Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick, Who is the New Miss USA?

Buehler...Buehler...Anyone know the answer?

OK, I'll give you a hint, the state has a direction in the name, and it isn't North Dakota or South Carolina?

Still can't figure it out? Here's another hint. This state is the home of NCAA Basketball Champions North Carolina? (Psst. It's not California.)

Give up. That's OK, no one else in America knows, including Miss USA and Donald Trump. Thanks to the agenda of one blogger (how is it possible that someone becomes famous from blogging?), Perez Hilton, the Miss USA pageant has become more irrelevant than it was before.

I'll admit, I didn't watch the pageant. Not only that I didn't even know it was on until I read the news the next day. In fact, my wife (who used to be in pageants) said to me when I told her about it, "They had a Miss USA pageant recently?"

Whoever the Miss USA really is has not been in the news at all. Every day though there are a half dozen new stories about runner-up Miss California. To say that she is the most famous runner up in history is an understatement. For example, the runner up to Vanessa Williams, who became Miss America when Vanessa resigned, is a complete unknown. But 2009 will go down in history as the year that Miss USA wasn't, but Miss California took it all.

Why this controversy? Because Mr. Hilton asked her a question about gay marriage and didn't like her answer. For your reading pleasure here is the question and the answer.

Perez:"Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage, do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"

Not a bad question I might add. It deals with a current issue and clearly forces the respondent to take a definite stand. No world peace answers possible for this. Personally, I think if pageants are trying to show that they are more than pretty girls who can strut in a bikini and heels then they need more hard hitting questions like this.

California:"Well I think it is great that Americans can choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage and you know what, in my country and in my family I think that I think that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."

This constitutes an "anti-gay" statement? We are now to assume that Miss California is a bigot because of this? Go back and read the answer (and the question). Some in the gay community are up in arms because they don't agree with her answer. She's not enlightened enough to realize that everyone supports gay marriage. There is no way she could represent America. Guess what? She doesn't. And Miss America doesn't either. More on that in a minute.

I think her answer stinks because it is very much like a politician. She never answered the question. OK, so she didn't botch it up like the girl from South Carolina a few years ago that couldn't find the US or Iraq on a map, but she never answered the question. The question can be answered in two parts. First, yes or no (to the question of should all states make gay marriage legal). I assume she means no, but never says it. Second, the reason why. "Because that is the way I was raised" is a lousy reason to be in favor or against gay marriage. It would have been better if she had have shown she understood what the country actually was, 50 individual states with laws of their own, governed by their own people, who happen to have different ideas and want to be goverened in different ways. In other words. No, each state should decide for themselves and while 4 states have decided (or their judges decided) that gay marriage is a right, more than 30 states have decided by constitutional amendment or statute that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Now that would have answered the question.

But this isn't the objections. Miss California is painted as anti-gay. Mr. Hilton goes on a name calling rant about her, which leads me to believe that no one would have scored points with him unless they came out in full support of gay marriage anytime, anywhere. Miss California's answer (while I still say it was a non-answer), does not contain any negative statements about gays or their lifestyle. She simply says she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Now for the real kicker. Having not watched anything else in the pageant, take the next bit with a grain of salt. In spite of Mr. Hilton admitting that he gave her 0 points for her answer. She still got first runner up. Which means, all of the other judges thought her answer was very appropriate (and some may have given her more points than the unknown winner). Plus, watching the video on Youtube, there is quite distinct cheering in the audience (positive supportive cheering) for her answer. I couldn't make out any boos. So a portion of the audience liked her answer too. (And that pesky fact about 30+ states not wanting gay marriage, so at least half of the populations of those states like her answer). Of course it is always possible that every other girl except the winner botched their question.

I read one article about how Miss California could sue for emotional trauma. I don't think she will. She showed that she was the classy one. Even her director's are being petty and saying that she shouldn't have answered that question that way. What? So, instead of promoting a girl who stands for what she believes, you want her to capitulate to whatever will "win her the crown?" So who has the higher standards? Frankly, if I was Miss USA (the one that won remember) I would consider suing Perez Hilton and the Miss California directors for making my title meaningless.

Let's go back to the point I made of why Miss USA and Miss America don't represent the US. From my wife I have learned a lot about the whole pageant genre. Miss America started out as a gimmick (yes, a gimmick) to try and get people to stay at the Atlantic City beach longer. What better way to do this then parade beautiful young girls in swimsuits (the bikini had not yet been invented).

After a few decades, the Miss USA pageant was started by a disgruntled sponsor (a swimwear company) because the Miss America winner wasn't going to wear their skimpy bathing suits. So while Miss America was trying to be the all american girl and added talent competition (to get away from the beauty pageant image and get towards a scholarship program, they didn't fool us). Miss USA on the other hand was all about being a model - which made their interview competition ridiculous, because who cares whether they have a brain if your goal is to get them on the runway). When this "representing America" idea came about I don't know, but it was so bad that at one event, an American flag wasn't present so they said the pledge of allegiance to Miss America (who was present). That seems a little creepy to me. I wonder what else the organizers forgot besides the flag. Common sense maybe?

In any event, Miss USA was about tasteful bikinis and Miss America was about one piece suits. They were still trying to project this good girl image. Then the ratings started falling off. Why? I have a theory. Before the middle of the 80's, the only time you were going to see a glimpse of beautiful girls in swimsuits was on the televised pageants. So husbands, boyfriends, and teenagers would gladly watch the first part with their wifes, girlfriends, and moms because it was all about showing a well rounded young lady. "Oh yeah, I agree, show me some more skin please." Sure every now and then Charlie's Angels or Magnum PI would have a beauty at the beach, but by and large, displays of swimwear were not shown on regular TV.

Then Baywatch came. All of the sudden our acting standards and our viewing standards plummetted. Now, we could watch girls in bikinis every week. And it only got worse. In the 90's partial nudity on TV became OK. Cable TV exploded, and the internet was beginning to come of age. Now we have Girls Gone Wild and reality TV to satiate our appetites.

During all of this, the pageant world was always a step behind. Miss America finally allowed two piece suits (although no belly button showing) and Miss USA's began using less and less material. As ratings sank further, they tried to play around with the format. Showing less bikini's ended up with even lower ratings. Eventually, Miss America lost their network contract and had to bounce around on third tier cable networks. They attempted a reality show, however lacked all of the conniving, backbiting, and general salaciousness of the other reality shows so it flopped. Both have resorted to string bikini's and within five years will be mandating Brazilian microkinis. Alas, both are so far behind the debauchery that can be seen on prime time TV that even that won't work.

In the midst of all of this is the scandals that have plagued them. While it should be expected, an organization involving hundreds or thousands of contestants is bound to have a few bad apples, it does make keeping the "good girl" image difficult. Vanessa mentioned before got kicked out for posing nude (before she was Miss America). Now, former playboy playmate Shanna Moakler is one of the California directors who criticized Miss California. So which is it? Do your organizations promote pornography or not?

You look at the recent items of pageant winners: drug use, underage drinking, pregnancy, raunchy photos, etc. and you begin to wonder, are there any "good girls" left in America? The answer of course is yes, and they don't even need to parade around in a bikini on national television to feel validated.

By the way, the winner was Miss North Carolina. Unfortunately, few people besides her friends and family know or care.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Movies That Made Me Dumber, Yet I Still Watched Them

We all know there are some movies we shouldn't watch. The ones that suck the braincells right out of our heads. These movies should never have been made in the first place. In fact, these movies are probably the reason why Canada never joined the United States - either that or they just love their toonies. Usually, I find myself watching these movies late at night, when I have been working all day and I can't sleep. Rarely does my wife or another family member watch them with me. They are much more sensible and avoid them at all costs. So here is my list of favorite movies that I should have never watched (OK, none of these movies would make my top ten, and if I can help it I will never watch any of them again).

The Marine - I think John Cena had 4 lines in the entire hour and a half. There was absolutely nothing plausible that happened in this movie, other than a marine having a great looking wife. After about 10 minutes, I could easily predict that the next scene would show a) something blowing up, b) Johnboy beating the snot out of someone (after getting ceremoniously whacked in the head), or c) John's wife making another lame attempt at escaping.

Any of the Bring It On movies - I can't count how many there were. But it seemed like for three months a couple of cable stations were playing these non-stop. OK, the first was stupid, then they insulted our intelligence by making another, then there was the third that had some "underground" cheerleading competition, and then yet another that was a West Side Story knockoff. I'll admit, in high school I watched the cheerleaders. I wanted to go on a date with one, but I was never in that crowd. One thing I did know is that female cheerleaders didn't date male cheerleaders.

The Scorpion King - I never did figure out the plot of this movie. I thought the point was to show Kelly Hu in as little clothing as possible and still not have an R rating. Of course the Rock was in it, so you know it had quality acting.

Any Jim Carey movie - OK, he may be funny sometimes, but only if you are in a juvenile, arm farting, putting crackers in your brother's bed type of mood. Plus it seems that most of his roles are all the same.

Any Adam Sandler movie - Adam Sandler plays a good dope. He plays them so much I am beginning to think that he is a dope in real life.

The Star Trek movie where they met God - This one was so bad, it is not even worth looking up what it was called. They should have stopped after 4, saving the whales was cool (see I can be into saving the environment too sometimes).

Employee of the Month - I just watched this last night with my wife. Who ever thought that Costco would ever be the stage for a movie. Jessica Simpson with big ears? Get real, the directors just wanted to show her cleavage. That and a Cashier's Lounge was so hilarious that no one could take this movie seriously.

The Cutting Edge 2 and 3 - I liked the first one, but when you have to readjust the timeline to make the second one, and that one has the exact same storyline (just a inline skater as opposed to a hockey player), and then we make a third that is exactly like the first just the male and female roles are switched. So much the same, you know they are going to fall in love, then break up the night before the chamipionship, then get back together and win the whole shebang. When I was a kid, trilogies (like Star Wars and Indiana Jones) didn't have the exact same freaking plot.

Doom - Another Rock movie. I was addicted to this game during my freshman year in college. I firmly believe movies should not be made based on videogames (Tombraider's only redeeming quality is Angelina Jolie in form hugging leather/spandex). Doom the movie was just predictable. And since it was suppose to be "scary," being predictable sucks.

The Princess and the Marine - A great modern day love story (based on actual events). And it ends with the disclaimer that the fairy tale couple got a divorce after 4 years. Gosh, if I had to sneak my wife out of her country, face a court martial, and have little in common with her other than "we love each other," I would never think that divorce is in our future. If you are in this situation, hire a good attorney.

Any 1800's movie on the prairie where the heroine doesn't have a rifle as a constant companion - My wife likes these movies, and they usually come on the Hallmark channel. And they are usually totally bogus. The most recent are the "Love Finds a Way Home" or some schlock like that. 10,000 years from now, when archealogists dig up our civilization if they find some working dvd player and these movies, they will hypothesize that in the 1800s, 90% of doctors were women that regularly had baths or showers. Either that or there was not dirt flying around. Not only that, all of the great inventions and discoveries were made in the wild west by these women doctors. Think of these as the movie versions of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Women (without the british accent). I can say that I am cheating when I put these on the list, since I didn't watch more than 15 minutes of it.

That's a good list to start. I may have to make another after six months. By then I will have had more time to watch dumb movies that are on at 2am.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why the Government Shouldn't be Involved in Compassion

Ever since Pres. Bush ran as a "Compassionate Conservative", this country was in big trouble. When the Founding Fathers crafted the constitution, they specifically designed a federal government that would stay out of the people's life's except for those few (and I mean few) things that only a federal government could provide (like national defense). If people wanted their state or local governments to devolve into socialism, that was their perogative, however, since the Founding Fathers were also some of the writers of those state constitutions, I doubt they intended for that to happen either.

Rather than bore you with the history of how our Republic has slowly eroded the foundation on which it was made (liberty for the people) to the point where we are at today (security for the people), I saw a story that perfectly illustrates why no government should be involved in compassion or charity.

Let me begin by saying that compassion and charity are good things, from a personal level. Charity is described in various religions as "pure love." All people should engage in charitable and compassionate acts. But they should never be compelled to. Government is entirely incapable of engaging in charity, because government has no resources of its own. All of its resources must first be taken from the people over which it governs, thereby compelling people to provide "charity."

The story linked above provides several examples of how a government system fails. The article talks of a government program that is designed to help poor people buy homes and put down roots. Guess what, it has failed. Here are some of the problems that the article alludes to, but doesn't discuss:

1) "The program was mandated by Congress in 1998 and has little oversight" When I engage in charity, I have a lot of oversight into how my money is spent. This is because I review over the program before I give the money. I don't give to everyone that asks for money. I believe that charitable organizations can best be able to gather money by ensuring their organization is such that the majority of funds donated are actually used for charitable work (i.e. building homes, feeding hungry, providing medical care). This may entail hiring the services of qualified business managers and accountants so that documentation can be provided to show how this is being done. If people are willing to donate time for this all the better. I donate money to organizations that are well developed and have a good history of helping others. They can have administrative costs, but if any organization has more than 25% of their donations going to administrative costs, then they are grossly innefficient and I wouldn't want to donate to them.
Frankly, government doesn't care. There is no incentive to better the program, it was probably put in to buy a vote or two anyway, and the lack of oversight indicates that Congress doesn't feel it is important enough to have more people on it. Sort of like the $2000 "gift" cards they gave out after Katrina. Nothing says fraud better than lack of oversight.

2) "A federal program designed to help poor families ... has actually been lining the pockets of investors and contractors." While some may think they live in a utopia, the fact is we do not. We never will. Not only that, the person who is in it for a profit will always find "loopholes" in any laws. The larger the profit, the more motivation to find the loopholes. Government is completely defenseless against this because they simply cannot close "loopholes" or make new laws fast enough. In a lot of cases, the loopholes were specifically written into the laws (i.e. people or businesses with money paying off their elected officials). The more laws (i.e. power) that government is given, the more corruption there is. Governments with absolute power (dictatorships) also have the most corruption. When government has little power or authority, people and businesses are stuck with matching wits against another person or business who is also trying to make money. In the end, they both have to compromise some, but will probably be much better off. When people or businesses look to government for money, the government will usually lose. Since they aren't in it for the money, there is no real incentive for them. They are there to hand out the money according to the rules. If someone meets the rules, they get the money, it doesn't matter if the rules are fair or stupid. In this case, it appears some enterprising people decided to read the law and regulations, and found out a way they could get some cheap houses. The articles doesn't say that the people did anything illegal.

3) "
The program allows local governments to buy homes for $1 to fix and resell them at a discount to poor families." $1 for a home means you are getting a crappy home. The land alone for most homes is several thousands of dollars. The actual money for these homes is coming from somewhere (We the People). So the federal government is buying homes from banks and selling them to local governments for $1, thereby taking a loss on the property. Let's pretend your in charge of this program and you have $1 million. You want more money for your program the next year, so you need to show Congress that you have actually done something. Which makes more sense buying 5 $200,000 homes, and being able to say you helped out 5 families, or buying 20 $50,000 homes and saying that you helped 20 families?
So the homes are cheap to begin with, probably in disrepair from foreclosure, perhaps with vagrants living in them, maybe some code issues. Now, you are handing them over to a local government to fix up and repair. What do they know? They enforce the code. They don't necessarily know what is looks good for the neighborhood. Not only that, since they bought the homes for $1, they don't have a lot of money sunk into the cost of the home so they really don't need to pay attention to the repair prices (i.e. contractors doing the repairs may cost more). Then they sell the homes to "needy" families. Or contractors or investors that found a loophole. These people in turn sell the homes at two or three times their cost, or the actual market value. If people are paying actual market value in San Bernadino, CA, then you don't have any poor people living there.

4) And finally, we get to the apex of the story: "
Jerry and Carol Ptacek told the Times that they bounced from one cramped apartment to another most of their adult lives before they bought a $63,000 home in San Bernardino through the program. But they say the home needed so many repairs, and between choosing bad loans and gambling losses, they ended up as renters again." This part is very informative in so many ways. To begin, I will assume that the Ptacek's bought their house from the local government (not some evil contractor selling at fair market value).
"they bounced from one cramped apartment to another" This is a sign of someone who doesn't have a stable job (moving all around), doesn't pay their bills (evicted), causes problems for the landlord (not following rules), and has too much stuff for their income (living on credit).
"they say the home needed so many repairs" Two things you can take away from this, a) the city did a horrible job of "fixing" up the place, or the more likely scenario based on the issue above b) the Ptacek's didn't realize that there is no landlord to call to fix the clogged drain. Here is a clue to all new homeowners. Things break. Your responsible. Some people decide they don't want to be and that is why they rent. If you decide to own your home, you get the mortgage deduction and the broken water heater.
"between choosing bad loans and gambling losses" OK, now we get to the crux of their problems. They are poor (because that is what this program is suppose to help), and their gambling losses are significant enough to affect their house payments. Newsflash: Poor people shouldn't gamble. Actually, only stupid people gamble, but if you have the money to lose, go for it (after all, the money is for education), that is one less tax I have to pay. Choosing bad loans is your own fault. If you don't understand the paperwork you are signing, then don't sign it. Perpetually poor people are so because they make bad decisions with money. No amount of government (or private) assisstance will change that. Most everyone starts out poor, then they move up as their job skills and experience improve. One of the reasons why banks (before the housing bubble) required a significant down payment was a) to show that you were serious about saving up that money, and b) so you had a stake in the game that you weren't just going to walk away from. Poor people buying houses with no down payment shows neither. So are we suprised that they then can't afford the payment later?

5) The last thing that remains untold in this is that local governments are putting "poor" people into homes that should be selling for 2 to 3 times as much. So we will take the Ptacek's as an example. They bought the home from the government (presumably) for $63000. Which means it was probably worth $125000 to $180000. We'll just assume $125,000. Do we really think that putting someone who can afford $63000 in a neighborhood of $125000 is a good idea. They already have a track record of making bad financial decisions. Now they see that the Jones' next door just bought a new Jetski. So, they need to keep up. And the Smith's across the street have much nicer furniture, so that needs to be updated. Only problem is, the Ptacek's don't have the money. So all of it is bought on credit, until it comes crashing down and they lose the house (which might be bought again by the city for another $1). I don't know if that is exactly what happened, but if you are trying to live above your means, its going to happen.

So let's not have the government try to sell houses to poor people. They don't know what they are doing, and the poor people can't afford it anyway. While we are at it, if we could just get rid of all of the compassion in the government, we might not have to complain about high taxes and overspending.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tea Party in America, No Thanks!

The Tea Party movement is under way. People send their elected officials bags of tea. Then they meet together on April 15th to ... protest? Where has this country come to? They obviously don't understand what the purpose of the Boston Tea Party was. And more than likely they don't understand that they are part of the very problem they are protesting.

Let's start with the Boston Tea Party. It was a direct result of the taxes that Parliament imposed in the 1760s and 1770s on the colonists. British law allowed that people could only be taxed by representatives they elected. Since the colonists didn't elect Parliament, they felt they should not be subject to Parliament's taxes. Hence, no taxation without representation.

Last time I checked, everyone of the elected officials in America (except a few appointed Senators right now) was elected - I know that is redundant. So, we may not like the representation we have, but that is who was elected (unless you still cling to the idea that Bush stole the Florida election). All of our taxes have been levied by our elected representatives. How did they do this? They bought us off with roads, bridges, health care, and earthworm museums.

OK, but the Boston Tea Party was also a symbolic protest. Actually, no. It was a rather active protest. All of the symbolic protest had been going on in Fanueil Hall for months. Thousands of people met and discussed what needed to happen. They even stationed a group at the harbor to prevent the ships from unloading the tea. However, this is not what is remembered in America. What is remembered is the direct action that only a small percentage of the protestors took. About 100 men boarded the ships and dumped the tea in the harbor. In other words, they destroyed the private property of the East India Company. It was illegal. And it made a statement.

Now, lest anyone accuse me of being unpatriotic, let me state that I fully support the actions they took. My point is that the current "Tea Parties" are nothing more than a toned down version of Fanueil Hall. Actually, probably more like a mini rock concert where people can go and assuage their anger, then come back to their normal lives. Not only that, they are protesting the massive spending that our government is engaged in. What made the Boston Tea Party effective, is there was a direct loss of revenue to the government and corporation that had colluded to tax the colonists. With the present day Tea Parties, all we are doing is giving our elected representatives a free cup of Earl Grey.

If you don't like the spending of the government, the only way to change it is to "vote the bums out." So, let me ask some rhetorical questions of the protestors:

Do you write to your congressman and representative regularly (and I don't mean copying and pasting some form letter for the cause du jour)?

Did you vote for your current representatives (i.e. or are you always complaining about the ones from Massachusetts and California)?

Do you support the abolishment of the Social Security and Medicare system (if you want to cut spending, you might as well start with the big boys)?

Do you support cutting Foodstamps, subsidized housing, unemployment payments, and the EITC?

Can you live without the federal funds for the Goat Herder's Museum in Butte, MT?

Are you prepared for the initial changes in unemployment and market panic that would result if the government decided to stop spending so much money tomorrow?

Do you suck at the teat of the federal government?

Let's be honest. A lot of the spending the federal government does provides a blanket and pacifier to Americans who for the last 60 years have said they don't want to be responsible for themselves. They care about security and comfort more than liberty and freedom. Is it any wonder that only half of Americans favor capitalism over socialism? My guess is they don't even know what the difference between the two is anymore.

So to all of you who are protesting on April 15th, go ahead and do so. I wish you (and all protestors) inclement weather to help sort out those who actually believe in your cause. As for me, I think I will visit the gun store (exercise my constitutional rights), do some landscaping (improve the property which I own), and do some work on some business ideas my wife and I have (our retirement). Oh and did I mention, all of these activities will involve spending private capital to help boost our economy. When your protesting, at least by an extra latte so the economy doesn't suffer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Too Good to Be True!

Well, Pelosi's last comments on the Scary Black Rifle Ban were too good to be true ( So this is definitely going to jack up prices on AR-15s. Pretty soon, the only affordable scary black rifles will be the Romanian or Bulgarian kind (which I like better anyway).
While the tea party things going on are ok, take a stand and help out the economy at the same time. Participate in Buy a Gun Day ( on April 15th. If you would like a recommendation, let me know (I'll have to ask my wife if I can add a .22 pistol to my collection, their only about $200-300 dollars). Wouldn't it be great if there were no firearms for sale in the US because they were purchased by law abiding citizens the moment they were put on the shelf.
Also, be sure to send $10 bucks to the pizza shop owner in Akron, OH who showed good judgement in using his concealed carry weapon. If I lived in Akron, I would go buy a pizza. I don't think he delivers to where I live, but I can send him the money for it anyway. Here is his address ( And the story (

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Joys of Children

People without children probably think that parents are rather weird. They give you odd looks in the grocery store as you buy 27 boxes of cereal and think that you are stocking up for armageddon. No, the kids will eat through this in under a month and I'll be back so you can laugh at me again. I thought I would put down some experiences that I have had with my kids, that parents will relate to, and non-parents will just scratch your head.

Identity theft is a real worry in today's world. So having a shredder in the house is important. And since it makes noise, and turns paper into confetti, it is a natural attractant to children. I have made the mistake of teaching my kids how to use the shredder and then letting them shred a pile of papers. The only problem comes when they have completed the pile and start seeking other things to shred. Refund checks are a prime target. As are receipts needed to get the refund. Or tax documents. Or any other document that you don't want to spend hours taping together.

Kids today grow up with technology that past generations never had. Computers, DVD players, VCRs, iPods are standard items that kids have around their house. Of course, until they are much older, none of them realize that the VCR can not be played with in the same way as the cardboard box. My son found this out when he shoved a pancake in the VCR and tried to play it. After recovering the pancake, the VCR still played videos, except it only had sound, no picture. But if you fast forwarded it, you could see the picture (just no sound).

Taking baths is something all of my kids have enjoyed. Just remember to always supervise them. I left my daughter unsupervised for a few minutes when my son crawled into the bathroom. My daughter proceeded to take cupfuls of water and throw them across the bathroom at my son. Both of them loved this and were laughing and giggling. I however was not as I mopped up the bathroom.

Knowing your law enforcement personnel is important. In fact, 1 year olds are entirely capable of dialing 911. The 911 operators are not so understanding, and then lectured my wife about keeping the phone away from the kids. Huh? You never had kids lady, did you? Maybe if your number was 7389499326893409, then my son wouldn't call you.

My other son decided to leave the house and walk across the street while visiting the grandparents. So, the cops were called, entered the house and found my wife packing up to go home upstairs, now mortified, that a police officer was in the house and our son was not.

Church is the perfect place for inappropriate comments. During a quiet, spiritual part of the meeting, I look over and my son has his hand in his pants. I very quietly whisper to him to take his hand out. He only has two voices, loud and yelling. In his loud voice he responds, "But Dad, my penis is getting bigger." I am rushing to simultaneously try to shut him up and remove his hand, and he quips again, "Really Dad, my penis is getting bigger." So much for the spiritualness of that meeting. The families around us covered their mouths and chuckled and I silently prayed that their kids would have something to say the next week.

There is nothing like going on vacation. Especially if, 4 hours into the 8 hour car ride, your youngest decides to throw up all over the car. Not to be outdone, while coming home a few days later, the second youngest pukes their guts all over the rest of the car. And then, since the car seems to really like puke, one of the kids your wife picks up for an activity chucks their cookies. If we ever sell our car, do we have to say that people barfed in it three times within 2 weeks.

Art is an important skill for children to learn. A couple days before we moved, our daughter was excited to let us know that she had drawn an airplane. She took us to see. Sure enough on the hallway wall we had just painted two days before, was a large mural of an airplane. In ballpoint pen. If you have ever tried to paint over pen, it bleeds through. Three coats of primer and two coats of paint later, the wall was back to normal. And all of the pens were hidden.

Science is something you hope your kids will learn as they get holder. Sometimes they want to start early. I was remodeling and had left a live wire hanging out of a wall. I had purposely clipped the metal to the plastic, and each of the three conductors was cut at a different length (so they wouldn't accidentally touch. My son decided it would be a good idea to touch all three wires to the bundt pan. Lots of sparks and no electricity later, he decided that he didn't want to learn about electrons that early.

Counting can be fun, especially if it involves food. We made cupcakes for a party and left them on the counter to cool. My son pushed the chair up to the counter so he could count the cupcakes. I guess he wanted to make sure he didn't double count because every one had a finger sized hole in the middle.

All this, and my kids haven't yet learned about explosives and fire!

90% Myth

90% of Guns in Mexico from US
When I first heard this statistic a month or so ago, I new it was bogus from the beginning. The proof was in the article. Every article invariable talked about how the Mexican police and military were finding themselves outgunned.
Fact #1, if you are buying your weapons on the civilian US market, there is no possible way you are going to "outgun" a military force of anything but the most unarmed country (the island of Nauru comes to mind). Drug cartels are using fully automatic weapons, grenades, and shoulder fired rockets to fight against the Mexican government. While having some of this firepower might be fun to shoot on a weekend, you cannot get it in any gun show or gun store in the US. While you may be able to acquire one of the few fully automatic weapons on the market, you better have $15K to $50K and be prepared for a full body cavity search by the ATF.

Of the several stories I read, the 90% myth was stated in different ways. "90% of guns used to kill police", "90% of all guns in Mexico", "90% of guns used by drug runners", "90 of guns recovered from crime scenes", etc, etc. All of these are wrong, if not flat out lies. Fact #2, 5114 of the 29000 guns that the Mexican government recovered in a two year period were traced to the US. What does that mean? It means at some point they passed through the US. What I would really be interested in is the breakdown by make of gun. So where do they get the 90% value from?
Well, 5114 is 90% of guns that were able to be traced. Huh? You see, the US makes more firearms than any other country. They also have the best tracking (i.e. serial numbering) system for guns in the world. So if a firearm is made by a licensed manufacturer, or imported by a manufacturer, regardless of where the firearm finally ended up, there would be paperwork tracing it to the US. Because of this probably 90% of all traceable firearms could be traced to the US. The other 10% could probably be traced to Switzerland, Israel, Germany, France and other countries that use a serial number tracking system. It may come as a shock, but a bad guys know that guns have serial numbers which can be traced. So they file them off, or if making guns themselves, don't put them on in the first place.

Well could 90% of firearms be coming from the US? It's possible, although unlikely. The US Defense Department and State Department sells thousands of firearms (including the fully automatic kind) to countries all over the world. We don't track what happens to them after they are sold. So it is entirely likely that some third world country we supplied arms to in the past is now selling those arms to the cartels because they need cash.
But that isn't the likely scenario. Here is the likely scenario. The most popular rifle in the world (heck the most popular firearm) is the AK-47. Why? It is rugged, reliable, and relatively inexpensive to produce. There are approximately 60 million AK-47 (full auto) of the 600 million privately owned firearms in the world (which would include the cartels). AK-47s can be made by just about anyone. I know, that may seem odd, but there is nothing high tech about fully automatic firearms. The technology is more than 100 years old. Some springs, some levels, a tube, put it together and you have a firearm. Don't believe me? AK-47s have been found that were cobbled together in crude workshops in the mountains of Afganistan. There are no complex toolings needed to make an AK-47. Its not rocket science. So that leaves the cartels with a few options: A) They can be buying and smuggling these weapons from a country (i.e. China, Iran, North Korea, etc.), B) They could be buying and smuggling these weapons from an organization (i.e. al Qaida), C) They could be making the weapons themselves.

Oh yeah, and then there is the other likely place they are getting these weapons. The Mexican government (who got them from the US). When soldiers/policemen desert they could take their weapons with them. Corrupt officials could sell the weapons onto the black market. Weapons caches could be raided. Or you can actually believe that the cartels have hundreds or thousands of straw purchasers in the US who are spending anywhere from $300 - $1500 per gun and then smuggling them into Mexico (I mean it makes perfect sense that someone would pay $1500 for a semi-automatic AR-15 which jams whenever you get a grain of sand in it, when the other option is a $200 fully automatic AK-47 from Nigeria that never jams, even when buried in the mud. I also have some prime resort real estate in the northern parts of Saskatchewan to sell you for only $5000 per acre.)

Are some guns from the civilian market in the US making their way to Mexico? Yeah, but I would wager that they are primarily handguns - used either as a sidearm backup or as a status symbol for the cartel members (several expensive firearms have very little military use, but like a Mercedes or Rolex can be a status symbol). Firearms from the US civilian market are not being used in the vast majority of firefights that you hear about in the news.