Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Almost Sounded Like a Brake Squealing

That noise you may have just heard was me screaming like a giddy schoolgirl.

Rapido Trains has announced that they are building an HO scale Canadian.

Giddy, I tell you.

Oh, you wouldn't understand.

The Canadian

Then again, maybe you would.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Utah 48, BYU 24.

That's my Utes. Now where shall we go bowling?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I am a Utah Man, Sir...

Tomorrow is The Game, and while the Utah-BYU game is always a big one, this year Utah's shot at sole ownership of the Mountain West Conference Championship and possibly a BCS bowl are on the line.

The only prediction I'm willing to make is this: stay for the whole game, people. It will be won or lost in the last two minutes. Utah's offense this year has followed a pattern of frustrating their fans to the limit, only to come through in the clutch.

Utah Utes logo


Monday, November 17, 2008


Another item from The Corner. Items such as this are why Mark Steyn is so much fun to read:

Mooseraker [Mark Steyn]

I saw Quantum Of Solace yesterday. Short review: Didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale.

Anyway, the funniest line in the picture - maybe in the series (up there with Q telling M that Bond's attempting re-entry) - is when 007 encounters a woman in Russia and identifies her as an agent from "Canadian intelligence". Daniel Craig deserves an Oscar for his deadpan delivery.

I would love it if Canada turned out to be running an overseas network of glamorous maple sugar traps in deep cover. But, alas, Her Majesty's defanged Dominion has no agents on foreign soil, unless you count the Mountie snatch team dispatched to New Hampshire to seize me for my "human rights" show trial. (They're still in the barn, pinned down by my goat.)

(Bonus question: What Ian Fleming novel features a Quebecois Bond girl?

Answer: The Spy Who Loved Me.)

Apparently, the snatch team doesn't draw the Mountie varsity, fortunately for us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Everytime You Say Goodbye - Alison Krauss & Union Station

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

QUESTION: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

FRANKLIN: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
ATTRIBUTION: The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention. McHenry’s notes were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618 reads: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” When McHenry’s notes were included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934), a footnote stated that the date this anecdote was written is uncertain. SOURCE: Bartleby.com

TFFQ: Tyler is Back; A Happy Warrior

That's right - it's the return of the the Friday Furo Questus! This where I share some news items and commentaries I have happened across this past week that I think are worthy of your attention, along with some snide comments of my own. This may be a biweekly rather than weekly event, but the writing bug is demanding its due this week.

So moving right along...

Thought of the Week
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-13
[Emphasis mine.]

Churchill Quote(s) of the Week
But my gravest accusation against the Socialist party is that they are deliberately and wantonly corrupting the character of the British nation. If their only object is to carry out practical reforms without revolution or disorder what is the need and what is the sense of teaching great masses of great-hearted English people to perform the antics and grimaces of Continental Socialism, to mouth the exploded doctrines of Karl Marx, to sing or drone that dreary dirge the Socialist International instead of the National Anthem [cheers], - and to be proud of the Red Flag instead of the Union Jack?

The harm that has been done already is very great. Nearly a third of the electorate has been marshalled around these foreign standards and taught to regard the institutions, the history, and the greatness of our country and Empire as if they were odious means of oppression to be repudiated or swept away at the earliest possible moment.

Winston Churchill, Speech to Parliament, May 7, 1924

"Winston is back."

Royal Navy Admiralty signal to Fleet, 3 September 1939.

Recommended Reading

"The Death of the American Idea,"
Mark Steyn:
Unlike those excitable countries where the peasants overrun the presidential palace, settled democratic societies rarely vote to “go left.” Yet oddly enough that's where they've all gone. In its assumptions about the size of the state and the role of government, almost every advanced nation is more left than it was, and getting lefter.
"Entering Casablanca," Liam Julian.

"Israel: The One Bomb State."

"Taxes: A Fair Share for All."
by Jonah Goldberg
And on a related note, from the Corner: "At What Point Does Atlas Shrug?"
During the presidential election campaign many were dumbfounded upon hearing for the first time that at least a third of Americans pay no income taxes whatsoever. The Tax Foundation notes that in 2006, 45.6 million filers (33%) paid no income tax whatsoever. Under current law, in 2009 47 million filers—representing approximately 96 million individuals— will pay no income tax.

