December 25, 2010

Merry Christams to All

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 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), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord come upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this king which is to come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1

December 23, 2010

December 16, 2010

News from the Hindu Kush

The Salmon Kid landed in Afghanastan a few weeks ago and is cooling his jets at Bagram while he awaits a transfer to a FOB to train the Afghan military. He passed along the following video.

This was a favorite of mine when I was his age. Everything old is new again I suppose and this version is actually better than the original.

December 15, 2010

The Deconstruction of Obama's Progressivism

The Hoover Institution's Peter Berkowitz in a long but thorough primer on Barack Obama and the sources of his deeply ingrained modern progressivism comes to this conclusion:
One reason for the resounding rebuke delivered by the electorate to the Democratic Party and its leader last month was the immoderation and un-pragmatic character of President Obama’s progressivism. In its pursuit of a transformative agenda, it treated the public as too simpleminded or mean-spirited to adopt the correct policies for the correct reasons. It overlooked that while government is in a good position to provide equality before the law and equal opportunity, it is often a bad judge of what citizens deserve and poorly equipped to ensure equal outcomes. And in seeking to expand government’s responsibility for managing citizens’ lives, it ignored the prospects for diminishing citizens’ freedom.

The president and his fellow progressives needn’t be seen as having acted cynically. In the progressive mind — as illustrated by the president’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and conduct in office, and professors’ theories about deliberative democracy, pragmatism, and empathy — progressives are moderate and post-partisan because progressivism itself is not a flawed and incomplete perspective but rather the comprehensive perspective that has at last transcended the flawed and incomplete perspectives of the past. Progressivism’s vision of reform, progressives suppose, is vouched for by reason, by practice, and by the heart. It is equivalent for them to justice itself.

It follows that those who depart from progressivism are unreasonable, indifferent to or disdainful of how the world really works, and heartless — in a word, unjust. From the point of view of the new progressivism, compromise is form of compassion; it means offering the unreasonable, the impractical, and the heartless a seat at the table and providing them an opportunity to recognize the wisdom of progressive ways. And moderation for the new progressivism is kind of resoluteness; it signifies flexibility, patience, and persistence in pursuing progressive ends.

Confidence that one possesses the complete and final understanding of morals and politics can encourage a politician to think of himself as a transformer and redeemer rather than as a statesman. It can impel a president confronting dramatic electoral backlash to attribute opposition to his party and his programs to a fear that blinds voters to “facts and science and argument.” And it can drive him to rouse loyalists to adopt the ancient warriors’ ethic and declare, “We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” One reason that progressives under pressure so readily succumb to the common temptation to deride voters who disagree with them as frightened and foolish and to portray fellow citizens as adversaries to be vanquished is that progressive assumptions about knowledge and politics make such conclusions about those who decline to follow their lead hard to escape.
Although Berkowitz delves into the influence of modern philosophers Rawls and Rorty one aspect that I think is always lacking in the explanations of the New Progressives is the influences of the early 20th Century radicals on the Progressive movement; as I have said before these ain't your granddad’s progressives.

The Socialists, Anarchists, and Syndicalist didn’t just fade away; although they all still maintain a web presence  they largely, along with the progressives, melted into the Democratic Party in the 1940s. The last gasp effort for them to stand on their own was Iowa's own Henry Wallace's run for the presidency on the Socialist Party ticket in 1948. Many of their ideas and rhetoric became a part of the progressive movement which today takes the form of anti-capitalism and anti exceptional-ism, while the term democracy no longer refers to a  form of participatory politics but instead is a means of political control.

Taken together Progressivsism  becomes a superiority complex that sees non believers as cattle to be herded and Constitutionalism as a quaint but inadequate means of social order that unltimately must be replaced.

The Berkowitz piece is a long but definitely enlightening read.

December 08, 2010

As you know posting has been pretty non-existent here for the better part of two months because the teaching program I am in prides itself on weeding out us "undesirables" by burying them in up to there neck in crap and covering their heads with honey. I am proud to say I think I survived. With only few loose ends to wrap up today I have the next couple weeks off to prepare for Christmas.

So to get you into the spirit of the season here is Clay Aiken (sorry it's the best version I could come up with) singing "Mary Did You Know." Enjoy!

November 04, 2010

From the WTF Department

Via: Heritage
Welfare recipients in approximately 20 states–with more to follow– are currently eligible to receive a free cell phone with a limited number of monthly minutes. All individuals that qualify for state or federal welfare–food stamps, Medicaid, etc.–and have an income at or below 135% of the poverty level, are eligible. According to a Fox News report, the cell phone service is currently the fastest growing welfare program in the country.
In 2008, the fund that foots the bill for this program contributed $819 million to subsidize low-income telephone services. The fund is projected to grow to over $1 billion this year. That’s $1 billion of over $800 billion the United States will spend on welfare in 2010.
Brought to my attention by an alert reader deep in the heart of Texas. Thx Steve.

Via: Catholic Online

When U.S. President Barack Obama visits Mumbai, the most populous City in India, it will cost a whopping $200 million a day. The majority of the expenses will go towards security.
The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential visit," a top official of the Maharashtra Government, who had access to information about the arrangements for the high-profile visit said.
About 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents, U.S. government officials and journalists will accompany the President. Several officials from the White House and U.S. security agencies have already been in Mumbai for the past week with helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments.
You are going to move the equivalent of a small Iowa town to India for vacation!  Perhaps you haven't heard, India is the world leader in  call centers for Gods sake, how bout you just phone it in and save us all a couple billion dollars.

