Saturday, January 31, 2009

Of Mice and Track Balls

We were shopping in town yesterday, and went to our local Staples store to buy a trackball. We couldn't find any, they only had wireless mouses (or is it mice? Whatever). We asked a salesman, and he said Staples no longer carries any track balls.

I was shocked. Furthermore, he said that nobody in town carried them any more; if we wanted to buy one, we would have to search on-line.

Since when did these wonderful devices become so unfashionable? When I used my first track ball years ago, I was converted and never looked back. For some reason, all my desktops have never had sufficient space to use a mouse properly. The track ball solved that problem, and seemed so much easier and efficient.

I eventually found my preferred track ball (shown above) on, and ordered a couple. One of the User Reviews describes it thus:
The Logitech Marble Mouse Trackball is possibly THE most intelligently designed pointing device for PCs and Macintosh personal computers. First of all, in spite of its name, it's a trackball, the superior successor to the computer mouse. Unlike a mouse, it sits in one place and your fingers guide the pointer. You click on menu selections, icons and such with your thumb. It takes mere minutes to get used to this method of moving around the screen but after you do, using a mouse will seem cumbersome and quaint (which it is).

Beneath that black-dotted burgundy ball lies the secret of the Marble Mouse's responsiveness, longevity and reliability. An infrared emitter and optical pickup track the movement of the ball, not mechanical rollers which quickly become gunked up with skin oils and dust. You'd have to let a really thick layer of crud accumulate on the ball before you'll see an impact on the Marble Mouse's performance. Small enough to tuck into your notebook, laptop or PowerBook's carrying case, the Marble Mouse is pure computing bliss compared to jittery trackpads, wobbly finger sticks and erratic rollerballs. [...]

Once in a great while I've had to pop the ball out and clean it, and the groove it sits in, but that only takes a moment. For some reason the Amazon website has a wrong description of the device, describing it as using two AA batteries, but it doesn't, I have the one in the picture. No batteries.

This particular track ball is is manipulated with your fingers, not the palm of your hand or your thumb. It's a lot like using a mouse, only you don't have to move it around. The design has the best of both worlds, I don't understand why it hasn't caught on in a big way.

Meanwhile, I don't understand the wireless mouse craze. You still have to move the friggin thing around. They need batteries. Was the wire really such a problem for most people? After all, it just stays on the desk. Sheesh.

President Obama reportedly does not favor a return of the Fairness Doctrine

At least, not in it's old form. But new incarnations remain a possibility:

Citing Obama Opposition, McDowell Warns Against Fairness Doctrine
FCC commissioner Robert McDowell had a message for Democrats, or anyone else contemplating trying to reimpose the fairness doctrine: The move could undermine the justification for existing localism and children's TV regulations, and could be used against public radio.

He also suggested it would not come back wearing a big sign saying, "it's me, the fairness doctrine," but would likely instead be rebranded.

Those were some of the observations McDowell provided Wednesday in a speech to The Media Institute in Washington, which is a strong opponent of the doctrine.

The fairness doctrine, which was scrapped by the FCC as unconstitutional in 1987, required broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues.

In the speech, McDowell cited candidate Barack Obama's statement to B&C--through an aide--that he did not support the doctrine, adding that the new administration has a terrific opportunity to enunciate its strong opposition to anything resembling the fairness doctrine.

He spoke at length about the doctrine's origins and its use by both Democrats and Republicans against their opponents. He said he did not know whether recent calls for its return would bear fruit, felt it was a good time to talk to his audience--of media executives, lobbyists, journalists and others--about its creation, its historical abuses, and the legal difficulties involved with restoring it and trying to enforce it. [...]

I've said before that many Democrats don't like it because it cuts both ways. This article talks about some of those ways. But the idea that it could be "rebranded" and reintroduced in different form(s), is another idea the article looks at. Something to be alert for, as our Brave New Word... "progresses".

Related Links:

Is the Fairness Doctrine even doable anymore?

Obama Cults, Shrillness & the Fairness Doctrine

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What would a U.S. currency collapse look like?

Since the '70's, our government has steadily been printing more money:

This graph in a recent post by Pat (Inflation and our "funny money" supply) is startling in it's implications. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have done anything to stop the devaluing of our currency since the 1970's. In fact, they all have been printing even more money and devaluing it even further. When will it stop? Will it stop? And if it doesn't stop? Where will it lead us?

I've been reading a book called "PATRIOTS: surviving the coming collapse. It's a novel, in which a severe economic meltdown in the USA takes place. It was the description of the understated "crunch", the economic collapse when the dollar fails, that really gave me the creeps. What would the collapse of the American dollar actually look like?

The story starts with the US having 19 trillion dollars of debt, with interest on the national debt consuming 96% of government revenue. Most of it is "off budget", like the debts for the Iraq war, but it's still national debt. There is still interest to pay on it.

Ok, at this point you might say, "19 TRILLION DOLLARS of debt? No way, it could never happen." I would hope it wouldn't. But if you told me 10 years ago that we would even be talking about trillions of dollars of debt today, I would have said "No way, our government would never be that irresponsible". Yet, here we are. And our government has been taking debt "off budget", and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. If they think it's ok to run debt up another 1 trillion, or 3 trillion... once you say it's alright to go down that road, then where does it stop? How much is too much?

In the story, European bankers start to express doubt that the US government can make the interest payments on it's growing debt, with serious results: foreign central banks and international monetary authorities began to dump their trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasuries. Foreign investors begin liquidating their U.S. paper assets.

The value of the dollar plummets. Businesses fail. Unemployment goes to 20% and higher. Ultimately it leads to a stock market collapse, and domestic runs on U.S. banks begin. Like in the Great Depression of the 1930's long lines of people form at the banks, wanting to withdraw all of their money. But unlike the 1930's, this time there is the promise of FDIC, "All deposits insured to $100,000." But the only way to let everyone withdraw their money, is to print even more money. This leads to hyper-inflation; the more money the government prints, the less it's worth. Think of Zimbabwe as a recent example.

In the novel, the government can't stop the inflation unless they stop printing money, but they can't stop printing more, because people are demanding their FDIC protected cash. With the resulting hyper inflation, soon a can of beans costs $150.00.

Now this is, to me, where the story really gets scary. I figured that if a 1930's type "depression" happened, it would be bad, but we would all somehow muddle through it, just as we had in the 1930's. But there are some significant differences between then and now.

In the 1930's, the government hadn't over-borrowed and raked up trillions of dollars in debt. In the 1930's, roughly half of American families lived on farms. They may have been made poor by the Depression, but they still had means to grow their own food and scrape by.

Nowadays, the population of the United States is much larger. The majority of U.S. citizens live in cities. Only 2% of the population lives on farms anymore. The majority of Americans must buy their food at stores. Think what would happen if they could no longer do that?

