Sunday, July 31, 2005

General Kinda Girl

I'm a sucker for quizzes. I am unsurprised at the 70 and the 5, but am clueless where the other influences came from. In fact I am surprised I don't have more of a Southern influence, my Dad's family hailing from Oklahoma and my brother in law from Tennessee.

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

15% Yankee

10% Upper Midwestern

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern

Friday, July 29, 2005

Oaths for the Oath's Sake

MaryHunter over at Bacon Bit's has ACLU Thursday, or more correctly an anti-ACLU Thursday. I find it troubling that a institution began to champion freedom now usually champions thinly disguised relativism. Absolutes are uncomfortable things. Anyway, she pointed my attention to this bit at Pirate's Cove. From the news report:
The religious texts of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and faiths other than Christianity should be allowed in North Carolina courts for oaths promising truthful testimony, the ACLU argued in a lawsuit filed against the state Tuesday.

State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath either by laying a hand over a "Holy Scripture," by saying "so help me God" without the use of a religious book or by using no religious symbols.

"We hope that the court will issue a ruling that the phrase "holy scripture" includes the Quran, Old Testament, and Bhagavad-Gita in addition to the Christian Bible," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

William Teach at Pirate's Cove says this:

Now, I abhor the ACLU's method's, the scare tactics, the extortion, the threats, blackmail, and, in this case, the lawsuits, but, our country was founded on religious freedom. Sure, it was about Christian beliefs, but respect should be given and respect should be shown. All religions (except the truly wacko ones) should be respected. Otherwise, we give up one of our core principles. All religion should be the same in the eyes of the law (except the really kooky ones.)

It's a tough call. We have seen what the tenents of Islam have done. We should allow them to swear on the Quaran, though, but not to appease them, but because it is the right thing to do, based on those same principles of religious freedom that the Pilgrims came to this land for.

I agree with him and added this at MaryHunter's site (spelling has been corrected from the original post):

I have no problem with the introduction of other religioius texts as the “oath by” for peoples of different faith. What matters is that they keep the oath for the oath’s sake. CS Lewis illustrated this aptly in “The Last Battle” and it seems particularly apt in accordance to what David posted above, substitute real faiths for Lewis’ imaginary ones.

“I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child all the service thou hast done for Tash, I account as service done to me. . . I questioned . . . Lord is it then true . . . that you and Tash are one? . . . It is false, not because we are one but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truely sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man does cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name of Aslan, it is by Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.”

What matters is that the witness speak truth because he has sworn to do so. To make a Hindu swear upon a bible would not be binding in the least if he had not already determined to be truthful.

This is the same logical fallacy followed by those who urge Catholics to say condoms are OK in Africa. A person who is determined on a sinful course that is apt to result in VDs and HIV is already ignoring the teachings of the church, how is declaring the use of condoms OK going to change a person set on sinning?

What is troublesome then is not that other texts be used to swear upon, but the attitude that says a witness is more likely to commit perjury if the swear on someone else's holy writ. As an evangelical Christian, my duty is to be truthful because that is what God wants, not because I have placed my hand on a paper.

By funny circumstance I have been listening to Lewis' Mere Christianity perhaps his most important apology. I think something else he has to say is relevant also.

The law that is peculiar to his human nature, the law that he (man) does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic thing is the one he can disobey if he chooses. This law was called The Law of Nature, because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it. It did not mean that you would not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who were color blind or have no ear for a tune. Taking the race a whole, they thought the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to everyone. I believe they were right, if they were not, then all the things we said about the war (WW2) were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong, unless right is a real thing which the Nazi's knew at bottom as well as we did and ought to have practiced.


I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature, or decent behavior known to all men, is unsound because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities but this is not true. There have been differences in thier moralities but these have never amonted to anything like a total difference.


Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle or where a man felt proud of double crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might as well imagine a country where 2 + 2 =5. Men have differed as to what people you might be unselfish to, whether it was your own family, countryman or everyone but they have always agreed that you ought not put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired.

This is the real danger - a loss of the sense of what is right. With relativism the moral compass becomes skewed or worse abandoned this leads to anarchy. One can be morally bad and society will see it and constrain it, but if nothing is good or bad but only "relative", how is society to function, much less a free and pluralistic one?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Events Over Take Us

Events over take us sometimes. Just this morning I characterized the IRA terrorist thugs as not particularly religious in an aside about Christianity and Islam in Indonesia. Today I heard an exchange about the IRA planning to lay down arms. If this had been purely religious persecution motivating these guys, they wouldn't be laying down arms. What it in fact motivated these guys was power mongering pure and simple. Such terror plays only work when the people whom they are supposedly championing are silent. When the McCartney sisters stood up and cried for justice, denouncing the IRA hitmen for what they were, it highlighted the need for all people to speak up against the "champions" that hurt those they are supposedly protecting.