November 02, 2010

Election Day 2010

We the People were mad in 2006 and in disgust handed the congress to the Democrats. By 2008 we were thoroughly pissed and doubled down on a man that claimed to be a post partisan post racialist,  promising to unite the country, heal the planet, and stop the rise of the oceans. He won with 52 percent of the vote and took office with the support of nearly 70% of the population.

Determining whether he over promised, over reached, or was in over his head is for future historians to determine. One thing is clear however, he has lost the support of 50% of the people that had placed their bets on hope and change who now feel that they were taken by some two bit televangelist. Today, We the People will put the brakes on this socialist nonsense. Where we go from here remains to be seen but rest assured this chapter of our national nightmare is not over.

Several weeks ago I watched John McCain, with a wink and a grin, like he was talking about your crazy Uncle Ed, say that these new Tea Party congressmen were going to make for some "interesting" caucuses. I once had a professor that used the term interesting whenever you said something god awful stupid. Lets face it establishment Republicans like John McCain have no respect for the Tea Party and no intention of changing their ways; their interests are too ingrained.

So unless some in the GOP have genuinely had an epiphany we will spend the next two years wallowing around in the status quo while the media, the Democrats, and the President paint the Republicans as a bunch of  mouth breathing Slurpee drinkers headed for another ditch and this time they will be right.

October 14, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

No I haven't died yet, just busier than a one armed shoplifter at Wal-Mart right now. I am taking a full load of classes and have two practicums in two different schools, in two different towns.

So in the interest of keeping this blog on life support a  while longer here is a little piece of optimism that you can play over and over and over....... (Via Ace)

From the Just Want to Scream Department:

Build it and they will come and it only costs a half billion bucks. The wacky bureaucrat with the capital D behind her name is the poster child for all that is wrong with the Wasteland previously known as Detroit. I love the part where her delusion (because she has a degree in urban planning making her the smartest person in the Detroit Metro Area) believes that all she has to do is  "re-educate" the masses and this boondoggle will somehow have merit. Doesn't that sound familiar?

To top it off my dear sweet mother in law in Warren can't figure out who to vote for this year. AHHHHHH!!!!!!
(Via Maggies Farm)

Meet Alaska's Joe Miller

September 26, 2010

Everything Old Is New Again

"This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."

Ronald Reagan

September 15, 2010

Let me be the first to pee on the Democrats new logo.

Update 10/26: The best critique of the D logo so far:
Campaign-time, Team Obama knew marketing. The best visual talent crafted a campaign "look and feel" as polished as any roll out by Apple.
Remember that glorious day on the Mall in January? The new Pepsi cans were everywhere, its new logo ripping off the red, white and blue "O" sunrise glyph. For the next year, it seemed like everything coming out of a design shop mimicked the graceful font of an Obama campaign sign.
Now this. Deflated, dyspeptic. One more false dawn, promised, then snatched away. Obama used to be big. Maybe he can be so again. Maybe it's just the branding that got small. Let's hope.
Obama, like Steve Jobs, know its really pretty easy to get the herd to queue up; but once we get our shiny new gizmo home the bells and whistles never quite funtion as advertised.  In fact many of the complaints about BHO are the same gripes leveled at the IPhone.
  • Poor reception.
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Text issues. Drops lines that are deemed patriotic or religious.
  • Not good for business users.
There's no replacement program!

Wouldn't you like a little hope with that change?

September 11, 2010

9/11 Nine Years Later

Another year has passed since evil descended upon America and we are no closer to resolving this conflict with Islam than we were in 2001. In fact we are probably in a worse position than we were on 9/12.

I base that on the two recent events that have again pitted Americans against the Religion of Peace. The Ground Zero Mosque controversy where this week the Imam makes the not so subtle hint that if this mosque is not built the US could "have national security issues". The second of course is the Florida pastor who feels the need to torch a few Korans. While I don’t necessarily condone his actions I support his right to voice his opinion in any manner that he sees fit.

Both cases illustrate the fact that while we are all endowed in this country with certain inalienable rights it sometimes takes more courage not to exercise them than to plow ahead at the expense of others. But more to the point however is that nine years later we have not come to grips with an ideology that has intrinsic anger management issues.

For all the dispositions one might find in any group or individual the one that has the potential be the most devastating, as we were to discover to our horror nine years ago, is one of an uncontrolled temper. Henry Drummond once wrote:

No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to unchristianize society than an evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short, for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power this influence stands alone…
The Muslim disposition is one that reacts to any insult, real or imagined, with a self flagellating flag burning hate fest. In the past we just shrugged at such antics. When Islamic religious leaders issued death warrants on writers, cartoonists, or Americans in general we reacted with the same indifference we might show the outbursts of a crazy uncle.

This indifference was a mistake in the past and it is a mistake that was compounded this week by the fear of upsetting an obviously ill tempered people. Kowtowing cannot change an evil disposition it only reinforces it.

We all have our moments when our temper bubbles to the surface of course but as a people the western tradition is centered on love and toleration and if we are ever to change the relationship between our two cultures, if Islam is ever to become compatable to modernity if you will, we have a moral obligation to stand up and scream "enough", just like we would scold a petulant child. This week we missed that opportunity.

Cf: Henry Drummond, "The Greatest Thing in the World"

Warriors vs The Baseball Furies

August 27, 2010

Christie Just Lost My Vote. (If I had one)

Sorry for the lack of posting lately but me and the little salmon have spent the last week getting back to the school.

In the video below Governor Christie of New Jersey, who in my book was begining to look like a conservative Superman, comes off today looking like a whiney little snot nose, stomping his foot and saying "thats not fair."

An inadvertent one page error in a grant application to the Department of Education cost the good citizens of New Jersey $400 Million dollars in the Obama Race to the Top Education Lottery. You never saw Superman play the victim card but essentially Christie complains that some faceless Washington bureaucrat finds a mistake made by some faceless New Jersey bureaucrat in a 1000 page  grant application and doesn't have the heart or common sense to pick up the phone and ask for a correction. That, states Christie "is the problem with Washington."

