Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year In Review...

Yup, it's that time of the year – when Dave Barry does his review of the year past.  A sample from this one:
In government news, top Washington thinkers, looking for a way to goose the economy along, come up with the ``Cash for Clunkers'' program, under which the federal government provides a financial inducement for people to take functional cars, which are mostly American-made, to car dealers, who deliberately destroy these cars and sell the people new replacement cars, which are mostly foreign-made. This program, which was budgeted for $1 billion, ends up costing $3 billion and is halted after a month. The administration declares that it has been a huge success, which everybody understands to mean that it will never, ever be repeated. With this mission accomplished, the top Washington thinkers are free to train all of their brainpower on the nation's health-care system.

It Just Hit Me!

Three readers sent variations of this to me today – it must be rattling around all over the intertubes:
My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day. She has her food prepared for her. She can eat whenever she wants, 24/7/365. Her meals are provided at no cost to her. She visits the Dr. Once a year for her checkup, and again during the year if any medical needs arise. For this she pays nothing, and nothing is required of her. She lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than she needs, but she is not required to do any upkeep. If she makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. She has her choice of luxurious places to sleep. She receives these accommodations absolutely free. She is living like a queen, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever. All of her costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day.

I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the head: Holy Shit, my dog is a

Mark Steyn on the Health Care Bill...

My long-time readers know that Mark Steyn is one of my favorite columnists.  His own life experiences lend him extra credibility on health care issues: he was born and raised in England, moved to Canada as an adult, and then more recently moved to the U.S.   So he has direct personal experience with the two health care systems most frequently cited by American liberals as the model that the U.S. should aspire to.

Naturally, Mr. Steyn has some opinions on the wisdom of this.  Here's a taste:
That’s why Nebraska’s grotesque zombie senator Ben Nelson is the perfect poster boy for the new arrangements, and not just another so-called Blue Dog Democrat spayed into compliance by a massive cash injection. There is no reason on earth why Nebraska should be the only state in this Union to have every dime of its increased Medicare tab picked up by the 49 others. So either that privilege will be extended to all, or to favored others, or its asymmetry will be balanced by other precisely targeted lollipops hither and yon. Whatever happens, it’s a dagger at the heart of American federalism, just as the bill’s magisterial proclamation that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board can only be abolished by a two-thirds vote of the Senate strikes at one of the most basic principles of a free society — that no parliament can bind its successors.

These details are obnoxious not merely in and of themselves but because they tell us the truth about where we’re headed: Think of the way almost every Big Government project bursts its bodice and winds up bigger and more bloated than its creators allegedly foresaw. In this instance, the stays come pre-loosened, and studded with loopholes. Because the Democrat operators — the Nancy Pelosis and Barney Franks — know that what matters is to get something, anything across the river, and then burn the bridge behind you.

And here's where you can read the whole thing.

American Education...

Here's an interesting piece by an American educator noting that her foreign students out-perform her American students by a wide margin.  This is a phenomenon I've blogged about many times in the context of hiring U.S.-educated employees versus foreign-educated employees.

She ascribes the difference to “work ethic” differences, but the actual examples cited seem to speak more to the lack of motivation and seriousness of the American students.  To me, those imply cultural factors that are tough to pin down in any simple way.  The sum of them, though, is this: it's ok for an American to be an uneducated git upon completion of high school or college.  There are no unhappy consequences, other than certain careers being out of reach.  This is not true in many other countries; there, first of all, you'd never graduate without actually having achieved certain measurable sets of knowledge or skill.  Second of all, should you fail to reach these, you'd be greatly looked down upon.

How can we fix this?  I'm afraid I'm not optimistic about it...

The BVD Bomber: Inside Story...

Put down any breakfast beverages you may have in your hand.  Swallow anything in your mouth.  Then read this sample of IowaHawk's latest satirical masterpiece, wherein he brings you the inside story straight from the Christmas Day BVD bomber himself, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab:
I pretty much dozed off after that, but then it was like "BING! Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. In twenty minutes we will begin preparations for our final descent into Detroit, so if you have to use the restrooms, blah blah blah." Crap, I had completely forgotten to blow up the plane, and the concierge was giving me the hurry up sign. So I walked back to the loo, and there was already a line of hippies. So I told them, "hey dude, do you mind? I really gotta pinch one bad." I guess my eyes were kinda dilated from the suicide relaxants, so they let me by.

Lemme ask you: have you ever tried to inject a glycerin detonator syringe into some plastic explosives glued under your nutsack, while you were stoned out of your gourd, in an airplane bathroom, during Lake Erie turbulence, while some stupid hippie is pounding on the door? Take my word for this, it. is. a. mofo. I must have stabbed myself in the junk eight or ten times before I finally got it smoldering. So I stroll out of the loo, real casual-like, with my nuts on fire, and headed back to my seat to blow out the fuselage.

Read the whole thing here.

Blogger Up...

I have more-or-less recovered from my bout with the flu.  I'm functional enough this morning to go into work (I've been playing hooky the past couple of days). 

The best part about being sick is how good it feels when you're done...