Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feeds

To all three of our readers, we're sure that you'll notice that we've added a new feed features to this layout. We've made a move to FeedBurner, partly to see what sort of action this site gets, and partly to play around with FeedBurner for professional reasons. If you have a feed to this site we'd appreciate it if you replaced the old Atom feed with the new FeedBurner one. It will be interesting to track stats and see what happens with this site. We have no visions of grandeur, just a desire to play around with the technology available to the hobbyist and professional alike.

Snowman


Another reason to be happy about our move.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Social Justice

A while back we read a fascinating string over on Little Green Footballs about a women's' studies prof at Loyola -- can't recall which one -- and her alleged run-in with some Iraq War Marine Veterans. Women's' Studies + American University Politics + US Marines = no hope of the truth emerging about what really happened.

The course this prof was teaching dealt with "social justice." We didn't think much of it at the time -- except that the prof was a certifiable moon bat -- however until we came across a brilliant commentary on the the new film "Amazing Grace" in the Weekend WSJ Pursuits section. The day before the film had gotten a pretty good review (as a film) in the WSJ Weekend section (Friday, 23 February). The author of the commentary piece blasts the film for ignoring the religious (specifically Christian & Methodist) underpinnings of the Continental, and eventually US, abolition movement. The film frames the abolitionists as secular humanists when in fact they were evangelical Christians who viewed slavery as a sin, not just a matter of politics and social justice.

Reading the comments on LGF, and the above article, helped us to crystallize what has always troubled us about the term "social justice." The term lacks moral underpinnings. Social justice, as preached today, is a political conceit, something to bandy about in the public arena while playing both sides of the game at once and refusing to declare one way or the other -- waiting to see who will win, yet screaming all the time at those they "feel" to be "wrong." Abolitionists like William Wilberforce -- the protagonist in "Amazing Grace" -- engaged their crusades girded by belief in a defined universe, limned by their religious faith, of right and wrong, moral and immoral. Today's crusaders for "social justice" fear such absolutes and eschew faith, never realizing that without these things nothing will ever change if left up to the vagaries of the zero-sum political game.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Distance Training

We've started a new blog that will be a team blog and serve as a training diary. It should be a fun experiment and hopefully serve as motivation in our own training.

We've been a runner for a long time, but the move from NYC to Boston has wreaked havoc on our training. After some stern admonishment from our doctor we began training again in earnest about 4 weeks ago and have been running faithfully for that time. You can see the new blog over here:

http://distancetrainers.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Governor DeVille Patrick

In a previous post we took a swipe at the Governor of the Commonwealth. Well, we're back again with another one . . . This really is too easy, it's like shooting fish in a barrell, or panning the average aspirant on "Idol."

Governor DeVille has proven himself to have nothing substantive to enact during the typical honeymoon at the start of any new term in office, and he has also proven himself completely tone deaf. As this article in today's Boston Globe demonstrates Hizzonner has come to the Golden dome with visions of grandeur, and a penchant for the luxe. The delicious irony of the whole thing is that the so-called-man-of-the-people (as if all of the people have been former appointees at Justice, sat on Coke's Board and worked at white shoe law firms) and political "outsider" (c.f. that darned appointment to Justice)who ran on vague promises of changing the political tone in the Commonwealth has demonstrated himself to be more enamored of the privileges of rank than the work that accompanies the title. Perhaps his legislative agenda will catch up with his tastes, though, given his politics we hope not. Besides, it is highly amusing to watch him fumble and watch the utopians who voted for him become disillusioned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why We Moved Back

Sunday, while outside with Child One, playing on the ice sheet that now covers the Quarter Acre we realized why it was we moved back. Watching Child One run, slide and sled on the ice was great. When Mrs. Agricola and Child Two came out we decided, on the fly, to head to a local golf course for some winter fun. We spent an hour or so walking around on our snow shoes -- the first time they've been used this season -- playing in the snow, exploring frozen sand traps and water hazards, collecting pine cones and enjoying the fresh, cold air. While we truly loved NYC and Brooklyn there was no way that we could have decided on the spur of the moment to go play outside and ended up in a wide-open, naturalistic place in less than 10 minutes. It was a wonderful Sunday and it helped to underscore the benefits of the choices that we made to return to Boston -- benefits that are not always readily apparent, but that exist none-the-less.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Our Friends, The Austrians

Another story that we've been slow to pickup on is the emergence of .50 Caliber, Austrian made sniper rifles on the battle field of Iraq. We link to a WSJ opinion piece that appeared in that paper on 16 February.

Apparently, of the 800 Steyr-Mannlicher weapons sold to the Iranians in 2006, about 100 of them ended up on the battle field within 45 days of the sale. They, like the shaped, and more lethal IEDs that have been recently traced to Iranian sources are responsible for 170 US combat deaths and 600 wounded. While the press though impugns the Bush White House, and US intelligence nary a word is spoken about the role of the Iranians in Iraq. Rather than grill Ahmadi-Nejad, Dianne Sawyer appears in head scarf to toss him softballs, and the Democrat party and their employees in the party's media organizations berate the US.

We know we are somewhat behind, but this story has really gotten under our skin. Our soldiers are being killed by enormously lethal weapons, sold by a country who though not exactly an ally is also not a friend, to a country who is our avowed enemy and is then delivering these weapons to the battle space to kill Americans. Where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation of Iran by the majority party in congress (or the minority for that matter)? Maybe once they are finished with their non-binding resolution denouncing the planned surge they will get around to focusing on this issue. Or not.

Tax Freedom, Mass Style

Admittedly, we've been behind in our writing, trapped in February's doldrums. However, as so often happens, the end of the week brings us many things with which to deal.

There is a law in the Mass legal code that compels municipalities to petition the State Legislature for approval of the imposition or raising local taxes/"fees." Govehnuh Patrick wants to relax that rule and make it easier for towns to tax more things. While we applaud his impulse to return power to the municipal level, lessening the centralized governmental control, we feel that it's unfortunate that this has been done for the benefit of more taxation.

It's funny how "tax freedom" can mean one thing to one group, and the complete opposite to someone else. When we read "tax freedom" we thought that Patrick would lessen the levies, or help towns to do so. Silly us. A liberal can not change his spots. No, in Massachusetts, "tax freedom" means the freedom to raise more taxes. The posts on this board make us wonder who votes for these people, and why.

It's certainly not a done deal, thankfully, but it is terrifying as a citizen of the Commonwealth to think that the only thing standing between us and Patrick's socialist utopia is the State Legislature -- hardly a bastion of conservative values. Just before assuming office Bob Travaglini and Sal DiMasi -- majority heads of the State Senate and House of Representatives respectively -- told Patrick in no uncertain terms who wears the pants beneath Bullfinch's Dome. This cowed the Gov for a bit, but he's now beginning to feel more confident, obviously, to try and implement his vision. Perhaps riding around in a state funded chopper helps one feel up to the job.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Missed Opportunity

Though well into our mid-thirties we still enjoy the thought of the snow day. The Boston area -- much of the country from the Midwest east, actually -- got whacked over the past few days. We went to bed Tuesday night with dreams of "working from home" dancing in our head, and the work laptop downstairs in the front hall. Alas, the accumulations were neither earth-shattering nor travel-prohibiting, so we waited out the morning rush and headed in.

Such a disappointing turn of events . . .

Then, upon returning to the Quarter Acre we reveled in the distinct pleasure of shoveling frozen snow for nearly two hours. Despite working diligently, we only managed to uncork the end of the driveway, and, sort of, uncover the rest of it. One bonus, however was that the snow wasn't actually frozen all the way to the ground. No, no, the top was frozen solid, and the layer below was slushy, wet and heavy. February is grand.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Longest Month

We must admit that we are sinking a bit . . . the inexorable power of the shortest, yet longest, month of the year is grinding us down. Despite enjoying the cold, and embracing the variable weather of winter-Boston there is something psychologically brutal about February. Even though the sun is rising earlier and setting later, the month's 28 days seem exceedingly long. Perhaps it is the fact that when we look outside the Quarter Acre is shrouded in a duo-tone palette of brown and gray. The brutally cold weather the past few weeks has sucked the moisture out of everything and left the lawn dessicated. The trees seem more gray, and diminished than just four weeks ago. The Quarter Acre dwellers do not love February though we take heart in the fact that on Sunday (18 February), pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Meyers, FL and the Red Sox kick-off the 2007 Season. Surely spring is close!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Removing the Monkey

As die hard citizens of Patriot Nation this is a mildly bitter Monday for us. Peyton Manning finally got the monkey off of his back and won The Big One. We watched very little of it -- some of the first half, a bit of the third quarter and the final 1:19 of the fourth. The game held little interest for us.

What was fascinating however was the post-game celebration. It may have been the rain, or it may have been utter exhaustion at finally having lived up to expectations, but the Colts were very subdued. No Colt, however, was more subdued than Manning. There was very little emotion, never mind jubilation, on his face at finally having stuffed his critics. No matter what else we may think of him, he will now, always, be a Super Bowl Winning quarterback.

He appeared nearly uninterested. Maybe he was overwhelmed by the whole thing, but it all seemed quite stilted and unnatural -- as if he were not really there in the moment. Perhaps one of the most illuminating things about the post-game ceremony was Manning's interaction with Bob Saunders -- the Colts' terrific safety. They hugged each other on the podium as if meeting for the first time. It was weird.

One of the most hilarious parts of the post-game celebration happened when CBS's Jim Nantz flubbed the pass-off of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Rather than passing it to Sanders as he was supposed to do, he had Manning pass the trophy to the team with these words: "I'm sure you can't wait to share this with your team." Perhaps he was being ironic, but we doubt it, this is Jim Nantz after all. Does he know nothing of Manning? Has he not been able, all of these years, to see through his man-crush and see that Manning hates his teammates?

We think that this is the reason for Manning's recalcitrance. The Colts' victory in SB XLI was a total team effort. Manning proved again and again that he couldn't win the big one alone as had been prophesied his whole life, and as he had come to believe. He needed his teammates to play brilliantly as well in order to win. As a result, his self image was shattered during this year's playoff run. While a terrific QB, he couldn't do it alone despite what his dad, his pre-pro-coaches, his agent and all the fawning sportswriters in the US had been telling him for his entire career. He won, but he did it as a a teammate and that, for Manning probably removed much of his joy at finally the removing the monkey from his back.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Boston Chaos

So, in the wake of the stupid marketing campaign that snarled traffic and unsettled Bostonians over a wide swatch of the city, we are left with one question: what was TBS thinking?

Obviously, they weren't thinking. As advertising industry workers we wonder how that campaign made it from concepts through final client approval. Throughout the chain of command outrageous decisions were made that lead to this past week's upheaval. The pair of buffoons who are now on trial in Boston are not solely to blame for this and we think that the creative, account, and production teams on the agency side as well as the client-side chain of command should be prosecuted . In essence, this was a conspiracy.

We think that the response of the city of Boston and the Coast Guard was admirable and impressive. They were able to deal with multiple suspicious devices across the city in a seemingly coherent and effective way -- however, if they had been actual bombs then who knows what would have happened had they detonated. The performance of the defendants, yesterday in court, give ample evidence to both their childishness and their attitude towards the terrorist threat (what terrorist threat?). Is there any doubt about how they vote, and how they regard the war on terror?

It should come as no surprise that this campaign was approved by TBS. After all, TBS is but one more brand in Ted Turner's leftist broadcasting empire. Obviously, the anti-war/Bush/conservative/American editorial bias of CNN -- the official broadcast-organ of the Democrat Party -- permeates the other properties in Ted and Hanoi-Jane's media conglomerate.

For us, this incident underscores the lack of seriousness amongst members of the left about the real threat that stands before this country. While many a liberal says there is no threat, and that we are less safe today than we were four years ago (Bush's war-mongering and all that) the appearance of the marketing devices obviously struck a raw nerve. People are on edge whether they admit it or not -- even in liberal Boston, debarkation point for the two planes that felled the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Given the attitudes of the Solon's of Atlanta towards the country's anti-terror efforts, it's not surprising that this campaign "went live."