Southern Man

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

With this holiday weekend winding down Southern Man will kick off eight weeks of summer school tomorrow. All for extra pay, of course, which will come in handy. And rather than simply give the usual thanks to the many who sacrificed that we might live in a land of unprecedented peace and security and plenty, Southern Man will also reflect on:
  • Wonderful parents who do so much for so many in the family...
  • The excitement of teenage daughter moving in for a year...
  • The drama of Southern Man's ex and her new husband...
  • Trepidation at the notion that ten-year-old daughter will soon live six hours away...
  • Some success at dealing with some long-term financial issues...
  • Renewing bonds with old friends...
  • Overwhelming relief at being single again...
  • Ongoing projects at The Land and the promise that holds for the future...
A good Memorial Day to all!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Agent K's Special Brownies

You will need the following ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Two tablespoons of water
  • 1 egg
  • Brownie Mix
  • Pecan Halves
Put all of the ingredients except the pecans in the mixing bowl. Mix for two minutes. Pour into brownie pan. Make a design with the pecans. Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Dictated by Southern Man's ten-year-old daughter.

[Added later] No, not that kind of special. She's only ten, you know.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Secret Songs of Monkey Island

This charming video runs through the history of PC sound using the "Secret of Monkey Island" games.

Does that ever bring back memories, of both the many generations of the game and the many sound cards that Southern Man has known and loved...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Southern Man is still busy consolidating the remnants of the thirty-five computers and has obtained a few new toys to enhance his home computing experience:
  • A older Belkin SOHO KVM with audio, PS/2 only, for the older single-monitor computers...
  • A little USB hub to help share a few USB components with the above-mentioned computers...
  • A brand new Belkin SOHO dual-head USB KVM for the newer dual-monitor computers...
  • A Vantec NexStar 3 USB hard drive enclosure to help manage all those old drives, which is even now busily transferring files from an old work PC drive to a more permanant location...
  • An iomega Prestige one-terrabyte external hard drive that Southern Man picked up on impulse at Radio Shack for a mere eighty bucks...
This requires some moral compromise on Southern Man's part. He's still mighty steamed at Belkin over an older dual-head KVM that cost a fortune and never did really work right. And iomega can never, ever be forgiven for the abomination that was the Zip Drive. On the other hand, the computing corner in the living room (yes, in the living room; only single men can do this) now has connections for eight - count 'em, eight - desktop systems. He's hoping to end up with four or so - two on the single monitor for fun and two on the dual monitors for work - plus an MP3 server and a file server tucked under the table somewhere. Now if he can only get a Windows 98 system up and running again and get back into those old games; there are about eight big boxes of diskettes and CDs behind the couch waiting for machines to be ready for them...

And, as mentioned in passing above, as of this morning Southern Man is single again. He plans to stay that way for the forseable future. Go out from time to time or casual dating - yes; Southern Man has no intentions of giving up the fun that goes with an active social life. But if Southern Man ever acts like he's even thinking about getting seriously involved with anyone again, his teenage children have instructions to pick up the nearest blunt instrument and beat him with it until he returns to his senses.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Southern Weather

This time the skies lashed out with a brief but ferocious hailstorm that shattered windows and crushed backyard grills and destroyed God knows what else. Afterwards Southern Man picked up aggregate hailstones that were - he kids you not - the size of grapefruit, that crumbled into handfuls of solid golfball-sized chucks. Thankfully, Southern Man lost no glass - lots of fresh dimples in vehicle sheet metal and lots of shingles gone from The Barn, which is scheduled for a re-roof anyway - but many windows in his apartment complex were shattered and several friends lost windshields - including Southern Man's ex, whose little Neon looks like someone went over it with a sledgehammer.

Photo by Southern Man's ex from inside the aforementioned Neon.

Here's a cell phone pic from the brother of Southern Man's sister-in-law.

Found on YouTube; watch until the 2:00 mark.

