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Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Hero and a Moron 

AMHERST, Mass. -- A University of Massachusetts student has openly criticized Pat Tillman, calling the former NFL player a Rambo-like idiot in the school paper.
The column in question was submitted by graduate student Rene Gonzalez and published Wednesday in the Daily Collegian. It was titled "Pat Tillman is not a hero: he got what was coming to him."
Read the full article here.

Rene, you aren't fit to wipe Pat Tillman's ass. You're a pampered little college boy who has no concept of men who do the dirty work so that you have the freedom to spew venom like this:

"You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the 'real' thick of things," Gonzalez writes in his column, which is posted on the collegiate paper's Web site. "I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures.

You can tell all that from his picture eh? Majoring in photo interpretation at UMass? This guy did something that very few of us would ever do. He gave up riches and an easy life to put himself on the line for something he believed in...his country. Before he is buried, a sanctimonious little prick like you spits on his service and his ideals. You've been rightly called on it. Of course there are some out there who agree with you.

I hope you enjoy your 15 minutes of fame at the expense of a man who accomplished more the day before he died than you will in your entire life.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Rooting Out Terrorists 

Amy Ridenour received this rather..err...novel idea for finding the terrorists in our midst. (link via Baldilocks)

We all know that it is a sin for an Islamic male to see any woman other than his wife naked, and that he must commit suicide if he does. So this Sunday at 4:00 PM Eastern time all American women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists. Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this Antiterrorist effort.

All men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their house to prove they are not terrorists, and to demonstrate that they think it's okay to see nude women other than their wife and to show support for all American women. And since the Koran also does not approve of alcohol, a cold six-pack at your side is further proof of your anti-terrorist sentiment.


Duty, honor, and country you know!

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Could Hell Freeze Over? 

Winds of Change brings this mind teaser:

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?


One student applying critical thinking skills came up with an answer:

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities: 1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2) If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over..


This story has been making the rounds awhile, and is probably an urban legend, but is still quite funny!




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Worth Dying For? 

Reuters reports that:

SEOUL (Reuters) - Many North Koreans died a "heroic death" after last week's train explosion by running into burning buildings to rescue portraits of leader Kim Jong-il and his father, the North's official media reported on Wednesday.

Yes, by all means lets save portraits of the heroic leader. After all, its not just any leader than can keep his country mired in Marxist feudalism and starve millions in a continent of plenty. He's much too busy building nuclear weapons to worry about little things like food. Their brethren in South Korea may have food, housing, and freedom but they don't have "The Leader".

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

$2.00 Gasoline? 

A gallon of gas is hitting the two buck mark in my area. Ouch!

I must be getting old. As an enterprising young lad I used to walk to the gas station and fill up my gas can for a 25 cents. I would then walk the neighborhood knocking on the doors of homes where the grass was getting a little shaggy. I would charge two dollars to mow the lawn and on a good day I could make ten bucks!

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Not Your Usual Cup of Java 

Tired of that same old double latte? All burnt out on espresso? Using Folger's cans for target practice? You could try some of this! (via Coffee Achiever)

Kopi Luwak coffee comes from the Indonesian island of Sumatra, an area well-known for its excellent coffee. Also native to the area is a small civit-like animal called a Paradoxurus. That's the scientific name, the locals call them luwaks. These little mammals live in the trees and one of their favorite foods is the red, ripe coffee cherry. They eat the cherries, bean and all. While the bean is in the little guy's stomach, it undergoes chemical treatments and fermentations. The bean finishes its journey through the digestive system, and exits. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee.

Still interested? But of course being a cost conscious citizen you'd like to know the price:

Because of the rarity of this coffee, the price is quite outrageous. If you can find a vendor, the current cost for a pound of Kopi Luwak is around $300 or more.

Maybe John Kerry can sip a cup while he gets his $1000 haircut!

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Something Borrowed...Something Blue 

This enterprising chap is selling his ex wife's wedding dress and even models it! (via Wizbang)

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Nat Hentoff, 60 Minutes, and Judge Pickering 

Nat Hentoff, an honest liberal, and consistent defender of the Bill of Rights discusses Mike Wallace's "60 Minutes" interview with Charles Pickering here. Pickering's nomination to the federal court had been filibustered by Senate Democrats and President Bush recently appointed him to the court using a "recess appointment". This exchange between legendary civil rights activist Medgar Evers and Hattiesburg NAACP leader Charles Magee is priceless:

Evers: "You know that Charles Pickering is a man [who] helped us break the Ku Klux Klan?"
Magee said he didn't know that.
Evers: "I know that. Do you know about the young black man that was accused of robbing the young white woman [at knifepoint, when Pickering was a defense trial lawyer]? So Charles Pickering took the case. [It] came to trial, and [Pickering] won the case, and the young man became free."
Magee didn't know that either.
Evers: "But did you also know that Charles Pickering is the man who helped integrate [the] churches [in his hometown]?"
Again, the answer was no.
Evers: "Well, you don't know a thing about Charles Pickering."

I know both parties have done it to some degree but isn't it time to stop playing politics with judicial appointments? I don't think a straight up or down vote in the Senate is too much to ask for.

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Video Games...or Sex? 

This guy chose a Sony PS2 over an expenses paid date with a lovely young woman. (via Dean Esmay)

Bachelor Number Two said that, as he's planning a trip to Brazil, he wouldn't mind picking up a little Portuguese.

It was enough for Jordan. "Well, I'd like to teach him," she said. Hubba-hubba.

Bachelor Number Two was told that he could choose one of two prizes: either an expenses-paid date with lovely young Jordan, or a PlayStation 2.

He took the PlayStation. The men in the audience cheered.


Geez, whats this world coming to?

Actually, one of the complaints I hear from teenage girls is that its hard to get the boys to go out and do anything because they are playing video games. One girl told me recently that her boyfriend came to her house on a Saturday night, picked her up, then drove back to his house where he played several hours of video games while she watched.

Whatever happened to drive-in movies anyway?

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Flatulence 

By the way .. I firmly believe that the Flatulence Filter could easily be used in a political sense.

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On the Life Side 

Brian writes brilliantly about the politics of the world. I write about the side of our life that involves domestic bliss, or some semblence thereof. I have only posted here once, way back in October of 2003. It was about my battle with the fruit flies. I have since won that battle. My new battle involves puppies .. cuter-than-hell-pain-in-the-ass-digging-holes-in-my-backyard-big-enough-for-two-puppy-corpses puppies!

I swear the kids promised to help with puppy care if we adopted the already-pregnant Wendy (beautiful German Shepherd/Lab mix). I'm pretty sure what they meant was that if they happen to be first to spot a pile of puppy poo in the living room, they will be sure to either look the other way, or strategically place the latest edition of The Olympian newpaper (known as the Daily Zero around here) over the pile so as not to ruin the new Skechers when running through the house.

In one day, we went from a household with one dog, one cat, one hamster, two birds, and three kids to a bona-fide zoo with 8 new wiggly little puppies. The puppies were born in a kiddie swimming pool in our master bedroom (Wendy was insistent about where she was having those puppies). They were sooooo cute!!! As long as they couldn't get out of the kiddie pool, they were the most beautiful little creatures. Once they figured out how to wiggle over the edge of the pool, they became pooping, peeing, chewing, biting, playing little beasts! We found homes for the six puppies we wanted to give away. We kept Reggie the Runt and Toshi the Aggressor. What made me think that keeping two was a good idea? Pressure from the kids, and my love of the runt!

Call me what you will, but Toshi is going to the animal shelter tomorrow. The three words I use to describe him .. That Little Shit! Even if Reggie is the one chewing on the shoes or tipping over the trash, I can be certain that Toshi whispered the idea to him - That Little Shit. And I KNOW that my new collection of crotchless panties is the result of the careful planning and execution by That Little Shit. Toshi has the distinguished honor of being the only dog I know who is fascinated by the hole in the bottom of the toilet. He studies it while wetting his whistle, then gets all perky with his head turned sideways, then he dives in with both front paws flailing like mad until the entire bowl is emptied. He emerges from the bathroom soaking wet and looking mighty proud. I wonder if he will have access to a toilet at the animal shelter! Not to worry... he does the same thing with his water dish, and I know they will have those available for him.

