Almost there

21 12 2009

Three down, one more to go. I’m looking at my last final this afternoon (4:00-6:00) after which I can head back home to relax and do some reading and writing.

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Merry Christmas Goys and Girls!

18 12 2009

For your listening pleasure, I’d like to present the most ironic rendition of the Christmas classics since Barbara Streisand and Bob Dylan’s holiday albums!

That’s right, it’s time to get excited for the Klezmonauts’ Oy to the World!  A Klezmer Christmas.

I'm so glad this exists.

Seriously though, this is pretty good stuff even if you don’t like Klezmer.  And if you happen to like Klezmer (and I happen to)…

Anyway, there’s something deeply hilarious about hearing Joy to the World done in a traditionally Yiddish musical style.  Of course, this irony will probably be lost on any Jews for Jesus out there.  But that’s okay, because the whole album (though it’s rather short) is thoroughly entertaining without any context.

Take the Little Drummer Boy, for example. Apparently a Klezmer rendition of this sometimes tedious classic wasn’t unconventional enough.  So they added some surf guitar.  It works, somehow, as do the other random bits and pieces thrown in.

I’m sure this album has been around for a while, but I just found out about it thanks to my parents this year.  You should really check it out; download it from iTunes or Amazon or whatever.  Fittingly, it’s a real bargain.





Oh the Absurdity

16 12 2009

I saw this on Ace of Spades and though it deserved wide dissemination.

Some lefty site (“Public Option Please“) that demands a public option remain a part of any health care reform hosted a nice art contest to promote their cause.  I can’t really criticize that in and of itself though I disagree with their argument, as long as no NEA grants were involved in the competition.

No, the art alone is what needs to be viewed by the public at large, because it so eloquently demonstrates what is wrong with the left’s (and, to be fair, any big-government types on the right’s) perception of government and how it works.

This was the 1st Place winner:

Good execution, horribly misguided message.

So what’s wrong with this nicely designed poster?  It should be painfully obvious to any small-government types: the heart of the country is Washington, D.C.  All blood (wealth?  individual energy?) flows to the heart and is pumped out by the heart; as Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades describes it, it is a “horrifying image of Washington persistently redistributing the vitality of the United States.”

A federalist system like ours might require a central government, but certainly not one that rises to the relative importance of the heart.  There are a lot of folks (hell, even entire states) that could probably do just fine without D.C., but D.C. could never survive without their productive efforts being siphoned off to feed the leviathan.  I’d prefer to see Washington depicted as the appendix, or maybe the bile duct.

Oh, and the other artistic entries?  There must not have been many of them (or the Obama “O” is some kind of liberal hypnotoad), as this was the 3rd Place winner:

Horrible execution, horribly misguided message.

Where the 1st Place winner is a good design wanting a good message, the 3rd Place (2nd Place doesn’t really warrant comment) design is cluttered; the Obama campaign, when it wasn’t using Futura on every piece of printed material, used the same quasi-baroque flourishes for various seals and emblems.

And then there’s the ubiquitous “O” emblem itself; is health care reform about providing affordable coverage “FOR ALL,” or is about creating a legacy for the Philosopher King?  The left should really figure that out; with Obama’s poll numbers plummeting, they may not want to go around slapping that sunrise-O logo on everything expecting it to become as hot a commodity as Hope T-shirts on Inaguration Day.





Thuggery

15 12 2009

I wanted to say something about this when it came out but I didn’t have the time.

The EPA issued its endangerment finding for carbon dioxide last week.  It wasn’t really a surprise; after all, with the Defenders of Gaia meeting in Copenhagen, there couldn’t have been a more dramatic or politically convenient time to make the announcement (even though it was all just a big coincidence).  So no big shock here; I’m pretty much just to the point where I laugh and shake my head instead of flipping out and launching into some long invective directed at Henry Waxman or Lisa Jackson.

THIS IMAGE REQUIRED IN ANY ARTICLE DISCUSSING CARBON EMISSIONS (despite the billowing clouds being water vapor, not invisible CO2)

With the Climategate debacle unfolding and a notable lack of tangible economic recovery (a decrease in the rate of job loss still means…job loss, no matter what the GDP did last quarter), plus a lack of apocalyptic warming, it seems like the green movement might have peaked.  So this whole EPA endangerment finding might not really amount to all that much, or at least not for very long.

No, much like everything else going on in DC these days, the method used to impose controlling restrictions or pass ridiculous legislation is more important than the substance.

You may recall that Cap and Trade squeezed through the House earlier this summer, but hasn’t been heard of since.  That’s because the Senate, which is already having a hard enough time desperately trying to wrangle up the votes for some or any health care reform, hasn’t had the time or political will to take that devastating piece of anti-progress legislation on.

Normally, we’d see this as a good thing; government has slowed down to focus on one important issue instead of blindly passing the ruling party’s laundry list of progressive legislation.  But that’s not good enough for the current administration, which must perceive its mandate from heaven slipping away on a daily basis.

So instead of the legislative mechanisms designed to prevent nonsensical and destructive laws from getting passed functioning as they should, we’ve got Obama out front and center acting like the thug Chicago politician that he is.  In statements issued by the Administration, he has made it clear that if Congress is not able to come up with some satisfactory carbon emissions regulation scheme (like the “market based” cap and trade bill dead in the Senate) he will be forced to let the rabid eco-facists at the EPA break some fingers.

At least Don Corleone didn't need a teleprompter.

And that would be terrible.  After all, it’s not like he appointed the EPA head or anything—he’s really just trying to protect the economy from something much, much worse than cap and trade, which is sadly necessary.  That is not Checks and Balances in action.  It’s Baseball Bats and Pipe Wrenches.  It’s the Executive Branch using unconstitutional power to run roughshod over the Legislative Branch, or at least using the threat of doing so to coerce Congress to act.

This is a political reality that certainly did not have it’s roots in the Obama Administration; the Executive Branch’s usurpation of power has been going on for decades.  The EPA endangerment finding and its implications, however, is a great if frightening example, and one that promises to crush the economy if not stopped.  Fortunately, Congress still controls budgeting; if the EPA goes off the rails, it can always be starved out of existence.

But that will require voters to elect Congressmen with guts, since most of those in charge seem to be utterly lacking in that area.  Until that happens, we’ll be stuck with a bunch of thugs running the country.  But is there really anything new and unsurprising about that?





I’m Back

14 12 2009

No, I didn’t forget I had a blog.  I’ve just been a bit busy and, like I said a week or so ago, pretty burned out.

But the semester is official over today!  This is my last day of class, and after I take care of the in-class Russian Lit exam, I’ve got nothing to worry about except my three other finals.  Awesome!

I did find out about those internships I applied for next semester:  I didn’t get either one.  So I’m back in Ann Arbor.  I guess at this point I’m not really that disappointed, since I can always apply in the future and it just means I can get a few more necessary classes out of the way a semester early.  Plus, I think I’ve got something good lined up for the summer.

Fortunately, my lack of internships hasn’t thrown me into a tailspin of depression, though I’ve been pretty exhausted lately (I’m chalking that up to my horrible sleep schedule throughout the past semester though).  In fact, I’ve been busy.  I made it on to the Michigan Review Editorial Board, which will be a lot of fun once we resume publication after break.  Last Thursday evening, a couple of the College Libertarians and I went to the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance Banquet, where a couple of influential activists received awards for their work—including Frank Beckmann and Robert Bobb.  Beckmann seemed like a decent guy; I told him I’d have to call in to his show some day.

Top all that off with a night at the bars this past Saturday (my first ever!) and studying for finals, and I haven’t had much free time even as the semester is winding down.  I’ll be looking forward to this upcoming break, pathetically short as it might be, and posting regularly again—I really do enjoy it, when I’ve got the time and energy.





The Home Stretch

7 12 2009

It’s getting to be that time of the semester again: I’m pretty much burned out.  Papers, midterms, and Fraternity business has got me beat.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel; I’m technically done with the semester a week from today.

Of course, that light at the end of the tunnel is the train of finals rushing at me with great speed.  But after that light is a hilariously short winter break.   Which is followed by another semester here in Ann Arbor (didn’t score the Cato internship yet, and probably won’t get the IHS internship…).

The problem is that not only do I not have time to make regular posts—I can’t even think of stuff to write.  I’m that burned out.  Maybe some creativity will return after I wrap up the Russian Lit paper that I’m working on this morning.  We’ll see how it goes.





Greenfield Village

1 12 2009

About two weeks ago my dad and I went to Greenfield Village.  It was chilly, damp, and cloudy, which probably drove the crowds away—the village was pretty quiet, except for the sputtering Model T’s and that one green bus (a Model AA?) that everyone who’s ever been there will have seen.

We ate at the Eagle Tavern.  I don’t think I’ve ever dined there before, but my dad is convinced otherwise.  In any event, the food was great, and there was a lot of it.  I’d recommend it, and plan on doing that again sometime.  Though the Hobo Sandwiches at that other big restaurant next to the Eagle Tavern are reliably tasty, and a lot less filling.

Anyway, after that, we did the walk ’round the Village.  I always liked the Daggett House, which is the big grey saltbox in the back corner.

 

Nice door.

 

Inside, the staff (reenactors?  living historians?) were busily living their 1754 existence.  One woman was carding and spinning yarn, and another was doing something or other in the kitchen.  Mr. Daggett was presumably passed out in a ditch somewhere after hitting the tavern hard the night before, since he wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

 

I swear some of these colors are big again. Just pick up a J. Crew catalog; you'll see what I mean.

 

It’s impossible to ignore the tremendous amount of effort that went into creating the things we take for granted.  Take making clothes, for example.  Even a wealthy family like the Daggetts would have spent a considerable amount of time spinning and dyeing yarn, then weaving it into fabric and making garments.  As the yarn colors above show, it wasn’t a drab, dreary existence by far—just one that seemed to require a great deal more patience.

 

I always liked this kind of hearth setup. The massive chimney really retains the heat.

With all the quaint handicrafts and vintage farming methods and the notable lack of typhus outbreaks on display any given day at Greenfield Village, it would be easy to slip into a neo-Luddite mentality (“curse that Industrial Revolution!  We appreciated our winter coats so much more when they took two month’s time to manufacture!”), but that’s not what the broader message is.

Or at least it’s not what I take away from my visits.  Greenfield Village is not stuck in the 18th century, even if the people inside the Colonial structures pretend to be.  After all, the Model T’s run right past the Cotswold Cottage.  And Edison’s laboratory is just short walk away from the Daggett House.  Any visitor who isn’t caught up in some bizarre nostalgia for a sanitized image of the past (“But that lifestyle was so much more sustainable!”) will be able to see just how far we’ve come in a few short centuries.

None of the reenactors/living historians pretend to be satisfied with the era that they are pretending to be in.  They’re moving forward, looking towards a better, more prosperous future (well, kind of; it will always be 1754 at the Daggett House, but I think you get my point).  In every era featured, people embraced technological progress—and not the pixie dust “green” progress that is being shoved down our throats today.

 

Is this locomotive carbon neutral? Who cares!

At no point in the past did a successful society sit down and decide that civilization had reached its technological and economic peak, and from that point onward, sustainability and an equal, fair distribution of wealth were to be the chief societal objectives.  It seems to be a relatively modern phenomenon; imagine what would have happened if that decision had been made in, say, the 18th century.  We’d all be stuck spinning wool to make socks while trying not to die of cholera.

 

Hopefully I’m not the only person to view Greenfield Village from this perspective.  The Model T rides and Disney World-like fantasy atmosphere is enjoyable in its own right, or I wouldn’t keep going back—but there’s definitely a broader lesson to be learned from a visit.