Had anyone tugged on the real Superman's cape he would have been screaming about the asininity of creating a $4.3 Billion slush fund at the Department of Education which pits state against state for the largesse of the Obama adminsitration.

Did Christie truly believe that New Jersey had any any chance to win this compitition. From Obama's perspective he is an acerbic Republican Governor from a solidly blue state. The fact is, this money is earmarked for battleground states like Penn, Fla, and Ohio.

Here is the list of the  19 finalists: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

August 19, 2010

The Warthog

Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt
Every pilot has a list of favorite aircraft and if  money were no object we would fill our hangers with them. Now I haven't seen any A10s for sale on Ebay but If I had to do it all over again I may have reenlisted for the chance to fly one of these puppies.

 You start with one 20 foot long Gatling gun and then you simply build a plane around it. Details Here

August 18, 2010

From the Desk of CS Lewis

Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

CS Lewis

August 17, 2010

How's that Pragmatism Working Out For Ya?

I wish I could say that I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for this President who has begun to morph into a Kerry-esque Muppet character that’s not quite ready to report for duty, “I was against the mosque before I was for the mosque before let me be clear it’s a local matter.”

Bob Beckel wrote in 2008 at the beginning of the Age of Obama (it seems likes eons ago doesn’t it) that Obama is Larry the Cable Guy that will do anything to get ’er done.
What the Republicans and many in the political chattering class are calling flip flopping by Obama is nothing more than political pragmatics, and Obama is very good at it.
Perhaps being pragmatic is essential when you are trying to ram through a piece of  legislation like healthcare. “Constitution be damned, legislative process be damned, public opinion be damned this it the right thing to do for the American people.” The pragmatist will take whatever twisting turning path it takes to get her done!

To us outsiders that kind if political sausage making can take on an usavory immoral aroma but Beckel assures us Obama’s pragmatism  does not "lack a moral compass." I disagree, pragmatism itself requires that you don’t hold too tightly to convictions because you need the flexibility to achieve your goal and convictions can be just sooo restricting. For example the Constitution can be useful if you want to argue for building a mosque but on the other hand  if you want the government to buy a bankrupt car company, not so much. The beauty of Pragmatism is that it lets you cherry pick your convictions.

Being president however is more than legislation, fundraising, and golf; people look to you for leadership in times of crisis and crisis generally requires that you make decisions that draw on your moral/philosophical base. Each and every time that Obama has been confronted with just such a crisis (The Gulf Oil Spill, the Fort Hood Shooter, The Iranian Uprising, The Christmas Day Bomber and now the Ground Zero Mosque) he has come up looking aloof, disconnected, professorial, cold, heartless, etc, etc, etc.

That’s the problem with being the Pragmatist President, it gives you the means to do whatever you damn well please but it also makes you look like a soulless ass.

August 15, 2010

On Toleration

Washington Post September 2009:
President Obama is distancing himself from the National Day of Prayer by nixing a formal early morning service and not attending a large Catholic prayer breakfast the next morning.
All Mr. Obama will do for the National Day of Prayer, which is Thursday, is sign a proclamation honoring the day, which originated in 1952 when Congress set aside the first Thursday in May for the observance.
Jump ahead to August 2010 and we find the President wasn’t satisfied sitting at his desk issuing Ramadan proclamations but was hosting a White House dinner with distinguished members of the Muslim community celebrating the Islamic holiday of Ishtar and proclaiming his support for the construction of the controversial mosque/cultural center near Ground Zero. This hypocrisy really should come as no surprise; Obama has always displayed a not so subtle Occidentalism which probably played a part in his decision to change his name from Barry to Barack.

It also comes as no surprise that those supporting the mosque think that tolerance for the mosque should be a one way street. Certainly as the President pointed out we have a history of tolerance in this country which says that any religion can build a place of worship whenever and wherever it's heart desires without intervention by the government. On the surface this argument tugs at the heartstrings of any red blooded American but it ignores the fact that liberalism (like Christianity from which is sprang) has the obligation to speak out, to fight if necessary, to preserve those ideals which it holds dear.

That is the paradox of liberalism that the Left would have us ignore. The liberal should be tolerant of other cultures to the extent that they operate in the private sphere (in this case the church) but that does not mean that every difference, particularly ones that are illiberal or are in this case a deliberate blow to the sensibilities of those still grappling with the horrors of 9-11, should be tolerated without question. The presidents demand for tolerance without reciprocity from the other side of this controversy is really just multiculturalism at its very worst.

August 12, 2010

Glacier Drama

For the last several days I have been following the story of another Alaska plane crash. On Sunday a PA 32 with five flightseers on board crashed at the 8000 foot level of Knik Glacier north of Anchorage. By the time the rescue was over 12 people were stranded on the ice and the army was out one Blackhawk helicopter. Fortunately no one was killed and all were safely back home today. Story here.

August 10, 2010

RIP Senator Ted Stevens

The Anchorage Daily News snidely referred to Ted Stevens as Senator for Life and if not for a corruption charge in 2008 that might have come true. Prosecutorial misconduct resulted in an acquittal but it also cost Stevens his seat in the US Senate. It was a sad ending for a man that had spent his entire life in the service of the people of Alaska.

Today Stevens and a group of friends returning from a fishing trip in south west Alaska crashed into a mountainside during poor weather conditions.

Fly around the backcountry of Alaska long enough and eventually you will be involved in an accident but Stevens was no stranger to the dangers of aviation. He was a decorated pilot in WW II and he survived a crash at Anchorage (now Ted Stevens) International Airport that took the life of his first wife in 1978.

