Southern Man

Friday, December 31, 2010

Return of the Hyundai

The little black Hyundai Accent is finally out of the shop and back in service. The thieves took everything that was in the cab - books, clothes, stuffed animals, clip-on visor mirror - right down to the steering wheel cover and the parking stickers. Except the Bible in the back seat. They took all of the papers that were in the Bible, but not the Good Book itself. The tag on the car when recovered was from a different stolen vehicle. They also cut the wiring harness to the stereo at the firewall, so it was quite an ordeal (not to mention expense) to have the car rewired for the replacement stereo. However, it now has an alarm with ignition cutoff so whoever is out there with a key will be a little more challenged if they try to take it again. Southern Man didn't have a lot of the minor body damage repaired, electing to use the insurance money to ensure a Merry Christmas for his children instead. So now the big grey Titan goes back to secondary vehicle - and it goes to the shop after New Year's Weekend for an alarm as well.

Southern Man is still white-hot angry about that theft. It's a good thing that the aforementioned Good Book restricts punishment to an eye for an eye; in Southern Man's opinion, boiling oil is too good for thieves. He needs to get over that. Lord, give me the grace to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Politics Explained

Adapted from
All the talk lately of “bipartisan consensus” and the smug No Labels movement brought back to mind the surely apocryphal but truthy story of the Russian visiting a U.S. Senate aide shortly after the fall of Communism in the old USSR. “Please explain two-party system,” the Russian asked, having no experience with multi-party democracy. “It’s simple,” explained the Senate staff veteran. “We have two parties in America—the stupid party and the evil party. Since I’m a Republican, I’m in the stupid party, and we stupidly battle against the evil of the evil party. But sometimes the two parties get together and do something really stupid and evil. We call that ‘bipartisanship.’”
Southern Man's allegiance is with the Tea Party and he is not yet sure to what extent they will be stupid or evil.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day At The Land

It was cold but calm today and as long as the wind isn't sweepin' down the plains Southern Man doesn't really care about the temperature. He and a friend got a lot of siding up on the new Workshop - not much left to go there - and grilled burgers down at the firepit. There is nothing quite like a crackling fire and hot meat on a cold day. The pond had iced over a bit and we amused ourselves by seeing how far we could skip stones. Then it was off to pick up eleven-year-old daughter from her other grampa; she will grace Casa Southern Man for the next few days. It's just her for now as her sister is up with her mother for the week. So we are watching movies and snacking and generally just relaxing. Tomorrow we have a fairly lengthy list of errands to run. It will be fun.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice Day!

Yesterday was a perfect day - clear skies, no wind, mid 70s - and Southern Man spent most of it with friends out on The Land where we put more siding up on The Workshop, spent an hour looking for the keys that Southern Man dropped, and then feasted on beer and burgers down at the firepit. Then last night (well, technically this morning) we were out under the night sky on blankets with binoculars for the lunar eclipse. And this morning Southern Man pretty much finished up his brick-and-mortar Christmas shopping (Amazon took care of the rest). Let the holidays begin!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Health Insurance and Car Insurance

In a recent interview Glorious Leader compares car insurance to health insurance. Behold these gems of liberal inconsistency:
"We've got to make sure that everybody has some kind of insurance -- the same way that they have car insurance."

"We [must] make sure that insurance companies have to provide care to people with pre-existing conditions,...[our plan] makes sure that that insurance company can't discriminate against you if you've got pre-existing conditions."

"When it comes to car insurance, we wouldn't say that you can wait until you get into a car wreck and then you can go to the insurance company, say hey, I want to buy some insurance for my car"
Let's do a comparison of these two types of insurance that's based on reality, not good intentions.

  • First off, Obama is wrong when he says that "we require" that individuals purchase automobile insurance. The requirments to purchase automobile insurance falls under state regulation, not the federal government.

  • The only insurance we are required to purchase - liability insurance - is for the protection of others, not ourselves. This alone invalidates any comparison between automobile insurance and health insurance.

