Christmas in America is an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life.
In fact, Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention. The freedom and prosperity of post-Civil War America created the happiest nation in history. The result was the desire to celebrate, to revel in the goods and pleasures of life on earth. Christmas (which was not a federal holiday until 1870) became the leading American outlet for this feeling. The holiday was inherently a festival of earthly renewal.
Historically, people have always celebrated the winter solstice as the time when the days begin to lengthen, indicating the earth's return to life. Ancient Romans feasted and reveled during the festival of Saturnalia. By the fourth century, they were worshipping the god of the sun on December 25.
Then came the major developments of 19th-century capitalism: industrialization, urbanization, the triumph of science -- all of it leading to easy transportation, efficient mail delivery, the widespread publishing of books and magazines, new inventions making life comfortable and exciting, and the rise of entrepreneurs who understood that the way to make a profit was to produce something good and sell it to a mass market.
For the first time, the giving of gifts became a major feature of Christmas. Thanks to capitalism, there was enough wealth to make gifts possible, a great productive apparatus to advertise them and make them available cheaply, and a country so content that men wanted to reach out to their friends and express their enjoyment of life. The whole country took with glee to giving gifts on an unprecedented scale.
All the best customs of Christmas, from carols to trees to spectacular decorations, have their root in ancient ideas and practices. These customs were greatly amplified by American culture, as the product of reason, science, business, worldliness, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
And she has my feet. Mine are less wrinkly.
Here's a shot a 12 hours.
And one at about 24 hours with Susanna's hat on. She'll grow into it.
A happy momma:
The first bath was pretty entertaining. While the nurse was toweling her off I had to run back to Lia's room to get the camera, since her whole body took on a beautiful ruby tone.
All in all she's pretty easy to take care of. With exception of the above incident, and whenever she gets a little cold, she just hangs out with us, sometimes awake, sometimes not. The doctor said to expect a little jaundice, and the first sign of it is yellow eyes, but hers are as white as the driven snow, as far as I can tell. Tomorrow we have our first checkup!
Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and to those who stopped by. It was good to have people around during our short hospital stay.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The Ellsworth is reborn.
After four years of riding she was a little beat down. Time for a renewal.
It took a lot longer to upgrade it piece by piece, but it was cheaper than buying a whole new bike, and in the end I still have the bike that fits me like a glove. Plus it was pretty fun spec'ing out all the parts I wanted. Teenage girls like shop for new jeans and shoes in the mall. I like to shop for bike parts on the internet.
All in all it's 2.5 lbs lighter, rolls smoother, and the suspension is more plush.
The mostly complete list:
|Shock||DHX 5.0 Coil||DHX 5.0 Air 2010|
|Fork||Talas R||PUSH RLC overhaul|
|Wheels||Shimano XT M756/Mavic 819||Mavic Xmax ST|
|Brakes||Avid Mech||Juicy 7|
|Crank||RaceFace X type Deus XC 175||XT M770|
|Cassette||SRAM PG990||2010 PG 990|
|Chain||SRAM something||SRAM 991 Hollow Pin|
|Derailleur||X7||X9 Med Cage|
|Pedals||Shimano M540||XPEDO Ti|
|Bars||EC70 Monkey Lite||09 EC70|
|Stem||Thompson Elite 110mm||Raceface XC 90mm|
|Linkage Bearings||Old crappy Enduro Blue||Shiny new Enduro Red|
I think the best thing was the cheapest: thirty bucks to buy new linkange bearings and change them out with the press at work.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Could a 77 year old career politician change his ways? Unlikely to say the least. But he did have his moments. This is probably his greatest:
But those days are long gone. The fact that he's gone with them doesn't mean any assault on freedom will ever stop. There will be more and others without him. In fact, it may be that his death will prompt congress to pass the terrible heath care bill this fall, as a service to him or as some kind of vendetta. Hot Air: Let’s pass this trillion-dollar travesty for Teddy
It's a bit of a stretch to say he deserved death for the Chappaquiddick debacle when Mary Jo Kopechne died, but did he deserve no punishment through a suspended sentence and a subsequent 40 years of power, prestige and privilege? Absolutely not. He should have been sent to prison for 10 years and stripped of his office in the US Senate, never to return.
It is for this reason I have no remorse, and am even a little cynical over his death.
This may seem uncompassionate, but there are simply some people who I have no love for and I am not affected by the media's fawning over him and the mindless pap they are putting out right now (This just in...we're 48 hours into this important breaking news story and we want to inform you that Ted Kennedy is, in fact, still dead. Stay tuned...).
If I'm uncompassionate what of everyone else who uses all their compassion for a man they've never met or respected, and how do those people regard the losses and tragedies in their own lives and the people they love, who they should feel true compassion for?
No thanks. I'll save my compassion for when it really counts.
Somebody has to counter the constant wailing about being "the Lion of the Senate", or "the conscience of our country." That stuff just can't go unanswered. It may as well be me.
But I'm not alone.
