz a Alton Brown!" Billy joined in, "an people come to the Smile Hi City lookin' for the Alton Brown experience! They gotta have a sign for the Copper Kitchen!"

We all agreed that it was good to see that these tax revenues being put to imaginative use. There is nothing worse than tax money just sitting there, not being spent.

12/16/11

More educational junketry

CASB at the Broadmoor is another article about CASB's bash at the Broadmoor. I'm not sure if it's supporting the shindig, or giving it a mild backhand:

CASB staffers expect lower attendance this year, due to the economy and cuts in state school funding. Association spokesman Brad Stauffer estimates about 800 participants, down from last year’s 1,000. It’s a lovely setting but other education groups like pretty places too – the Colorado Association of School Executives favors Breckenridge and the Colorado Education Association scheduled its fall bargaining retreat at Copper Mountain.

Our school boards and our school administrators shore do like their resorts, don't they? Well ... some of them. Note that attendance is down an estimated 20%. Due to 'the economy and state school funding.'

Too bad Stauffer and the rest of 'em haven't gotten the message.

The only 'conference' that's a bigger waste of taxpayer money, while providing 'public servants' a free vacation at a hotshot resort, is the annual Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police bash. You have to have a password to get into that section of their website. However, they Facebooked it. It was held last June up in Estes Park.

I think we need a mill levy override for junkets, don't you? Perhaps CASB can add that to next years list of 'seminars.'

12/15/11

CASB's party at the Broadmoor

The Colorado Association of School Boards - CASB - has been taking some heat for a few years now over the fact that it holds its annual bash up at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

If you aren't familiar with the Broadmoor, it's one of the swankiest outfits in the state, if not the southwestern United States.

Back on December 3, 2009, the Aspen Times published this article:

Colorado school boards to meet at luxury hotel

from which we draw this excerpt:

Colorado school boards plan to hold their annual convention at the luxury Broadmoor hotel this weekend.

The three-day meeting comes as districts across the state are planning to cut millions of dollars from their budgets because of the recession.

But here's the best part:

The Colorado Association of School Boards said its conference will feature sessions and speakers that are designed to help boards deal with the times, including a session on budget cutting intended to reduce the impact on students.

Then in 2010, the now-defunct Face the State published a couple of articles about how school boards were dumping a pretty good chunk of change to hobnob with vendors and book salesmen and lobbyists and other such types, up there at the Broadmoor ... all while We the People were being told that school district budgets were in dire straits. Remember how programs were being cut? Teachers and other staff were being laid off? Fees We the People were paying for labs and athletics and other 'activities' were going up? Yep. All while the school boards were snuffling at the Broadmoor trough, being wined and dined by lobbyists, vendors, and other profit-seekers.

Here are our previous posts on this:

School Daze

High times at the Broadmoor

No right to speak which doesn't really have much to do with the CASB shindig, other than to illustrate the arrogance of school boards and CASB, as well as demonstrate why you aren't likely to get much out of your local board.

Total price for CASB's bash at the Broadmoor which included a link to a Face the State post, from which this excerpt is drawn:

The Colorado Association of School Boards turned a nice little profit on its annual convention at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs in December.

The four day bash cost the lobbying organization $307,247. Income from registration fees paid by school districts and commercial sponsorships netted $379,243, leaving CASB to pocket more than $71,000.

Of course, the school districts the organization represents — and which provide 60 percent of CASB’s operating budget through annual membership dues — earned nothing on the event. In fact, as Face the State reported in December, they paid twice for it: once with their dues and again through registration fees charged to school board members to attend it.

This year, the partying at the Broadmoor continues, despite concerns expressed by parents and even an admission by CASB that it looks bad for them to be hanging out at the Broadmoor. Ya think? While every time you turn on the telly you hear about how bad the economy is, and how school district budgets are even tighter.

Here is an article from the Greeley Gazette about this year's confabulation:

School district pays over $21,000 for dues, cost of attending convention

Yep. That's right. District 6 up in Greeley dropped over $21,000 for this CASB bash. Meanwhile, student organizations and parents are holding bake sales to raise money for their kids' educational 'incidentals'. You know ... lab fees, 'activity' fees, and so on.

And what are school board members doing up there at the Broadmoor? Attending some rather interesting little seminars:

"The four day convention uses a majority of the facilities and includes work sessions such as 'The Game has Changed: What will it take to pass a bond and mill levy override in 2012?' 'Changing the Constitution and other trivial matters' and 'Unstuck and Maximizing Diversity.'"

How to override the mill levy? Should that be titled "How to do an end run around the tax structure"? And that "How to change the Constitution"? In what way? Doing away with article 2 section 24 of the state constitution? And 'Unstuck and Maximizing Diversity". What does that mean? That we need more gay and lesbian and transgender studies in class? Perhaps "Muslim studies"? A course or two in Sharia law?

But wait! There's more!

Denver school board opens its therapy session to the public

An excerpt:

Attending the CASB convention at the deluxe Broadmoor is its own source of tension for the board.

Although members are offered reduced rates for rooms at the hotel, some have questioned whether it makes sense to attend conventions at a time when K-12 budgets are being cut statewide.

