Monday, September 29, 2008

1 month update

So, its been about a month since I proposed to Amber. You can read about all the wedding planning progress on the wedding website Amber does. But for me, this mostly means we've been exercising and eating better (I hesitate to use the word "diet" as it connotes something transient) for a month now. All the health-nut crowd will tell you, "Oh, you'll feel so much better!" and, "You'll have so much more energy!"

Well I call shenanigans on this propaganda. Having done this for a month, I feel awful. Stuff aches all the time. Its harder to get out of bed in the morning. I'm always hungry and always tired. I felt a lot better when I was willingly and blissfully unhealthy. Good news is Amber and I are both down 12 pounds, which while it sounds good is still a depressingly low percentage for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Taking Your Lumps

As a ravid college football fan, I'm often confronted with skeptical types who believe enthusiasm of that level to be an obvious misplacement of priorities. After reflection, I think such emotional investment in something is neither inherently good or bad. Rather, its one's reactions that determine the dividends of the investment.

For another year, I'll be deep in enemy territory trying to take the talk of LSU fans in stride, especially of the next two days: tomorrow at church, and Monday at work. In addition, I have to eat an LSU-branded piece of meat at Jared's at some point soon. And even though I've wore all my stuff and flown my flags high, I still have to wear orange and blue the next two days and congratualte every football fan who brings the topic up on a great game.

I think I disagree with the dismissive response to such a devastating loss. "Oh, it's just a game." Well, it surely is a game, but it would be obvious self-deception to pretend my emotional investment didn't make it something larger. One can't just sweep that emotion under the rug. And taking my lumps sucks.... big time. I don't like doing it. But life is a great long run of stuff you don't want to do.

In judging whether my investment is misplaced, we have to ask whether the ultimate effect on me is beneficial or or determintal. And I am fairly convinced that we as humans can ALWAYS benefit from a humbling experience. I don't know how 8-year-old Jonny would have taken it. The Braves' annual choking in the postseason reeked enough havock on me back then even without a sea of rival fans around me. But now I know exactly how this will play out for me. And perhaps I have this practice in misplaced priorities to thank for that certainty.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crazy Khrushchev

At the height of the cold war, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev had a famous incident wherein he took off his shoe and banging on the table shouted, "Your children will grow up in communism!" Surely, this must have felt like a moment of triumph for the powers-that-were in the U.S. at the time. If this was their opponent's most eloquent argument, the West would certainly prevail. Well, it's been about a generation since, why don't we check in on old Niki's prognostications.

So what separated us greedy capitalists from the dirty commies? If this were Family Feud, I'd try to convince you all take make our final guess "free markets." But how free are they? Two government-chartered lending institutions who hold a vast majority of the U.S.'s mortgages have found themselves in deed poo. Bailouts are always tricky things. How does anyone learn from bad decisions if the government now provides a safety net? Where's the incentive for wise decision making then? But these two jokers didn't just get a bailout. Oh no. Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum here got straight-up taken over by the Feds. That sounds like a fact you here on NPR and barely give it a second thought, but let that soak in for a second. Uncle Sam (or Big Brother Samuel as Tom and I call him) now owns something like 70% of the homes in America technically. (And Bill Clinton said the era of big government was over.) But the fun hasn't stopped there. Now congress is talking about establishing some department to take on even more of these private companies' bad mortgages.

I propose Niki was not a raving fool. I think he understood something most American are blind to, being this: government's primary behavior is always to sustain and expand itself. And whatever new role or power it undertakes, it never relinquishes. Even a country founded as purly on the principle of self-governance as America needs but a few hundred years of crises before the masses clamor for the federal government to assume greater and greater roles. This is how liberty dies, not with a dramatic, punctuated, and obvious conflict, but through the unintended consequences of well-meaning knee-jerk reactions.

I fear we may be only years away from a law stating mortgages may only be handed out by the federal government. (For our protection of course.) And then, I feel a certain Mr. Khrushchev's sour countenance will change to victorious grin in his grave.