May your life be as good as mine.
And I will provide answers.
Why does Barack Obama have so many who can be legitimately called Marxists in his orbit?
This has been a very difficult question to answer correctly, because it can very easily devolve into assuming I can peer into a man's soul to question his motives and I am loathe to do that. I must admit that this is pop psychology conjecture on my part, but I believe it is because it is what he knows and reflects the environments he grew up in. Many of these environments were from his childhood and he had little control over that, but as he grew into manhood he seemed to continue to seek out similar people with similar backgrounds rather than disassociating himself from people who frankly don't hold the same beliefs about America, human nature, or liberty that I have.
A music teacher once told me that we like what we know. Here is what we do know about the environments and influences on Barack Obama as he grew up. From his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who he has stated is his core influence and whose life story reads as someone who desperately wanted to be something she wasn't; to his father, Barack Obama, Sr., a post-colonial socialist whom he never knew and rarely met but oddly projects onto in his biographies; to his comfortably leftist grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, who he lived with from the age of ten while his mother studied and worked in Indonesia and who introduced young Barack to Frank Marshall Davis who is a real piece of work (communist and author of a novel glamorizing child molestation); to his time at Occidental College, Columia University, and Harvard Law School, of which we know very little because Barack Obama refuses to open the records on these periods in his life, necessarily leaving the door somewhat ajar for wild conjectures by those inclined to do so; to his wife, Michelle Obama, whose hostility to her native country was epitomized by her famously saying in 2008, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country;" to his minister, Jeremiah Wright, whose racism and anti-Americanism has been thoroughly documented; to his alliances with ACORN; to political and social connections in Chicago with the communist terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn; well, as I wrote earlier, it is what he knows and seemingly is comfortable with.
A more compact and vicious version of this that frankly does question motives by Spengler can be found in the last paragraph here. John Podhoretz composed a rather hostile response to Spengler. And as Jonah Goldberg says, Michael Ledeen moderates here. Finally, Joseph Bottum asks, can't we all (on the right) just get along?
Now that the McNabb detractors in Philly got what they wanted, will the Eagles finally get over the hump and win a SuperBowl in the new "Kevin Kolb era"; or will this move simply highlight the lack of supporting cast a pro-bowl caliber QB (McNabb)had surrounding him all those years.
No and no. I won't argue that trading McNabb was the wrong thing to do. This is analagous to the situation Green Bay faced a couple of years ago with Bret Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Cowboys are getting better faster than the Eagles in the NFC East, the Giants remain only two years removed from beating the juggernaut New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, and who knows, maybe Mike Shanahan will be able to keep Dan Snyder at bay long enough to take advantage of the talent that Washington does have before he wears out his welcome in four, no, make that three years. It was unlikely the Eagles were going to win a Super Bowl with Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb. It is true that Donovan McNabb was long underappreciated by the fans of Philadelphia and while they will miss him they will also be pleaseed with Kevin Kolb, at least until the next QB in waiting shows up on the Eagles bench. Before Jay Cutler arrived I kept hoping Donovan McNabb would end up in Chicago, but that isn't going to happen now.
Will the Congress and Administration succeed in enacting a VAT (Value Added Tax) this year to pay for (a portion of) ObamaCare?
Only if they act before the 112th Congress is sworn in.
Will C.J. Spiller be the first RB drafted?
Probably not. In fact, I doubt that he will be the second running back drafted. The first two running backs drafted will probably be Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best, unless Jerry Jones somehow gets a top ten draft pick in the next week and decides he need another Felix Jones type of player to back up Felix Jones. As to which of those rookie running backs would be the best fantasy pickup will depend a lot on who takes them. I just know that I am feeling good about heading into next season with Michael Turner, Rashard Mendenhall and LeSean McCoy as my top three running backs, especially with the latter two each taking over the starting job a year earlier than I expected.
And I will provide answers.
Will C.J. Spiller be the first RB drafted?
You are not looking for an answer so much as a prediction. However, in an otherwise relatively weak year for RBs (but primarily because the rest of the draft field is unusually strong this year) he probably should be the first drafted for his combination of speed and size. A lot will depend on the draft order and perhaps a trade or two before the draft.
Is President Obama a hard core Marxist or just a corrupt Chicago progressive politician?
First of all, note that these are not mutually exclusive options. Only Barack Obama can answer the former question definitively, but I don't think so. I do have substantial reservations about his entire philosophical approach which I regard as progressive rather than Marxist, but unless the next election gets cancelled that's more than I am willing to say. Using Marxist techniques and rhetoric does not automatically make one (or The One) a Marxist, hardcore or otherwise. Why Barack Obama has so many who can be legitimately called Marxists in his orbit is another question for another day. As to the latter question, Barack Obama has learned his Chicago politician lessons well, but the type of corruption implied is something different than most people are accustomed to. Chicago style political corruption is geared towards consolidating and strengthening their grip on power, which is what really matters to them, rather than enriching themselves financially. This is also a common problem with progressives, though I wouldn't necessarily conflate Chicago political corruption with "classic" progressivism. FWIW, those in power do seem to have money fall into their laps in ways that most of us don't, but that isn't their primary motivation.
And I will provide answers.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because the road started it and the chicken was never one to back down.
Yay, comments are working again!
An unusual question demands an unusual answer. Four.
What was the *real* reason Illinois was excluded from the NCAA Tourney?
So Notre Dame could be the eighth Big East team in the NCAA Tournament. The committee attempted to disguise this travesty by giving them a #6 seed.
How much longer will the American Republic last?
For all intents and purposes the Republic as defined in the founding documents is already gone. Clear, unambiguous language such as, "Congress shall make no law...," is routinely ignored by all three branches of government in lieu of some ever changing self-serving greater good. The proper questions now are when will another such Republic arise and where.
Can you tell Marc I miss him?
Yes, but I haven't seen him for over a year now.
And I will provide answers.
Or Happy Christmas if you prefer.
A blinded man has seen his wife for the first time after surgeons gave him back his sight using one of his teeth. Martin Jones' canine was pulled out so a tiny optical lens could be fitted to it, then the tooth was inserted in his eye socket. The 42-year-old lost his left eye and was totally blinded in the right 12 years ago when a tub of molten aluminium exploded in his face at the scrapyard where he worked... The tooth was implanted in his cheek for three months to grow blood vessels and new tissue. Once it was moved into his eye it was under two weeks until Mr Jones could see.
I turn fifty in five months. I plan to lose thirty pounds between now and then. The reasons are several and varied, some obvious, some somewhat less so. But now that I've stated it for the Google bots to keep in an archive forever, I can't easily back down.
I start at 220.
Wish me luck.
May Santa Claus be good to you this year.
Friday, I attended my friend LTC James Hey's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Jim was a great fellow I knew personally and professionally and he will be missed by his family and his many friends. He left far too soon.
It was a beautiful day in Arlington, with the Catholic liturgy in the Old Post Chapel, the horse drawn caisson, the riflemen, the Army band, the walk past so many fallen heroes to the gravesite, the pallbearers, the folding and presentation of the flag to his wife Jerri, the twenty-one gun salute, and in the distance the Washington Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the tip of the Capitol.
Requiescat in pacem, Jim. A belated thanks again to you and to everyone who has served.
Can you guess what I wished for when I blew out the candles?
It was the best of times:
Oil giants Chevron Corp. and Total SA wrapped up a string of gargantuan, record-breaking earnings reports Friday, a stretch in which six of the major international oil companies topped $50 billion in combined profit for the first time.
It was the worst of times:
U.S. auto sales plunged to a 16-year-low in July, led by a 27 percent drop at General Motors Corp, as high gas prices and tight credit sent the industry into a tailspin.
I don't have the numbers handy, but I'm certain the oil companies are making more than the auto companies are losing. GM lost $15B last quarter, but that was by far the worst. Even though their are many other uses for oil than gasoline, given the ultimate dependence of the oil companies on the mass use of cars and trucks, it does make one question how long this can go on and to wonder what happens next.
As if I needed another reason not to fly US Air.
No, really, I do. As my foursome walked off the course last week and found our way to the Ryder Cup Bar at the Carolina in Pinehurst, it suddenly occurred to us that any golfer should be able to walk up to any decent bar in the world and say, "Give me a Golf Swing or "I need a Golf Swing." Alas, I have no particular talent for inventing a new drink, hence this request. About all I drink is red wine, Bombay Sapphire and single malts -- and they do not mix well together.
Your suggestions for a tasty adult beverage called the Golf Swing are hereby requested. Nothing goofy, sweet or involving open flames, just something that most of us could savor as we belly up to the bar to brag about the one shot we hit that day that was as good as anything Tiger could hit. You know, the one shot that keeps you coming back.
And if you should find yourself in the Ryder Cup Bar, y'all be sure to say hi to CC and Carolyn, and ask them for a Golf Swing. A picture of their reaction would be most appreciated.
Dude, I think we just had an earthquake. A big one too unless it was real close. Woke all of us up, lasted for a minute or so, rattled the windows. I think I heard a low rumble throughout, but that could have been a lot of things. Looks like I picked a good night to stop taking Ambien.
I reported it here and in less than five minutes this was posted:
Can someone check and see if New Madrid is still there.
I'll bet the earthquake insurance commercials are running again by this afternoon.
DOWNDATE: Added the USGS image a few minutes later. My rotating title came up with "A short, sharp shock, get it?" Spooky.
Charlton Heston passed away last week. You know that. But read these pearls of wisdom from his letters to the Los Angeles Times. Here's one:
SO the Oscars came off smoothly, with good work rewarded. Early anxieties about the [honorary Oscar presented to director Elia] Kazan . . . went unrealized. There was some scuffling by street protesters but inside the hall the presentation was vigorously applauded; only a few sat silent. It seems that the fierce and relentless attack on Kazan, lasting many weeks, was in fact the last hurrah of the Hollywood left. (Mind you, the Hollywood liberal is still with us, but that's a different breed of cat entirely, alive and well, content to be the arbiter of taste, political correctness and the search for the next Great Restaurant.)
While I'm on the subject here's a lesson on class from a sick old man when responding to self-absorbed younger one:
Actor George Clooney joked about Heston's failing health at a 2003 National Board of Review award ceremony, saying that Heston "announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's." When questioned, Clooney said Heston deserved whatever was said about him for his involvement with the NRA. Heston responded by saying Clooney lacked class, and said he felt sorry for Clooney, as Clooney had as much of a chance of developing Alzheimer's as anyone else.
