June 21, 2007

tbn Last night, while in Boston at the Doubletree Hotel on Soldiers Field Road (part of a two-night stay for business), I found myself stumped at what I should post on this weblog – after all, I was tired after a long hard day at work and there was no inspiration to be had. My laptop screen stared back at me, blank and unforgiving, and I was just about to say, “sod it”, and not post anything for the day when suddenly, out of the blue, the idea occurred to me to post a harmless piece of poetry about rabbits (hence yesterday’s post). While surfing the ‘Net for that particular piece of poetry, I also came across an ode to a rabbit who had apparently died at two years of age, and found myself suddenly feeling quite sad after reading it.

It wasn’t more than several minutes later that I realized my cell phone had been ringing (it had been on vibrate) and, calling home, was shocked to hear the news that our rabbit The Big Nipper had passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. He had shown no signs of illness or distress during the day; it just so happened that Tracey came in after an hour or two outside and discovered that he was not napping but actually dead in his cage area.

The Big Nipper was a wonderful rabbit – a truly gentle soul who, apparently, had not had a very happy existence before we brought him home from the Arizona Humane Society. He had been stuck at a Petco store for the better part of two months, and, as a result, had a propensity for nipping at you whenever a cleaning of his cage area was in order. This didn’t do much for his ability to make himself attractive as a pet – hence, his time at Petco – but I fell in love with him the first time I saw him.

The Big Nipper loved the security of his scent and his cage area, and, while he never quite got over the need to charge at you (and even nip at you) if you moved too quickly to replace his litter or water, after a time he really settled in to his new family and loved the attention and affection he was given. He loved to open his cage with his own teeth so that, when breakfast time came to the rabbit room, he’d be ready to greet you in his own way – loping (as opposed to hopping), one ear up and one ear down to greet you and wolf his piece of banana and romaine lettuce with joy.

More than anything else, The Big Nipper loved to arrange his cage area just so; he’d take his cardboard house and toss it upside down and tear holes in his favorite T-shit and the towels that served as a cage area floor. I also came to understand that TBN had a mischevous side as well; while taking his occasional romp around the house, he seemed to enjoy surprising people by mysteriously appearing out of nowhere from around a corner. More than anything else, however, he loved playing the role of suitor for the charms of She’s-A-Little-Half-Pint, the mini-lop dwarf who would always reject his advances, no matter how much of a gentleman he would attempt to portary himself as.

While built like a mini Sherman tank, The Big Nipper was a truly gentle soul who somehow realized that, after a number of years in the wild, he had finally found a home and a place where he could be comfortable. You could sense that in the way he slept – on his side, front and rear legs splayed straight out (like “road kill”, as we called it); it brings me comfort to know that it was while in this most comfortable (and for rabbits, most vulnerable) position that he passed away quietly last night.

The Big Nipper was a lovely creature, a gentle soul, a beautiful beast who loved to be loved and feeling secure in his surroundings at our house. He wasn’t with us long (not even a full year) but he found a way into our hearts that was unique and a joy to behold. And now he’s gone, and it is us who are the worse for it and mourn his passing – just as we’ve done for Rascal, Bandit, and Sparkle (cats), Ferd and Bird (parakeets), and Pepper and Marble (rabbits). Our hearts and thoughts remain with them as well this night.

Rest in peace, The Big Nipper – you were a gentle soul and a lovely beast, and your stay and presence in our household – as brief as it was – will be missed greatly.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | Comments (2)
June 20, 2007

A little piece of verse for your entertainment today, courtesy of Warren and Willamena, the Cyberbitz:

If I were a dog, I would play catch.
You’d throw a ball that I’d run and fetch.
But I am a Rabbit and this I don’t do,
Though I may throw a stick back at you.

If I were a cat, I’d sit in your lap.
You’d pet me, I’d purr, but I don’t do that.
I am a rabbit, please come to the floor
I like it down here, and there’s something more.

If you pet my nose, my ears, head,
You’ll hear a sound that says thank you my friend.
It’s the sound of me softly grinding my teeth.
That sound is the purring of rabbits like me.

If I were a bird I’d sing, I’d tweet.
But I am a rabbit, I don’t do these things.
Rabbits don’t like many sounds that are loud,
Though you may hear us grunt, it’s not really a growl.

And if you start screaming I may run away.
Those sounds will scare me and listen I say,
It will take time for me to trust you.
I have to know you don’t like rabbit stew.

Please give me parsley, some carrots and hay.
With these things to eat, healthy I’ll stay.
Though too many carrots and I may get fat.
And my goodness neither of us would want that.