  • There is no requirement to purchase insurance at all unless one participates in the voluntary activity of driving on public roads. If you drive only on private roads, or don't drive at all, there's no requirement to obtain a driver's license or purchase insurance.

  • Automobile insurance is designed to cover only major claims. People file automobile insurance claims only in the event of significant damage or loss. But people file significant health insurance claims for events as minor as the flu.

  • Automobile insurance doesn't pay for basic maintainence, oil changes, tire rotations, and such. That's one reason that insurance is relatively affordable. The new health car plan wants insurers to pay for our basic health maintainence, which will make that insurance more expensive.

  • Another reason that automobile insurance is relatively affordable is that insurers can compete across state lines. That means that comparable policies from the major vendors are comparable in price. That's not the case with health insurance. The lack of competition is one reason that comparable insurance plans in different states can vary dramatically in price.

  • The cost of automobile insurance is associated with risk, accessed by both your individual record and by membership in certain groups that are statistically associated with high risk. If your driving record is good and you make few claims, you aren't much of a risk and your insurance is relatively inexpensive. And if you're an eighteen-year-old male, you're going to pay more for insurance even if you're a safe driver. But the new health plan wishes to force insurers to ignore risk and cover everyone at comparable rates.
    But the greatest inconsistency in Obama's statments have to do with prior conditions. Dispite his claim to the contrary, forcing health insurance companies to accept new clients with prior conditions is exactly the same as forcing automobile insurers to accept new clients who just wrecked their car - and then paying for repairs.

    Health insurance should be like automobile insurance in some ways: a policy priced on risk to protect you from major events. But liberals want to transform the insurance industry into socialized medicine, in which everyone contributes to a common pot and draws from that what they need. This is an economic policy that has never worked, anywhere or anytime it has been tried. It won't work now either.

    Hat tips to Doug Ross and Ed Morrissey

    The Most Evil Thing On The Internet

    Southern Man used to think that The Most Evil Thing On The InternetTM were pages that start videos immediately on loading.

    He was wrong. The Most Evil Thing On The InternetTM are pages that start advertisement videos immediately on loading which cannot be stopped or paused.

    ABC News, I'm talking to you.

    Office Music

    Southern Man has fairly wide and eclectic taste in music and keeps himself surrounded by music pretty much all of the time. The topic came up the other day over lunch: what music is appropriate to play in your office?

    The problem is that, while universities are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas where new ideas from all cultures are welcome, the truth is that in this domain of political correctness you must be very, very careful to not offend anyone (except white male Christians, upon whom it is always open season). In universities, "multiculturalism" is all about the acceptance of other cultures coupled with the rejection of our own. So Southern Man is pretty careful with his office music.

    During the workweek he alternates between a Live 356 station that plays a lot of chamber music and what is possibly the finest instrumental jazz station ever created on Pandora. The common element is that this is music without words, thus reducing the chance that a student might be offended by the sounds that waft from Southern Man's workspace. And he gets lots and lots of compliments on his choices from passers-by. Seriously, that Pandora station is really good.

    But since Thanksgiving he's been going through his sizeable spindle of Christmas CDs (Southern Man is still stuck in the late 20th century and has not yet dumped everything to MP3) but again playing only instrumental works during the workday as to not offend his numerous Muslim and Hindu students. Many of whom have given him small gifts and wished him "Merry Christmas" regardless of our differences in religion.

    At night and on weekends is a different story. The volume goes up - way up - and the selections range from post-hardcore and screamo (genres introduced to Southern Man by his teen son) to current pop / rap (ditto for teen daughter). Or classical or jazz or blues or contemporary rock or big-band or even light country (thanks to youngest daughter, who is quite the little Carrie Underwood fan). Southern Man does not hesitate to sing along.

    And, since Thanksgiving, Christmas music with overtly Christian words.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010


    Sarah Palin's got nuthin' on Southern Man's teen daughter, who is pretty sure she used a made-up newly-invented word not once, or twice, but four times on her ACT essay the other day.

    We are all so proud.