The story goes on to describe a situation where American cities are gripped with rioting and looting. The National Guard and the Army Reserve are called up to quell the rioting, but many of them don't report in, because they are staying home to protect their families.

Inner city areas are burned to the ground, and no one can stop it. Factories near cities close down "temporarily", but never open again. The Freeways that run through the cities become impassable, due to the riots, and due to fuel shortages, with people running out of gas and leaving their cars on the roads.

Most of the goods and fuel shipments in the US are transported on 18 wheel diesel trucks that use the interstate highway system. They all pass through cities. The cities become impassable, so the shipments of goods and fuel stop.

Trains pick up some of the slack, but not enough, and even they are vulnerable; mobs soon learn they can rip up the tracks to derail the trains, and loot them.

Without fuel shipments to power plants, the electrical grid begins to shut down. The few remaining factories that are operating are shut down by this, as well as the oil refineries that make our fuel. Even the refineries can't produce enough of their own electricity to keep operating, because they, like everyone else, always assumed they could count on the national power grid.

As the power grid shuts down from lack of fuel, so do the telephones, the internet, radio and TV stations. We are plunged back into the dark ages, literally. Our civil institutions and the rule of law break down completely.

THAT never happened in the 1930's.

You'll have to read the book for the complete picture the author paints. Now I grant you, the author is a survivalist. His reason for writing the novel was to use it as a vehicle to teach many of the survivalist strategies and related knowledge he has compiled, in the context of a story where such knowledge would be applied. Therefore, he has painted the bleakest picture possible, as a canvass for that story (See review in link below).

One can argue that a real crash might not be so... severe? I'm sure there are lots of variables, but the story Rawles tells is very compelling none the less. If nothing else, you have to wonder, WHERE is all this endless deficit spending leading us? The disaster described above is completely avoidable, but will we? It often seems like everyone in government is either oblivious to or unwilling to deal with the dangers of huge deficits and inflated currency.

I know that with a personal or a family budget, if you start having "off budget" debts, your finances will be headed for trouble. Government budgets are no different. We must all live within our means. The consequences of ignoring that could be too horrible.

As for this book, I have to read it in parts, and then give it a break. It's intense. I'm not really of a survivalist mind-set. I like to be an optimist, balanced with a boy-scout "be prepared" attitude. The book is full of all sorts of useful tid-bits of information, such as "how long can you store gasoline before it's no longer useful in an automobile?" (about two years, unless you add chemicals to extend it's life). But the story... argh. I don't want to go there, not even mentally.

But even worse would be to go there actually, in reality. That's why I made this post about it. Let's NOT go there.

Lest this all sounds too depressing, the author says on his website that each of us has to decide for ourselves how bad things could get, and what preparations we want to make. Fair enough.

I hesitated to make this post at all, lest it sound too grim. I'd like to just forget about it, but then I keep seeing headlines like this one today:

New Bank Bailout Could Cost $2 Trillion

Our national debt is already more than 10 trillion dollars. Where is it going to stop? It just makes me want to ring the warning bell. Forewarned is forearmed.

We should not go down this road. But if the nation does anyway, we had best keep our wits about us, try to steer for "damage control", and make preparations along the way as we think might be wise for our circumstances. And never give up hoping, praying, and affirming the best outcome.

Related Links:

Patriots: a customer review on Amazon

An Economic 9/11? A Depression? Trends...

The Federal Deficit and the American Dollar

UPDATE 07-08-10:

Has the slow portion of the collapse already begun? A case is made for it:

Has US Currency already "collapsed"?

Has our nations current financial policies accelerated the collapse process? We may see as soon as next year:

What happens when Tax Cuts Expire in 2011?

Is there anything that can be done about it? I'm not sure, but I think the November elections this year will be our last chance to vote in politicians who can deal with the reality of our present situation:

Our true national debt: $130,000,000,000,000.

November is probably our last chance to stop the runaway gravy train, before it derails.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Democrat economics VS the creation of wealth

Why Tax Rate Reductions Are More Stimulative Than Rebates:
Lessons from 2001 and 2003

With slower economic growth raising fears of a recession, Washington is abuzz with economic stimulus proposals centered on tax rebates. Tax rebates, however, don’t stimulate the economy. Lawmakers currently examining economic stimulus proposals should reject rebates in favor of tax rate reductions.

Tax Rebates Don’t Stimulate. By definition, an economy grows when it produces more goods and services than it did the year before. In 2007, Americans produced $13 trillion worth of goods and services, up 3 percent over 2006.

Economic growth requires four main factors:

(1) an educated, trained, and motivated workforce;

(2) sufficient levels of capital equipment and technology;

(3) a solid infrastructure; and

(4) a legal system and rule of law sufficient to enforce contracts and contain a functioning price system.

High tax rates reduce economic growth, because they make it less profitable to work, save, and invest. This translates into less work, saving, investment, and capital—and ultimately, fewer goods and services. Reducing marginal income tax rates has been shown to motivate people to work more. Lower corporate and investment taxes encourage the savings and investment vital to producing more and better plants, equipment, and technology.

By contrast, tax rebates fail, because they do not encourage productivity or wealth creation. To receive a rebate, nobody has to work, save, invest, or create any new wealth. [...]

Read the whole thing, it goes on to give examples from recent history: the failed 2001 tax rebates, and the successful 2003 tax cuts, which illustrate this dynamic in action. You can't "fix" the economy, without a basic understanding of how it works.

I always thought this understanding of wealth creation was common sense. But is it? We've elected a government that is going to do the opposite of creating wealth, at a time when wealth and job creation is most crucially needed. It seems common sense isn't so common anymore.

Yet ironically, the latest Rasmussen poll shows that a majority of Americans see a problem looming:

59% Fear Too Much Government Spending Is Coming

Hat tip to Neal Boortz for the link. He said about it:
Well duh! What did you expect when you voted these people into office? A bit late to worry about that, don't you think?

If you vote in a Democrat majority, expect them to behave like Democrats and do Democrat things. Duh, indeed.

Related Links:

Dave Ramsey's solution for the financial crisis

Financial Crisis: a free-market solution?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Duck in the Truck

Here is a cute story about a truck driver and his duck:

The video is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. I think he says in the video he called it "Francis" until he found out it was a drake. I thought, So what? Francis can be a boy's name too. Just call him "Sir Francis Drake". ;-)

I have a Mallard drake, but I didn't raise him from a baby so he's not quite so tame as this one. I have a female Indian Runner duck that I raised from a baby, she will eat banana's out of my hand just like Sir Francis. Ducks aren't quite as cuddly as cats and dogs, but it's funny how they can still make you love them. My ducks talk just like Sir Francis does, it's very endearing.

source: The Twin Cities Trucking Duck

The Darwin Awards for 2008

There are emails that go around listing various deaths by stupidity, often refered to as "Darwin Awards". There is one website that attempts to keep track of the stories, and verify them if possible:

2008 Darwin Awards

The site describes itself as "Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it."

