Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Common Sense Media

I received and email from Common Sense Media asking me to put them in my links section. I checked them out and am impressed with what I see so far. Rob Reiner even wrote an entry for their blog! And no, I'm not getting paid for this in any form.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

How to Make Money. A Ponderous Essay.

The biggest problem with making money is that you have to actually do something. For those who are natural self-starters, this isn’t a problem, or even those who may not be as much of a self starter as they just have a great idea. Most of us lack both ideas and gumption. I have a few ideas, but then I always wonder: Is this going to pay off? Is it worth the effort? Of course most of us never venture to risk and find out if there is something that we may be better at than our current job, of if we could be our own boss, or if we could do something that we love, not just enjoy.

Many people who take that chance go with the standard entrepreneur step of opening a store or manufacturing something. How about trying something else? Craft shows, farm shows, flea markets, work-from-home with your knowledge, instead of “buying, selling, or processing” something. Or perhaps a combination of those would work for you. I wouldn’t mind being a freelance writer and a woodworker. Or a old-car parts dealer. Maybe all three. But it is hard to leave the steady income and the insurance and all that jazz.

When I was younger I wanted to write for car magazines, or build hot rods, but those are very crowded fields. Could I have made it with some persistence? Who knows? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Perhaps that is something I should have started at when I was a teenager instead of thirty. A huge part of that stuff is luck of birth and location. If I was born in certain neighborhoods in Southern California as a kid, I would have been able to hang around a famous hot rodder’s shop before he was famous.

Another part of luck is your parents. I once asked the female professional drag race driver of the Western Auto car how one gets into drag racing. Her dad had been an engine builder, but all she wanted to talk about was the challenge of being female in that environment. I can understand that, but my question was, and still is, how does one get into it if they don’t have family involved. As with many things, in the early days it was easier for anyone to get involved in drag racing. Now it’s a hugely competitive, high-dollar sport and unknowns don’t have a chance. It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and run a drag racer now, possibly millions.

Another requisite is passion. Most racecar drivers or writers are passionate about what they do. Most people are not that passionate about any one thing. I have too many interests. Passion creates drive for those who would otherwise not have drive.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

American Music Association Awards Show Says 2005 Lousy Year for Music

My wife and I watched the AMA Awards and couldn't believe how bad it was. First, Mariah Carey came out without enough clothes on and sang a "Britney Spears type song," according to my wife. For most of the show the sound quality was muddled.

But what really sent the sign that 2005 was a bad year for music is that 4 old-timers were asked to play. (Mariah Carey may be an old-timer, but she has a new album out) Cyndi Lauper played with Sarah McLachlan, The Eurythmics, Carlos Santana with Los lonely Boys, and a satellite feed of the Rolling Stones. You know it's bad when my wife says the Rolling Stones were about the best sound of the evening. Not to forget, Lindsay Lohan did a rotten cover of Stevie Nicks. Now any one of these would be fine, they all did a good job on their songs (esp Eurythmics and Santana), but to have this many on one night says that they are hurting for talent. Another sign that they are hurting for talent is that both Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff got stage time.

Besides the 4 old-timers, the 3 teeny-boppers (including Mariah Carey) and 3 other acts (The All-American Rejects, Three Doors Down and Cheryl Crow) all the acts were County or Hip-Hop. I don't mind either category getting fair time at the show, but what about all the other categories? Alternative is still putting out some top-notch stuff, Rock surely has someone that can bring down the joint. Is top 40 radio that bad?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Military Recriuting and Retention Very High

If things are going so badly overseas, why is retention so high? Could it be that the people who actually see what is going on see good things happening?Article here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Even More on Wal-Mart!

I just ran across this editorial and thought it was pretty good. If you notice, he must have read my blog before writing his column. The freedom to hate Wal-Mart by Paul Jacob. One statement he makes is really good:
The free market offers Wal-Mart haters an easy way to hit Wal-Mart right where it hurts. These wizards should start their own companies and pay entry-level retail workers as much as they think is "enough," and of course offer a generous package of health care and other benefits to both full and part-time employees. Problem solved!
As much as I don't like Wal-Mart, I don't try to pass laws to discriminate against any one business. The way the real anti-Wal-Marters need to do it, is to convince people to shop somewhere else. Good luck.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Is Wal-Mart Evil? part 2

From my last post on this topic: I think critics of Wal-Mart assume everyone has a good job till Wal-Mart moves to town. Not true.

Much of the free-market stuff that I read assumes everyone is smart, everyone is mobil and everyone is ambitious. If they aren't all three, that's just too bad. Because the author is all three, and he doesn't feel any pity for them. But living in small towns in depressed areas has convinced me that not everyone has all these options open to them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Slate on Fixing Higher Education

Slate has several articles on How to Reinvent Higher Education here. Actually they sound less like reinventing and more like recalling. All the essayists believe education should cause a person to think critically, communicate clearly and develop a moral character. Sounds good to me. Several writers call for some moral teaching, even with the controversy it will bring. Alan Wolfe, who I blasted a few weeks ago, has a good essay.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is Wal-Mart Evil?

Is Wal-Mart Evil? Well, I think so, but I think most big corporations are (as I sit here on my Dell computer running Windows). Anyway, I always try to buy from the locals any time I can, but in a small town where a "super" Wal-Mart resides, there isn't a lot of competition left. But I try to get stuff at a local hardware store when I can (this cheapskate is fully aware it costs more), the only auto-parts stores left are also chains, but I go there instead of Wal-Mart for oil and windshield wipers.

The reason I bring this up is that our campus just showed a movie called Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. I wanted to go see it, but wasn't able to. A few commentators have commented on it, or the idea behind it, already. John Stossel with "Is Wal-Mart a Problem?", was a bit of a disappointment. It was like a politician answering the question he already knew the answer for, instead of the question that was asked. The issue isn't creation of wealth, the question is, are the workers and the public treated fairly?

The public: mostly yes. We in small towns have more selection of products to chose from at lower prices than we did before. Though still not the all-encompassing selection Wal-Mart wants you to believe it has. And this selection is in one building, so I don't have to drive to TG&Y, Woolworths, and Montgomery Wards to see who has the best price or whichever options I want. The downside is that Wal-Mart started out buying American-made products whenever it could and gained a lot of support that way. Now that Sam Walton is dead and Wal-mart is the only game in town, they get everything from China. I challenge you to find 10 things American made in 10 minutes in any Wal-Mart (other than food items).

I will say that having 10 different stores, each with a local owner, or independent manager, gives a town a different flavor than one national business with a few managers that are moved around till they hit the top spot and then live in whatever town they end up in.

The workers: In a community, does Wal-Mart create jobs, lose jobs, or just re-shuffle jobs? I'm not sure. What about pay and benefits? Well, anyone who has worked for an independent company can tell you that they don't pay so well either. And if they are too small, they can't afford to pay any insurance for their employees. I have a friend that was very happy being a machinist at a local farm and auto parts store, but the owner couldn't provide insurance. So, when the machinist got married he had to quit and work for a factory in the next town that provided insurance. Not as enjoyable, but it paid more and had benefits.

I think critics of Wal-Mart assume everyone has a good job till Wal-Mart moves to town. Not true. More on this later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Johnny Cash is not new to me

I have long been a Johnny Cash fan. When I was 5 years old, I could identify Cash on the radio. My folks had several of his albums that I now have. Most people have contradictions, but Cash had more of them and had them more strongly than almost anyone in the last century. Fully redeemed, yet fully a sinner (I have a copy of his mug shot from some county jail somewhere).

I really admire his humility as well as his righteous anger. Johnny Cash was not just The Man in Black, but he was The Man. Christianity Today Movies has a good article on the movie coming out. INTERVIEW The Man in Black Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who play Johnny and June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, join director James Mangold to discuss the legend's lifeƂ—and faith. By Peter T. Chattaway. It's more than an interview really. The movie was planned with the permission of Johnny and June Cash. I can't wait to see it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Evangelical Environmentalist - there's a phrase for you!

I really like what Ted Haggard has to say. Check it out here. (It's a short article.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Unite the County with a Moderate!

I don't intend to comment on politics too much (though those commentaries can make lots of money!) but with the new vacancy for the Supreme Court, some Dem said "It's time for the President to pick a candidate to unite the Country, not divide it." I laughed out loud. There is no such person. It would be nice, but won't happen.

I am a moderate living in a world of extremists.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Conservative Librarians

The Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian is an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. For those who don't know, the Chronicle is the New York Times of the academic world. It's true that librarians are overreacting to lots of what's going on in the country. But I think that can be said about most any group right now.

The clearest way to take care of the polarization is to kill half the Baby Boomers. The most extreme right and left. Seeing as how that isn't practical (and I wouldn't want to be the one to decide who is to be taken out), we'll just have to wait it out.

In other (related) news: Respected scholar and sociologist Alan Wolfe has gone off his nut. In this weeks Chronicle (not free, sorry) he continues his anti-conservative rants that the Chronicle editors keep publishing. Oh, you're suprised?

He seems quite convinced that to be conservative is to be mentally unbalanced. See his 4/2/2004 article "A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics." In that article he states
To understand what is distinctive about today's Republican Party, you first need to know about an obscure and very conservative German political philosopher.

I believe he is, or was, a moderate type person, and it grieves me to see him go down this road.

Are Consumers Anxious or are Analysts Psychologists?

The slow down in retail sales is credited to "Anxiety" by some mind-reading analyst types. Could it be that our gas budget has more than doubled and Christmas is coming? I don't feel anxious.

Speaking of Christmas someone had a boycott Christmas idea. I'll find it and link to it soon.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Putting on another's shoes

Marylaine Block has written a well thought out article on getting out of our tunnel-vision. I don't agree with everything she says, but as she states, "The object of these imaginative exercises is not achieving agreement. We don't need to agree with each other." But we do need to respect each other.

Bob Dylan

This last week PBS had a show on Bob Dylan. Now there is one interesting cat. The show stops at 1966, the year I was born. Martin Scorsese, the director, said that he would like to do the rest, as there is so much more, including religious issues. There is lots of speculation on that topic. I have a friend who believes that Dylan is still a Christian, just that he is quiet about it. He is not the only one.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I don't like doctors either, but...