Don't laugh, Universal Health Care will require the same thing here:
To curtail Japan's overweight population, the Japanese health ministry recently mandated that all waistlines among its 56 million workers over age 40 be below “regulation size” of 33.5 inches (for men). Any company failing to bring its employees’ weight under control--as well as the weights of their family members--will be fined up to 10% of its earnings by the government.
According to government officials, 27 million Japanese--about half of all adult workers--have health indices (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI) that don’t meet ideal numbers, and will be targeted for mandatory medical intervention.
Maybe it's just Christo on the loose again:
An unprecedented security blanket will be draped across San Francisco for the US leg of the Olympic flame's global relay here Wednesday amid worldwide condemnation of China's crackdown in Tibet and its human rights record ahead of the summer games in Beijing.
So much to say and so little time to do it...
Can we develop our own energy resources and not be held captive to the pariahs of the Middle East? Yes we can!
America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.
In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel.
It was not until 2007, when EOG Resources of Texas started a frenzy when they drilled a single well in Parshal N.D. that is expected to yield 700,000 barrels of oil that real excitement and money started to flow in North Dakota. Marathon Oil is investing $1.5 billion and drilling 300 new wells in what is expected to be one of the greatest booms in Oil discovery since Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938.
Just freakin' wow. Of course there's also the oil sands in Canada and the oil shale in Colorado if we ever really decide to get serious, not to mention nuclear power. Peak oil becomes freak oil.
Allow me to make you happy:
Money can buy happiness, but only if you spend it on someone else, researchers reported on Thursday.
The NCAA Tournament started seven and one-half hours ago and I haven't even checked for a score yet. The times, they are a-changin'.
Joe Jackson video of It's Different for Girls
Peter Gabriel video of Shock the Monkey
Big Audio Dynamite video of Medicine Show
Foo Fighters cover Baker Street
Jethro Tull video of Too Old to Rock & Roll
The Rolling Stones doing Far Away Eyes
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers video of Don't Come Around Here No More
Steve Goodman's autobiographical A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request
I've often said that as long as Americans are buying $4 cups of coffee, I think the economy is doing just fine. Of course, when the economy starts to catch a cold, the first thing to go are $4 cups of coffee:
Warning of an economic "tailspin," Starbucks Corp outlined long-awaited plans to turn around its U.S. business on Wednesday, but details from new coffee machines to a rewards program for frequent customers failed to excite investors, who sent shares down 4 percent.
Time to do some research on recession and inflation proof industries.
DOWNDATE: I don't think I'll be tipping at Starbuck's any more.
Kirkwood is a nice place to live.
But that could be the Pouilly Fumé and the Pinot Noir and the Glenmorangie and the Lagavulin and the Patron talking…
Yesterday I complained that I couldn't watch the first game of the NFL season because Charter Communications had not reached an agreement with the NFLNetwork to show the game. While they still have not reached an agreement that will keep me from watching some games at home later this season, tonight's game was on NBC.
I was wrong. I apologize to my readers and to Charter Communications. There are only 475 reasons to hate Charter Communications and not 476.
Last Saturday I attended the Illinois - Missouri game at the Edward Jones Dome here in St. Louis. It was the first Illinois game I've ever been to where the Chief was absent.
A friend from Missouri asked me if Illinois had a new mascot yet. I told him that I didn't think so, but if they could come up with a mascot that looks like a middle finger extended towards the NCAA, I'd support it.
Because gods that rule the sky, well, um, well, ...
Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.
Link courtesy of Reuters, who continue to live up to the highest standards of news selection.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
I lost almost 30 pounds while I was away. The real test comes with the cholesterol test in the morning though.
Iggy Pop is 60 years old.
Leave a comment if you know I'm still alive.
Congratulation to Ray-Pec on their fourth consecutive final and third consecutive Class 5 Missouri football state championship. Wow, there's kids graduating from that school that have never not won the state championship.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Daughter #1's High School will be playing for the Missouri Class 5 Football State Championship at the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday night. Of course, this means the JV squad will be playing in the annual Turkey Day game, which even got a mention in the NY Times. That's 100 years of Turkey Day games between Kirkwood and Webster Groves.
Perhaps my friend Chris would agree that Webster Groves should play their varsity against Kirkwood's JV squad to make a game of it.
Drudge has a headline, but the link doesn't work:
Cops 'fear suits more than death'...
The suits (higher-ups)?
Suits (having to wear formal attire)?
Damn, now I won't be able to go to sleep tonight unless Drudge gets his link fixed.
I think I could have safely gone the rest of my natural life without hearing about this:
Meet Bryan James Hathaway, alleged venison lover. The Wisconsin man, 20, is facing charges that he had sex last month with a dead deer. Hathaway, who previously has served time for killing a horse he intended to sexually assault, allegedly found the deer in a ditch alongside a roadway.
Vyvyan was right, Bambi did do a Disney Nasty.
The markets are up, but we are all poorer today.
I'm getting ready to buy a large screen (>50 inch) HDTV monitor for my new office's conference room, primarily as a display device driven by a laptop. We are having a custom table built so that power and cables will come up through the floor into the middle of the table for convenience and saftey. Alas, I've become depressed and confused reading about HDMI, DVI-D, and the inability of most common HDTV monitors to accept a signal from a PC even if it has a HDMI or DVI-D port. And what genius thought it was smart to carry only the video but not the audio over a new format like HDMI or DVI?
Right now I'm thinking about buying a device for about $600 that I can plug just about anything into (HDMI, S-Video, RCA) and it then sends the signal over two CAT5 cables to another box that then plugs into the HDTV monitor. This solves a couple of problems by now requiring that we only fish CAT5 cables though conduit rather than all the various cable formats. But it still leaves me with the problem of what monitor to buy. I am quite hapy with my SONY LCD HDTV I have at home, but, as noted above I don't think this will work that well connected to a PC. I think I prefer LCD to plasma for cost and longevity reasons, but other than that, I have an open mind.
Any good references, thoughts or suggestions out there?
Can you spot the problem with this story?
New Orleans Police said a security guard shot a man in the face at a hotel in the Central Business District Tuesday morning.
The shooting happened around 7 a.m. at a hotel in the 100 block of St. Charles Avenue, according to police spokesman Capt. John P. Bryson.
Witnesses said the guard got into an argument with a visitor, 30-year-old Erik R. Beelman, over whose prior military service record was more veracious. The two men began pushing and shoving before throwing punches.
The guard, who Bryson said identified himself as Christopher Marlowe, then pulled out a .40 caliber handgun and shot Beelman once in the face.
If you can spot the problem, post it in the comments. I now return to blogospheric seclusion.
P.S. R.I.P. Acidman.
As Yoda once said, "Do or do not, there is no try":
Four Guantanamo detainees attempt suicide
Maybe the attacks on the guards after faked suicide attempts have deprived them of the sympathy they seek.
My favorite part of the story featuring this headline:
6 Gitmo Inmates Hurt in Fight With Guards
Is this sentence:
No guards were injured, he said.
I salute their bravery and comeptence. And I vastly prefer this headline to one that might read:
6 Gitmo Guards Hurt in Fight With Inmates
Does that make me a bad person?
A real potential disaster – the threat of tornadoes – has caused the Franklin portion of a massive disaster drill to be suspended until tomorrow and Nashville’s portion to be put temporarily on hold.
The drill, which involves a fake skyscraper collapse staged in Bordeaux and a mock train derailment/chemical spill in Franklin, was scheduled to take place today and tomorrow.
But inclement weather is fast approaching, and the deaths of 24 people in Sunday night’s tornadoes in northwest Tennessee are on the minds of many.
Let's hope that "fake, but accurate" doesn't apply this time.
Consider the following:
The Government is to give schools an extra £2m to improve the teaching of geography.
The campaign will be launched tonight by the former Monty Python star Michael Palin, whose travel documentaries have reinvigorated the television genre. He will highlight the importance of geography in tackling issues such as global warming, telling his audience: "If we don't understand geography, we can't properly understand the past, present or future of our planet."
The move follows a report from Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, which found that geography was the worst-taught subject in primary schools. The Government's exams watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, has further warned that the subject is in a "vicious circle of decline" in secondary schools. As a result, a generation of young people are not being properly educated about vital global issues, government education advisers say.
Figures show that GCSE entries in the subject have slumped by a third since 1996, and A-level take-up by about a quarter. In addition, about 25 per cent of lessons in secondary schools are taken by teachers not trained in the subject.
The number of pupils studying geography dwindled after it stopped being a compulsory subject on the school timetable for those over the age of 14. A similar fate has befallen modern foreign languages.
I don't care much about the manufactured pseudo-crisis in geography education in the UK, Michael Palin's idiosyncratic obsesions, or even the dearth of, say, Swedish speakers in Great Britain, but that last paragraph does highlight something that apparently a significant percentage of the adult population seems to keep misunderstanding, with catastrophic long term implications.
Multiple choice test: When it comes to what a teenager needs to study and learn to get on with the rest of their life, who knows better:
A. The teenager and his/her circle of teenage friends with their vast collective store of knowledge, accumulated experience, and perspective gathered from, in some cases, literally weeks of carrying the load of responsibility for themselves and others.
Now, I'm not claiming that adults always know the best answer, or even a good answer to all the decisions that a teenager has to make, but why should anyone be surprised that teenagers aren't exactly interested in the same things that someone who has been around the block more than a few times has learned the hard way may be important -- especially if learning these subjects is difficult, unpopular, takes effort, or has a payoff that can only be realized years from now.
Grrrrr... but if there is anything that troubles me even more, pedagogically speaking, well, see if you can guess what it is from the following excerpt of the same story:
Rita Gardner, director of the Royal Geographical Society, said: "It is the only subject in the curriculum which can get to grips with issues like climate change, rises in the sea levels and vital national and global issues. There is an awful lot of good geography teaching in schools, but quite a high proportion of geography lessons are taught by non-specialist teachers in secondary schools.
She added that one reason for its decline was the fact that the geography curriculum had not been updated since the 1980s, when the national curriculum was first introduced in schools.
As a result of today's package, devised by Mrs Gardner and David Lambert, chief executive of the Geographical Association, - both of whom have now been appointed as advisers to the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly - schools will be sent videos of celebrities visiting different parts of the world in a bid to make lessons more interesting.
And no, I'm not thinking of Ms. Gardner's problems with getting a grip, proselytizing pseudoscience, pandering to the existing workforce (their present apparent failures leading to this crisis notwithstanding), over-reliance on certifications, or her truly imaginative belief in vast changes in world geography since the 1980s as the root cause of of the crisis in geographic tutelage. Heck, I'm not even thinking here about the inherent inanity of appealing to, ugh, celebrities as authority figures (Ed: But will they be properly certified?). What I object to most is the idea that it is necessary to stoop to entertaining the kids to get them to learn.
If I have to choose between my kids disliking school but learning, or loving school but being total dunderheads who believe it is most important that they have fun and feel good about themselves, well, you know which of the choices of this false dichotomy I'm going to make. But anyway, I think you know what I mean.
Glenda is not the good cyclone from the East.
Stay safe down under.
Airbus is running a tightly scripted demo:
Airbus plans a major certification test on Sunday for its A380, evacuating hundreds of people from the world's biggest passenger jet in just 90 seconds.
The drill will be carried out in darkness in a hangar at the Airbus plant in the north German city of Hamburg, using employees and volunteers selected from 11,000 applicants.
The test is standard procedure in airline production and is vital for the A380 to be certified to carry passengers.
The plane is designed to carry a maximum of 850 passengers and 20 crew, but the largest number of seats planned for initial delivery of the aircraft is 650.
Airbus intends to use the maximum number in Sunday's exercise during which the volunteers will have to escape through half of the plane's 16 doors and slide down emergency chutes to the ground eight metres below.
'We have been preparing for this test with a team of 12 since December 2004 and are confident that everything will go according to plan,' says Hans-Georg Schrader, the man in charge of the operation.
Each volunteer will get a free meal and 60 euros (72 dollars) for the test, which will be recorded on video from nearly 40 different camera angles and overseen by officials of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Ok, let's do the simple math. To achieve its certification, 870 people are going to exit this aircraft from only 8 exits in 90 seconds -- in darkness. So, completely disregarding the difficulties associated with a real disaster that might require abandoning an aircraft -- the injured, the screaming, the panic, etc. -- we will posit ideal conditions and assume that one trained, motivated, and well fed exiter is going to successfully exit the aircraft from each available exit every 0.82758 seconds for 90 seconds.
For cabin attendants overseeing a real-life evacuation it is important to remain calm while getting passengers out of the aircraft as quickly as possible.
If, for example, one of the wings is on fire the doors have to remain sealed on that side of the aircraft and the passengers directed to other exits.
They make it all sound so easy. But who really thinks the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aren't going to certify this aircraft to fly passengers even if they cannot accomplish the impossible? After all:
Singapore Airlines is expected to take delivery of the first two aircraft at the end of this year.
Odds are they didn't buy them to taxi passengers from one terminal to another, even if they are more efficient than the people movers at Dulles.
But you can only do it once:
Before cops threw the book at him, Jakub Fik threw something unusual at them -- his penis. Fik, 33, cut off his own penis during a Northwest Side rampage Wednesday morning. When confronted by police, Fik hurled several knives and his severed organ at the officers, police said.
Dr. Greg Bales, associate professor of urology at the University of Chicago, said severed penises are uncommon but surgery usually works. "As long as the penis is placed on ice and reattached within a few hours, the success is usually pretty good," Bales said.
Though, admittedly, I use the word art very loosely here:
More than £25m in cash has been stolen from a depot in Kent after its security manager and his family were kidnapped by armed robbers...
Too bad this guy isn't as tough as Harrison Ford.
I think the Eagles already addressed what comes next:
An astonishing mist-shrouded "lost world" of previously unknown and rare animals and plants high in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea has been uncovered by an international team of scientists.
Among the new species of birds, frogs, butterflies and palms discovered in the expedition through this pristine environment, untouched by man, was the spectacular Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise. The scientists are the first outsiders to see it. They could only reach the remote mountainous area by helicopter, which they described it as akin to finding a "Garden of Eden".
How long before there's a heloport or an airstrip nearby to allow the bona gentes of the "right" people, say, Leonardo DiCaprio, to experience the magnificence of this paradise and broadcast the importance of the hoi polloi staying far, far away.
I'm no fan of her silly prattle, but this is still sad:
Molly Ivins facing third round of cancer
Here's hoping she beats it for good this time. Then we can all get back to our usual snarking.
Vicky Drachenberg has fallen ill. I'm sure that she and Matt welcome words of encouragement and support.
A couple quick thoughts while I'm extremely intoxicated after a marvelous meal with a bottle of 1992 Peter Michael "Les Pavots" (and a couple of Beck's while I prepared it)...
I still owe a number of thank you notes to all those that helped on the MDA Telethon. Work has been more than the usual bear of late. My apologies.
Daughter #1 (a sophomore in high school) and about ten of her friends got together and convinced a local business (The Alpine Shop) to let them run a car wash today in their parking lot to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, they got another local business (Famous Barr, well, local until May bought our Federated last month and decided to turn all Famous Barr stores into Macy's) to match their efforts. Washing cars, they raised $800, which when matched by Famous Barr, uh, I mean Macy's, is $1,600. Kind of puts my recent efforts to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association to shame. Either that, or some people find it easier to open their wallets in person when 15- and 16-year old girls are washing cars in bikinis than when a middle-aged man begs online. Hey, whatever works.
Oh yes, and Howard Dean can go fuck himself for suggesting that I and my daughter are racists. As if I would ever consider voting for a Democrat again. And yes, it has happened before, but I can assure you it will never happen again. And yes, that is the first time I have uttered an unexpurgated R-rated epithet on this blog. But Howard Dean has earned it.
My feelings on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been expressed in comments to various posts on Protein Wisdom, Outside the Beltway, Daily Pundit, and The Fat Guy, all of whom can be found on the blogrolls to the left. Scott and Jeff have fully captured my sense of outrage and shock at the collective ignorance and painful partisan stupidity of all leading Democrats, many Republicans, and most of Big Media. Suffice it to say that, "Damn the constitution, people are suffering", reminds me of nothing more than the aphorism that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
On a blog front, I've been 1-5 days ahead in my assorted comments to a lot of posts that Glenn Reynolds has linked, but a lot of good it's done me. Ack, that's one of the frustrations of being a second-tier blogger. Or is it third-tier?
Did I mention that my wife has authored and self-published a book? If you ask nicely, I'm sure I can get her and her other to autograph one for you.
Still deciding on whether to fold up this blog or not. On the one hand there is my honor and integrity, such as it is, and on the other there is the clamor of those who have become accustomed to my regular threats to quit and would miss them should I actually follow through. The conundrum I face can best be understood by knowing that I haven't found the time nor will to Scourge Richard Cohen's latest column, which is silly even for him.
Oh boy, I got to watch Ohio State and Michigan (that's two years in a row Michigan has outplayed Notre Dame and lost) choke on the same day and together with Iowa drag the Big 10 down the BCS toilet for yet another year. I would note that should Illinois win the Big 10, highly unlikely though that might be, they would yet again be cheated out of playing in the Rose Bowl, since every five years the execrable BCS rotates to the Rose Bowl. And this year, as in 2001 when the Fighting Illini won the Big 10 but had to play LSU in the Sugar Bowl, the Big 10 champion will only pay in the Rose Bowl if the grand poobahs of television money decide that the Big 10 champion is one of the two top teams in the coutry. That's not going to happen now, with all three Big 10 teams ranked in the top 10 losing on the same day. So, thanks to the NCAA, the Fighting Illini will have played in their last Rose Bowl in 1984, no matter how well Ron Zook gets them to play this year or in any subsequent year. As if I needed another reason to dislike Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, or the NCAA.
Consolation prize: I get to watch the first full weekend of the NFL on my new Sony 55" HDTV. Living well truly is the best revenge.
I think I'll get the paperwork for my CCW license started next week. I've already taken care of the food, water, and other emergency supplies necessary to last 7 days in the event of an emergency. Given the gun grabbing tendencies of the NOPD when the shit hits the fan, this seems as good a time as any. I have to admit, the NRA slogan "They can take my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers" has never seemed quite so apropos.
Thanks to all who helped raise $726 dollars for the MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Love the city. Love the music. Love the food. Love Bourbon Street.
But I wonder if it is all gone forever.
Some random, mostly depressing thoughts...
I fear New Orleans will be down for a long, long time. So long, it may be difficult to ever make it back, especially if another hurricane rolls through anytime in the ne 24 months. I really do fear that the butcher's bill may exceed what we experienced on 9/11 before all is said and done. This is catastrophic in biblical terms and I don't think that's hyperbole.
New Orleans major industry is tourism. Now that the tourists have no hotels to stay in, no casinos to visit, no restaurants to dine in, no French Quarter to ooze through, no Garden District to walk through, no Superdome or Convention Center to convene in, well, what's left?
The fact that there are no death totals coming out of New Orleans is downright disturbing. I'm not a fan of the rollling body count in any context, but it seems to me that there's something really dreadful waiting there if no one can even hazard a guess like the did for Biloxi. Imagine how incredibly bad it has to be there for no reporters to be reporting from there. Given the Governor's pronouncement that the city must be evacuated a day after the hurricane rolled through, when will things ever get back to normal there?
The Saints certinaly won't be playing any home games this year, so if you are in a fantasy football league, downgrade all the Saints. Will Tom Benson use this as an excuse to move to L.A.? If the Saints leave New Orleans, is tere a point to spending $100,000,000+ to repair the Suuperdome?
Why is anyone surprised that New Orleas and Louisiana, a city and state world famous for corruption, would be unprepared to deal with a real disaster -- both before and after the fact?
Will those blaming Bush, the US, the liberation of Iraq, global warming, etc. please knock it the hell off. The inability to see everything, no matter how horrid, as nothing other than another reason to spout your favorite political talking point is reprehensible. Especially when your point is stupid.
Oh well, off to a school meeting. Life goes on ... for most of us. Pray for those who perished and those still in great peril.
My wife has an op-ed piece today in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. It ties in closely with the release of her mother's memoirs, Cherry Blossoms in Twilight. This is her first book and it is self-published. Isn't technology wonderful?
Link via Scott Chaffin.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if the headline read:
Man Shot and Killed After Spraying Nurses With HIV-Infected Blood
Man Sprays Nurses With HIV-Infected Blood
My tolerance for such wicked, anti-social behavior has evaporated.
Have you ever noticed how the Loony Left has come to resemble more and more the dementors of Harry Potter's world -- the foul, loathsome creatures with the chilling aura which feed off all your happy thoughts, leaving you with nothing but your worst memories and feeling, as Ron Weasely once said, "like you'll never be cheerful again," until they finally steal your soul.
