Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Holmes Travel Round Up

Time for a quick dispatch from the desk of Holmes.

Early June: I took part in our stake youth conference in Nauvoo. It was a great spiritual and educational experience. Doing baptisms and confirmations with the youths in the restored temple was probably the highlight. The church has done a phenomenal job creating a host of fun, free activities that will appeal to families.

Mid-June: I spent one week at Quivira Scout Ranch. QSR is located in the beautiful Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. I enjoyed the chance to put in some significant time birding. It's been several years since I've put in a good birding trip. I picked up two lifers: Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe. I spotted what I thought were two cuckoos but they were gone before I could get a species ID. (I still haven't seen a cuckoo.)

Late June: We had our Holmes family reunion in the upper Shenandoah Valley. My family flew into Raleigh, NC so we could see old friends. The drive through Virginia was gorgeous (rural VA is high on my favorite places list). The reunion was sweet. One highlight was getting my dad to climb in an inner tube and float down the Shenandoah River with my brothers (sans Rich who is now located in Trinidad & Tobago). My right sandal fell apart within the first five minutes in the river and most of our tubes went flat well before our take-out point. The river was slow enough that we (except bro-in-law Mat) headed for the highway rather than trying to swim and walk the edge of the river. Mat caught a ride with some canoers down to our car and was able to pick us all up on the highway. I love it when a plan comes together! Hoo-ah!

C'mon I'll Give You Some Chips

I know this is old news--okay two months old--but I started it over a month ago and just hadn't got around to posting it.

What does this (starting at about 0:33)

have to do with this?

If you guessed "C'mon I'll give you some chips" = "Do you realize that you are eligible for a $400 tax credit" then you win. If this was a labor, environmental, pro-immigration or women's rights protest she wouldn't be challenging the protesters (can you imagine?). But since it is a "conservative" protest she has to throw in her devil's advocate comments instead of letting the guy finish a sentence. This graphic (taken from the Washington Post) explains rather succinctly the impetus behind the tea parties. (Go here for commentary from the Heritage Foundation.)

"C'mon American public, give me your GDP. Don't worry, I'll give you some chips." If only Pedro could offer us his protection. Contrast the above graphic with this screenshot from the Orwellian Office of Management and Budget homepage.

A New Era of Responsibility!?!?! (C'mon, I'll give you some chips.) I'll admit that Bush and the Republican congress spent like drunken sailors during his two terms. Federal expenditures increased from $1.79 trillion to $2.90 trillion (62%) between fiscal years 2000 and 2008. As a percentage of GDP, expenditures increased from 18.4% to 20.0% (GPO data here). But if even more of the same equals a a new era of responsibility then I am getting worried. The sheer size of these numbers are frightening. To put this in perspective, let's look at the projected $1.85 trillion federal deficit for FY2009. According to GPO data, the estimated GDP for 2008 was $14.52 trillion. Assuming GDP is not growing (technically it's shrinking since that is the definition of a recession), the deficit will equal at least 12.7% of GDP and the total projected budget ($2.99 trillion) will equal at least 20.6% of GDP. (According to one source, when you throw in state and local spending the share to government is 44% of GDP.) Here's another graph from the CBO that may add some additional perspective.

Realistically, I think inflation will be the only way to pay for federal over-spending. Significant tax increases seem politically risky and any significant cuts in spending are politically impossible (and there is no indication that the Obama administration is even considering them). It seems that the only way to make these debts go away is to slowly--or quickly--inflate them away and hope that folks don't notice their decreasing standard of living (or at least don't notice until through the next election cycle).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Please forgive a lefty entry...

...but this is mildly amusing

The rest of the segment goes on a bit too long, but how did the Gingrich people miss this one? Isn't it this sort of comment and mentality that drive moderate republicans nuts? How is alienating ourselves from 'the world' a good thing? Will I ever stop asking rhetorical questions?

ALSO, as a follow up to my last post, Nike has done away with most of the 'Most Valuable Puppets' commercials during the finals (for, perhaps, obvious reasons) but these two still run during the games.

This is a good move by Nike, not totally taking the puppets off, but rather showing one that highlights Kobe, and one that very amicably deals with the fact that Lebron ISN'T THERE!

But here are three ideas for puppet commercials that I wish we would see.

1. Kobe and Lebron playing video games, a big puppet who looks like Shaq, but is never identified as such, comes in and grovels to Kobe telling him he washed and waxed his car. When Kobe asks if he put on two coats of wax the big puppet sighs and walks out of the apartment.

2. The Lebron Puppet states that if he had Gasol, Odom, Ariza, and Phil Jackson as his coach he would have won the finals three weeks ago. Whereas if Kobe had the Cavs supporting cast Lebron would have lost in the first round. ALL DE TIME!

3. A Dwight Howard puppet moves in and kicks Lebron out. This scenario basically happened with this Vitaminwater add.

There you go Nike, three freebies. You're welcome.