There is a list of deaths for 2008 that you can vote on. The following is the one at the top of the list currently.

The Balloon Priest
2008 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin

(20 April 2008, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil) In homage to Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure in 1982--wherein our beloved survivor of a Darwin-worthy attempt attached 45 helium weather balloons to his lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch and cut the tether--a Catholic priest recently ascended to heaven on a host of helium party balloons. Larry, instead of drifting lazily above the LA landscape, the, was rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the lift of his weather balloons. Astoundingly, he survived the flight. Adelir Antonio was not so lucky. Paying a nod to Lawn Chair Larry, Adelir, 41, was attempting to set a world record for clustered balloon flight to publicize his plan to build a spiritual rest stop for truckers.

Sitting for more than 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter, even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal mistake.

He did not know how to use the GPS.

The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably toward open sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost at sea, he prudently phoned for help. But rescuers were unable to reach him since he could not use his GPS! HE struggled with the control panel as the charge on the satellite phone dwindled.

Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God guided him straight to heaven. Bits of balloons began appearing on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's body surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the building.

The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir Antonio wins twice over!

You can follow the link for the rest of the 2008 stories. In fact, the site lists all previous stories as well.

I have mixed feelings about Darwin Award stories. It's odd how a story can be both funny and horrific at the same time. Yet many of the stories are exaggerated and embellished, or sometimes just plain not true.

Websites like the Darwin Award site can verify some of the stories. You can also find out the facts about various Darwin and Darwin-like stories that get passed around in email at


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Time to make Lemonade, not Political Kool Aid

Pat's had some good posts at his blog the past week. Today he had these:

Party-poopers vs lemonade-makers

It has some excerpts from today's column by Jonah Goldberg, in which he responds to criticisms that Michelle Malkin made about his column yesterday that had an agreeable bi-partisan tone. Malkin claimed she would rather be a "crank" than agree with Goldberg. It's worth following the link to read Goldberg's comments and Pat's comments too, about "shrill permanently outraged conservatives". I left the following comment on the post:

Malkin most certainly is a crank, which is why I'll probably end up delinking her from my blog. She still makes some good arguments, but plenty of other conservatives do the same thing without the shrillness. Her commentary also seems to be increasingly petty.

How many conservatives are going to be suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome for the next 4 to 8 years, beating the shrillness drum? If that's the way it's going to be, then maybe bringing back the fairness doctrine wouldn't be such a bad thing. Then at least, we may get some level-headed conservative commentary interjected into the mainstream media, aimed at ordinary folks who aren't particularly ideological.

I find the ideological shrillness of the right to be just as tiresome as the dopey knee-jerk emotionalism of the left.

It's time to make Lemonade, not Kool Aid. I'll be focusing my efforts regarding political posts on listening to and promoting what the adults are talking about. Kool Aid is for kids at best; at worst, it's for suicide cults.

For years I've heard conservatives joke about the Left drinking the political equivalent of arsenic-laced Kool Aid. It would be too ironic if the Right now starts doing the same, and can't see it.

For eight years, the Democrats were the "shrill" party, always against whatever the Republicans were doing, more than being "for" something positive.

Then came Obama. All the flowery speeches. You can say whatever you like about those speeches, but they were never shrill. But the criticism of his speeches often was.

I did a post a while back:

The Real Winner of the 2008 Election: Optimism

It went into detail about the optimism factors in elections, and even methods of measuring optimism in presidential campaigns, including the most recent one.

McCain tried hard to run an optimistic campaign, but the shrill segment of the party pushed him hard to be more negative, to attack more. He gave in to it periodically.

The final analysis for the 2008 election showed that Obama had a higher optimism factor in his campaign, and of course he won.

Too many people in the Republican party today are drinking the Kool Aid of shrillness. It didn't work well for the Democrats, and it won't be any better for us. Please folks, find a better political beverage. I recommend starting with the Lemonade. Sugar to taste as needed.

Related Links:

What W thinks about O

“To Don’t” List for the Right

No use crying over spilt milk

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama. And so it is. A ray of hope?

I'm going to quote two things from Neal Boortz today, which sum up my feelings about today's events.

Say what you will about the politics and celebrity-worship of Barack Obama, but today is a historic day for this nation ... a day to celebrate.

Once again, for the 44th time in our history, the United States will show the entire world that the world's most powerful country can peacefully change leadership. We're used to it. That doesn't seem so special to us ... but to citizens from other countries it is nothing short of amazing. Witness what is happening in Russia. A new leader through an election? Yeah ... tell that to Putin and get fitted for a blindfold.

Did I vote for this guy? No. Do I want him to be the best president this country has ever had? Absolutely; but that's according to my definition of what "the best" would entail, not Bill Ayers'. I want a president who promotes self reliance, who honors the concept of the individual, who brings us more economic liberty, who recognizes the danger of big government, and who will be an inspiration to millions of people who, before today, thought that their future was out of their hands. As my father used to say; "People in hell want ice water." But we'll see.

Many people have asked me if I suspect that I've made my last trip to the Oval Office for a chat with the president. Yup, I expect so. If the oceans should ever part, however, and if I should receive such an invitation I'll gladly go and I'll be honored to meet and talk with the President of the United States. The institution is larger than any man, and any man in that office deserves our respect: Perhaps not our support at all times, but always our respect.

I won't be watching the celebrations today. I have to work. Somebody has to work to pay taxes to pay off the trillion dollar plus deficit ;-)

Anyhow, I never watch the inauguration events live; you can see a summary of the best parts on the evening news (or Access Hollywood). And there are far too many celebrities involved this time around; I find them most off-putting. IMO, "celebrities" are like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy; no adult who wants to be taken seriously should be professing any belief in them. Ok, celebrities do actually exist, but they still put their pants on one leg at a time like all the rest of us, so what's the big deal? Living in California for 24 years really disabused me of the celebrity BS.

Now for the ray of hope:

Maybe there is hope for Obama after all. I mean, the guy is in love with government just like most Americans; particularly those educated in government schools. But in his inauguration speech today we're led to believe that Obama may stress the importance of self reliance and responsibility. I'll really believe it when he slashes funding for our welfare system and allows the people to keep more of their money in the form of tax cuts .. rather than relying on the government to stimulate the economy.

At a volunteer event yesterday, Obama said, "Government can only do so much ... And if we're just waiting around for somebody else to do it for us, if we're waiting around for somebody else to clean up the vacant lot or waiting for somebody else to get involved in tutoring a child, if we're waiting for somebody else to do something, it never gets done."