Yeah, I finally got around to reading all the Harry Potter books. I started a couple of weeks ago and I'm about a third of the way into The Order of the Phoenix right now. I have found them quite enjoyable. Certainly not great literature, but entertaining, engaging, and quite remarkable when you consider the attention span of the target audience.
I was considering reading them aloud to daughter #2, who has already seen the movies, but after finishing The Goblet of Fire, I'm rethinking that decision. Part of the charm of the series is the warts and all view of the protagonists and the total lack of sugar-coating when it comes to evil, but damn, J. K. Rowling sure took a harsh turn at the end of year four. I am greatly looking forward to the movie this November and hoping against experience that it is at least three hours long, otherwise they are just going to have to cut out too much material. Daughter #1 is already unhappy about how much has been cut out in the first three movies.
FWIW, my patronus takes the form of Milton Friedman.
I tend to avoid talking about me, my family, or my life on this blog, mostly because my life isn't interesting enough to command anyone's attention for long. With perhaps one exception.
Ten years ago my youngest cousin became very ill and his kidneys failed. At the time, it was believed that he had become severely dehydrated due to food poisoning and that was what caused his kidneys to fail. He had been on dialysis since but several years ago got serious about seeking a kidney donor, though he was adamant about not having a family member or any of his friends offer one of their kidneys. Given my history of gout, it was unlikely that I was going to be a good candidate, but it is something that has been preying on my mind for a long time.
As it happened, the daughter of someone he works with happened to start talking with him one day and asked him about the thing in his arm, a device which was surgically implanted to aid with his dialysis. He told her about it and why it was there and she immediately wanted to donate one of her kidneys to him. After tests were run, it was found that she was a perfect match to be a donor. Freakin' unbelievable on so many levels.
As it happens, she was a senior in college and the timing was such that there was a narrow window when the surgery could take place without interfering with her plans to graduate. Unfortunately, the hospital could not accomodate her schedule. That was, until a couple of phone calls were made by someone close to her who just happened to have worked for a famous surgeon from Tennessee, who now has a somewhat more high profile position in Washington these days. Before long, schedules were adjusted and she donated a kidney to my cousin two weeks ago.
At first, all went well. My cousin was up and around in a couple of days and the donor was up and about a few days after with nothing more than the usual post-operative pain. About one week later, my cousin started to develop problems with the donated kidney. After a battery of tests it was discovered that my cousin has a rare blood disease which was destroying his new kidney, as well as, in retrospect, probably being responsible for the failure of his kidneys ten years ago.
In the last week my cousin has undergone massive transfusions and is now on a radical drug regimen to try and counteract the problems he is experiencing with the new kidney in an effort to save it. If you are so inclined, pray for my cousin. He and his kidney donor have gone through too much to have it all go for naught now.
Like I said, perspective.
Thomas Dolby wrote this some some 24 years ago:
One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuvres
One of our submarines
A hungry heart
To regulate their breathing
One more night
the Winter Boys are freezing in their spam time
The Baltic moon
Along the northern seaboard
And down below
The Winter Boys are waiting for the storm
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide
And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines
The red light flicker, sonar weak
Air valves hissing open
Half her pressure blown away
Flounder in the ocean
See the Winter Boys
Drinking heavy water from a stone
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Tired illusion drown in the night
And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines
One of our submarines
One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuveres
One of our submarines
Good luck and godspeed to those men on the Russia AS-28.
Connie Chung's a piker compared to Dr. Ralph Greenson and John Miner:
"You are the only person who will ever know the most private, the most secret thoughts of Marilyn Monroe," she tells Greenson, according to Miner's transcript. "I have absolute confidence and trust you will never reveal to a living soul what I say to you."
This post brought to you as a public service for those in the public eye who still might believe that they can trust anyone to keep a secret.
Daughter #1 has built up something of a menagerie over time, though now that she's changed her mind about wanting to be a veterinarian she's not nearly as interested in taking care of her mini-zoo as she used to be. To wit, we are trying to help some of them find new homes.
If you are local (St. Louis area) and would like a free leopard gecko with cage and supplies, please leave me a note here. He (?) is healthy, happy and an effective devourer of small crickets. Here's an image of one of his species:
Hmm..., did I say free? I meant to say that with a small contribution to the MDA he can be yours.
Boys from Africa are being murdered as human sacrif ices in London churches. They are brought into the capital to be offered up in rituals by fundamentalist Christian sects, according to a shocking report by Scotland Yard.
Human sacriices in fundamentalist Chrsitian sects? Huh?
The report was put together by an expert social worker and lawyer for the Met after talking to hundreds of people in African communities in a series of workshops. It uncovered allegations of witchcraft spells, child trafficking and HIV-positive people who believe that by having sex with a child they will be "cleansed".
An extract reads: "People who are desperate will seek out experts to cast spells for them.
"Members of the workshop stated that for a spell to be powerful it required a sacrifice involving a male child unblemished by circumcision. They allege that boy children are being trafficked into the UK for this purpose."
What the hell? I was raised as a Southern Baptist, which is pretty far up the scale as fundamentalist Christians go, but I don't recall ever hearing anything remotely resembling any of this. Strangely enough, there's not another mention of the word Christian after the introduction. Nor is there a mention of Christ, redemption, priest, minister, reverend, resurrection, grace, or anything else that might actually strike an associational chord with the word Christian.
I have no idea what is going on in these rather primitive cults that abuse children, and whatever it is does not to be stopped, but a syncretic inclusion of "Christ" into their mythology doesn't make them Christians, if in fact that is what led to these cults being considered to be fundamentalist Christians. Or is it possible that the learned sociologists, lawyers, and theologians who are quoted here naturally lump these monsters into the same group as fundamentalist Christians because, after all, they are all just primitive religious cults. Or was it merely the journalist that took this, ahem, leap of faith?
Well, this would explain the popularity of American Idol, and Scientology for that matter:
One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a "serious" disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation's mental health, published yesterday.
Then again, maybe the only real problem we have is one of defining mental illness if our current definitions encompass 1 out of every 4 people.
Angry, hasty, drunken, depressing post deleted.
Yesterday was special. Why? Because for the first time in seven years, I was playing golf on Sunday and Tiger Woods wasn't. FWIW, I played at Tapawingo from the blue tees and shot an 85. It was a beautiful, if windy, day. On the 378-yard 11th hole I hit a wind and elevation aided drive 360 yards -- hence the title to this post -- and then I put the pitch up to two inches. It helped me forget about several putts that rimmed out and the triple bogey a couple of holes later. Sigh. The better I play, the greedier I get.
Thursday, I'm playing in a tournament here. Wish me luck.
I actually discovered this in my bathroom this morning.
Remember, in any population of sufficient size, half the population are, by definition, below average:
Many residents along the East and Gulf coasts don't plan to take simple steps to protect themselves and their homes from hurricanes, despite the devastation caused by five hurricanes that struck the United States last year, according to a poll released Monday. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said they felt "not too" or "not at all" vulnerable, according to a Mason-Dixon poll. And one in four would do nothing to prepare for a storm, even after a watch or warning was issued... The poll also found that one in four residents believed they could evacuate flood-prone areas 30 minutes to an hour before a hurricane made landfall... Overall, the hurricanes and tropical storms killed 117 people in Florida and more than 3,000 in Haiti. The storms damaged or destroyed one in five Florida homes, along with 90% of those on the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. Property losses were estimated at $42 billion. Yet 47% of those surveyed had no disaster plan for the hurricane season that begins June 1 and runs through November, the poll found.
This simple fact continues to elude journalists who seem amazed by the lack of foresight shown by ..., wait for it ..., approximately half the population.
But, but, but aren't all human differences artificial cultural constructs to maintain the patriarchal domination of the ruling class?
A compound taken from male sweat stimulates the brains of gay men and straight women but not heterosexual men, raising the possibility that homosexual brains are different, researchers in Sweden reported on Monday.
What would Ronald Reagan have given to hear John Philip Sousa played in Red Square?
When someone called to strike up a stirring military march for a parade through central Moscow, hardly anyone ever imagined it would be "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
Or that the Stars and Stripes itself, hoisted aloft by an Army sergeant, would lead the U.S. Army Europe Band up the Russian capital's main thoroughfare, past cheering crowds, to greet a train full of Russian war veterans.
"I've met every president. I've met hundreds of kings and queens. But marching through Moscow behind three of my soldiers carrying the American flag is pretty much the highlight of my career," said Lt. Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, commander of the Army band, which came here along with President Bush and other U.S. officials to help mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
"We played inside the Kremlin walls! We played 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' on the streets of Moscow! It was a pretty emotional experience," Palmatier said.
Local kid makes bad. Very bad:
Darrell Jackson, a former prep football star and college recruit, will let a judge decide his punishment - a range from probation to life in prison - when Jackson is sentenced June 9 on five counts of statutory sodomy.
But lest you think Mr. Jackson may be getting a raw deal:
Jackson, a former Webster Groves High School standout and University of Missouri recruit, admitted that he molested a child five times between August 2000, when she was 8, and April last year.
But wait, it gets even worse:
Kendrick told Jackson on Friday to pay attention to his mother, who was in court with him, and to stay out of trouble as he remains at liberty pending sentencing. The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation by the Board of Probation and Parole.
"Listen to your mother." No doubt these words of wisdom will have a profound effect on the young man. What exactly do you have to do to have bail denied? What could possibly explain this?
Jackson was twice the Post-Dispatch's high school football player of the year.
Oh. Please tell me this isn't why Mr. Jackson is being treated with, no pun intended, kid gloves. This is tragic. The kid was a local star, but he has been doing terrible, despicable things for five years now. I cannot imagine how a judge decides that allowing a confessed repeat child molester back on the streets is a wise move.
Daughter #1 got her driver's permit today. Alas, not possessing the writing ability to be found in James Lilek's last bit of clipped excess fingernail, I have nothing further to say about it.
I'm not Catholic, heck, I'm not even a Christian as I understand the term, but the early Big Media reviews and the outright hostility and ill will generated by the Angry Left over the elevation of Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI is stunning and profoundly depressing. What is wrong with these people? I seriously worry about the reeducation camps being just around the corner if the Angry Left ever assumes power. With apologies to Jerry Jeff Walker, it'll be, "Up against the wall red-state mother!"
As to Pope Benedict XVI, I wish him well. He has a difficult job that would tax any man, much less one who is already 78 years old. The most interesting comment I read about his selection today, though I cannot remember where it was, is that a European was selected because Europe is where the fiercest battles for Christianity will be fought in the next decade. Seems about right to me.
DOWNDATE: Listening to Sylvia Pujoli describe Pope Benedict XVI as divisive again this morning on Morning Edition, I began to wonder that had there been a Cardinal with a mean streak of anti-Americanism who favored the ordination of women, gay marriage, abortion on demand, euthanasia, stem cell research, the Kyoto Accords, and confiscatory tax rates; and further if that Cardinal had been elected Pope; would we be hearing that the new Pope might be a divisive figure for all those who suddenly gave up on the church as a hopelessly relativistic institution that fell for anything because they stood for nothing? Or is the infallibility of Big Media on politics less subject to challenge than the infallibility of the Pope on Roman Catholic dogma?
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: And with no apologies to Jacques Chirac, Andrew Sullivan and many others missed an opportunity to keep quiet.
Requiescat in pacem.
Mend her, don't end her.
Whatever happened to, "First, do no harm."?
One of the arguments against the death penalty is that we can't correct our mistakes. Well...?
I never went to Florida for Spring Break while I was in college, but I am going to be staying at the Sheraton Bal Harbor the rest of the week while attending a conference. Alas, I won't have the chance this trip to pay a visit to my non-blogging friends in Melbourne and Tampa or the gracious Andrea in Orlando.
See y'all next week.
So why does he say such stupid things?
The nation's governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.
"We can't keep explaining to our nation's parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can't do the work," said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit aimed at rallying governors around high school reform...
The most blunt assessment came from Microsoft chief Bill Gates, who has put more than $700 million into reducing the size of high school classes through the foundation formed by him and his wife, Melinda. He said high schools must be redesigned to prepare every student for college, with classes that are rigorous and relevant to kids and with supportive relationships for children.
"America's high schools are obsolete," Gates said. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that they're broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools _ even when they're working as designed _ cannot teach all our students what they need to know today."
Let's see, so according to Bill Gates every student should be prepared for college. The fact that he dropped out of college would probably be better left unaddressed here given his subsequent success. Is it possible Mr. Gates left school a little too early to become familiar with this:
Though to be fair, perhaps he's merely fallen under the spell of President Bush and his No Child Left Behind initiatives. Either way, this is a phenomenonally silly thing to say. While I'm not interested in getting into an argument about Charles Murray's book here, I have read elsewhere that almost everything we can measure in nature corresponds to this model. I've also read that to master nature we must first learn to obey it. Pretending that the population of American children are somehow an exception to this virtually universal rule seem to me the height of folly. In fact, I find it difficult to distinguish between the philosophy motivating these ideas and those motivating Year 0 Utopians, of whom I am a self-professed nemesis. Each seems to believe that we can make people something other than what they merely by wishing it so, or what's worse by intellectual or administrative fiat.
This seems to me to be nothing more than another variation on the meme that we must measure equality only at the finish line. I find this to be perhaps the most pernicous idea floating around in our political discourse today. The fact that these ideas are always couched in high-minded idealism in no way redeems the wickedness they have spawned. I could get off an a rant here about the decline of our schools merely mirroring the demise of the family in our society and the concurrent replacement of the state as the head of so many households, figuratively and literally, but instead I'll finish with a question.
Can you name any measurable human trait that does not correspond to a bell shaped curve?
They are just poorly informed and lack any decent historical perspective:
A new Gallup Poll, released today, finds that Ronald Reagan is now the people's choice for America's greatest president ever. Bill Clinton comes in second.
While this finding may suggest that many Americans favor only recent presidents, it does represent a strong rise for Reagan since his recent passing. The previous Gallup survey on this subject placed Reagan behind co-leaders Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
In another interesting finding, Gallup found that mothers don't want their babies to grow up to be cowboys -- or presidents. Men by a 52%-46% margin said they would like their son or daughter to “grow up to be president," but women say no by 67% to 29%.
In this new poll on greatest president, Reagan drew 20% support, followed by Clinton with 15%, Lincoln with 14%, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and JFK with 12% each.
Republicans rate Reagan over Lincoln 42% to 14%, while Democrats put Clinton far in the lead over FDR. Independents favor Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy.
By age group, Clinton is favored by the youngest (18-29), Reagan by the 30-49 group, Kennedy by the 50-64 baby boomers, and FDR by the elderly.
If you want to beat up Big Media over something, this is a much better target than most of what they've been taking heat over the last six months. I recall being frustrated and incredulous with the daily "What Does Bill Clinton Think About Today's News" mode of operation Big Media was in while he was president, as though he was some sort of oracle who knew so much better than all of us little people. I will note that there is still some of this going on today, although the frequency and intensity is much lower since Big Media really doesn't put much stock in what President George W. Bush thinks anyway.
I'm not a Christian, but I cannot understand how things ever came to this:
Clergy who deny the existence of God and other key doctrines could soon face heresy trials in the Church of England.
Where does one start?
I am sorry to hear about Tony Snow's colon cancer. He's always seemed like a standup guy. But let me take this opprtunity to remind everyone to get your colonoscopy if you at risk due to a family history or if you are over 40. I've written about this before, since I have a family history. Colon cancer is the most treatable form of cancer if detected early.
Not every denizen of Hollywood is threatening to leave the country (even if the threats are generally as vacuous as their thoughts):
Actress Jane Seymour waived a small US flag and cheered after she and about 9,000 other immigrants became US citizens during a naturalisation ceremony in Los Angeles today.
The British-born actress who once lived in a mansion near Bath and is best known for her TV series Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, said she has been in the United States since 1976.
“I’ve realised that I’ve been living here longer than in my home country. America has given me unbelievable opportunities,” she said. “I realised that with the US elections I wanted to vote and I couldn’t. I felt the time had come to participate more fully.”
I'm happy to have Ms. Seymour here. Welcome Jane.
1983, in case you were wondering.
Rest in peace, Mr. Perkins:
George Perkins, believed to be the United States' oldest Marine, has died at the age of 106.
Perkins, who would have been 107 next month, died Wednesday at Overton Brooks Veterans Administration Medical Center in Shreveport. He had been admitted to the hospital on Tuesday.
Perkins had been active until about a week ago. He had been present for the Veterans Day 2004 rededication of Municipal Auditorium.
Veterans Affairs officials said Perkins was the nation's oldest surviving former Marine and the only surviving Marine from World War I.
And so passes another link to our past.
There was an earthquake in Middle America today:
A small earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas rattled parts of several states Thursday but caused no major damage.
Shaking was felt as far away as Memphis, Tenn., and in Mississippi casinos. Window blinds and doors shook and swayed, pictures fell from the walls and telephone service was briefly interrupted in one small town in Arkansas.
The quake hit at 8:05 a.m. about four miles east of Caraway. Over the course of the day, the U.S. Geological Survey gave varying magnitudes for the quake — from 3.9 to 4.2.
Even assuming it was a 4.2, that means it was approximately 100,000 times smaller than the earhtquake that created the tsunami in Southeast Asia last month.
With apologies to Shirley Bassey:
Stopped the man, the man who hid in a hutch --
A spider's hutch.
Such a bold finger beckons you, it clearly would be a sin
To not join in!
Democracy has come to Iraq
To vote and be free, scorning attacks
A girl today faced down threats of terror,
Z-man’s kiss of death has missed her
Boys and girls, vibrant, joyous brave souls,
These hearts are gold!
Democracy has come to Iraq
To vote and be free, scorning attacks
A girl today faced down threats of terror,
Z-man’s kiss of death has missed her
Boys and girls, vibrant, joyous brave souls,
Their hearts are gold!
Be free and bold!
Their hearts are gold!
Baathist’s been told,
Hit the road!
(Photo via Citizen Smash -- Az Zubayr, 2005 - AP Photo/Andrew Parsons)
It was 7 degrees yesterday morning in St. Louis. Today I'm in Denver and it is in the 60s.
40% OF AMERICANS TAKE DRUGS
Well, duh. I myself take two medications daily, Allopurinol to keep my uric acid levels down (I suffer from gout) and Pravachol to keep my cholesterol down (currently on a test run). Gee, does anyone out there know anyone over 40 who isn't taking something daily? Last I heard, birth control pills still required a prescription, so that alone has to be worth 25% of the population. Given that supposedly 28,000,000 Americans were taking Vioxx, this 40% figure seems to be just a little low.
But there are some other interesting facts in this article as well:
The annual report on Americans' health found that just over 44 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, and 16.5 percent take at least three.
Gee Matt, if your going to try and be sensational, at least take advanatge of the total number.
The study also found that spending on health climbed 9.3 percent in 2002 to $1.6 trillion.
But the problem with medical coverage in this country is an insurance problem, right?
Prescription drugs, which make up about one-tenth of the total medical bill, were the fastest growing expenditure. The price of drugs rose 5 percent, but wider use of medicines pushed total expenditures up 15.3 percent in 2002. Drug expenditures have risen at least 15 percent every year since 1998.
And you thought Social Security would be what bankrupts America, didn't you? A growth rate of 15% means that drug expeditures are doubling every five years. Woo Hoo!
The report said prescription drug use was increasing among people of all ages, and use increases with age.
Nearly half of all women were taking prescription drugs - 49 percent - compared to 39 percent of men. Usage peaked at 84 percent for people aged 65 and over, with the top rate at 89 percent for black women over 65. Even for people under age 18, however, nearly one-fourth - 24.1 percent - were taking at least one prescription medication. The rate rose to 34.7 percent between age 18 and 44; for those ages 45 to 64, it was 62.1 percent.
Better life through chemistry. And no, that's not sarcasm. So let's not kill the goose that's laying the golden eggs, ok?
I am blessed with a wonderful life full of family near and dear, new friends close and old friends far away, co-workers, customers around the world, brave men and women in uniform, great food, great wine, single malt scotch, vintage ports, lambics, real ales, hi-end audio toys, CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, live music, cigars, ideals, good health, the theater, a culture of freedom and the rule of law, foreign travel, philosophy, history, movies, art, antiques, the Internet, games, books, sports, National Parks, medical miracles, modern dentistry, fabulous consumer technology, commercial space travel in my lifetime, myriad golf courses, guns, and, yes, blogs. I've got more than twice as much as I deserve and cherish the goodwill and good fortune I enjoy less than half as much as I should. I sincerely hope your life and your Thanksgiving are as wonderful and fulfilling as mine.
Oh yeah, I'm decanting a 1977 Graham's Vintage Port tomorrow and the family doesn't arrive for the official Thanksgiving dinner until Friday, so if you're in the neighborhood stop on by for a drink or two with some apples, pears, Stilton, and chocolate. I don't mind drinking alone, but I do like to share something this good. And if it's too good I may be tempted to break out the 1985 Graham's or the 1992 Fonseca as well. And that's just to get started!