As I'm writing, I'm swatting at a fly .. maybe two .. that insists on sitting on my toes. And in the back of my mind, I'm reminded that baby flies mean nasty hamster cage. Caramel, the hamster, has long outlived his estimated life span .. at least I think he has.. hmmmm flies + old hamster .. I better go check! See ya!

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Now Thats a Good Idea 

James Taranto suggests Rudy Guiliani be considered for the soon-to-be-vacant post of U.N. ambassador.

Not only would Giuliani be a bully-pulpiteer in the great tradition of Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but he would bring the penetrating eye of a former prosecutor to the continuing Oil-for-Food scandal--which may well turn out to be the corrupt reason why countries like France and Russia fought so fiercely to keep Saddam Hussein's murderous dictatorship in power in Iraq.

Rudy is tough, articulate, has an international profile, and wouldn't hesitate to kick the rhetorical ass out of those self righteous bureacrats that populate the U.N. Someone needs to present to the world the views of the United States in an unvarnished fashion and Rudy seems like the man for the job. It would also be a nice stepping stone for someone with obvious political ambitions.

My second choice? Retiring Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia. Miller is a plain spoken conservative Democrat with a touch for the catchy phrase. He's also tough and is not afraid to stand up to criticism.


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Flatulence Filter? 

Hey. I could use a few of these in my classroom sometimes. (via Electric Venom)

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Taxing Internet Access 

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) worked Friday to revive a bill banning taxes on Internet connections, a measure that bogged down last year amid worries that state and local governments could lose billions in tax revenue.
Senators have been battling since a temporary ban ran out nearly six months ago.
(Full article can be found here in "Wired")

Taxing internet access is taxing basic access to information and ideas. Everywhere I've ever lived newspapers have been exempt from taxation. If we want an informed and educated citizenry, why should we raise financial barriers to their participation in the "Information Age"?

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Saudi Weddings 

Alhamedi, a rather funny and interesting Saudi man, describes Saudi courtship and wedding rituals in this post:

1. The only female faces that a Saudi boy will initially see, will be of those relatives that he cannot marry. So he will only see his Grandmother, his Mother, and his sisters. All the rest will be veiled in his presence. Eventually he will see his wife. However, first, he has to meet someone who will become his wife.

2. These restrictions make it difficult, or impossible, to meet a girl. Schools are single-sex. There are no social activities where they can meet (there are no social activities like cinema, dances, parties, bars, period.) If he goes to a shopping mall to pick one up, he’ll probably be barred entrance by a doorman. If he gets in and pursues some veiled lovely, (talk about a “blind date”!), he risks being picked up by the Religious Police and getting 100 lashes. He may get these lashes at the gate of his school, “pour encourager les autres”.


9. The actual wedding involves the signing of a contract by both parties. They may do this together, or on separate occasions. The boy provides a dowry, which may be money and / or gold / and / or other items. This becomes the girl’s own property, even if there is a subsequent divorce. A major inhibitor these days is the increasing dowry being asked for, which of course plunges the boy into debt from day one. Fathers of the bride are also becoming greedy and asking for things like a car for themselves as part of the dowry.

Fascinating eh?

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Prank Calling Castro 

A Miam radio station was fined $4000 for a stunt that involved the station's DJs pretending to be Venezuela president Hugo Chavez and actually getting through to El Dictator himself.

The hosts of the show on WXDJ-FM, Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, fed pleasantries to Castro before breaking in and calling him an assassin. The conversation ended after Castro denounced the callers with a stream of vulgarities.

Doesn't the F.C.C. have anything better to do? This is actually very funny. They should be rewarding these guys for their ingenuity rather than fining them.


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War Profiteering 

Victor Davis Hanson makes more sense than almost anyone I read when it comes to Iraq. He addresses some of the canards floating around out there in this article. (via Roger Simon)

All U.S. construction is subject to open audit and assessment. A zealous media has not yet found any signs of endemic or secret corruption. There really is a giant scandal surrounding Iraq, but it involves (1) the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, in which U.N. officials and Saddam Hussein, hand-in-glove with European and Russian oil companies, robbed revenues from the Iraqi people; and (2) French petroleum interests that strong-armed a tottering dictator to sign over his country's national treasure to Parisian profiteers under conditions that no consensual government would ever agree to. The only legitimate accusation of Iraqi profiteering does not involve Dick Cheney or Halliburton, but rather Kofi Annan's negligence and his son Kojo's probable malfeasance.

The constant drumbeat we hear know is to "get the U.N. involved". As Hanson points out, the U.N. wouldn't last a week against the crazies we are fighting against there now. As the oil-for-food scandal plays out we will find corruption at the highest levels of the U.N. But John Kerry wants to put them in charge? The U.N. as it stands right now, is nothing but a high priced boardinghouse for corrupt, anti-American bureaucrats.

Then there is the talk about "repairing our alliances". The countries who want to help are already there. France isn't there because it was up to its eyeballs in collusion with Saddam, and it fears a democratic Iraq will enhance America's image and prestige. France has made no bones about its desire for a "multi polar word" and it desperately wants to be one of the poles. The French government is cheering for us to fail and I wouldn't want them anywhere near Iraq. With allies like that, who needs enemies?

We aren't getting rich off this deal. As a matter of fact, the American taxpayers are paying through the nose to bring democracy to Iraq. Its a huge gamble and I damn sure hope it pays off.

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High Praise 

After reading this from the Acidman himself I feel like Michael Jordan just walked by and complimented me on my jump shot. Muchas gracias!

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In an insult to douchebags everywhere...... 

This fellow says that John Kerry is a douchebag but he's voting for him anyway. (via Electric Venom)

John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway. Well, not really. That is to say, he's not actually a douchebag, or not nearly as much of one as what the media, George W., and even perhaps John Kerry himself have made him out to be. It seemed that every time I saw, heard, or read something about Kerry, his doucheness factor increased

I once had a 6th grade student sent to my office for calling another student a douchebag. I asked him what a douchebag was. He, of course, had no earthly idea. My assignment to him was to write a report on what a douchebag was and bring it to me the next day. His mother called me that afternoon and said, "my son has a rather unusual assignment that he says he got from you"! I explained the situation and we shared a good laugh over it. The next day he brought in his assignment and I made him read it to me out loud. I then asked if his classmate was really what he described and he had to admit that he wasn't. Classic moment!

But I digress....

When he finishes the work on his site he can venture into other projects:

1. "Slim Whitman can't sing worth a damn but I'm buying his CDs anyway"
2. "Diet Pepsi tastes like crap but I drink it every day"
3. "Roseanne Barr is ugly but I'd sleep with her"
4. "I'm against a "war for oil" but I drive a Hummer"

So much work to be done, so little time!

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A Fallen Hero 

Yes, thats right...a hero in every sense of the word. Sgt. Hook posts on Pat Tillman, the former N.F.L. safety who walked away from millions of dollars to serve his country in the armed forces after Sept. 11th. (via Michele)

Sgt Tillman is a hero not because he walked away from the Cardinals, but because of where he walked to. He like all the rest of the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coastguardsmen volunteered to put himself between the bad guys and our way of life and fight for its preservation. Rest In Peace Sgt Tillman, your service to our nation is an inspiration and you will not be forgotten. Sgt Hook out.

I can't put it any better than that and won't even try.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Funerals 

Tomorrow is the funeral for Paul, my student who died a few days ago. The funeral will be held in the school gymnasium at 11 a.m. and the entire student body will be released for the day so that they can attend the funeral.

Paul's family asked my principal if there was someone at the school who could put together a slideshow for the funeral. I was asked and volunteered with no hesitation. My entire day at work today consisted of scanning pictures, selecting music and putting together the slideshow. My juniors and seniors helped me with all of these tasks and there were many tears shed as we looked through pictures, listened to songs, and made decisions as to what to include. I'm pleased with the effort and the slideshow is about ready to go. Before I go to bed I will play with the timings a bit and have it all ready to go in the morning. Its been therapeutic for the students and myself to throw our energies into a project that celebrates Paul's life.

