Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Liberal Wit

One of the great joys of commuting around the Commonwealth is that we get to see all of the hilariously witty, liberal bumper stickers.

Don't Blame Me I Voted for Kerry!
Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot.
Bush, like a rock, only dumber.
More trees, less Bush.

Then, this one, seen today, the crowning achievement of liberal bumper sticker wit:

Where are the Republicans taking us and why are we in this handbasket?

None of these are funny. None are witty. None are that interesting. If you replaced Kerry, or Obama, or Hillary for Bush, and changed the state to match, lefties would get mad and say that conservatives are puerile and stupid. Yet, they cover their vehicles in this inanity and somehow think that they are being funny. The "don't blame me" bumper sticker is a holdover from the first Clinton Presidency. It was only mildly amusing then, and now, co-opted for use against Bush it lacks a certain impact, yet, there it is, shouting in our face at many a stoplight.

These silly little liberal tropes really sum up for us the inanity of the left and its lack of seriousness. All protest and no program. Sound and fury . . . signifying nothing. We wonder why the level of debate in this country is so low. The answer is on the leftist's SUV in front of you at the light.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mass Weather

As evidenced in this photo post it's cold today in Massachusetts. It is the first truly cold day of the year and of the winter. Despite weeks of warm, wet, strange weather prior to today, people are crying about this short cold snap. They also complained about the mildness and wetness. They will complain, no doubt, in the summer when some insufferable weather descends upon us in that season.

To live in Boston is to live in a place of highly variable weather. We will not go so far as to say "extreme," but definitely variable. Boston is far enough north that it gets blasted with some very arctic air in the winter -- as it is today. However, it is not so far north that it avoids stretches of oppressive heat and humidity each summer. This makes residents of this region quite hardy, and adaptable, we think.

When the first sub-50 degree day arrived in NYC many residents broke out the down coats and wrapped their faces in scarves. This is not so in Boston. There are many Bostonians, even today, wearing light coats, with faces uncovered, going about their business. We admire this stoicism and take pride in it. We enjoy it when the the weather is this cold. We also like it when it gets very hot in the summer. This is what the seasons are all about, this is why we live here.

On another level, days such as today make us grateful for what we have -- a house, 5/8 of a tank of home heating # 2, and food on the table. We are blessed. We also appreciate the cold because it's a bit jarring to the system, it knocks us out of our complacency and imposes some discomfort on lives that are often too comfortable. Bring on the cold.

Minus 4 Fahrenheit

The coldest morning yet on the Quarter Acre.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winter Morning

Winter finally comes to Boston.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Save Us From Oursleves

Two thing caught our attention today. The first was that a proposed law in Bangor, ME became actual law. People smoking in cars with children under 18 years of age can be ticketed and fined $50. The state of California is mulling over an idea to ban spanking of children under four years of age.

We see people smoking in cars with kids and think it somewhat dumb -- though the research behind second hand smoke is shaky at best, and we don't smoke, why take a chance with your kids. Telling people they can't spank their kids is silly. How and when to discipline children is a parent's prerogative. Also, there are already rules that define abuse and prescribe punishments for it. Is this rule necessary? If someone spanks their child enough to warrant a trip to an ER they should be prosecuted under the existing rules.

We are not sure where stand on spanking. It has not yet been necessary on the Quarter Acre. We know that we received a couple of spankings in our youth. It was a painful, but effective way to make a point. We don't think that we suffered any long-lasting physical or psychological effects. We don't hate our parents, nor do we blame them for anything. How could the state have prevented the spanking? This measure is one of those typical, liberal moves meant to make the sponsoring legislator feel good about themselves and appear to be protecting the constituents of the home-district by imposing an unenforceable law on the populace.

It strikes us as a direct violation of privacy to say we can't spank a child or smoke in our cars with our children. When will they pass a law that says we can't smoke in a house with children under X-years of age? Where is the outcry? Why does such inanity not arouse the public. Most people we bet simply shrug, say "that seems silly, but they mean well, it's for the children after all," and move on. Never do we realize that one more regulation has been enacted that chips our rights, all in the interest of protecting us from ourselves.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Growing the Middle Class

Be very afraid. With the commencement of the 110th congress one of the stated goals of the newly minted Democrat majority is to help the middle class grow. Oh no. If you want to do that, then get out of the way. Reduce regulations on people's businesses. Preserve the Bush tax cuts. Let people keep more of their money. Get an economic clue and learn that the government doesn't help to build up business and make people rich -- people permitted the freedom to spend their capital as they see fit do.

Since we're talking about the middle class let's define it. At what income level does the middle class start? Where does it end? While we are at it, please define "Rich." At what income level does one become rich? Does exiting the middle class (upward exit, of course) mean we are now rich? We've seen rich defined as $100K annual income. For a married couple filing their taxes jointly, that's not exactly what we'd call rich. It's time for the Democrats to stop playing class games, define the terms they are using and lead the country. It's what they've been craving since 2000, now is their chance. However, based on a goal like "growing the middle class" we fear we are in for typical American-progressive squishiness that only succeeds in growing the size of government and creating an ever larger bureaucracy -- not exactly something we need.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Epiphany

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him." Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.

Matthew 2:1-14

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Real Estate Knockdown

Our town is filled with knockdowns -- those unfortunate, less-than-spectacular but solidly built mid-century American homes that don't meet Americans' current definitions of real estate grandeur, success and the good life. In place of the older, more modest homes, owners, builders and speculators build McMansions, replete with farmers' porches, multi-car garages, gas fireplaces and a total lack of consideration for lot size, landscaping and even coherent roof lines.

On the lot next to the Quarter Acre, a quarter acre lot itself, stands a large house. It's not a bad looking house, and the interior is actually fairly nice. However, not six feet from the back wall of the house stands a retaining wall that holds back a hill that was cut into to make room for the foundation. As a result, there is no real yard in which kids could play. Yards, apparently, are no longer part of the American Dream -- just really large houses.

On a lot down the street some neighbors tore down their modest Cape to build a new home. The exterior is basically complete -- walls, glazing, roofing and siding are in place. The interior work is about to commence and from what we see as we drive by the new place looks to be a nice house. A bit of interesting back-story shows how common the knockdown and rebuild is in our area. When the owner of the house was sharing the plans with neighbors at a cookout, a nine year old girl looked at the plans and said that the house looked big for the lot. She had a point.

Another bit of startling commentary on real estate came this fall, from Child One. She mentioned that if you build a house and don't like it, you can always knock it down and start again. On some level, houses have evolved into disposable assets, even in the mind of a toddler.

When we were children we never saw a blueprint in person, much less understood how to translate what was on it to real world space. We also certainly had no idea that you could knock down a house. Kids who can read a blueprint and understand houses to be impermanent objects demonstrate a tremendous change in perspective. Obviously, not everybody knocks down their solid little house to build a big dream house, but enough do that they have altered the next generation's understanding of "House" -- and possibly even "Home." This altered understanding will transform further the American suburb as this younger generation grows up and buys property.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Really Great Article

Over on ESPN.com, in his weekly column, John Buccigross has a really nice exchange with a member of the 10th Mountain Division, currently based at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

We are hockey fans on the Quarter Acre. We are fans and supporters of the US Military (though we never served, we have the greatest respect and admiration of the men and women of our military who serve in harm's way). We are a fan of John Buccigross. His passion for the game of hockey is unbridled, but not more so than his passion for people. He is a true voice of the fan, a.k.a the ordinary guy. He writes sentimentally, openly, unapologetically, and un-cynically, as a fan, for the fans. For that we thank him. "Bucci" is always worth a read, but the aforementioned lead-in makes this week's installment one not to be missed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to any and all Quarter Acre readers (all two of you). May you and yours have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2007.