Monday, February 25, 2013

Name Me Something Better...

...than sitting on the front porch way out Charlotte Pike on a moonlit night with a belly full of fried catfish, hushpuppies, vinegar cole slaw, and baked potato served in foil with the butter already melting in it, with my trusty pickup truck in the yard and my faithful dog at my feet, and sipping here and there on Early Times, saying my prayers direct to the stars in Heaven...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recommended Reading: David Mamet on Gun Control

David Mamet, the playwright famous for such diverse works as Glengarry, Glen Ross, The Verdict, and Wag the Dog, is also, remarkably, a leading conservative intellectual. He is one of those few people from Hollywood and the top level arts community in general, like Clint Eastwood and Jon Voit, whose body of work is so powerful that they can speak their minds without fear of reprisal or mockery. Thus Mr. Mamet has been a high profile blogger for the liberal Huffington Post. Although make no mistake: the left hates people like David Mamet.

I have only recently become familiar with his power as an essayist. He has a book out explaining his conservatism, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, which is on my list of books to get to, but for now, I recommend this recent article which appeared recently on The Daily Beast:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Obama's Push to Raise the Minimum Wage

It's not about helping entry level employees. It is no secret that each time the minimum wage has gone up, huge numbers of entry level people have suddenly been priced out of jobs. Obama knows this.

He also knows that most large scale union agreements have union workers' wages indexed to the federal minimum wage. If the miminum wage goes up, all the union workers get a raise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

After Benedict, what for the Catholic Church?

The man who had the thankless task of following the greatest religious leader of our lifetimes, and the thankless task of trying to steady a ship beset by storms of corruption, sex scandal, and social moral decay, Pope Benedict is stepping down almost immediately. He is approaching ninety years old. I think he has served his flock and God well and it is a wise decision.

There is a prophecy from Saint Malachy in the middle ages that indicates the next Pope will be the last Pope. God only knows. But the way things are going, the Cardinals may have a hard time finding anybody willing to do the job eventually.

Many are saying that Vatican II marked the beginning of the end for the Catholic Church. It was a massive reform of the Church's relationship to the world that occurred in the sixties, bringing the Mass out of Latin and into English (or whatever local language) and directing Catholics more toward the Bible and less toward the Catechism. The critics believe that the reform weakened the Church's role in the world, making it more secular, less spiritual, and now we are reaping what was sown then.

I disagree. Though I very much appreciate the traditional mass and the Church's historical posture, I think considering how society has changed in the past fifty years - not in a good way - it was the only move the Church could make to stay relevant.

The important thing to remember is that a religion is made up of people, not God. Though the Catholic Church has a special place in the world as Peter's church, direct from the mandate of Jesus, it is not Jesus. It is just  imperfect, original-sin-bearing mankind's best collective effort to intermediate between God and humanity.

I think the real threat to the Church, especially in the U.S. where all its money comes from, is twofold. One, as the free love, drugs, and rock & roll movement of the sixties made celibate priesthood less and less attractive, the Church relaxed its standards and let in a large amount of defective people as priests. Hence the homosexual pedophile problem that has cost the Church billions, ruined countless young lives via the sex abuse, and left parishes desperate for priests. Not to mention turned countless people away from the Church in disgust.

Secondly, as pastoral leadership has waned and Pope John Paul II's strong hand left the tiller, Marxist influences have waxed strong. "Peace and Justice," that seemingly innocuous phrase that is code for wealth redistribution and the whole welfare state mentality, has popped up as a major theme of lay groups like Why Catholic and the like. John Paul II understood well the threat of socialism, having lived behind the Iron Curtain for decades before becoming Pope. He would not tolerate leftist political activism among his priests, scolding one publicly one time in South America for just that.

But the leftists who held quiet within the ranks through John Paul II's long papacy are now a gathering storm poised to undermine the core values of the Church. If the Church has led unwaveringly in nothing else, it has at least held strong on abortion... until Obama came along with Obamacare, and the Church embraced him despite his proven track record supporting even late term abortions without restraint. Now the Church is shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that Obamacare forces them to support abortion and contraception through the insurance programs of their health and education institutions. Soon it will be same sex partners and so on. They made a deal with the Devil, and now payment is due.