Another YouTube video of the hailstorm...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Core Values

When Southern Man is asked his opinion on some political or social issue, he measures his response through the following personal beliefs:
  • What consenting adults do in private is no one's business but their own.
  • You are responsible for the consequences of your actions.
  • Your rights end where mine begin.
Some of Southern Man's friends (including pretty much all of those who self-identify as "liberals") don't grasp that the first of these requires that they cannot self-righteously tell other people how to live. It's also tough on his many evangelical Christian friends who often cross the line between spreading the Word and denouncing the lifestyles of others. It's difficult for Christians to accept that if they are to be left alone to practice their personal lifestyle and beliefs they must allow others the same privilege. Others don't accept that they, and they alone, are responsible for their actions; one dear friend in particular is a perpetual victim who simply cannot see what she's doing to herself. And of course others think that they can live wild and free without regard for the well-being or safety of those around them.

Southern Man's views in the realm of law, liberty, justice, and responsibility are:
  • There can be no crime without intent.
  • So-called "victimless crimes" are, by and large, not crimes at all.
  • All laws restricting the private activities of consenting adults should be stricken from the books.
  • You are responsible for the consequences of your actions, to both the State and to anyone harmed by those actions.
  • Marriage is a religious covenant governed by the Church; the State should be concerned only with civil unions, not marriage.
The last requires some explanation. The real problem with the various forms of non-traditional marriage is that the notion of marriage is inexorably intertwined with our welfare-state benefits system. Southern Man holds that you should be free to create whatever living and/or marriage arrangements that suit you, but grants that the State benefit system may choose to acknowledge certain forms of civil union but not others. In other words: if you think you can handle three spouses, go right ahead, but don't expect Social Security to provide full benefits to all three after you kick the bucket.

In the vast world of sports and entertainment (which Southern Man largely ignores) he holds that:
  • Content on the so-called "public" airways should be closely restricted.
  • Content on "paid" channels and other media should be unrestricted but accurately labeled.
  • Professional sports and entertainment are businesses with which the State should be uninvolved.
  • Purchasers of content contained in media of any form should be free to make copies of that content for personal use or to transfer content from one media to another.
Southern Man is a big fan of content labeling. He doesn't really care what the content is and indeed favors complete freedom to create that content to be whatever you want - he just wants to know in advance so he can choose whether or not to partake. Southern Man is also not bothered by the sky-high paychecks of entertainers and sports professionals; if the business warrants their salary, so be it. And if Southern Man buys a music CD, he figures he's already paid the artist and doesn't need to pay again to make a backup for the car or burn some of the tracks to his MP3 player.

And in the larger realm of local, state, and national politics Southern Man holds that:
  • The State should acknowledge the clear meaning of the Constitution in which the rights of the Individual are paramount and the activities of the State closely restricted.
  • Individuals should acknowledge that the State is not your nanny. Individuals have the right to participate in unhealthy or dangerous activities, and are thus responsible for the outcome of those activities.
  • The State should be blind to the race, color, gender, size, shape, sexual orientation, or whatever of Individuals, with no preferences granted nor rights withheld based on those distinctions.
  • The State consumes wealth; it cannot create it. Therefore the State must be restricted from growing faster than population, inflation and GNP warrant and indeed should be reduced to a more appropriate size relative to those metrics.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of spending more than revenue.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of promising benefits that cannot be delivered.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of subsidising a permanent welfare class.
  • The State should overhaul our retirement system from top to bottom, including:
    • Option to invest retirement funds into private accounts.
    • Increase of retirement age and reduction of benefits until the existing Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid system is solvent.
  • The State should overhaul the tax system from top to bottom, including:
    • Income tax reform: increase the personal deduction, but eliminate most below-the-line tax credits (particularly the Earned Income Credit). Individuals should be allowed to keep most of what they earn, but not get back more than they put in through deductions.
    • Corporate tax reform: replace much of the current system with a simple, progressive gross-receipts tax not subject to deductions.
    • Sales tax reform: eliminate tax on basic necessities; increase it on luxury items.
    • Usage tax reform: all usage taxes must be committed to the sector taxed.
  • The State is obligated to provide certain basic services and/or regulations that insure:
    • A strong national defence.
    • A police force dedicated to the motto "to serve and to protect" and committed to respecting the Constitutional rights of all individuals.
    • A robust and accessible transportation network, including roads, rail, and air.
    • A robust and accessible telecommunications network, including phone and Internet.
    • A Post Office serving all addresses in the country at a flat rate.
    • A fair and equitable system that encourages legal immigration coupled with security of our borders to prevent illegal traffic.
  • The State should acknowledge that the private sector is far better at providing basic goods and services than the State, so the State should maintain two-tier systems that guarantee basic services to those in need coupled with free-market providers for those who are willing to pay more to get more, including:
    • A health care system that provides basic services to whose in need, coupled with private insurance and health-care professionals that provides those additional goods and services for which the client is willing to pay.
    • A basic education system focused on acquiring basic skills and accessible to all through State schools, coupled with a voucher system to allow those who desire to do so to use a portion of the taxes they pay towards education to defray the expenses of private school.
    • Reform of the current system of agricultural subsidies to ensure the continued stability of that market without giving unfair advantages to certain sectors.
  • The State should be committed to an energy program that ensures energy independence for our country, with no dependence on imports from abroad.
That last bullet point is one that Southern Man trots out for every science class he teaches. The USA has two largely independent energy infrastructures: one to make electricity and one to run transportation. Virtually all of our electricity is produced by domestic sources, the majority of our transportation runs on imported petroleum, and there is very little crossover between the two. To compound the problem, a fair amount of that imported petroleum comes from countries that don't like us very much. Southern Man favors building lots and lots and lots of new nuclear power plants coupled with increased development of and reliance on hybrids and fully-electric cars so that the transportation sector can draw from the electrical-production infrastructure rather than on imported fuels. More nuclear power and cars that run on electricity has the added benefits of increased safety and sharp reductions in the pollution that results from burning fossil fuels.

So just what kind of political creature is Southern Man? He sure as hell will never affiliate himself with the party that long stood for slavery, succession, and segregation and today depends on division, class warfare, and redistribution of wealth to a permanent welfare class to buy their voter base. He's long voted Republican and is proud of their history and achievements but is dismayed by their recent tendencies towards big government and by the excesses of the so-called social-conservative wing of that party. He can't join with the Libertarians, who have the right ideas on personal liberty but naively ignore the reality of a hostile world that requires both a national defence and border security and the necessity of some degree of oversight and regulation to temper the excesses of an otherwise free market. So he calls himself a "Tea Party Republican" and at such events he finds himself surrounded mainly by disaffected Republicans who also dismayed by the size and scope of government and the increasing losses of personal liberty and freedom, who generally ignore the social conservatives, and who focus on the big national picture of overspending, debt, and intrusion into our lives with the intention of rebuilding their party from the grassroots up until it returns to the core values for which it once stood.

But Southern Man has no desire to remake the Republican Party in his own image. There are those positions that are appropriate to a political party, and others more appropriate to the members of that party. The most fundamental of Southern Man's personal values, and that from which his entire value system is derived, are:
  • Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Southern Man does not pretend that he is the living embodiment of the Great Commandment. He does try his best and with God's help will do a little better every day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Writing, Then and Now

Southern Man has been going through boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff from The Barn and sorting and keeping and trashing various goods he's had since childhood.

Yes, Southern Man is a pack rat. It's genetic. Dad's solution was to tear down his storage barn and build a bigger one. Southern Man's second barn is still a work in progress.

Southern Man has also spent many hours the past few days grading end-of-semester essays and term papers. By coincidence, in those aforementioned boxes he found a bundle of writing from high school, which he re-read with a combination of admiration and horror.

Southern Man does not hold himself up as a particularly good writer. This blog is, more than anything, writing practice. He certainly wasn't a good writer in high school. But at least in his papers words were spelled correctly and proper nouns appropriately capitalized. His paragraphs had topic sentences, his references were properly cited using the style guide of the day, and "its" and "it's" were used correctly. In short, Southern Man's high-school writing is far superior than the drivel he gets from his net-surfing spell-check-enabled college seniors today.

