Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Guy Time

A few weeks ago Jess went to a weekend women’s retreat at our church, so Charlie and I had some guy time. I caught a little footage of our activities and just now got around to uploading them. (Actually Jess did it because I am lazy.) This is what the guys do when mom’s gone.

Guys also play football. So I taught Charlie to “go long.”

Remember That Gas Post? Vindicated.

This gas post from just a few days ago? Well read this:

Just last winter, gas at $4 a gallon was said to represent a super-ultra emergency, and ExxonMobil profits were said to be obscene. Now gas is $2 a gallon and this is bad, according to CNBC economics bobbleheads, who last week warned the lower pump price will depress oil-company profits. Just last winter, rising consumer prices were said to represent a super-ultra emergency — now that consumer prices are falling, that’s supposed to be bad too, owing to the possibility of deflation. But innovation and rising labor productivity are supposed to drive down prices. Lower prices are a core goal of capitalist economics!

These points should serve as reminders that the mainstream media always present all economic news as bad. Higher interest rates? Bad for borrowers. Lower interest rates? Might cause inflation. Normally, the media’s penchant for spinning all economic news as bad doesn’t matter — but right now it does, as pessimism more than logic seems to be driving the weak economy. Speaking as someone who pulled the election lever for Barack Obama (and whose daughter worked for the Obama campaign round the clock for months), I agree with John McCain’s statement, “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” They are. McCain was right! Innovation is high. Labor productivity is high. There are no shortages of any resource or commodity. Pessimism is driving the downturn, and that pessimism is advanced by relentless media negativism

Greg Easterbrook here, via Alan Jacobs

New Tagline, Again

I am growing ever more frenetic with my taglines. The stints of the last two have been quite brief. Who knows how long this one will last? The intrigue! The suspense! The excitement!

If you can guess where this one comes from, I will give you, my friend, one hundred dollars.*

*The money, furnished by solely Jeff Reimer, will be payed out on a cash basis at a rate of $0.01 per year over a period of 10,000 years.

I Am Buying Gas for Under Two Dollars. Tell Me Why I Should Not Be Happy About This.

Every I repeat every news outlet tells me every single day why I should not be happy that my gas budget has been cut in half since July. (NPR has even told me twice, since they inexplicably played the same news broadcast this afternoon as they did yesterday.) Here is the explanation from the News Media of why I should be upset about affordable gas: It is the sign of a shrinking economy.

Oh horrors!

Well let me tell you something, News Media. This. abstraction. is. not. helpful. to. me.

I still have a job. I am still among the 92.4 percent of the population that does. And as far as I can tell my job is still secure. I have lost money in my retirement fund, but I will not be retiring for, um, let’s see, thirty-eight more years. I’m pretty sure I’ll get my money back by then. But really what it comes down to is that I have at least fifty more dollars to kick around in my budget every month. Boohoo!

I get it, though. I get it. I’m no Pollyanna. I know generally and vaguely how this stuff works on a macro/global scale. I also know that my socioeconomic stratum is not the one hit hardest by these types of things. So forgive me if my critique seems a little bourgeois. But don’t people below me on the economic ladder stand to gain just as much or more than me? And don’t I remember from Econ 101 something about a shrinking economy being a natural and healthy part of a free market economy? Okay, okay. I know what we’re in the middle of is a little more than your garden variety shrinking economy. I’ve read enough of the doomsayers to realize this. But tell me again how lower prices for gas, food, and homes is really actually bad news. This is what seems bourgeois to me. Fifty dollars means a lot more to me than it does to the pundits in Washington.

So until the failing economy actually affects me in a more concrete way than the unexpected-but-welcome surprise of falling prices on necessary commodities, I will not let you kill my joy, News Media. No way. I am going to buy an SUV from one of the failing automakers, fill it up with premium gasoline, fill myself up with Twinkies and YooHoo, and drive that behemoth all over God’s green creation. And then I’m going to park it in the driveway of the foreclosed house I just bought for a song. Because now I can afford to do things like this, and you can’t take that away from me, News Media, no sir, not ever.

Speaking of the Tail Wagging the Dog, Check This Out

In the car this evening I was listening to the NPR show “The World.” There was a segment on endangered mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Remember the Michael Crichton novel-cum-movie Congo? Same ones.) Somebody involved in the project was being interviewed, and at one point he said,

Now with the unrest in the region, in order to save the gorillas we have to save the people.