The Foundation maintains that under Obama's tax plan 63 million filers— representing 44% of all returns— will pay no income tax. In contrast, in 1985, just 16.5% of filers paid no income tax.
"RINO Season is Open," by Ted Nugent (!)

"The Undefended City," by Bill Whittle.
A few years before Tolkien put pen to paper, an event took place that a man of his education would have undoubtedly been aware. On February 9th, 1933, the ruling elite of the world’s great Civilization held a debate in the Oxford Union. With thunderclouds growing dark across the English Channel, at a time when resolute action could still have averted the worst catastrophe the world has ever known, these elites resolved that “This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.”

The Resolution passed by a vote of 275 to 153. Needless to say, this vote did not avert the fight. It guaranteed it.

"A Flag, on a Hill." by Bill Whittle.

And just for fun:

"The Name's Fleming. Ian Fleming." by Mark Steyn.

Questus Furore

There is much in the recent elections' results to discuss, and much of it has already been said. (At the moment, my feelings are much in the vein of Mr. Nugent's above.) I will only add this much - now is not the time to abandon our principles. The Republicans have done that enough in the last eight years, only to find their "moderation" earned them only contempt from both their adherents and their opponents.

This election season also demonstrated that the press is no longer independent and no longer willing to even pretend to find the truth of a story. If they were, they would have probed into President-Elect Barack Obama's past, ties, and experience as deeply as they did Governor Sarah Palin's. Thst they did not is a betrayal of the public's trust. I had long suspected that the press, as a body, is lazy and ignorant; now I am convinced they are all that and corrupt, as well.

OK, that takes care of the spleen-venting.

Now, I wish to introduce you to a new essayist, one I suggest you get to know better. His name is Bill Whittle, and he is the essence of the "happy warrior." Recently, he has been contributing to National Review. And he gets it. Regardless of recent reverses and defeats, he demonstrates that consistency of principle and the confidence of his convictions that we need to have as well.

I still believe that there is much good to be done before our time on this good earth is over. Liberty will flourish, here and abroad. We are not here to fail, but to thrive and to triumph.

In the midst of this confusion, we can and must find clarity and focus ourselves. The promotion of liberty here and abroad should be our driving purpose, and the Constitution our guide.

Now is the time that free men shall stand, and defend the gift that has been left them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Mighty Fitz

The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, seen here in May of 1975.

I was remiss in sharing with you on Monday the anniversary of the tragic loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, an event that has caught my imagination and held it for some time. I am not alone in my interest; the ore carrier's loss has inspired several books and, of course, that song.

Why the loss stands out in an area of the world that is no stranger to heavy weather and shipwrecks is not easy to pin down. Shipwrecks that claim their entire crew are a rare event in this modern age. Shipwrecks on the Great Lakes are rarer still, at least in the last three decades. Perhaps it is this: even now, in an age of radar, global positioning systems, and radio, nature can still overpower our attempts to master her. Even now, with all that man's ingenuity can offer, the Lakes can still batter and pound a behemoth of a ship and drag her down to the bottom.

The story of the Great Lakes and their November furies is a tale worth telling - and fortunately some gifted writers have already done so. There are two books I commend to you:

  • White Hurricane by David G. Brown, which is the story of the November 1913 gales which killed 250 sailors, sank twelve lakers, and drove another 30 ships ashore. This book makes you appreciate how terrible it can be out on Lake Superior in a gale.

The video below includes Gordon Lightfoot's haunting song, and scenes of the Fitzgerald in happier days, and her subsequent grave.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Poppies Grow

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

From: ArlingtonCemetery.net

See also: Commander Salamander.

Go Thank a Veteran Today

Thank you all - all who have served, do serve, and will serve.

Thank you Bampa, Chuck, and Dad for answering the call when it came. And thank you, Papa, for trying, only to be told you were needed where you were.