Why is this? Southern Man recalls a number of junior-high (that's what they called "middle school" back then) and high-school teachers who were harsh taskmasters when it came to writing. There was little concern about the fragile egos of the precious little children back then; assignments were carefully read, brutally evaluated, and returned bleeding with red ink. Southern Man can still name all of the parts of speech and diagram sentences today; his high-school age children can not. Do they even teach those skills anymore? Some of the papers Southern Man found was an assignment to diagram all of Jabberwocky and selected portions of Ulysses. His children would die if subjected to an assignment like that. Southern Man's teens took classes in "keyboarding," which he gathers was mostly surfing the net and fooling around with different fonts in Microsoft Word. Southern Man took a hard-core touch-typing class from a whip-cracking bitch who got him up to sixty error-free words per minute as a high-school junior. Southern Man had the added benefit of a doctoral advisor who was an excellent writer and allowed few errors to escape his eye.

So Southern Man is playing English teacher today, passing on at least a few of the harsh lessons he learned so long ago to his own students. He suspects that they won't appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ivy League Overlords

David Bernstein notes that after John Paul Stevens retires from the Supreme Court he will leave eight justices who all attended law school at either Harvard or Yale.

John G. Roberts, appointed 2005; Harvard Law School, 1979
Antonio Scalia, appointed 1986; Harvard Law School, 1960
Anthony Kennedy, appointed 1988; Harvard Law School, 1961
Clarence Thomas, appointed 1991; Yale Law School, 1974
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed 1993; Harvard Law School (attended, then transferred to Columbia), 1959
Stephen Breyer, appointed 1994; Harvard Law School, 1964
Samuel Alito, appointed 1996; Yale Law School, 1975
Sonia Sotomayer, appointed 2009; Yale Law School, 1979
If Elena Kagan (Harvard Law School, 1986) is confirmed (which is a longs ways off) it'll be nine for nine.
But wait, there's more!
George W. Bush (Yale, 1968) and Dick Cheney (attended Yale but, in his words, "flunked out") defeated Bill Clinton (Yale Law School, 1973) and Al Gore (Harvard, 1969). Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush (Yale, 1948). By Southern Man's count, the only president and vice-presidents of the last two decades who didn't go to Harvard or Yale are Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Dan Quayle.

A comment on
this story at Chicago Boyz (sorry, no direct link to the comment) sums it all up:

"Everyone in a position of power in the SEC, on the New York Stock Exchange board, sitting in the Secretary of the Treasury seat, and acting as a close advisor to any president on economic matters over the last thirty years has gone to school north and east of the intersection of 37th and O Street in Washington, D.C."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Southern Weather

4:45 - sunny with scattered clouds
5:00 - tornado sirens sound, torrential rain at a 45o angle from East to West.
5:05 - tornado sirens sound, torrential rain at a 45o angle from West to East.
5:15 - sunny with scattered clouds

[added later: Southern Man had no idea that this outbreak of tornadoes killed five people across his state and and did a tremendous amount of property damage; his condolences go out to all those who were victims of these storms.]

Summer Vacation I

Graduation ceremonies are complete, grades are posted, and Southern Man now has three glorious weeks with no schedule and no alarm clock.

Then it all starts up again. But not before three full weeks of vacation.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Southern Man is blessed with the greatest mom ever.

Photo by

Here she is relaxing in Florida last month while vacationing with Southern Man's sister and her family (photo album here). An RN with an earned MSN, she's done everything that a nurse can do: traveling school nurse, retirement home administrator, physician's assistant, and professor of nursing at a local university, to name a few. She's earned a lifetime of relaxation and leisure but still stays active in church, volunteers for charity, plays cards with shut-ins, keeps Dad in line, and baby-sits her numerous younger relations and counsels the older ones. All of Southern Man's children adore her, as they should. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!