Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Of taxes and protests

Well, ye socks, today is the day those of us fortunate to live in the "polite society" in this little corner of heaven have to pay for the right to do so, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes . . . not to mention Earl K. Wood.

While it's always more than a bit discouraging to write out your check for property taxes when you don't feel like you're getting the most bang for the buck, yours truly has been inspired recently by the peaceful protests that have been sprouting up around here.

It'll never make the national headlines, nor even be a blip on the world's 24-hour news cycle. But, nearly 5,000 tax protesters flooded Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando to express their grievances against socialism run amok. Even more such modern "tea parties," as the protests have been termed, are planned.

If you felt the pain of writing out a check to Mr. Wood today, think about circling the 15th of April on your calendar. That's more than just the due date for your federal income tax return. That's also the next big local tea party. It will be at Orlando City Hall at 6pm.

Let your voices be heard!

Stop the madness!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Jai Ho!

So, I'm still catching-up on my DVD "to watch" list.

Tonight's feature was the big Academy Award winner "Slum Dog Millionaire."

As usual, I had already read the book. But, not per usual, I cannot say the book was better than the film adaptation. Rather, both are good for different reasons.

For ye socks who haven't picked up the book (originally entitled "Q&A," by Vikas Swarup), here are the differences:

1. The main character in the movie is named Jamal and is identified as a Muslim. In the book, he is called Ram Mohammed Thomas (Hindu, Muslim, and Christian names) and his ethnic/religious background is ambiguous.

2. In the movie, Jamal's mother is killed during a Hindu lynching of Muslims in the slum. In the book, he never knew his mother. She abandoned him at birth to be raised by a Catholic priest.

3. In the movie, Jamal's brother Salim plays a key role in advancing the plot. In the book, Salim is only his best friend.

4. In the movie, Jamal's love interest is Latika, who is also orphaned in the aforementioned lynching. In the book, the love interest is a prostitute that doesn't appear until the main character is a teenager.

I kinda liked the adaptation's linkage of the three main characters, tying them together with the "three musketeers" and the final question on the quiz show.

But, check it out for yourselves, and let me know what YOU think!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vroom! Vroom!

Just thought I'd share this photo my brother-in-law emailed me from his fancy new Blackberry yesterday afternoon.

That's my nephew atop all that horsepower.

I'm wondering if this is the vehicle he's planning on using to come visit his favorite uncle next weekend . . .

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Saturday, March 28, 2009


Ye out-of-town socks may never have experienced this before, but this little corner of heaven was rocked by some twin sonic booms about 3:15 this afternoon.

It happens every time a space shuttle breaks the sound barrier to come in for a landing over at Cape Canaveral.

But, it never ceases to startle me.

IT IS LOUD! Shakes the windows. Rattles the teeth. You really have to fight the urge to hit the deck.

Well, at least I do.

Anyway, I'm glad the craft and crew are safely back at the space center.

Now, it's time to calm my jittery nerves . . .


Friday, March 27, 2009

ObamaNation discourages charitable donations

I just got done watching the president explain how he's going to tax us back into prosperity by soaking the rich.

His new "plan" employs the typical old Democratic hyperbole and class warfare by promising to "soak the rich."

This time around, they want to disallow deductions for the top 3% of earners in this country--you know, the people who make roughly HALF of the charitable contributions. At least, they do now.

They estimate this will put $10 billion into the hands of federal bureaucrats to dole out in their oh-so-efficient manner.

What they don't like to mention is where that money would have been sent if it wasn't going to Washington:

* churches
* universities
* medical research
* hospitals
* food programs
* cultural institutions
* international relief organizations

But, I suppose that's in the best interest of the ObamaNation. Why should folks look to the private sector when they can be dependant on Big Brother?

Stop the madness!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

A DVD double feature

Well, ye socks, after months of procrastination and deliberation, yours truly finally broke down and bought a new DVD player.

Not only that, but I got off my duff and hooked it up and got it running.

I know, I know. Pace yourself, right?! All this in one day?!? It's just madness!

Anyway, I was finally able to view the two DVD's from blockbuster.com that had been left to molder in the entertainment center until the new equipment was acquired and installed.

The first was "Hancock," featuring Will Smith as a superhero with an attitude problem. Glad I didn't waste money to see this in the theater.

The second was "Prince Caspian," the most recent Narnia movie. It was just okay.

But, hey, there was no Survivor to watch tonight because of all the madness over on CBS. So, this little double feature was a good alternative.

Still looking forward to finally trading in these two flicks for some DVD's I will actually enjoy playing on my new toy . . .


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crotty thinks higher tolls are the answer

In a stunning display of arrogance today, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty (who also sits on the board of the local expressway authority) announced that commuters in this little corner of heaven will have to forego all the free lunches they've been enjoying lately.

He rammed thru a system-wide toll increase, hoping to make up for recent revenue shortfalls.

Yeah, that's solid thinking, Rich. People aren't using your toll roads, because they're watching their personal budgets. So, raise the costs and you'll get more of them to drop quarters in your buckets!

This poor decision comes on the heels of a lot of bad news about the authority that has eroded the public's already low level of confidence in it, including:

* CEO Mike Snyder's blatant disregard for a grand jury investitgation.

* Using a disgustingly large portion of tolls collected to overpay for lobbyist schmoozing instead of servicing the authority's debt and paying for road construction/upkeep.

* A huge payroll of $46 million for just 58 employees, making them more highly compensated than just about any other toll system in the country.

It is time for folks like Crotty and Snyder to realize that their authority must undergo the same sort of belt tightening that their "customers" are having to do.

I would encourage my fellow Central Floridians to send the authority a clear message by refusing to use their toll roads until they rescind this increase and come up with a fiscally responsible solution to their money woes.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The case of the chief's disappearing gun

Ye out of town socks may not be aware of the mystery unfolding in this little corner of heaven.

Apparently, our chief of police Val Demings has become not only an icon of responsible gun stewardship but also highlighted the capabilities of local law enforcement.

It seems that way back on 2/27, nearly a month ago, Mrs. Demings had her OPD-issued gun and 138 rounds of ammunition stolen out of her Chevy Tahoe while it was parked right outside her own home.

Why are we just hearing about it now? Evidently, her department along with the sheriff's office (now run by her husband Jerry) thought it would be too much of an embarassment. But, their efforts to keep a lid on things were blown out of the water by an anonymous tip to the media today.

A lot of questions need to be answered. Here are a few:

1. Given the fact that Mr. Demings' vehicle was vandalized THREE times over the last year while parked in front of the same house, (a) why hasn't security been tightened there, and (b) why would you select that location to store guns and ammunition?

2. As there was no evidence of forced entry and the thieves did not attempt to steal other valuables in the vehicle, what is the possibility of this either being an inside job (i.e. someone who had the keys with Demings' permission) OR is it a complete fabrication and Demings has either lost or misplaced the weaponry?

3. Why did it take nearly a month for the public to be made aware of this situation? The Demings and their departments were not the only ones trying to keep it under wraps. Evidently, the chief did inform Mayor Buddy Dyer the day after the gun and ammo went missing. So, why did he keep it quiet, too?

This whole story stinks.

I do have to give the chief some credit, though. She told her internal affairs people to throw the proverbial book at her, which involves taking away a couple of her accumulated vacation days.

Yeah, that'll make up for having a loaded high-power weapon in the hands of a criminal whose prowling the streets of our fair city . . .

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Monday, March 23, 2009

A letter to George Washington

I thought I would share a recent discovery with ye socks after perusing an online collection of George Washington at the University of Virginia:


This letter written exactly 222 years ago yesterday was sent to our first president by my great-uncle Buckner Stith (1722-1791).

Actually, he hadn't been elected president by that point. We were still operating under the Articles of Confederation in 1787. I suppose that's why the letter was sent to Philadelphia instead of Mount Vernon.

Boring genealogical details: Yours truly descends from Buckner's younger brother Richard Stith of Campbell County, Virginia. All three of them (the two Stiths and Mr. Washington) worked as surveyors as young men. And, two of Buckner's sons married into the Washington family.

History lesson over . . . for today.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy 101st, Louis!

In keeping with yesterday's literary theme (and to avoid all things related to politics and our collective economic woes), I decided to dedicate today's post in the dryer to one of my favorite writers: Louis L'Amour.

He was born on this date way back in 1908--in Jamestown, North Dakota, to be more precise.

More importantly, he grew up hearing stories about the Wild West from some of the people who had tamed it. And, he used those tales as inspiration for more than 100 books.

Snooty literary types never took him seriously, I'm afraid. Yet, his books have sold over 200 million copies--not to mention how many were made into some of the most iconic western movies ever produced. (Ever seen John Wayne in "Hondo"?)

Anyway, Mr. L'Amour road into the proverbial sunset way back in 1988. But, he remains one of my favorite writers to this day. If you haven't read one of his books lately, pick one up to mark his birthday today!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Well, ye socks, I just got done reading the latest tome in my checklist of recent Pulitzer Prize winners.

This one won the prize for fiction in 2006.

But, be forewarned. It is not one of those fuzzy, feel-good novels that lets the reader escape into a pleasant alternate reality.

Instead, the post-apocalyptic world presented by El Paso writer Cormac McCarthy offers only a bitterly cold landscape, covered in soot and ravaged by the cannabilistic survivors of some great calamity.

He never really defines what exactly that calamity was. It isn't important, as McCarthy's true intent is the cautionary tale that springs-up in its wake--one of a man and his son journeying along a nameless road that gave this novel its simple title.

McCarthy peppers the tale with symbolism. Some of the images are likely to become indelibly etched in the reader's mind. Hopefully, some of the wisdom will, too.

Bottom line: not an easy read, but worth it.


Friday, March 20, 2009

ObamaNation's first big constitutional crisis

Well, ye socks, yesterday the red herring throwers that yours truly mentioned in earlier posts succeeded in ramrodding a resolution thru the House of Representatives to retroactively impose a 90% tax on AIG bonus recipients.

The vote on HR1586 was overwhelming, 328-93. Shame on members of the loyal opposition who marched in lock-step behind the "democratic" majority!

If anything like this resolution reaches the oval office and is signed into law by El Presidente, it will be nothing short of unconstitutional and will demand an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Thank God that George W. Bush got Justices Roberts and Alito on the bench before he left office. They may be the last line of defense against the irrational socialist juggernaut.

I maintain that all of this political theater is disingenuous in the extreme, meant to distract the public's attention from the fact that the bailout bonuses were approved by the ObamaNation's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The legislation that ok'd them was shepherded thru Congress by one of the administration's most capable minions, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut. And, the bill with that provision was signed into law by El Presidente himself! So, why all the outrage?!

I guess the lesson here is what the ObamaNation gives you today can and will be arbitrarily taken back tomorrow.

If we open the door to retroactive and punitive taxes to satisfy every outrage these socialists can gin-up with their herring tossing hi-jinks, just how far back will they go?!

I'm afraid the sky's the limit with these folks. And, that's why they've got to be stopped.

Hope and change . . .

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's good for Wall Street is good for Capitol Hill

Yours truly had an epiphany last night while watching coverage of the idiots running our nation into the ground trying to justify why they should be in charge of deciding how people's compensation packages are structured.

They are so convincing with their arguments that those dastardly employees of AIG should give back their bonus money. They are so righteous in declaring support of salary caps for executives.

That's when it hit me. Something about a goose and a gander.

Why don't we start capping politicians' salaries, too?! I mean they are just as responsibile, if not MOST responsible, for the financial mess we are currently experiencing.

My sanctimonious, narrow-minded, and heavy-handed approach would work something like this.

Since the pols live and die by the polls anyway, let's tie their pay to their public approval ratings (PAR's)!

Say a given office pays a $100,000 salary, but the sycophant that occupied said office only has a 50% approval rating. The PAR adjusted salary would only be $50,000. And, the difference could revert back to the treasury to offset the massive "stimulus" plans of the ObamaNation!

Hope and change!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG Bonus Outrage is a Red Herring

All the bluster and hyperbole coming out of DC about the $165 million bonus money being paid by recently-bailed-out AIG is a load of tripe.

First, and foremost, AIG is contractually bound to pay that money and would be in violation of Connecticut law if they failed to do so.

Second, the total spent on bonuses represents less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the $173 BILLION in "bail-out" money AIG received.

If taxpayers really want to get angry about something, let's talk about the $172,835,000,000 that the feds in all their wisdom forced AIG to take without so much as getting the company's shareholders to vote whether or not they wanted to accept it.

The fact is, the ObamaNation has been preaching the twin lies of a "systemic risk" and "rogue executives" who managed to slip thru the cracks of weak regulations. And, forcing AIG to take the money was nothing short of a hostile takeover by the government. They hijacked a multi-billion dollar international corporation, and used it as a funnel for redistributing wealth. Remember, by their own admission, $120 billion of the $173 billion they gave to AIG actually ended up in the hands of other banks and local governments--not to mention the billions more that ended up in the hands of FOREIGN institutions. AIG's net "bail-out" was only a fraction of the sum over which the herring throwers would have us all wringing our hands.

If the media would stop basking in the glow of their Messiah, they might ask him and his minions exactly what "system" was at risk and required government involvement. It certainly was not the capitalist system, whereby those who make poor decisions have to suffer the consequences.

Furthermore, it's absolute balderdash to claim there isn't enough government regulation of our financial services. In the case of AIG, the SEC and the Office of Thrift Supervision both had direct oversight, a responsibility they took quite seriously. And that was just the federal layer of government that was watching their every move. On the state level, it was the oh-so-ethical watchdog Eliot Spitzer, then New York's attorney general, whose "oversight" marked the decline of the financial giant.

In March 2005, Spitzer pressured AIG to fire its CEO Hank Greenburg over accounting practices he couldn't comprehend. This accomplished, he never pursued the charges . . . probably because he knew he couldn't argue his case intelligently. But, the damage was done to AIG's credit rating, denying them the ability to get favorable terms from their creditors, and leading them to begin investing in risky derivatives.

Bigger government is not the answer to this question, or most others for that matter. Stop the madness! Return AIG and other "recipients" of government takeover money back into private hands as soon as possible. And, stop the aforementioned bluster and hyperbole. It's disingenuous in the extreme.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Erin go Bragh!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye Irish socks. Aw, heck, Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye non-Irish socks, too. Why not?!

That being said, yours truly has something of a reputation as a trivia geek. Probably the result of trying to learn something new every day. Today's tidbit for the "never knew that before file":

St. Patrick's official color is BLUE, not green. Always has been, apparently. The wearin' o' the green isn't symbolic of our patron saint, at all. Instead, it became popular in the 18th Century when the Irish began wearing shamrocks in their lapels (and elsewhere!) to show support for the country's independence from Britain.

But, don't think that's going to save you if all you're wearin' is blue today. I'm still (selectively) pinching people who aren't sporting something green. So, consider yourselves forewarned!

Now, pass the corned beef and cabbage . . .

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Monday, March 16, 2009

5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

This little corner of heaven was treated to a spectacle in the sky last night, courtesy of the combined efforts of the eggheads at NASA and good old Mother Nature.

Just as the twilight shadows were creeping across our little peninsula, launch control fired the rocket boosters that lifted Discovery over Cape Canaveral.

It always amazes me how something as big and clunky as a shuttle on the launch pad can become as graceful as a ballerina when it breaks the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God. And, last night, the dancing spacecraft wowwed her audience even more than usual with a special maneuver, twisting around and upside down as soon as she cleared the ground.

Don't get me wrong, I would never trade places with any one of the seven brave voyagers on board Discovery. I'm perfectly content to remain earthbound, a witness to this spectacle.

For your viewing pleasure, I am including with this post a somewhat blurry photo snapped from my mom's back yard in east Orlando. (You can see the blackening trail of the rockets rising above the treeline from lower right to upper left.) But, you probably had to be there to really appreciate the rumbling of the ground beneath your feet and the glow from the distant fire on your face.

These launches never cease to amaze me, renew my faith in our ability to conquer big challenges . . . good thing to keep in mind on a Monday, no?

I hope all ye socks have as positive a launch to your weeks!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another day of blog silence

In memory of my dad, Lt. Col. W.S. "Skip" Morgan (16 Oct 1948 - 15 March 2007).

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ahhhh . . . the smell of Spring!

I don't know about the rest of ye socks, but nothing smells better to yours truly than a freshly-mowed lawn.

In a move that may have annoyed a couple of my late-rising neighbors in this little corner of heaven, yardwork at my abode commenced prompty at 8am today.

I wasn't entirely without a conscience. I didn't actually crank-up the mower for a good half hour, as I had to pick up the dozen or so rotten grapefruit that have been moldering since I last had the gumption to attack the back yard.

Then I had to double-check the testy back wheel that has been falling off at inopportune moments since the day I bought this mower. And, finally, the annual checklist I've been following ever since my Uncle Richard gave it to me in 1995. Spark plug? Check. Oil? Check. Blade? Check. Air filter? Check. etc etc

Anyway, now that it's done and I'm sitting here sipping some lemonade and admiring my handwork, I finally feel like Spring has officially sprung.

And, boy am I glad I got this chore done early. I'm beginning to roast out here. Time to retreat to the comfort of climate control . . .

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Friday the 13th?!?

We just did this last month, didn't we?!

Well, I've actually never been too freaked out by the superstitions surrounding that combination of day and date.

And, I'm not sure if the plethora of Friday the 13th's lately is symptomatic or a contributory factor in this curent economic mess we're in.

Probably not worth spending too much time contemplating.

But, ye socks know me and my love of words. So, I did want to point out to those of you who do suffer from fear of Friday the 13th, that your condition is NOT "triskaidekaphobia."

That word applies to folks who are afraid of the number 13 in general.

If you fear Friday the 13th's specifically, then you suffer from "paraskavedekatriaphobia."

Much longer word, and thus more impressive, no?!

Good weekends, all!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

One day of blog silence.

In memory of Elaine Kring
(20 March 1941 - 12 March 2002)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shuttle launch scrubbed for tonight.

What a disappointment! I was hoping to celebrate my niece's birthday tonight with a shuttle launch.

Night time launches are awesome, due in no small part to the fact that they can be seen from my 2nd floor window. The glow of the booster rockets fills the night sky. And, most important, you don't get stuck in traffic driving over to the cape and back.

But, it was not to be tonight. Something about a fuel leak, and they'll try again tomorrow.

Still, I hope Morgan had an "out of this world" 6th birthday!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our fountain is failing!

The fountain at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando has long been a symbol of the city. In fact, it is even featured prominently on our municipal flag, and in the corner of all the downtown street signs. Today, though, it seems to be more reflective of the area's economic suffering.

Yesterday, the city council budgeted $25,000 to come up with a detailed diagnosis of its ailments and develop an action plan. But, it's painfully obvious to anyone strolling around the park that surrounds Lake Eola what the problems are:

* The water that used to cycle thru dancing jets of arcing patterns now only shoots straight out the top.

* The colorful exterior lights that used to accompany the water display only work on one side.

The icon once dubbed "The Millenium Fountain," but later dedicated to the memory of local banker/philanthropist Linton Allen, was installed in 1957, replacing a more aged version dedicated in 1912 to Mayor E.F. Sperry. It cost a whopping $162,000 (about $1.2 million in today's weak currency).

The city hasn't done any major work on the fountain in over twenty years, though they do pay a local contractor $54,000 a year for cleaning and maintenance.

I understand there were negotiations with Sea World to update the fountain through a corporate sponsorship, which would have included the addition of a music system to accompany the water and light display. But, those talks ended when Anheuser Busch sold the theme park to a new, foreign parent company: InBev (from Belgium).

What I don't understand is why InBev wouldn't be just as interested in being a good corporate citizen . . .

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Morgan genealogy updates

Just a quick post to update ye socks who aren't completely weary of all the genealogy-related material in the dryer lately.

I recently received copies of some old newspaper clippings pertaining to the Morgan family in Virginia, and have added them to my ongoing online collection at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~oldpinecastle/morgan/index.html

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

What a tangled web!

Yep, still reading the book about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

Hope ye socks aren't getting bored with these posts on the subject, but it's been a good read and I've been learning a lot.

Today's little genealogical tidbit concerns Jefferson's wife. I never knew anything about her before. Her name was Martha Wayles, and it turns out she was the half-sister of Hemings!

On a personal note, I also discovered that Jefferson was her SECOND husband. And, her first husband was a fellow by the name of Bathurst Skelton.

Well, the Richard Stith that I mentioned in previous postings was a grandson of a lady named Susanna Bathurst. A peculiar name, not like Jones or Smith. So, I'm sure there's a connection somewhere. Need to do a little sleuthing on this one . . .

Back to the book . . .

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reading between the numbers

Further to yesterday's post, I've been delving into the accounting of that sale of slaves imported to Virginia aboard the ship The Prince of Wales back in 1772.

I am finding it is just another sad example of how cold accounting can be, and how much information cannot be conveyed by strict columns and numbers.

In this case, the compiler failed to note the ship actually began its voyage in Africa with a human cargo numbering 400.

Only 280 survived the trip.

Of that number, 266 were sold on the auction block.

What happened to the other 14? For that matter, what happened to the 266 after they were purchased?

What we do know is that folks back then were an awful lot like folks today. They bought on credit, promising to pay the sales agents Richard Randolph and John Wayles (father-in-law of Thomas Jefferson) when their tobacco crops came in.

But, tobacco prices plummeted that year, and the debtors failed to pay-up, reluctant to take the loss on their devalued crop. (To put it in modern terms, it would be like having to pay based on your home equity or 401(k) balance.)

To add to the mess, Mr. Wayles dropped dead in 1773. Mr. Randolph was left holding the bag. So, when the slaves' consignor John Powell & Company of Bristol, England, demanded payment, he had to get a "bail-out" from the firm of Farrell & Jones.

Unlike modern bailers, though, F&J went after both Randolph and the Wayles estate to try to recoup their losses. The case dragged on for many years, and I haven't yet found out how it was resolved. But, I doubt we will see such doggedness when it comes to recovering any of the bail-out money being so recklessly issued up in DC nowadays . . .

To borrow an accounting term, the "bottom line" for ye socks here is that you've got to appreciate that there's almost always a lot more going on behind the numbers on a financial statement--be it an historical one or a modern-day example.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

That's the title of a book [ISBN 9780393064773] by Annette Gordon-Reed that the Orange County Library System was kind enough to deliver to yours truly this afternoon.

I had seen the author on a recent talk show, which sparked my interest. She's a smart cookie, teaching both law at NYU and history at Rutgers. And, I figured any work that wins a National Book Award is worthy of a perusal. Besides, the whole genealogy angle is always appealing to me.

Though I am only just beginning to delve into it, I have not been disappointed so far. Gordon-Reed writes in a style that is easily followed, and cites her sources in a way that would make any English teacher proud.

Before I began reading, I couldn't help myself but check out all the illustrations inserted in between the pages near the middle of the book. Often times, pictures do indeed say a thousand words and offer the best prelude to a lengthy text like this.

Imagine my surpise (and discomfort) to discover the third illustration of the accounting of a slave sale dated 30 December 1772 included my own ancestor Richard Stith among the list of buyers of human chattel.

Clearly, this book's subject matter is going to be as challenging to this descendant of slaveowners to read as it must have been for the descendant of slaves to compile.

Fortunately, I'm always up to a good challenge . . .

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Are we doomed to relive these dark episodes in history?

I am alarmed, ye socks.

Over the last five months, we have seen a 271% increase of the money supply.

But, people aren't spending much of it. Car sales are down. Home purchases are comatose. Consumer spending is in the proverbial toilet. And, the only corporate investments being made are being made by the government.

So, where is all that money supply? Well, in the case of yours truly, the dollars are going to pay-down existing debts. But, anecdotal evidence at hand indicates a lot of folks are sitting on their cash, squirreling it away until the economy improves.

Why is that so scary? Well, think about it. If all that squirreled-away money is brought back into the marketplace alongside all the "bail-out" cash the feds are injecting into the system, the result is going to be hyperinflation.

Crack a history book if you don't believe me.

Dark episode #1:
The Weimar Republic, where (as pictured above) paper currency was so devalued by inflation, that it took cart loads of it to buy even the simplest household necessities.

Dark episode #2:
The Carter Era, when we had to outpace all the grocery store clerks, grabbing things off the shelves before they could jack-up the price stickers on us.

This is not the time for the massive government spending the ObamaNation advocates. We should be shoring-up the value of our dollar with sound fiscal policy.

Hope and change!