    "But isn't that how new words enter the English language?" she asked. So Southern Man promised to do what he could to insert disabilitate into the vernacular. Please feel free to use disabilitate as a synonym for impaired, which is the word teen daughter couldn't come up with at the time.


    With the current season of holiday feasting a time of crisis has come to Casa Southern Man. Upon return from a Sunday School class party this afternoon with the remnants of his justifiably famous Caesar salad, it was determined that there is simply no more room in the 'fridge for leftovers.

    Fortunately, Southern Man is well equipped to deal with this situation. He'll get right to work...

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Tax Cuts For The Rich

    This parable, in various forms, has been in circulation for decades. According to Snopes, the authorship is unknown. Given the recent debate on extending the Bush tax cuts it seems appropriate to reprint it here to remind the taxpaying public how this really works.

    Ten men go out for dinner where the bill comes to $100. They elected to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. The first four men - the poorest - would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man - the richest - would pay $59. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and were content with this arrangement until one day, the owner threw them a curve - in tax language, a tax cut.

    "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So from now on dinner for the ten would cost only $80.00.

    The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected; they would still eat for free. But what about the other six - the paying customers? How could they divide their $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

    The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same percentage and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

    And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth paid $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, and the tenth man paid $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

    But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

    "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".

    "That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

    "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

    The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay they discovered that they were $52 short.

    And that is how our progressive tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.
    The only error Southern Man can identify in this story is that due to the Earned Income Credit the poorest person would, in the original arrangement, be paid a modest sum by the others to eat dinner with the group.

    [added later] As Noel Sheppard writes here:
    For over nine years, the Democrat Party and their media minions have regularly echoed the mantra of how horrible the Bush tax cuts were. Yet, just days from them expiring, two Democrat Presidents got together to tell the nation just how essential they were.
    There was a time when Southern Man was convinced that politics couldn't get any stranger. He was wrong.

    Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    The Grand Design

    'Tis the season for students to present gifts to their beloved professors, and this evening one of Southern Man's astronomy students gave him a copy of Stephen Hawking's new book. It will be a welcome addition to the library. Co-author Leonard Mlodinow is no stranger to the library, either; his Feynman's Rainbow is a personal favorite.

    Most of Southern Man's students know who Hawking is; not many are aware of Richard Feynman. He may have been the most talented scientist of the last century, demonstrating a grasp of physics in his youth that rivaled that of Albert Einstein. All threee - Hawking, Feynman, and Einstein - have made enormous contributions to our understanding of the world around us; we ow them our gratitude.

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Two More Weeks

    Wow, where did that last week go?

    Eleven-year-old daughter was here again this weekend; Southern Man gets her back a little before Christmas. But no six-hour drive; her mom dropped her off as she came through town on her way to the Big Twelve Championship down south and picked her up on the way back through. We didn't do much - watched movies and played games and generally lazed around on Saturday, then she went to Southern Grandmother's for their annual visit to the community performance of The Nutcracker. All major Christmas shopping was completed online. Surprisingly, all three kids wanted specific gifts, not money. Teen son's wish was expensive enough that Southern Man had to put together a consortium of grandparents to swing it. Since all three got exactly what they asked for, they should be pretty happy come Christmas Eve.

    One more week of classes - not much lecturing, though, mostly reviews and midterms. As usual, Southern Man has two weeks worth of material left, but his mind is more on the upcoming vacation than on cramming every last bit of knowledge into what remains of the term. Hopefully the weather will permit some progress to be made on projects out at The Land this break. One more good day of work and the new workshop should have electricity, meaning lights and power and heat for working in the cold and after dark. And there is nothing quite like grilling over a campfire on a crisp cold evening. Hopefully there will be lots of that over the next month.

    The Hyundai has been languishing at the repair shop for a week now, waiting for estimates. Hopefully it will be back in service soon. Southern Man still struggles with his anger over that theft - in particular, the loss of everything in the car - but is working to get over that and move on. It is just stuff, after all. Lord, let me be mindful of that which is important and not dwell on things that matter little. Amen.