Music for the slideshow includes:
1. "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton
2. "I'll Be Missing You" by P. Diddy
3. "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
4. "Wild Thing" by Steppenwolf
5. "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart

A fine young man will be laid to rest tomorrow. God bless Paul and his family.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Halabja 

If the current situation in Iraq gives you pause, check out what Saddam Hussein was doing while the rest of the world stood by and passed U.N. resolutions.

Gruesome and inexcusable.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I Needed a Good Laugh 

and LOL supplied it here:

"I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy."
* Tom Clancy

"You know "that look" women get when they want sex? Me neither."
* Steve Martin

"Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand."
* Woody Allen


A small laugh is sweet music on an otherwise very sad day.

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Tragedy and Youth 

About one hour ago I walked into my school. I had been listening to music on the way to work and was running a few minutes late for our morning faculty meeting. When I walked into school I instantly knew something was wrong. The hallway was quiet except for a few muffled sobs and several students hugging each other. I put my things in my room and asked one of my kids what was going on.

One of my kids died in a car accident last night. His name was Paul and he was 17 years old. I've taught Paul for three years now and we've had a running joke about who was the better basketball player(Paul...you were better). He was a passenger in a car that entered an intersection and was struck broadside by another car missing a headlight. He was transported by helicopter but died before reaching the hospital. Another of my kids is critically injured.

I've had several students die in the past. Its incredibly painful. I'm sitting here now looking at my marker board. Yesterday afternoon I was soliciting volunteers to sell the school yearbook. Paul, of course, volunteered to sell every day. I restrained him to two days and that schedule is still on the board. I kept staring at it...thinking.

Damnit. Damnit. Damnit

Edit: link to the story is here.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Zero Tolerance 

I wanted to expand on this after writing about Columbine. Zero tolerance policies have become widespread in American schools in the past few years. You have two kids...one with a cough drop and the other with a bag of cocaine. Zero tolerance treats them both the same! The kid with a pen knife in his lunch pail? He's treated the same as if he had brought a bazooka to school.

This story for example:

Hunter Marner of Eufaula, Alabama is a junior at Eufaula High School starting this fall. He has been an honors student with straight A+ average the entire sophomore year while participating in 1st string varsity athletics. A very focused youth with plans to attend Annapolis Naval Academy.
A drug search was performed on students autos in which no drugs were found. During the search a scrapper blade and small pocket knife that I had used the night before while replacing the metal anchor for the rearview mirror on the front windshield of the auto. The instruments in question were carelessly left there by myself the night before were used to scrap the old glue from the window and open the repair kit from Walmart. Being his father and responsible for the offense I have taken responsibility to no avail with the zero tolerance policy used in our town's public school.


Where is the common sense? How does expelling this young man make the school safer? I was a school administrator and regularly handled student discipline matters. We did not have a zero tolerance policy and I had wide discretion over punishments. How did I decide? I looked at each individual circumstance and used my judgement. After all, that is what the school was paying me for...judgement!

The problem is of course complaints of "equal treatment". In the story above, another kid who had a machete tucked under his shirt might complain if his punishment was more severe. Call a lawyer and sue! Zero tolerance is the school's "coward's way out". We treat'em all the same and it protects us. We also demonstrate that we are serious about drugs and weapons. No one wants to be the school principal who lets another Columbine happen on his/her watch.

I'm a hardass in many ways. I believe in high expectations for kids at school. I believe that they should behave in the classroom and follow school rules. Strong consequences should follow for those who break the rules. But I also believe in common sense.


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Columbine Remembered 

Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of the Columbine massacre and questions still abound.

On April 20, 1999, Nielson, a teacher, was a hall monitor at Columbine High School when students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with sawed-off shotguns, a rifle and an automatic pistol opened fire, sending their fellow students running for their lives.

I have spent the past 18 years as a teacher or principal and no single event has impacted schools more than that murderous day. Some of the changes have been good ones and others have been counterproductive.

The Good Changes

1. Schools are paying more attention to individual students and what they say and write.

2. Many states and school districts have adopted anti-bullying rules

3. Abusive behavior and physical violence is being dealt with more severely.

4. The growth of the alternative school movement to serve students who don't fit in the regular school setting.

The Bad Changes

1. Draconian zero tolerance rules have made a mockery of common sense and judgement.

2. Many administrators and teachers look at students through the "Columbine lens" and see things that aren't there. It is difficult to serve the needs of kids when you look at each of them as a potential threat.

3. Millions of dollars have been wasted on "security solutions" that do very little to make kids safe. The best security comes from a vigilant faculty and administration who know their students and are attuned to what is going on in the school.

Looking back on that day its somewhat of a miracle that more people were not killed. Those two murderous thugs had hundreds of rounds of ammunition and the run of the school for a long time. They could have killed hundreds. This however does not lessen the loss of the students and teachers who died that day.

Today.....lets remember the victims.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Shoot'em Up 

Kill the terrorists.....here!

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Cut and Run eh? 

Iran is certainly interested in what we do in Iraq. (via the inestimable Allah)

The Iranian analysis is simple: The Americans do not have the political stamina to stay the course in Iraq. Negative polls could force President Bush to withdraw his troops into bases in the Iraqi desert, allowing the cities to fall under the control of Iraqi armed groups.

In such a scenario, pro-Saddam groups would seize control of the so-called Sunni Triangle while Shiite groups beholden to Iran would dominate central and southern Iraq, leaving the Kurds cantoned in their two mountainous enclaves.

The Tehran leadership is also certain that John Kerry, if elected, will abandon Bush's plans for a "democratic" Middle East. "The United States has become vulnerable," Rafsanjani told his cheering audience in Tehran. "The Americans do not know which way to turn."


The game is high stakes and Iran keeps raising us. This is for all the marbles my friends. Either the U.S. and its allies are able to establish a functional democracy in Iraq or it will fall into civil war with the Iranians playing chessmaster behind the scenes. This is the challenge we've been given and we simply cannot fail. Does John Kerry really understand this? Do all the "Bush lied" protesters understand? The shape of the Middle East for the next thirty years is being fought over right now. If we lose, theocratic dictatorships that sponsor terrorism will be emboldened, our few allies in the region will be isolated, terrorism will rise, and the U.S. will be even more threatened than it is now. If we win it can be the beginning of a new age in that very troubled region.

Every time Kerry says "working with our allies" I hear "whatever the French want". The Bush administration has been far from perfect in administering post-war Iraq. But somehow the soft and squishy Kerry-France-U.N. approach brings me little comfort. It fact , it makes me nervous as hell. This is too damned important to have come this far and to fail.

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A Terrorist's Death 

Joe at Winds of Change puts the event to song.

Who do you blame when your kids are all crazed?
Killed to please others like old Baalite days
Training for murder and genocide, hate
Paid by dictators to keep their lives great
A useful distraction!

Oompa Loompa doompadee dar
Civilized peoples tend to go far
Oompa Loompa doompadah dee
If you are wise you will listen to me


Now we see that Hamas has named a new leader but is keeping his name a secret! These guys are learning aren't they?

I can't shed one single tear over someone who glorified in the death of innocents. Rantissi was a thug, a murderer, and a terrorist. He vowed to "not leave one Jew in Palestine". The world is better off without him in it. I support a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and Hamas is antithetical to that. Nothing short of the destruction of Israel will satisfy them. The fanatics will continue on without Rantissi, but now they'll be looking over their shoulders even more.


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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Dutch Treat 

"Hello World Its Me" brings this story of a Dutch prisoner with 24 hour internet access making money off his attempted murder from his resort room..er prison cell.

One prisoner (who’s in jail for murder) even managed to run a escort service from his jail cell.

This same prisoner decided to make the most out of the 24 internet access (You said 24 hour internet access? Yes. That’s what I said). This prisoner has a 911 (or in Dutch: 112) recording on his website. On this recording you can listen to the murder he committed. The screaming of the victim and his wife (who survived). The gun shot.
Not only it’s on his website, it’s not free, you’ve to pay to listen to it (link to Dutch news website).

So he’s in jail, watching telly with his roommate while making money of his own murder & escort service. What a punishment. That’ll teach him.