And if you have one rabbit, why not have two?
If you love me, that’s the least you can do.
Rabbits do better in pairs don’t you know?
Trust what I speak, I know that it’s so.

And when all is quiet, when the day’s at it’s end,
I’ll do something to say you’re my friend.
I may groom your nose, your fingers, to say
“I know you‘re my family though every day.”

And when you walk through our front door,
I may do a dance across the floor.
I’ll jump and I’ll twist, that’s a dance I do
To say that I love you and you love me too!

(Dedicated to our good friend John’s new pet rabbit Melody, a gift to his daughter Elizabeth.)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments Off on For Melody
June 19, 2007

Today’s mathematics equation for your consideration:

Unskilled Immigrants + Large Welfare State = Higher Taxes

Courtesy of Free Republic Online, this is a pretty fine article – one of the best I’ve ever read – on the issue of illegal immigration and its impact on our free-market economy. In it, James Miller of TCS Daily writes that, while there is both good and bad to be found in the proposed “comprehensive” immigration reform legislation currently being tweaked by Senate negotiators on both sides of the aisle, the bottom line is that illegal immigration by unskilled workers hinders technological innovation and promotes higher taxes on all.

[The above equation] shows why free market enthusiasts should oppose the current immigration bill. Yes, historically immigration has helped the U.S. economy. But our large welfare state combined with the importance of education to wealth creation provides a compelling reason to oppose importing unskilled immigrants and citizens. The benefit an immigrant provides to an economy comes from the value of his work. The lower an immigrant’s skill, the less value the economy derives from his presence.

Some immigration advocates, though, claim that the U.S. economy “needs” unskilled immigrants to work at critical — if low paid — jobs. This, however, is an economically silly argument. If a job offers low wages either it is relatively unimportant for the economy or many people are willing to do it.

A hundred years ago human muscles played a relatively large role in powering our economy. At that time a strong, hardworking, but uneducated immigrant could make great contributions to our economy. Today, however, when our economy mostly runs on educated brains, we receive far less benefit from importing uneducated workers.

Much of the cost of new immigrants comes from the government services they consume. In 1900 the U.S. provided relatively few government benefits to anyone, so poorly paid immigrants couldn’t become too much of a burden on the economy. Today, however, government spending is about five times larger (as a percentage of the economy) than it was in 1900. And legal immigrants today have the right to consume considerable government services. Indeed, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, in 1994 the average low-skilled immigrant household received $30,160 in direct governmental benefits. But this same average family paid only $10,573 in taxes. As a result, low skilled immigrants are net tax eaters. (But read this for a contrary view.) The difference between the taxes paid by unskilled immigrants and the government benefits these immigrants receive is mostly made up by taxes imposed on U.S. citizens. Such additional taxes slow our economy.

There’s no doubt the current debate over immigration reform is complex and multi-faceted. And, while advocates of immigration love to portray this debate in the end as a “human” issue (i.e., immigrants children are our future!), there’s also a significant debate that needs to take place on the ecomonic effect of massive illegal immigration. I still believe, in the end, it all comes down to our needing to do a better job of securing our borders and requiring those who want to become U.S. citizens to take a place in line along with those who have already come here legally, while at the same time instituting a more effective guest-worker program for those who don’t.

There’s a way out of this quagmire if only people would emphasize the need for our nation to do a better job of enforcing the laws already on the books. No need to figure out how to build a new kind of bicycle from scratch here.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:52 | Comments Off on Free Markets and Illegal Immigration
June 18, 2007

…that’s how I feel after watching my only best hope in this year’s U.S. Open pool, Aaron Baddeley, crawl on his hands and knees back to the Oakmont clubhouse with his tail between his legs after tapping in on 18 for a crowd-pleasing 80 – that’s right, 80! – in the final round of today’s U.S. Open.

Oh sure, I’m glad for this year’s winner Angel Cabrera, the Argentinian who chose this venue and this occasion for his first – that’s right, Daddy-O, first – win ever on the PGA Tour. But when you’ve bet the farm, your retirement, your first-born male child’s college education, and the sincere desire to help keep your parents off a full-time diet of Fancy Feast, it hurts to see “Bads” stink up the joint like he did.

And let it be said this was a major that Tiger uncharacteristically threw away – the tournament was his, and he just didn’t get the job done. Now for TW, it’s on to fatherhood, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles future opportunities like this in his chase for the Golden Bear’s record of major victories as a doting dad with all the obligations and pleasures of being a dad occupying his life.

And don’t get me started on that prima donna Jim Furyk, who also ended up one stroke behind Cabrera – the guy’s a stiff, and don’t worry, that robotic sound you hear eminating from under his pants is nothing but the warning indicator for his inventor-owner to plug him back in at night. Find a personality and come back to me later, big fella…

I didn’t enjoy this year’s Open as much as I have in years past – for some reason, the venue and all the pre-tournament hype didn’t (at least in my view) live up to the promise. Maybe it was because I don’t mind seeing scores of 1 under or 1 over winning a major, but seeing the best golfers in the world leaders pathetically flailing around at no better than 5 over just ruined it for me. Ah, me… we’ll see what the pundits have to say in the days ahead.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:34 | Comments (3)
June 17, 2007

Seems I was just a tad either too young or too insulated popular music-wise to be a fan of the legendary rock band the Doors during their heyday when pop icon Jim Morrison was their leader and still alive. My first exposure was probably the tune “Love Her Madly”, from their “L.A. Woman” album released in early ’71, and that was only because my brother Mark brought home the 45 RPM single. I thought it was OK, but I was more into my Beatles and Phil Spector phase more than anything else.

I didn’t miss the first real wave of Doors mania that occurred in the late ’70s and early ’80s, however. Fueled by the best-selling biography of Morrison by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman, “No One Here Gets Out Alive”, the Doors became in vogue once again, and I discovered their music in a new way. During this time, I picked up a fine compilation album called “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine”, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums. I didn’t know it at the time, but, while “Weird Scenes” included selections that spanned the Doors’ entire career, it was cuts from their last two albums, “Morrison Hotel” and “L.A. Woman” that caught my fancy more than anything.

There’s a New Orleans connection here. Last year, while I was in New Orleans spending a day in the French Quarter, I found myself at the inside bar at Pat O’Briens dropping bills into a jukebox while a bunch of disinterested customers lazily watched a Cincinnati Bengals/Green Bay Packers exhibition game. The bar was dead – dead, that is, until I plunked on a few of my favorite cuts I remembered from “Weird Scenes” such as “Land Ho!”, “Ship of Fools”, and “Roadhouse Blues” from “Morrison Hotel”, and “Riders on the Storm” and “Texas Radio and the Big Beat” from “L.A. Woman”. Hearing those tunes once again rekindled my affection for those two albums, and I’m pleased to say I received them last week in all their remixed, digital glory. These albums reveal the Doors in all their gritty, boozy, and bluesy barroom glory; there’s nothing fancy here – the band having decided to forever cast aside the days of Morrison’s pretty-boy pop icon singing pop tunes with horns and strings for Top 40 AM stations.

The surviving members of the Doors supervised the mixes of both of these albums, and all I can tell you is they sound fab. If you’re a fan – rabid or casual – of the Doors and you don’t have these discs, y’oughta get ’em, and quick. It’s unabashed and unadorned rock and roll they it oughta be, and I’m a fan of the band all over again.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments Off on Return to the Gold Mine
June 16, 2007

Two days into the U.S. Open at Oakmont it’s Angel Cabrera hanging on to a oh-so-slim lead, and only three of my boys in my pool are still alive, having made the cut. I knew Sergio Garcia (79-75=154) was going to break my heart, but not THIS bad – now I’m going to have to hunt him down so I can break his face :-). Trevor Immelmann did me no favors as well, following up a respectable 73 with a gawdawful 79 – Trevor, what the $#@!? And my main man Padraig Harrington – who, BTW, I was convinced was going to take it this year – also had a horrendous 2nd round, shooting a whopping 80.

Fortunately, I have three lovely lad still in the thick of it – Aaron Baddeley, who’s one shot back at even par, Geoff Ogilvy, 6 back at +5, and Vijay Singh, who’s 8 back at +7. Needless to say, if Vijay has ANY love in his bones for The Great White Shank, he’ll stop screwing around and start playing some golf. Yoo-hoo, Vijay – this is a major you’re playing, right dude?

One final note on Sergio: Yahoo! Sports golf writer Michael Arkush has a column today saying Sergio has failed to live up to his promise. Duh, Michael – ya think? Some genius you are.

Tomorrow I’ll be playing a little golf on my own with fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski and watching plenty of Open coverage. My first day off in four weeks, and I’m all over that, baby!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:33 | Comments Off on On The Cutting Edge
June 15, 2007

…so here’s a few headline items of note to fill up some blog space…

* “Squirrel goes on rampage, injures three”. Man, I love that kind of stuff – has to be one of the best headlines I’ve ever read. (Hat tip: Drudge)

* “Latest Dangerous Teen Gag: Soda Bottle Mail Bombs”. And to think, we used to destroy shopping carts and thought THAT was bad. (Drudge again)

* “Huge bird dino unearthed in China”. Seems this huge dinosaur bird weighed over 3,000 lbs. Sounds kinda like Rosie O’Donnell on steroids.

* And speaking of steroids, Barry Bonds comes to town to face the sinking Red Sox tomorrow night. A couple of weeks ago, when the Sox were riding high, Bonds would be getting all the attention, but the Sox’ slide has Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp, and J.D. under the klieg lights of scrutiny and criticism for their lack of offense. With the Yankees on a rampage (now only 7.5 games out) it could get ugly this weekend…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:01 | Comments Off on Late Day, Nothing to Say
June 14, 2007

A chilly (feels good!) but beautiful night here in the Northeast and it feels good to be home. Last week while blogging from New Orleans, I mentioned just how much at home I felt every time I returned to that area. Tonight, as I write this, there’s also a sense of being home, but this kind of home feels different from the southern Louisiana kind of home.

Perhaps it all comes down to where your bones feel most ‘at home’.

Perhaps it’s simply familiarity with the surroundings, people and culture you grow up with.

I do know this, when I’m home in New England, it becomes a yardstick for measuring change, for here I sense the years that have passed in the places and people that have changed since my youth, and it makes you think of all the choices – good and bad – I’ve made in my life. In New Orleans, the people who have always called it their home undoubtedly sense the same passages of time I do here, but while I feel ‘at home’ there, as someone who didn’t grow up there, I don’t.

So I guess the question becomes: what does the sense of feeling ‘at home’ actually mean? I’m not sure of that, but I have a sense that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to feel ‘at home’ in more than one place.

I have no doubt there are restless souls out there who have never felt ‘at home’ anywhere – perhaps not even in their own skin.

And it is for them I offer up a silent prayer tonight.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments Off on Back Home
June 13, 2007

Today I’ll be spending most of the day traveling (again) – yes it’s the third straight week in the air, but I can’t complain when so many of my co-workers have it far worse than I do – so this will be a short post. There’s a lot of U.S. Open pools getting going this week for the hoedown about to take place at beautiful Oakmont, and I love getting in office pools. This particular one has a set of rules so complicated that you just toss your players in and hope you get an e-mail on Monday with the subject line, “Congratulations you lucky ba$tard, you won! It goes like this:

“Pick 6 golfers (no Tiger Woods); Final tournament scores for your 4 lowest golfers will be summed to determine your score. Lowest total score wins. If all of your golfers do not make the weekend cut (ie, 3 make it, 3 get cut), your fourth golfer becomes the last place finisher from the Final Round. In the event of a tie, we will go the 5th and 6th (if necessary) golfers (assuming they make the cut) to determine a winner.”

So who does The Great White Shank love this week?

* Geoff Ogilvy
* Vijay Singh
* Trevor Immelmann
* Sergio Garcia (even though I know he’ll break my heart and I’ll be ready to slay him next Monday)
* Aaron Baddeley
* Padraig Harrington

Don’t bet the farm on these, but I guarantee others will do worse.

…and no, Michelle “Quitter” Wie is NOT in the field.

…neither is Paris Hilton.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:19 | Comments (3)
June 12, 2007

This fine post by Polipundit’s Oak Leaf from a few days back is one of the best I’ve read in recent months – about what conservatives are to do when their own party’s elected officials in Washington abandon the principles and concerns that led to their very election in the first place. What I especially like about the post is the links to works by D.J. Drummond of Wizbang! Politics (someone I’ve always enjoyed reading, even if not always agreeing with his views) and Graig Shirley of Politico.com. It lays out clearly and concisely the various paths available to conservatives and Republicans a year before the critical 2008 Presidential elections, asking the question, “In order to save its ideology, should the conservative movement declare its independence from the Bush administration and the GOP?”, to which, like Oak Leaf, I have to respond in the affirmative.

I couldn’t agree more with the way Oak Leaf sums up his post:

To that question, I answer with an emphatic yes and in the comments over at Wizbang to DJ Drummonds essay, our own “budahmon” explains that many conservatives are not buying the fear factor anymore:

“You can’t scare us with Hillary…when the Republican elitist have given us the these types of politicians and then cram immigration down our throats.”

I bastardized my vote in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 for “political expediency.” Never again.

Indeed. How can you worry about what the Democrats are going to do when they have all the power when our own Republican elected officials have already ceded that power out of their own arrogance, incompetence, and stupidity?

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments Off on Goin’ Nuclear?

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