Andrew Klavan of PJM:
"Bad men can support good ideas. We can’t condemn liberalism itself on the strength of Kennedy’s character. It’s only a coincidence that the man who left Miss Kopechne...also spent a lifetime promoting policies that have endangered our freedoms, harmed our economy and damaged the lives of the poor people they were presumably intended to help."And then of course there's the health care bill, which I wonder if passed, and Ted Kennedy had to live under it like everyone else (unlikely given his position and ability in the field of hypocrisy), if his illness would have been treated the way it was: Ted Kennedy vs. Universal Healthcare: A Double Irony.
...Senator Kennedy chose his surgeon for this difficult operation after very careful research and consultation with his physicians in Boston. Using his free and independent judgment, Kennedy chose Dr. Allan Friedman, a surgeon renowned for his experience and expertise in the field of neuro-oncological surgery.The above article was written by a DOCTOR, by the way...
No government regulations restricted the Senator in this extremely important personal choice...no bureaucrat forced the Senator to chose his surgeon nor hospital from a government "approved" list...Kennedy was not forced to sacrifice his life, liberty nor property in the name of the so-called "greater public good."
More good reading from PJM: Roger Kimball, Some important lessons from Ted Kennedy
His life is just an example of how some people can get away with anything and the rules just don't apply to them, depending on how famous or influential they are, and if you're a Kennedy, well then that's even better, because if you are, you can get away with a lot of crap, and even be famous and respected despite it all.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
But I'm definitely pro-free market.
The latest health care proposal is nowhere near a free market.
We used to have law by consent of the governed. Government leaders calling bona fide protesters "astroturf, not grass roots" or part of the angry mob, is called leadership with contempt for the governed.
And an executive program which calls for private citizens to snitch on each other for spreading information, true or not, is probably illegal: Whitehouse Blog: Facts are Stubborn Things
Here are some protests that took place around Arizona in the last week or more. Other protests in other states can be seen here: The Club for Growth
Frontal view, top of head pointing to right
Wow, I'm sure she's really really cute when the ultrasound isn't taking a cross section through her skeletal structure, but that's just scary. If not, at least she'll be smart and talented, right?
These are 20 week ultrasounds. Pretty sweet. I think these are better than what people got 5 years ago, and this is our third set!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Here's a pretty convincing chart, too.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This is an interesting read. A Mercatus Center ranking of the 50 states according to the personal and economic freedom they allow.
Arizona is in the top 10 of course, but Colorado is number 2, with better snowboarding to boot. Hmmmm....
They said that even though New Hampshire is number 1 on the list, some changes the state government made since 2006 will make it lower the next time the list comes out.
The bottom 10? Not surprisingly, a lot of New England and west coast states. In fact the bottom 12 is pretty much the northeast, the west coast, Obamaland and Hawaii.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I got to go to ride some trails near Bryce Canyon last weekend with Paul and Crystal D. and their friend Dylan. This is an area that Paul had been to before but the only riding I've done in Utah is around Moab, so I knew a little what to expect but have never been in this area.
Of course I GPS'ed all the trails we hit and the map below shows all of them together. We did a total of about 30 miles in two hard days of riding plus one short run on the last day only 4 miles but a steep climb.
The Fat Tire Menagerie. Yes, there were only four of us, but for the record I only brought ONE BIKE! I don't believe in going on a long camping trip and having more fresh bikes to ride than fresh underwear, unlike some people...Paul*cough*
Friday, May 8, 2009
Here's a shock. When hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and individuals, including very sweet grandmothers, lend their money they expect to get it back...
The President's attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to "sacrifice" some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.
Cliff Asness "I Am Ready For My 'Personalized' Tax Rate Now"
Monday, May 4, 2009
Here's another one for the "Just Shut Up and Entertain Me" department.
I'm pretty capable of listening to a comedian rant a rave about something I totally disagree with, as long as the comedian believes he's a comedian, and not trying to get into your head.
This is the case with The Daily Show. I've been known to watch it and laugh now and then (I liked it better when Craig Kilborn hosted it). Now though, it's pretty clear that the show has gone from short comedy skits disguised as news and turned into long editorializing diatribes disguised as comedy.
I wouldn't like that kind of thing even if I agreed with the content: when I want comedy, I want it without the politics. When Ron White talks about putting in an express lane on death row in Texas, it's okay, but it's funnier when he talks about hiding M&M's in Sluggo's jowls.
PJ Media has had a couple pieces on Jon Stewart in the last few weeks; one a written piece by Adam Graham, and another a video editorial by Bill Whittle. I've been following Whittle for several years, and I can tell he gets into this one, probably because it hits a little close to home.
Graham talks about the recent interview with Jim Cramer, the slightly insane stock guy on CNBC. Jon Stewart skewered Cramer, and Cramer did a hugely disappointing job defending himself and worse, of defending free market investing. But it turns out that's only what you see on television.
In truth, Stewart uses comedy to shield himself from criticism...Stewart uses the comedy defense as if to say, “What? Are you going to hit a clown?”
