June 20, 2011

57128616 Hats off and more than a polite golf clap to Rory McIlroy, runaway winner of the 2011 U.S. Open. There will be a lot of debate over how supposedly “tame” Congressional C.C. was in allowing so many players to go under par over the weekend, but the fact remains, you take away Rory’s over-the-top performance, and you end up with a pretty dramatic Sunday finish with lots of players hanging around the -4 to -8 spots.

I will say this about the USGA and the way Congressional was set up for this week: 1) anytime you try and schedule a U.S. Open in June in Washington, D.C. you’re asking for trouble. You could get a long period of blistering hot weather that would burn up the greens if you’re not too careful with the H2O; otherwise, like this week, you get torrential rains and the golf course is laying open for the taking like Paris Hilton in one of her home movies. The weather being something you cannot control, you’re playing with fire either way.

To me, as lovely a course as Congressional is, I think it sets up more as a PGA venue more than a U.S. Open one. Then, it being August, let the thunderstorms drop whatever rain they will, just grow the rough out, shring the fairways a bit, and let the tee boxes and pin placements do their work. No one would complain about a -8 or so winner at a PGA.

That being said, anyone who complains about the scores at this year’s Open does a great disservice to McIlroy. Forget about all the sub-par scores, the fact is Congressional’s set-up played to his strengths and he took advantage of it like no other player in he field. McIlroy deserves all the accolades he gets, and it will be exciting to see where his career goes from here.

Rory McIlroy is the “feel good story” of the year – from the depths of despair at Augusta to the top of the heap in Bethesda, very seldom do you get such redemption stories like that. He’s got a huge competitive streak beaneath that “aw shucks” demeanor, but he comes across a genuine, humble – and, better yet, a fast-playing – golf role model. After the Tiger Woods crap of the past two years, you can’t do a whole lot better than that.

Congrats to Rory McIlroy. Well done!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comment (1)
June 19, 2011

Those who frequent this blog might cast me off as an alarmist after posts like this, and this, and this, but it ain’t just me who sees a very bleak future ahead for this nation:

The future in America is beginning to resemble more of a free-for-all. The economic collapse site has some pretty horrifying signs that we are in deep doo-doo indeed:

* A wave of violence is sweeping Chicago. From Janet Tavakoli: This year, all hell has broken loose in downtown Chicago. Years of under-hiring have resulted in a police force that is unprepared for wildings and gang violence. Moreover, concealed carry in Chicago is illegal, unless one follows the Constitution. Tourists and residents have been attacked by mobs of youths on buses, on beaches, on bicycle paths, near the shops of the Magnificent Mile, and outside their homes. Mobs of shoplifters plagued “Mug Mile” stores.

* If you don’t pay your student loans or debt, you may have a close encounter with a government agency wielding SWAT teams to enforce debt repayment.

* Public fountains and playgrounds are now being utilized as toilets.

* Cities are turning into war zones.

* One of the most popular books in America right now is a “children’s book” entitled “Go The F*k To Sleep”.

* You’ve got kids killing their parents over cell phones.

* In New York City, a 32-year-old man was recently charged with sexually assaulting an 85-year-old woman.

* James Carville is predicting widespread societal unrest in America.

* Households that have a married couple in them with children have fallen to an all-time low – 20.2%.

* Two dozen teens in Atlanta attacked flight attendants for no apparent reason [Ed. note: I wrote about this recently].

* Indiana just broke up one of the largest child pornography rings ever discovered.

* The FDA and EPA have gone power mad and are out of control. Recently, the FDA arrested Amish milk producers, citing public safety. Cass Sunstein must be soooo proud.

* In Florida, a 45-year-old Polk County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with strapping children to a desk and spanking them with sex toys. Beyond disgusting.

* In Oklahoma, a 20 year-old woman killed the family cat to use its blood in a Lady Gaga costume.

* McDonald’s held a national hiring day where almost a million Americans showed up to get jobs. There were riots in parking lots where people were beaten and run over. Multiple incidents.

* All over the US, fights and beatings are breaking out at restaurants. Many are extremely vicious. Many involve teenage girls.

* Mob robbing is taking hold all over the US. I noticed recently that a convenience store in Las Vegas where I lived a long time had this occur. Dozens of young people mob a store, take what they want and then leave. Organized mob theft.

Do you recognize America any more? I don’t… This isn’t the country I grew up in and it is not the country our founders envisioned by any means.

Sure, a common theme that runs through every generation is that “the world is going all to hell” and “things aren’t what they used to be”, and the tried and true “back in my day…”, but in this case the warning signs are everywhere, and only a fool would pass what’s going on around you and me as just another foolish alarmist. While you can argue that the causes for some of the events Loudon mentions above are sociologically and culturally complex – this, for one – one could also argue it comes down to the simple fact of too many people with too much free time on their hands. I mean, think about it: if the economy were truly rebounding, and if people were feeling good about their future prospects in terms of employment and income, and if people had a sense of boundaries in terms of what is, and is not, acceptable behavior from our leaders at the federal, state, and local levels would this kind of thing be happening?

