Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The ANWR Drill

I am ambivalent regarding whether or not drilling for oil should be permitted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If I had to vote yes or no, one way or the other, it would now be "NO." This Republican environmentalist still has that oily taste in his mouth from 24 March 1989, when Exxon Valdez skipper Joe Hazelwood, with Jim Beam as his first mate, reefed the ship and did one big lubrication job on Prince William Sound.

But really, the people whose opinions should count are the residents of ANWR and its vicinity. Because it is they who will have to live with the consequences -- foul or fair -- of bringing the oil drilling industry to ANWR.

The following points, in no particular order, are noted:

1. We all know what the potential foul consequences of drilling in ANWR can be. See the first paragraph of this post.

2. Had Mr. Seward not arranged the purchase of Alaska from the Russians, then it is safe to say that oil would already be flowing from ANWR, and there likely would be several spill mishaps whose cumulative oil gallonage would probably exceed the 10.8 million discharged on account of Joe Hazelwood's aforementioned deviation from the designated sea lane.

3. There are many stable and prosperous communities where oil is drilled. Beverly Hills, California immediately comes to mind in that regard. The story of Jed Clampett has it all wrong -- Oil is drilled and pumped from underneath Beverly Hills (including an oil well on the grounds of Beverly Hills High School). The oil leases in the Los Angeles area, and Beverly Hills in particular, enhance the value of the real property and reduce the public tax burden, and thus contribute in no small way to the communities' prosperity and lifestyle.

4. The oil boom in Alaska has raised the standard of living for many residents. This includes running water and electricity, paved roads, better medical care, et cetera.

5. Unless the limousine liberals from places like Beverly Hills are willing to either (a) spend their own money to bring running water and electricity to the residents of the far outreaches of Alaska, and/or (b) give up their indoor bathrooms and poop in outhouses, then what right do they have to deny the Alaskans the opportunity to have indoor plumbing and electricity?

And so, while I personally oppose drilling for oil in the ANWR, that is a decision that should be made by the people in Alaska.

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Feeding the Fatsos

As expected, my calendar has been quite active since previous posting.

During this past week was my first day of classes for the Fall Semester. As usual, there were several fires for me to put out upon my return to campus after a few weeks hiatus. These included, in no particular order:

* Catching up on the pile of mail in my departmental mailbox (most of it was junk, of course).

* Renewing my campus parking sticker -- which meant that I had to go to the Bursar's Office to make the payment. And, while I was there, retrieve my paycheck from the Summer Session. This was a bit more expeditious than initially envisioned. One of the front-line supervisors behind the Bursar's window happens to have been one of my students a few years ago. She called me to one of the unused windows, processed my parking payment, and got my paycheck for me. Less than 5 minutes total! But hey, was I supposed to turn down the gratuitous offer?

* Searching for the Syllabus for one of my classes. All of my Course handouts had been sent to the copy shop a few weeks ago by my Department Secretary, after I e-mailed the documents to her. She is very meticulous and trustworthy, so I knew that she wasn't the problem. Turns out that one of the copy jobs had inadvertently been wrapped in a package sent to one of my colleagues. When she opened her class handouts package, she immediately realized that the Syllabus was not hers, so she gave it to me. But ….

* Turns out that the copy shop had collated the job incorrectly. Fortunately, they were in a slight slack period, so they redid the copy job. Which was just as well, because there were a few changes to be made to the Syllabus (typo errors, relocation of the Course to another classroom in another building, change in some resource URLs on account of a total recast of the Library's website, et cetera). So they redid the copy job with the correct info in the Syllabus.

* Reserve audiovisual equipment for demonstration lecture planned for next week.

Classes went off without any unusual hitches. I think that I'll enjoy this semester.

And at another institution of higher education, my son is now moving into the dorms this weekend. He's looking forward to it (as are my wife and I).