Good for him. That's a good start.

Now I assume that he said this in the context of volunteerism .. why can't he take more of an approach like this to our economy? Remember, it was just last week when Obama said that "only government" can get us out of this economic crisis.

I love it when he talks like that. I've been afraid that he's going to be another Jimmy Carter, endlessly throwing money at problems with no understanding of how to solve or effectively deal with those problems. Even Carter's mistakes may not have been so bad if he actually learned from them, but he didn't.

So far, Obama seems to be willing to listen to lots of different advice. No doubt he will make mistakes like all presidents do, but I hope he will learn from them too. Government is essential, but it mustn't try to do everything for everyone in every circumstance. That's not what it's for.

Government indeed has a role to play in managing the economy, but so do the American people. Sometimes the government really does need to do something, and yet many other times it just needs to get out of the way of the people and let us get on with it. If Obama can understand the difference and act accordingly, if he can see what works and what doesn't, and favor the former over the later, then there may be real hope after all.

He's president now, so we shall see. I'm hoping and praying for the best.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama Cults, Shrillness & the Fairness Doctrine

I've been busy with farm work this week, so here's my Sunday morning ramble about several things I've been too busy to post about.

I find this desecration of the Flag disturbing, for it's lack of respect. It's quite possible the people who did it have no concept of what I'm talking about. It's all too easy to show disrespect to something you don't understand, and therefore don't value. Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if the flag re-designers also have no idea of what the Constitution of the United States is about, either.

Pat did a post today, about some Democrats who are pushing to have term limits removed via a constitutional amendment:

Enough with the amendments already!

It seems that some Democrats only want term limits for Republicans. I commented on the post:
Too many of the Dems just want to GRAB power, and keep it by any means possible. They always try to enforce rules on Republicans, but when it comes to themselves they don't want rules to apply. Just look how they criticized the spending for Republican inaugurations. Now they are themselves breaking all spending records, and no one is supposed to mind, or even notice.

The Dems are also more vulnerable to personality cults. I can understand that lots of people are happy that Obama got in, and I can deal with it, that's just politics. But the way so many are insisting that we start naming things after him, and building monuments to him, and he isn't even president yet! I find it creepy. Monuments and dedications are supposed to happen AFTER a president's term, and only if he achieved something great, and even then usually only after he has passed on.

Now they want to repeal term limits, even though Obama hasn't even served a term yet. Talk about counting your chickens before they are hatched! Actually, doesn't it just show that they don't care how he does, as long as the Dems hold power? Why not just scrap the Constitution and make him King, and do away with those pesky elections altogether? Sheesh.

I really don't want to rain on their inauguration parade, but really. Some people need to keep it in proportion.

It's perfectly understandable that Obama supporters are happy that their guy got in, and they want to celebrate that fact. Good for them. But is seems that when the Dems get their way, many of them don't know when to put on the brakes, and always go too far.

All this worship nonsense can backfire. If his supporters really value him, they ought to consider that the higher up they raise him on a pedestal, the further he has to fall and the harder he would land.

Ok, now lest you think that's just sour grapes on my part, let me say something about the "conservative" side's reaction to this.

Michelle Malkin is also criticizing the Obama Worship:

Not all conservatives are singing O-Kumbaya

While she makes some good points, I can't go along with all the criticism. She quotes someone from Politico, who quotes Rush Limbaugh:

[...] While most Republicans now in office are saying all the right things about Tuesday’s proceedings — roll tape on “peaceful transfer of power” and “historic moment for the country” sound bites — some conservatives can’t quite get themselves in the “We Are One” mood.

Not even for a day.

On his radio show last week, Rush Limbaugh railed against “people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, ‘Well, I hope he succeeds. We have to give him a chance.’”

“Why?” Limbaugh demanded. “They didn’t give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated, the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I’m not talking about search-and-destroy, but I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year and a half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.” [...]

Obviously I don't want to see Obama succeed with ALL his plans. But I can face facts, and I believe we all should. Republicans lost this election. We are facing economic collapse and hardship, and myriad dangers from abroad. Obama and the Democrats MUST succeed on many key issues; to fail would be catastrophic for us, all of us.

There is a point where constantly accentuating only our differences with Democrats does not serve us well. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and neither can a country. That doesn't mean we all have to agree on everything, but it does mean we NEED to have common ground on which to stand.

I'm not religious, but one of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 5:25, "Agree with thine adversary quickly". There is great wisdom in that. Democrats may be our adversaries politically, but they are NOT our deadly enemies. And thankfully, not all Democrats are insane. We need to find agreement with them when and where we can. Obama has thus far shown some signs of reaching across the isle, and I am truly thankful for that, and hope it continues.

I'm a Republican, but I'm an American first. The Republicans, as the minority party, have to exert what influence we can and work with the Democrats on many issues that are going to effect all of us. We have to cooperate and find common ground on some things, even as we regroup to battle them on other things. It's a balancing act, which will require a certain amount of sophistication, maturity and flexibility, not ridged ideology. Conservatives need to cut the whining, grow up, and deal with it. We can't afford not to.

Before the election, I was worried that if the Dems got in, they would re-instate the fairness doctrine. The Dems won, and now they are already replacing the Republican members of the FCC, paving the way for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which was an FCC regulation. It can be easily reinstated by the Democrat majority of the commission members. But I've decided not to worry about it. Why?

Reagan got elected during the Fairness Doctrine years. He only scrapped it near the end of his last term. Perhaps the limitation it enforced brought out the best in conservatives.

I sometimes wonder if we weren't better off without conservative talk radio. It seems to have encouraged more shrillness and ideology, which appeals to the ideologically shrill, but repels everyone else.

I resent the Fairness doctrine as government interference; I hate restrictions on free speech. But it's also a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways. Many Dems don't like it, because it requires conservative views to be put forth in the mainstream media. When conservative commentary is put forth as a rebuttal to it's liberal counterpart, it's given a context which lends it greater meaning. It's also aimed at a less ideological audience, and therefore has to have a broader appeal. That could serve us better in the long run.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hugs and kisses... from a Lion?

Yes, it's true. I got this email with a video recently:






I wish I was her.......I have always wanted a lion!

It's a nice video, but I thought, where does a Colombian woman find a lion injured in the forest, ready to die? How does a wild lion become so friendly? I had doubts about the email's story, and was going to "Snopes" it, but then I found the video below on Youtube, as part of a BBC story:

It seems the woman runs an animal sanctuary in Colombia. She did indeed rescue the lion... from a circus. It was ill, and she nourished it back to health. And like so many abused animals who get rescued, he's very grateful!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Painter Andrew Wyeth dies at age 91

This has always been a favorite of mine:

It evokes so much. Called "Christina's World", it's a painting of a neighbor in Maine, who was disabled and pulled herself across the ground on the farm.