A few reactions from the next generation of Alaska public servants.
"Last night, Alaska lost a hero and I lost a dear friend. The thought of losing Ted Stevens, a man who was known to business and community leaders, Native chiefs and everyday Alaskans as 'Uncle Ted,' is too difficult to fathom. His entire life was dedicated to public service, from his days as a pilot in World War II to his four decades of service in the United States Senate." — Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
 "Alaska has lost one of its greatest statesmen and a true pioneer of our state with the passing of Sen. Ted Sevens. Over his four decades of public service in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Stevens was a forceful advocate for Alaska who helped transform our state in the challenging years after Statehood." — Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.
"In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska." — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Our prayers and condolences to those involved in todays accident.

Being a pilot in Alaska ranks up there with lumberjack and crab fisherman in fatality rates. The following is from the National Institute of Occupational Health.
Alaska is uniquely dependent upon air transportation. Commuter and air taxi operators serve as the main link to much of Alaska, transporting people, cargo, and mail to more than 250 villages located off of the road system. This critical mode of transportation can be hazardous.

A disproportionate number of commuter and air taxi crashes occur in Alaska (Table 1). During 1990-2008 there were 1,566 commuter and air taxi crashes in the United States. Commuter and air taxi crashes in Alaska accounted for more than one-third of all commuter and air taxi crashes in the U.S., and approximately 20% of the fatal crashes and deaths.

Working as a pilot in Alaska continues to be a risky occupation. During 1990-2008, aviation crashes in Alaska caused 147 occupational pilot deaths (does not include military), an average of 8 pilot fatalities per year. These 147 fatalities over 19 years from a commercial pilot workforce of approximately 2,600 result in an annual pilot fatality rate of 298 per 100,000 pilots.

In recent years the pilot occupational fatality rate in Alaska has decreased to less than twice the rate for all U.S. pilots during 2003-2008. During this time there were 23 occupational pilot deaths (does not include military), resulting in an annual pilot fatality rate of 148 per 100,000 pilots. While this is an improvement, it is still approximately 41 times the mortality rate for all U.S. workers during the same time period.

August 09, 2010

Hiroshima Spin

On the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing we were once again bombarded by those commentators that feel that the bombing was a mistake. But what if those in power at the time didn't know what they were unleashing? What if Truman who was kept in the dark about the Manhattan Project until after the death of Roosevelt wasn't fully informed about the effects of the bomb? What if General Groves who was in charge of the project was  under the impression that the bomb was merely a larger version of a conventional explosive device?
George Washington University has the archives of the Manhattan Project and several years ago I had the opportunity to wade through some of this material and what I discovered tends to support the proposition that those at the top just didn't know about the radiological after effects and as a results were forced to spin the grizzly realities of the bomb into a narrative that the public could more easily digest.

A little humor to start the week.

To my deaf friends, sorry.

August 08, 2010


Today a couple thousand family and friends gathered at the Cedar Rapids Cellular Center to say our final goodbyes to our sons and daughters who are part of the recent Iowa National Guard deployment to Afghanistan.

This is Justin’s second trip to that God forsaken spot on the globe and although I am still overflowing with pride in my sons commitment to the Guard and his dedication to his fellow soldiers this time I am also angry.

I’m angry that in the four years since he was last there conditions have deteriorated, casualties are increasing, and the rules of engagement may be getting our soldiers killed.

I’m angry that we haven’t thrown the full force of the nation behind the task of killing these bastards so our loved ones can come home. We have a wavering President apparently more concerned with the sensibilities of the region than the nation he leads, who is being played by “friends” (I use the term loosely) and foes alike.

Meanwhile we prop up the corrupt government of a brutal, backwards, tribal people that are incapable of pulling themselves out of the second century. When my son deployed five long years ago I thought we could make a difference, now I’m beginning to the see the futility of the mission and I’m angry.

More Plane Porn

Our friend Fred from the flatlands of western Iowa, upon returing from eight glorious days (except for the mosquito infested campground) was kind enough to pass along this Oshkosh video for your viewing pleasure. Fred writes, "...I spent about 10-12 hours a day on the grounds doing a lot of forums and talking to total strangers about airplanes and life in general. All 3 concerts were great. (Chicago, Lt Dan Band, and Asleep at the Wheel) The night airshow wall of flame and fireworks were spectacular. It gets better for me every year and like all other years I still don't get to see everything."

Thx Fred.

An Airplane Sunday Morning

At the controls of a LSA
How long does it take to polish one of these babies? Beautiful!
From the deck of an Air Force KC 135
Did I mention it was hot there?

Above is a few shots of our Oshkosh outing. We purchased a new camera before vacation thinking we would retire our bruised and battered Olympus Camedia which we purchased at the dawn of the digital photography age. We ended up with a compact Sony Cybershot that takes great pictures but it lacks a viewfinder which makes capturing fast moving targets nearly impossible. Plus, at an event such as an airshow it lacks the zoom capabilities of the Olympus which is an issue. One thing I didn't consider is the resolution setting which makes uploading nearly impossible. I have to resize and crop every shot or Blogger chokes. Live and learn.

Loss of a legend: Atlee Dodge
Alaska aviation legend F. Atlee Dodge passed away on July 23 in the Anchorage Pioneer Home.

The passing of Dodge marks the end of an era of improvements to the Piper Super Cub and other aircraft types. Dodge, 88 passed away in his sleep after a long battle with leg ailments.

Atlee Dodge was known as the guru of Super Cub modifications approved as Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certifications or (STCs). Most would call them mods or accessories but all needed to be approved before legally being used on a standard category aircraft.