And thank you, the man in the box of old family photos. A smiling, proud young man in his World War One uniform and Jack Pershing hat, posing with his girl for the portrait.

Yes, there's some stories there. Some that I know and cherish, and others I can only guess at.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Rain

Nothing lasts forever, in the cold November raiiiiinnn...

What? I'm not allowed to rock out once in a while?

This video brought to you by a rainy, raw Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Taxes: A Fair Share for All

Have to share this.

From Jonah Goldberg, over at National Review:

We almost had a really interesting conversation about taxes in the waning days of the election. Almost.

To the surprise of few, it was discovered that Barack Obama favors something called “redistributionism.”

John McCain, it was discovered, opposes it — which also surprised a lot of people. To a certain extent, the outrage from folks on the right, at times including yours truly, over Obama’s response to “Joe the Plumber” was overdone. It was, after all, Teddy Roosevelt — McCain’s hero — who introduced the progressive income tax for precisely the purpose of spreading the wealth around. The maverick’s campaign saddlebags are heavy with redistribution policies that redistribute wealth as well.

I still believe that redistribution for its own sake is little more than institutionalized covetousness. But that’s a subject for another day. What was left out of the national tax conversation was the reality of the situation: America already redistributes its wealth. A lot of it. In fact, we’re one of the most progressive countries in the world in this regard.

Now, first let me vent a peeve. Many people think “progressive” means “good,” even though something can be progressive and bad, too. When economists refer to a “progressive” income tax, they merely mean a tax rate that increases as you move up the income ladder. (Right now in the U.S., the poor pay somewhere between 0 percent and 10 percent in federal income tax. The middle class pays 15 percent to 28 percent, and the highest earners pay 33 percent or 35 percent.) But most liberals also think that the income tax is “progressive” in the same sense that fair-trade coffee and weepy acoustic-guitar college music are progressive — i.e. good and enlightened.

Either way, the U.S. tax code is a lot more progressive than you might think. A new study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that the United States “has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10 percent of the population.” Our tax system is, in fact, the most “pro-poor,” according to a Tax Foundation analysis of that study, of any developed country’s save Ireland. That’s right, we’re more progressive than France and Sweden.

The bottom 40 percent of income earners receive more from the federal income tax system than they pay into it. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent pay 71 percent of all income tax, despite only earning 39 percent of our pretax income. Taxes on the top 1 percent constitute 40 percent of tax dollars.

Lower- and middle-income workers pay a lot in other forms of taxation, particularly regressive payroll and sales taxes. Indeed, that’s one reason Obama wants to offer the middle class a tax cut. I don’t like his version of it, but I think he’s right that the middle class deserves some tax relief.

But what all Americans need is tax reform. Our tax code is outrageously impenetrable. And we’ve built a system that treats the wealthy like an inexhaustible natural resource.

Experts on economic development have long noted what they sometimes call the “oil curse.” Countries with huge oil reserves become economically wealthy but democratically impoverished, because the government can fund itself without taxing the middle class. As a result, the middle class demands less accountability from government because, heck, they didn’t pay for it. (No taxation, no representation.) In the process, the people become subjects rather than citizens.

Both Obama and McCain have a tendency to see villainy as an explanation for our economic woes. Obama thinks opposing tax increases is unneighborly and selfish. McCain has a long habit of denouncing Wall Street “greed.”

One moral hazard of such attitudes is that the investor class will start applying its entrepreneurial skills to protecting its existing wealth from the tax collector rather than trying to create more wealth.

But the greater danger is that millions of Americans might believe that all that is keeping them from the good life is the tightfistedness of people doing better than them and a government unwilling to pry those wealthy fingers open. That’s a recipe for an unhealthy political culture.

A sane tax code, under any president, would be simple, clear and direct. We’re not going to give up on redistribution in the form of, say, the earned income tax credit. But it’s important that the working and middle classes feel as if government spending comes out of their wallets, too. Otherwise, the line between citizen and subject is blurred and the costs of government are seen as someone else’s problem.

Insert whine here

Meh. So now what?

At least the campaigning is over. But forgive me if I don't join the party.