Jim's Blog

Thoughts and Happenings

Great Ramirez cartoon–Media guide to Laughner

Posted by Jim Rector on January 13, 2011

About sums it up.

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More Ramirez cartoons.

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Refreshing balance to the AZ tragedy – Op-ed

Posted by Jim Rector on January 11, 2011

United in Horror – Ross Douthat, NY Times

I’m not normally much of a fan of the NY Times but in this case I think the writer provides great balance to all the vitriol going around from both sides.

It’s possible that Jared Lee Loughner, the young man behind Saturday’s rampage in Tucson, will have a more direct connection to partisan politics than an earlier generation’s gunmen did….But chances are that Loughner’s motives will prove as irreducibly complex as those of most of his predecessors in assassination.

This won’t stop partisans from making hay out of Saturday’s tragedy, of course. The Democratic operative who was quoted in Politico saying that his party needs “to deftly pin this on the Tea Partiers” was just stating the obvious: after a political season rife with overheated rhetoric from conservative “revolutionaries,” the attempted murder of a Democratic congresswoman is a potential gift to liberalism.

But if overheated rhetoric and martial imagery really led inexorably to murder, then both parties would belong in the dock. (It took conservative bloggers about five minutes to come up with Democratic campaign materials that employed targets and crosshairs against Republican politicians.) When our politicians and media loudmouths act like fools and zealots, they should be held responsible for being fools and zealots. They shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.

We should remember, too, that there are places where mainstream political movements really are responsible for violence against their rivals. (Last week’s assassination of a Pakistani politician who dared to defend a Christian is a stark reminder of what that sort of world can look like.) Not so in America: From the Republican leadership to the Tea Party grass roots, all of Gabrielle Giffords’s political opponents were united in horror at the weekend’s events. There is no faction in American politics that actually wants its opponents dead.

Balanced words in my opinion.

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Screenshot of the day

Posted by Jim Rector on January 9, 2011

The Daily Kos has been busy scrubbing all posts (one including the word “dead”) related to Rep. Giffords in an effort to change history. Something they do often. They were a little too late on a post featuring a "bulls eye” they put on Giffords back in June of 08. Guess all the media dweebs were a little too quick to put the blame on Palin. Stinks when their own words come back to bite them.

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Quick update: Jared Loughner, Alleged Shooter in Gabrielle Giffords Attack, Described by Classmate as "Left-Wing Pothead"

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Obama the fiscal conservative?

Posted by Jim Rector on January 7, 2011

President Obama has taken a great stand for fiscal responsibility but coming out against attempts to raise the debt ceiling. Here’s what he said:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Psych! Not really. Well, not really in 2011 but this was an exact quote of then Senator Obama in 2006. And the debt ceiling was only $9 trillion at the time. Not the paltry $14.3 trillion of today. I guess in his world $9 trillion then was a huge problem. Well evidently not anymore. The debt ceiling today is 60% higher than the one Obama said was “a sign of leadership failure” just five years ago. Obama’s economic advisor Austan Goolsbee basically said the sky will fall if Congress doesn’t raise the limit.

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The Obama of 2006 makes a lot more sense than the Obama of 2011. Of course then he wasn’t driving the train moving the US towards European style socialism. Then the money wasn’t being spent the way he wanted it to. Now it’s different.

The solution is simple. STOP SPENDING! Dismantle “Obamacare.” Stop all bailouts NOW! Forget financial regulatory reform. Put a real freeze on federal salaries. Defund all “Stimulus” packages.

Oh, for more statesmen like this:

"If congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." –James Madison

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Why do I like to blog?

Posted by Jim Rector on January 6, 2011

That’s a good question. One that I thought of yesterday. Do I really think people care that I visited my 91 year-old grandmother over Thanksgiving? Do they care that I had a son get not only engaged but married last year? Do they have any interest whatsoever in the fact that I’ll soon be 50 and will have even lost 50 pounds? How about the links that I often post? They’re just links that interest me. Ok, sometimes I post some for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of my liberal friends. (All three of them!) Has any link ever changed a single person’s political or spiritual beliefs or attitudes? Probably not.

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If I blogged only for the reasons above then I would be almost as narcissistic as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. I’d be thinking that people were on the edge of their seat waiting for the next great word from Jim. I mean everyone should be interested in whether I like to talk on the phone vs. sending text messages. Everyone should care about what I think about healthcare, DADT, or taxes. Where I go on trips and who I visit should be of the utmost importance to all my “friends” in the cyber world. That’s some profound stuff there folks! I jest of course.

I think that I blog because I like it. I enjoy the exercise of writing. I like capturing thoughts and blogging them so that later (month, year, decade) I can go back and see what went on and what I was thinking. Another reason is I’m bad at writing and I think blogging helps me become a better writer. Like every other discipline the more you practice the better you get. It’s pretty simple, not earthshattering.

How about you? Do you blog? If so, why? If not, why?

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Random Links–{1/5/2011}

Posted by Jim Rector on January 5, 2011

Are you Christian “Nice”?
Are we be “gracious” just to avoid conflict?

Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran – Josh Harris
The “religion” of peace?

Speaker Pelosi Leaves With a Whopper
“Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go.” – ROTFL!!!!!!

House GOP Backtracking on Promised ‘Reforms’ Before They Even Get Started
They play games they’ll get bounced just like the Democrats.

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Text or Talk?

Posted by Jim Rector on January 5, 2011

Do you like to talk or text? Or maybe some other type of communication? I know that personally I’d rather just email someone than pick up the phone and call. Is this terrible? Am I anti-social? What can this mean? I’ve always thought myself a friendly person. I never thought that I was socially challenged. But bottom line is that I’d rather just communicate in writing.

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I think it started for me when I had a job from about 1985 through 1997 where my job was done exclusively on the phone. I was a System Controller for Houston Lighting and Power company (Now Centerpoint Energy) and spent my days giving switching instructions to personnel in the field or talking to power plant operators directing generation levels and gas burn amounts. After a day of that the last thing I wanted was to talk on the phone. I think I frustrated my wife (probably still do) when we needed information from someone because I would make her call. I hated calling, still do.

At work now I would much rather open Microsoft Outlook and write an email than pickup the phone and call someone. Even if it’s just a small request or question. I think a lot has to do with being so busy that I don’t have time for small talk. I just want to cut-to-the-chase and address the topic at hand. It’s easier to cut through the extra conversation with email.

So I guess technology is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it’s caused us, me a least, to forego verbal interaction for written communication. On the other hand this “social” communication has caused me to be more in tune with friends and relatives. Because of Facebook I know more about my family in Upstate NY than I ever did before. I’ve connected with childhood and teenage friends now as folks never did as few as five years ago. One area of face-to-face verbal communication I enjoy is Skype or "FaceTime” with my son and his wife (Even her folks!) in California. So while technology has probably stifled my verbal communication with others it has provided increased social interaction that I would never have had without it.

What do you think? Would you rather talk, text, tweet, Skype, or email? Do you feel more in tune with friends and relatives now or less?

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Random Links–{1/4/11}

Posted by Jim Rector on January 4, 2011

NFL Sideline Shoot: Titans vs Colts (and how I got kicked off the sidelines)
Interesting account of being a photographer on the sidelines of an NFL game. Man I would love to do that!

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant
I think Stalin, Lenin, and Mao would love this ruling.

Republican Congressman: Ban Funding of Obamacare in Every Appropriations Bill This Year
Good start. Works for me.

STRUGGLING Brits are being hit with a triple whammy – a painful VAT increase along with huge rises in train fares and petrol prices.
Democrats want to bring that garbage here!

George Washington Approved Soldier’s Dismissal for Attempt ‘To Commit Sodomy’ at Valley Forge, With ‘Detestation of Such Infamous Crimes’
Someone asked, someone told.

Seven Habits That Make Better Photographers – No Camera Needed
Good advice.

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I’m a little ticked off about gas prices, how about you?

Posted by Jim Rector on January 4, 2011

Top Five Things Obama Has Done to Raise Gasoline Prices

So gas is back up around $3.00/gal here in Texas and higher in a lot of places. I’ve heard some experts predict $3.75/gal this spring. What really ticks me off it that it’s totally unnecessary! What we have is run-away regulation that’s forcing unnecessary “rules” down our throats while bypassing the will of the people through their elected representatives. I love that the courts have put on hold the EPA’s attempt to take over air quality permitting in the state of Texas. I hope this holds and we have a rash of courts blocking the Obama Administration of forcing rules on us through regulation. If it has merit, make the case and get it passed. It’s only third-world, tin-horn, dictatorships that rule via edict.

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The blog link above describes five things Obama and his comrades have done to raise gasoline prices. I’m convinced that this is by design and what Obama really wants. I mean come on, he actually is on record saying that under his plan of cap-n-trade energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket”.

You can read the explanations by clicking the link above but the main things Obama has done are:

  • Cancelling existing permits
  • Needlessly delaying offshore leasing
  • Pushing for more taxes on American energy
  • Imposing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling
  • Issuing a new offshore drilling ban

Even though Obama has supposedly lifted the Ban on deep-water drilling in the Gulf, oil companies are still waiting for approval to drill. Drilling Is Stalled Even After Ban Is Lifted.

He claims to want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. These things to NOTHING to accomplish that goal and only push us further towards foreign dependency. Hopefully the Republicans can stick to their guns, articulate the message, and stop these things in their tracks and give us some real energy reform. Reform that puts America, Americans, and American jobs first.

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Staring down 50 down almost 50 lbs

Posted by Jim Rector on January 3, 2011

As I look towards Friday and my 50th birthday I catch myself looking back at the last year. Lot’s of cool things happened in my 50th year here on earth. A lot of them revolved around my kids and that’s ok with me. A quick run down:

February saw me helping my son Josh load up his things in a U-Haul trailer and move to California. I made the 1900+ mile trip with him and his not yet fiancée Katie Morse from College Station, Texas to Dixon, California in roughly 33 hours. It was tons of fun on the “quick” trip and really gave me some time to get to know Katie better as I had her as a “captive audience.” What was really nice was Josh and Katie did most of the driving while “pops” relaxed. I also enjoyed the scenery in New Mexico, Arizona, and California (It was dark during most of the drive through Texas.). One of these days were going to make that trip by car again and stop by some cool places such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and who knows where else.

