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Monday, July 28, 2003

  Sheila Copps has plans for you! Luckily, so long as Paul Martin (who has a secret plan!) can avoid accidental death between now and the Liberal leadership convention, they will never be put into practice. I wanted to write a long scathing piece on her ridiculous platform, but I was too busy waiting in a passport office lineup all day. Colby Cosh took up the task.
  Finally! Fourteen new photos are up in the photo album (link on left). Enjoy!
  Water Babies. Max and Talia check out the pool at Opa Wolf's place.



Tuesday, July 22, 2003

  "Cheese-surrendering eating monkeys". Mark Steyn defends the French way of life over the American. And I have to agree with him. Luckily, there are still those still willing to mock the French.
  Mark it, Dude. I changed the description of my blog the other day to be a line from my favourite movie. It seems I am not the only one with this strange and unnatural obsession. The 2nd annual Lebowski Fest was held in Louisville, KY. Why was I not told? This will not stand, ya know, this ommission will not stand, man...

Monday, July 21, 2003

  Impulse Purchase. I finally got around to buying a DVD player today. At Loblaws, I picked up one for C$80. Eighty bucks! It even has the extra features I wanted, which are to play MP3s and display image files off CDROMs. Eighty dollars. Compare this to when I finally bought a CD player for my stereo. It was 1993 and I bought a used one off a friend for C$200,. No frills, just a CD player. Another friend gave me a remote system that attached to this player and which he no longer had any use for. The price on the box for the remote was C$90!

  A moment to catch my breath. Max Max, AKA: The Blob, AKA: Bowling Ball Boy, and Talia, AKA: Screechy Wheel, AKA: Screechy Monkey Girl, AKA: Screechy, have kept Michelle and me on the go all weekend. Lifting them up, carrying them around, feeding them, changing them, taking them for walks, bathing them, and keeping their little minds occupied and happy has been all we have known this weekend. But now Michelle is out getting her eyes checked, and I have taken the twins on such a great walk that they are knocked out in their stroller under the mosquito netting. I have some free moments to sit back and reflect on things.

I wonder how Max manages to puke up so much and still manage to grow?

Whoops! That's enough deep thinking for now, my darlings are starting to stir. For fun, check out Dave Barry's ruminations on life with a three year old and see what I have to look forward to.

Friday, July 18, 2003

  The Lesson Not Learned Pt. I. Most anti-idiotarians, libertarians, and knuckle-dragging right-wing types such as myself would agree that government intervention in the economy is usually a bad thing. Trade barriers, subsidies, price controls and the like usually cause more problems than they solve. Frederic Bastiat, the grandfather of libertarianism (IMO), wrote an essay on this subject back in 1850: That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen. It's a work that is still very relevant, discussing the ways politicians endeavour to use other people's money to make the economy stronger or fairer. Bastiat shows how each of these ways results in hidden costs and dangers.

More recently (in 1946), Henry Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, which stated,

economics consists of looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequence of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

This 'one lesson' is explored in this book by clearly laying out all the hidden consequences of the most popular ways governments like to muck about in the economy. Most people that have a passing interest in economics will be at least somewhat familiar with the arguments he makes, which are very good.

But if the neocon crowd is in agreement with the lesson, and many are familiar with it, why has there been so little discussion about how it applies to the most significant intrusion of government into the economy: the actions of the US Federal Reserve? Maybe there is a downside to eliminating the barriers that deny credit to some consumers and companies? Could there be hidden dangers to the artificially low interest rates being used to 'stimulate' the economy? Bastiat and Hazlitt would say, "you betcha!".

Jim Puplava writes about these issues better than anyone else on the web. His latest piece pulls no punches and declares, "the worst is yet to come". He feels the firehose of money the Fed has blasted into the economy is not being used for business investment, but instead is blowing more asset bubbles (much like the popped Nasdaq bubble). Each of these bubbles cannot exist indefinitely and must collapse, causing a great deal of economic damage.

Reading the above you might think I'm some nutty crank, or one of those sad souls that looks for bad economic news to prove the futility of capitalism. I'll admit to being a crank, but I'm working to defend capitalism, not deride it. Greenspan's experiments in creating universal prosperity will give ammunition to opponents of market forces, just as the failure of California's energy deregulation plan (in reality a re-regulation plan) did. It's important to understand that a free credit market did not cause the problems we will be seeing, it was the US (and other) government's attempts to use it for their purposes.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

  Super-Cuties. Playing in the playpen outside.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

  Who Lied? You can't open a paper or flip on the TV these days without hearing about "Bush's Lie". Out of a 5,000 word State of the Union address, 16 words have been pulled out and declared not to be true. These words were not used to cover up misdeeds or allow corruption, but were used only as part of the evidence backing a foreign policy decision. The British still claim them to be accurate, but why should that stop a good media feeding frenzy?

Here's a list of lies the left told about Iraq. Mind you, this is just the top ten. You could probably write a book.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

  IKEA = not so bad. All done, you can take your fingers out of your ears now. It went much better than expected, though it managed to fill two hours of my time. IKEA has improved in the past few years, getting rid of the pine (which could warp and cause fits of rage in their customers) and moving to laminated particle board.

Michelle's out with the kiddies on an extended walk and I'm blasting the London Funk Allstars on the stereo. Life is good.
  IKEA = Frustration. Against all my better judgement, my wife has convinced me to buy another piece of furniture from IKEA. I am about to make an attempt to make these slotted pieces of wood fit together. If you live in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, you may hear some random cursing in the distance. My apologies.
  Five Months Old! As of, uh, yesterday. I meant to write something on the date, but Max Max the 'mazing medicine ball boy and Talia the screechy monkey girl were keeping me too busy. As was my wife, who had me and some other pressed workers moving sofas, tables, boxes of books, and stacks of records into the newly finished basement.

Five months. I'd say it flew by, but I'd be lying. It seems like it was another geologic age when we brought these two home. I was much younger, full of vitality and with knees that didn't creak when I walk up the stairs. I could read books instead of blogs, indulge in long computer game sessions, and even travel. That's all gone now and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, July 11, 2003

  Dear Sir, you certainly print some nonsense in your paper... I just sent off my first letter to the editor of a major newspaper. I'm another step closer to being that grumpy old man muttering to himself on the front porch. It was in response to this bit of anti-American twaddle in the Globe & Mail. Who knows whether it'll be printed; here it is for anyone who might be interested:
Madelaine Drohan's column today demonstrates better than anything I have read lately why the critics of President Bush cannot be treated seriously and in fact only increase his stature. Ms Drohan apparently feels that because Uganda is not as democratically advanced as Norway and suffers corruption, Bush must use his visit there to publicly denounce the country's present leadership. Of course he will not, and that will allow his detractors to (of whom Ms Drohan is certainly a proud member) to shift the blame for the failings of Uganda's government to him.

This is what I call the 'It's America's Fault' principle pushed to its extreme. The basic version of this principle is something most left-wing editorial writers are familiar with: America acts - they're to blame, America doesn't act - they're to blame, America condemns - they're threatening to the international order. Simple and effective. But now, according to Ms Drohan, just failing to condemn fairly mild problems (for Africa) allows responsibility to stick to those she wants to stick it to.

Unfortunately for her, most people who are paying attention and who are not blinded by their hatred of the American leadership are no longer impressed by this game. By using such clumsy and tenuous 'outrages' such as this to continue their vendetta against George Bush, they have diluted any useful criticism in a sea of nonsense. No one is paying attention anymore and the President looks that much more attractive to the American voter.

Does anyone care what I think? Huh? Anyone?

*crickets chirping*

Thursday, July 10, 2003

  Fresh Picture. Only a half-hour old.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

  Hooters Air. Hooters now has a airline. Yes. An airline.
  News Update Continued! I was interrupted the last time I attempted to rundown the new features our babies have acquired, maybe I'll be luckier this time.

Smiling. They can be quite jolly little creatures when the mood strikes them. Max Max gives a big smile when you talk to him and poke him in the belly. Talia lights up when she bathes in attention and lets out the most wonderful laughs.

Eating. They've started pablum now. First they were a little hesitant, but now they put it away eagerly. It is quite fun to watch Talia eat; her eyes are wide open and she sucks at the spoon with incredible determination.

Crying They've made real progress in this area. Not only can they cry louder that before, they have found more reasons to cry. Loud noises, too long in the same place, an inadvertant smack from their sibling - any of these can set them off.

Enough for now. More pictures to be released soon.
  I am Ah-nuld! You are puny. I will crush you! Frank at IMAO is celebrating his one-year blogiversary. To mark this occasion, he has demanded that all other blogs link to him or else there will be punishment. I don't want to get on his bad side, so I've complied.

IMAO is a pretty funny page. Best is the "In My World" segments, featuring G. W. Bush and his "pals 'n' gals". This week's special guests: Dirty Harry and Ah-nuld.
  Lying With Statistics. There's been a lot of coverage in the past couple of years of how some companies played games with their books to make their results look better than they really were. Few of these stories were uncovered by the financial press questioning what they were told. Most came to public knowledge only after the internal inconsistancies at these companies became so colossal that they could no longer be hidden. Let's face it, financial reporters work much like the regular news reporters - they take press releases, get some superficial commentary on them from an 'expert', and send out the result.

When governments release statistics the financial news industry reacts much the same way. Here's the numbers, here's a couple of 'experts' to tell you what they mean, and now over to you Maria...

Ever think the government might not be giving you the whole truth? Here's a good article that might help you look at the US government's numbers a little more skeptically.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

  New Template. So whuddya think about the new look? Pretty squiff, huh?
 

July 9th is the anniversary of a 1999 Iranian student uprising that was violently supressed by the regime there. The blogosphere (of which I am an insignificant part) has chosen this day to send a message of solidarity to the Iranian people and to get people to think about what is happening there. Buzzmachine is a good blog to get a overview of what is happening. A couple of fascinating personal stories can be found at Blue Bird Escape and Iranian Girl. Hoder is also a good (and Canadian) site.

Spend a couple of moments today to appreciate the freedoms we take for granted. Hopefully the Mullahs' days in Iran are numbered.

Monday, July 07, 2003

  Letter from the front. A nice letter discussing what Iraq looks like from the soldier's point of view. Very different from the CBC's point of view.
  Home Alone II. Man, things spin out of control very quickly. After I last posted, I attempted to feed our twosome. Michelle and I had decided to let them have a bottle while she was away, so that's what I tried to do. Easy! This will be fun! But by the time I had the bottles ready they were pretty desperate. I couldn't feed one at a time because the other would get pretty frantic. So I tried to feed them together. Two babies balanced on my knee. We hadn't used the nipples for a while so they were kind of stiff, causing frustration. Max sucked so hard that when he released the nipple, the vacuum he created in the bottle caused the nipple to invert. This did not please him and was difficult to fix while holding two crying babies. But eventually I persevered and the bottles were drained. But I still had two (seriously) crying babies.

Not enough food, I reasoned. I boiled some water to make the pablum they've recently started eating. This will quiet them down, I thought. Have you ever noticed how long it it takes for pablum to cool down when babies need it the most? It takes a LONG time - at least a week. In this week I suffered extreme wailing in stereo. To distract them I put them in their high chairs, rolled them around, and staged an impromptu demolition derby. Even this did not cheer them up.

Okay, let's give them the goop. Talia first as she was screaming the loudest. Tabernac! Too hot! Even more crying! Back into the fridge with this stuff.

Another week (wail, scream cry). Let's try it again. Should be the right temperature now. It was - but Talia didn't want anything to do with it. Her face was red, her eyes were teary, pablum was in her mouth and leaking down her chin, and she was SCREAMING! Max didn't want any either. What the heck was going on?

Okay. I put Max in the harness carrier, picked up Talia and headed outside. Two screaming babies were taken into the sunlight - and were transformed into sweet happy children. They wanted to go out. D'oh.

I walked them around - Talia making little 'sniff' and 'sniff sniff' sounds - and they were happy. Just then Mama came home and saw what a good job I did looking after them.
  News Update! I haven't written much about Max and Talia's development for awhile, so I should probably fill everybody in.

Talia is now turning over from her back to her belly with ease now. She lifts her feet, arches her back, falls over to her side in an 'L' shape, straightens out, and flops over. Then she lifts her head up and looks at you. She has much better control of her body than Max, who still has difficulties lifting his head of the floor when he is lying on his belly. But he is better with his hands, grabbing things easily and turning them around, examining them.

Both kids smile easily now, and laugh when you make strange noises and....

(interruption)

It's funny how fast things can change when you have two small babies. I was typing the above sitting outside, drinking an iced tea, while the babies sat in the new jogging stroller. Mama was out shopping. It was nice. Then Talia started fussing a bit, so I took her on my knee and typed a few more words. Then I heard Max complete a HUGE project in he basement. Not a big deal normally, but this time I could see that gold goo leaking out onto the stroller. I thought I'd better deal with this.

I ran Talia in, turned the TV on and dumped her in front of it. Max was rushed into the operating room and I performed an emergency diaperectomy. Meanwhile, Talia was wailing away - and no wonder. She was being subjected to modern dance on Bravo. Mandatory Canadian content - yech.

Okay, I have other things to do now. News update will be completed at a more convenient time.

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