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The War on Prosperity

Most of ye socks are too young to remember when Lyndon Johnson became president and declared a "War on Poverty."

Heck, I'm too young to remember that myself. But, I do crack a book every once in a while . . . something that has evidently fallen out of fashion lately . . .

Anyway, Johnson used his declaration (which, by the way, was unconstitutional since Congress is the branch of government that declares war) to justify the twin ideals of the modern Democratic Party: increasing taxes and growing the size and scope of government.

The ObamaNation is even more "idealistic" than old LBJ ever dreamed of being, waging the new undeclared War on Prosperity.

The tactics are simple yet effective:

* Hike the top tax rate to nearly 40%.

* Disallow top earners from deducting things like state & local taxes, charitable contributions, and mortgage interest from their federal tax bill.

* Hike the payroll tax.

* Raise the capital gains tax to 20%.

These tactics will not only dampen investment in an already-soaked marketplace, they will also continue the slide in consumer spending.

Clearly, the ObamaNation's goal is to dream up more methods of redistributing the shrinking wealth rather than reversing the shrinkage.

Increasing bureaucracies and tax burdens are far more fashionable these days than, say, fighting inflation.

In waging this war to shrink the pie before it is even cut, the ObamaNation stands on the principles that were articulated so well on the campaign trail last year.

Unfortunately, the principles are bad ones.

Hope and change!

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!

That's right, it's time to party like it's 03/03/09 . . . because it is!

We haven't had a Square Root Day to celebrate since 02/02/04.

And, we're going to have to wait til 04/04/16 for the next one.

Thankfully, we do have Pi Day to celebrate every year (March 14th = 03.14).

Or, ye purest socks who don't mind recording dates in the European style may prefer to celebrate Pi Day on July 22nd (22/07).


We need any kind of reason to distract ourselves from this economy, right? So, why not made up holidays?!?!

Somedays, I feel like one of the musicians on the Titanic . . .

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Amendments run amok

Ye out-of-town socks may be unaware of the school budget shortfall we are projecting in this little corner of heaven--to the tune of $125 million.

The bean counters estimate a significant chunk--about $50 million--could be made up if we added 4 children per classroom.

Unfortunately, we are forbidden by the Florida Constitution from doing so. It seems back in the glory days of 2002 when the state was flush with cash, 52% of voters injected an amendment limiting class sizes.

I think it was about the same time that voters amended the state constitution mandating a high-speed rail link between Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. That never happened, for some reason. But, the class-size thing did. I wonder why one amendment is enforced and the other isn't . . .

Anyway, I thought constitutions were supposed to be frameworks for government. That being the case, why is Florida's constitution open to so many ridiculous amendments? Such things as bullet trains and class sizes should be statutory or policy decisions. I know, I know. Back in 1968, when the constitution was enacted, everybody was all about "power to the people." But, what about our state's elected officials doing the jobs we hire them to do at the ballot box?

Clearly, our constitution is anything but a framework for government anymore. I say we should consign it to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

We have precedent.

Florida has actually had 6 constitutions over the years:
* 1838 - prepared with an eye on statehood (which was achieved in 1845).
* 1861 - created to allow the state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.
* 1865 - designed to return the state to the Union by abolishing slavery, among other things.
* 1868 - the so-called "Carpetbag Constitution" that created a very powerful governor.
* 1885 - the post-Reconstruction document that cut-back executive powers.
* 1968 - the current version that has us in such a pickle, ironically designed to simplify its predecessor (which had grown to include 149 amendments totaling 50,000 words . . . the US Constitution by contrast only has 6,000 words)

Just as we are all discovering in our private lives, it's time for our government to get back to basics.

And, in Florida, that may mean it's time for a constitutional convention.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

In like a lion, out like a lamb

Ye socks have no doubt heard that phrase used to describe the variable weather we get in March.

It is a valid comparison, when you think about it. March is a transitional month. We still get a little of winter's blustery leftovers at the beginning, and milder spring-like weather at the end.

At least I hope that's the case.

We got some real lion-like weather blow into this little corner of heaven today.

Bring on the lambs!! I've had enough of this, already!!

Interesting side note: some say the lion/lamb analogy actually has an astrological connection. Something to do with the relative positions of the Leo and Aries constellations . . .