His modifications and accessories include control surfaces, engine cowlings, exhaust systems, fuel systems parts, landing gear, steps, pre-heaters, seats, seat rails, float fittings, ski fittings, wing lift struts, wing tanks, filler necks for fuel tanks, etc. etc. the list is three pages long and includes the J-3, PA-11, PA-12, PA-14-PA-18, PA-19, and PA-22 Piper aircraft.

Dodge’s ingenious ideas that became realities for pilots and aircraft owners were also included on Cessna and Dehavilland aircraft as well. In short if there was a good idea that made an aircraft better for working and flying in Alaska’s bush, Atlee Dodge was already on top of it.
Supercub Flyby at the Atlee Dodge Memorial
Lake Hood, Anchorage, Ak

Photos Gallery: Arctic Thunder Air Show
F22 Raptor at Arctic Thunder, Elmendorf Airforce Base

August 02, 2010

The Salmon Family Vacation

Tuesday afternoon we arrived in Madison, Wisconsin, the Midwest's Bastion of Socialism, the place my brother in law affectionately calls "45 square miles surrounded by reality."

That night we were treated to a dinner cruise on Lake Mendota which abuts downtown and the University of Wisconsin. Above, the little Salmon takes a turn at the helm.

Wednesday we visited the Vilas Zoo in Madison. In keeping with the socialist theme a friend noted that admission is free and all the animals are fed equally and are not required to work. While the residents seemed healthy due to their government supplied medical care and rations they were, with the exception of those industrious little prairie dogs, unproductive and generally lethargic. Seriously, it is a nice little zoo, the price is right, and was a good way to spend a few hours.

The highlight of the week, from my perspective, was the pilgrimage to the  airplane Mecca of Oshkosh. The day dawned clear and warm and enthusiasm was high upon our arrival. We spent the morning in the Kidventure area but we were disappointed by the length of the line at the helicopter ride and had to skip that activity.

Then it was back to the main field to look at planes and see the afternoon airshow.
While Oshkosh was impressive as always there are a couple inescapable facts. Its going to be hot and you are going to walk...alot. That can be tough when you are seven.

Friday we hung out with family and ended the week at the Saturday Capital Square Farmers Market before heading home. Wisconsin has an awesome capital building which we intend to check out next time.

We had one incident that I would like to share. The day we went to Oshkosh we returned to our hotel late that evening to find that the housekeepers had propped open our door all day but failed to clean our room. Fortunately I had stuck my laptop and misc valuables in the car trunk when we left and surprisingly nothing was missing from the room. The poor gal at the desk recieved an ear full from the wife and when I finally tracked down the manager the following morning  he was apologetic and offered us a free future stay (like I'm ever going to stay there again) and then he stated, "I would love to comp you for your entire stay but because you registered through I cant give you a refund." Really... was that a gauntlet or what? Now I didn't want the moon but I also don't like having my chain pulled by a disingenuous manager type that offers me a full comp with one hand and takes it away with the other. If you should find yourself in a similar situation rest assured, it may take several phone calls and you may have to corner the little liar in his office for a conference call but with a little persistence has the means to give you a refund;)  

July 27, 2010

Too Cute: Jewel Does Karaoke

The girl from Homer Ak wows the crowd at the Gas Light Karaoke Bar.

Via: Tigerhawk

Rump Party No More

If there is one sure thing in American politics its that there are no sure things. Following the election of Barack Obama the future of the Republican Party seemed more than a little bleak to most of us. The left-0-sphere was celebrating that the remnants of the GOP as nothing more than a southern Rump party, but as Granddad used to say, "Rave on cat shit... you'll get covered up."

In January 2009 the GOP could only claim 5 states, with 10 states competitive.

Jump ahead to July 2010

In less than two years under the reign of Obama the GOP has picked up 7 states and made 6 more competitive. Note that Gallup swapped the color identification for the solid and leaning states which forces you to do some mental gymnastics to see that 9 solidly Dem states are now in the lean Dem column.

According to a Rassmusen report, "Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats on the generic Congressional ballot. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer the Republican candidate by a 44% to 23% margin," That's quite a reversal of fortunes for a party that was declared dead two years ago.

July 22, 2010

Oshkosh 2010

Our friend Fred from the flatlands of western Iowa forwarded the following video as a reminder that EAA Airventure 2010 starts Monday. The last two years the women that lets me live with her was gracious enough to send me there with a friend for the week. This year we going to make it a family affair and go up for just day to get a little airplane fix and introduce the little Salmon to the world of aviation.

As Fred said in his email "This will get the blood pumping."

Thx Fred.

Photo: Cockpit of a SR 71 Blackbird. Lets see... stick check, rudders-check, throttle-check, little ball thingy that tells you which side is up- check. Hell I could fly that thing.

July 19, 2010

A Couple Items That Should Make You Wonder WTF

Obama dog Bo takes private jet to Maine vacation.

U.S. Authorities Shut Down WordPress Host With 73,000 Blogs

DOJ Website Updated

It came to my attention that the Justice Department has revamped its web site and out of curiosity I went back to previous DOJ banners to see just how the new effort stacks up.

The first is from 2001 and as we see it was the government standard issue web page of the times. Plain and purely utilitarian in nature, it was in a way a reflection of then Attorney General John Ashcroft.