Un Freaking Believable! But ooooohhhhh so civilized! Perhaps the prisoners should be given massages. Prison is ever so stressful don't you know. Conjugal visits? But of course! Jacuzzi tubs? We don't want to be like those barbaric Americans....heat up the water now! The finest foods? Wouldn't want those palates to suffer. That would be..uncivilized! Hey...how about live bands for entertainment? I'm sure Jon Bon Jovi would be available. Oops, he's already working for John Kerry. Maybe after the election!


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Friday, April 16, 2004

Adult Happy Meals? 

McDonald's has announced that it will introduce an "Adult Happy Meal" called the "Go Active Meal".

On May 6th all US 13,500 McDonald restaurants will be offering an Adult Happy Meal with salad, a pedometer (measures how many paces you take), bottled water and advice telling you to walk more. They are calling these types of meals their Go Active meals for adults.

McDonald’s has been trying to create a healthy image after months of criticism from the public and health organisations. Many people in the USA feel that fast foods and fast food restaurants are partly to blame for the country’s rocketing obesity problem.


Fast food and fast food restaurants aren't to blame for obesity. The people who eat at those establishments are. If I actually ate salad I'd think that McDonald's would be the last place I'd go to get one. If I want French fries or a pre-fab burger I go to McDonald's. But salad? Apple slices? You could probably buy two heads of lettuce for what McDonald's is going to charge for that McSalad.

What's next? Health food stores offering greasy fries? Smoke shops offering patches to quit smoking? Sex shops offering the opportunity to become a priest? Bill Gates offering Windows for free? The Catholic church passing out "morning after" pills?

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Good Luck Michele 

Michele Catalano has decided to take a hiatus from blogging. I only recently discovered her site and found it to be a real gem. Best of luck to her.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Letter of the Day 

Kate's letter of the day is "P". I'll ponder some pathetic possibilities here:

P is for Punching

P is for possible Kerry appointees. (*gulp*)

P is for putting students in order.

P is for panic in Greece?

P is for pass the booze!


P is for prediction

P is for possible apology? (via Sgt. Stryker)

Please ponder these predilections and pass them on post-haste!

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False Alarms 

Kim, writing with her #2 Pencil , comments on the young woman who faked her own abduction.

Long story short: Audrey faked her own kidnapping. She was missing for five days, after walking out of her apartment at 2:30 am; she was found in a marsh a couple of miles away. A huge force of police and volunteers had mobilized to hunt for her during the entire time she was gone. After being found, Madison police listened to her story, and then discovered that she had previously purchased the knife, duct tape, rope and cold medicine that she claimed her assailant used. Someone had used her computer while she was "missing," and she was also spotted around town during that time. The result is that she has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers


"She obviously is dealing with a lot of trauma related to this, she's going through a very difficult time. She's having both some emotional and some physical problems to deal with as you might expect somebody who's gone through something like this," Hopper said after appearing in court.
Somebody who's "gone through something like this"?! Excuse me, but Audrey put herself through this. Her actions, while wacky, appear not only deliberate but premeditated, and she lied to the police afterwards. Why shouldn't she be charged with obstructing? Since when does "having a difficult time" absolve one of responsibility?

I couldn't agree more. There have been several of these cases in the news lately including the twelve year old girls who accused a homeless man of assaulting them. They didn't want to get in trouble for being late to school! Then of course there is always Tawana Brawley.

There is a feeling out there that you can use law enforcement to settle personal issues, get revenge on a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, resolve custody disputes, or attract attention to yourself. This is bad on many levels. It takes resources away from real cases and costs the taxpayers time and money. Real cases seem less credible.

If it were up to me I'd punish this young lady to the full extent of the law. Abuse of the legal system shouldn't be tolerated. I'm sure she needs help as well as punishment but this could be the opportunity to get out the word. Filing false police reports is a serious business and those who do will be prosecuted.

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Get Chirac on the speed dial! 

CNN) -- Arabic language TV network Al-Arabiya has aired what it says is an audio tape from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in which he threatens revenge on America, but offers a truce to European states.

Appeasement seems to have worked great for Spain. Oh..wait a minute.

The speaker gives a three-month deadline, starting April 15, for countries to stop attacking Muslims. He mentions Iraq but not in the specific context of the U.S.-led war.

Of course its all Bush's fault for fracturing the alliance. Right? The sad thing is that I'll bet if you put it to a vote in large parts of Europe such a proposition would get at least 40% of the vote.....and maybe I'm being optimistic. "Its not our problem. Let the Americans handle it. That damned cowboy Bush."

Fools

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Take That! 

Serenity has an excellent rant about thoughts of a quagmire in Iraq.

And for what? A politcal agenda? We have people in this country who get a thrill out of every death of our soldiers. To them, each death gives them the right to say, while wearing a smug look, "See? I told you so!"

That is disgusting. That is so beyond the realm of disgust there just is no word for it. When someone glorifies the death of our troops or the death of Americans as the now well known protestor with his sign that stated he loved NYC, even more now that the towers were gone, has done, it is evil to the very core.

That behavior is akin to dancing and spitting on the graves of our nations heroes and those who were lost to acts of terrorism.

How funny will it be, what kind of party will they throw when it happens to one of their own? How can one talk out both sides of their mouth and not hear their own hypocrisies? How can one be against a pre-emptive strike but turn around and scream for an investigation about 9/11 and demand to know why nothing was done beforehand? How can someone look at all the facts and still blame this administration but turn a blind eye to the administration before it? How can they not blame the terrorists?


Had Bush attacked Afghanistan on Sept. 10, 2001 to rid us of the Al Quaeda menace you would be hearing many of the same things you hear about Iraq now. We even heard some of those things AFTER Sept. 11th. Quagmire! 25,000 dead soldiers! Arab street in revolt! Provokes more retaliation!

I hesitate to question people's motivations but I do think we have people in this country that are actually elated when soldiers die because they think it will help bring down Bush. That is just sickening. Presidents come and go but those are our sons, daughters, and neighbors fighting over there.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Alamo 

I just got back from seeing "The Alamo". Having been a history teacher for 18 years I have read much of this story and have visited the site in San Antonio. I've also seen the older version of the movie starring John Wayne many times.

I did enjoy the movie as I think almost any fan of history would. One can't help but be stirred by the images and stories of sacrifice represented in the siege of the Alamo. The homespun Davy Crockett is the major focus of the film. A very young Col. Travisis portrayed as a focused, inspirational leader. Jim Bowie is seen through most of the film in bed suffering from a severe case of pneumonia.

Making a film out of historical events is always difficult. How does a filmmaker accurately portray events that happened so long ago in an accurate but entertaining way? The history teacher in me has cringed at the inaccuracies in films like "Pocohontas" and "The Patriot". Similiar liberties were taken in "The Alamo". The scene of a defiant Davy Crockett being executed by Santa Ana almost certainly did not happen, but it makes for fine theater.

Still, I enjoyed the experience of trying to imagine what it must have been like for the men of the Alamo in 1836.

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Dieting 

Bill Maher (who is a horse's ass but a sometimes funny one) has a diet book in mind:

Look, I’m firmly against taxing fast food. Your fat ass is your fault. And I don’t understand all this Atkins and South Beach Diet crap. A diet book should have two pages in it: “Page 1 – Eat right. Page 2 – Exercise. Acknowledgements: My common sense.”

Hehe

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Life According to Sistani 

Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani has a rather interesting web page. It includes biographical information as well as his views on various subjects. (via Bird Dog from Tacitus). Included among the gems of advice:

Question:I want to enquire “what rights are given to a woman to have a husband of her own choice?” Actually, I have been engaged to the first cousin of mine, he rejected me for another girl. Now my parents want me to marry that same person just because he is my cousin. I cannot accept this. So I need to persuade my family to let me make my own decision. Please, help me.

Answer:If you are independent in your living affairs, it is not permissible (for your guardian) to force you to marry him. If you are virgin and not independent in your life and your father wants to marry you to him (cousin)- at the same time there is no harm in that (rationally viewed as harmless), then it is necessary as a measure of obligatory precaution to obtain your consent for that.


Question:I am really sorry that I have to ask this type of Question. But Since I grew up in a western country; I rally don't much about our religion. And I can't ask this Question to my parents due to subject matter. Brother my question is, can we have an oral sex before or after the sexual intercourse or can we have oral sex at all? Is it haram?

Answer:Oral sex act is permissible with the consent of both husband and wife provided that no liquid gets into the mouth.


Sounds like he's channeling John Ashcroft.

Question:Is it permitted to pay interest to non-Muslims and also take interest from them?

Answer:Giving interest to a non-Muslim in a deal that is based on interest is impermissible and receiving it (interest) is permissible and there is no objection in it.


Interesting eh?

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Coors for Senate 

CNN) -- Beer magnate Pete Coors launched his bid for Colorado's open U.S. Senate seat Tuesday, giving Republicans a wealthy and well-known contender in their quest to keep the seat out of Democratic hands.

Don't like his beer but he appears to be a strong candidate. I remember him from commercials years ago standing beside a mountain stream and touting "Rocky Mountain Spring Water". He's attractive and articulate, has name recognition, and should have plenty of money This race is one of several on which control of the Senate hinges.

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Press Conference 

Some quick impressions:
THE GOOD
1) Bush's probably got a little too "inside baseball" on internal Iraqi politics. But he did a nice job of summarizing the situation we face there.
2) He did a couple of things that I thought were critical. First, he stated that the soldiers on the ground in Iraq would be given whatever they needed to finish the job. Obvious point that needed restating. Second, he made it clear that we are in it for the long haul and that the definition of victory was a free and stable Iraq.
3) Strong emotion showing through when he talked of meeting the families of slain 9-11 victims and soldiers who died in Iraq.
4) When Bush really cares about something he is quite eloquent talking about it. His speeches on education indicated that he was well briefed, knowledgeable and engaged on the subject. I saw the same thing tonight when he talked about spreading freedom to Iraq and elsewhere. He viscerally believes that this is a key (perhaps THE key) to the War on Terrorism. When he talks about spreading freedom you don't see him searching for words or stumbling. He really, reallly believes it.

THE BAD

1. The question about whether succeeding in Iraq was worth losing his job over. His answer wasn't terrible but could have been much better. He should have simply said, "YES. I'm going to continue to do what is right as long as I'm president..polls be damned".
2. He should have had a much better answer for the question over who Iraqi sovereignty was going to be turned over to. Passing that buck to a U.N. envoy is weak. I would have rather had him say that he is working on that question daily and has confidence that Iraq will be ready to assume sovereignty.

THE UGLY

When asked about whether or not he has made mistakes, he should have said, "Of course I have. I'm human and I'm sure I have made many mistakes in this job. I'll leave it to history to define what those mistakes are." One of Bush's weak points is a perceived arrogance and this was the perfect opportunity to address it. He whiffed on this one. Instead he stumbled around for a good thirty seconds unable to come up with anything. This is a question he should have been ready for.

Press conferences are not George Bush's strong point. But this is probably the best I have seen him. He's no JFK, Reagan, or Clinton. He still fumbles around with his syntax and appears lost for words sometimes. But he also seems authentic and has real passion for the things that are important to him. Tonight was a good first step toward taking back control of a political situation that has gone downhill the last few weeks.





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Monday, April 12, 2004

My Fellow Americans 

I come to you tonight to report on our ongoing efforts in Iraq. A year ago we launched an attack on the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein and brought down his thuggish regime. The people of Iraq now have a chance to enjoy the same freedom that you and I take for granted. But the path ahead will not be easy for any of us.

I presented to the world, and to you, evidence that Saddam had attempted to create and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. This intelligence spanned several years and represented what I viewed as a real threat. It now appears that our intelligence was faulty. We knew that Saddam had acquired those weapons in the past and had no reason to doubt that he had them when the war began.

But in the months leading up to Iraq's liberation I also outlined other reasons to depose the dictator of Iraq. I continued the Clinton administration policy of regime change in Iraq. Saddam continued to be a threat to his neighbors and the stability of the Middle East. He continued to defy the terms of the cease-fire from the first war. He murdered and tortured many thousands of his own people. He refused to allow U.N. inspectors access to Iraq for several years. He funneled money to the families of suicide bombers and gave safe haven to known terrorists. I believed then, and believe even stronger today, that liberating Iraq was a just and honorable cause.

Today, one year later, we have made tremendous progress. We have built schools and hospitals, brought food to the needy, and rebuilt Iraq's infrastructure. We have a dialogue with all the diverse groups that make up the nation of Iraq. Our brave soldiers, working with Iraqi police officers, continue to arrest and detain those who threaten stability in this embryonic democracy.

But our work is far from done. Well armed militias continue to terrorize Iraqi citizens, threaten Iraqi government officials, and endanger our soldiers. This is not acceptable. We will continue to seek dialogue with all who want a free Iraq. We want all of Iraq's people to have a voice in what their new government shall be. But we will not tolerate armed banditry and I am ordering Gen. Abizaid to do whatever it takes to put an end to this violence.

This effort may take several years, considerable sums of money, and continued risk to our troops. I ask you, my fellow Americans to support us in this challenge. A stable and democratic Iraq can be a beacon of hope througout the Middle East and the world. A chaotic Iraq invites mischief from its neighbors and will destablize the region at great cost to the world. As long as I am president the United States will be committed to building a stable Iraq.

I am issuing a warning tonight to the nations of Iran and Syria. No longer will you be allowed to allow armed thugs, supplies, and weapons to flow across your border into Iraq. The United States demands that you secure your borders. Future incidents will be regarded as an attack on American forces and will bring a response proportional to that.

I tonight request a meeting of NATO to be held at the early possible moment. Some of our European allies did not support the liberation of Iraq. I ask them to put that aside and help us rebuild that nation. The United States will not leave this job undone.

To the people of Iraq. No matter what you hear we will not cut and run. We will persevere. And we...and you will be victorious.

I'll now be happy to answer any questions.

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Its the War Stupid 

Larry Miller contends we are focusing on the wrong things in Iraq. Before we can build hospitals and schools and establish democracy we need to.....WIN.


Message to the administration: No one in Europe or on the left is ever, ever, ever going to like you from seeing a photograph of a marine handing a bag of groceries to a woman in a burkha. Jacques Chirac is never going to say, "Well, they have built a lot of community centers. Maybe Bush was right."
Win. Stopping building schools. Win. There's plenty of time and need for hospitals, but first . . . Win. Yes, yes, Iraqi girls can be very empowered by seeing a female colonel running an outreach program, and we can all chip in for the posters that say "Take Your Daughters To Mosque Day," but in the meantime, would you please win.


The American people will not endlessly suffer the slow daily drip of casualties if there is no end in sight. We are at a critical time in Iraq and we cannot let this opportunity slip away. We sent soldiers there to fight Saddam's regime and establish a representative government. It is becoming obvious that this cannot happen with well-armed militias roaming the country, many of them funded and supported by Iran. We are going to have to subdue those thugs and it may be a little painful.

The president needs to lay out in his speech tomorrow that much hard work is ahead. If we need more soldiers in Iraq he should send them forthwith. He should also level with the country about what lies ahead. We know its important. We can handle the truth.

Failure in Iraq is not an option. As Miller says...WIN.

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If Men Could Have Babies 

If men were the child bearers scenarios like this might play out all over the country! (via Dean Esmay)

Wife: Honey, you're looking kind of pale. Your contractions are only a few minutes apart. I think you're going to have the baby and the hospital is no where in sight!
Husband: It's gotta --ungh!-- be here somewhere!
Wife: Pull over and ask for directions.
Husband: No! I'll, um, you know, I think...I...might just...need a...C-section. Yeah, that's the ticket. Hey, babe, run into that convenience store and get me a pack of picnic knives and a 6-pack of Budweiser.
Wife: Budweiser!?!?!
Husband: Yeah, you're right. Make it a Coors Light. Hey, get it? You're going into a C-store to get me some tools for a C-section! Ha-ha--ungh!

I figure it would happen just like that, and so often that it wouldn't be in the news anymore. So, in the end, Mrs. Esmay is correct: Men would rather slit their own stomach open rather than ask for directions. It's just as well men don't have the babies.


We guys just KNOW we can find it given enough time. I'm never lost...just temporarily not where I want to be.

