100 Below: The tale of Urferd Forkbeard, part the third.

Urferd Forkbeard saw Skein Sheildbearer walking towards him. Urferd felt sorry for Skein. It must have been his turn to try and convince him.

“Good day Urferd.”

“Good day Skein.”

“So,” Skein shifted nervously, “the boys and me. Well… We were thinking… You know Olaf Thurgussen just finished his new dragon ship…”

Urferd nodded.

“Well… We thought we’d take Olaf’s boat out and terrorize some Picts. You know… A little killing. A little raping and pillaging. It does a boy good…”

Urferd nodded.

“Wanna come with?”

100 Below: The tale of Urferd Forkbeard, part the fourth.

Urferd Forkbeard put down the axe and whetstone. He tugged his beard.

“I’ve told you before.”

“But Urferd…”

Urferd cut him off. “We can’t keep on killing and raping and pillaging. Like I said in council, this lifestyle isn’t sustainable.”

“But…”

“No! We need to farm and fish more. I’ve got animals and a vegetable patch out back. We should be farmers. We’d get along better with our neighbours. People would like us.”

“But Urferd… We’re Vikings…” Skein shook his head and walked away.

This is why Urferd “the farmer” Forkbeard was not the most feared Viking of his age.

202

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is commemorating the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar today. It is his habit to do so. He needs to get back in the habit of throwing a big party every year to celebrate this glorious event. It was his habit (until children arrived in his life) to buy a keg of Bass Ale, cook a huge roast with all the trimmings, and drink to Lord Nelson’s victory on this day. Perhaps he’ll do it next year…

Rather than just post a synopsis (which you can read here or here) of the battle, here are some images for your viewing pleasure:

Admiral Lord Nelson

England expects every man to do his duty
Clicky here to embiggen.

Ship positions at the onset of the Battle of Trafalgar
Clicky here to see a bigger, nicer, image.

HMS Victory breaks the line

HMS Temeraire breaks the line

A pell mell battle ensues

HMS Victory during the battle

Lord Nelson falls during the battle

The most glorious and decisive victory

Carry on.

Sucking the Government Teat

President Bush has caught a great deal of flak for vetoing the SCHIP program. He may very well hate poor people, but I don’t think this veto was driven by a hatred of wee Horatio Algers.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but:

George was right.

Please don’t take that as an endorsement of his asinine leadership. When Bush claimed that he was vetoing the bill because her was financially responsible, I laughed at his dishonesty. The drug hand-out to seniors was twenty times more expensive than the SCHIP. The real difference is that old people can vote and poor kids can’t.

However, the SCHIP program was too generous. Setting the bar at three times the poverty level was way to high. Supposedly a family of four with an income of 60 odd thousand dollars is within three multiples of the poverty level. As George Will points out, when the median income is 48 thousand, saying that the bill is to help poor people is silly.

The numbers projected for its cost were based on adding uninsured kids to the system. The real cost would have been much more. Our Congress, being economic retards, failed to understand that other people might react to incentives.

Economics, after all, is the study of human responses to incentives.

Let me ’splain.

I’m a public school teacher and a farmer. My wife prepares taxes during tax season.

We also pay $330 a month in health insurance through my school job. The school system kicks in about twice that, so the dollar value of my health insurance is close to $1000 a month. If we only got insurance for ourselves and left the kids off the bill, our contribution would drop to $140/month.

We would have qualified for SCHIP. I earn 50k as a teacher, 5k as a farmer, and my wife pulls in around 5k during tax season. We are withing three multiples of the poverty level for a family of five.

Mrs. Smallholder is a bit to the left of your humble Smallholder. She was enraged by Bush’s veto. I argued, respectfully of course, that old George was right (even a blind pig occasionally finds a chesnut). I pointed out that we would qualify. Mrs. Smallholder said that we wouldn’t join the system because we already have health coverage for the kids. Your humble son of the soil replied that we’d save over two thousand dollars a year - of course we would take it.

And here’s where I got in trouble. I linked children’s insurance to drought payments to farmers. Mrs. Smallholder, you see, has been after me to fill out paperwork to claim our share of “drought emergency” payments. Sweet Seasons Farm doesn’t have a drought emergency. I stock appropriately and don’t overgraze. I’ll be grazing deep into December. But the heavy hand of government subsidies pays you per cow owned. I find this abhorrent. The government is basically subsidizing overstocking and erosion and the term emergency is a joke. We have had an “emergency” four of the last five years. So I refuse to take the government dime.

Don’t think I’m too noble. It is easy to take a principled stand to turn down $280. If I owned a hundred cows, I would probably take a hit from Uncle Sam’s breast.

So I told Mrs. Smallholder that if she wanted me to take drought insurance then she would of course save $2000 by shifting the kids into socialized health care. Best of all, her mother agreed: “You pay your taxes. Take every dime to which you are entitled.”

Incentives.

It is all about incentives.

If you give away health insurance, many families will drop their expensive employer-provided plans and glom on to the government teat. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand economics or human nature.

Attention Polymath!

The Maximum Leader, my friend Polymath, and another friend are going to have a wild caught dinner night this winter. We will dine on a variety of dishes we have killed ourselves.

I’m not sure if Polymath reads the Llama Butchers, so I’ll pass on this link to what we should have for appetizers.

I Do Have One Complaint

My daughter named my new heifer “Princess.”

I wanted to name her M.E.L., short for Mary Elizabeth Lease, the great populist rabble-rouser. (”Farmers should raise less corn and more hell!”)

My daughter wanted to name her princess.

So wee Emilie turns to me and says, “Daddy, you always say that it is good to compromise. We can compromise and name her Princess Mel. We’ll just call her princess for short.”

And the evil wife chimed in “That’s such a good suggestion, Emilie! I’m sure Daddy would love to compromise when you suggest it so nicely.”

So I call the heifer Mel. Everyone else calls her “Princess.”

I hope wee Ben starts to talk soon so I’ll have another Y chromosone vote.

If anyone is interested, Mel is the product of my Charlais cross cow Cleo and and AI service to Bextor, a pathfinder Angus.

Life is Sweet

My apologies to the Maximum Leader for my paucity of perspicacious posts in recent months.

I’ve got victory disease.

No, it’s not that I’ve conquered the Pacific and overrun my initial Greater East Asian objectives and acquired an arrogance that will only be cured by atomic fire.

I teach AP US History. I’m pretty good at it.

Teaching AP is a chore; most teachers are too sane to volunteer for duty. When I started teaching here in Harrisonburg I had 22 kids. Four years later, I have 45.

When I started teaching AP, I had an extra planning period for grading and preparation. Since there are now two AP classes (45 kids won’t fit into my room and I wouldn’t want them to), they had to take the plannine period away. So I have twice the essays to grade and half the time.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you: it is the reality of the job. Well, perhaps I’m complaining a bit.

The numbers have jumped because I am drawing in the science and math and arts kids who heard that the class is fun and that they are likely to do very well on the high stakes exam.

Many of these new kids do not take AP European in their sophomore year. So I have to cover more material to get them up to speed. But how can I complain when I arrange to have extra class sessions after school and 75% of the class voluntarily shows up for another hour and a half of history?

So my level of energy is shot - I haven’t had much left to wander over and be a good little minion of the Maximum Leader.

Otherwise, life is sweet. Emilie just turned five and is starting to read. Jack is now three, and the wee Ben is nine months.

I have a great wife who is giving my kids a fun childhood and even takes care of the farm animals when I am late at school for an AP activity. It would be nice to have some more couple time, but we’ve made choices (kids, jobs, and the farm) that make that hard. In a few years when the kids are more independent we’ll have regular date nights. In the meantime, we can still have rousing intellectual rows over politics (I’ve got a doozy to report).

As an added bonus, my wife, like Ben Franklin’s wife, doesn’t mind that I’ve fathered a child with another woman.

Oops. Did I say that out loud?

Iglooit

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a bad case of the sniffles. He supposes the fall alergy season is upon him and he needs to get back on his allergy medication and some decongestants. For a condition that is reasonably harmless (watery eyes, stuffy sinues, runny nose), it can really make you feel like crap. And when you feel like crap, you probably shouldn’t blog.

(Excursus: Your Maximum Leader thought that perhaps the good Smallholder would post some more yesterday… But apparently he blew is proverbial wad the day before with his amusement concerning William Henry Seward. By the way… Care to see the Smallholder in front of William Henry Seward’s House? Clicky here for the image. Three posts in one day… Should we expect a three month wait now before another post?)

Now some of you might be wondering about the title of this post… Iglooit. Well, your Maximum Leader has learned that iglooit is the plural of igloo. You know iglooit. The snow/ice block shelters built by the Inuit. Villainette #1 had a school project that required her to learn all about iglooit. She also had to build one. Mrs Villain suggested using sugar cubes to build an igloo. This seemed like a sensible idea. The sugar cubes would approximate the texture and color of snow. It seemed to make sense. And your Maximum Leader assumed that (the elementary school teacher) Mrs Villain had done some sort of project like this in the past. Well… He assumed incorrectly. She’d never done anything like this before.

Well… Allow your Maximum Leader to tell you something. Building an igloo out of sugar cubes is a royal pain in your arse. It might have been a little easier if we had used a fast drying glue. But we had a large supply of Elmer’s white glue, and that was the binding medium of choice. Eventually, your Maximum Leader had to shore up the interior with wads of (removable) paper towels to keep the structure from collapsing while drying. Mrs Villain decided to use some leftover vanilla cake icing as a mortar on the exterior of the structure (sort of like the Inuit using loose snow to fill in any gaps or cracks between blocks).

Now your Maximum Leader has described his role and Mrs Villain’s role in building this quasi-confectionary igloo. Allow him to assure you that the majority of the work was in fact done by Villainette #1. While the total effect is not Hollywood-special-effects-model quality; it is perfectly fine for a 5th grade project for a 10 year old. The igloo is a little lopsided, but the effect is right.

Oh yes… Your Maximum Leader forgot to mention the role of Villainette #2 and the Wee Villain in all this construction. Villainette #2 felt her role was that of building inspector. Her comments were “it’s leaning over too much here” and “you shouldn’t leave so much space over here” and “I don’t think that looks like a dome.” Villainette #2 was eventually banished from the construction site. The Wee Villain felt his role was to check the quality of the building materials. So he would come and sneak up and steal sugar cubes from the box and then run away and eat them. The would also dip his fingers into the cake icing and then lick them clean.

Your Maximum Leader imagines that he’ll be finding partially eaten sugar cubes and globs of icing all over the house for the next week…

Carry on.

Annexing Greenland

Steve-O the Llama Butcher just made me guffaw:

What would William Seward do?”

Of course, I always call him William Henry Seward. In fact, the eldest male wee Smallholder is named Jack William Henry Smallholder.

Besides wanting to paint the map British American Red from Cairo Hudson Bay to Capetown Tierra Del Fuego, he was an abolitionist who was considered too radical to get the 1860 nomination. He became one of America’s greatest Secretaries of State and played a key role in putting down the secessionist slavocracy sedition.

Steve-O linked to a Christian Science Monitor article describing a nascent independence movement in Greenland. I was particularly amused by one of the local idiots opposed to independence:

“Aqqaluk Lynge, head of the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s Greenland chapter, agrees. “We are afraid that the United States will take over Greenland if the Danes get out,” he says. “If Americans can take Iraq, then why not Greenland?”

Indeed, sources say that even if Greenland becomes independent – an event supporters see as at least a decade away – it will keep very close ties to Denmark, in large part out of fears of US hegemony. “

Meanwhile, in the secret underground lair, Darth Cheney’s mad Machiavellian machinations continue:

“Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Greenland will be hours. We will feast on the entrails of the Inuit!”

“But sir,” stammers the stunted minion, “Greenland is constitutionally linked to Denmark! An attach on Greenland will trigger a Danish counterattack!”

“Bah! Foiled again!” Wailed the Vice President/Prince of Darkness, “If it weren’t for the invincible Danish army, we would rule the world. But we’d best bide our time for now. Eventually, those omnipotent Danes will make a mistake. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!”

Been Busy

I’m sorry for the dearth of posting.

I’ve been busy.

So busy, in fact, that I have totally not been paying attention to entertainment news. For instance, I have no idea who won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy.

I guess I can safely assume it was not “she of the enormous forehead,” or the Maximum Leader would have let us know.

Primary Source Analysis

Your humble Smallholder has been absent for too long (or, perhaps, not long enough).

I’m out of practice when it comes to analyzing the constitution, so won’t make any judgments in this post. I’ll just put up a few primary documents for you, our beloved readers, to read for yourselves.

Document A:
Article VI of the United States Constitution
…This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding…

Document B:
Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Document C:
Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

Document D:
Federal Defense of Marriage Act
1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need recognize a marriage between persons of the same sex, even if the marriage was concluded or recognized in another state.
2. The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.

Discuss.

Congrats Colorado Rockies

Greetings, loyal minoins. Your Maximum Leader extends his hearty congratulations to the Colorado Rockies and the city of Denver. The Rockies won the National League Pennant last night. Sadly, this occured after your Maximum Leader’s bed time so he had to watch the highlights on SportsCenter.

Your Maximum Leader is a National League type of guy and thus he will be rooting for the Rockies in the World Series. He wonders if the 9 day layoff the Rockies now get will impact them when the Series begins. He hopes they don’t decide to play any exhibition/practice games against any all-star teams like the 1946 Boston Red Sox did.

The Rockies 21-1 tear since September has been tremendous. It is one of the greatest team accomplishments your Maximum Leader has ever seen. He hope the Rockies can cap off their success by winning it all in the Series.

Carry on.

Food memories.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader pulled a chuck roast out of ye olde chest freezer the other night for dinner. He thawed out the roast, browned it on all sides with salt and pepper. Then in the same pan in which he did his browning, he sauteed up some onions, carrots and celery. He seasoned the whole bit liberally with salt, pepper, a touch of garlic, some paprika, and a shot of scotch. Then he put the roast back in the pot and added water. When the roast was cooked he drained off much of the liquid and made a gravy from it with roux. He served the meat with mashed potatoes and the gravy.

As he ate it he was transported back in time. Back in time to his paternal grandmother’s kitchen. It tasted just like the pot roast his grandmother used to make for him. It was a warm and comforting memory.

But he was surprised to think that his grandmother might have added some scotch into her gravy…

Carry on.

Football musings

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader spent yesterday relaxing. Well… Relaxing as much as it is possible for one to relax when watching football…

It was a good break. You see, Saturday was spent on Villainschloss work. To make a long story short… One of the hot water heaters in the Villainschloss ruptured. The rupture was caught early, so lots of damage was avoided. But, some water got into part of your Maximum Leader’s office and was soaked up by the rug. To be safe your Maximum Leader cut out the affected area of the rug. On Saturday, your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain (and to a limited extent, the Villainettes) moved all of the stuff out of your Maximum Leader’s office, took up the rest of the rug, put down new padding, laid new carpet, and returned everything to the office. Your Maximum Leader now knows he has roughly 900 books in his office alone. (Last time your Maximum Leader counted his - and Mrs Villain’s - books the total was over 2,500.)

Anyhoo…

After a grueling day of labor (the damned dwarves living under the Villainschloss were pretty friggin useless… and must be punished. By the way… if you click on that link, that post was authored by the Big Hominid, not your Maximum Leader. At some point when he moved from Blogspot to MT or from MT to Wordpress the authorship must have been switched.), it was good to sit around and watch some football.

At the risk of upsetting any Badger’s reading this post (in Asia or otherwise) your Maximum Leader’s beloved Packers are on the verge of disappointing him…

Why does your Maximum Leader write this? You may be saying to yourself, “Self, the Green Bay Packers are 5 and 1. Surely that must please my Maximum Leader.” Well, you bet your sweet bippy that a 5-1 record does please your Maximum Leader. But honestly, the Redskins were close (many times) to kicking some Packer butt. Of course, we all know that “close” only has real meaning when one is referring to hand grenades and thermonuclear weapons. But in football “close” means that you should look at the game carefully before bragging.

May your Maximum Leader blog frankly here? The Packers don’t have a running game. Teams that don’t have running games don’t win championships. (Yes, your Maximum Leader is old school in his steadfast belief that the running game is a key component to a championship team. Because running the ball is controlling the clock. When you control the pace of the game, you can dictate the actions of the other team.) Sure the Pack look like they can win the NFC North. They actually look as good or better than most of the teams in the NFC. But have you looked at the AFC recently?

The Packers need to work on their running game, and they need to work on routes that will open up their receivers. As the Redskins game showed, now that other teams in the league realize they can stop the Packers on the run without undue effort they can concentrate on the receivers. Driver, Franks, et al had a hard time getting open, and were well covered. Your Maximum Leader knows that it was wet and raining at Lambeau, but the Skins were doing a good job covering the Packer’s WR and TEs.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the Pack are playing above their ability… He thinks that with some effort they can resolve these problems, but right now they are shakier than their record shows.

And in more football news… Have you seen those New England Patriots? If they keep playing like this your Maximum Leader will declare this team bound for the Super Bowl. If this team keeps playing the way they are, and wins a Super Bowl, they might be the greatest team to ever play the game. If there any way that you can stop the Pats? Shut down the run, and they can pass on you. Think you can shut down their passing game? Think again hoss. Tom Brady has the most competent receiving corps at his disposal. And he has the brains and vision to exploit every weapon he has. It is insane. Your Maximum Leader always thinks of Paul Hornung as the “Golden Boy.” (Hey! He was Lombardi’s Golden Boy.) But Tom Brady is giving old Paul a run for his money. Between his exploits on the field and his exploits off the field your Maximum Leader has to admire Tom Brady.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if any team can stop the Pats…

Carry on.

Talking boobies, Elvis, and Pawn Shops

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was going to wait until next week for this post… But since he’s on a roll now… Here it goes… By the way, isn’t that a catchy title line?

It has been a while since your Maximum Leader has blogged about the platonic apple of his blogging eye, the dreamy Jennifer Love Hewitt. She hasn’t really been in the news much, so your Maximum Leader’s been keeping his fancies to himself. But thanks to Entertainment Weekly dot com, he now has blog fodder…

You see, recently the dreamy Jennifer Love Hewitt was on the receiving end of EW’s “Stupid Questions” column. Your Maximum Leader read this peice with glee. He’ll excerpt some of his favourite bits…

EW: Do you ever wish you didn’t have the ability to see dead people in real life, too?
JLH: It is a bit taxing. Elvis is constantly asking me questions. Make him a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich. Play his record louder in my house. I’m like, ”Elvis, I don’t have time right now!”

Ah… Another lover of Elvis who is not a wacko conspiracy theorist who thinks that Elvis is still alive and in some sort of witness protection program. Your Maximum Leader (a great Elvis fan) was introduced at a party to guy named (if he remembers correctly) Chris, who was reputed to be a “big Elvis fan.” During the course of conversation Chris asked your Maximum Leader if he (your Maximum Leader that is) knew that Elvis was in the witness protection program. Your Maximum Leader admitted that he did not know this and asked why Elvis was in the witness protection program. Chris said it was because of Elvis’ role in breaking up the Peruvian drug mobs. Your Maximum Leader then said that he’d never heard about Peruvian drug mobs. At this point Chris snapped his fingers and pointed at his Maximum Leader with one motion and declared “Exactly.” QED your Maximum Leader supposes…

But back to the dreamy Jennifer Love Hewitt stupid questions interview!

EW: When people look up at your face, are your breasts like, ”Hey! Eyes down here, buddy!”

JLH: My boobs talk to people a lot: ”Mine are bigger than yours.” They say that when they’re in the mall and they see other ones. And, ”Do these make my butt look big?” By the way, I’m doing this interview in the makeup trailer, and someone just walked in and heard me say, ”My boobs talk a lot.” Everyone here is very concerned for my well-being.

Jennifer Love Hewitt has boobs! Your Maximum Leader had never noticed… She does have lovely eyes, and pretty hair.

EW: John Mayer reportedly wrote a hit song about you. To save time for our fact-checkers, will you confirm that your body is a wonderland, or at least possesses characteristics similar to one?
JLH: My body is far from a wonderland. My body is more like a pawnshop. There’s a lot of interesting things put together, and if you look closely you’d probably be excited, but at first glance, not so much.

Oh… This sets up so many comments. But the one your Maximum Leader will settle on is: “Jennifer… Love… Your Maximum Leader has a gun he’d like to pawn…”

Anyhoo… If you are interested the whole piece is here.

Carry on.

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