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From the Notebook

A picture of Russel Kirk

A picture of Russel Kirk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– Veteran Preference bills. One passed in Minnesota, allowing companies to create their own veteran hiring programs, giving preference to returning vets for jobs. I don’t believe in artificial preferences, ever. But, I would, if I were a hiring manager, prefer to hire vets anyway, due to their experiences and work ethic. I’ve worked with veterans and they’re great. But, as always, there are individual differences that need to be noted. Also, bills like this don’t solve the problem. Something is keeping hiring managers and HR types from hiring vets; vets face double the unemployment rate as the rest of the population. And that needs to be addressed, and I doubt the solution can come from government; it will have to come from business schools.

– Having a great difficulty writing. For about a decade I could reliably punch out a thousand words a day. The well has dried up. I’m trying to find a way to salvage a hobby I really care about and that has been the focus of my life for so long, but it’s getting tough. Once you get on the wrong side of the age/accomplishment curve, unless there’s real money at stake, your hobbies are going to die. There are a few short stories I’m going to finish, there’s also a novel I’d like to finish. And maybe a series or two of blogposts. But even those meager projects seem impossibly optimistic.

– Like everyone else, I struggle with my weight. I’ve been trying a new way to control my calorie intake. On average, a person needs 2000 calories a day. More, you gain; less, you lose. For an active male, 90 calories an hour is our balance point. So, I’ve been trying to eat 90 calories an hour, for every hour I’m awake. I have a four-hour breakfast, a four-hour lunch, and a four-hour dinner (all around 400 calories total). I allow some snacks to get to about 20 hours. And I stop there. So, I keep my calorie intake above the starvation-point (where your metabolism gets out of whack) and below the static-weight mark. It’s been just two weeks, but I’ve seen good progress. In order to stay full, I avoid dense calorie foods (like candy) and stick to more filling foods (fruits and vegetables and grains) so I don’t feel hungry. Now I’m waiting to see where I plateau, and from there I might adjust the calorie intake again (maybe down to 80 calories an hour). This seems easier than trying to track everything you eat all day in a diary; you only need to remember how many hours you’ve eaten or have left. The only simpler method is to try what Aaron Gleeman did, prepare a giant batch of food (in his case, rice) and eat from that batch all day.

– Watched the documentary “An Inconvenient Tax” (on Hulu) about our country’s income tax system. Conclusion? our tax code is really awful. But what is worse is when you add in state and local taxes, along with regulations. Once you have complicated taxes and regulations at every level, everywhere, you prevent growth. And this is where we are at now. We have a regulatory structure that is unnavigable, a tax structure that is incomprehensible, and an education system that is unreformable. This is a perfect storm for economic disaster. Other countries can reform and evolve (and many have, in fact) and send capital away from us, and impoverish us. And that’s bad.

– Saw “The Avengers” over the weekend. In 3D. And was really impressed. Other than some basic stupid (flying aircraft carriers) and bad physics (how many G’s can Stark take in that suit? 50?), the movie was very enjoyable. And it always pains me to give a movie a good review. In general, the fear of bedbugs keeps me from attending movies at theatres (seriously, research that, scary stuff), this movie is worth the risk.

Books read:

Douglas Hyde, Dedication and Leadership; Hyde was a former communist who ran a communist newspaper. In this slim volume, he explains the tactics communists use to achieve their goals using the resources they have at hand. Hyde wants these tactics to be adopted by Christians (the ethical tactics, that is). As a manual for leadership, this book is pretty good.

Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind; This was one of the greatest books I have ever read. It’s a survey of conservative thought since Edmund Burke, but it is also an intellectual and historical apologia for conservatism and a call to action for all conservative-minded individuals to devote themselves to defending and preserving ‘The Permanent Things’. This book will be near me for the rest of my life.

-Chris Kyle, American Sniper; Kyle was a SEAL sniper who operated in Iraq for a majority of the conflict, including the Battle of Fallujah. In his career, he recorded more sniper kills than any other American ever has. But the book is more than just a diary of a successful soldier. Through clear and concise prose, Kyle presents the realities of our war in the Middle East. It’s a brutal affair, no quarter is given by either side. There’s an intensity to this book absent from other war memoirs I have read. I’ll leave it at that. It’s a definite “to read” if you have interest in the subject area.

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