The painter, Andrew Wyeth, recently passed away:

Andrew Wyeth, 'Christina's World' painter, dies
(CNN) -- Andrew Wyeth, the American painter perhaps best known for his painting of a young woman in a field, "Christina's World," has died, according to an official with the Brandywine River Museum in Pennsylvania.

Wyeth, 91, died in his sleep Thursday night at his home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to Lora Englehart, public relations coordinator for the museum.


Wyeth, who lived in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and Maine, "has been enormously popular and critically acclaimed since his first one-man show in 1937," according to a biography in InfoPlease.

His main subjects were the places and people of Chadds Ford and Cushing, Maine.

"Christina's World," painted in 1948, shows a disabled Maine neighbor who drags herself through a field toward her house in the distance. The painting, displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has been regarded as Wyeth's most popular. [...]

If you follow the link to the full article, it contains a link to the Works of Andrew Wyeth, who received the National Medal of Arts from President Bush in November 2007.

He looked like he was happy. He must have had a full, interesting life.

What a computer glitch can look like...

Especially one with fur. I got this in my email recently:

I can't respond
to any emails today,

Something has crashed

on my computer . . .


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Has "Atlas Shrugged" become our reality?

It's practically a blueprint for what we are seeing now:

'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
[...] Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.


For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.


The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls." [...]

Punishing people who succeed and rewarding people who fail can only lead to destruction. How far will we have to go before we wake up to that reality?

Maynard at Tammy Bruce's blog did a post about this too:

Atlas Shrugged: Life Imitates Art

I agree with his opinion about Ayn Rand. The messenger may not have been perfect, and all of her solutions may not have worked in the real world, but the warning in her message was and still is right on target.

PETA gives away fur coats for the Inauguration

Obama's green inaugural footprint
For the inauguration of a president who promised to be a friend of the environment, what would you expect but carbon-neutral inaugural balls, hybrid Lexuses, organic menus and valet bicycle parking?

Political correctness will rule the day.

Two Green Inaugural Balls are planned, including one featuring a green carpet made from--what else?--a recycled rug. Official invitations to the Jan. 20 inauguration are being printed on recycled paper. The homeless will be handed furs.

With millions of visitors headed to Washington for President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in, "Our goal is to create an unforgettable evening while treading lightly on the Earth," said Jenna Mack, an organizer of one Green Inaugural Ball--not to be confused with another Green Inaugural Ball featuring Al Gore.

Beyond the Earth-minded, nearly every imaginable group is planning an event to promote a cause.

PETA plans to give away fur coats to the homeless while offering hot soy milk cocoa in cups that read: "Thank You for Not Wearing Fur!"

"We expect that the only fur on the streets on Jan. 20 will be on homeless people," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA vice president.

The furs, collected from people who don't want them anymore, will be marked with black paint before they are given away so that they cannot be sold. [...]

I once worked for a lady attorney, I'll call her "Diane". She had a client who was short of cash, and paid her bill with an elegant fur coat, I think it was Lynx. Diane, who often complained about the cold damp in San Francisco, loved her new fur. She was wearing it to a posh social event one evening, when suddenly she was splashed with red paint by a female PETA protester.

Diane was never one to be a victim. She had the woman arrested, and then sued the bitch for the cost of having the fur "restored". Apparently, furs can be restored when they get paint on them. I wonder if any of the Inaugural homeless furs will find their way back into mainstream circulation? Even if they don't, are we going to see Washington homeless people dressed in elegant, paint-stained furs for years to come?

Maybe it's part of the Change We Can Believe In.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nostalgia for "tube" radios, a.k.a. "boat anchors"

"Boat Anchor" is a term used to describe vintage amateur radios, which are often large and bulky. As they were replaced with smaller models, the large and heavy old ones were said to be only good to use as boat anchors.

Rock star Joe Walsh (WB6ACU) with some "boat anchors"

But in actual fact, there has been a revived interest in old amateur radio equipment, even the old vacuum tube models. Believe it or not, it's possible to still buy vacuum tubes to keep those old boat anchors going.

Some people believe that vacuum tube radios have a richer, fuller, warmer sound (listen to a sample here). Such radios were still in common use when I was a small child, and I do remember that they had a different sound quality from today's radios.

The "survivalist" type folks value vacuum tube radios, because they are nearly impervious to electromagnetic pulses, which can fry transistorized electronics.

Still others like the radios for purely nostalgic reasons. Tube radios have enjoyed a resurgence, but could the bubble of their growing financial value be about to burst, as nostalgic buyers disappear? The following article asks that very question:

Are Boat Anchor Values in a Bubble?
An eBay auction that recently ended has prompted me to ask the question:

A little background, so you can judge my perspective. I was first licensed in 1965 at the age of 12 during an era where the tube was still “King”, but the fat lady was warming up for the finale of many of our beloved boatanchor models and manufacturers.

As a broke teenager, I pretty much had to make do with whatever I could get my hands on for equipment.


Many have attributed the boatanchor renaissance to hams like me who having raised their families now have the disposable income to succumb to nostalgia and buy what we craved in our youth. I’ve been guilty of that and have enjoyed obtaining some of my own, usually paying more than their original cost new.


So, what happens to the value of much of the tube equipment as the generation that craved it passes or loses the ability to handle/operate/maintain them? I suspect the values will begin to decline, perhaps as rapidly as it increased. [...]

I confess, I've been watching for boat anchors at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. Partly nolstagia, partly because I just like radios that have DIALS and KNOBS, instead of buttons.

I enjoyed the following rant:

Has the Magic of Radio Gone Away?
I remember as a kid listing in on the short wave radio that wondrous feeling I got of the magic of radio.

I wondered how this was possible that a voice can be transmitted over vast distances and received... Radio was truly a magical device.

Today we have such wonderful communication devices and digital toys I often wonder what the children think of these items and if they can truly appreciate how they came to be?

Today most people of young take everything for granted. I find very few if any younger kids wondering how it works, why it works and where it came from.


I miss those days where we were amazed at the wonders of the new devices and what they did. I recently purchased my Daughter a new cell phone that can do everything but walk the dog. An amazing little device that can communicate all over the world, send movies, pictures, play games and music and so much more that I don't even know myself? She just took it and that was it!

Man, I remember when I got my first short wave receiver; I was glued to that thing like a magnet to steel! AMAZED at how this box was receiving signals all over the world and then when I became a ham transmitting my own signal and being heard in another location! WOW MAGIC! [...]

Well a big part of my interest in radio is understanding how the "magic" works, and then applying that understanding. The new radios are so fancy, you can't help being an "appliance user" when you start out, but I'm hoping to learn the basics of radio, and try to learn CW (Morse Code) too. I'm interested in radio because it doesn't need the infrastructure of a third party vendor like the internet or the phone company; the airwaves are free, if you can learn how to use them.

I'm studying for my technician's exam, and I can see that it's going to be a fun and interesting hobby.

The two articles above are from, which I've had fun exploring. If you read the articles, be sure and read the comments too, some are as enjoyable as the articles.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The words and deeds of Hamas, leading up to the Gaza conflict. The war was inevitable.

And unavoidable. Look at the video, it's less than 3 minutes, and it's footage you will never see on your TV news (but the Palestinians see it on their TV). Hamas sure wasn't saying "Give Peace a Chance". Quite the opposite; world conquest, and death to anyone who gets in their way. It's part of an ideology that's much bigger than just this war in Gaza.

What really gets me is, all the so-called liberals in the West, bending over backwards to support these goons. And it sure isn't just Jews they want to kill:

And it isn't just the Jews and the Americans:

And it isn't just Jews, Americans and Italians... the list goes on. It sounds a lot like Nazism. Not surprising, given the Nazi roots of this Islamic malaise, which extend back to Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. It's the worst features of militant Islam, merged with one of the worst ideologies Western culture has ever created.

Hamas is killing and wounding (shooting in the kneecaps) fellow Palestinians who they suspect might oppose Hamas in favor of Israel. Western liberals could show support for Palestinians who actually want peace, instead of supporting these neo-nazi monsters.

Related Links:

Shahada (Prayer for a son)

Hamas: projecting their own bloodlust?

From Hamas TV: "Brothers of Apes and Pigs"

Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony on Hamas TV

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dave Ramsey's solution for the financial crisis

I printed a link to this in a post below, but I think it deserves a post of it's own.

The Common Sense Fix

Years of bad decisions and stupid mistakes have created an economic nightmare in this country, but $700 billion in new debt is not the answer. As a tax-paying American citizen, I will not support any congressperson who votes to implement such a policy. Instead, I submit the following three-step Common Sense Plan.


a. Insure the sub-prime bonds/mortgages with an underlying FHA-type insurance. Government-insured and backed loans would have an instant market all over the world, creating immediate and needed liquidity.

b. In order for a company to accept the government-backed insurance, they must do two things:

1. Rewrite any mortgage that is more than three months delinquent to a 6% fixed-rate mortgage.

a. Roll all back payments with no late fees or legal costs into the balance. This brings homeowners current and allows them a chance to keep their homes.

b. Cancel all prepayment penalties to encourage refinancing or the sale of the property to pay off the bad loan. In the event of foreclosure or short sale, the borrower will not be held liable for any deficit balance. FHA does this now, and that encourages mortgage companies to go the extra mile while working with the borrower—again limiting foreclosures and ruined lives.

2. Cancel ALL golden parachutes of EXISTING and FUTURE CEOs and executive team members as long as the company holds these government-insured bonds/mortgages. This keeps under-performing executives from being paid when they don’t do their jobs.

c. This backstop will cost less than $50 billion—a small fraction of the current proposal


a. Remove mark to market accounting rules for two years on only sub-prime Tier III bonds/mortgages. This keeps companies from being forced to artificially mark down bonds/mortgages below the value of the underlying mortgages and real estate.

b. This move creates patience in the market and has an immediate stabilizing effect on failing and ailing banks—and it costs the taxpayer nothing.


a. Remove the capital gains tax completely. Investors will flood the real estate and stock market in search of tax-free profits, creating tremendous—and immediate—liquidity in the markets. Again, this costs the taxpayer nothing.

b. This move will be seen as a lightning rod politically because many will say it is helping the rich. The truth is the rich will benefit, but it will be their money that stimulates the economy. This will enable all Americans to have more stable jobs and retirement investments that go up instead of down.

This is not a time for envy, and it’s not a time for politics. It’s time for all of us, as Americans, to stand up, speak out, and fix this mess.

Source URL:".

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Obama embraces the "failed Bush policy" of cutting taxes while raising spending

Has a vote for Obama become a vote for one of Bush's worst failed policies? Read this article in USA Today and decide for yourself:

Budget deficit to reach $1.2 trillion
WASHINGTON — The federal budget deficit will rise to a record $1.2 trillion this year, and a package of new spending increases and tax cuts planned by President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats will push that figure higher, the Congressional Budget Office reported today.

In the first official reckoning of the damage caused by the severe recession, the report paints a bleak picture for 2009: a 2.2% drop in the size of the nation's economy, a jump in the jobless rate to 9.2% in early 2010, a 14% drop in home prices and a 1% decline in consumption.

The year-old recession, brought on by the slump in housing and its impact on financial institutions, "will probably be the longest and the deepest since World War II," the CBO said.

The budget deficit also will be the largest since World War II, and deficits will continue to haunt the federal government for the next decade, totaling $3.1 trillion. That's without any action by Obama and Congress to fix the economy, which will cause deficits to rise, the CBO said.

The report predicted that revenue will drop by $166 billion this year, or 6.6%. Spending will increase by more than $400 billion because of the government's takeover of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac housing corporations and the federal bailout of financial institutions. [...]

I'm not saying Obama will make a 3 Trillion dollar deficit. Not intentionally. Presumably he is planning to spend money to save the economy, and try to avoid a 3 Trillion deficit. But all these bailouts could be just throwing good money after bad. And it's money we don't have.

When McCain was nominated for the Republican ticket, he was heavily criticized by conservatives for opposing the Bush tax cuts. But when he opposed those tax cuts, it was because they were not accompanied by spending cuts. He was absolutely right. If you cut taxes and increase spending, you get in the mess we're in now.

Our next president seems to also want to cut taxes AND increase spending. Why, because it worked so well for George Bush? Obama kept insisting throughout the campaign that a vote for McCain was a vote for George Bush's failed policies. Now Obama himself is continuing one of Bush's biggest failed policies: cut taxes and spend more. How ironic.

It's imperative that we reduce the deficit. We must live within our means. We have seen what happens to individuals and businesses that refuse to live within their means. Now the government is supposed to bail them out? Who is going to bail out the government, when it continues to live beyond it's means?

If we get a 3 Trillion dollar deficit, it won't matter who did it or how we got there, if it leads to economic collapse and ruin. Does that sound overly dramatic? Consider what such a deficit could do to the value of the already weak dollar, and where that could lead.

If Obama's spending plans work to revive the economy, I'll be happy to be proven wrong, and gladly eat my words here. But I say what I say because I'm just not confident that a failed Bush policy is Change We Can Believe In.

A real change would be a common sense fix that wouldn't cost the tax payers anything.

Related Links:

Financial Crisis: a free-market solution?

"Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the right answer"

Economic Recovery & the Lessons of History

The Federal Deficit and the American Dollar

John Stossel: Federal deficit is cause for worry
President-elect Obama says don't worry about the federal budget deficit.

"The consensus is this: We have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again -- we're going to have to spend money now to stimulate the economy. ... (We) shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after; that short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession."

It must be music to a politician's ears when a "consensus" tells him not to worry about deficits. He can spend without limit. So Obama talks about a "stimulus package" that he says will rebuild the infrastructure and "green" the energy industry. That won't happen, of course. Government performance consistently falls far short of its goals.

Obama hasn't put a price tag on his stimulus package yet, but speculation begins at $500 billion, with some people -- like Paul Krugman, the recent Nobel prize winner -- saying that's way too small. "I'm still not sure ... whether the economic team is thinking big enough." [...]

Stossel goes on to compare our situation with the Great Depression, and how government spending and intervention in the 1930's prolonged it. And how that is relevant to our situation today? Read on:

[...] Obama must realize that government has no wealth of its own and that commandeering scarce resources from the private sector only stifles the economy. The 2009 deficit is projected to be $438 billion. Obama's "stimulus" could take it up to a trillion and beyond. That's just the beginning since the Democratic Congress' spending wish list and Medicare's $35 trillion unfunded liability loom. [...]

This is what concerns me most. Our government seems to keep spending money it does not have. The debt just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The "bubble" just keeps growing. What happens to the Dollar when the bubble bursts?

We really don't want to find out. There is no part of our constitution that requires a balanced budget, because, I believe, it was considered just common sense to balance the budget. Duh! But common sense seems to have gone out the window. It really, really needs to make a comeback. The American people and government cannot keep spending money we do not have.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sexy Songbird of the 50's and 60's, Abbe Lane

When I was doing the post about Xaiver Cugat, I was talking about it at dinner with Pat and Andy, and I mentioned that one of Cugat's ex-wives, singer Abbe Lane, was a real Sexpot. Andy wanted to see what she looked like, so here is a video tribute from YouTube, with still shots and a song by her:

The video is 2 minutes and 31 seconds. Here is the commentary about the video:

Abbe Lane Tribute
Here is a good song by the glamorous Abbe Lane.

Dripping with sensuality, Abbe Lane was at her best performing live as a night club singer. Her first big break came when she was selected as the feature vocalist for The Xavier Cugat Orchestra. She turned that break into a short Hollywood film career, usually cast as the "exotic". She would make several more films in Italy, but it would always be her sexy stage shows that her fans will most remember.

Abigail Francine Lassman was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 14th, 1932. Her career dates back to her late teens when she was already an accomplished vocalist. During that time she came to the attention of latin band leader Xavier Cugat. Cugat was riding the crest of the latin-mania of the late 1940's and early 1950's. Her occasional singing spot, with his mainly instrumental orchestra, was the highlight of the nightclub circuit from coast to coast.

Her first appearance on film also came through her affiliation with Cugat. In 1952 she starred in a mini-movie simply entitled "Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra". Her recording career also blossomed around the same time. A host of albums followed during the 1950's. Besides her now legendary recordings with Cugat, Abbe also was feted by and recorded with Sid Ramin, Tito Puente and countless others.

Her marriage in 1952 to Xavier Cugat was one of many for the aging band leader. Her career was prolific both as an actress and vocalist during the 1950's and well into the 1960's.

A rare interview from "ADAM" magazine in 1963 reveals exactly who Abbe was and what she meant to show business: "With her mobile hips, her sultry voice and her free-wheeling outlook on love, Abbe Lane has well earned the crown of... The Swingingest Sexpot In Show Business". She said: "Jayne Mansfield may turn the boys into men, but I take them from there."

Listen to this sexy songbird and enjoy!

Yes, a good song indeed!

Emergency Radios with TV bands: obsolete?

On February 17th, analog TV broadcasts will cease in the USA, as stations switch to digital broadcasting. There has been a push to get analog TV's equipped with converter boxes to prepare for the changes, but there is one product I have not seen any provisions being made for. Emergency hand-crank radios that receive TV audio, like this popular model sold at
American Red Cross FR300 Emergency Radio, White

Plenty of Radios like this are still being sold with TV bands. Will those bands work after the Feb. 17th switch over? I would think not. And according to the FCC, they won't:

FCC Digital TV transition: Public Safety Implications
[...] some individuals and public safety entities may rely on battery-powered analog televisions during power outages that may occur during weather or other emergency situations. Portable, battery-powered analog TVs will not be able to receive digital TV programming after February 17, 2009 unless they have an external antenna or audio/video input that allows them to be connected to a digital-to-analog converter box. Also, currently there are no digital-to-analog converter boxes that operate on batteries. Accordingly, if a converter box is to be used with a battery powered TV at times or locations where power is not available from the local public utility service, it will need an external power source, such as battery power station or an emergency power generator, for it to function. Portable AM/FM and shortwave radios are unaffected by the DTV transition and will continue to function as normal to provide access to emergency information. Radios that are designed to tune the audio portion of analog TV broadcasts will not be capable of receiving the audio portion of digital TV broadcasts. Consumers may wish to consider obtaining new portable digital televisions or radios that can receive the audio portion of digital television as they become available on the market. [...]

I know that my parents wanted to get an emergency crank radio, but they wanted one that could get TV sound. When I told them about this, they decided to wait until the "new" ones come out. But will they? And When?

The ones for sale now have no warnings that they are about to become partially obsolete. How many people are buying them now, and will only find out later that the TV portion no longer works? I predict there will be some angry customers.

Perhaps someone will come up with a battery powered converter box for them. But how long will that take, and how much will it cost? More than the radio itself?

And as for waiting for the "new" radios to come out; will they? The existing radios are completely analog. A "new" radio that can receive TV sound would have to have a built in converter, or a digital receiver, which would be like having two radios in one. It would most probably drive the cost up considerably. Perhaps TV bands will no longer be bundled on emergency radios, or radios thus equipped will cost a lot more?

These are all interesting questions that have yet to be answered.

There is also another interesting scenario on the horizon. What about people like me, who already have a radio with TV bands that is about to become obsolete? The FCC has already had a government sponsored auction at which they sold the broadcast rights to the analog TV spectrum to companies like AT&T and Verizon. What will those companies do with those bands, and will I be able to receive whatever-it-is, on my radio? I've heard they are considering sending TV content to cell-phones. That would most likely be digital. Other portions of the spectrum were sold to other vendors, so who knows what they will use it for? If any of it is used for analog transmitions, I would assume an old TV band radio could pick it up.

These are all questions we will most likely have to wait and see about. If anyone does hear of any answers/solutions/news regarding these issues, please feel free to post about it in the comments section.

Related Links:

Will Portable TV's, Emergency Radios, Still Work Next Year?

2009: The end of TV broadcasting as we know it


Monday, January 05, 2009

The fun music of ''Rumba King" Xavier Cugat

We've had this CD for years, and every once in a while I pull it out an play it. I played it for dinner on new year's eve, and gave it another spin last night:

Rumbas! Tangos! Congas! (24 Songs)

This particular album has three songs on it that are sung by Dinah Shore:

track 01: The Breeze and I (can be heard on the YouTube soundtrack below)

track 11: La Cumparsita

track 18: Quierme Mucho (Yours)

It made me curious about his career and the people he worked with, so I did a Google search. Here are some of the things I discovered.

I got the cover photo of my CD from, where you can buy used copies for $1.98. One might think his music has faded away, but it hasn't. There are many other albums of his work that are selling quite nicely.

Xavier Cugat was Born January 1st, 1900, in Catalonia, Spain. He died in 1990 from heart failure. But in those 90 years, he had a very interesting life.

This Unofficial Xavier Cugat website gives a short summary of his life and work:
Xavier Cugat, the king of the Rhumba, was born in Gerona, Spain, on January 1 1900. At a young age, Xavier Cugat, became fascinated by the towns violin-maker. According to legend, the violin-maker was so fed up with the young boy's questions, that, on his saint's day, he gave him a violin. Soon, thereafter, his family emigrated to Cuba, where young Xavier, became entranced with the intriguing rhythms and melodies of the tropics.

By the age of twelve, the young Mr. Cugat, held the position of first violinist in Havana. At the age of fifteen, Xavier, left Cuba for the United States and immediately found work touring with Enrico Caruso. a perfectionist, Xavier Cugat, vowed that if he were not the world's greatest violinist by a certain date, he would quit. Although he was well received by musical audiences the world over, he was not satisfied with his progress, and quit.

Cugat then went to work for the Los Angeles Times as a caricaturist. The deadlines were to demanding and eventually Cugat went on to form his first band, Cugat and the Gigolos. He captivated audiences and dancers with their then unusual music, later to be known as, the Rhumba. Cugat then set up shop in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and became the Hotel's resident group. "Cugie" was a notorious womanizer and of his four wives many of them appeared in his bands. In the 50's Abbe Lane did most of the singing, and later on in the 70's and 80's Charo (wife #4) sang for him, billed as a "folk" singer. Xavier Cugat died on October 27, 1990.

For a more complete biography, see the link below, the biography at SOLID! But I'll try to summarize a few of the things I've read about him at various places.

His family moved to Cuba when he was 5. They immigrated to the USA (NYC) when he was 15. After trying for a career as a classical violenist, he got a job as a cartoonist for the LA Times newspaper. He disliked the deadlines the newspaper required, and pulled together a band that performed in nightclubs in LA. This launched his long career in music, bringing Latin music into the American mainstream via live performances, radio, movies and even a TV show. He became a regular feature at New York's Waldorf Astoria, and spend much time traveling between LA and NY. Many of the details of his career can be found at the Xavier Cugat Wikipedia page.

He followed the fun dancing trends, making records for the conga, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, and the twist when each was popular. He had a reputation for marketing. Often he was photographed holding a chihuahua and a pipe. He sold "Cugat" chihuahua's, and his own line of pipes, even though he didn't smoke! He was once rumored to have said, “I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.”

Xavier Cugat with wife Charo

He was married four or five times (there are conflicting reports). His last wife was "Charo". He was 66 when he married her, and she was 15, passing for 25! From Charo's Wiki page:

[...] Official documents in Murcia, Spain (where she was born) and the United States indicate she was born in 1941, but Charo insists she actually was born in 1951, a claim that has been upheld in court (see below).

The performer has said in past interviews that her parents allowed her to falsify her age to appear to be older after marrying 66-year-old band leader Xavier Cugat when she was 15. Further complicating the question is the fact that contemporary press reports gave her age at marriage as 21, an April 1966 column on the wedding plans stated she was 20 and Cugat was 60, and columns less than two years before the marriage refer to her as Cugat's "18-year-old protegée"—which, if she was falsifying her age, would have made her actually 13 at the time. [...]

(see link for footnotes) In an interview in 2005, Charo described her marriage to Cugat as a "business contract":
[...] In a February 2005 interview with the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión, Charo claimed that her marriage to Cugat had been merely a "business contract," a way for him to legally bring her over to the United States, where he was based. She moved to 257th street in The Bronx, New York City along with her mother and aunt, and was regularly featured in shows with Cugat's orchestra in New York and Las Vegas, as well as in overseas engagements in Latin America and Europe. She claims he was confident in her eventual success from early on, and that she gave him a Rolls-Royce as a parting gift once she came of legal age. [...]

In 1971, Cugat suffered a stroke, and retired from show business. After his divorce from Charo in 1978, he moved to Barcelona, where he ended his days.

A video clip, "She's a Bombshell from Brooklyn" (From "Stage Door Canteen", 1943. 3 minutes and 19 seconds):

Carmen Miranda-Orq Xavier Cugat (3 minutes 31 seconds):

Xavier Cugat orq-Lina Romay-Carlos Ramirez-Esther Williams (6 minutes, 2 seconds):

Xavier Cugat - "The Breeze And I" Recorded in 1940 Vocals by Dinah Shore (3 minutes 33 seconds):

Related Links:

Xavier Cugat biography at SOLID!

IMDB Xavier Cugat

You Tube videos

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Have a Happy, Healthy & Prospersous New Year

This past year, an election year, was a tough one. I spent a lot of my time blogging about politics, in a contentious election. I won't be doing as much politics in 2009.

Oh, I'm sure I will do some political posts, I will criticize, but not like I did during the election. In 2008 I was working to save something. But we lost. I'm a realist. We have Democrats in control, they are going to do many things I don't like, because they are who they are. I'm not going to bang my head against the wall about it. We have to expect Democrats to be Democrats. I'll pick and choose my battles carefully.

We have some very grave challenges facing us in the next four years, both domestically and globally. I'll be praying for our president and our entire government to make wise choices. As Americans, we all have an investment in wishing our new President and his Administration a certain amount of success; there are key areas in which America must succeed.

I'll also be praying for the Republican party to find some unity and build a genuine coalition with a BIG tent, so they can become an effective political opposition and start winning elections again. That can only happen if all the ideological factions of the Republican party stop taking hostages, learn to compromise, and learn to understand the strength, power and value of incremental change. It's the greatest challenge our party faces over the next four years; to grow and become relevant again. ALL Republicans can contribute to that, if we unite and battle the political opposition, instead of each other.

I may spend less time blogging this year, and more time pursing other interests, but I will also be posting about whatever I am studying or working on. Blogging was more fun when I wasn't posting about politics all the time, and I intend to go back to that. I'm making a New Year's Resolution to have more FUN in 2009.

Best Wishes to All for the New Year!