Gee whiz, what an inconvenience.

How to Cash In on the Latest Fad and Exploit Religion at the Same Time, Or What It Looks Like to Subsume Religion under the Cause du Jour, Or Is the Tail Not Wagging the Dog Here, My Friends?

greenbible

Website. Despite the intellectually respectable veneer, this is just another version of BibleZines. Lord help us.

How My Guitar Became My Fifth Appendage Last Week

Last weekend I bought new guitar strings for my guitar for the first time in over a year and a half. While I was restringing it I went over all the surfaces and crevices good and thorough-like with a dustcloth. Then I cleaned out all the grime from underneath the tuners and around each fret, and took a tiny screwdriver and tightened all the tuner screws. Now no more rattles come from the head, the tuners twist with just the right amount of resistance, and a rich, bright sound comes from the soundhole when I pluck the shiny strings. Voila! New guitar. Except for those shiny places where my arm and hand rest when I play. And the gashes and scratches from all the times I’ve dropped and mishandled it. Ah, but those are the marks of love!

This Is for Work so Bear with Me

Two independent clauses joined with the conjunction because should have a comma before the word because, right? Not always. If the independent clause following the word because is an adverbial modifier, it is actually a dependent clause, and the word because is actually a subordinating conjunction. Whether or not it requires a comma depends on whether the clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive. One of the telltale marks of an adverb (or adverbial modifier) is mobility, so if you can move the because part of the sentence to a different place and the sentence still makes sense, you’ve got yourself a dependent (adverbial) clause. But determining whether the clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive can get fuzzy. Nonrestrictive clauses are not necessary to the meaning of the sentence and therefore require a comma (or commas) to set them off. In other words, the information in the nonrestrictive clause is already implied or included in the phrase the nonrestrictive clause is modifying. A restrictive clause, then, is necessary to the meaning of the sentence and therefore does not require a comma (or commas). Often these are conditional in nature, restricting the meaning of the sentence to the conditions set out in the modifying clause. But it’s not always so cut and dried. I can’t even make sense of all the examples in The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.) 5.34.

I just had to sort that out for myself. I’d use examples to make things clearer, but (1) I am far too lazy and (2) there are plenty of other sites that explain this grammar much more fully and with many more examples. Also, I am lazy. And again, this is primarily for my benefit. Writing these things down allows you to think through it more thoroughly.

Monday Morning Diversions

Anybody else notice the resemblance between the out-of-character Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute in The Office) and Ben Gibbard (aka frontman of Death Cab for Cutie)?

Observe:

Rainn Wilson, a surprisingly stylish person

Rainn Wilson, a surprisingly stylish person

Ben Gibbard, a not-very-surprisingly stylish person

Ben Gibbard, a not-very-surprisingly stylish person

Oddly, an image search for Ben Gibbard brought up this semi-related photo:

from left to right, John Krasinski (Jim Halpert in The Office) and Ben Gibbard (or is it Rainn Wilson?)

from left to right, John Krasinski (Jim Halpert in The Office) and Ben Gibbard (or is it Rainn Wilson?)

Michael Crichton Dies

And a little part of the twelve-year-old me dies along with him. Story here. I will forever be grateful to the man who originally made it possible for me to see real live dinosaurs (or at least photo-realistic dinosaurs). Steven Spielberg made the movie, but it was all Michael Crichton’s idea.

I loved dinosaurs as a kid, as many young boys do, and I’ll never forget sitting in a cool dark movie theater on a hot summer afternoon watching Jurassic Park for the first time, especially the moment when Sam Neill’s character gasps and stands up in the jeep and a full-size brachiosaurus lumbers onto the screen. Marvelous!

jurassicparkbrachiosaurus

Later that summer, the night before my family left on vacation, I bought the novel at the local grocery store. I think my entire family read it over that vacation. I reread it a few years later and moved on to many more Michael Crichton novels, but Jurassic Park will always stick with me as the first and best one. What’s more exciting than realistically rendered dinosaurs (on the page or on the screen)! Wreaking havoc! Eating people! Oh, the imaginative wonder! Thank you, Michael Crichton. You will be missed.