And now, for the main purpose of this post:

Recall that this past Rosh Hashanah, we had a fatso couple as houseguests, who, per the posting of 16 September 2007, were referred to as "He" and "She." Unfortunately (but hardly unexpectedly), She dropped dead a few months ago, no doubt on account of her morbid obesity. Our houseguests this past Shabbat included He, who, ever the polite visitor, brought some dessert for after dinner. What did He bring? A Lemon Meringue Cake and a Napoleon Cake (from a reliable kosher bakery, of course).

And, of course, my wife, who has her own obesity issues, indulged in those delights which He brought. We usually do not have dessert for Shabbat dinner, but when we do it usually is fruits and/or sorbet. We do not go hot and heavy into the superfattening stuff like pies and cakes. Because if that stuff is ever brought to the table, then my wife will usually overindulge in it. Which is exactly what happened this past Shabbat (though only to a relatively minor degree -- it could have been much worse).

From viewing the old photographs of He and She, it is my hypothesis that once He married She, his diet made a significant change to all of those sugar-rich and fat-rich and fiber-poor victuals, many of which have metabolized into fat tissue. She never cooked anything non-fattening (my wife and I were hosted for dinner by He and She on numerous occasions). And, now that She is gone, He has yet to transition back to healthy eating.

Fatsos have enough of a problem as it is. And much of their problem is that they have been conditioned to stuff food into their mouths. Why do we have to feed them such things as would add to their weight? If your host or hostess is overweight, then don't bring them all of those fattening pastries and candies! Bring fruit or something like that! And don't encourage the feeding reflex!

Please Don't Feed the Fatsos!!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Real Olympic Medal Count

Amidst this Olympics mania, one of the many, many things that has been bothering me is the way the news media posts the medal counts. They simply count the total number of medals, without regard to whether they are gold, silver or bronze.

And so, as of 10:30 PM EDT, the United States leads with 55 medals, followed by China with 47, and Australia with 46, followed by France (22), Russia (21), South Korea (20) and Germany (19).

But of the USA's 55 medals, 16 are gold, 17 are silver and 22 are bronze; while China's 47 medals include 27 gold, 13 silver and 7 bronze.

None of the news media medal tallies seem to take into account the fact that a gold medal is better than a silver medal, which is better than a bronze one!

Back when I was in high school and junior high, the track meets in which I participated implicitly recognized the differences between a first place finish and a second place finish and a third place finish. Team points were awarded as follows:

1st place: 5 points.
2nd place: 3 points.
3rd place: 1 point.

Using the spreadsheet program and the copy & paste functions, I have re-ranked the Olympic medal counts using the 5-3-1 point system.

The top 7 teams, according to that system, are:

1. China (181 points).
2. USA (153 points).
3. Australia (70 points).
4. South Korea (66 points).
5. Germany (65 points).
6. Russia (57 points).
7. Japan (55 points).

Und so weiter …

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tisha B'Av

It is after sundown, and accordingly, by the Hebrew Calendar it is the 9th day of the month of Av (Tisha B'Av in Hebrew), the day both the First and the Second Temples were destroyed. I, of course, will be fasting until tomorrow evening, which wouldn't be quite so bad, except that in a few hours I will be traveling out of town on an empty stomach. Fortunately, the excursion will be via train, so at least I will not be driving.

But those who mourn the destruction of the Holy City of Jerusalem will, likewise, share in the great joy when the Temple is rebuilt. Accordingly, many synagogues (my own included) are hosting study sessions, seminars, and the like about what the destruction of the Temple means, and how and why we can hasten its rebuilding by returning to our faith.

Niels Bohr reportedly said, regarding the practice of nailing horseshoes over doorways to ensure good luck, that it works whether you believe in them or not. Similarly, for those of you who doubt the power of prayer, fasting and repentance, consider that the various Muslim groups are intimidated by such study programs. If it rankles them, that is proof positive that such study programs are productive.

May you all have an easy fast, and may we see the rebuilding of Jerusalem, speedily in our day!

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