As wrongheaded as I think the "Not in Our Name" and "We're Sorry" folks are, they were exercizing an important idea. If your leaders do not speak for you, than you need to speak up. I could go on a long tear about moderate Muslims at this point but I will spare my audience.

Splendiferous Chicken Burritos

Every so often I want a change in my chicken fare. These always hit the spot. Last timr I made them the Verbalist pronounced them "Splendiferous" high praise from a 4 year old.

1 lb. diced cooked chicken
8 oz cream cheese
2 mild green chiles diced
1/4 cup sweet yellow onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

saute chicken, onion, garlic and chiles until onion sweats and is almost transparent. Add cream cheese in chunks until sauce is creamy and add spices. Remove from heat.

Here you have two options:
Option one: roll in tortillas along with some shredded cheese (jack cheese is preferred - as always it's what is in your fridge that counts), fresh spinach and tomatoes
Option two or the naughty one: roll in tortillas and deep fry 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden, in hot vegetable oil. (I suppose you could bake them but it just isn't the same. 350 for 20 minutes)

If you opt for the frying choice, beware! The filling gets pretty hot. Keep Corona or sweet tea on hand for cooling the mouth.

Christianity and Indonesia

Strategy Page has an update on terrorism in Indonesia (ht Instapundit):
July 28, 2005: The government continues to investigate, arrest and prosecute Islamic terrorists. But religious conflicts continue as well. More moderate Moslem leaders, while helping the government by preaching against the Islamic radicals, also want government help to stem the growth of Christianity. Missionaries, both Indonesian and foreign, have been successful in converting an increasing number of Moslem Indonesians. The Islamic clergy want the government to intervene. By law, only five religions are allowed in Indonesia, and the government has a tradition of getting involved in religious affairs. While 85 percent of Indonesians are Moslem, most of the remainder are Christian. On some islands, the population is half, or more, Christian. On those islands, many Moslems see Christianity as a more "modern" religion. Christian clergy and missionaries are generally better educated than their Moslem counterparts, and the Christians tend to be more successful economically as well.

Christianity, which predates Islam, is the more "modern" religion. Perhaps because Christian factions don't war on each other anymore. (No, Ireland does not count. I doubt IRA thugs are particularly religious) Perhaps even more to the point, Christian missionaries built infrastructure, medical and educational facilities wherever they go. A top priority to many missionaries is a Bible college. More than just scripture, these colleges teach all the skills needed to effectively pastor a congregation. With the many projects a pastor of a growing church needs to oversee there are times he or she is much like a CEO. Many churches, especially in third world countries, are growing faster than there are trained personel to shephard them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Am Spartacus

When you are a parent, as much funny stuff comes out of your mouth as comes from the mouth of your babes. In the midst of encouraging the Verbalist to pick up his belongings, my husband said, "Pick up your sword . . . and your sandals." Over at the kitchen sink I began to giggle madly. "I Am Spartacus" I intoned in my best Kirk Douglas warble. We laughed a bit. Life is good.

The Evils of Talk Radio

Looks like a talk radio station has taken grant money earmarked for Alzheimer patients, senior citizens and a youth mentoring program. Well the foundation "invested" the money in the radio station and the executive director has close ties to the former chairman of the radio station. The perfidious station? Air America. Air America that goes through money like water and has less of a listening audience than the original all caribbean format. Air America, whose host Randi Rhodes has advocated assasinating a president twice.
Now, I am not a big fan of Rush or Sean Hannity, they both have huge egos and an annoying manner with guests, they have never diverted grant money to prop up a losing sinkhole. They have never advocated assasinating a president. I want to hear no more about how wonderful Air America is.
Meanwhile local talk radio guys are told that because they have advocated an initiative on the radio they have to treat it as an "in kind" contribution. Other than talking it up and working on it as a private citizens they have no ties to the initiative. Grrrrr.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Education and Big Government

As a parent, educator, and fiscal conservative let me reply with a resounding, "Hear, hear!" to this article at Tech Central Station. Public schools are on average aweful. I do not doubt that the majority of teachers in the K-12 grades are dedicated, hard working, and care about thier students. We all remember a teacher who has made a positive impact in our lives. Pouring more money down the pit of codified beauracracy changes nothing for the better for our kids. From the column:
The only real measure of success is not how much we are spending but whether we are getting the most bang for our bucks. American schools are already very well-funded. Moreover, there is little evidence that additional funding would much improve the quality of education.

In international comparisons of per-pupil expenditures, the U.S. ranks near the top of the list. According to OECD figures, the U.S. spends 78 percent more per primary school student than Germany, 58 percent more than France, 31 percent more than Japan, and 71 percent more than the U.K. But despite these large spending differentials, American students perform no better than average on international comparisons of math and reading skills.

Comparisons over time reveal a similar story. From 1960 to 2000, inflation-adjusted spending on education in the U.S. nearly tripled, yet test scores show little improvement, dropout rates are high, and a large racial achievement gap persists.