Denver, for example, will likely have to cut $25 million from its budget this year. Jefferson County is cutting $18 million to $20 million a year over the next three years.

The weekend conference features informational sessions, developmental workshops and speakers who are designed to help boards — including a session about cutting budgets, CASB spokesman Brad Stauffer said.

"We think there are some things they can learn here that can help them deal with the difficult times and help them govern their school districts in the way they can manage through these budget cuts so that is less impactful on students," Stauffer said.

Registration for the entire three-day convention is $330, which includes breakfasts and lunches. Lodging at the hotel for board members ranges from $150 to $238 per room. Board members staying the entire session can expect to pay up to $1,000 for registration, meals and lodging.

Yeah. Hey, next year, let's do that bake sale in the lobby of the Broadmoor. We can sell chocolate chip cookies to all those board members and vendors and lobbyists. Maybe even Hick will buy a few brownies!

Meanwhile ... we suggest a new motto for CASB: Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

Say ... I wonder how much our local school districts dropped on this little junket?

12/11/11

Signs and wonders; Pentecostals and science; Catholics and transubstantiation

Ummmm ... interesting statement from a colleague this past week:  

"In my view it would be easier to convince a Catholic that the elements of the Mass are not truly the body and blood of Jesus than to convince a Pentecostal of scientific issues contrary to their teaching."

Which statement brings this thought to mind:

First, it's elements of the Eucharist, not the Mass. Second, you mean they aren't? But seriously ... if Pentecostals are not even willing to accept that Catholics are really Christians, how can we expect Pentecostals to accept transubstantiation as one of those Signs and Wonders. You know, like faith healing. Words of Knowledge. Predictive prophecy. That sort of thing.

Just sayin'.

12/9/11

Meadows sold for $1.8 mill

 From this morning's Colorado Business Briefs:

Marcus &Millichap Real Estate Investment Services announced the sale of the 100-space Meadows Mobile Home Park in La Junta for $1.8 million. Neither the buyer or seller were identified.

12/7/11

Turkey hunting - California stye

Here's how they hunt wild turkeys in California:

County OK's youth turkey hunt - again

Some interesting excerpts:

Both proposals drew the ire of environmentalists and animal-rights activists. They took issue with children firing weapons on an open-space preserve as well as the impression it might give them that slaughter was preferable to nonviolent solutions.

"Children firing weapons." Can't have that on a turkey hunt for youth. Nope.

But here's the best one: "... that slaughter was preferable to non-violent solutions."

How can you have a non-violent 'solution' to a turkey dinner? No matter how you cut it, the turkey is going to find it violent. Unless ... maybe they want to give the turkeys lethal injections? Would that be considered a 'peaceful' end to the turkey? How would that sit with NCADP?

Pearl Harbor, and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"

Here is a great story about Pearl Harbor:

An old salt recalls wounds of Pearl Harbor

There is one statement in the story that requires correction, though. The author wrote:

All eight of the Navy's mighty battleships were sunk or badly damaged.

That isn't true.

While all eight of the battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or damaged, the US Navy had other battleships. The Colorado was in overhaul up in Puget Sound. North Carolina was either on her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean or had recently completed it, and was diverted from Pearl Harbor early in '42 to participate in the hunt for Tirpitz. Washington had been launched but had not yet been commissioned. Indiana had been launched a couple of weeks before Pearl Harbor and was undergoing pre-commissioning trials. And then, of course, there were the battleships assigned to the Atlantic Fleet: New Mexico, Mississippi, and Idaho in Battleship Division 3, and New York, Texas, and Arkansas as training ships in Battleship Division 5.

Most of these ships would play significant roles in defeating the Japanese and the Germans. Most of them came to inglorious ends in the breaking yards and as target ships. Texas and North Carolina survive today as museum ships.

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt

Galen has an interesting op-ed piece here:

Referendum

which might be just another op-ed piece, other than the comment about Obama's campaign speech in Osawatomie, lifted from WaPo. It's about two-thirds of the way down the column. But here's the whole thing:

Obama's Kanasas Speech: Some suspect 'facts'

WaPo is part of the mainstream media. The MSM.It's amazing that they would actually do some fact-checking. OTOH, the far right doesn't bother much with that either ... witness the nonsense that is re-circulating over Bo Obama's private jet flight to Maine.

12/4/11

Sam Frankmore Wrestling Tournament

We have a gallery up for the Saturday, 12.03.2011 matches, over on WritingPlaces.com's galleries page.

12/2/11

"And then ... there were the strawberries ..."

Some things never change:

Navy report finds preferential treatment on Ponce

On numerous occasions, the report says, Jones directed sailors to engage in unsafe ship-handling procedures that clearly went against standards. Other times, she distracted officers at critical times.
The report offers an example: "While navigating the Suez Canal at night with heavy shipping traffic, the C.O. came to the bridge and ordered the [officer of the deck] to explain why her laptop computer had been closed."
The report states that when officers tried to explain that Jones' directions weren't safe, she "would ignore the advice and direct that her orders be carried out."

Shades of Captain Queeg!