That to me is the perfect call for Stewart: he's trying to get by as the clown but in reality he's trying to be the Ivory Tower. This displeases me.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
It looks like the third time might have been the charm. Lia and I went to get a 6 week ultrasound at the IVF clinic this Monday and we have a 120 beat per minute heartbeat! And it's not twins. Which would have been cool, but frankly, I want to buy a new mountain bike someday so one is better.
Here is the ultrasound at the implant a few weeks ago. All you could see was the little ball of light travel down the tube and stick in place.
In the ultrasound from this week, the only thing on the screen that was moving was a little blinking spot on the screen. As soon as our doctor saw that he said, "good job, you graduated." Meaning he's kicking us out the door because his job is done: a healthy single pregnancy with a good heartbeat. Now we go to the OB.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin drivers making their morning commute were in for a surprise when two road signs on a busy stretch of road were taken over by hackers. The signs near the intersection of Lamar and Martin Luther King boulevards usually warn drivers about upcoming construction, but Monday morning they warned of "zombies ahead.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I just started reading the Fountainhead again on inspiration from the painting my niece Rachel gave me for Christmas. I'll have to wrap it up quick so that I can give AS another go!
'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957...I was a little disappointed to see that in the last paragraph of this article, Moore makes a reference to the subjectivist David Kelley, who himself has had some pretty nasty things to say about Rand. I have no idea why people call him an advocate of her ideas.
Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism...
The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you.
UPDATE: Oooh. A video interview.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
As a person who is only living with a partial kidney removed, not even someone with a whole kidney removed, Lia has this to say:
"This guy rocks! I'd want that thing back too. He should hire some Russians to put her in a bathtub full of ice and take the sucker out!"
A four-year divorce, a doctor that knew beforehand what it would do to him to give up a kidney (he must have really loved her), and a lady who cheated on him after getting one of his organs. Also he is confident enough in his ability to make a living that he doesn't want any other money, the house, or other part of the estate: just the kidney, or it's equal value: 1.5 Million Dollars.
It's not as if having a kidney removed is nothing: you can live without it, but it's 6 months to a year before you stop feeling all your insides shifting and rearranging from the void you created by it's absence. Also, it's a major surgery, meaning they cut through flesh and muscle to get to the damn thing, and it's a long recovery to get over that.
John Stossel: The Next Crisis
"Barack Obama says, '[Today's economic problems are] a stark reminder of the failures of ... an economic philosophy that sees any regulation at all as unwise and unnecessary.'BB&T chief blames crisis on government
What? Does that mean that until last week the Bush administration embraced the free market? Nonsense.
“I think George Bush has been one of the worst presidents in history, but this is not his fault,”ARI: Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures
"...whatever one wishes to call the unruly mixture of freedom and government controls that made up our economic and political system during the last three decades, one cannot call it capitalism."Repeal the Bailout
"...once started, the bailouts were not going to stop.
Consequently (and unfortunately), we expect this domain and website to be policy relevant for years to come. So with all due respect to those who may have thought us naive, we would like to gently suggest that it was more naive to believe that the government was going to close the the "Pandora's Box" of bailout policy once they had opened it."
But not the kind of action Obamalicious is calling for. Exactly the opposite: Not more deficit spending, but less; not more taxes, but less, for ALL Americans; not more individual welfare, not more corporate welfare, but less.
Don't just cut taxes for 95% of America. Cut it for everyone. Repeal the capital gains tax. The result? Everyone is free to invest and spend and save as they see fit. AS THEY SEE FIT! Interesting concept. No imperious overlord standing by to force us where to put our money. Actual monetary freedom.
How do we pay for all this then? By taking every bureaucratic wealth redistribution scheme that has been created in the last 70 years and repeal them all. We'll start with the most current ones and work backwards:
- Repeal the recent $700B bank bailout
- Repeal Bush's prescription drug bill ($120B)
- Repeal Medicare and Medicaid ($580B)
- Repeal Social Security ($560B)
It's a simple, two part plan, really. The government should:
1) Cut the hell back
2) Leave my money alone
Obviously it would take years to dismantle these huge entangled bureaucracies, but it needs to happen. Most of the entitlements people get from Social Security and Medicare are immoral anyway, and those that aren't can be made through the private sector, and done cheaper.
This guy lays out the numbers pretty well of what our debt would be if the stimulus plan passed.
Trillion-Dollar Spree Is Road to Ruin, Not Rally: Kevin Hassett
We are in the midst of a crisis caused by so many financial institutions borrowing too much money. Somehow, a critical mass of policy makers now believes that the correct response is for the U.S. government to borrow too much money.He talks about a couple senators that are trying to trim back the budget, but no specifics yet on where. The Senate press release he links to is a year and a half old, but it's still the right idea.
Now is the time to address the unsustainable shortfall between our expected revenues and the trillions we know we will be spending for federal health and retirement programs.Screw these Keynseian economics theories. They say more and more deficit spending will bring back the economy. If deficit spending is the path to economic nirvana, then that means with all the deficit spending we've had in our lifetime, everything would be puppy dogs and unicorns by now. But it's not. Keynes sucks.