Education economist Caroline Hoxby explains that public schools today are doing less with more: school productivity -- achievement per dollar spent -- declined by 55 to 73 percent from 1971 to 1999.

Clearly, money is not the issue. The column takes a crack at the answer: the NEA. Ah yes, unions. Why? I think because unions do little for thier members these days. A teacher I know once worked around her union to broker a deal on behalf of teachers with her school district because the union wouldn't. Once negotiations were underway the unions seemed to think it had bigger fish to fry than being sure teachers and librarians in the school district were shuffled so Mrs. Benowitz was able to stay one more school year to get her pension. Then there is this story from back in March. Key graf:
The WEA Children's Fund will mark its 10th anniversary in January, and, by almost every measure, it has been an unqualified success. From a small start, the fund has grown to provide $50,000 a year for such things as warm coats, new shoes and basic school supplies to thousands of students who otherwise would go without. By making one phone call, any WEA member can access the fund to meet modest and immediate needs of students they work with.

So what's not to like about a program that makes it quick and easy for educators to make an important difference in the lives of children? Alas, a great many of the receipts members submit for reimbursement are for purchases from Wal-Mart, whose exploitative labor practices have added to public assistance burdens in our state and across the nation.

Alas, the teachers reciepts were from Wal-Mart? Isn't the issue teachers helping students? Marsha Richards at Sound Politics had this to say about the article:

So the Children's Fund Board decided last week to refuse reimbursement to teachers who get bargain coats, hats and shoes at Wal-Mart. The union has long tried to bully its members into boycotting the company for what it calls "exploitative labor practices" and I translate to "a refusal to unionize employees."

Seems a lot of WEA members aren't on board with the boycott.

And one more irony: While the union can be commended for administering the Children's Fund, most of the donations come from private contributors and charities. Even if the WEA did shell out $50,000 for the children, that's a whopping .2% (two-tenths of one percent) of the union's annual $25 million grab from Washington teachers.

This post is not a wholly union bashing post because the unions are aided and abetted by the Compassionate Conservative himself, President Bush. No Child Left Behind is pork, pork, pork. The TCS article calls for the GOP to remember it's core values of fiscal restraint. I say this: the GOP contenders for 2008 should talk about real education reform and not just school vouchers. Talk to any parent of school age children and they will agree that public schools are terrible these days, and it isn't the average teacher that is to blame. Talk about the increase in spending and the lack of results, target the unions and the beauracracy be realistic about NCLB. Unions will paint any reformer as a cold hearted miser who doesn't care about 2nd grade teachers and children but if the candidate keeps on message it will be understood by those who deal with the school districts.

The next few elections will be about the War on Terror and the reformation of Big Government, the GOP seems to be doing fine with the former and spineless on the latter.

Monday, July 25, 2005


The nice thing about living on an island, you're real close to a beach. This morning I picked up the phone and called my folks, "You want to go to the beach today?" More than just walking down to the nearest beach, a rocky strip along the shipping lane, I decided a full on Expedition was called for, mom agreed. After working out the logistics of 3 households (my sister and niece were coming also) via multiple phone calls, we headed off to Double Bluff, a sheltered cove. When the tide is low, the sand goes out for about a mile with shallow tide pools and plenty of shells.
We packed a picnic basket and a bag full of swimsuits, spare clothes, towels, and the bare minimum of accoutrements needed by a 3 month old infant. My dad schelepped his cooler, and the baby, whilst I carried basket, bag and walked our Aussie Shephard. My mother, toted potable water and a collapsable bowl for dog drinks and walked her Dalmation. My sister carried a bag of clothes and whatnot for her daughter and walked her goofy lab mix. My niece, the Verbalist and the Muralist ran along carrying shovels, pails and generally whooping it up.
We let the dogs loose once we passed the flag of freedom, denoting the beginning of the off lead area. They tore off and genially brawled for a few minutes as dogs do, then found other dogs to wrassle before trotting back to us, "Still here? Everyone safe? good, good." Off they trotted again, tongues lolling happily.
My father stopped close to the water and said, "I am not going any farther." Incipient waffling from my mother, who always likes going "just a little further", was ended by the arguement that little legs would be Very Tired by the close of festivities. Sandals immediately shucked, off to the water we splashed.
After a while we splashed out again and tucked into sandwiches that mysteriously contained sand, even after being thoroughly encased in plastic, an warm apple juice. The tide began to creep up on us as we ate so we retreated up to the beach to where the tide would not get us. The kids were off again constructing sand castles, finding rocks and shells and splashing the dogs.
At last we packed up and began schelepping back down the beach towards the county provided port-o-lets and picnic tables and the one bare spigot for washing the sand off your feet. As I handed off the baby for safe stowing to my father, I turned to see the little legs, as tired as projected, straggling up the beach, herded by my mother and sister. It was the scene from Ben-Hur, Judah forced across burning sand by centurians- if Judah were insisting on carrying a bucket of rocks, noteworthy only to him with promises of ice cream if he just made it.
I went a picked up the Muralist who transformed into a dead weight at once and took the hand of the Verbalist. Buckled up and on the road again home, I rolled down the window and felt the cool breeze on my face.

Friday, July 22, 2005

My Kind of Guy

I love this:

Take, for instance, Roberts's response to a request sent by then-Rep. Elliott Levitas (D-Ga.) to Reagan. In 1983, the Supreme Court struck down laws that contained provisions for Congress to veto actions taken by executive departments and agencies. Levitas wanted to meet with Reagan to determine "the manner of power sharing and accountability within in the federal government." The request offended Roberts's notion of the proper separation of powers.

"There already has, of course, been a 'Conference on Power Sharing,' " Roberts wrote, sarcastically referring to the convention at which the Constitution was drafted. "It took place in Philadelphia's Constitution Hall in 1787, and someone should tell Levitas about it and the 'report' it issued."

ht: John Hawkins

Gee, Christians Like Movies, Who Knew?

File it under, well duh they're people. Hollywood has learned something from Mel Gibson: Christians like movies. (ht: Warren Bell) According to this article Christians are the new niche Hollywood is going after.
Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians number an estimated 30 million in the United States, and Hollywood - faced with a prolonged slump in ticket sales - has followed its natural instincts in trying to tap one of the country's most powerful niche markets.

In fact after doing a bit of research, market research has found Christians more apt to go to a movie rated "R" for violence.
And just to complicate matters, a new study by a leading Hollywood marketing firm, MarketCast, suggested that not only do American Christians watch mainstream entertainment, but the most conservative among them are also drawn to violent fare.

Apparently sudio executives are reexamining their preconceptions about conservative Christians and saying, "Huh, who'd have thought." Film makers, let me say this loud and clear: Christians are not humorless killjoys who disapprove of all entertainment and only live to strum a harp on a cloud. They do not sit in darkened homes polishing guns saying, "Well Mother, those heathens have told one to many jokes, we need to make them Repent!"

Contrary to popular misconception, Christians are perhaps more realistic but optimistic than any other slice of the populace. It is precisely because of the major tenents of our faith that we are this way. People are bad, and bad things happen because there is sin. God, through Jesus, has given us a hope and a future, so the outcome is not bleak. Perhaps this is why Christians are more apt to attend a violent movie, these are the movies that Hollywood produces with a good vs. evil distinction instead of silly relativist pablum. This is the allure of the comic book movie, the space invaders movies, westerns and the like. Give us a wholesome comedy we'll like it too.
"There's definitely more of an awareness, but it's just another group to be marketed to, albeit a very strong one, with incredible grass-roots tentacles," said Russell Schwartz, president of theatrical marketing at New Line Cinema, a Time-Warner company.

Christians are not going to recommend movies to their other Christian friends that has lots of obcenity or blastphemy in it's dialogue. There are many times I have watched a movie that I have thought-can't recommend that because of X, Y or Z. X, Y or Z is usually something that could easily have been edited out without damage to the plot or character - gratuitous nudity, bad language and the like. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones takes the name of the Lord in vain and his father slaps him for blastphemy, every Christian sitting around me cheered.

Religion should not be tiptoed around but neither do Christians want or expect Hollywood to have it themed in every film they make. Really the best portrayal of Christians in Hollywood lately has come from someone wasn't trying to soapbox, M. Night Shamalyan. Signs was about as superb a movie about Christians as has been made for a long time. It helped that it starred Mel Gibson - someone who has been around the block of worldly experience and come 'round to serious Christianity - who brought an understanding and sympathy to the role.

Which brings us around again to Mel Gibson and his newest movie project. I am going to make a prediction - it'll be good. The Sword and Sandal genre is ripe for renewal (Gladiator, The Passion of the Christ) but rewriting history to pay homage to PC talking points (Kingdom of Heaven, Alexander) will not cut it with discerning audiences, Christian or no.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Raspberry Brownies

The kids and I went raspberry picking at a farm down the road from us. It's the place where everything is u-pick from berries, to apples and pumpkins, to holly in it's season. Last year mom and I went blackberry (and later) currant picking with the kids, so it was hard trying to get the kids to pick the red berries this time around. You want your children to have those kind of good memories, a windy day in a berry patch running up and down the rows. Plus it's hard to beat getting a couple of pints of raspberries for 75 cents.

The following recipe was given to me years ago and has since proved it's worth.

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup rasp jam (melted - microwaves are great inventions, no?)
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

You can also use the compote recipe from here in place of jam.

Combine sugar and oil then add egg whites and vanilla and beat well. Stir together separately flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Add a cupful at a time to mixing sugar mixture, then spread in a greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean) Cool for 20 minutes, spread with jam then top with fresh berries.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Justice Roberts the Fry Judge

This post is a poor attempt at humor.