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Alternative History 

Taking today's furor over briefings the president received and what he should have done Gregg Easterbrook writes an alternate history. (via Outside the Beltway)

On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.
Reaction was swift and furious. Florida Senator Bob Graham said Bush had "brought shame to the United States with his paranoid delusions about so-called terror networks." British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the United States of "an inexcusable act of conquest in plain violation of international law." White House chief counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke immediately resigned in protest of "a disgusting exercise in over-kill."


It took September 11 to make our leaders take terrorism seriously. With the benefit of hindsight there are things Bush (and Clinton for that matter) could have done differently. But had Bush or Clinton invaded Afghanistan to put an end to Bin Laden's terrorist Disneyland the reaction would probably have been similiar to what Easterbrook describes.

The commission will probably come out with a report criticizing actions (or lack thereof) by the Bush and Clinton administrations. Thats all well and good and we should learn from our mistakes. The essential lesson is that we have to be proactive. Without turning this country into Cuba or North Korea we can't prevent another attack no matter how much we spend on homeland security. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try. But a determined fanatic in a country this free who wants to kill people will find a way to do it.

So we have to go after them where they are. We have to have better intelligence and cooperation from allies around the world. We kill or arrest as many as we possibly can. We penetrate their cells, confiscate their money, assassinate their leadership, and we remain vigilant.

We will be attacked again. Its a matter of when and how. Whoever the president is when it happens will not be able to say that he couldn't have imagined it. He'd also better damn well be able to say that he did everything possible to prevent it.

Edit: another alternative history is available here...and its even funnier!

Like Watergate, “Saudigate” (a wince-making name but the one that has stuck) began with a small, attention-grabbing event. On the morning of September 11, 2001, FBI agents arrested 19 young Arab men, almost all citizens of Saudi Arabia, as they boarded four domestic airline flights. The Saudi government naturally protested, and Attorney General John Ashcroft responded by publicly making an astonishing accusation: that the 19 had intended to hijack the airplanes and crash them into the White House, the Pentagon and the two main towers of the World Trade Center. This plot, more like a Tom Clancy novel than a real world occurrence, had supposedly been set in motion by Osama bin-Laden, a Saudi businessman living in exile in Afghanistan who called himself the leader of a shadowy, and probably shadow-thin, network of religious fanatics. Ashcroft dubbed the group“al-Qa’eda” (“the Foundation”), a name that some of those involved may have used but that is more firmly linked, as Blumenthal notes in one of many enlightening asides, to the science fiction novels of Isaac Asimov. The SF resonance evidently appealed to the White House aides who were primarily responsible for manufacturing a “crisis” to shore up a tottering administration. Blumenthal credits the idea to a second-level speech writer named David Frum, a Canadian import whose wife is a best selling novelist.

Doesn't sound all that farfetched does it?

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Sunday, April 11, 2004

A picture really is worth 1000 words 

Check out this photo collection from recent anti-war protests in Washington organized by those err...patriotic folks at ANSWER. This is the responsible opposition? (via Michele Catalano)

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Arguments 

This chap has posted a rather nice list of the things he argues with his girlfriend about.

Margret enters the room. The television is showing Baywatch. Margret says, 'Uh-huh, you're watching Baywatch again.' I say, 'I'm not watching, it's just on.' Repeat. For the duration of the programme.

She keeps making me carry tampons around - 'Here, have these, just in case.'
'Oooooooh, why can't you carry them?'
'I've got no pockets.'
Then, of course, I forget about them. And the next time I'm meeting The Duchess of Kent or someone I pull a handkerchief out of my pocket and shower feminine hygiene products everywhere.


Gotta hate it when that happens!

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Party switchers 

War Liberal comments on this article about Georgia Governor Perdue's efforts to persuade some Democrats to switch parties.

The official GOP rules on party-switching:

1. If Republicans change to being Democrats, they are foul monsters who subvert the will of the people.

2. If Democrats change to being Republicans, that's great! Especially if that gives you control of the state Senate!


I have no problem with party switchers in one sense. If a legislator feels more comfortable on the other side of the aisle he should by all means switch. Perdue is cajoling conservative Georgia Democrats just as Daschle whispered sweet nothings into Jim Jeffords' ear. Politics is a contact sport and I have no problems with either instance.

However, I do believe that if you are elected as a member of one party and switch you should go back and face the voters with your new party affiliation as soon as possible. Phil Gramm switched parties as a House member, resigned his seat, and ran as a Republican in the special election a few months later. Some voters don't care about party affiliation, but many do and they should be given the opportunity to reconsider their vote.

All that being said I like having a little ideological diversity in both parties. Democratic Senators Zell Miller and Ben Nelson are probably closer to Republican ideology than they are to that of their own party. The same could probably be said for Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee. But I like that there are voices in both parties that keep the party from being monolithic.

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Me 

It strikes me that I haven't posted many details about myself. My handful of readers are probably not particularly interested but I'll do it anyway for posterity's sake!

I'm a 42 year old male and live in lovely Tumwater, Washington. I grew up and spent most of my life in Oklahoma (Tulsa area) until I met and married a transplanted Washingtonian living in Louisiana. We spent a few years in the New Orleans metro area and then relocated to the great Pacific northwest. We each brought children into the marriage and currently have in our home two boys (ages 16 and 12) and a nine year old girl. My lovely wife is the director of a local non profit that serves the adult mentally ill.

I am a public school teacher in a very small school district (300 kids K-12) south of here. I have been in education for 18 years as a teacher and as an administrator. I currently teach Contemporary World Problems, U.S. History, Pacific Northwest History, and supervise the production of the school's newspaper and yearbook. I'm a PC guy in a building full of Macs. In my err..illustrious educational career I've taught middle and high school levels, coached basketball, driven the bus, been an assistant principal/acting principal, and sponsored student councils. I have ex-students who are brain surgeons and one or two serving long prison sentences. Think its an easy job with those "summers off"? Come give it a try!

Politically, I'm fairly conservative with some strong libertarian leanings. I'm not as active in politics as I once was but I still try and keep up with issues and candidates. I'm pretty hawkish on foreign policy, fiscally conservative, and socially moderate. I generally oppose "its for your own good" laws (ie, motorcyle helmet laws), believe in all ten of the Bill of Rights (yes, including the 2nd amendment!), and I want the government out of my bedroom and kicking some terrorist ass.

I love classic rock (Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Hendrix, Eric Clapton), the "Blues" (Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Robert Johnson), and a little bit of country (Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Jr., Garth Brooks). I'm online for several hours almost every day. I read a couple of books a week. The books I read are usually adventure, legal thrillers, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, current events, and science fiction. I love football, basketball, and soccer. I'm a big Dallas Cowboys fan (They are America's team damnit!)

Alas, I was also hit by male pattern baldness at an early age(look here if you're curious about what I look like). I'm 6'3" and weigh about 230 lbs.

Thats probably enough for now I think. Back to more serious matters! :)

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Friday, April 09, 2004

Hammer Meet Nail 

Victor Davis Hanson nails it in his latest column.

Out of all the recent chaos emerges one lesson: Appeasement of fundamentalists is not appreciated as magnanimity, but ridiculed as weakness — and, in fact, encourages further killing. A shaken Spain elected a new government that promised to exit Iraq. In return, the terrorists planted more bombs, issued more demands, and then staged a fiery exit for themselves. France, as is its historical wont, triangulated with the Muslim world and then found its fundamentalist plotters all over Paris. The Saudi royals thought that they of all people could continue to blackmail the fundamentalists — until the suicide-murderers turned their explosives on their benefactors and began to blow up Arab Muslims as well. General Musharraf once did all he could to appease Islamists — and got assassination plots as thanks.

Everything that the world holds dear — the free exchange of ideas, the security of congregating and traveling safely, the long struggle for tolerance of differing ideas and religions, the promise of equality between the sexes and ethnic groups, and the very trust that lies at the heart of all global economic relationships — all this and more Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the adherents of fascism in the Middle East have sought to destroy: some as killers themselves, others providing the money, sanctuary, and spiritual support.

It is disheartening to see so many national leaders losing their will. "Losing Iraq" would have catastrophic consequences for decades to come. Giving up the fight against Al Quaeda would only embolden them further to attack us.