It's no secret that I don't trust doctors. All that schooling and they still don't know what the heck is going on. There is a new book out called Natural Cures"They" Don't Want You to Know About. Gene Weingarten has done a book reivew. It's interesting, the book author, Trudeau, says the doctors just want money. But he himself is a convict of credit card fraud, and, is somehow making money hand-over-fist. Seems doctors aren't the only greedy ones. But they are greedy.

The Hollywood Slump

Here is an insightful article about the slump in movie theater attendance. Basically, he says that Hollywood should produce some patriotic and/or feel-good movies. That would be nice. One has to wonder what they are thinking when the first person to do a movie about Sept. 11, 2001 is Oliver Stone! If they don't see something wrong with that, it shows just how out of touch they really are. I am not saying he shouldn't make a movie, I'm just saying no one will go see it.

I do wonder about Cinderella Man which was supposed to be a feel-good movie, but it didn't do too well I hear. I didn't see it, but I rarely go to the theater anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2005

More on Government Waste

Mark Steyn has a good idea, let's give each family affected by the hurricanes $400,000 cash instead of funneling it through sloppy channels. Sounds good to me. If they blow it all, so what? If they use it to better their station in life, so much the better. I'm afraid that the only ones that will be better-off after the government gives hundreds of millions of dollars away, will be people who were pretty well-off already. Casino owners, oil people, contractors with government connections, etc.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Govenment's role

I just read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education where a writer says that the government screwed up with Katrina, so we need more government. HAH! Government only gets you bureaucracy. Take a look at this column by John Stossel to see what the problems of the government response are. The problem is people expect the government to be the one to respond, and what the government does is get in the way. Government is for bureacrats, by politicians, and that is bad. I have seriously considered joining the Libertarian party.

Another problem with the government is it gives out money way too easily. We have a friend who works at a social services office and she told us that at our income with 4 kids we qualify for $800 a month in food stamps! We don't even spend $250. $300 would be nice, but there is no way we need $800 every month. And to answer your question: Yes, it would make our budget easier. No, I am not going to take it. I didn't take WIC when we really could have used that either.

I have a friend who was born with a bad eye. In college he got $300 or so a month from the government. Even though he needed the money, he decided he shouldn't be taking other people's tax money so he told them he didn't want it anymore. They couldn't figure out why. It was so outside the realm of belief that someone would turn down money because of a principle. Amazing how fast we have fallen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I will probably do some reviews of movies, books and CDs, but don't expect them to be current. I rarely see a movie in the theater, or read a book right as it comes out. I think the last CD I actually bought was 10 years old when I got it. I have to decide I really like them now that my finances are devoted to things other than me. I used to buy about one new album/CD per week, so I have quite a collection of music from the 1980s and 1990s with a good bit of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s thrown in.

Anyhow, I did see Batman Begins at the theater. Wow, what a movie. As I was sitting there, almost tearing and choking up, all I could think was "What is it that makes this thing so spectacular?" I don't know that I've seen anything that affected me that way before. As I look back I don't remember anything in particular that caused my strong reaction. Anyone have any ideas? Perhaps it is the fact that I don't see the Big Screen very often.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Why do we get migraines? It seems odd to me that I should be attacked by my own body this way. It's not like cancer where cells are devouring one another, it's just a very intense pain for a short while. For no reason.

For those of you who don't suffer from migraines, let me explain: Somehow the brainstem gets over-stimulated, the nerves freak-out, and then one side of your brain decides to get out through the eye socket. The eye vigorously pushes back. The brain then tries to go out through the temple, all the while keeping the pressure on the eye. Then the brain gets mad and send signals telling the stomach to rebel also.

At this point it is hard to think, work, see, hear, or exist.

However, not all migraines are like this.

Sometimes it feels like an ice pick has been put through my forehead just above the eye, with another smaller one just below the eye. They are at angles so they almost meet just behind the temple. The ice pick analogy is about right. It feels like there is a line of pain, just as if something where shoved in there. Perhaps a laser beam.

Other times it feels as if someone has grabbed a nerve about the middle of my neck, just to one side of the spine, and is pulling. The nerve runs up over my head, just off the center, and then goes over and around the eye ball. All the pulling makes one side of the face go numb.

There are drugs one can take. Serotonin-uptake inhibitors. Serotonin is what makes you feel good. Apparently, too much feel good makes you feel bad. Unfortunatly, the drug also makes you feel bad, but not as bad as the migraine. So at $5.00 a pill, you can feel better, mostly. Lovely situation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not another blog!

Yes folks, another blog. I just want to say at the start that I don't like the word 'blog.' Something better should have been used. Oh, well, seeing as how I am late getting into this game I guess I don't have much to say about it, do I? How about webl? As in "He's a webl, yeah yeah yeah!" One thing I can guarantee you is that this won't be another blog annoucing what I ate for breakfast and how lazy I was at work. Snoozefest. If you read this blog long enough I will probably assult your ideals. We'll see how this goes.