I’ve recently written about the abhorrent behavior of the labor unions in Wisconsin; why are they allowed to behave that way? Is all social behavior now about the strongarm, the loudest voice in the crowd, the most outrageous thing you can think of to get the most attention, be it for good or bad? Is this kind of thing what our society and our culture has been reduced to? Are words and actions now all about drowning out and stfling dissenting views and opinions? Has honest and earnest debate been replaced by shout-downs and physical violence? Has a warped sense of entitlement resulted in people taking simply because they feel it is owed to them rather than working hard and earning so you can afford the things you want. Is that what we’ve been reduced to as a nation and society?

I’ve been saying this for a long time. One can question my politics and shrug off my posts as some right-wing conservative nut, but you can’t say I’m wrong. Look around you and the place you live. Look around the strip malls in your area. Look around at the taxes you pay and what you get in return for all your hard work over the last several decades. Nearly half of the country pay no taxes at all. None. Nada. Zero.

And you can be sure that when the day of reckoning comes – and it is coming, believe me – the ones who make their living off of what started out as the good intentions of government now an entitlement society run amok will be the first ones to resort to violence when the pipeline runs dry.

And you can take that to the bank, Jack – that is, if any of them are still open.

Think of it as Buffalo Springfield turned on its conservative ear. And if you don’t think what has happened in Vancouver or is happening in Greece can’t happen here, you’ve got your head in the sand.

These are very dangerous times. Pray for this country.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:12 | Comments (3)
June 18, 2011

…of the year are here. We’ve got those big forest fires well to our south and east, the pool is gaining pretty much a degree every two days (presently it’s at a balmy 88), and my beautiful petunias from back in March are now just dry withered stalks waiting to be replaced this weekend by summer flowers.

Don’t forget to check out that big bright and beautiful June moon out there tonight.

Still, that doesn’t mean you still can’t find scenes of winter, and believe me, Utah isn’t that all that far away from here. Isn’t it amazing the differences in topography out here in the West?

That was quite a show put on by Rory McIlroy the past two days at the U.S. Open. Here’s hoping the kid hangs tough and snags his first of what promises to be many majors. The rain has to some extent defanged Congressional C.C. but that doesn’t stop it from looking as pretty as a picture on my Vizio 55″ LCD TV. That was sone of the best things we’ve ever bought.

My only regret is that I won’t be able to watch the British Open on my Vizio – no matter where they play it, it’s always a beautiful venue and why it’s my favorite major to watch. Still, given that The Open Championship always coincides with Goodboys weekend, it’s always fun to catch it at the various golf course grills and bars and restaurants we end up at, which makes it a unique event all its own.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comments (2)
June 17, 2011

anncoulter Gotta love conservative fire-brand Ann Coulter’s response to the awful Vancouver riots following the Canucks’ loss in Game 7 to the Boston Bruins:

The sad thing is Canadians hurt in the rioting will have to wait six months for an MRI.”

While Coulter has not always been my cup of tea (although, truth be told, I can’t to read her new book, it sounds positively fascinating), her lack of goodwill to our oh-so-“tolerant”, “diverse”, and “accepting” neighbors to The Great White North is quite understandable; after all, it was she, who, in the face of large and unfriendly crowds who had expressed their intention to shout her down and prevent her from speaking, chose to cancel an appearance at the University of Ottawa, setting off a debate over freedom of speech in Canada.

Once again, like her or not, Coulter gets the last word.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:16 | Comment (1)
June 16, 2011

It was blistering hot today – a real jump into the furnace of mid-summer after a very long period of some hot but tolerable days.

As hot as today was, however, it can’t compare to how hot the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins were this post-season. So how about those Bruins? Never watched them all year but felt compelled to flip back and forth between last night’s Game 7 and the Red Sox on NESN. Hard to believe it’s been 39 years since their last Stanley Cup. I remember being 16 back in 1972 and working as a stockroom clerk at the W.T Grant’s department store when the Bruins of the Bobby Orr/Phil Esposito era won their last Cup before last night. That, my friends, was a long time ago.

I’m no hockey fan, but it’s great that Boston is once again the hockey capital of the world. Congratulations to the black and gold – hockey once again reigns supreme in Boston!

…at least until, it is hoped, baseball does in October.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:41 | Comments (5)
June 15, 2011

No, it has nothing to do with his administration’s all-out war against the private sector and energy companies, choosing oppressive government growth, regulation, and wasteful entitlement spending over lower taxes and inventive ways to stimulate private-sector job creation; no, it has nothing to do with that. President Obama blames the slowdown in this country’s economic recovery on technologies like ATMs:

“There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

(Hat tip: National Review Online’s Corner Blog)

This is beyond idiotic, and perfectly illustrates to a “t” that this guy – The One elected President of the United States in a flurry of good-feeling, “Hope and Change” knows absolutely nothing – nothing – about how capitalism and free markets work, and how for every advancement in technology and automation there are opportunities generated for businesses to support those technologies.

Take those evil ATMs, for example: sure, they might result in the loss of a bank teller or two, but ATMs being as ubiquitous as they are still provide opportunities for busineeses that support ATMs and ATM-related technology, like loading them with money, collecting the money, auditing the proceeds, repairing the machines when broken, and creating more advanced machines. ATMs also help support local economies by making money more readily available (sometimes too available!) to spend at any time, as opposed to the good old days when if a bank was closed you were screwed.

The whole point of this exercise is to show just how ignorant (and ignorant is the only word I can think of here) someone who’s supposed to be so smart – smarter, even than all those he’s surrounded himself with (if you believe the myths and hype the mainstream dino-media has created around this guy) can be when it comes to a concept as simple as technology, innovation, and automation. If you want to take his argument further, why don’t we just ditch the ATMs, airport kiosks, and other conveniences like supermarket scanners, cell phones, self-service gas stations, microwave ovens, and computers and go back to the days of the town switchboard operator, the grease monkey, and the Pony Express?

It’s an absurd statement by a President who should have figured out by now that ATMs and kiosks have nothing to do with this country’s economic woes. Perhaps by eliminating the capitals gains tax, the estate tax, and giving working people a payroll tax holiday, reducing the corporate tax by 50%, and calling off his EPA and NLRB dogs he’d find out that technology in and of itself is not the source of this nation’s economic woes, his horrendous economic policies are.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comments Off on Those Damned ATMs!
June 14, 2011

By and large, I enjoyed tonight’s GOP debate hosted by CNN. The moderator, John King, was a freakin’ lightweight, but what would one expect from CNN – I mean, asking the candidates to answer pop culture questions like “Leno vs. Conan”, “Coke vs. Pepsi”, and “American Idol vs. Dancing With The Stars” was innane and nonsensical – especially when the nation is sliding into Greece-like default. Nevertheless, it is what it is, so here are my ratings from best to worst:

1) Michele Bachmann – My brother Dave says she’s “batshit crazy”, but she didn’t show that tonight. Her answer on the EPA being a job-killer was spot on, and quoting Barack Obama in her argument as to why she wouldn’t raise the debt ceiling was sufficently on point. She tosses red meat to conservatives and she’s obviously one strong, self-assured woman. She’s Sarah Palin with substance. I like her. A lot.

2) Tim Pawlenty – Missed a golden opportunity to show his teeth by backing up his “Obamney Care” comments the day before. As a result, while he gave solid answers throughout the night, one couldn’t help but think he came off weak. But his answers to questions were substantive and to the point. He bears watching.

3) Herman Cain – I was a little disappointed in “The Hermanator” tonight. A little too stiff and too much businessman-like for my taste. Needs to get back to details and the whys and hows of what he believes. Saying you’ll hire good subordinates to help you make good decisions is not going to cut it – after all, isn’t that what the Golfer-in-Chief in the White House is doing? Still, you could do a helluva lot worse than a Bachmann / Cain ticket.

4) Rick Santorum – I liked his message well enough, but he doesn’t present well. Always looks like he’s just about to burst out crying. He might make an excellent VP candidate for someone.

5) Mitt Romney – I guarantee the mainstream dino-media will say he won the debate, but what do they know? I found him, by and large, to be slick and evasive. He may have thought playing to Barack Obama directly on all his answers to be smart politically, but I don’t see Republican primary voters liking that tactic much. He has a great record in turning the Salt Lake City Olympics around, but he never gave any reason why anyone should vote for him.

6) Newt Gingrich – Not electable by any stretch of the imagination, but he gave the most original answers of all the candidates. Smart and combative throughout. His answer on immigration reform was outstanding. Personally, I think he’d make a great VP candidate, but that ain’t gonna happen.

7) Ron Paul – You want to talk “batshit crazy”? Here’s your guy. Simply put, Paul’s a loon, and a dangerous one at that. I don’t get his fixation on the Federal Reserve, but hey, whatever. I wouldn’t leave him and my sister-in-law alone in a room for ten seconds. He’s strange and bizarre; worse, his appearance diminished the rest of the people on the stage. The sooner he’s out of the primaries the better off all the Repubs will be.

All in all, not a bad night for the GOP candidates. It’s still awfully early, and there were too many candidates to try and fit into that kind of awful question-and-answer forum. Me? I’d prefer a roundtable discussion with all of them just conversing with each other, with a moderator there just to keep things on track. But that ain’t gonna happen soon.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comments Off on The GOP Debate
June 13, 2011

I hadn’t thought of Bruce Springsteen in probably years. I’ve never been that big a fan of his, although I really liked his “Born In The USA” LP (which probably already disqualifies me as a man of taste by Springsteen’s legions of fans, I’m guessing, but that’s OK). So it was weird that tonight on the patio, after a lovely moonlight swim, I was thinking about songs that would augment an upcoming post about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket and how two great Springsteen songs from that album – “I’m Going Down” and “Downbound Train” would fit the bill except for the fact that they’re all about lost or unattainable love between a guy and a girl. Oh well.

But while looking into the lyrics I see from Yahoo! News that Springsteen’s E Street Band saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons has suffered a stroke. Prayers go out to him and his family in the hopes for a full recovery. From the little I’ve heard of his playing, he’s a very gifted musician. Wow, all I can say is it’s just another reminder that everyone’s getting old.

Get well soon, “Big Man”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:09 | Comments Off on Weird

A few observations from my vantage point here in the Valley of Sun as of June 9, 2011:

Recently I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of business closings around our immediate area. The Salty Senorita Mexican restarant was a shock, as it always seemed to be filled with people. The Ultimate Electronics store next to the Petsmart has also closed – I think that entire chain went out of business. This follows on the heels of the On The Border Mexican restaurant that also went under a few months ago, as well as a group of small businesses in the strip mall where I typically get my swimming pool supplies. There are 12 storefronts on that strip mall and only two have functioning businesses. I’m no economist, but between these sights and from talking with people this Obama economic recovery is going nowhere.

Which is why when you see clips like this, it makes you realize just how big a disconnect there is between the politicians in Washington and what’s going on in the real world.

You know monsoon season can’t be far behind when you see cumulus clouds starting to stack up beyond the mountains to our north and west. Saw them for the first time today…

We’re very fortunate that our subdivision has a HOA that is really hands-on. The other night I saw fliers placed beneath the windshield wipers of cars parked along the street, warning them that such practice is verboten. And I got a letter the other asking my flag be taken down because it had a big tear in it. I’d been meaning to take it down after the last windstorm did it in and was glad for the reminder. With the collapse of home values around here you’re very fortunate if you have a HOA making sure places are kept up and tidy and not allowed to fall into neglect or disrepair. Our subdivision, called Summer Meadows, has been very fortunate. Driving around it looks like no more than, say, 10% of the homes are obviously empty and/or up for sale. Not that far away from us to the south and east there are subdivisions up in the 50 percentile or even higher.

Regardless, everyone around here is underwater with their mortgages. We’re fortunate in that our house’s value has only dropped by about 40%; there are others who are far worse off than that.

It’s late Sunday night and I’ve finished my nightly walk, cooled off with a swim in the pool, and am enjoying a Sam Adams Boston Lager on the patio. All is quiet around me – Tracey’s watching TV, my sister-in-law Tam has long gone to bed. On Sundays anytime after 3 PM the only sounds you’ll hear are everyone’s garage doors opening as people come out, unlock their gates, and bring their identical black trash barrels out and place them at the same place on the curb they did a week ago before disappearing back into their homes, their garage doors closing fast behind them. Around 5 or 6 o’clock the smell of steaks, burgers, and hot dogs being cooked on gas grills fill the air. To me, it’s almost mind-numbing in its predictability and regularity.

In the dark, gazing at the bright half-moon above I can help but think my life has been reduced to being just a bit player in some larger life play right out of The Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday”.

Some people might call this the American dream, and for some it is. Hey, for all I know, it is. Still, in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder if for me it’s just the flipside.

Someone is burning wood in their fireplace and it smeels really nice.

A freight train blows its whistle and from the sounds of it, it’s a long one. The whistle stirs my restless bones and makes me long for places far and away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:38 | Comments (2)
June 12, 2011

pentecost Given that today is the feast of Pentecost and, at least here in the Valley of the Sun, it arrives with the brightest of suns and the most shimmering of hot blue skies, this classic poem from e.e. cummings strikes the right note:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Now the prayer table linen gets changed from the white and gold of Eastertide to the green of the Pentecost season. The green symbolizes the growth of the church following the Pentecost event described in Chapter 2 of Acts of the Apostles. It will remain green until the season of Advent begins on the last Sunday of November.

Pentecost used to seem like a long season to me, but the days fly by so fast nowadays that, as hot as it is today, the holiday season will be here before you know it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:34 | Comments Off on Pentecost Poetry

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