We must win.

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Ashcroft and Smut 

Vice Squad reports on Attorney General Ashcroft's recent push to prosecute pornographers.

Sleeping More Soundly in a Smut-Free World
If you are like me, you often toss and turn at night, lamenting the fact that we move so slowly in putting purveyors of pornography in the pokey. Wouldn't America be a better place if we could fill jail cells, not just with drug addicts, but with those who produce and distribute filth? Well, we can now rest easier. The US Department of Justice, headed by our nation's Attorney General John Comstock Ashcroft, has recently hired a new senior counsel renowned for his obscenity prosecutions.

I voted for Pres. Bush and have supported him throughout the war on terror and in Iraq. I did so knowing that I disagree with some of his domestic agenda. This is another time I'm having to really swallow hard.

Out of all of Bush's appointments, Ashcroft is the one that has always made me fell uneasy. I don't have a problem with religious conservatives as such....after all I voted for Bush and he is one. But I expect the Attorney General of the United States to devote his resources and time to protecting the people of this country. After 9-11 I felt reassured that Ashcroft would devote his energies to tracking down terrorists. Harassing hotel chains for offering pay per view movies to adults seems like an extremely poor use of that time.

I support laws against child pornography and believe that sexually explicit videos and magazines should be kept from the eyes and ears of kids. But an adult who wishes to rent "Debbie Does Dallas" or download pics of surgically enhanced blonde bombshells from adult web sites should be free to do so. There is a lot of demand for porn and the easy availibility on the internet removes some of the social stigma.

I don't want an Attorney General to police my country's morals. I want him to catch my country's enemies and throw them in jail. I want him to provide the world's best counter terrorism units. I want him to prosecute murderers and thieves.

Rudy Guiliani for Attorney General in '05!

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First hand account 

Ginmar gives a first hand account here of coalition forces under ambush and outnumbered. It sounds like some local politics put the lives of some very brave soldiers on the line.

At about four AM the other day, the coalition force rode out the gate and took back the town. At nine thirty we rolled out, arrived at our usual destination, and by ten thirty, we were under fire. We were in a compound of five or six major buildings, large enough to be hotels, not quite large enough to be palaces, that had once been owned by Chemical Ali.
We started out on the roofs, looking for snipers. But RPGs and mortar fire forced us down and as we retreated, the shooters started hitting the building more often because they were walking their weapons closer. Eventually, our safe area was reduced to just one hallway in a central building.
I have never been so scared in my life. Scared doesn’t cover it: terrified doesn’t, either. I'd never known it was possible to be terrified and be totally calm. I’d look around, seeing the trails of weapons, seeing the F-16s overhead---they never dropped bombs, they just flew around------and then look down and see the chameleons running in the grass. And then you’d hear the thump of another mortar round, but you don’t really hear those---you feel them, somehow. They’re loud enough to make you flinch, and these were all close----I saw one land in front of me at about three thirty AM, no more than fifty meters away.


Read the whole thing. Its riveting. By the way, Ginmar is female.

We owe her and all the other soldiers over there an enormous debt of gratitude.

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

O Say Can You Link 

The Letter O is the order of the day over in the land of Kate. My meager contribution to her collection of "O" links would be:

O is orifice obscuring

O is for DVDs that won't offend.
O is Occidentalism.

O is for Osama Where Art Thou?

O is for Operation Al Franken (via Country Store)

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Who Needs Engineering Anyway? 

San Francisco State University is facing a budget shortage. Naturally the response of the university was to cut the engineering program. (via Joanne Jacobs)


Corrigan's idea for saving $2.5 million -- in the face of a $14 million gap -- and shortchanging 700 engineering students led me to the S.F. State Web site to take a look at some of the university's other programs -- the ones Corrigan apparently doesn't want to eliminate.

Hmmmm. Raza Studies. Recreational and Leisure Studies. Women Studies.

My fave: The Institute on Sexuality, Social Inequality and Health.

It makes you wonder if the guys in Engineering should rename their discipline. You know, call it The School of Engineering, Structural Inequality and Disparity Dynamics. Even better: The School of Social Engineering. Then maybe engineering wouldn't be expendable.


Its good to know that our institutions of higher learning have their priorities straight.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Death  

My wife received some sad news tonight. An old friend of hers from high school died in an automobile accident. They were in ROTC together and he went to college on an ROTC scholarship.

He must've been around 40 years old. A tire blows out, the car swerves into a guardrail, and thats it.

Its one of those events that promote my occasional melancholy moments. It could happen to any of us. I drive about 50 miles round trip to work every day. Each day I spend on I-5 I take that chance.

Statistically, I have lived more than half of my life now. I've done some good things and some bad. I've had wonderful accomplishments and some miserable failures. My time could be tomorrow or it could be 40 years from now.

In any case I think I've done ok. I have great kids, am married to a lovely woman, and love what I do for a living. I laugh almost every day...and yes, I cry now and then. I've made some good friends, travelled this magnificent country, and had more enjoyment out of life than I probably deserve. I'm a helluva lucky man and I try and remind myself of that every day.

My wife's friend was Mike. I never knew him but I'll bet he could say many of the same things.

Live life to its fullest. You never know when your time will be up.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Anger Management 

This was a serious situation but its hard to suppress just a small giggle. (via Number 2 Pencil)

WOODLAWN, Md. (AP) — A brawl broke out during an anger management assembly at a suburban high school.
Two people were arrested and 11 students were suspended after a shoving match escalated into a melee during Thursday's assembly.


At least it wasn't a "True Love Waits" or "Say No to Drugs" assembly!

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The Letter "N" 

The letter of the day is "N" over at Venomous Kates. Lets play along shall we?

N is for "No Kidding"

N is for "nuance"

and of course:

N is for Nyet!

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Did they exist? 

The Battle of Hastings never took place and Adolf Hitler is a fictional character. Robin Hood really existed, Harold Wilson saved Britain during the Second World War and Conan the Barbarian is a bona fide figure from early Nordic history.

So reports Britain's "Independent". (via Joanne Jacobs)

Some 27 per cent of people interviewed thought Robin Hood, whose story has been featured in films by directors such as Kevin Costner and Mel Brooks, existed whereas 42 per cent believed Mel Gibson's Braveheart was an invention. More than 60 thought the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings trilogy actually took place.

Fictional characters who we believe were real
King Arthur , mythical monarch of the Round Table - 57 per cent
Robin Hood - 27 per cent
Conan the Barbarian - 5 per cent
Richard Sharpe , fictional cad and warrior - 3 per cent
Edmund Blackadder - 1 per cent
Xena Warrior Princess - 1 per cent

Fictional events that we believe did take place
War of the Worlds , Martian invasion - 6 per cent
Battle of Helms Deep , Rings Trilogy - The Two Towers - 3 per cent
Battle of Endor , The Return of the Jedi - 2 per cent
Planet of the Apes , the apes rule Earth - 1 per cent
Battlestar Galactica , the defeat of humanity by cyborgs - 1 per cent


It would give me a nice feeling of superiority about the U.S. if I didn't remember those surveys showing a big slice of the population here couldn't identify Canada or Mexico on a map.

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Monday, April 05, 2004

Captain Yee 

An army chaplain originally suspected of being a spy for terrorists is on his way home.

SEATTLE (AP) — A Muslim Army chaplain embroiled in a case involving a suspected espionage ring at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba was scheduled to return home to Fort Lewis today, his attorney said.

The Army clearly made a mistake in prosecuting this officer. Rather than admit their mistake and move on, they charge him with "downloading pornography" (whatever the hell that means) and adultery (they'd have to prosecute half the Navy if they were serious about that).

I am a huge supporter of our soldiers and their efforts around the world. I support increased military spending and pay raises for the guys who fight for us. But the military is also a bureaucracy and bureacracies hate to admit mistakes. The fact that they charged this guy with capital crime and reduced it to the civilian equivalent of jaywalking just stinks. If isn't guilty of espionage he deserves an apology and a big one.

Remember the guy in Atlanta the F.B.I. thought was a bomber? They besieged him and media surrounded his house forever. Even when it became clear he wasn't the guy the F.B.I. could not admit. They just left him hanging with a cloudy reputation and a stack of legal bills.

The same thing is happening to Captain Yee. Either prosecute him for espionage or apologize and send him home to his family. His career in the military is already ruined regardless.

Memo to presidents, CEOs, college coaches, school principals, and other leaders out there. When you screw up....admit it! We all make mistakes. But it galls me to see an organization mess with someone's life wrongly and then refuse to admit it.


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Save it for the reception next time! 

This guy was arrested for drunk driving on the way to his wedding.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German man was forced to invite the police to his wedding after they arrested him for drunk driving the day of his marriage and had to escort him to the registry office, authorities said Monday.
"The police escort also offered the bridal pair his most heartfelt congratulations," said police from the northern city of Bremen in a statement.
Police arrested the inebriated 36-year-old after he crashed his car and failed to disguise that he had been drinking heavily. He told police he had been out on his stag night and was on the way to pick up wedding flowers for his bride.


Hehe

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Middle Eastern Democracy 

The son of Libya's Gadhafi supports the Bush administration effort to promote democracy in the Middle East.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday Arab countries should support President Bush's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East.
Numerous Arab governments have rejected Bush's democracy initiative, notably Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's, as an imposition unsuited to Arab culture and traditions.
``Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people,'' said Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. ``The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.''


Wow. I have been amazed by Libya's "reformation" the past couple of years. I don't know what changed Gadhafi from a murdering, terrorist-supporting nutcase into someone who wants to be part of a modern peaceful world. But I wish some of the other leaders in that region would drink some of whatever he's been drinking.

The huge unspoken reason for the invasion of Iraq is an ambitious plan to democratize the Middle East. A lot of people close to Bush think that you can't end the terrorism threat without "draining the swamp" where terrorists breed. They also believe that spreading democratic values is the best way to do this.

I honestly don't know if this effort will be successful or not. Its a huge gamble. Now that we're in Iraq we'd better finish the job. I do think that a lot of the despots in the region don't want Iraq to become a modern, pluralistic democracy. That would cause their own people to ask, "what about us?".

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Pigs at the Trough 

Bob Novak writes about the disgust of Sue Myrick, a congresswoman from North Carolina, who is totally fed up with the way Congress is spending money on "transportation".

Myrick went before the closed-door House Republican Conference last week to spell out this outrage. The response was icy silence. Even conservatives who have railed at President Bush for moving left on education and Medicare did not want to hear her.
The highway bill marks the absolute termination of the Gingrich Revolution ushered in by the 1994 sweep. In the face of Bush's repeated veto threats, Republicans are determined to pass a bill filled with earmarked spending for individual members of Congress. The 1982 highway bill contained only 10 earmarks. The 1991 bill, the last highway bill passed under Democratic leadership, contained 538 such projects. But the addiction for pork has grown so large that the current bill contains at least 3,193 earmarks.
The addiction is bipartisan, thanks to the policy of the House's reigning king of pork. While House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young has packed the bill with money for his state of Alaska, he makes sure Democrats are allocated their share of money for roads and other goodies in order to build a bipartisan majority on the floor.


This "logrolling" or "backscratching" thing has been around a long time. But I do remember Republicans like Newt Gingrich saying that things would be different when they took over.

Why should the dollars allocated for transportation be dependent on having a member on the right committee? Why should a highway bill fund things that have nothing to do with highways? Parking garages? Music centers?

Congress should decide on a formula for need and allocate money based on that need. It should make no damned difference who my congressman is. This is a way for them to get local pats on the back and their names in the newspaper for "taking care of my constituents". Individual members of Congress should be unable to attach "demonstration projects" to a bill like this.

This highway bill is a bloated, slobbering, piece of pork. Pres. Bush should veto it the moment it hits his desk.

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In the "Not Me, No Way" Category 

This lady in Mexico is still teaching and is the principal of the school at 101 years old!

MEXICO CITY -- Albina Cruces Vazquez stood before a roomful of bubbly first-graders and quizzed them on math. Eight plus four. Eight minus four. The children bounced in their seats, hands up, ooh-ooh-oohing and eager to please. Charming little learners comes easy to Cruces: 86 years of practice makes perfect.

Cruces, 101 years old, has been teaching since she was 15. She was born on March 1, 1903. She remembers her mother hiding her on the roof when rebels marauded through her town on horseback during the 1910-1917 Mexican revolution. When the fighting ended, she took up teaching, and now she's the oldest and longest-serving educator in Mexico.


I am a teacher and I love it. But when I'm 101 (if I make it that far) I sincerely doubt I'll be standing in front of a classroom!

Bravo Senora Vasquez.

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Hotlips? Where Art Thou? 

Hugh Hewitt thinks John Kerry resembles Maj. Frank Burns from M.A.S.H.

But it's really Burns who captures the essence of the Kerry style, so recently displayed when, following his collision with a Secret Service agent charged with protecting his life, Kerry came up cursing the agent. We lack the information to make any comparisons between Theresa and Major Margaret "Hotlips" Houlihan, but both at least share a tendency toward outspokenness.

Oh Frank!!

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Dieting the Old Fashioned Way 

James Lileks brings this little goodie from a collection of old newspaper ads. Check out the actual ad.

1965 It’s the latest diet, ladies: Karo Syrup and Mazola.
I’m not kidding. They’re not kidding. No one’s kidding. You were supposed to mix Karo Syrup, Mazola, some dextrose and evaporated milk. And that’s all you got for the day. No cottage cheese, no melba toast. That’s IT.


So THATS whats in those Slimfast shakes.

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Good News 

John Farren over at Winds of Change has posted some..gasp..good news! from the scientific community.

Rat genome decoded; third mammalian code so far. (Hey, kids, collect the whole set!)

Gotta love it.

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The Letter M 

The letter of the day over at Kate's place is "M". To her rather fine collection I would add that "M" is also for making love....or not.

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Registration required 

This nifty little site has a list of logins for various news websites that require registration. Don't wanna take the time to create an account? Click away.

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Picky Eating 

Kevin Drum lists foods he likes and dislikes and sad to say its a list that would closely resemble my own.

The problem, apparently, is that both Will and Matt would like the social cachet that comes from disliking certain foods, especially ones that everyone else likes. It turns out that I have that in spades — I didn't like peanut butter when I was five, for example, and that was before all that peanut allergy business started up — and I can tell you that it's not worth it. Especially when traveling in foreign lands, or in social situations where you don't have much control over the menu, it really makes life a pain in the ass. For example, I dislike all vegetables. All of them. This is really inconvenient.

I hear you humming Kevin and I'm singing with you. I dislike virtually all vegetables. I eat tomatoes and onions and will eat cucumbers (preferably pickled). Being a picky eater is a real pain in the ass. It makes you reluctant to accept social invitations for dinner out of fear of being confronted with a meal you don't like. Its embarassing to tell someone who has gone to the trouble of making you a meal that you can't bear the thought of eating a single bite of it. I have even been to a few restaurants where there was little on the menu that I wanted to order. I'm jealous of those of you out there who can eat almost anything. (Yes, Matthew Yglesias, I'm talking to you!)

POSTSCRIPT: So what do I like? Among vegetable-ish items, only tomatoes. Among liquids, mostly water with an occasional cola thrown in. Among other foods, mostly anything that's bad for you: chocolate, popcorn, hamburgers, chocolate, grilled meat of most kinds, non-flavored salty snacks (i.e., plain potato chips and fritos, not the weird vinegar flavored stuff or nacho cheese varieties), chocolate, and french fries.

Kevin must be channeling me here. I love salty snacks, most kinds of meat that didn't start out swimming in the ocean, soda, spicy Mexican food, and of course, French fries .

My wife and I have an agreement when it comes to food. I never complain about what she cooks and she doesn't get offended if I don't eat it. If I don't like whats for dinner I'm on my own.

Chips and salsa anyone?

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Oxymorons 

Valarie has posted a rather cute list of oxymorons.

5. Pretty ugly
4. Rap music
3. Working vacation
2. Religious tolerance

And the number one top Oxymoron....

1. Microsoft Works

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Beauty before age 

Happy birthday to Kat. She celebrates by having this err....stunning portrait done. I'm going to go take a cold shower now.

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