America was at war when Alberto Gonzalez stepped into the AG spot in 2005 and this next effort signified the patriotic fervor that had gripped the country. The government by this time threw away the standardized web page templates and hired designers that could personalize the pages to reflect the goals and culture of the administration.
Eighteen months in AG Holder is putting his mark on the DOJ. Visually this stark, white on gloss black motif indicates a strong, aggressive, and uncompromising AG. One online commenter suggested that the new design was the work of Darth Vader.
What sets this design apart from the previous designs however is that it includes a department motto which reads "The common law is the will of Mankind issuing from the Life of the People." In a search for the author I found that The American Spectator was all over this one.
Department of Justice employees say the quote originates from British lawyer, C. Wilfred Jenks, who back in the late 1930s and after World War II was a leading figure in the "international law" movement, which sought to impose a global, common law, and advocated for global workers rights. Jenks was a long-time member of the United Nation's International Labor Organization, and author of a number of globalist tracts, including a set of essays published back in 1958, entitled The Common Law of Mankind.
Most telling: Jenks, as director of the ILO is credited with putting in place the first Soviet senior member of the UN organization, and also with creating an environment that allowed the ILO to give "observer status" to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and to issue anti-Israeli statements, which precipitated efforts by the U.S. Congress to withdraw U.S. membership from the ILO. The U.S. actually did withdraw in the mid-1970s due to the organization's leftist leanings.
"It was Jenks's efforts that helped make the ILO a tool of the socialist and communist movement," says one of the DOJ lawyers. "We used to joke about how fitting it was that this was Janet Reno's favorite quote to use in speeches, and now the Obama folks think it encapsulates out department's mission."
This administration goes to great lengths to deny its socialist leanings but continues to emit these Freudian slips. I suggest that they aren't slips at all but are the administrations passive aggressive means of giving the finger to the portion of the American public that is paying attention.

July 15, 2010

The Power of Tea Party Rhetoric

Pundits the world over have been trying to analyze the Tea Party movement and while some have genuinely tried to understand its origins and motives most critiques follow one of two lines. The first, and perhaps most vile, is the writer that starts with the premise that the tea party is a reaction to the election of Barrack Obama and the members are simply crypto-klansmen, end of discussion.

The second is the writer that appears to genuinely want to understand the movement and goes to great lengths to spin a metaphor around a particular trait to come to the conclusion that the tea parties are simply a group of misguided rubes. One recent ABC News piece claimed the Tea Parties in 1773 were wrong about taxes and so they, like their 2010 counterparts, were merely driven by economic self interest. These types of writers get hung up on rhetoric like “taxation without representation” missing the fact that these myths are a means of transmitting larger truths. Perhaps as the line goes some people “just can’t handle the truth” but these critiques always come off sounding petty and condescending.

I don’t know if this is a unique American phenomenon but in times of crisis we invariable return to the rhetoric of the founding. The Anti-Federalists who may have been the first conservatives argued against the new constitution in 1787 for example using the themes of the revolution and Abraham Lincoln again and again reached back to 1776 in that time of crisis. But once the crisis is past we put these symbols safely back in their box.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the symbolism box was opened this time, while some claim that it was the 2008 Obama election or the 2009 Rick Santelli rant I think the box was opened during the 2006 fight over immigration reform. The Minuteman Project came to life and for the first time in my memory grass roots outrage stopped a piece of legislation in its tracks. It was here that I think most people became aware that something was seriously askew in this country and these fears have only been exacerbated by the ensuing economic and political events.

What is interesting however, is how this rhetoric ties the left into knots. It’s hard to argue the radical position when the opposition has taken the moral high ground of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You can't publicly come out against God, country, and mom’s apple pie without outing your own crypto-socialist tendencies.

So the Lefts only tool in the rhetorical toolbox is the appeal to emotion evidenced by such memorable hits as, “If you don’t go along with the program you will end up wearing your sisters teeth” or as the President of the NAACP recent claim that the Tea Party is the decedent of the White Citizens Council. These arguments are not meant to persuade but to stifle. and in the long run they begin to wear thin with the public.

As people continue to turn away from the Obama movement the only option is to turn up the volume on this demagoguery but they do so at their own peril. As we are seeing this is really a self defeating strategy and one I hope they continue to use so we can put our patriotic rhetoric back in its box as quickly as possible.

July 14, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam: Alaska Happenings

Awww, Johnston-Palin Announce Nuptials. From People Magazine:

You can call me cynical here but I think young Levi seeing his 15 minutes sputtering to an inglorious end has taken to the adage, "Its not your fault if your daddy don't have money. But it is your fault if your wife's daddy don't have money." Just sayin...

Awww Part II, "Birthing a Moose"

One of Those Unique Alaskan Summer Activities

Kenia River Dip Net Season Opens: Photos Here

July 09, 2010

Idiots Are Too Easy To Find

Jay Leno has made a career proving that idiots are easy to find. The old man in this piece proves however that at one time we were able to pass on civic knowledge through the education system. The question is why we have failed to do so in the last 30 years despite ever growing education budgets. Obviously there is little correlation between knowledge and money.

What is disturbing about the trend is that educations prime directive should be to ingrain in the mushy headed little mutants the importance of the social order the majority of Americans hold in esteem. It was Jefferson who said public education was needed so that the next generation could learn the sciences that would propel progress but more importantly would inform every citizen as to those things that threaten their freedom. If I was a conspiratorial right wing nut job I might propose that this dumbing down of American students was an intentional plot to lead the sheeple into the world of 1984.

A teacher friend recently wrote to me that “more civic literacy would allow more people to tell the right wing that their "back to the good old days of the constitution" mantra so popular this time of year is for the most part a lot of hot air.” His contention that more civic education would create less conservatives and not more would make for interesting research but generally speaking idiots are generally not a big concern. Most of them don’t participate in the system and even if they do they are normally able to gather enough reliable information, in the aggregate, to come to a rational decision.

What Jefferson feared was that in times of stress idiots are susceptible to manipulation and a perfect storm of crisis, charisma, and a complicit media could bring us a Socialist demagogue in chief. The question is, how do we make idiots harder to find so this doesn't happen again.

July 04, 2010

Independance Day and The American's Creed

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

The above was written as an entry in a patriotic writing contest by William Tyler Page in 1917. Some of it is obvious to those that have an elementary knowledge of America’s history; the Declaration of Independence and Preamble of the Constitution jump off the page. Other points are more obscure coming from sources such as the Great Seal or the Federalist Papers. The second paragraph is a statement of our obligations as citizens.

This succinct amalgamation of basic beliefs; a mere one hundred words which sum up the essence of us drawn from the foundations of our unique political thought should be, especially today, ingrained in the hearts and minds of everyone that calls themselves an American.

The House of Representatives adopted Mr. Pages work in 1918 and in 1921 he published The Book of the American’s Creed which expands on the tenets found in this creed. At barely 65 pages and 12 short sections it's more pamphlet than book but it is a handy introduction to the truths which we once held as self evident.

July 01, 2010

A Salmon Resurrection

It is hard to believe that nearly three months have passed since the last post. For those that inquired if the Salmon had finally gone belly up I appreciate your concern. Actually, the usual end of semester overload and a recent vacation to the north woods of Michigan put blogging on the back burner for a spell. The sabbatical got to feeling so good that it was going to take something special, stupendous, earth shattering to bring this nearly spawned out blog back to life.

Then yesterday I was gobsmacked by an innovation so special, so stupendous, so earth shattering that I just had to shout it out to the world, and that revelation is…………..
Salmon Flavored Vodka!

Now I haven’t yet had the chance to sample this concoction and despite my motto that the only good salmon is a smoked, blackened, broiled or barbecued salmon there are just some things that don’t necessarily go better with fish; the halibut pizza at Anchorage's "Moose’s Tooth" comes to mind, but who knows, perhaps a dry Salmon Martini (shaken not stirred of course) with a little cream cheese back is just what the world needs in these turbulent times.

Perhaps too, the world needs one more voice from the wilderness, one more innocuous blogger, to comment on not only the absurdities but the wonders of the world we live in. Monday will mark the fourth anniversary of The Salmon and every year I am amazed at the endurance of this little endeavor. In recognition of this mile marker let’s take a little stroll back down memory lane to The Salmon’s very first post.

I've always wanted to see Alaska (July 5,2006)

"I've always wanted to see Alaska", is the the first thing I hear when people find that we used to live in the 49th State. Then of course it is hard to explain how a person could leave such an awe inspiring place. Alaska can be hard, cold, and lonley, but as Robert Service described in his poem "Spell of the Yukon", the land and its people becomes a part of you, that you never totally leave behind.

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy, I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it --Came out with a fortune last fall,
--Yet somehow life's not what I thought it, And somehow the gold isn't all.
No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it.
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it For no land on earth -- and I'm one.
You come to get rich (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it's been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.
I've stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow That's plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I've watched the big, husky sun wallow In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming, And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I've thought that I surely was dreaming, With the peace o' the world piled on top.
The summer -- no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river, The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness --O God! how I'm stuck on it all.
The winter! the brightness that blinds you,The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you, The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history, The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery, I've bade 'em good-by -- but I can't.
There's a land where the mountains are nameless, And the rivers all run God knows where;

There are lives that are erring and aimless, And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons; There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land -- oh, it beckons and beckons, And I want to go back -- and I will.
They're making my money diminish;I'm sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I'm skinned to a finish I'll pike to the Yukon again.
I'll fight -- and you bet it's no sham-fight; It's hell! -- but I've been there before;
And it's better than this by a damsite --So me for the Yukon once more.
There's gold, and it's haunting and haunting;
It's luring me on as of old;Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.
Robert Service

April 04, 2010

The Resurrection According to Matthew

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.

The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you."

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

Image: Resurrection by Albrecht Durer, 1512

April 03, 2010

Farewell to Freedom or Return to Liberty

From Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

Should America bid farewell to exceptional freedom and follow the retreat to European social welfare paternalism ... or should we make a new start, in the faith that boundless opportunities belong to the workers, the builders, the industrious, and the free?

We are at the beginning of an election campaign like you've never seen before!

We are challenged to answer again the momentous questions our Founders raised when they launched mankind's noblest experiment in human freedom. They made a fundamental choice and changed history for the better. Now it's our high calling to make that choice: between managed scarcity, or solid growth ... between living in dependency on government handouts, or taking responsibility for our lives ... between confiscating the earnings of some and spreading them around, or securing everyone's right to the rewards of their work ... between bureaucratic central government, or self-government ... between the European social welfare state or the American idea of free market democracy.

What kind of nation do we wish to be? What kind of society will we hand down to our children and future generations? In the coming watershed election, the nature of this unique and exceptional land is at stake. We will choose one of two different paths. And once we make that choice, there's no going back.

March 28, 2010

Damn, I Missed Earth Hour AGAIN!

Moved back to the top from last year, to save the energy it takes to write something witty.

Let There be Light!

When I got home Friday evening the lady that lets me live with her asked if we were going to turn off the lights for Earth Hour. I had to say, and pardon the pun here, I was in the dark about the whole Earth Hour phenomena. But I can say that about most inane attempts at enlightenment by social consciousness groups with way too much time on their hands.

So in my typical knee jerk reaction I replied,"Hell no I'm not turning the lights off in fact I'm going to turn on every light I own and if I had a spotlight I would shine it into the lens of the Google Earth satellite. It would be so bright in my little corner of Iowa that Google would need to wear shades. I want to show that we are the light of the world and under no circumstances would I imitate the places on Gods green Earth that are only filled with dark matter!"

Fortunately there are those out there that express those same sentiments but in a more rational style. From The Competitive Enterprise Institute:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute plans to recognize “Human Achievement Hour” between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on March 28, 2009 to coincide with Earth Hour, a period of time during which governments, individuals, and corporations have agreed to dim or shut off lights in an effort to draw attention to climate change. Anyone not foregoing the use of electricity in that hour is, by default, celebrating the achievements of human beings. We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible.