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and say a prayer for those so far from home tonight defending us and bringing freedom and hope to so many who have never enjoyed it before.
What I find most illuminating about this article by John Tierney that documents the discrimination against conservatives and Republicans in academia is that it once again reveals in the starkest possible terms the blatant hypocrisy of the Left and illiberal utopian statists of all stripes. When it comes to Title IX compliance, glass ceilings, or affirmative action, substantially weaker statistical correlations are trumpeted and accepted by the chattering class, politicians, and, most depressingly, the courts, as de facto evidence of discrimination against women and minorities.
While conventional wisdom likes to suppose that there is a very high correlation coefficient between conservatives and white men, and vice versa, I would guess that the conjunction of these two sets is, while significant, somewhat smaller than the Left thinks, and it is getting smaller all the time due to a growing trend of younger people towards conservatism, an ever-growing black middle class, and the impact of immigration.
So, what's it going to be? Since I seek intellectual and philosophical consistency in my positions, I'd prefer to abandon all quota-based solutions across the board and let the market solve whatever problem there is rather than introduce new quotas to effect some "desired" change in society. If there is a demand for less liberal colleges and universities, some enterprising chancellors and presidents are going to capitalize on it. If there isn't a demand, then perhaps this is all just a tempest in a teapot driven predominantly by anecdotal evidence. But will the Left maintain a consistent, coherent policy by now applying the same quota-driven restitution solutions for a clearly, and overwhelmingly, discriminated against class of people, or will it resort yet again to one set of rules for me and another for thee?
See! There are stupid questions.
(Title of the post changed from "Sauce for the Goose" after reading this.)
I'll get the barbeque ready.
DOWNDATE: I don't know where Fox got the picture of the lunar eclipse but the cloud cover here in St. Louis was so thick you couldn't see a star, much less the moon.
I have an idea that will make a fortune. I'll invent a batting glove that doesn't have to be readjusted after every pitch, especially the pitches where the bat never leads the batters shoulder.
Summary: I predicted to friends here two months ago that the Cardinals pitching was going to be a problem in the post-season. Their 1-2 starters (Williams, Morris) turned out to be their 4-5 starters. Three guys new to the team (Carpenter, Marquis, Suppan) all had career years and most had trouble in the past lasting a full season. Morris was the only power pitcher the Cardinals had and he was far too erratic to count on. Did you know they brought Rick Ankiel up in September, remember him? They lost Carpenter before the playoffs, Kline got injured leaving them with only one left-hander in the bullpen, and Tavares stupidly broke his non-throwing hand, though it didn't seem to affect him too much. The Cardinals had a good bullpen and a great defense, but their starting pitching cost them dearly, as did the dead zone in the middle of the order. Pujols hit for average but not power, Rolen had no hits in the entire series, Edmonds had a bunt single for the entire series. I think LaRussa made a number of errors, but the series sweep was so complete that isn't anyone's fault -- this was a team effort. Between the remarkably poor pitching (all those walks and hit batsmen), the terrible hitting, the bizarre baserunning mistakes, and LaRussa's mismanagement, the Red Sox thoroughly dominated the Cardinals, never trailing in the whole series. Kind of a shock for a team that was so used to being dominant for most of the year.
One of the guys that works for me was at the game tonight. He also attended the World Series here in 1964, 1967, 1968 and 1985. Yeah, I'm jealous. But as we say in Chicago, there's always next year.
Oh, and Tim McCarver still sucks as a baseball announcer.
As a mildly interested Cub fan living in St. Louis, I put up with a lot of crap this year; well, every year, actually. Nonetheless, I'll still root for the Cardinals tonight. If the Cardinals can win four in a row, then a lot of people in Boston will go to their graves believing the curse will last as long as the game is played. On the other hand, if the Red Sox can lift the curse and put the Bambino's shade to rest, then perhaps we can all refocus our energies on that damn goat.
Wow. It was 3-0 when I left for Team America: World Police. I expected the game to be over when I got home.
Does every game in baseball now have to take at least four hours?
Picking it up in the 7th inning.
Kelly Clarkson really isn't very good.
Why wasn't Pujols or the pitcher covering first on Manny's hit?
Manny Ramirez really screwed up the first time. I also think Marquis was out at home. I don't think, like Tim McCarver, that it was a good call at all.
The second time Manny tried to slide to make the catch and his cleat caught which threw him off terribly. I'm surprised he wasn't injured, but more surprised this hasn't been mentioned by Joe Buck or Tim McCarver. Manny's second mistake is still an error but it is a hell of a lot more understandable and not nearly as goofy as Jason Marquis tripping over a pebble. Maybe it was the same pebble the ball that hit Tony Womack bounced off of.
Back to 9-9.
And now Renteria makes an error.
And now it's 11-9, with the bottom of St. Louis' order coming up in the 9th.
It may make for good ratings, but it ain't good baseball.
Red Sox up 1-0.
By the way, anybody see a problem with this image?
Don't they have software that does this, or do they actually have someone putting the totals in separately?
Well, I hope no one dies in Boston tonight. If the Red Sox win, what do you want to bet John Kerry tries to hone in on, or even preempt, the President's congratulatory call?
I'm thinking of treating myself to a couple of new toys for my birthday: a .22 handgun and a .22 long gun. Both will be used for target and technique practice (cheaper ammo) and to teach my girls to shoot.
Any suggestions? Should I use a scope on the long gun?
Oh, and maybe I'll start the paperwork for concealed carry while I'm at it.
Well, this is bad:
Colorado health officials Wednesday warned the public to beware of black-market flu vaccine after the theft of 620 doses from a pediatrician's office.
Bill Dodson, one of the co-founders and co-owners of the little business I work for, passed away this morning.
See y'all next week.
Police in Toronto closed nearly 100 beach volleyball courts on Sunday after players about to begin an end-of-summer tournament found razor-blade booby traps hidden in the sand.
Searches of the courts turned up 12 of the traps, blades embedded in blocks of wood and buried in the sand, sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
But you should only say it if you mean it and are willing to act on your convictions.
Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe has won a gold, a silver and a bronze medal in Athens. Good for her. It is nice to hear something about Zimbabwe that isn't dreadful for a change. Good luck as a senior at Auburn next year Ms. Coventry.
Meanwhile, lest we forget, Robert Mugabe is still destroying Zimbabwe:
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's economic and political policies have led to a serious decline of the country's health delivery system and worsened the Aids pandemic, a report released by the United States Institute of Peace said this week.
The report, titled Downward Spiral: HIV/Aids, state capacity and political conflict in Zimbabwe, said Mugabe's policies were a major stumbling block in the fight against Aids.
It says about 34% of the adult population are reportedly infected by HIV, which causes Aids. The report points out that Mugabe's violent land reforms, a wholesale crackdown on the media and intimidation of political opponents have worsened the plight of those living with the disease.
It says the absence of the rule of law and the prevalence of political violence have led to the breakdown of health and social services, exposing thousands to the Aids scourge.
The projected increase in the number of Aids patients will adversely impact on Zimbabwe economy, which has been teetering on the brink of collapse over the past four years.
"Economic contraction is likely to intensify in the years to come as more HIV-infected individuals develop Aids and succumb to the illness," the report says.
Really. John Kerry and his supporters are trying to do everything they can to turn the War on Terrorism into Vietnam. Again. We are winning every battle, and much more decisively than in Vietnam, yet we are constantly told we are losing the peace, if not the actual war on terrorism, not to mention the goodwill of so many self-important, erstwhile allies. Like Uncle Walter (good riddance to a true tranzi), John Kerry wants to stand up and say, "this war is no longer winnable," and abandon the people of Iraq to thugs like Moqtada Al Sadr or the Mullahs of Iran. Having lived through and successfully played the part of anti-American war protestor to a position in the US Senate, John Kerry wants to do it all again as he seeks the highest office in the land -- and why not since it worked so well for him last time. Like any good coach, you keep running a play that works until the other team shows they can stop it.
I don't buy John Kerry's I-would-still-vote-for-the-Iraq-War-Resolution-even-if-there-aren't-any-WMDs crap. Everything else John Kerry says leads me to believe he will sacrifice our sovereignty to act and protect ourselves at the altar of transnational progressivism. Oh, and some kind words from France and the UN. I thought we learned from the Clinton years that character does matter when things get tough, and boy oh boy is John Kerry a character.
I am not all that pissed off that John Kerry and his fellow travelers are doing all this. Hells bells, I've come to expect that from them and long ago learned to put on protective geopolitical asbestos undergarments when engaging them. I am, however, pissed off that so many people are buying this dangerous charade and that the Fourth Estate is playing along, if not outright cheerleading. What are we supposed to think about the self-professed watchdog of our liberties when they so openly takes sides?
And another thing, the Liberation of Iraq was a great success, not a miserable failure no matter how many times the Angry Left says it. To say otherwise is to indicate a callous disregard for the people of Iraq who lived in terror under Saddam, as well as to display a shocking ignorance of history with respect to military campaigns. Sure it hasn't been perfect, but what is? The perfect remains the enemy of the good. Every time I read some article that pumps up John Kerry be quoting a poll that says something like 51% of the people believe President George W. Bush has mishandled Iraq, I want to slap the author upside the head and note that perhaps as many as 10% of us don't like President George W. Bush's handling of Iraq because he hasn't gone far enough nor fast enough. Do you really think we're going to vote for Kerry?
The War on Terrorism is becoming Vietnam in all its glorious ignominy. Or should that be ignominious glory? Watching the transmogrification of the Democratic Party from hating the Vietnam War and all those who fought in it to loving all those who fought in it, unless, of course, they don't like John Kerry, reminds me that Oceana has never been at war with Eastasia. And if John Kerry wins, my marginal tax rate will no doubt be decreased to 45%.
Anyone else expect Saddam to sing this when he's arraigned?
Some people say that I'm a bad guy
They may be right
They may be right
But it's not as if I don't try
I just fuck up
Try as I might
But I can change, I can change
I can learn to keep my promises
I swear it.
I'll open up my heart
And I will share it
Any minute now
I will be born again
Yes, I can change, I can change
I know I've been a dirty little bastard
I like to kill, I like to maim
Yes, I'm insane, but it's OK
Cause I can change
It's not my fault that I'm so evil
It's society, society
You see my parents were sometimes abusive
And it made a prick of me
But I can change, I can change
I can learn to keep my promises
I know it.
I'll open up my heart
And I will show it
Any minute now
I will be born again
Satan The Dark Prince:
But what if you never change?
What if you remain a sandy little butt-hole?
Don't be such a twit
Mother Theresa won't have shit on me.
Just watch me change
Here I go I'm changing
Personally, I like the Violent Femmes version best.
I'm sitting here blogging away and I hear Rossini's The Thieving Magpie coming from the living room. Now what crosses my mind when I hear The Thieving Magpie is Alex de Large saying:
How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunich jelly thou.
I'm quite fond of A Clockwork Orange, but I'm not yet ready for my 14 year-old daughter to see it. So, I immediately jump up and run to other room and discover instead that the music is being used behind some silly Ben Stiller movie named Heavyweights on the Disney Channel. As it happens, she's not even there as the television has been left on from viewing something earlier in the day. I'm curious, any of you other parents with teenagers suffer from similar angst?
I don't really know if Stanley Kubrick intended it or not, but I cannot hear Rossini's The Thieving Magpie or William Tell Overture, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Fourth Movement), Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, or Singin' in the Rain without thinking of A Clockwork Orange. Memories of I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper and some of Wendy/Walter Carlos' bumper music also make the same associations, but I cannot recall ever hearing them outside of the film or my memory. Given Alex's treatment requiring the same sort of associations of music to pain, I think this is what's called irony.
This state funeral was an amazing spectacle. I'm glad I got to watch part of it. For those that thought it too much or over the top, may I suggest they compare it to Princess Diana's funeral, especially if the accomplishments of the two are set side by side.
Ronald Reagan accomplished the tasks set in front of him with courage, grace, kindness, and aplomb. His twilight years were stolen from him by Alzheimer's, but you can't really say he was cheated out of having a full life. I expect to see more state funerals for former presidents in my lifetime, but I don't think any will match this in pomp or circumstance.
I heard someone compare this state funeral to the state funeral forty-one years ago for President Kennedy, but I don't think it is a good comparison. I had just turned four when President Kennedy's funeral took place and, while I have no direct memories of it, I cannot help but have learned much about it over the years. President Kennedy had perhaps half of his life taken from him suddenly and unexpectedly by an assassin's bullet. His state funeral was a time for the nation to mourn our, and his, loss. President Kennedy’s state funeral was imbued with sorrow and sadness, mingled with fear and grieving for what seemed a lost future. America did not recover from the feelings generated by President Kennedy's assassination until Ronald Reagan helped us pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps by reminding us what it meant to be Americans. For damn sure, no one else pulled us up. President Reagan's state funeral was more of a celebration of a life full of accomplishment and achievement, both personally and as a public figure. It is right that there were tears, but it is just as right that there were more expressions of thanks for his successes than tears of remorse or regret.
I am most interested in what effect this may have on President George W. Bush. Not on his prospects vis-à-vis the horserace, but on him personally.
The Sine Qua Non wife and I are celebrating twenty-one years of marriage today.
Posting will be light.
Reading the Professor this morning, I began to wonder if Amazon.com is the Wal-Mart of the Internet, putting small mom and pop cyber-operations out of business because of their nefarious ability to exploit economies of scale combined with their ruthless efficiency? Is Amazon.com destroying burgeoning, healthy on-line communities by offering so much under one URL that small proprietors cannot compete? How fair is it that the global corporate interests that run Amazon.com have an on-line database that can be mined for my preferences, offering them a competitive advantage over stuggling, middle class Internet entrepeneurs who are only trying to feed their families? And what's with the personal greetings and suggestions Amazon.com offers me every time I enter their site? It's almost as if some blue-smock wearing Medicare recipient was trying to cheer me up as I cross their portal. Incidentally, the faceless machines of Amazon.com will be putting even the blue-smock wearing greeters of Wal-Mart out on the keisters soon if their hegemonic capitalist thrust isn't stopped soon! How are we supposed to think globally and act locally if all our commerce is conducted without respect to geography? The Internet was supposed to break down the walls of time and distance to give us the global village so many have dreamt of for so long, though the multinationals are exploiting its power to crush the enterprising spirit of the great unwashed masses. Maybe Jeff Bezos thinks he has to destroy the global village in order to save it.
(By this time, I am talking very fast and quite loudly, gesturing wildly as my body starts spinning and rotating with changes to pitch, roll and yaw all accelerating until I have disappeared behind a counter, a la John Belushi on an SNL Weekly Update rant so many years ago.)
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has served and paid so dearly for my right to say that this Memorial Day.
Multiple tornado warnings all around us here in St. Louis right now.
Posting may be light to non existent...
DOWNDATE: We're ok here, but there have been a couple of tornados spawned by this storm in the area. Of course, if Al Gore was right about his Chicken Little scare-mongering, there would have been a 12-mile wide path of total destruction through St. Louis as a warning to the rest of you to CONFIRM THE KYOTO ACCORDS NOW BEFORE YOU ALL DIE!!!
Four times today I heard or read Big Media say something along the lines of "President Bush failed to draw any connection between Iraq and 9/11." This is so tiresome. We did not depose Saddam Hussein and liberate Iraq because Saddam or Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. We deposed Saddam Hussein and liberated Iraq because on 9/12 we decided we didn't want any more 9/11s. It's really simple, isn't it? Can we retire this tired old canard now? If not for the sake of the truth, how about because it is so damned offensive in that it implies strongly that we may not do anything except in retaliation or revenge after we have been attacked.
I am thoroughly disgusted with these Big Media people who are supposed to be so much smarter than I am about these things. After all, they get paid to be knowledgeable about this stuff while I try and learn what I can in the spare minutes and hours I have around my job that does not pay me to read, study or pontificate about such matters. Is it so much to ask that they at least grasp the few solid facts there are and draw the simplest of conclusions from them?
And it hailed here today. A lot.
Anyway, I picked up a few things this week:
Peace Kills by P.J. O'Rourke (my favorite right wing humorist)
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (Burrrrrrrr)
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (an amazing fellow)
Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (hardback this time for long term note taking -- you know, if you read this you will probably know more about the Kaballah than Madonna; then again, you probably know more about the Kaballah than Madonna even if you don't read it)
Frank's Wild Years by Tom Waits (The bats are in the belfry, the dew is on the moor...)
The Return of the King DVD (now and again later, of course)
Master and Commander DVD (for the sound as much as anything)
And I'm probably going to see The Life of Brian in the theater tomorrow. If posting is light, now you'll know why. Oh, and for those that care, the job is going great.
Here's a story from my home town, Aurora, IL:
AURORA — They hope to stop bullies, build youngsters' self esteem and give teenagers in trouble a second chance to avoid the court system.
They hope to form a network of Hispanic parents and teach adolescents how to avoid domestic-violence situations.
They hope to reach children before it's too late.
Officials announced Friday that seven local anti-violence programs will receive funding in the first round of grants under a city-backed initiative announced last year.
"These are dollars that are going to programs that are actually at work," said Vicki Stull, a member of the executive committee of Aurora Cares Corp., the community organization charged with choosing the projects to fund. "There are tangible results."
The city last year committed to annual $125,000 grants for four years for programs aimed specifically at fighting gang violence in Aurora. The $500,000 in grants, allocated from gaming tax revenue, will go toward efforts independent of city services.
Sound like your basic local governemnt program to this point. But here's the weird part:
Several of the agencies receiving funding asked for the money to develop and enhance programs at Bardwell Elementary School, chosen as a testing ground in the first year.
I remember having to play Bardwell in basketball in the 6th grade. They were very physical -- but there weren't any teenagers attending Bardwell then!
The war against the war has been going on for a long time, and it has been fought by some people whose desire to good has blinded them from actually doing good:
Britain: Charities warn 11 million Iraqis face starvation in event of war
By Julie Hyland
15 March 2003
Some 11 million people would be at immediate risk of starvation if the US proceeds with its war on Iraq, leading aid charities in the UK have warned.
In a briefing for MPs in the House of Commons on March 12, Care International, Christian Aid and Save the Children warned that military action could push 60 percent of Iraqis to the brink of starvation.
No apologies necessary. But I will note that I did not list every charity I found in the list appended to the previous post.
DOWNDATE: Here are a few ways to support our troops, many of the links courtesy of Blackfive, the Paratrooper of Love, Jed Babin of NRO, Defend America, and the Network for Good. You can contribute your time, money, services, goods, or goodwill through one or more of these links. There's something here for everyone!
Adopt a Platoon
Air Force Aid Society
American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services
American Red Cross Military Members and Families
Armed Forces Relief Trust
Armed Services Blood Program
Armed Services YMCA
Army Emergency Relief Fund
Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.
Books for Soldiers
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Congressional Medal of Honor Society
Defend America (Send a note to the troops!)
Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service
Disabled American Veterans
Fisher House Foundation - Helping Military Families
Free and the Brave Foundation
Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund
Gift of Groceries
Gifts from the Homefront
Help Our Troops Call Home
Homes for Our Troops
Ladies Auxiliary VFW Scholarships
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
Military Pets Foster Project
Military Veterans and Patriotic Service Organizations of America
National Military Family Association
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
No Greater Love
Non Commissioned Officers Association
Operation Air Conditioner
Operation Dear Abby (Send a note to the troops)
Operation Hero Miles
Operation Noble Foster (Cat care)
Operation Stuffed Hugs
Scholarships for Military Children
Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Spirit of America
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Toys for Tots
United Warrior Survivor Foundation
USA Freedom Corps
VA Hospital Volunteer
Voices from Home
With that, Glenn Reynolds provides a hyperlink to the beheading of Nick Berg.
I mention this not as criticism, but as an observation and a reminder that 9/11 really did change everything. I can't imagine that Glenn would have thought four years ago that he would link to a graphic video of a another man's brutal death so simply.
DOWNDATE: Hmmm, it's not exactly an Instalanche but there needs to be a term for what I am experiencing now. This post is currently generating about 150 hits an hour for people looking for the video of Nick Berg's murder. Sorry folks, but you're at least three clicks away from a real-death snuff film. Alas, I doubt you'll stick around to read anything else.
DOUBLE DOWNDATE: Did I say 150? I meant 400.
Meanwhile, we will continue to show these men of will what will really is.
I'm not outraged by Abu Ghraib. I don't like it, I wish it hadn't happened, and I do hope those guilty of these crimes are punished. But I'm not outraged.
I guess it probably has something to do with how easy outrage is these days, and how quickly it seems to fade away without anything significant changing -- which I wouldn't think true outrage would, or should, do. Every month there's another outrage that will lose the War on Terrorism, or the liberation of Iraq, or even the goodwill of the fine people of Europe. Every week there's a new outrage that is so terrible it drives people to march and be so angry they can't see straight, hence they imagine that there are anywhere from three to three-thousand people marching for every one there really is. Every day, George Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld does something that merits outrage from someone who, strangely enough, suddenly finds a microphone in their face and a camera in front of them. Of course, John Ashcroft seems to manage some outrage or other approximately every four hours or so. And global warming, the next Ice Age, the loss of the rainforests, the ozone hole, a comet, or something threatens to kill us all at any minute. Don't believe me? Just ask someone marching with three-thousand of their closest imaginary friends.
Meanwhile, true outrages go relatively unnoticed and unresolved as genocide continues in the Sudan, Zimbabwe is being destroyed by Robert Mugabe, and the United Nations still can't begin its twelve-step improvement program because it hasn't apparently hit bottom yet -- which it must do in the Blood Money for Oil scandal if it is to begin to get better; not to mention minor outrages like the scarcely believable conditions within North Korea, the death of tens of thousands in France last year because no one could be bothered to check on the old folks, the imminently preventable deaths of millions due to malaria, and rising anti-semitism while the generation that survived the holocaust is still with us. Never say "never again". Or is it never say never, again.
What makes these true outrages is that they are all as preventable as they are lamentable. Whereas, the ubiquitous faux outrage vomited up so easily by the professionally outraged continues to distract as all from the real outrages all around us.
And that is a true outrage.
I'm curious, if we learn that Iraqi civilians' or American soldiers' lives were saved due to information learned during interrogations conducted in conjunction with the criminal acts conducted at Abu Ghraib, does that change the calculus somewhat?
These are damn hard moral questions.
I eat out often enough that every once in a while something bad happens, such as an entrée being prepared badly or something showing up on my plate that really doesn't belong there. Even if I'm not familiar with the restaurant I don't immediately leap to my feet, draw attention to myself and then demand that everyone involved be fired and storm out vowing never to return again. Generally, I bring the matter to the attention of the server and see how they choose to deal with it. If they accept responsibility, apologize, and set out to make restitution, then I hold no grudges and if the food is good, look forward to dining there again so long as there doesn't seem to be a pattern or unnatural frequency to the problems. If on the other hand the server insists that there is nothing actually wrong with what has been served or merely attempts to remove the still crawling insect from the plate and walk away (this actually happened at a restaurant with a sterling reputation in Washington, D.C.), well, leaping to my feet, drawing attention to myself, demanding everyone involved be fired, and storming out while vowing never to return seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
I listened to about thirty minutes of the testimony before Congress yesterday by Secretary of State Rumsfeld, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Myers, and a few others. What I took away from it was that the leadership at the Defense Department were, and are, doing exactly what they should have been, and are, doing in response to the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib prison. Let's not forget that there are still some due process concerns for those who face courts martial for these crimes, and CBS and the New Yorker have no helpful role to play in that process.
I'm not convinced that Rumsfeld is going to survive this, and there is a good argument for senior heads rolling if for no other reason than to demonstrate accountability at all levels. Nonetheless, I firmly believe it would be a tragedy for Rumsfeld to resign or to be forced out because of the baying from people who were calling for his resignation before any of this ever happened. If Rumsfeld is guilty of anything it is not buying into the idea that "perception is reality" that his political opponents are trying to sell. Personally, I'm quite happy having someone in charge who focuses more on reality than how people will choose to perceive reality through the polarized lenses of partisanship and postmodernism.
The images coming out are extremely bad and depressing and, according to Rumsfeld's statement yesterday, there are worse images yet to come. I feel most for our uniformed soldiers still in Iraq and the further grief that will now come to them over the acts of a very bad, really stupid, few. Remorse and penance are warranted. But as I have been saying for about a week and as Victor Davis Hanson repeated yesterday, the perfect remains the enemy of the good, and utopianism requires perfection, not goodness. What we have done and continue to do to liberate Iraq and fight the War on Terrorism is a good thing. Let's not let the fact that not everything done in our name is perfect distract or destroy our attempts to make the world a better -- though not perfect -- place.
DOWNDATE: Last night, I began thinking about this in a conspiratorial manner and wondered if it hasn't been a setup all along to bring down Rumsfeld and Bush. It reads exactly like the kind of obtuse, twisted chain of events one might find in a Robert Ludlum novel, wrought by a shadowy, devious agent of misfortune pulling the strings several levels removed from the acts themselves. Even now, this whole thing just seems too awful and too weird to be on the level. Frankly, I didn't put this theory down in writing since I have no desire to be lumped in with the ubiquitous crackpots and loonies all around us. And then, this morning, Glenn Reynolds links to Nelson Ascher and Roger Simon who also links to Nelson Ascher who posits the possibility of a just such a conspiracy. Things that make you go hmmm...
I attended a funeral today at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Too much introspection to blog for a while.
I wonder how much the City of St. Louis spent on the pathetic official website?
Read this and tell me you didn't shed a tear.
I support the police and give them wide latitude because they have a dangerous, underpaid, and frequently thankless job to do. But we have to be honest and note that sometimes, this privilege can be abused. Instapundit highlights an egregious case of the fact that speeding tickets seem to have less to do with enforcing norms of public safety than raising money or providing perks to policemen and their families. Right on cue, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted on the front page today that in Bel-Ridge (a small St. Louis suburb), the cops are chastised for attacking crime and not writing enough tickets:
Police departments often commend officers who have a knack for seizing drugs and arresting drunken drivers.
But in Bel-Ridge, such officers risk a stern warning.
Supervisors have warned some of them that busting bad guys or making time-consuming arrests distracts them from their true mission - generating money for the village.
"When it comes down to it, money is what counts," says a department memo dated March 17. "State cases do not generate money for the department. Municipal tickets do."
I don't know if it is worse that this is going on or knowing that these police supervisors are stupid enough to document it. Amazing. Read it and weep. Oh yeah, and never, ever trust the government with any more power than is absolutely necessary.
No confusion today between the US and the UK over whether the month or the day comes first when writing the date.
Today was my last day in the comfortable corporate cocoon I've spent my entire professional life (twenty-one years) in, working for large corporations supporting several government agencies. Now I'm off to be the COO for a small company in a different industry that I believe has great potential. I'm looking forward to the challenge and relish the way this move has got my entrepreneurial juices flowing again. I have the chance yet again to live up to the free market rhetoric I frequently espouse and fervently believe. There is some risk, but then there is a potential reward commensurate to that risk.
I've changed jobs a couple of times before, but the transitions were to similar positions in other companies, usually with some contact with my former co-workers -- it's the nature of the business. But this departure was especially poignant for me, since I had opened the office here in St. Louis almost six years ago and seen it grow and flourish. I've left a lot of friends this time and it will take some effort to keep in contact with them as we are now headed in orthogonal directions, but I'll make the effort because they are good people.
This event has been some time coming and partially explains the hiatus for those that wonder about such things. I will be back in a couple of weeks with some changes if all goes well.
Oh, and in related news, one of my friends lost his job today.
Do you know what I'm talking about?
Ok, I didn't end up in Japan again after all, but I did still have to go to DC. Tonight at about 11:00 PM I was driving through Reston, VA, when I noticed a large number of police cars with their light blaring on Baron Cameron Road, or perhaps it was Eldon by this point, I'm not really sure since I haven't lived here for five years. I'm only on this road since I decided to take my guests a different way home to show them more of the area. Anyway, as I pull up to where the police are standing about I have the good sense to roll down my window.
The police officer asks me if I have been drinking this evening. I said, "Yes, I have been drinking. I have had a bottle of wine tonight with dinner." The officer asks me to pull over to the left through to where the cones are. I do so and stop the car and the officer asks me to pull forward to the first cone. "No problem," says I, as I pull forward. I pull forward about three cones, roll the window up and stumble about to unlock the door. No doubt that impressed everyone, though I will freely admit to always struggling with where the door locks, the door latch, the lights, the trunk release, etc., are every time I get into another rental car, but I doubt that anyone cares.
The officer asks me to get out of the car, which I do, and before she can ask I hand her my driver's license. She explains the situation to me and advises me that she is going to ask me to step through a number of exercises to determine if I am intoxicated. "No problem," says I. Did I mention that there are two guys in my car, one in the front passenger seat and one in the back seat, both virtually passed out? I'm sure that the officers noticed, though neither of them said anything. Had they asked, I would have informed them that these two gentlemen were Japanese nationals who had flown in the night before from Tokyo, and in addition to sharing the wine with me for dinner, they were, in fact, suffering from extreme jet lag. But no one asked. Probably because no one cared.
Anyway, after stepping into the road behing the rental car, I casually recited the alphabet -- without singing it -- as requested, stood on one foot, pointed my right big toe toward Arcturus and counted to 15 and back to 1, and then tilted my head back and successfully touched my right hand to my nose, my left hand to my nose, my left hand to my nose again, and finally my right hand to my nose. Finally, another officer walked over and said that he wanted me to breath into this tube for fifteen seconds. He explained that it was not admissable in a court of law and that he had to inform me of that fact. Then I breathed into the tube as he requested. Harder, as he insisted. The officer showed the meter to the other officer, but not to me. The other officer asked me what I had to drink again and I said, "We shared a bottle of wine that evening with dinner and that I had had a beer about 7:00 PM before that."
At this point I wasn't sure what was going to happen. In fact, from the moment I knew what was going on when I rolled down the window I didn't know what was going to happen. I had been drinking. I didn't think I had had too much to drink, but I've had no experience with this sort of thing before, so I really didn't know what to expect. I started wondering what was going to happen to my guests from Japan if I was arrested, and then what would happen from there.
Then the officer said, ".046."
The first officer asked if I was from out of town. Perhaps my Missouri driver's license gave it away, but I said, "Yes." She handed my driver's license back to me and told me to drive straight back to my hotel and go to sleep. The second officer said that .08 was the legal limit and that I could go.
I got back in the car. Both my passengers were out of it. They didn't wake up until the second time I roused them from their slumber at the entrance to their hotel I am looking forward to their questions in the morning as they twirl the events from tonight around through the haze they are feeling now.
I had two thoughts about this evening's "experience." The first was what our troops in Iraq must go through every time they stop someone, not knowing what to expect. They have my respect and undying thanks. The second was in my reaction during and after the event. I felt nothing. I didn't get nervous, I didn't sweat, I wasn't cocky, and I wasn't obnoxious. I just felt nothing. I went through the motions like I was buying groceries. I don't think this is a good thing.