I am the best of Catholics and the worst of Catholics. As a cradle Catholic, I have sometimes been like a kid who inherits a wealthy life from his parents and hasn't had to work for it, so doesn't really understand the value of money. For a while I didn't consider myself Catholic, or a believer, at all. But in recent years my faith has become stronger than ever. I found a parish and priest I really liked and it helped strengthen my family and my faith.

Unfortunately the priest had the boneheaded idea of passing an anti-gun petition around the church and I felt compelled to resign from the parish! I do not go to church for political activism. I go to find my way better to God. Fortunately the word catholic means "universal". And the Catholic Church is indeed a big tent. There is room for a lot of different ways to get to God. But there should never be room for the Godlessness of secular politics. I have already found another parish.

But again, it is a church made up of people. Whether this is the last Pope or not, he better be a good, strong Pope, because the people are all about worshipping anything but God these days.

I don't envy him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Good Bar Bet Word: Moot

First of all, don't spell it m-u-t-e, a common mistake because the meaning is so similar... yet different.

If you are like me, you've always thought "moot" meant silent, as in the common phrase about something being "a moot point" - i.e., there's nothing to be said about it. Which, if that were correct, the spelling "mute" would work just fine.

Actually the opposite is true. Moot means endlessly arguable. It means so debatable that a conclusion cannot be reached about it.

So a moot point is not one that goes without saying, but is one that can be argued till the cows come home and never to a definite point. It's not silence, it's blather!

Perfect for a bar bet, for I posit that most conversation under the influence of alcohol, though sometimes entertaining, is just that - blather.

And that's my moot point for the day.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How to Fix the Post Office

I might as well own my post office because I've been going there twenty years, probably longer than any employee in the building. My business has a box there that I check every day, and I often have to mail export packages and whatnot at the counter, too.

In fact, I should own it.

I actually like the post office. And I like my postal workers. They are hardworking, dedicated people who want to do a good job. I've never thought stamps cost too much. To me it is amazing that I can scribble an address in God knows where on an envelope - Bryant Pond, Maine let's say - and for less than a dollar it finds its way all the way up there and into the hands of my recipient.

And truth be told, they do a good job with packages, too. In fact the best thing going is the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope. We use that all the time for smaller orders in my business. For five bucks we can get anything that fits in the envelope anywhere in the country.

Sure, there are occasional screw ups, but running a business, I know that's just par for the course. No system that involves people works perfectly all the time.

The problem with the post office is management. And that starts at the top. The only reason the post office is in the financial mess it's in is that it is run by the federal government. In many ways it is a reflection of the federal government in its hiring and advancement practices, bloated management, and profligate spending.

I should own the post office. Or you. Or some stockholders. The point is, the post office should be privatized. What they've done with selling stamps through stamps.com should be applied to the whole shebang.

If I owned the post office the first thing I'd do would be to fire about 90% of management. They've proved their incompetence already. Then I would bust the union. They've proved their incompetence already. Then I'd empower my window workers, mail carriers, and mail sorters to run their jobs like a business, cutting out waste, increasing revenue, and capturing customers back from FedEx and UPS.  I would make sure they knew pay and advancement was based on performance, not seniority, skin color, sex, or any other artificial category.

Congress grants the post office a monopoly on mail delivery with the stipulation that they've got to deliver to every nook and cranny in the country. That's fine. Keep that rule and eliminate all the rest. Sell the post offices as franchises to investors with a license that as long as they meet that minimum requirement, they're free to make a profit.

And then we can all sit back and watch the post office hum...

Monday, February 4, 2013

In Memory of J.V. Averitt

The first time I met Mr. Averitt, I said good morning and he said, "Well, if it is, it ain't got nuthin' to do with me."

That wouldn't be the last time he brought a smile to my face. He was one of a kind. Everybody around knew and respected him. I bought a house he built and a piece of land from him and I'm proud I bought it from him. I wish I'd known him longer.

This photo captures the view toward Erin from the house he built. May he rest in peace.

Photo by Mary Catherine Rebrovick.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Jane Fonda President

Guess who. And it's not because he looks sharp in mommy jeans.