Saturday, July 30, 2011

There is no off season, its just between games

There has been a lot of chatter about 7 on 7 football, and how this relatively new activity for off season high school football players is testing the limits of what is within the rules for high school athletes, college recruiters, and the companies who sponsor some events.  Here is one story.. 

The all-star camps are particularly popular in the South, and the Southeastern Conference recently sent a strong message by banning all-star 7-on-7s from its campuses. The NCAA should follow suit and make it a nationwide rule. 

But there is none of that controversy here in these parts.  Just a friendly scrimmage between a pair of Detroit area charter school conference rivals.  A 24 play sampler of 7 on 7 high school football.  My son Daniel is  the QB.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fjordman in 2006 and 2007.. From the archives..

One of the far-right anti-jihad bloggers who was admired and often cited by Norwegian mass murderer suspect Anders Behring Breivik was a person who goes/went by the web nickname Fjordman. I mentioned in an earlier post that I knew well of Fjordman from time spent in the threads at the website Little Green Footballs.

I looked up some old LGF archives from 2006 and 2007 in which Fjordman was pushing his Supremacist agenda in a web community he felt comfortable discussing his separation and deportation strategy for Muslims in Europe. Early on he got cudos and agreement from posters (at times, including me) for what read like a scholarly chronicling of the long and infamous history of Islam not coexisting with Western civilization. He was a veritable encyclopedia of obscure European history both distant and recent on the subject. That was just the hook. Over time he was exposed as a supremacist whose proposed solution to prevent the infamous history from repeating itself was the immediate end to Muslim immigration into Europe, physical separation of Muslim and traditional European populations, expulsion of all Muslims (legal citizen or not) who sponsored Sharia law, etc, less there be some eventual internal conflagration when Europeans finally wake up and revolt against the invaders and the result will be indistinguishable from genocide.  Fjordman only pushes this agenda to protect the European Muslim community you know.  Geert out while you still can.

Essentially, Fjordman's pitch was neo-nationalism. It didn't take long for the community and LGF proprietor Charles Johnson to see what Fjordman was proposing beneath thousands of words in support of of his foregone conclusion and expel it unequivicobly. It led to a quick and stunning rift between LGF and the anti-jihad blogger community. LGF was scorned by most if not all of the right wing blogs for being too concerned about screening potential shipmates instead of just accepting all applicants in the fight against Islamic radicalism. Fjordman, Gellar, Spencer.. All prominent anti-jihad bloggers that used to post at LGF all eventually flushed out for hawking craziness at a site where crazy don't fly. (On a side-note, I was right there poking at Spencer about his admiration for Fjordman when he finally had enough criticism from a rabble of nobodies and spectacularly flounced at LGF, thank you very much..)

Here are some screen shots of posts from LGF threads from back then that give a flavor of the discussion. I am not cherry picking comments to prove an incorrect point. Fjordman proposed craziness, some people agreed, some people didn't. This wasn't the end of Fjordman at LGF, nor the beginning of the end. But it was the end of the beginning. Some famous Euro not Fjordman once said something like that../

No Fjordman certainly didn't want to get the thread all creepy bringing up genocide as an alternative for Europe.  Of course not.  These were pulled from another thread in that time frame where Fjordman also identifies radical feminism as an enemy of Western civilization.

And here is one I found from another thread...  I was done with the guy by then. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cedar Point. The best amusement park in the world.

I went with some family to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky Ohio today.  We got there early and spent about 11 hours in the park. In order, we rode, Maverick, Skyhawk, Gemini, Magnum 200, Corkscrew, Tower of Power, Raptor, Blue Streak, Max Air, Wicked Twister, Windseeker, Mantis, Shoot the Rapids, Millenium 2000 and Top Thrill Dragster.  Most of the waits were less than half an hour.  The waits for Millenium 2000 and the Dragster were about 90 minutes each.  15 Cedar Point roller coasters and thrill rides in one day?  Not the best one day toll ever, but not bad by any stretch.

For those unaware, Cedar Point is number one on the global list of amusement parks for roller coaster aficionados. There are so many great rides at Cedar Point that there isn't even a close second.  Maybe if you combined numbers two through seven into one park?   Don't confuse it with Disney World.  It's not the Epcot Center and there aren't any attractions like It's a Small World or The Lion King on Stage, but really who needs em?  Roller coaster fans and thrill ride seekers would rather go 120 mph in an open air car straight up 420 feet and then careen down and back into the station any day.   A 90 minute wait for a 17 second ride you say?  Yep.  OK, so where does the line start?  (Now, for the record, Disney World does have one great coaster, Everest Expedition in Animal Kingdom, so if wifey is making you go there it won't be a total loss.)

For those of you who can't make it to Cedar Point on a roller coaster pilgrimage or who are too chicken to ever ride even if you live nearby,  here is a cool video of what I consider to be the most amazing of all the coasters and thrill rides at Cedar Point, the Top Thrill Dragster.  We rode this one right before we left today after waiting a long time in the serpentine line.  There was lightning damage from yesterday that took most of the day to repair so it wasn't up and running until late in the afternoon and then everyone in the park gravitated there.  We were all afraid we had picked a bad day and were going to miss out on the Dragster but the crew came through.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Norway massacre and the anti-jihad movement

My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of the dual massacres in Norway yesterday and with all of the people of Norway who must try to make some sense of this and hopefully find a way to prevent future similar incidents.   Shooting at children?  What kind of sick depraved mind could ever go there?  I can't imagine the horror and I didn't want to look at a single picture.  The words were enough. A part of the story that creeps me out personally is that the killer allegedly was a devotee of a website called "The Gates Of Vienna" and in particular of a blogger who contributed at GOV and goes by the moniker Fjordman.

Back in the day, I pored over every thread and posted a lot of comments at the website Little Green Footballs. And I knew Fjordman as well as anyone there because I actually read his boring ass super verbose feel like you've already read that paragraph several times before 10,000 word essay/novels. And whichever meandering route a Fjordman essay took it always ended up at the same place. Europe must rid itself of Islam and Muslims. He promoted ethnic cleansing of Europe via mass deportations of millions of people. He defended his neo-Nationalism with what seems at first an intellectual discussion but eventually becomes evident as just wordy obfuscation of his supremacist agenda.  

 I might have been the first to openly mock his 10,000 word steaming piles of shit essays in the threads at LGF.  He refused to acknowledge any criticisms, especially the ones from Skoal dipping Budweiser swilling Americans.  Here is one screenshot from the archives from October 2007 that kind of sums up what I thought about the allegedly super intelligent Fjordman back then. 

The spinning anti-jihad bloggers will claim they never promote violence. But they have and still do admire Fjordman and he promotes ethnic cleansing through mass deportations and there is no way to actually accomplish that without lots of violence. Duh.  Oh no, we would never promote violence. We just want to see all the Muslims peacefully rounded up and shipped out. That shows some real clear thinking there no?

Europe has a problem with the far-right supremacists.  Officially the politicians distance themselves from the far right and try to pretend they are only a very small fringe of radicals.  But this Tweet from the suspect Anders Behring Breivik speaks volumes..  
On July 17 he posted his only Twitter comment, a quote by the British philosopher John Stuart Mill, “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests”, he wrote. 
 And with people like Fjordman around to fill the minds of lunatics with reasons to hate, it only takes a very small fringe of people who will act on that hate to wreak havoc on an entire Nation. 

More here on the connection between Anders Behring Breivik and the anti-jihad bloggers.  In short, several people have claimed to be Fjordman, so while Breivik may have publicly claimed to be Fjordman, it's doubtful that he actually was the guy behind the blog.   Its an "I am Spartacus" moment for the anti-jihad movement.  

Update 2:
Norwegian blogger Oyvint Strommen spells ot the connections between Breivik and Fjordman here.
Not sure where I should bring this up, but our own Fjordman is about to awarded the third most regarded/influential European anti-Jihad/anti-multicult[uralist]/anti-Marxist intellectual/blogger. After Gates of Vienna (No. 1) and New English review (No. 2). Surprisingly, Fjordman might even beat the Brussels Journal! In other words. Those who have yet to read Fjordman’s book “Defeating Eurabia” have been sleeping in class. I know it’s hard to be a prophet in one’s own country, but this exceeds all expectations! Congratulations, Fjordman!
Indeed.  Congratulations Fjordman.  Someone actually read something you wrote all the way though and liked it so much it really changed their life.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dearborn Heights basement band

A rare glimpse into the inner workings of a basement band, in its natural habitat.  The first few times you play a song together, it's usually pretty rough, but you can tell pretty soon if it's ever going to click or not.   I think this one will be OK after a few more practices.  At least good enough for the clientele at the local dive bars where we play.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Working Day and Night and weekends too.

Well the debt ceiling issue is finally so important in Washington that Harry Reid has suddenly become Bill Lumbergh and told the Senate, "'Yeah, I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday.. That'll be great." Reid: Saturday workdays for Senate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said the Senate would work weekends until Congress and the White House reach a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Well, the Senate working the weekend is a big story sure, and perhaps the future of the entire world economy hinges on the outcome of those intense negotiations between people with small brains yet enormous egos, but enough about the debt ceiling waltz for now. Here is Molly, Sydney and Montana from Viva Dance Co in Monroe, MI with their tap trio. They may not work weekends, but they are Working Day and Night.

Heres the link to the video, sorry, no embedding..

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thomas Edison's Famous Interview on Money.. Gold is the devil

OK maybe not so famous.  But to the readers of the January 16, 1939 edition of the newsletter "Social Justice" it was famous enough to merit that for a byline in CAPS LOCK.  Here is the first page of the story.

For better resolution, download the page in two parts..  Top half and Bottom half.
Edison was making a case for the government to issue a special currency to pay the workers and suppliers for the Muscle Shoals Dam public project, instead of issuing bonds so they could borrow American dollars from the Fed.   There is a continuation to the interview which I will have to obtain and post later,but there is enough on this one page to chew on for a while.

This was back when the dollar was based on the gold standard, something that Ron Paul and the Tea Baggers clamor for today and try to claim would solve the USA's financial problems.  Turns out that 72 years ago when there was a gold standard for the dollar, the forerunners to the modern day Tea Party considered gold as an evil tool of the bankers that forced the USA into paying interest on bonds for public works projects instead of simply issuing paper currency.  hmmm.  interesting take. 

As for "Social Justice" it was a newsletter of articles written by a variety of columnists and pundits from 1939 and it's Patriarch was a Catholic priest named Father Coughlin from the Detroit area.  The tone of the columns was that Communism was the biggest threat to the USA in the days leading up to WWII, not the Nazis in Germany or the Japanese. It is pro-labor union and anti-banker.  It is an interesting history lesson to read through the articles to get some counter-mainstream perspective on the pre-WWII debate in the USA.  Most of the articles centered on the revolution in Spain and the communist infiltration into the USA.

 The only evidence in this issue of what would be considered Antisemitism was written (allegedly) by a Jewish man explaining how he had been conditioned from youth to see himself and all other Jews as victims in any and all situations.  It is a 1939 example of the self-hating Jew I suppose.  That article was bad enough, but actually I expected much worse from "Social Justice" based on all I had read and heard of Father Coughlin.  Perhaps by January of 1939, he had already been told from on high to tone it down.     

I wonder what Edison would say today about an impending default on the dollar due to in part the USA's compounding interest payments on the federal debt.  He might be calling for a special currency to use only within the USA for debts like social security checks or public employee paychecks. 

In any case it's an interesting perspective from one of the great thinkers in American history.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When it comes to the economy, reality is perception.

I assume the Teapot conservatives who are thumping their chests in debt limit talks like silverback gorillas and making threats about forcing a financial default are doing so to apply pressure to make meaningful long term financial changes for the good of the nation's future. But just the threat of a financial default is causing damage to the economy. Perception is reality and the perception is that the politicians in Washington are playing chicken and no one wants to stand on the pegs in a game of chicken with a crazy SOB steering the bike through the crowd.
Obama, Republicans clash in debt talks; dollar falls
Talks have become more acrimonious in the past few days, as Republican and Democratic leaders have lashed out at each other and hardened their positions, making compromise difficult.

While the specter of Moody's announcement hung over Wednesday's White House meeting, it unnerved traders and refocused the attention of investors on the stalemate in Washington.

"They (Moody's) are worried they are having these ideological arguments while Rome burns. They want to say this is serious," said Carl Kaufman, portfolio manager at Osterweis Capital Management in San Francisco...

"What has been beginning to spook Moody's and some other people is that Congress may be dumb enough to actually default on the debt," said Cliff Draughn, chief investment officer at Excelsia Investment Advisors in Savannah, Georgia.
The doubt over how the game of chicken will end will eventually lead to a downgrade in the USA's credit rating which will result in higher interest costs for borrowing, thereby complicating any deficit reduction efforts.  So the grandstanding over hypotheticals comes with a very real price for the ordinary Joe Sixpacks that the Tea Baggers claim to be representing.  And if, God forbid any one's Social Security checks are delayed over the haggling, then Boehnner, Bachman, Paul et al will rightfully get blamed in the court of public opinion no matter how they frame the story after the fact for their willfully ignorant devotees. 

It took decades of politicians and voters sleeping at the wheel for the country to get into this mess. It's not going to vanish in the wake of sloganeering and political rhetoric. It will take a long-term pro-growth agenda that builds economic momentum by eliminating waste, promoting innovation and unleashing capital. 

Government has to remove impediments to profitability to generate sustainable economic growth. Simply slashing government spending or increasing tax rates won't eliminate budget deficits and the need for an ever-increasing debt limit.  

Hopefully sensible people will drown out the ideologues in Washington, but it is impossible to predict how a game of chicken will end when crazy people are playing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NYC Copasetic Boat Ride Tap Improv

We took the Copasetic Boat Ride around Manhattan last week on the evening of July 5th as part of the Tap City summer intensive program for tappers of all ages from around the USA and the world.  It was a nice relaxing 3-hour cruise around the island on a beautiful NYC Summer night with the instructors, dancers and their families and friends. Late in the evening some of the professional tappers took turns in an improv circle with the band playing some smooth jazz to back up the syncopated rhythm from the dancers. Chloe Arnold and Jason Samuels Smith are featured in this clip. Jason showed off some lightning quick silver footwork without even spilling his drink.   Very cool.

Here is another clip I uploaded. 

 It was so cool to watch so many awesome tappers take turns in the improv circle, all building on what the last one did and showing off their own tricks. The gentleman with the straw hat watching from the chair is Tont Waag from the American Tap Dance Foundation. Very cool guy, he was the host and emcee.  The ATDF is all about honoring the history of tap while it keeps pushing the envelope by promoting events like this one.   

One more..  This one features the incredible Michelle Dorrance.  "Hey Hey!"   By now the circle was getting crowded making the filming a bit more challenging.

The trade deficit and economic recovery

One thing I know for sure.  A Nation's economy can't survive forever with a trade deficit.  Eventually, the currency flow to and from other nations has to balance out or the economy in the nation that continues to ship out currency will wither and die.  Hello!  If you disagree with that assessment I'd love to hear the explanation for how a Nation can indeed continuously acquire more debt for the purpose of increasing it's own citizens' standard of living...forever.

Here is a site to track the trade deficit.  link   

Contrary to common un-wisdom, the trade deficit does matter.  The cash spent on foreign goods and services does not end up in an American taxpayer's paycheck except for the small portion of value included in shipping and distribution costs.

If an American consumer purchases a foreign manufactured product the domestic retailer (such as Walmart or the Mercedes dealer) gets some business, but the bulk of the value of that product is earned offshore.  The foreign workers earn their salary and their government takes a portion of their wages as taxes to fund  government programs and invest in infrastructure.

If that same American consumer were to purchase a domestic product or service than the only losers would be the dock workers who unload containers full of foreign goods.  The benefit is that American workers would then earn the paychecks and could pay their bills and generate local, state and federal tax revenue.

If the Government gave everyone a stimulus check and all we did was run to the nearest appliance store to buy a foreign-made HDTV, then it would stimulate only a very small portion of the economy temporarily and there wouldn't any internal economic momentum built up. The money would be shipped offshore instead of rolling around from one American paycheck into another.

I think the trade deficit is a huge problem for the USA. We have become too accustomed to a standard of living that is propped up by cheap imports, but in doing so we have decimated entire industries and much of the manufacturing base and this partially explains why we have become indebted to the tune of some 14 trillion dollars. We expect the government to somehow create jobs, but when the government borrows huge sums of money to try to jump start the domestic economic engine, bargain-hunting American consumers hurry to spend the stimulus on foreign imports. It provides a temporary high in the standard of living, but weakens the economy for future generations of American taxpayers who will live out their days chained to debt accumulated so their parents and grandparents could enjoy a higher standard of living than they deserved, given their relative productivity in the global economy.

The guideline for a trade policy should be no tariffs on raw materials, but there should be a levelling of the playing field for manufactured products and services commensurate with the policies of whichever Nation with whom we trade.  The trade deficit is a harbinger of our Nation's standard of living in the future. Disregarding it is a display of greed and shows lack of concern for the future of the USA.

As for consumers, we should try to support domestic businesses when a choice exists.  That is one reason why my wife and I always take our family vacations in the USA, purchase domestically produced automobiles, and look for products that are made in our State and in the USA when shopping.  In the end, the trade deficit is not just the fault of politicians.  The main reason for the trade deficit is that American consumers have been short-sighted in their quest to get more for their money right now and the heck with the kids' future prospects.

The American economy will continue on the slide downward until we find ways to reverse the trade deficit.           

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some NYC Images..

Rockerfeller Center Entrance, NYC
Statue of Liberty

Times Square
The High Line elevated pedestrian walkway
Rock climbing in Central Park
Window at St.Patrick's Cathedral
Prehistoric Sea Turtle at the Museum of Natural History
Some observations from my week there..
  • My favorite part of the city is the people.  They're everywhere and they're all on their way somewhere.  
  • You can make the same crosstown walk 20 times and never take the same route.  You go with the lights. 
  • The streets go on forever it seems.  Its difficult to get a feel for how immense the city is until you spend a few hours walking streets and then trace the route on a street map to see how little ground you covered. 
  • The mass transportation system works remarkably well and is simple to understand. 
  • People can manage to survive without Walmart or Home Depot nearby but they need a shoe repair shop every few blocks and a place to eat within 200 feet of any spot on the Island.  
  • There are more kids carrying violins than baseball mitts around Manhattan.
  • There are very few heavy people, except for tourists. Food is expensive and you walk too much to carry around extra weight for long. 
  • The police allow shysters to hawk knockoff purses and watches on Canal street right out in the open.
  • The airport level security and metal detectors to get on the boat for the Statue of Liberty and then again once you are at the Island is a bit much.  SWAT police strolling around with automatic weapons in hand?  Really?     
  • At the worst NY people will ignore you, which is fine really.  Most all were considerate and friendly, willing to help a tourist with directions or commuting tips.       
  • The High Line, a beautifully landscaped pedestrian walkway made on an abandoned elevated rail track, is awesome.  A serene walk just above the traffic and chaos below.  All pedestrian walkways should be so nice.
  • I wonder how much traffic and air quality around Manhattan could be improved if there was a more sophisticated system for timing the stop lights.  This would be the place to test it.
  • The only American luxury vehicles I saw in Manhattan were large black SUV's with chrome wheels and tinted windows.  Lots of them.  
  • Families should consider skipping the Disney vacation and go see NYC instead.  Maybe not with little kids, but teenagers should get a chance to see what a real city is like.     

Friday, July 8, 2011

I heart NY...

I've been on vacation this week with the family in NYC.  We're staying in midtown Manhattan.  NYC is a truly awesome place and this has been one of the best family vacations ever.  I do plan to post some pictures soon with some more commentary about what I've seen and done here, but for now it's vacation mode with some low key fact-finding for a side bar.  Biggest surprise so far is how friendly and helpful the average person on the street is and how amazing the Cathedrals are.

As for the real life diner that was featured in the best TV series ever, Seinfeld, well, I can see why Jerry would like a place like that.  Good food, great service, convenient location.