A father and son talk politics

From a recent instant message chat with my father. I don’t know why I find this amusing. I think it’s how it ends. The only background you need to know, to protect the innocent, is that my father is a life long Democrat. He tried to raise me right, so don’t hold him accountable for me.

me: well, one of the advantages is that you don’t have to insure your employees if you’re below a certain size.
everybody just gets major medical.
on their own.
rbirge322: and that costs an arm and a leg4:59 PM me: it’s not that bad.i had to get it for a few months when i was between colorlink and schoolrbirge322: it is if you are trying to get if for a family with an existing major medical conditionrbirge322: if almost cleaned Pop out5:00 PM me: one of the reasons i think we probably should get universal health care even though i’m a libertarian.rbirge322: and he never, ever complained to anyone- just sold his assets to keep Mom going5:01 PM me: why didn’t she have insurance before her medical problems?rbirge322: She did but through Hudson’s Bay, which was terminated when he left (forced out)5:03 PM me: did he not get her set up with another insurance quickly enough?5:04 PM rbirge322: yes, the democrats are rightme: shit. that sucks.but i have to admit, this health insurance thing is a bear of a problem.5:05 PM the democrats may eliminate problems like granny had, but they may very well bankrupt our country with the expense of having the government do it.me: the republicans will probably leave a few million without insurance, but maybe we’ll have enough money left over to have fun on the weekends.
5:13 PM me: it’s pretty sad when a libertarian is turned into a democrat.
probably the sign the end of our empire is near.
5:15 PM rbirge322: The empire has been in serious decline since Bush took office, and he has essentially done us in. History will long remember his contributions to our decline.
5:21 PM me: hell, we were in decline long before that, or at least the fix was in long before that.
like all empires, we got too soft, and that’s been happening a long time.
since the 60s, at least.
in some ways, WWII was the worst thing that happened to us. it made life too easy for us.
5:22 PM rbirge322: we sure were great duing WWII. Thats when this country reached its Zenith.
5:25 PM me: yup. sad that the top is always the beginning of the slide down.
dynamics are so depressing.
5:26 PM makes you just want to sit around in your underwear and watch “Midway”
rbirge322: things always go in cycles, so perhaps in the not too distant future we will start back up again
me: how’s that cycle going for the romans? 🙂
rbirge322: Midway is one of my favorite movies

Interesting story on high-stakes ship salvage

Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard.

In the absence of anything interesting I can think of to write about the few things I understand, and an inability to write intelligently about the interesting things that are actually happening (e.g. the present collapse of our financial system), I am not above just jangling a shiny object that I found on the internet. In the previous issue of Wired magazine, there is a fascinating story about the people you call when your multimillion dollar ship full of 100 million of dollars worth of brand new cars nearly capsizes and is drifting helplessly into the coast of Alaska. I was deeply disappointed to find out that applied physics computational modeling is not the most manly occupation out there, as I’d been heretofore led to believe.

A brief excerpt:

In the crew’s quarters below the bridge, Saw “Lucky” Kyin, the ship’s 41-year-old Burmese steward, rinses off in the common shower. The ship rolls underneath his feet. He’s been at sea for long stretches of the past six years. In his experience, when a ship rolls to one side, it generally rolls right back the other way.

This time it doesn’t. Instead, the tilt increases. For some reason, the starboard ballast tanks have failed to refill properly, and the ship has abruptly lost its balance. At the worst possible moment, a large swell hits the Cougar Ace and rolls the ship even farther to port. Objects begin to slide across the deck. They pick up momentum and crash against the port-side walls as the ship dips farther. Wedged naked in the shower stall, Kyin is confronted by an undeniable fact: The Cougar Ace is capsizing.

Spend your stimulus money wisely!

Alligator skin boots for her: $600,
Playstation 3 with Call of Duty 4 for him: $550,
Having your unborn grandchildren foot the bill: Priceless.

Today I got the same letter from the IRS that some 120 million other Americans received, informing me that in the not-so-distant future my wife and I will be honored with a check for $1200 from the US treasury. Apparently we’re going to avoid the recession caused by us borrowing too much money by borrowing more money. Given that this is a done deal, there’s no point in opining on the criminal irresponsibility of our pandering politicians adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt to buy us bread and circus in an impotent attempt to stave off the well-deserved economic hangover we all should have known was coming after decades of partying on credit. So I won’t mention that.

But given that we’re going to be getting this de facto tax break, I think we all should do our best to actually help the American economy with it. This is harder than it seems. You can’t just go out and buy an iPod. Sure, Apple will get some of the money, but all the components and the manufacturing are done overseas. I don’t think taking our tax money and using it to worsen the current account deficit is the idea here. What does America still make? Mostly lattes, lawyers, pills, software and movies. So, it’s not going to be easy to spend your money on the American economy. Thus, I’ve decided to provide a few ideas, some of them even feasible, for fun things to spend your money on that will maximize the impact on the American economy and won’t require you to sue anybody:

  • Pay off debt. It may not give an immediate jump to the GDP, but it has long term benefits that will accrue to it.
  • Patronize those locally owned restaurants you’ve been meaning to try. Tip heavily.
  • Go to the theater. Buy lots of candy and popcorn. (But stay away from the Nestlé products.)
  • Rent a Harley and take a trip somewhere. No going into Canada!
  • Take flying lessons. You won’t be able to get your license with $1200, but you’ll have a lot of fun and will probably get to the point of soloing. No going into Canada!
  • Get 20 friends together at work and buy a car to raffle off. I suggest the new Charger, but just make sure it’s American.
  • Finally buy legal copies of all that software you’ve been pirating. Yes, I know about that copy of Photoshop!
  • By some really good California wine. I recommend Coturri.
  • Purchase a custom made bag by Timbuk2, built by hand in San Francisco.
  • Take a class or two at the local community college.
  • Get a weekly massage and get a happy ending for the American economy.

More as I think of stuff. Suggestions always welcome.