President Bush has announced his candidate for replacing former Justice Sandra O'Conner on the Supreme Court. As Kathryn Lopez at NRO is collecting from her wager from John Derbyshire , Senator Chuck Schumer is having a cognitive disconnect. Shrill left leaning special interest groups began rallying the forces immediately to attack Justice Roberts. Among the usual concerns about life issues, quota defense, and scary outspoken Christians in the population, comes the most disturbing charge of all:
Roberts ruled against a 12-year old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would only have gotten a paper citation in that situation.
Your Senators need to hear from you today — there must not be a rush to confirm John Roberts until all the facts are in! Call and write your Senators to demand that they fulfill their constitutional obligations of advice and consent - our rights hang in the balance!

That's right! Your Constitutional right to eat french fries on public transportation is at stake! Never mind that messy emenint domain nonsense! French fries! Fries have already come under attack from groups demanding goverment regulation. Infringement of civil rights! Wait though! I thought the goverment is supposed to tell me how to eat. I'm so confused. Is french fry regulation a pro or con with this justice? Will it be one of Chuck Schumer's "dumbass questions"? I hope so, Americans need to know just where SCOTUS nominees sit on fry consumption.

Frank J. needs facts about Justice Roberts. I think he is just the man to run down this fry angle.

OK, so here is the fry story. The question is where does he sit on fry consumption?! Chuck Schumer. Paging Chuck Schumer.

Harry Potter and the Classic Kid Lit Shelf

I have not yet read HP and the Half Blood Prince. I plan to listen to it on my i-Pod beginning friday. "Gadzooks!" cry rabid Potter fans, "You didn't go out midnight the 16th and grab a copy from the teeming hordes?" Nope. I belong to a small subsect of kid lit lover culture that could take or leave the Potter books. Oh they are fun, but I am content to be 8 millionth on the library waiting list. Meghan Cox Gurden loves the series it seems and raises the question: will be a classic? She chickens out:
Having raised the question, it is cowardly of me to duck it, but duck it I must. For who can say? Look over the classic juvenile fiction shelf and tucked in beside enduring works of genius such as Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" and C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" are snooze-making stinkers such as Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and Johann Wyss' "The Swiss Family Robinson."

To be fair, Verne's tale of the misanthropic Captain Nemo roving beneath the seas in his submarine at least has a bit of character development lurking amid prose otherwise all barnacled with lists of flora and fish. But "The Swiss Family Robinson" is surely one of the dullest and most ill-constructed books ever to achieve lasting fame

I will not duck it-the answer is yes, Harry Potter will be a classic. Kids reading it with their parents today will read it to their kids, to recapture that sense of wonder and togetherness they experience now. JK Rowling has hit the right mix of ethical questions and adventurous pot-boiler that will translate well to other generations. It may not be the best kid lit in this generation but it will last. So who else is writing classics of youth fiction these days? Two names not as well known spring to mind. The fan base is as fanatical as Rowlings but the worlds, ah here is where the cream rises to the top.

Robin McKinley is the best contemporary writer of fantasy for youths today. I first read her retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast in Beauty and then quickly leapt to find, buy and delight in the rest of her work. Her tales pull no punches, fairy tales often deal with chilling subject matter. Her heroines are as much frustrated by magic as find a use for it. Magic in McKinley's books is capricious, much closer to the wild magic of Shakespeare's Ariel than the rote incantations and potions of Rowling. Damar is McKinley's fantasy world, a world where TE Lawrence would be most comfortable and many McKinley fans I know, half hope to find Damar travel brochures tucked in beside Damascus. Sunshine is McKinley's foray into adult fantasy and has a much different flavor to it. Her heroine still uses her wits as much as her magical talent, but unlike McKinley's fiction for youths, Sunshine has no clear cut heros.

Garth Nix hails from Austrailia, and unlike either Ms. Rowling and Ms. McKinley manages to pop out a book in a manner timely enough to satisfy his fans. Currently he is writing the Keys of the Kingdom series, wherein a severely asthmatic boy named Arthur finds himself heir to a fantasic kingdom but has to battle the days of the week to claim it. His masterpeice thus far is the Old Kingdom series. Youth fantasy only insofar as the protagonists are youths, the execution is much darker than the Potter series, good and evil are precisely drawn.

Classics, as Ms. Gurden notes, can be difficult to predict. Ms. Rowling's books certainly will be, Ms. McKinley and Mr. Nix's ought to be.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Sound of Freedom

From Citizen Smash comes the tale of a man who should have thought twice before putting pen to paper.
Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?

Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune!

Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns' early-bird special?

Well read the reply and reflect on this: it's after 9 in the morning, now maybe he works a swing or grave shift, but most people don't and 9 am is a reasonable hour to expect to be able to make noise. I know what kind of noise was being made too because I live with the "Sound of Freedom". My house is in the flight path where Navy Prowlers practice touch and gos for landing on an aircraft carrier. Frequently they wait until full dark to practice and during the summer months that is 11-11:30 pm. My husband is up at 4:30 am to make it into the city and has yet to complain about the planes.
To his credit the man apologised, still perhaps he should have thought before snarking about military planes and the poor sales folk manning the registers, I expect few of them deserved being sneered at.

Patriot Voices weighs in. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Friday, July 15, 2005


I love this country and am so proud of the soldiers who defend it. When I read about this sniper attack I was unsurprised when I read this part:
As Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs, he gave medical aid to the wounded terrorist- the same one that tried to take his life.

(ht: Michelle Malkin) Unsurprised, because that is the character of the men and women who serve in the US Armed Forces.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Well, It's Not Going to Help the Box Office

Oliver Stone is one of the top 3 people I would not like to see a 9-11 movie from. (Are you wondering who the other two are? C'mon I know you are.) So of course he's making one. Look I saw JFK and watched parts of Nixon, and both are pretty terrible except that they cast good actors in the lead. (Kevin Costner? Really? Yes, Costner is good as a law enforcement type, cowboy or sports guy. He should stay far far away from science fiction.) John Podhoretz nails what is going to happen:

So the villains wouldn't really be bin Laden and his monstrous followers, but American officials too blind or lazy or turf-conscious to stop them.

Of course, he wrote that in general following a blurb on War of the Worlds and not about Stone specifically, but it's all too credible given Stone's track record. Mickey Kaus has damning excerpts from Oliver Stone's mouth about his personal views of 9-11. Take a minute. Breathe deeply. Just remember, he's got plenty of money to buy tinfoil for his hat.

So now we know the awefulness that is coming down the pike, let's indulge in a little wishful thinking. Who should make a 9-11 movie? In my world it would be either Ron Howard or M. Night Shyamalan. Both would bring different things to the project but wow.

Ron Howard has made some incredible films about America and the American experience. Apollo 13 anyone? He brings some emotional content but mostly focuses on the uplifting, the hopeful and the best of hard circumstances. His films would focus on the event. Someone in it, experiencing it, and overcoming in the midst of tragedy.

M. Night Shyamalan would be very different. 9-11 would be the catalyst not the main story. In Signs, Unbreakable, and The Village the culture shaking events are only a frame for the emotional dialogue. Shyamalan's could handle deftly the range of emotions expressed by Americans, the complex mix of shock, rage, sadness, bonding, love, and patriotism. Who would you like to see make a 9-11 movie?

Thanks to the ever valuable Basil's Blog for the open post.


The MaryHunter links (whoo-ho! just love it when I get linked) and suggests Mel Gibson. Gibson is a fine director but his movies have saga written all over them. Probably a lack in my own vision but I have a hard time picturing a Gibson 9-11 film.

Meatball Subs

These are about as guy a food as you can find. I make them every now and then when my husband wistfully asks for spaghetti and meatballs instead of my standard meat sauce. The excess meatballs go into the freezer to be resurrected as sub filling later in the month.

2 lbs of ground beef or turkey
1 large clove garlic minced
1/2 sweet yellow onion minced fine
2-3 slices of bread toasted and crumbed
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil

Combine all ingredients then portion into balls. (a smaller ice cream scoop or the large end of a melon baller is about right. Freeze for later at this point) Bake at 350 for 20 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. In crockpot or casserole dish combine:

12-16 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander
2 tbsp grated parmegian cheese

When meatballs come out of the oven place them in sauce and return to oven (or crock on medium) for another 25 minutes. Warm hoagie rolls in foil for the last five minutes. Place meatballs and plenty of sauce in a split hoagie roll and top with grated motzerella or provolone. Serve with cold beer for best effect.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Haunting and Sad

The guys at Winds of Change have put together a flash presentation documenting 30 major terrorist attacks since the War began. Not since we declared war-since they did. Lest you forget or did not know, war was declared on us in 1998. By the time it got to Beslan, tears rolled down my face. After you have watched the presentation go read the commentary at Fourth Rail.

These are not freedom fighters, they are working for tyranny, death. No, not just death, annihalation and suffering. They would kill and then sow the earth with salt.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Valerie Plame - Not So Secret Agent

My kids love The Backyardigans, a cartoon featuring singing and dancing and fabulous make-believe adventures in the backyard. (of course) One of the songs the sing is about secret agents, trenchcoats and fedoras. This is the vibe I get with the Valerie Plame thing. She thinks that it is cool to be a CIA agent and have a spy mystique. Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC acknowleged that Plame was generally known to work for the Company. The incestous world of DC politics and reporters is not particularly shy and Tenet's agency seems to have leaked like a sieve. Heck, she was listed in the who's who bio with her husband, an ambassador. I don't think this story would have any legs if it weren't for the star power involved, and by star power I mean Karl Rove.

If secular human relativists have an anti-Christ it's Rove, whose Machiavellian planning has ushered in the armageddon of a Bible reading Jesusland person into the White House, and is planning on the dominion of the GOP for a thousand years. (Assuming of course the nation remains a republic and not a theocracy.) The whiff of Rove misdeeds have sent the pack a-baying. For a rundown on what we actually know, Tom Maguire has done the heavy lifting.

John Hawkins asks the question: Given what we know what should Bush do? He says:

But then you have to consider all the publicity this Plame has gotten. It would look bad if Bush hung on to Rove after it happened.

Conversely, if Bush got rid of Rove, who people know is his right hand man, that would look bad, too. It would confirm to the public that something "really bad happened" which the Democrats would use to try to tar the whole administration.

However, as a general rule, it's a good idea to even avoid the appearance of ethical impropriety -- especially when it might concern the safety of a CIA Agent.

Yet and still, I have this hunch that if no crime were committed and Bush sticks by Rove, he could probably weather this whole storm quite well.

What it basically comes down to is that it's a no-win situation at this point. Should Karl Rove be fired for what now appears to be a very minor, non-criminal offense or should Bush risk sustaining political damage by keeping him around?

What Bush should do and what Bush will do are two different kettles of fish. Assuming that nothing serious actually comes to light, Bush will stick by his man. Bush is loyal to those that are loyal to him. He also treat well political opponents who are disproportionatly nasty to him. Unless Rove did something real bad ethically or something criminal, Rove will be around. If Rove ever considered running for office himself though (those rumors of a Senate run) this will sink him. I think the President rarely considers the political cost when he sees a course of action that he thinks is right.

UPDATE 7/12: Heh. I wrote yesterday the pack was baying over Rove and today Michelle Malkin says: Woof, woof, woof about Scott McClellan under questioning from ABC's Terry Moran. Read Lorie Byrd too.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Verbalist and Roald Dahl

The Verbalist suffers from avarice. It began by a discreet lobbying for a certain kind of product we were already purchasing, followed by requests of a modest nature and has evolved into demands for whatever takes his fancy. I did not do my duty curbing this attitude earlier and now dealing and correcting it has become a difficult chore. Small clashes have now come to a head over the desire for a Batmobile. So we have come to a common sense solution: he has to save up and buy his own Batmobile. Instead of buying a small item, for a few trips we will put aside the cost of the small item and then he may purchase the Batmobile. Saving and delayed gratification lessons well learned.
He is also learning another lesson about greediness, through the master tutor: Roald Dahl. We started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as part of our summer reading program. I had forgotten what a little morality play it was amidst the delightful weirdness. Grasping and demanding ruin the joy of candy and treats for those kids, parents who fall down on the job are subject to censure and accountability. Good children are rewarded. Good parents self sacrifice and hold thier kids to a standard. Lessons for us all.

Friday, July 08, 2005


The events in London demand a post, but I don't have any insight to give that doesn't seem trivial. My first thought was how glad I was to not see people jumping to their death. My second thought was relief for British subjects that the death toll was not going to reach the thousands that 9-11 did. So after a prayer for the fallen and the families of the fallen, my mind immediately jumped to the trivial.

The group claiming responsibility called themselves
"The Secret Organization of the Holy War of al-Qaida in Europe Organization" in all the news accounts I have heard/read. Isn't that a little redundant? Do you have decoder rings from cereal boxes? Club houses modeled on Osama's cave and Saddam's little pit? I sounds as if these cowards are al-Qaida wanna-bees, like those copy cat killers who have no personality and get subsumed by someone with a more charasmatic personality. Evil is inherently stupid, it lacks creativity. It destroys because it can not create, perverts because it can not imagine. It delights in small, squalid nastiness as it does in burning buildings and exploding busses. I imagine it delights in sly digs and insidious hate mongering a la George Galloway.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


This is a great summer time treat. Who doesn't like parfait? What I plan to do is give you a couple of basic recipes and then you can mix n' match and come up with your own creations. The first is real basic, because when I hear dessert I think chocolate.

Chocolate Mousse

9oz chocolate chips
1 cup cream
4 egg yolks

Grind chips in food processor. Boil cream and add hot cream to food processor. While cream is blending add yolks and continue blending for about 5 min. Refridgerate about 6 hours.

Fruit Compote

1lb of fruit (berries are excellent)
splash of lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 stick of butter

Cook on high heat over stove until juice on bottom boils then add:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Stir until thick, remove from heat and let cool.


1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Bake at 350 until browned.

Take any or all of these and layer them in a clear cup. If you have small children plastic cups are wonderful. Whip heavy cream or use cool whip for layers. Add a bit of extract or liquer to your chocolate or whip cream to give it a kick: bit o' brewed coffee, mint, orange, almond, or kahlua are big favorites. Here are some favorite combos: Chocolate, blueberry compote, whip cream. Coffee chocolate, mint whipped cream. Crunch, apple compote, almond whipped cream. (with apple compote add a little vanilla and cinnamon to the fruit as it cooks) Blueberry compote, whipped cream, fresh strawberries.

Ok you must check out this parfait in drink form: Utter Sin.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Nope Not Scrappleface

I thought this was satire, then I clicked the links. My favorite is number 2 because if you changed the word "liberal" to "left" you could most of that quote from The Corner. You try it, bold is me:

O'Connor is the swing vote, the one favoring compromise. Replacing Rehnquist and Stevens will seal for a generation, what Bush achieves by replacing O'Connor. Since FDR's court-packing scheme panicked the gilded Age SCOTUS in letting the New Deal go forward, liberalism (leftism) has depended on the court to confirm and support liberal progress (left agenda) as a matter of idealistic principle.

This person just made the argument that the only way leftists can forward thier agenda is thru the courts because they can't win legislative or executive victories. This disproves the claim that there are no "activist judges".

RINOs in the Outer Rim

John Hawkins at Right Wing News parses quotes by the Glam 14 about the likelihood of filibusters on SCOTUS nominees.
Which brings us to the real problem area (assuming Bush doesn't make the biggest mistake of his presidency by selecting Alberto Gonzalez): the squishy Republicans in the Senate on this issue. That would include the "gang of 7," John McCain, Mike DeWine, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chaffee, John W. Warner, & Olympia Snowe. You also have to watch wimpy RINO Arlen Specter and Trent Lott who helped set up the whole compromise over the nuclear option.

I have been apprehensive over the compromise because the wording is so vague, not because of compromise itself. I think that the adminstration needs to show the same spine domestically as it does internationally and send nominees in the mold of Justice Thomas. The White House should tune out John Warner and the like who throw Bush's "Uniter not divider" rhetoric back at him. With outrage over the Kelo decision still high, now is the perfect time for Orginalist nominations. Back to John Hawkins:

In any case, Specter might vote -- I say might -- vote against the nominee (remember, he did vote for Thomas and Scalia), but perhaps he wouldn't vote against the nuclear option since that would be practically guaranteed to cost him his precious chairmanship. Still, you never know with a weak-kneed milksop like Specter...

I'm still looking for quotes from Chaffee, Lott, DeWine, & Collins. But, on the upside, Lott supposedly wants to be Majority Leader again. I seriously don't think that'll happen, but if it's true, he'll vote the right way. After all, you don't become majority leader by selling out a conservative nominee to the Supreme Court. DeWine seemed awfully defensive after the "gang of 14" deal and I'm inclined to think he'll pull the trigger on the nuclear option if the Dems filibuster as well. Collins and Chaffee, they're both "weak reeds," and are as likely to vote with the Democrats as not.

Still, reading the tea leaves here, my first guess would be that Lott, McCain, DeWine, and Graham would vote for the nuclear option and just about any conservative Bush puts up. Along with the 46 other reliable votes, I'm seeing the magical number there to get a candidate confirmed or for the nuclear option. Of course, any razor thin margin that includes McCain can never be considered to be reliable, but so far, so good. It's up to W. and Frist to solidify those 50 votes and to start padding the numbers just in case a Senator pulls a "Voinovich" and changes his mind at the last minute.

Well John, put Lott on you definite nuclear option list; here's his quote back when the 14 struck thier deal, and here's my post at the time. Lott's too bright to back off of that quote.


Michael Barone has an article at RealClearPolitics the gist of which says that a nasty nomination battle will hurt both parties. He says:
Democrats' all-out opposition to the Bush administration -- on issues from judges to Social Security and the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations -- has resulted, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg concludes, in a weakening in Republicans' standing but an even greater weakening in the standing of the Democrats.


In filibustering a Bush Supreme Court nominee, Senate Democrats will be fighting yesterday's battle at the behest of the lobbyists representing one of their core constituencies. In overcoming this filibuster, if they do, Senate Republicans will be satisfying larger but more inchoate core constituencies.

My own hunch is that the Democrats' posture of frenzied opposition won't get them where they want to go. But I'm not sure whether a battle over yesterday's issues helps Republicans, either.

Perhaps. However, unlike Mr. Bolton or Social Security, judges are a make or break issue with core constituencies. Kelo has illuminated to a broad swath of voters that you must have justices like Clarence Thomas. Social issues are important, but Roe's importance is the importance of federalism. To dissent with Mr Barone, federalism is not "yesterday's issue".

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Holiday Weekend

Some last thoughts before shutting down for the holiday weekend. Unless you've been hiding on a cave in Mars with your fingers in your ears you know that Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Conner has retired. Justice Emilio Garza is the name I keep hearing batted around as a replacement.

Nancy Pelosi has made a statement designed to give chills to small government types and those who prefer orgininalist justices. Money quote:
It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Yeow! Someone give her a reality check. Full contact. I think someone needs to sit down with every senator and justice and make them do the 7th grade unit on the US Constitution and citizenship I did when I was in school. Then maybe they will figure out that service to the nation is a high calling but it is service none the less. Plus they can reaquaint themselves with the actual text of the Constitution.

Happy Independance Day! Thanks to the soldiers who keep our nation free. Remember, the greatest thing George Washington did was quit his job.