Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trabant Health Care

In a 2007 comparison of socialism and capitalism we enjoy a luxury not available in the earliest days as the contest between these two systems began. We have the perspective of history, and the evidence is in. The icons and detritus of 70-plus years of European experimentation tell the tragi-comic story of centralized economic control, over against the legacy of capitalism and competition.

Despite all its excesses and unfulfilled promises, economic freedom always tends toward greater political freedom and a better quality of life—and better quality stuff—for all. Sadly, the evidence of history is opaque to many on the Hillary Rodham/Obama left. They seem determined and doomed to repeat the worst of it.

Here's a snapshot of the difference. Forget macro-economic theory for a moment and picture instead two iconic German automobiles, side by side, one representing the socialist East and one the democratic West, both created and built by Germans, shown here in their c. 1990 end-of-cold-war editions. The Mercedes, of course, is legendary for quality, performance, luxury and engineering innovation all the world over. Stats are readily available, say no more.

Consider the less widely known East German Trabant.
• under-powered 2 cylinder, 2 cycle engine
• noisy, smelly, polluting
• 0-60 in 21 seconds
• notoriously unreliable brakes
• essentially unchanged over 30 years of production
• in demand, but about all that was available to East Germans outside the Party elite
• acquired by application to be put on a waiting list
• engineered and produced by state-owned monopoly (single-payer manufacturing?)
• competitor of the Yugo

Question: What could possibly cause one group of Germans (as a nation among the most brilliant engineers and industrialists in modern history) to produce something so pathetic while their Western brethren gave us Mercedes, VW, BMW and Audi?

You know the answer. Then think about what'll happen when government monopolizes health care; when the clattering, sputtering, smoke-spewing specially modified Trabant ambulance pulls up to your door...a week late.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Old Dog Learns New Trick

My lovely bride presented me with one of these as an anniversary gift earlier in the week, and I'm having fun! It's the 8 gig model and I'm told it will hold my entire CD collection. I'm rediscovering some gems as I load them up in iTunes. It also works great for my growing collection of sermons old and new. This is cool.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fun With Pronounce-iation In the Midwest

I think it was the great Diana Ross guest-judging on American Idol (whose performance on that show would not have gotten her past round one were she not the great Diana Ross) who admonished the young contenders that in the delivery of a song it is utterly crucial to "pronounce-iate." Apparently nobody told Michael McDonald that back in the '80s.

What I'm offering here is a beginning list of common, locally observed eccentricities and oddities in our use of the language. Lest anybody think I'm on too high a horse, let me assure you I'm a Minnesohtan and I talk like one. I've had a Californian ask me if I was a Canadian (ouch!) and a Floridian inquire about my farming business—after only a brief introduction and minimal conversation. Also, any hypocrisy will be immediately and mercilessly pointed out by those who know me and read this.

So here they are, grouped in beginning categories for your enjoyment and emendation.
(Readers' additions in blue)

Too Many Syllables for Us
probably = probbly
comfortable = kumpfterbull
incidentally = incidently
didn't = dint
shouldn't = shunt

We Want More Syllables
nuclear = nuculer (Jimmy Carter, though not a Midwesterner,
loved to remind us that he was a "nuculuh" physicist)
athletic = athaletic
realty = reelahty and then, of course...
realtor = reelahter
pastoral = pastorial
oriented = orientated
regardless = irregardless

Vowel Trouble
milk = melk
since = sense
pillow = pellow
The short "i" sound bedevils us even to the point of confusion about definitions—for example, insure and ensure are the same word...we're pretty sure).
get = git (The Bumbling Genius notes this as a Southern phenom, but it's ours too.)

Diphthong Difficulties
about = a boat (owing perhaps to a subconscious preoccupation with lakes and fish)
about = a boot (the closer you get to the Canadian border and really nice lakes and fish)
jaguar = jagwire (for the English it's three syllables: jag-you-war...we prefer jagwire)
counselor = cahnseler (our continuing difficulty with vowel combinations)
Incidently, many Minnesotans believe a diphthong to be an immodest swimsuit, inappropriate attire for camp cahnselers or anyone else.

Double (Consonant) Trouble
February = Febuary (that bru is just too hard to say, particularly outdoors in Febuary)
statistics = stastistics (just too dang many s's and t's to keep straight)
espresso = expresso
escape = exscape (thinking, I suppose, of the exit sign under which we make our exscape)
ornament = ordament (maybe we've just always got a head cold)
jewelry = julery

Confusion With Other More Familiar Words
tract = track (some in my son's former youth ministry insisted that the little pamphlets keep you "on track" and are therefore "tracks")
rapport = repore (falls somewhere between the the exotic French "rapport" and our word "report" with which we're more kumpfterbull, so we'll stick with repore)
pundit = pundant, as in "political pundant"
That last one is a little like "pendant", the piece of julery you wear on a chain around your neck. You could never wear a pundit on a chain around your neck—unless maybe Dick Morris or Robert Raiche.

Inexplicable Changes and Additions
NASA = always Nassau, as in Bahamas
et cetera = eck cetera
familiar = fermillyer
valentine = valentime (mostly a Mr. T foible)

Eck Cetera
Not pronunciation per se, but curious usage and habit.
"the thing is..." = "the thing is is..." (We're never quite sure how many verbs-to-be there ought to be in this phrase. One is is is enough.)
old fashioned = old fashion (even when used as an adjective)
loan = borrow "will you borrow me your pencil?"

To be continued. Feel free to add, correct and comment!

Monday, June 11, 2007

What I've Learned from Direct TV

The satellite dish was for us a new window on the world of television and I've learned a number of things since subscribing.

1. That the price per month is never actually as low as promised.

2. That most programming is banal and boring and now I have many more banal and boring options

3. That even without any pay channels or movie channels, television is becoming increasingly corrupt.

4. That some of the most dangerous and corrupt television is to be found on the "Christian" channels. In the name of the Gospel and in the precious name of Christ, every sort of snake oil salesman and peddler and prosperity-gospel polluter and buffoon can now be found on satellite TV, making a mockery of Christ and driving a wedge between the Gospel and those who desperately need to hear it. Christian television is in a sorry state indeed.

God in His providence has made available a variety of assets to the proclamation of His Gospel: Roman roads and the Greek language in the 1st century, improvements in transportation and the printed word throughout the centuries. What an unspeakable tragedy that the unprecedented technological opportunity of broadcasting has been so universally co-opted and squandered by the current scourge of television "evangelists." Believers everywhere need to pray fervently that almost all "Christian" programming as it now is would just simply disappear.

Here is a short but powerful reminder of what's at stake: