Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Dad - C. E. Morphis

Charles Eugene Morphis, 92, of Jonesboro, passed away on Monday August 18, 2008, at his home. He was born in Pocahontas TN on April 1, 1916, to Charles and Ida Morphis. Mr. Morphis was a manufacturer’s representative and habadasher with Langenburg Hat Company where he designed hats for stars such as Elvis, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn among many others. He was a Mason and a former president of US Men's and Boy's Apparel Club. He was a sergeant in the Army and served in World War II and was awarded five battle stars. He was a proud patriot and a member of Walnut Street Baptist Church.

He leaves behind his two sons, Gene Morphis of Ambler PA and Gary Morphis of New Orleans LA; a daughter, Stephanie Wilbanks of Jonesboro; two brothers, Leonard Morphis of Selmer TN and Rayde Morphis of Pocahontas TN; two sisters, Maxine Firnhaber of Huntington IN and Sadie Foster of Pocahontas TN; seven grandchildren, Blane, Misty, Blake, Josalyn, Cree, Jillian and Dusty; and three great grandchildren, Tyler, Zachery and Lilly.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sylvia; two brothers and two sisters.

My comments at the funeral:

Dr. Charles Stanley, the noted minister from Atlanta, was one of my Dad's favorits. Dr. Stanley says "Absent from the body; present with The Lord". So, Dad isn't here today - at least not directly - because he never liked funerals. For my Dad's taste, one song, maybe two, a prayer, and that's that. Sorry Dad, I'm going to stretch it out a little.
A few years ago Pam and I were at a funeral. And while the woman who had passed was a Methodist, she had a Catholic granddaughter who place a rosary in her casket. I said to Pam that if someone placed a rosary with my Dad, he would sit straight up in the coffin until someone removed it. When I related that story to Dad later, he grinned that smile he sometimes had adn said "well, you could always give that a try".
My parents taught me everything I needed to be prepared for life. My Dad inculcated in me (catch that word) his love of the English language, a thought-provoking sentence, the perfect word in the perfect place. Many a time he called to read something to me that had a great phrase. Generally from a conservative write: Pat Buchanan, Thomas Sowell, George Will or his favorite: William F. Buckley. As his vision faded, he could no longer check meanings, so he would call me to confirm a usage. Recently he called to make sure he was using "inchoate" and "sartorial" correctly. Look 'em up yourself.
So when you are wondering whether the word you are looking for is sanguine or sanguinary, or pondering the epistomology of etymolgy, or the etymology of epistomlogy, just remember that you once knew someone, who, with a twinkle in his eye, could tell you the difference.

Matthew 6:19: Do not store up riches for yourselves on earth where moths and rust destroy and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches in heaven...

Revalations 21:18 and 21:21. The wall was made of jasper and the city itself was made of pure gold. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate was made from a single pearl. The street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

Here in this world people might marvel at Larry Ellison's Japanese-architecture compound or Bill Gates digital estate. But today in Paradise, they are marveling at the mansions on Lumsden Lane, Sanders Ave., adn Morphis Boulevard. And I know we are all welcome to come visit.

Blane's comments at the funeral:
My relationship with GD (granddad) was a special one and it was a special one because it changed so much over the course of my lifetime.

When I was just a young boy –granddad man he was larger than life. Driving around in that big green Cadillac, grilling up a family feast on the weekend, taking Blake and I fishing – even though he hated it—and we would play at the park or go back to his house and play hide & seek and GD would never “find” us. Another vivid memory from childhood was that every single time we went to Granddads house – and it was always dark when we got there – he always left a light on for us.

Now, I think we all know how important a light being on in the dark is to little boys. I always thought Grandad left that light on for me so I could find my way without having to be scared. I just knew that Grandad was protecting me.

Then I grew and so did our family. I have one brother and 5 cousins and boy we used to have so much fun at Memaw & Granddaddy’s house. We climbed trees, had cap gun fights, played ball in the backyard or out on the circle, and we used to jump down the upstairs staircase to show off how brave and athletic we were. Granddad never seem to mind all of this action. Actually he enjoyed having all the kids around – so long as we didn’t use the “Yellow Sofa”!

Everyone remember the yellow sofa? For those of you that don’t know about the yellow sofa – it was a beautiful piece of furniture that no kid ( and adults either really) was allowed to sit on. And if you got caught – and sheew – if you had a drink in your hand – forget it. GD would have to assume a new role in addition to chef, fishing buddy, playmate and protector – he became Granddad the Disciplinarian. I know that my brother can testify to this: Yellow couch transgression = Swift Justice Granddad style. Blake, are you still having trouble when you sit down? Hey you earned that one pal. You knew better than to go near the yellow sofa!

Now please don’t get me wrong, granddad wasn’t a scary guy – well maybe to some of Steph’s boyfriends he chased out of the house with a rifle in his hands he was – be he and Memaw had rules and GD would enforce them. So there was another light he turned on for me – respect the rules of authority.

My granddad was a complex man, a gentleman, and everything a kid would want a grandfather to be. I mentioned earlier that our relationship changed over time and when I was a college student our relationship grew even more. Granddad’s role became much larger than before because he became a sounding board for me. Ideas good or bad we talked about so many things – life, politics, religion, the world – and I was always amazed at the grasp he had on so many issues. And I tell you the conversations meant so much to me then and mean so much to me now because granddad was a spirited debate partner and there were occasions when we didn’t see eye to eye, but because of the love and the respect we had for each other it was fine for us to agree to disagree.

After I got out of school, and was just trying to find my way – GD took another new role – listener and trusted advisor. He was a rock for me when my mom nearly died and I was questioning many things. GD was there for me. Still keeping a light on for me by demonstrating the strength he had, his commitment to his faith, in all the little things he said, all of the quiet conversations we had and common ground we always seemed to find.

TN Football. Me and granddad talked after every game on TV. Joy of winning – anguish of losing.

These last few years our relationship changed and granddad added another title to the previous ones of protector, chef, playmate, disciplinarian, spirited debater, trusted advisor, great listener and all around perfect grandfather – that t new title was – friend.

So we found ourselves talking about sports, marriage, history, spirituality, home ownership, and life and death. And we became such good friends because we shared so many viewpoints –more than in my college days I can promise you that! Now this may astonish you, but we even talked about today – literally where I’m standing right now giving his eulogy. Now I’m sure you’re thinking that must have been awkward – and you’re right – it was. But you have to understand that GD & I had never avoided a topic or pulled punches on a topic merely because it was uncomfortable. And I asked him if I could do this for a reason – because over the course of my lifetime – and in particular in the months leading up to me asking him if I could do this – he spoke so often about us. And by us I mean the grandchildren.

Grandad grew great inner strength from us. In the course of our conversations after memaw died he revealed to me that his grandkids kept him going. He was so thrilled to see some of us get married and to have met his great grandchildren – Tyler, Zachery and Lilly. And he was so proud of how his 7 grandchildren turned out.
So, I would like to conclude this by saying to: Misty, Cree, Dusty, Blake, Josalyn, and Jill that you’re the reason I did this. I feel responsible for ensuring that there is a light on for you to remember him by. I can’t emphasize enough that for the last 17 years the things he said to me in many different ways and on multiple occasions - but the message was always the same. You brought him joy and happiness and he appreciated how special and unique each of you are – and the challenges that each of your personalities presented to him. He told me that his grandchildren always made him feel proud and he hoped you knew that.

So remember this – he tried to turn the light on for all us with the lessons he taught, all the wisdom he imparted, and the kind and thoughtful gestures he made. And implore you to never forget that granddad cherished each and every one of you, respected you, and beyond anything he loved you.

He did his best to exemplify inner strength and to show what a life well lived was. I am happy for him right now because he is back with memaw – even though that doesn’t make it easier to be left behind. Just remember we the grandchildren had at least 20 years with our grandfather. Not a lot of people get that so we should consider ourselves lucky. I know that he did.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New links

A new conservative voice - Jake Bell - has joined the blogosphere with Jaxxe Ramblings. I'm going to label Jake a neocon - but you and he can judge and comment. He has posted his opening conservative manifesto.

And Russ Morphis, perhaps a touch less vociferous in his conservatism, but more than a touch more religious, has updated his site with pictures from his trip to Ecuador. He deserves your financial support.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

IPOD Nano Freezing

How to unfreeze your IPOD nano.

OK - I'll accept that the IPOD series from Apple has been breakthrough technology. And Apple's persistance in continual improving the product has been impressive. However, these little gadgets aren't perfect, and the documentation isn't just inadequate, it is non-existent.

So, about half the time I'm on an airplane my IPOD freezes just before music starts to play. Here is what you do: hold the click button in the middle and press menu. You have to hold them for 10-12 seconds or longer. May take several attempts. But, eventually you will get the little Apple logo and it will reset.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Energy Policy

Much has been said and written over the last few months about energy independence as gasoline prices have starkly indicated how America has become a debtor nation, subject to the whims of the oil producing countries.
So what are the hallmarks of a energy policy that would deserve our support?

I submit that it should have four principles, it should:
-encourage every alternative.
-make a difference as fast as possible.
-depend upon private capital as much as possible rather than require funding from the over-stretched U.S. taxpayer.
-support free-market and price mechanisms.

Broad alternatives
To break our addiction to the crack cocaine of foreign oil, we are going to need to exploit all our energy options. Wind power has a number of advocates, and rapidly improving technology from blades to turbines. No government funding is really required; wind is finding investors. The Pickens' Plan deserves not only consideration, but quick action. Solar is moving along; is a long-time environmental darling, but struggles to compete cost effectively with just about anything else. Nonetheless, solar has attracted a fair amount of venture funding, so no government funding is really needed. But, Congress should suspend endangered species rules in some areas to permit solar farm construction to determine if there really is some scalable technology. There is a lot of activity around clean coal and green coal. Private capital seems adequate here as well.

The trouble starts with nuclear power. It has been proven safe in France. China is moving agressively to construct plants and secure its own energy sources. Opposition in the U.S. is basically led by a significant Luddite faction raised on The China Syndrome and aided by a trial lawyer community highly skilled in delay tactics that can postpone factory construction for (quite literally) almost two decades. Since virtually no investor is prepared to tie up hundreds of millions of dollars for twenty years or so before seeing the first trickle of cash coming back, there has been no investing in nuclear in the U.S. in a couple of decades.
This only gets resolved in the favor of energy independence by the passage of pro-nuclear legislation that protects particular sites from litigation.

Offshore drilling is a necessary stopgap. Yes, it takes years to make a difference. Yes, it is only a partial solution. So what? If I want to run a marathon next year, I've got to start training this year. Opposition to drilling has a number of opponents. There are true-belivers, who are convinced that high gas prices are good for us; a recession, loss of jobs for millions, etc. is just the penance we must pay for all the damage we've inflicted on the planet with our evil ways, in paticular our penchant for large, safe, comfortable motor vehicles. Then there are the meek and weak, who really don't buy that argument, but fear retaliation by the super-powerful environmental lobby and therefore go along. And there are the opportunists, who also don't buy that argument, but see political power to be gained and re-elections to be won. Finally, there are the rich, famous and connected, who fear their view from beach front dacas may actually include an oil drilling platform on the edge of the horizon. For America to return to the self-sufficiency it one-time enjoyed, these anti-progress forces must be overcome.

Energy legislation that doesn't provide for immediate litigation protection, and immediate removal of barriers is, of course, toothless and a sham. The problem is already accute; inaction moves it to critical. The Russian invasion of Georgia is emblamtic of our country's future as an energy slave to be bullied at will.

CapitalEthanol, solar and wind are already attracting significant capital. Oil shale has attracted some, but only a little in the U.S. Meaningful legislation protecting the development of nuclear plants is necessary for the market to work and capital to be attracted. Congress also must take specific action to permit oil shale development in Colorado, where there are potentially billions of gallons of gasoline equivalents, but are currently off-limits. Again, if millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent constructing a nuclear or oil-shale plant must be diverted to legal manuvuers, and years of development time are lost, no one is going to write the checks.

Price mechansim
Gas prices have gone up; more drilling has occured and people are driving less. Shocking isn't it - the price mechanism works! However, the government has tinkered with ethanol pricing - subsidizing the price about 50 cents a gallon. And, effectively pricing Brazilian ethanol (sugar cane -not corn) out of the market. That pricing has now spilled over into everything made from corn - especially grain-fed beef and corn sweetners. This nonsense needs to stop. Subsidies for ethanol need to be phased out - a simple 20% per year for five years should do. That lets farmers get off the dole, while providing time for all the other biomass formulae to be perfected and winners to emerge.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bush - he's no conservative

In the ultimate final repudiation of the conservative movement, President Bush is leaving a $473 billion deficit - except that it is really at least $553 billion, since the Iraq and Afghanstan wars will cost at least $80 billion and, in the zany world of government accounting, those are not included.
Shortly after his first election, an editorial article in the Wall St. Journal called him a "big government conservative". I wish I could remember who wrote the piece. It stands out in my memory because there really isn't such a thing. Going back to the founding fathers, conservative thought has centered on small government; indeed, there were serious debates about maintaining a standing army because the risk to a republic was too high.
When President Lyndon Johnson supported the war in Viet Nam and the Great Society social programs, we called it guns and butter, and argued vehemently against it. Now that a so-called conservative has supported the exact same policy, our voices were muted.
Many conservatives will recoil at the thought, but we should have raised taxes to pay for the war. If we are going to ask young men and women to die for us, we can stand up for the money.
The Republicans must wander in the wilderness for a few more years while they regain some orthodoxy instead of being some kind of ersatz sad imitation of the Democrats.