Friday, December 26, 2008

Radio Flyer

If you are just plain fed up and sick of reading my take on the current “depression” and whining that folks don’t really know what a depression is all about; don’t read further. Actually, thanks to the efforts of my parents and a lack of comparative knowledge and the eternal optimism of youth, I have little memory of personal depravation. About the only area in which I have an active memory of lacking the basic necessities of life was the absence of a Radio Flyer coaster wagon under the Christmas tree.

That venerable and essential tool of childhood never did make an appearance. It was especially biting on my seventh Christmas in 1939 when my cousin (ugh!) –a year younger—managed to score one under the tree. Never mind that I was covered up with Tinker Toys, Erector sets, wood burning kits, hats, gloves, socks and wonderful stimulating little books; I didn’t manage the “big” one. That stinging memory still burns in my breast and detracts from an otherwise wonderful childhood. My parents, although personally incompatible, treated me as a person favored by God. A condition I continue to enjoy which has, thankfully, not abated in the intervening years.

My lack of personal ownership of this cherished icon did not bar me from enjoying the use of ones which my close friends possessed. There were so many that our favorite occupations were parades, cavalcades, convoys and any other formations our fertile minds could originate. We loaded them as buses, dog carriers, covered wagons heading west, and on hills of appropriate height, racers. After December 7th, ’41, they—with the addition of a piece of stove pipe—became artillery pieces, tanks, personnel carriers, and generally, the precursor of the ubiquitous “jeep.” Its utile simplicity encouraged the imagination to furnish a transition to whatever was demanded by the occasion.

Once WWII was underway, they became the vehicle of choice for the collection of waste metal, old newspapers, and whatever else was required for doing our part to help out in the war effort. The government realized the foolishness of sending scrap metal to Japan to be recast as weapons of war and we all enlisted, with wagons, in the effort to obtain critical discarded materiel for our own factories. Every grocery outlet had a place to park the wagons for the pull home laden with groceries—driving to the store was a waste of gas. They were also a useful, if unstable, platform to enable their height-challenged owners to gain a better view at various rallies, war bond drives and other public gatherings.

When the hostilities ceased and the surviving owners aged, they found peace and comfort in using their dependable childhood toy as garden carts and tool caddies in their new lives as veterans in the emerging “homes of their own.” They were then passed on to their progeny in the baby boom and found new life firing the imaginations of the young.

Progress—or provable evolution—has now provided us with what is considered by the manufacturer to be the “final” step in their newest offering of this old stand-by. In a world now consumed with the use of poly carbonates, we find the absolute latest edition of my childhood favorite.

Seat belts?!? Cup holders?!? Have I become such a cantankerous old dyspeptic that I cannot see this as the marvel which it is? The tires are pneumatic and mounted on axles which actually have bearings and grease zirks. They have provided every possible safety feature thus depriving the user of the opportunity of the injuries so common on the learning curve of my generation. I am certain that no statistics were ever kept on the broken arms, contusions from roll-overs, and other mishaps so common with the original. I am not the “market” for this item so the manufacturer is not in the least concerned with my response to this travesty.

I do have faith in the youth of America, and for that matter, the world, that they will find a way to supercede the safety and turn this wonder into a wagon. Kids today have variant interests from my generation but they are still kids. They have imaginations to turn this thing into a space ship or whatever they choose. Some things are inescapable. Thank God!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Luke 2:1-11

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all his empire should be taxed.

2 This same taxing was when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.

3 And all went to be taxed, every one in his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.)

5 To be taxed, with Mary his espoused wife, she being great with child.

6 And so it was, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was none to give room for them in the inns.

8 And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

9 And lo, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid.

10 But the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

In His abiding love

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 70

(OK, so it’s Wednesday; just continue reading…..)

Monday was a beautiful day. I was completely filled with a good spirit and ready to resume my normal activity. A busy weekend, interrupted by a trip to Independence to be with old, faithful friends of the orthodox Saints variety, had left me in a marvelous mood. The gathering was instigated by an east coast friend and further punctuated by telephone calls from those who could not conveniently travel long distances on short notice. To hear their cheery voices and have some brief contact was wonderful. I returned through the 7º night with a heart full of hope and excitement.

On the trip up and back (350 miles) I had plenty of alone time and an opportunity to review the Sunday sermon taken from (where else?) Luke. My mind was filled with thoughts of the young mother who had conceived under circumstances which had probably left her confused. Although selected by God she could not be faulted for having unanswered questions about her circumstance. As usual, His choice was more than up to the job. I also contemplated the thoughts of her alleged perfection. She was obviously a great mother, a wonderful person, a guide and a superb director of the life she was charged with but, being human, was also subject to sin. She was human. Were she not, the entire exercise would lose its validity. This is not a criticism but rather an acknowledgement that as humans, we share the capacity for sin. It’s something to keep in mind as we pursue our daily lives.

Once I arrived home, I went to the computer and tidied up the “Rant” a bit for posting on Monday morning. I then retired for the sleep of the just. One little problem arose; I found my concept of “just” was not shared by my computer. On awakening, I found all my systems in near complete disarray. With one slight errant click, I managed to delete the “Rant” into the black hole of memory loss. In an attempt at recovery, I discovered my internet service had gone to live elsewhere. At the same time, the entire system came up fuzzy and I was invited to use “SAFE MODE” to reinstate it. This is not my idea of a good time. After two days (!) the system is not yet operating at the speed I desire but it is operating. This has to be a result of divine intervention because I certainly don’t possess the skills to make the change. Now I shall attempt to remember what was so important that I regretted the loss.

More on Chris Dodd

The senator from Connecticut has been dilly dallying now for about five months in gathering a response on the particulars of the mortgage he received from Country Wide. You may recall that as a “friend of Angelo,” he is accused of accepting an exceptional favorable rate on his indebtedness on his personal residence. His denials have been met with a request to see the application for the mortgage. Perhaps he has misplaced the papers.

Personally, I have a small mortgage on my property here in the wilds of the Ozarks. If I were to stand up and turn left, take one step and open the overhead cabinet, I would see a large manila envelope which contains copies of all the mortgage papers. Actually, there are three such envelopes of about the same size for each of my preceding loans which I had on property in Las Vegas and before that, Wisconsin. I am not the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee but if I were, I would be profoundly embarrassed to not be able to come up with confirmation of the loan particulars. Perhaps some folks are more easily embarrassed than others.

Reminder from the time machine

Does this sound familiar? “I did not have conversational relations with that Governor, Rod Blagojevich”

Observations on the auto bailout

The following is from Mark Steyn by way of Instapundit:

“Can you still see the USA in your Chevrolet? Through a windscreen darkly..

General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath And Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of just over two billion dollars. For purposes of comparison, Toyota’s market cap is one hundred billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small loss-making auto subsidiary.. The UAW is the AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as “workers” (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people. . . .

So many areas of endeavor that once embodied the youth and energy of this great land are now old and sclerotic. I include, naturally, my own industry. I loved the American newsrooms you saw in movies like The Front Page, full of hardboiled, hard-livin’ newspapermen. By the time I got there myself, there were no hardboiled newspapermen, just bland anemic newspaperpersons turning out politically correct snooze sheets of torpid portentousness. The owners of The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune recently filed for bankruptcy protection. . . .

See the USA from your Chevrolet: An hereditary legislature, a media fawning its way into bankruptcy, its iconic coastal states driving out innovators and entrepreneurs, the arrival of the new Messiah heralded only by the leaden dirge of “We Three Kings Of Ol’ Detroit Are/Seeking checks we traverse afar”, and Route 66 looking ever more like a one-way dead-end street to Bailoutistan. Boy, I sure could use a poem by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis right now, even one of the lesser-loved ones.”

Reynolds comments; “Ouch. Well, things got worse because people — politicians, and their enablers — made ‘em worse. They’ll get better when people make ‘em better.”

And finally

The bird feeders (actually, 2-liter bottles) are all full for the voracious feathery creatures who occupy the view over the new deck and cause me so much delight. I often wonder about the charge that “he/she eats like a bird.” The intention is to describe an individual who scarcely eats. Obviously, a person who says this has never actively attempted to feed birds and keep the feeders full. The feeders are designed for birds the size of the finches but that doesn’t discourage the full grown cardinals from trying to hang on to that precarious perch. It’s hard to miss their colorful presence.

Again, my apologies for the computer mess. It is our prayer that each of you may enjoy the fullness of the season with emphasis on the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is, without doubt, the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Capitol Idea

Lost in the publicity over Illinois politics, bailouts for banking and industry, and the preparations for the upcoming inauguration are a couple of items which I think are worthy of some considerations. The first to come to mind is the new visitor center in our nation’s capital, or more specifically, at our nation’s new Capitol Visitor Center.

In the early nineties, it was proposed that we create a welcome area adjacent to or underneath the existing building to receive the tens of thousands of visitors to the venerable building which in itself is ill prepared to host them. The original building was not intended as a museum but rather a work place for our elected representatives. After all, the building only had five restrooms. The suggested cost was a measly $71 million. The Republicans fought the proposal as wasteful and it was left to another day.

In 1998, you may recall a crazed gunman entered the building and killed two Capitol Police officers and the center was again suggested as a result of concern for increased security. This time it was approved for about $100 million. In the wake of cost overrides and unexpected additional features the cost rose to $265 million over the next two years. With anthrax attacks and other issues subsequent to 9/11, security concerns increased and the cost rose to $373.5 million.

The center opened finally on December 2 and the final bill—hold on to your hat--$621 million. That is nearly nine times as much as the original estimate in the nineties. The next time any politician mentions a number as the proposed costs of a vital program you might want to keep these relationships of estimates in mind. Personally, I labor long to pre-estimate the cost of a building project and they seldom come in within the budget. They are not subject to a 9X differential however. The 20% I add to cost projections for contingencies would be laughably unrealistic on Capitol Hill.

Were the cost overruns not enough, the displays and exhibits are rife with error and the usual attempts at political correctness. The chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) said, “There’s a terrible movement to rewrite our history and obscure our faith.” He was, no doubt, in part reacting to false identification of the national motto as e pluribus unum instead of “In God We Trust” which was established by Congress in 1956. The tendency within the displayed materials to downplay the faith of the founders and be actively hostile to any expression of religion is prevalent.

The removal of expressions of faith is not limited to the CVC but also is an ongoing assault on monuments throughout the city. In typical fashion the new memorial to FDR omits any mention of God. On the even newer WWII memorial, a quote by Eisenhower is abbreviated just before his invocation of “the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” (From his remarks on the eve of D-Day.)

I suppose we shouldn’t carp about the cost of this boondoggle since it ensures that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will not have to endure the smell of the great unwashed who come to visit “their” building. Yes Senator, the building is not yours; it belongs to us, poor hygiene and all.

When Jim DeMint (R-SC) toured the hall, he complained; “There was an obvious absence of any accurate historical reference to our religious heritage.” He added, on the floor of the Senate: “In touring the CVC, I found the exhibits to be politically correct, left-leaning, and secular in nature.” On September 27th, he was quoted as saying; “There seems to be a trend to whitewashing God out of our history.

As one might expect, the halls are full of exhibits and tributes to a full range of diversified “American Heroes.” There are celebrations of race, gender, and the full mix of the American experience. Apparently it was felt that an exhibit about the longest serving woman in Congress was more important than God. Edith Norse Rogers' accomplishment was of course, important, but hardly as important as the Almighty. There is a display concerning the impeachment of Andrew Johnson but curiously, no similar display on the impeachment of Wm. Jefferson Clinton. Naturally, Earth Day, an ACTUP protest on AIDS funding and miscreants at the Pentagon during the Viet Nam War are there in huge color photos. Throwing a bone to the participants in the War in Viet Nam, they have shown a photo of a woman standing at a gravesite, captioned; “a nation continued to mourn its fallen soldiers of the Vietnam conflict. The war claimed over 58,000 casualties.” Closer inspection of the photo reveals that the veteran actually died in 1982, seven years after the end of hostilities. He had been a veteran of three wars. The 58,000 were not casualties; that figure numbered the dead in that struggle. The numbers of casualties were exponentially higher.

In a hall where the overall sense is denial of the Almighty, inaccuracy in simple reporting, and celebration of questionable heroes is the rule, might we evaluate the quality of the legislative bodies that call it home by those standards? Perhaps we got off easy. The apportioned cost when we pro-rate it to each citizen comes to a little over $2 apiece. Next time you are in DC, drop by and enjoy the air conditioned comfort, the 530 seat restaurant, the 26 restrooms and the two orientation theaters. Try not to concentrate too much on what you might have done with $621,000,000.00 to improve the lives of every day Americans.

In an article by John J. Miller, we find this wry comment; “Congress’s memorial to itself isn’t even good enough for government work.” John, I seriously doubt that anyone inside the beltway finds that phrase in common usage but you are absolutely right.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon