July 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Foer,

I am cancelling my subscription to The New Republic. I have been a subscriber online for several years and a reader for almost twenty. During that time I have relied upon TNR to offer a reasonable and reliable center-left view of the world, but the latest bit of nonsense with Scott Thomas Beauchamp has been too much. The problems swirling around Mr. Beauchamp are merely a symptom of a much deeper and substantially more difficult problem at TNR. For me, the problem isn't whether Scott Thomas existed, whether he was a soldier, and not even the veracity of his stories -- though that is a bit troublesome. I necessarily expect and grant a little latitude in the presentation of the competing narratives offered by the political journals I read on the left, center and right. The problem is that the narrative you seem to to have settled on lately can be largely summarized as little more than "we suck." You are certainly within your rights to believe that and try to hawk it to whomever you can, but I'm no longer buying it.

Have a nice life.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:00 PM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I liked it.

It started slow and then got even slower. Suddenly the prolixity of the almost nine-hundred page Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix loomed ominously. But the pace picked up dramatically, no pun intended, in the second half and by the end the pages flew by as quickly as Harry on a Firebolt. While I sped through the last few chapters I was also griped by a melancholy realization that it was all coming to an end, and far too rapidly.

This book is dark, which seems a bit redundant considering it is all about death and all its attendants. But it is a different kind of dark and reminded me of the aphorism that it is always darkest before the dawn. There are real losses with a great deal of pain and anguish and not a few tear-jerking moments. Personally, I wouldn't say it has a happy ending, but rather a life goes on ending, albeit one in which life is much better than it might have been. That's a little brief and barely touches on the meaning I'm really trying to convey, but it is tough to explain without a lot more text and way too many spoilers.

It is difficult to overestimate Ms. Rowling's achievement with these seven books. They may not quite reach the literary heights of some of the books they are frequently compared to, but they are rather good, and display an uncommon ability to relate to adolescents, teenagers, and adults all at the same time. Not even Disney has been able to do that for quite a while,and certainly not with any enterprise that has had a run as extended as this. Ms. Rowling's imagination and thoroughness is very impressive. Her technique of belated plot revelations may be annoying to some, but that made it next to impossible to accurately predict what would happen next. Undoubtedly, better educated pedants will be able to pick apart various elements of style and substance, but those efforts have little appeal to me and generally remind me of Professor Lockhart whose fame came from the risks and achievements of others. Congratulations to Ms. Rowling and a heartfelt thank you. I fell fortunate my kids come of age at a time to appreciate Harry Potter in all his glory.

A few random thoughts without getting into any obvious spoilers...

I wonder if Griphook's opinion of wizards has changed much now?

Ms. Rowling says she is "left-wing." Nonetheless, the Harry Potter books seem to be remarkably devoid of what passes for "left-wing" ideology in most aspects of our society today. Whether she consciously avoided it or whether "left-wing" means something different to her than to most people who proudly declaim this is unclear. But as Dumbledore told Snape about his opinion of Harry, "you see what you want to see."

In the movies, James and Lily Potter look much older than the twenty-one years old they both were when they were slain by Lord Voldemort.

I hope the final movie is four hours long with an intermission.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

Orthorectified Caramel

Remember the old Google contest where you had to select two words for a Google search that would only return one hit? Well, I saw this story today about Google buying ImageAmerica (from Clayton, MO, no less) and for no good reason at all I was inspired to try and come up an example using a word from that story that I know well from a previous life, but almost never see used today.

I suppose the real surprise is that it registered even a single hit.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

It Which Must Not Be Read Before 12:01 AM, July 20

Like many, many other people, I've been preoccupied with a little touch of Harry in the night.

More later.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:00 AM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2007

Down In Plames

Plame Lawsuit Dismissed in CIA Leak Case

Note to Joe and Valerie, your fifteen minutes are up.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:29 PM | Comments (1)

Be Careful What You Wish For

Work on Texas border wall to begin soon: Chertoff

Reminds me of an old joke whose punch line goes, "fill it with water."

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

Simpleton Math

And by 2047, 111% of the population will be overweight ...

If people keep gaining weight at the current rate, fat will be the norm by 2015, with 75 percent of U.S. adults overweight and 41 percent obese, U.S. researchers predicted on Wednesday.

I'd feel guily about losing 30 pounds, but I have to lose another 22 before the blessed BMI says I will reach my "normal" weight. This vaunted index says I could lose another 67 pounds and still be normal. Somehow, if you saw me at 133 pounds, I think you would believe I was very ill and had probably been so for some time. In fact, last time I was in the 160's some people commented that I was too thin.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

See What Happens When No One Around Dares To Challenge Or Contradict You

Wow, I'm impressed ...

The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.

A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," Edelman wrote.

Unfortunately, I now expect this article to be updated soon to "former Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman ..."

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

"No, You Misunderstood Me, I Said There Was No Bathing in Blood"

And W is the dumb one ...

Kerry: No Bloodbath In Vietnam After US Redeployment

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:04 PM | Comments (2)

Yoda: "Do Or Do Not. There Is No Try."


Posted by Charles Austin at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Run, Forest Run

Gore: human species in a race for its life

(Original inspiration via Tim Blair)

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2007

Movie Review

(Arrgghh matey, there be spoilers ahead.)

The family went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. I enjoyed it but daughter #1, who expects a full transcription of the book, was disappointed. She feels that if they aren't going to include everything then they shouldn't have bothered. Many plot lines from the book have been discarded or were touched upon ever so briefly that this film more than any previous HP film cannot stand on its own. I tried to explain the difficulties of adapting Mr. Rowling's rambling eight hundred pages into something less than ten hours, but without much success. Well, daughter #1 has viewed the HP films negatively ever since seeing Gary Oldman as Sirius. I will admit that a lot was left out, but how could it not be? Hmm..., the more I think about it, the more I wish they had made at least a 3 hour film. But I digress.

This film is dark, but, then again, so is the arc of the story. Marvelous casting and acting come to the fore and it does seem to end far too quickly. There is very little humor at all and lots of little coming of age epiphanies that mostly emphasize a recognition of the growing complexity of life and the difficult choices that must be made. I'm impressed that the books and films have both managed to avoid a sense of invincibility that most teenagers seem to feel about themselves.

The acts of violence commited against children in this film were quite shocking, though not necessarily in a way you might expect. More than once, the students of Hogwarts are shown coping, or struggling to cope, with the aftereffects of these violent acts. Like I said, this is a dark, yet appropriately so, film. The level of malevolence by Voldemort and his followers is ratcheted noticeably up. It isn't just about power for them but also a perveted, sadistic dominance where it all really adds up to something noticeably less than a zero sum game. Not that those ostensibly there to care for the students of Hogwarts are any bargain either. The willingness of officialdom to use any means necessary to further their own good ends should scare the bejesus out of a lot of folks. To move byond the obvious, think about who Ms. Umbridge choses to use the veritaserum on and why. Hermione's naive, "simple" faith in the responsible adults to do the right thing seems to have been finally shattered.

A few random thoughts ... is the Room of Requirement only for students? Didn't Ms. Umbridge have a need to know where Dumbledore's Army was meeting? And of course, it would have contained exactly what she needed. There are times when I can only admire the job that the administrators and teachers of high school age kids do. Just imagine how much tougher it might be if the kids could also do magic.

Complete aside ... it is funny to me that so many people read and adore the Harry Potter books and films with their rather clear moralizing, pointing out the bad incentives and poor performance of government entities, and the recognition of evil and the necessity of actively fighting it rather than ignoring it or trying to reach an accomodation with it. Yet those lesson somehow never seem to register when it comes to the real world. Oh well.

Now, I anxiously await the final book installment on Friday.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Another Attack by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I expect the Clinton camp to denounce Mr. Scaife and his media minions any moment now ...

The Pittsburgh newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife yesterday called the Bush administration's plans to stay the course in Iraq a "prescription for American suicide."

The editorial in the Tribune-Review added, "And quite frankly, during last Thursday's news conference, when George Bush started blathering about 'sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don't enable you to be loved,' we had to question his mental stability."

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

That's the Chicago Way

He puts one of your men in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue. He puts one of your men in the morgue, you expel four diplomats ...

The poisoned spy murder case has grown into a Cold War stand-off after Britain announced the expulsion of four Russian diplomats.

Britain also said it would suspend visa negotiations in retaliation for Moscow's refusal to extradite chief suspect and former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoy over Alexander Litvinenko's death.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the UK's actions were "immoral" and would have serious consequences.

No word from the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the morality or "unserious consequences" of simply ignoring the murder of Putin critics in London by polonium poisoning.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Whatever You Do, Don't Tell Barry Bonds

I'm impressed as heck at what Mr. Pistorius can do. Apparently, not everyone is though ...

The prosthetic legs that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius races with provide less air resistance than normal legs, the IAAF said on Monday.

Pistorius, who competed against elite able-bodied athletes on Sunday at the British Grand Prix, wears curved, carbon-fiber prosthetic legs when he races.

Hoping to be allowed to compete at the Beijing Olympics next year, Pistorius also ran in a B race in Rome on Friday, and finished second.

"The guy Oscar beat on Friday - the stride length was the same, but the speed through the air was slower for the able-bodied guy," IAAF spokesperson Nick Davies said. "This research makes us want to do more."

The International Association of Athletic Federations has been reviewing footage from two high definition cameras that filmed Pistorius in Rome to determine if his prosthetic racing legs give him an unfair advantage.

Davies said the initial research also showed that the way Pistorius distributed energy was virtually the opposite to able-bodied runners. And unlike able-bodied runners, Pistorius was faster at the end of the race instead of the beginning.

Well, duh. I mean, aren't they all going 0.0 meters/second at the beginning of the race?

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

Poor You

Edwards' tour highlights poverty

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2007

Woo Hoo

Earlier this year I started a low carb diet. Not the Atkins diet, though it certainly had an influence, but overall a lot less structured. While losing about 30 pounds after six months, some people close to me were very worried about what it would do to my choleterol levels. Conveniently, my doctor had taken me off Pravachol at the end of last year and scheduled a followup test this month. The test results are back and my cholesterol has fallen from 217 to 174. The best news here is that there is no reason to go back to Pravachol or any of the other cholesterol lowering drugs. I do have a rather nasty bruise where they took blood on Monday, but that's another story.

I offer no recommendations for everyone else, but eating a diet that keeps me around the walls of the grocery store, with the notable exception of the bakery, seems to have paid off, even though it admittedly costs a little more.

Mmm..., meat. Butter. Fresh Fuit. Cream. Fresh Vegetables. Cheese.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:10 PM | Comments (3)

Here's Something Worth a Look

I found this looking for some information on Kirkwood Sergeant William McEntee who was slain while on duty on July 5, 2007.

The Officer Down Memorial Page.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

Further San Fermin Festival Follies

Gored doesn't begin to describe the problem these brothers have.


U.S. brothers Michael, right, and Lawrence Lenahan are gored at the same time by a fighting bull during a traditional bull run in Pamplona, Spain, Thursday July 12, 2007. The two brothers were gored Thursday during the longest and bloodiest morning bull run at the San Fermin festival in the northeastern city of Pamplona. Lawrence Lenahan, 26, of Hermosa Beach, Calif. and Michael Lenahan, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa. were gored by a bull who strayed from the pack, turned around and ran the wrong way. (AP Photo/ Larrion Pimoulier)

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

Santayana Comes To Mind *

Some people are up in arms about this ...

Britain's World War II prime minister Winston Churchill has been cut from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary schools, a government agency says.

But it gets worse ...

The radical overhaul of the school curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds is designed to bring secondary education up to date and allow teachers more flexibility in the subjects they teach, the Government said.

But although Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and Martin Luther King have also been dropped from the detailed guidance accompanying the curriculum, Sir Winston's exclusion is likely to leave traditionalists aghast.

Not knowing the heroes and villains of the past whose actions shaped the world we now live in is definitely not a good thing.

* "Those that do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Phil 'Er Up

A happier ending than the last head rolled over by a vehicle story line ...

A 43-year-old man was taken to a Boston hospital by ambulance yesterday after a pickup truck he was working on ran over his head, fire officials said.

At about 11:30 a.m., the Barnstable Fire Department received a report of a motor vehicle accident. But it turned out the owner of a landscaping company was working beneath a three-quarter ton pickup truck trying to fix it when the vehicle suddenly rolled. A wheel went over his head and shoulder, Barnstable Fire Lt. Ed Guilford said. "But he's in great shape," Guilford said.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)


George Washington, that is ...

International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, in a speech in Washington on Thursday, said while Britain stood beside the United States in fighting terrorism, isolationism did not work in an interdependent world.

"In the 20th century a country's might was too often measured in what they could destroy. In the 21st, strength should be measured by what we can build together," Alexander said, in comments interpreted by British media as signaling a change in the British government's relationship with Washington.


Alexander said in the speech at the Council of Foreign Relations that nations must form new alliances "not just to protect us from the world but ones which reach out to the world."

Because, heaven knows, we aren't yet entangled in a sufficient number of foreign alliances.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

All We Are Saying ....

Is Give Petraeus a Chance.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2007

Help Take a Byte Out of Crime

I wonder if the NHS will use the videos to track the patrons of donut shops so they can deny them service in the future ...

Police officers in the UK are to be given head-mouted video cameras to film incidents and arrests, the footage of which can then be used in evidence.

The Home Office is to give police £3 million to fund a national roll-out of head cameras after regional trials proved they were successful in fighting crime, the Government has announced.

I wonder if the Bobbies can turn them off, or if videos are accessible through a FOIA type request. Hmm..., do they even have FOIA type requests in ther UK? Or perhaps more importantly, the EU?

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

I'll bet you think this is bad news ...

Undercover Congressional investigators set up a bogus company and obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March that would have allowed them to buy the radioactive materials needed for a so-called dirty bomb.

The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, demonstrated once again that the security measures put in place since the 2001 terrorist attacks to prevent radioactive materials from getting into the wrong hands are insufficient, according to a G.A.O. report, which is scheduled to be released at a Senate hearing Thursday.

I don't. Why anyone thinks the government is good at anything just because they are the government is beyond me. Sure there's a partisan angle here, but the hubris of imagining that a Kerry or a Gore administration would have no problems like this is laughable. In the meantime, keep giving our, ahem, servants a hard time and keep plugging the holes as fast as possible. Western civilization thrives on criticism, so let's keep up the good work!

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

Adventures in Headline Writing

Bush says no shift on Iraq

Oh, you said shift.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)


Two Reuters employees were killed in Iraq today and that is a tragedy. Not missing a beat, even while being burnt as recently as last week by relying on unverified information of American atrocities, Reuters relies upon a preliminary police report that "random American bombardment" killed them.

Random. American. Bombardment.

Because, you know, that's what we do.

DOWNDATE: Here's the photo Reuters used on the story for today's press conference.


Presumably they couldn't get one of him sneezing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

Cognitive Dissonance

In this corner ...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams came from Ireland to Texas to declare that President Bush should be impeached.

In a keynote speech at the International Women's Peace Conference on Wednesday night, Ms. Williams told a crowd of about 1,000 that the Bush administration has been treacherous and wrong and acted unconstitutionally.

"Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said at the Adam's Mark Hotel and Conference Center in Dallas. "No, I don't mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that."

And in this corner ...

Still, even as Nixon's lieutenants explored every avenue for defeating Democrat George McGovern and nullifying critics of all stripes — "hit them" was a favorite phrase — the president brooded over his reputation as a hard man whose gentle side was not being seen by the public.

Nixon called that side of him "the whole warmth business."

In 1970, he wrote an 11-page, single-spaced memo detailing his acts of kindness to staff and strangers and expressing regret that he was getting no credit for being "nicey-nice."

I might be wrong, but generally speaking and this precedent notwithstanding, Ms. Williams comments could easily be construed as a threat to the President of the United States, especially given the enthusiastic reception her comments received, and, IIRC, that is a felony. Without bothering to respond to Ms. Williams silliness regarding Muslims and President Bush, it is substantially disconcerting to me that approximately half of a predominantly female audience at a conference held in the United States featuring female Nobel Peace Prize winners would applaud a statement about killing a sitting US president. Where were the boos or even a small number of people who walked out? Conference chairwoman, Carol Donovan, merely noting afterwards that Ms. Williams did not speak for the conference, but only for herself, seems like a rather weak response to me. If she had instead noted that Ms. Williams comments were remarkably disgraceful for someone whose notice, fame, and even appearance before this august body was because of her espousal and commitment to non-violence, as well as being ungracious to the country hosting the conference, not to mention being perhaps illegal, my ever increasing disillusionment with progressives of all stripes might have been lessened somewhat. Alas, it is not to be.

As for Richard Nixon, well, bleh.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Perhaps the Coolest Picture Ever


Hubble Ultra Deep Field Images

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

Open Thread

Slow news day. I've been busy. Ack. Look elsewhere today for your flippant snark grotequely swollen with free association and reeking of osbcure, antiquated pop culture references.

One question though, if we succeed in stopping climate change,would that mean that natural evolution as we understand it is over?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2007

Anybody Remember What Number I Was On?

I just checked and found that Richard Cohen still has a column at the Washington Post.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:13 PM | Comments (1)

It Would Have Made a Better Story in Germ-any

Remind me not to get sick in Malaysia ...

A Malaysian hospital has finally persuaded staff, including doctors and nurses, to wash their hands after pointing out the dangers to their own health.

Pointing out the dangers to patient health did not work.

But don't get too excited about the improvement, your chances of being exposed to whatever contagious disease the last patient might have had is still about 1 in 5 -- every time a nurse or doctor touches you.

A study this year at Kuala Lumpur's Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital showed that 40 percent of staff did not wash their hands before touching patients in its intensive-case unit, breaking hospital rules, the New Straits Times said on Tuesday.

Later, the hospital's infection-control chief spoke to staff about the importance of hygiene and installed voice-recorded health warnings at the entrance to the unit, eventually pushing the compliance rate to 80 percent, the daily said.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

I Can't Wait For The Next Study To Find Out What Men Are Drawn To

Women drawn to men with muscles

Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiseled peers, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles said on Monday.

Their study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggests muscles in men are akin to elaborate tail feathers in male peacocks: They attract females looking for a virile mate.

"Women are predisposed to prefer muscularity in men," said study author David Frederick of UCLA.

How weird is that?

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

Now That's a Headline

Swedish Volvo workers face big hairy spiders from Brazil

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

Saving the World Ends Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

You know how to measure the lasting impact of Live Earth? Two days after it happened the only mention of it on The Drudge Report is a story about Madonna faking her guitar playing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Presidential Candidates In First Ever Gay Debate

Is it rude to ask what makes a debate gay?

For the first time the leading candidates for the presidency will hold a televised debate devoted solely to LGBT issues.

The one-hour event will be held on August 9 and broadcast on gay network LOGO at 9:00 pm ET (6:00 pm ET) and through live streaming video at LOGOonline.com.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have confirmed they will participate. Several other Democratic candidates also may join the debate.

Ok, gay, lesbian, which one is transgendered? I see the thought, "What was I thinking?" crossing their minds when they see the campaign commercials and YouTube videos that will be generated from this. Whose idea was this?

The debate was put together by LOGO and HRC.

No, that's not Hillary Rodham Clinton, but Human Rights Campaign.

The panelists in a statement said they plan to cover a range of issues including relationship recognition, marriage equality, workplace fairness, the military, hate crimes, HIV/AIDS and other important issues.

Weird how stoning or knocking walls down on homosexuals didn't make the list.

The LGBT vote is considered a decisive electoral force and according to exit poll data make up approximately 4 percent of the voting population.

That would be 12,000,000 people in the US. Hey, that's more than watched Live Earth!

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2007

Pique Oil

Oil experts see supply crisis in five years

No doubt. Because large consultancy fees are difficult to maintain if you call press conferences to announce that everything is ok.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

Daddy Would Be So Proud

Offered without further comment ...

"Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist author, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy's son, who grew hoarse from shouting. "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors."

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)

I Want to Party With These Folks

I'm a sucker for ukulele band covers of anything by Outkast.

h/t Mark Steyn.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

More Information Than You Need

I shot an 82 on Pinehurst #2 in April and missed a hole in one on #17 by less than two inches. The next day I shot an 82 on Pinewild Holly. I might as well give up golf now 'cause it's all downhill from there.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

Just Say "No, Thank You"

I lost almost 30 pounds while I was away. The real test comes with the cholesterol test in the morning though.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:24 PM | Comments (3)

She'll Be Back

Is it just me or does it look like Katie's head has been tastefully and artistically grafted onto the body of a weightlifter?


Image courtesy of (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)

Too Clever by Half

Maybe it's just me, but I find the irony liltingly poetic that anytime I see Michael Moore's face these days the word "Sicko" is almost always visible.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

Adventures in Headline Writing

Republican rebellion over Iraq escalates

What an interesting headline. Shouldn't the word rebellion be replaced with the word insurgency? And shouldn't the word escalates be replaced with the word surges? Oh, I forgot that surges are miserable failures before they even begin. Never mind.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

In Case You Were Still Wondering What a Scotsman Wears Under His Kilt

Evidence from the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Thank goodness he's wearing a sizeable red sash.


Image courtesy of the Daily Mail.

This isn't a caption contest, but leave any that your muse inspires in the comments. Here's one to get you started:

"Pamplona doesnae accept this, if you come tae Pamplona, we'll set about yea."

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

Rocky Mountain Sigh

Several people in the blogosphere have already taken down Colin Powell for his shameful Bill Clintonesque historical revisionism and blame shifting in Aspen concerning the war in Iraq and his unsuccessful efforts to stop it. No doubt he worked harder on trying to educate and persuade Bush for two and one-half hours than he worked on anything in his life. Time precludes any decent fisking, though this article is a target rich environment. I'll just note one sentence from former Secretary of State Powell for posterity:

Powell believes that a reduction in US forces will have to be accompanied by talks with Syria and Iran. “You have to talk to the people you dislike most in this dangerous world.”

After all, talking with monomanical tyrants who are, by their own admission, so clearly and unambiguously enemies has such a fine pedigree. Seems like I've heard something like Secretary Powell's lament before:

"You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more, or anything different, that I could have done, and that would have been more successful..."

Extra bonus points if you know who said that and when.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

En Fuego

About those front row seats you've always wanted ...

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Johnny Turk He Was Ready, He Primed Himself Well

Despite the recent wishes of certain political opponents which passed for news and insightful (inciteful?) analysis in some circles regarding an imminent surrender withdrawal in Iraq, it just ain't so:

President Bush is not contemplating withdrawing forces from Iraq now despite an erosion of support among Republicans for his war policy, the White House said Monday.

Could this be why?

Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq's foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country's fears of Kurdish rebels based there "legitimate" but better resolved through negotiation.

Or big pointed firesticks.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Sun Set Grilled

'Sun not behind global warming'

I agree, it's at the very front.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

Smarts Imitating Life

By now, everyone's seen this article (Headline: Hearts over minds, he tells Democrats) about the scientist who uses brain scans to convince activist Democrats that they need to focus on emotional, rather than rational, appeals and connections to win votes. This is news? They needed to wait for validating brain scans to know this?

Personally, my favorite part of the article dwells on the influence of media mogul wives who are pushing this. Ah, the non-idle rich.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

When Is An Increase Not An Increase?

Trick question, and, no, I'm not talking about cuts in Medicare, though the underlying mathematical concepts are similar.


Iran has slowed down its nuclear work: UN nuclear chief ElBaradei

Lead (lede):

Iran has slowed down the expansion of its nuclear enrichment capabilities at its strategic plant in Natanz, UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday.

Got that? Slowed down the expansion. Iran is still expanding its nukular capability, but just not quite as fast. Gold stars all around and a fresh package of international aid for everyone! Presumably, as a nukular scientist, ElBaradei understands the concept of acceleration and force. All he has said here is that Iran has eased a bit on the accelerator, or for those of you who remember your differential calculus, that the slope of the second derivative is now negative, though almost certainly not the value. But you can't blame ElBaradei for the inconguity between his statement and the headline. For that we can thank the self appointed guardians of our freedoms who apparently don't know the difference between a rate and a rate of change and a rate of change of a rate of change.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

There's No Need to Fear, Underdog Is Here

Sometimes they walk right into it...

The Davenport, Iowa, campaign headquarters for presidential candidate Barack Obama was burglarized Friday evening.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor says two laptop computers and some campaign literature were taken. A campaign worker discovered the burglary this morning, and a report was filed with Davenport police.

Vietor says that it doesn't appear that it was anything sensitive or irreplaceable was taken.

Because there's nothing sensitive or irreplaceable in Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, including the candidate?

Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

Who's Your Mommy Now

Drudge reports her Katiness has gone slap happy :

CBS EVENING NEWS anchor Katie Couric is being accused of slapping an editor -- after he injected a word she detested into a script!

"The stress has caused her to blow up at her staff for small infractions on the set," charges NEW YORK magazine reporter Joe Hagan, in a story set for publication on Monday.

"During the tuberculosis story in June, Couric got angry with news editor Jerry Cipriano for using a word she detested— 'sputum' —and the staff grew tense when she began slapping him 'over and over and over again' on the arm, according to a source familiar with the scene. It had seemed like a joke at first, but it quickly became clear that she wasn’t kidding."

Slapping a soldier almost ended General Patton's career. But that was the army. During a war. We hadn't yet won. And now he's a DWEM. This is different, because, well, you tell me why in the comments.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2007

I'm Cuckoo for Co-Presidents

I'm always surprised, well, not really, that Mrs. Clinton gets a pass for the mistakes of her first two terms as co-president:

As Bill and Hillary Clinton were campaigning in Iowa last week to put themselves back in the White House, a Democratic strategist warned their two-for-one strategy had trouble written all over it.

Dropping any pretense she is seeking the presidency in her own right, Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, campaigned arm in arm together in a Fourth of July swing through the first caucus state. The New York senator "embraced the role of virtual incumbent ... promising to restore conditions -- in the economy and in the government -- to the way they were during her husband's administration," the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut reported last week.

Jeez, doesn't the 22nd amendment kick in here somewhere?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:26 PM | Comments (3)

They Wouldn't Click It If It Wasn't True

By now, everyone must have heard about the latest TRUTHER, Mademoiselle Boutin:

Asked in an interview last November, before she became minister, whether she thought Bush might be behind the attacks, Boutin says: "I think it is possible. I think it is possible."

Boutin backs her assertion by pointing to the large number of people who visit websites that challenge the official line over the September 11 strikes against U.S. cities.

"I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits ... And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth."

Honestly, it is difficult to believe that anyone this dim could manage bathing and dressing herself in the morning, much less being a minister in the French government.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Into your heart it will creep, it starts when your always afraid...

"Some who don't understand what is now at stake tried to stop this event on the Mall," the former Democratic presidential candidate said in a thinly veiled hit on members of President George W. Bush's Republican party.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2007

Giving Prime Minister Brown the Full Monty

Python, that is. Reading all the articles and commentary on PM Brown mandating the non-utterance of, well, of it which must not be named, I half expect to say something like this in a press conference:

Yes, the fanatics who did this are, well, it is spelled "M" "U" "S" "L" "I" "M", but it is pronounced "Throat Warbling Mangrove."

Winston Churchill and Eric Blair must be rolling over in their graves at the misuse of language and inability, or unwillingness, to identify the enemy clearly.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Whatever You Do, Don't Mention the War

Basil Fawlty would feel right at home here:

Gordon Brown doesn't do charisma. In contrast to Tony Blair, the new British leader has offered no emotive sound bites, no promises of tough new laws and no talk of a "war on terror" since the failed attacks in London and Glasgow.

But I really like the headline:

Britons Cheer Brown for Attacks Response

Should that be non-response? Oh, and apparently, don't identify the enemy either:

Gordon Brown has banned ministers from using the word “Muslim” in ­connection with the ­terrorism crisis. The Prime Minister has also instructed his team – including new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – that the phrase “war on ­terror” is to be dropped.

Ah, the love of death that dare not speak its name.

They had diverse backgrounds, coming from countries around the globe, but all shared youth and worked in medicine. They also had a common goal, authorities suspect: to bring havoc and death to the heart of Britain...

"To think that these guys were a sleeper cell and somehow were able to plan this operation from the different places they were, and then orchestrate being hired by the NHS so they could get to the UK, then get jobs in the same area — I think that's a planning impossibility," said Bob Ayres, a former U.S. intelligence officer now at London's Chatham House think tank.

"A much more likely scenario is they were here together, they discovered that they shared some common ideology, and then they decided to act on this while here in the UK," he said.

Presumably any attempt to identify and name this ideology is right out.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

Freedom of Religion

Or freedom from religion?

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city of Slidell on Tuesday for displaying a painting of Jesus in a courthouse lobby, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

The city of Slidell resides in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana. Presumably the ACLU will also be suing to have the name of the parish changed to something less Christianist and perhaps to have the whole concept of parishes replaced by secular counties in Louisiana.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:36 AM | Comments (1)

Because He Will Sell No Whine Before Its Time?

Drudge asks:

PAPER: Is Michael Moore the new Orson Welles?...

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday America


Appreciate what we have.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

Soul Baring

For some time now I've been absent, only leaving comments and caption contest entries at a few of my favorite places. I've been busy - working, thinking, reading, contemplating, perambulating, dealing with a teenage daughter, and losing weight (25 pounds so far this year).

Quick summary to get caught up on the world's turns since November... business is good. Perhaps too good, since my vocation distracts me from my avocation. But it has become clear that Nietzsche was right, while staring into the abyss, it had been staring back into me. A dark, dark view of the blogosphere and its inhabitants was having entirely the wrong affect on me. I lacked the ability to keep a firm perspective like Professor Glenn Reynolds, James Lileks, Dr. James Joyner, Jeff Goldstein, Scott Chaffin, and Tim Blair. I don't think I have such a perspective yet, but at least I recognize that I have a problem. On the other hand, I have won a fair number of caption contests, and I bought three of Mr. Lilek's books.

In other news, Vickie is doing better, I think Steve is doing better, old friends have returned, as have some web friends, though I'm not sure where, I've lost touch with some 'cause I didn't maintain my links, and I'm waiting for football to start again...

And in still other news, George Bush continues to disappoint, though he looks golden compared to the incompetent political hackery of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. The next general election sure looks like it needs a "None of the Above" on the ballot for president. By any historical measure the liberation of Iraq is going very well, though even many people in favor it don't seem to understand this remarkably simple fact. Can't wait for 300 to come out on DVD or Blu-Ray. The BBC's DVDs on WWII are worth the expense. Tony Soprano wasn't whacked and David Chase is brilliant. David Milch and John From Cincinnati sucks. Pollution is on the decline in the US but on the rise in China. At long last, Al Gore is beginning to be ridiculed by more than just the fringe right. As is Michael Moore.

And in yet still other news, the Cubs still suck, the Bears are going to be good again, the Fighting Illini are improving on the gridiron, Bruce Weber is doing great even if he is struggling with recruiting, the NCAA sucks big ****** *****, while the Chief will live on in our hearts, grilled flesh still tastes great and is more filling, rap is dying, short the Euro now (trust me), and as the Chink always said in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, "the world situation is desperate, as usual."

Does this mean I'm back?


P.S. A laugh...

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:22 AM | Comments (3)

July 03, 2007

Oldies, But Goodies

It's time for that old favorite, my iPod's top 25:

Medicine Show - Big Audio Dynamite
U.F.O. Attack - Asylum Street Spankers
Sambadrome - Big Audio Dynamite
In the Jailhouse Now - The Soggy Bottom Boys
This Is Halloween - Soundtrack, The Nightmare Before Christmas
Wouldn't It Be Nice - Beach Boys
Cold Cold Ground - Tom Waits
Way Down In the Hole - Tom Waits
I Want You To Want Me - Cheap Trick
Industrial Disease - Cheap Trick
The Promise - When In Rome
Lake Shore Drive - Aliotta, Haynes Jeremiah
What's This? - Soundtrack, The Nightmare Before Christmas
My Favourite Game - The Cardigans
Annie Get Your Gun - Squeeze
American Tune - Paul Simon
Nostradamus - Al Stewart
Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
Word Up - Cameo
Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind - George Straight
Old Man on the Farm - Randy Newman
City of New Orleans - Steve Goodman
Poor Poor Pitiful Me - Warren Zevon
V.Thirteen - Big Audio Dynamite
One Piece At a Time - Johnny Cash

I haven't finished populating my iPod with my 800 CDs, much less the other available material, podcasts, etc., so this may not be, Hell's bells, is not representative of my actual tastes. There's a definite shortage of Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Joe Jackson, Supertramp, and Talking Heads for this list to be taken too seriously.

P.S. I cannot fathom the Applemania surrounding the iPhone.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:56 PM | Comments (3)

A Bleg

Anybody know where I can get a copy of Rebuild the Wall by Luther Wright & the Wrongs?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)


Iggy Pop is 60 years old.

Leave a comment if you know I'm still alive.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:32 PM | Comments (2)