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In April I embarked on a plan to lose weight. Knowing how excess weight can really hamper your health in “mid-life” and beyond I really wanted to get healthy. You should know that I was taking medication for both blood pressure and cholesterol with co-pays adding up to almost $60/month. So that was another motivator. I started off at 232 lbs and lost 9lbs the first week! My waist size was 40 and probably should have been 42. I refused to get 42 waist pants!

May and June brought another trip to California to visit Josh and the Morse family. We decided to go Memorial Day weekend so that I could save at least one vacation day. What was really cool about this was that Josh proposed to Katie the week before we were to leave for the trip. So when we were there we could help with some of the wedding plans. It was so much fun! It was really cool witnessing Josh and Katie working on their budget along with her father Mike. This was a requirement of Mike’s before the date could be set. Alas, this was all worked out and after much negotiation they set a tentative date of Labor Day weekend. The trip was highlighted by Katie’s sister Shannon and I getting to take engagement pics of the happy couple at three different California scenic locations; the hills of Vacaville, San Francisco, and Napa Valley.

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We also got to squeeze in a family trip to Mt. Diablo before heading back to Texas. I was down to around 215 lbs by this time.

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August and September – California bound once again. This time for the wedding of Josh and Katie! We got there multiple days early to help with the preparation and to visit. Expecting the weather to be mild we found Dixon to be in the middle of a “heat wave” with temps in the mid 90’s most of the first week and on the wedding day. Fortunately for us Texans the low humidity made it bearable and not too terribly uncomfortable. The guys had a blast the day before the wedding out on the lake with the Morse’s boat and wave runners. The wedding was on September 5th in Vacaville, California and what a great day it was. Outdoors in the sun and then a smaller reception at the Vacaville Opera House. I really enjoyed watching Josh and Katie get married and it was a real treat getting to know her relatives on both sides of the family. A shout out to the Morse and Farley families!

One of my favorite shots from the wedding.

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While there we took a trip the week after the wedding to Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, and Lake Tahoe. In the highlands of Yosemite we actually experienced some snowfall at Tioga Pass. It was quite fun. One of my favorite spots in Yosemite is in the valley looking up at Half Dome and here’s one of my favorite shots of the scene.

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That was pretty much it for September. By this time I had shrunk down to 197 lbs.

October was exciting because mid-month Josh and Katie and the Morse family came to Texas for a reception in honor of the new Bride and Groom. We held the reception in Tomball so that Carole’s parents who are in a nursing home could attend. My folks, thanks to a couple reward tickets on Southwest Airlines also got to fly down from New York. It was the first time they got to meet Katie and of course loved her as soon as they met.

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It was a great time hanging out with family and on the weekend a bunch of us went to Austin to visit with some friends over there. It was sad when they all returned to California because we really didn’t know when we’d see them all again. By this time I was down to 190 lbs and no longer needed my monthly maintenance medicine.

Another great October event was the birth of our 5th grandchild Luke Samuel Rector on the 30th. Luke was born to Richard and Laura and was brought into the world with much prayer and thanksgiving. He’s such a miracle to Richard and Laura and the whole family. There’s almost nothing like the feeling of seeing a new child or grandchild being born into the world.

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It was a tremendous blessing to “gramps” to be able to hold the newborn on his birthday.

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November of course is Thanksgiving month. My grandma Rector is still alive and celebrated her 91st birthday in November! We also made a trip to Southern Illinois for the holiday and to visit Grandma. Carole, Jordan, and I loaded up and left at 3am on 11/24 and arrived at Marion, IL at around 4:30pm. My niece Melissa brought my parents down from New York and my brother Joe and his wife Wendy and family also made the trip up from Texas.

Grandma Rector.

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It was a bittersweet trip. On one hand we got to visit with Grandma, Mom and Dad, and various Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. On the other hand it was also a time to see Grandma’s house for the last time as it was being sold. We spent a good part of the day after Thanksgiving at her house going through volumes and volumes of pictures, picking out those that were sentimental to us.

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By this time my weight was down to 186 lbs.

December was Christmas and gathering with friends and family. We had a great time at the Kelley’s house Christmas day and got to see all the Texas family. It was our first Christmas away from Josh but we were blessed to know that he was in the company of such a great family in California.

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So here I am a couple days away from my 50th birthday. My weight this morning was 183, one pound from a total weight loss of 50 lbs! My lovely wife Carole has also lost 30 lbs in 2010 and she looks great! Our goal in 2011 is to stay where we are and not gain any of the weight back. We’ll see how that goes. We move into a house after two years in an apartment on my birthday Friday. I guess I’m already starting with exciting events for my 51st year!

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