May 232013
 
  • The number 237 resonates with me in a couple of ways.  For one thing, it’s the number of the forbidden room in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  (It was 217 in the novel.)  For another, when the boys count up their money to see what they can get at the store in Stand By Me, the total is $2.37.  Interesting that both are Stephen King references, isn’t it?
  • We have an unknown, but deadly, respiratory illness in southeastern Alabama right now.  Be careful, my friends and acquaintances in and around Fort Rucker.
  • Nathan has graduated from his K-5 school without making a B.  Awesome, man.  I’m very proud of you.  Keep the train rolling.
  • The Xbox One had its coming out party this week.  I don’t see anything to make me plunge; nothing substantially better than my 360 (for what I use it for).  I fear Microsoft will start incrementally hobbling the functionality of the 360 in an effort to force the upgrade, though I hope not.  Right now, if we have an accurate look and nothing changes, it’ll take a Halo or BioShock game on Xbox One for me to get one.
  • On that note, I finally finished BioShock Infinite this past weekend.  The BioShock games are just outstanding.  That’s easily my second-favorite franchise ever.
  • I am really ready for the puppy who spends a lot of her time in our kitchen to graduate to outside so I can patch the drywall, repaint, replace the weatherstripping (again), and recover that bit of tranquility.  She’s a sweet girl, but I’m ready to miss her a little bit.
  • You think it’s more egregious to over-beer, or under-beer?  Is it worse to have a cheap beer with good food, or a good beer with cheap food?  I’m torn.  For me I think it depends on the cheap food.
  • I will roll it out a little more formally here when my first post is live over there (early next month), but I’ll say now that I’m excited to be part of Rocket City Mom!  I’ll be writing twice a month over there, and I’m looking forward to it.
 Posted by at 10:10 am
May 222013
 

(You know, you always feel the door before you open it.  I think the political fire isn’t very far away, Mr. President.)

OK, ready?  Here goes:

  • The President’s lawyer learned of the IRS targeting of conservative groups in April.
  • The President’s chief of staff learned of the IRS targeting of conservative groups in April.
  • The President himself learned of the IRS targeting of conservative groups in the news on May 10.

That’s the story right now from the White House.  Really.

I think right now it is still marginally possible for Barack Obama’s defenders to go with the hey-what’s-the-big-deal approach.  Manufactured scandal, Republicans on a witch hunt, blah blah blah.  Outliers are hurling charges of racism here and there.  There’s no reason to think the sociopolitical environment has suddenly become hostile to that particular brand of nonsense, so those accusations may increase a bit too.

Anything but, you know, the obvious.

I suspect we are not far from something that incontrovertibly implicates President Obama.  The truly mindless sycophants—and they are numerically significant—will continue their standard, hand-waving dismissals as if nothing has happened.  For everyone else, the time-honored tu quoque will become the primary defensive response.

One thing of which I am absolutely convinced:  no matter what emerges—no matter what—Barack Obama will never be anything but defiant and dismissive.  There is no genuine grace or decorum in him.  There is only Chicago thug.  There is only “what are you gonna do about it?  Huh?”

I think that even if it gets genuinely bad, politically speaking, for him, he can’t even fake remorse.  It’s not there to summon.

It will surprise few to read that I am not an especially big fan of our esteemed president.  He is politically bleeding right now, which is really a first in his entire time in office.  I hope it gets much worse, and I think it at least as likely that it will as it won’t.  Whatever happens, I’m thankful that his ability to do any more damage is diminished, and as a student of political communication, I’m looking forward to watching him.

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
May 202013
 

“Following the April 2011 tornadoes, people from other states showed tremendous compassion to Alabama. They helped us in our own rebuilding. They volunteered their time and their resources. They stood with us in prayer and support. Alabama stands ready to do the same for the people of Oklahoma.” – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

God be with all those hurting and grieving tonight.

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
May 182013
 

I went to Lowe’s week before last.  Hadn’t been in quite some time, because I’d been in this unhealthy, unreasonable, passive-aggressive sort of place about home maintenance.

But I’m climbing out of it.  So I bought weatherstripping, primer, some screws, and stuff.  I noticed a fellow with a guide dog inside.  It was a striking German Shepherd, 80 pounds or so and a lovely brindle brown and black.  (I actually thought “Seeing Eye dog” at the time, but net research for this post tells me I’m supposed to say “guide dog” now.  So be it.)

I checked out, left with my stuff, and got in the Technical Writing Express.  In the rear-view mirror, I noticed the guy with the guide dog walking my direction in the parking lot, but on the other side.  He was well clear of me, so I shifted to R and started backing out.

The Shepherd stopped instantly.  So, so did his master.  There was no chance I was going to interfere with them.  I looked carefully before I moved.  Nevertheless, there they stood, motionless.  There is a tremendous dignity in a German Shepherd that I don’t think is present in any other breed.

I completed the backing maneuver.  Less than a second after I shifted to a forward gear and started moving, the guide dog resumed walking with his master.

I’ve been thinking about that encounter since.  I’ve marveled at the dog’s extensive training.  (That’s a complex situation I just described.  The dog’s been trained to err on the side of caution.  Very good, yes?)

More than that, it’s made me consider the weight of the cross I’m carrying.  And, to be blunt, it’s really light compared with the crosses of many others.  Getting a chance to see that man with his dog in an actual situation for which the dog is trained, I was granted an opportunity to appreciate what I have.

It was a routine encounter, but one that would require no specific attention from me.  However, he needed his dog.  Because he’s blindHe can’t see.

Whatever the situation, I’m trying very hard to think about whether I have a legitimate license to complain.  I invite you to join me in that consideration.

 Posted by at 10:50 pm
May 172013
 

Barack Obama’s presidency might not survive the IRS scandal.

That seemed a long-shot at the start of the week, but there were a couple of things that gave me hope that was a possibility.  First, there is something subtle but unmistakably different in Obama’s conduct.  He’ll “get to the bottom of it,” and he’s “outraged.”

But he’s not outraged.  He very much has a “going through the motions” look about him.  I found this notable because he’s been remarkably consistent.  He’s only got a couple of demeanors, and the one he should logically have—the assertive, vaguely dismissive certainty—is absent.  I speculate that it’s because he’s not sure he won’t get splattered, and that’s new territory for him.

So he’s a little more tentative, which really sticks out on him.  There’s some loose end, somewhere—perhaps a bit of sloppiness enabled by hubris—that implicates him, and he hasn’t figured a way out of it.

Now when I say there might be a smoking gun, I’m not saying an email from Barack Obama, subject:  Here is How We’re Going To Take Down the Right-Wingers Using the IRS, with a ten-point plan inside.  I think it is likely to instead be that he learned of the effort and, recognizing it as advantageous, didn’t say anything.  That’s not directing the effort, but it’s not very much above it ethically or morally, either.

How long might that time have been?  Well, maybe about five months.  This reporting this evening—in The New York Times, of all places—solidly indicates that knowledge of the IRS targeting was present in the White House in June 2012.

What’s the trail?  How far to Barack Obama?  Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?

Expect a frenzied weekend, folks.

 Posted by at 5:42 pm