March 26, 2010

A Challenge to America, "Try to stop us."

The numbers above are pretty stunning, indicating that all is not well in Hopenchangeland. The 33% that favor Obamacare is only slightly more than those that self -identify as liberal or very liberal. Nearly half of all democrats reject the legislation. In normal times numbers like those would have politicians racing to placate the public’s fears. These obviously are not normal times.

We have seen normally gutless pols falling on their swords. We have seen political leaders, not try to assure, but rather taunt an outraged public. The display of the Speaker of the House, brandishing an oversize gavel, marching a contingent of legislators through the crowd of protesters was nothing less than a message. “Try to stop us.”

Yesterday in Iowa City the president said, “This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about. And now that it’s passed, they’re already promising to repeal it. They’re actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. Well I say go for it!” He is sending the same message “I dare you, try to stop us."

They actually went on the offensive yesterday with claims that the right is threatening legislators and therefore the democratic system. I find it ironic that the party that threatened to usurp the democratic process while taking over the health, auto, and banking industries is now claiming to be the defender of democracy. In any event this tactic is designed to delegitimize the opposition and prep the field for future operations. "This is the moral equivalent of war, try to stop us."

The message is clear. The socialist reorientation of American society is under way. If you didn’t see this coming before last Sunday it should be clear now. The revolution has begun, the republic is under attack, and the socialists have thrown down the gauntlet. “Try to stop us.”

Flotsam and Jetsam: More Notable Quotables

Socialism by Any Other Name is Still Socialism:

“This is also an income shift, it’s a shift, it’s a leveling to help lower income middle income Americans. Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America… Because healthcare is now a right of all Americans." Senator Max Baucus (SP- MT)

Senility, the Last Refuge of Idiots:
"Well I goofed. What I meant to say was control the agencies that are writing the legislation so that it will deal fairly with the people’s concerns. Frankly I goofed." Senator John Dingle-berry (SP- MI) Clarifying his "control the people" remark.

March 24, 2010

Missed the Boat in Iowa City

I sat huddled by the phone praying for an invitation. A chance to glimpse, to hear the voice of ... The One. I realized of course that I, a lowly serf bereft of donor list status, had nary a chance of being selected. Yet still I prayed. But alas poor Yourik, for want of an arena befitting a King instead of the lowly Iowa Fieldhouse, where a mere 3000 apparatchiks errrr citizens could assemble, I shall miss the chance to humble myself before his greatness. Oh the humanity!...

The Spin from Politico:

They still love him in Iowa. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announces on Twitter ahead of President Obama's trip there Thursday: "For Iowa City 16,500 people have signed up online for tix - the Field House holds about 3,000...We're going to need a bigger boat!"
They could have used the 15,500 seat Carver- Hawkeye Arena but using the bigger boat makes it harder to weed out the undesirables.

Still love him? Maybe not so much.

Obama’s approval has slipped steadily in Iowa since he carried the state in 2008 and after winning its lead off Democratic nominating caucuses that year.

Obama’s job approval in February was 46 percent in The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll. Approval of the president’s handling of health care reform was in worse shape, with 33 percent approving of his effort and a majority — 58 percent — disapproving.

Flotsam and Jetsam: Notable Quotables

Stating the Obvious: “First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama,” Al Sharpton

Cat Escapes Bag: "The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 (million) American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people." Congressman John Dingle (SP- MI)

Overheard on Fox News Watch: "Sean Penn is the product of the usual Hollywood disease, the delusion that star power gives them adequate mental capacity to live life much less to make political judgments."

March 23, 2010

Leave it to the Beaver

Obama Coming to Iowa City

The first stop on the Presidential Image Rehabilitation tour stops in Iowa's most liberal city to explain to the masses how great healthcare reform will be for them and theirs. I for one am giddy with excitement.

There is an on line application process to get tickets to this shindig so I will be surprised if I will be allowed within a mile of the University Field House on Thursday. In any event I will be in Iowa City for the festivities.

Up Next, Education Reform

Two weeks ago I attended an informational forum with Senator Tom Harkin, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Congressman Dave Loebsack and assorted local education types. The message, “Education reform is coming.”

Phase one was the takeover of the college loan market that was attached to healthcare bill without debate. The next phase includes a revamped No Child Left (NCLB) behind and an updating of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

There is no doubt that NCLB has been a disaster, and Duncan seemed in tune with those failings and seemed serious about refocusing priorities to deal with them. But the group was short on specifics and long on rhetoric specifically the vision of “education from cradle to career”, which was repeated several times by Harkin and Duncan in the course of their remarks.

According to Harkin parents can expect children to enter the school system at earlier ages, days will be longer, school years will be extended, and school facilities will become community centers for students and parents. According to the just released Blueprint for Reform there will also be renewed emphasis on things like music, physical education, history, and civics.

Unlike healthcare don’t expect to see much angst generated by education reform even though the impact can have far reaching social ramifications.

Update 11:00AM : Ed. Sec Duncan is just another Chicago Style Pol. Color me stunned! "Obama’s SecEd manipulated school lists to favor powerful:

While many Chicago parents took formal routes to land their children in the best schools, the well-connected also sought help through a shadowy appeals system created in recent years under former schools chief Arne Duncan.

Whispers have long swirled that some children get spots in the city’s premier schools based on whom their parents know. But a list maintained over several years in Duncan’s office and obtained by the Tribune lends further evidence to those charges. Duncan is now secretary of education under President Barack Obama.

The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan’s tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley’s office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogersand former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun…