Happy Birthday Neo!


And just so you know – it’s that time again xx Jess

Originally posted on nebraskaenergyobserver:

p1040510 Well here’s a surprise for Neo when he logs in.

Yes, folks, it is a special person’s birthday today, and whilst he’d never tell you and he’d want no fuss, I think as friends we’d just want to tip our hates to the man from Nebraska and to say, in an understated, Jimmy Stewart sort of way, ‘Happy Birthday Pilgrim’.

I’d like to say thank you to Neo for this blog and the range of stuff he covers (how does one guy know all this?), for his generosity to the rest of us, and for his friendship. He’s just there when you need him – and you can’t actually want more in a friend. No fuss, no bother – indeed if there ever was a guy who is really ‘no drama’ you don’t need to look beyond our host here.

Knowing he wouldn’t mention it, and fearing that he might…

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To Gethsemane

jesus-in-gethsemane[I wanted to say something about Maundy Thursday but, I found whatever I tried to write just wasn't coming out right. So, we'll share in Jessica's from last year, which I think to be excellent.  Neo]

There they had been, camping out as they usually did. We don’t get much of a sense of the daily life of Jesus as He and His disciples tramped the roads of Judea, but the Gospel narratives give us some insight. They settled down for the night in Gethsemane. They’d had a good evening, and only one person at that supper knew why Judas had left early. We get a sense of companionship, and we can grasp something of the feeling of love which Jesus inspired in those close to Him. They were calm and rested, so much so that when Jesus asked them to watch with Him, they fell asleep. Like us all, they had no idea that the their world was about to be torn apart – and that the world and history would be changed forever.

How small a series of events came together that evening as they camped in Gethsemane. The Jewish High Priest had enough. The events of what we call Palm Sunday had warned him that the ever volatile population of Jerusalem might be roused to rebellion – and he knew what the consequences of that would be. Within a generation of the crucifixion Caiaphas’ fears had come to pass, and in AD 70 the Temple would be destroyed and thousands of Jews killed or dispersed; it is easy to dismiss Caiaphas, but he was, by his lights, doing his duty. How often do men of power think it better than one man should die than thousands suffer?

Judas had clearly had enough. Though the Synoptic Gospels tell us he betrayed Jesus for silver, John gives us the clue that it was Mary’s use of expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet which pushed him over the edge. It might, of course, be, as John said, that he had been tipping into the till and helping himself to money, but his taking offence was clear enough evidence of what type of man he was.  He was a zealot, a puritan – how dare Jesus allow people to waste oil which could have been spent to help the poor. He, Judas, knew what was right, and he had lost patience with Jesus.

Simon Peter was headstrong, and didn’t always get it right. After supper, when Jesus had said He was going to wash the feet of the disciples, Peter protested and said He wouldn’t allow it. But when Jesus told him that if he didn’t, he couldn’t be with Him, Peter didn’t ask for an explanation, he told Jesus he wanted to be washed all over.

Caiaphas and Judas reasoned their way through to a conclusion based on their own insights, and they saw, as we all do, only so far. Peter also reasoned his way to what seemed to him a sensible conclusion, but the love he felt for Jesus opened his heart and he saw further than he had with his intellect. Jesus warned him that he had been handed over to Satan to be ‘sifted’. Peter declared he never would deny Jesus – but Christ knew what was coming.

As the disciples slept and the Romans and the Jewish guard came closer, the silence of that dark night was broken only by the anguish of Jesus. His time had come.

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Disarming the Warriors

As usual, Bill Whittle nails it

Nothing to add-nothing to subtract.

Defending America


First let’s make it very clear that you will never find a greater proponent (one could even say fan)of the American military than I am. If you read here, you know that this is true. But what i admire is the ‘ass in the grass’, ‘boots in the mud’, ‘rubber meets the road’, war fighting military. The bureaucrats, the politicians, and the contractors at ‘Fort Fumble’ not so much. And that’s our point today.

First before we can adequately structure our military we need to figure out what we want it to do. That could be nothing beyond defending the continental United States all the way to stopping every brushfire conflict, everywhere. Neither extreme is rational, let alone reasonable.

Defending only CONUS makes no sense because our interests (and our friends, as opposed to our provisional allies) circle the world. We have especially made commitments in Europe and the Pacific, not to mention Israel.

In fact, there is no obvious reason anymore for the United States to be involved in the Middle East, except the defense of Israel. Nobody else shares our interests and values, they are simply vendors of oil, sand, and trouble. We already have a domestic surplus of sand and trouble, and with rational energy policy the same would be true of energy. That we don’t have that energy policy, has, and will again kill Americans. I don’t see any reason to not simply make everybody believe that we will defend Israel at any cost, and tell the rest to sod off, we have no interest in dealing with you anymore. They seem to have this fantasy that the seventh century was the best ever, who are we to deny them. Remember, oil was one of the major causes of the Second World War, as well. Here in North America, we can be quite easily self-sufficient, and likely have enough to help Europe as well.

In Europe and west Asia, amongst a bunch of other deployments we still have 50,000 soldiers in Germany. Why? To defend Germany, yes, but against whom? Russia? OK, that’s the official answer, but why? From nuclear weapons, fine. But we are being played for fools, American army troops in Germany are outnumbered by the entire German Army only about 3-1.

The Germans have less than 200,000 troops. (Incidentally we have 400,000 soldiers at Fort Hood, alone, more than twice the entire German Army.) I can see some deployed (so-called tripwire) forces in eastern Europe. I see no reason for a presence in Germany, other than inertia. We’ve talked before about the unspoken rules of engagement, that Russian forces don’t attack American forces, and this holds true as long as everybody has some shards of rationality remaining. And say what you will about Putin, he is rational. He’s not going anywhere that he might run into American forces, and vice versa. European defense has been an American (and British) responsibility since 1945.

I think it’s about time for Germany (and France, as well) to wake up and pull up their pants. They’re rich European countries who love to look down and insult the backwards Americans, maybe the time for NATO is over. Russia is a powerful regional power. Why? Because they choose to be. So can Germany be, if they wish. So can France. America should be supporting our friends, not playing sugar daddy to a bunch of moochers, and leeches. European gross national product is higher than American gnp.

And that brings us to the Pacific ocean areas. Most of our real friends are basically islands, and many of them are more or less off the coast of Asia. That means China. I can’t think of a provocation strong enough to make us invade China, and I suspect that’s true for them as well. They are a rising (resurgent might be a better word) power, and I’m not convinced their view on free trade is anywhere near ours and what the world has become used to. In addition they seem to be thinking that the old rules of imperialism are still in play, and so we seem to be somewhat at cross purposes.

Nothing new about that of course, the Imperial German fleet was a nuisance at the battle of Manila Bay way back in 1898 as well. The real question is, “How do we make sure our values of liberty, free trade, and such prevail”

Frankly a huge field army has little use in this theatre. And this is, I think the next cockpit of, if not war, perhaps conflicts of visions and maybe more. This is a navy and air force thing. That’s OK, that was always our forté, all the way back to the First Barbary War, we’ve always known how to do this.

If you think my thinking is way off base here, let me know in comments. Because soon we are going to start thinking about how we tailor the American military going forward. Why? Because it seems to me the bureaucrats are simply building and defending their budget empires, without rationally planning our defense.

Education: Continued

Continuing the education theme:



Cambridge, MA, April 1, 2014


In a move designed to foster diversity and to create a university that “thinks like America,” Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, the President of Harvard University announced yesterday that the school will embrace egalitarian admissions. The school will no longer give priority to students with good grades, high SAT scores, and impressive extra-curricular activities. Such policies have, Dr. Faust acknowledged, created an “elitist” and “inegalitarian” atmosphere at the college. “It is unacceptable in 2014 to be favoring the intelligent over the unlearned, and the energetic over the slothful,” she proclaimed. Starting next year Harvard’s incoming class will have SAT scores ranging from six to sixteen hundred to produce, for the first time, a truly diverse freshman class. The class’ scores will resemble the distribution of scores across the United States.

This mission will extend beyond admissions: “Harvard is now dedicated to fighting ‘thinkism” in all its guises. No longer will Professors grade students based upon how ‘well’ they think or write, or solve math problems or speak French.” Instead, fairness dictates that grades will be assigned by lot–like elections in ancient Athens, the only way to ensure that students who are “better prepared” for college or “better able” to read, write, and think, will not use their time at Harvard to perpetuate their educational and intellectual privilege.

via Harvard to Go Egalitarian | Online Library of Law and Liberty.

And what you get: Read more of this post

The Feminism I Support!

DRHA400_4thSt-6256I ran across Rehab Addict on HGTV last weekend for the first time last weekend, and I instantly became a fan. Why, you ask? Because unlike most of HGTV which stars decorators of some type who usually can’t see a structural elephant coming down a one-rod road, Ms Curtis shows a grasp of the job she was attempting to do. In fact a very good grasp. It makes for a much more enjoyable show for people like me, who have actually done this type of work. I watch a good deal of HGTV, and I get very frustrated with the people who are so surprised at hidden problems, especially in the 50th iteration of more or less the same problem. I call them incompetent, or to be charitable, slow-learners. In the real world, they don’t survive.

Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis Demolishes Entitlement Culture of Women by Elizabeth Sheld, | 20 Feb 2014

Nicole Curtis is the host(ess) of “Rehab Addict“on the HGTV/DIY networks. I confess to being a huge fan of hers, her show and HGTV/DIY. This morning Curtis took to her Facebook page to issue some smack down to “entitled” women.

Curtis’ show centers around her business of restoring historic houses in run-down neighborhoods of Detroit and Minneapolis. And she walks the walk. Curtis is a hands-on, ass-kicking contractor– knocking down walls, re-surfacing hardwood floors, installing plumbing to name a few things. A diva she is not. Her DIY bio reads:

A self-taught home rehabber and designer, Nicole Curtis is also a mom, a master of salvage picking, and a spirited advocate for saving old houses and rebuilding communities. Resourceful, creative and always in motion, Nicole is hands-on with all of her projects and wouldn’t have it any other way. Her work reflects her passion for repurposing and creating amazing budget-minded designs. In Rehab Addict, her series that airs on DIY Network and HGTV, Nicole harnesses her experience with interior design, contracting and real estate to rebuild neighborhoods one house at a time in Detroit and Minneapolis.

More at the link. Miss Sheld continues to quote Miss Curtis’ Facebook article:

In the past couple of weeks, I have had a few unpleasant experiences with women who actually had the nerve to state that they are a minority business owner (because they are a woman) and that should do what? This is where I bang my head — I am a business owner who happens to be a woman — don’t judge me on my gender — judge me on my work — ladies — you want equal ground — gain it by being equal in professionalism and quality of work — not by making excuses that you are a small minority business owner. It brings the rest of us down. I scrubbed floors for 10 years and worked my rear off to get where I am at-don’t think for a minute that I’m the person to whine to that you should be able to shortstep the process of dedication because you are a woman — last time I checked, I am too. We are all given opportunities when we put the time in and develop the drive — teach your daughters that that’s how you get ahead — no entitlement here, please.

The editor at the First Street Journal adds this:

On one of her projects, she had called in a licensed plumber to do some work, and the plumber’s helper/apprentice was his daughter. Miss Curtis made something of a big deal about that on the show, complimenting the young woman for going into that kind of get-your-hands-dirty work, and saying that she wished that more young women would enter trades like that.

Now that is the kind of feminism, that is the kind of women’s liberation your Editor absolutely supports. It is the kind of feminism which asks only for the opportunity to try, and everything else is based not on being given things or on special considerations, but on whether the woman does well or poorly, whether she succeeds or fails in what she attempts.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Miss Curtis is where she is, as a television star, because she’s — as one of the clients on her show once put it — hot and blonde. But being very attractive and personable was the part which enabled her to transition from a good rehabber to a television star; she had to become a good, hands-on residential rehabber on her own, before she ever got the shot at the television program.3 Had she not been so pretty, she’d (probably) never have gotten the television show, but she’d still be a good rehabilitation contractor and a success in that field. And the vast majority of successful people out there are people who don’t have television programs, who are mostly unknown to everyone but their friends and families.

Continue reading The feminism I support! | The First Street Journal., yes do it. It’s very good

And that’s the thing, as a contractor, I have one responsibility that overrides all the rest: To bring in the job, on time and on budget. If you do your part well, I don’t care about anything else. If you don’t do that part, I still don’t care about anything else, cause you won’t be working with me. Do I follow all of the asinine rules we live under in this day and age? Yep, cause I have to. But nowhere in OSHA or anything else does it say I have to employ the incompetent. And you know what, the entitled are nearly always incompetent. I think life is too short.

But if you show me you can, and will do the job, you’ll never have a better friend, cause I’ll do my best to take care of you.

Many year ago, I was a residential electrical contractor in Indiana. A group of us had found we worked together well, Me, an HVAC guy, a plumber, and so forth, and it worked out that we often did. One of those jobs for a general we had all worked considerable for, the plumber made a bid mistake, he left out labor. Ordinarily, something like that happens, you call the general, and figure something out. not this time. The general told him, you bid it, you do it.

He was telling us this, and you’ll not be surprised it angered us all. Anyway, long story short, we all helped with the plumbing on that house (yeah we all know the basics of each others trades, and chicken and beer can buy a lot sometimes). And so it got done. And of course, we told everyone we knew.

Next house, the general had, he thought he knew enough to price it before he talked to subs (actually he probably did). Thing is we were the only people who would bid on it, or even do it time and material, and our bids were about 400% of normal (even the framing and concrete contractor). When he complained to us he got told, “You signed the contract, you’ll do it.” he went bankrupt a few weeks later. Good riddance. You find good people, you take care of them, no matter what. Those contractors involved, I couldn’t tell you now what race or gender they were, but they knew their jobs. Although if any of them had looked like Ms Curtis, I’d probably remember :-)

And while I tend to talk about the trades, because that is what I know best, you’re going to find it is the same nearly anywhere, at least where there is a reasonably free market in labor. And you know what, if you’re good at your job, you’ll likely get promoted and make a decent living as well

Performance beats entitlement, any day. And you know what, it’s really the only security in this world, anyway.

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