Friday, December 29, 2006

Death of a Tyrant

Iraqi's executed Saddam Hussein. Good Riddance. Josh Trevino as posted over a Hugh Hewitt's site an very good bit about the execution of tyrants from the perspective of someone who is against the death penalty. It so perfectly encapsulates my thoughts I will excerpt it here:
In America, our criminal law as inherited from England -- and specifically embodied in the concept of the "King's peace" -- is not meant to provide direct recompense to a victim, or an indirect victim, by means of the suffering of the criminal. Those victims must draw whatever solace they may from the state's punishment, as inflicted on the state's behalf. Pace Michael Dukakis, would I feel differently if, say, my wife were subjected to outrage and death? Of course: that is the human condition, and that is why we disallow direct personal vengeance in favor of a system of law. Thus, though it is easy to defend a policy of life in peacetime, if done without acknowledgment of, and compassion for, the anguish of those hurt by the criminal, it is reduced to mere moral posturing: an exercise in self-righteousness done not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of oneself. That is the calculation, attendant to the fate of the "ordinary" criminal.

And then there is Saddam Hussein.

It must be admitted that the killing of Saddam Huseein is a confounding event for an opponent of the death penalty like me. The ranks of those wholly meriting the final moments of agony, the fear of eternal horror, and the dread of God's justice are -- with respect to my Calvinist friends! -- small, but he is assuredly among them. There can be no sympathy for him as he struggles his last at the end of a rope: indeed, he will even then be in sublime comfort set against the twisting agony of the Kurdish children he gassed. There can be no regret for his lost potential, as he fully expressed it in his creation of a hideous police-state that consumed its children and ravaged its land. Nor can be sorrow for his circumstance, as he was master of his fate in his long decades of absolute power -- the only free man in Iraq -- and used his freedom to choose death and misery in full. The thing that will be done to him -- his execution -- is intrinsically wrong. But the things that he will feel as a result, in those final moments and beyond, will be right. Most victims of the gallows may be said to earn their fates: Saddam Hussein may be said to have chosen it.

And last:
For our own sakes, we hope for a merciful God, who will forgive even the worst among us. For Saddam Hussein's sake, we hope for a just God, whose face he never sees, obscured as it is by the visages of his countless victims.


Now I am not a math whiz and do not claim such pretensions but this little snippet was too good to pass up:
In Britain, post-Christmas shopping causes a frenzy like the one on our Black Friday. Yet when British customers hit the stores this week, they got a form of help (as yet) unheard of here: Teams of government workers were sent to show consumers how to do bargain-hunting math. A Dec. 27 Reuters report says that Britain's Department of Education and Skills assembled the helpers because 14.9 million U.K. adults may not be numerate enough to figure out the price of an item marked 20% off. In busy shopping areas, the government is also providing 200,000 sales calculators--to help citizens plumb the mysteries of pitches like "buy one, get one half price."

So Socialized edumacation is a failure, enough of a failure that basic math passes folks by. Two, Tony Blair's Nanny State steps in so people should be kept from puzzling it out on their own. Three, stores in Britain can't seem to figure out what the outlet malls and grocery stores have, here in the US: a discount conversion sign on clothing racks or shelf tags showing the old and discounted prices with percent saved.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

In the Words of Krusty the Klown: "So, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan"

I am tempted to send a greeting card with those sentiments to a Gitmo Detainee if for no other reson than to confound CAIR and get a chuckle from the intelligence guy screening the detainee's mail:
The 400 or so detainees at Joint Task Force detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have received approximately 500 holiday greeting cards, said Army Col. Lora Tucker, a spokeswoman for the prison.

brahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the cards being sent to the detainees could be for the Eid ul-Adha holiday, which begins Dec. 30, but the tradition of card exchanges is nowhere nearly as established in the Muslim faith as it is in the Christian faith, especially in the United States.

"If the message is religiously appropriate in terms of being an actual greeting card, if that's what they're intended to do, then that's one thing," Hooper said.

But "if there's an orchestrated effort to somehow proselytize the detainees, I think that would be inappropriate in that they are in a captive situation."

Santa pressures you into converting, we all know this. What the hey does "religiously appropriate in terms of being an actual greeting card" mean? I get that he thinks that any card explictly religious in a non Islamic way is not OK. Jeez Louise though a card is a card whether it has a religious message or not. It's not like a rifle or rusty knife is being held on them and the prisoners have to convert or die.

Getting undergarments in a bunch over a card is humorless in the extreme. Happily, the detainees are not being subject to the humiliations of the scantily clad women who are visiting to cheer the Marines there:
Tucker said that troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay are in no danger of forgetting what holiday it is on Monday: Candy canes are adorning ship ramps at the naval station; pontoon and private boats put on a military-style light show outside the naval base earlier this week; and a number of VIPs have made their way to Gitmo, including actor Gary Sinise, who played "Lt. Dan Taylor" in the movie "Forrest Gump."

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders also have stopped by.

Three Articles

NRO has three articles of interest today. First is Cathy Seipp on Narnia and His Dark Materials:
Pullman’s a rip-roaring storyteller in the grand tradition of British fantasy-adventure writers Jules Verne and H. G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard, but his characters seem mostly wheeled out of a dusty prop closet; his “Texan” balloon pilot Lee Scoresby, for instance, is no more like a real Texan than Tiger Lily in Peter Pan is like a real Indian. Lewis’s fantasy characters, on the other hand, always have some dryly comical human trait that remind even the youngest readers of real people.

Second is Peter Suderman on Children of Men, the movie based on PD James' excellent book.
The movie is based on a novel by P. D. James, but like so many book-to-film adaptations, it bears only a loose resemblance to the source material, and it suffers for it. James, a former British civil servant with an intimate understanding of the workings of British bureaucracy, imbued her book with a sense of wintry resignation and a fine-grained interiority. The end was coming, but this was cause mainly for reflective sadness, not bedlam.

She foresaw a post-birth landscape in which the British government had stepped in to preserve the dignity and stability of its people — or at least its citizens — offering them tasteful suicide ceremonies, managing infrastructure preservation, and restricting immigration so as not to allow outsiders to freeload on British resources. In her futuristic Britain, calm and tradition would prevail. True, the country’s youths had a wild, riotous streak, and would sometimes wreak havoc, but this was mostly taken in stride. As she saw it, the British people would approach the death of civilization with typical reserve, doing their final duties with diligence and minimal uproar. Her book speculated not only on what society would do in the face of biological calamity, but what individuals might think and feel.

Cuarón, on the other hand, is all external. His future Britain crackles with chaos as society breaks down in its final days. The state has tried to preserve order, and has had more success than have other nations, but for the most part, chaos reigns. Terrorism is rampant. Immigrants are herded into cages and treated like animals. The country has devolved into a militaristic police state. James’s book gave humanity a quiet death; Cuarón’s movie forces the race to expire in violent tumult.

The third is Thomas Hibbs' Christmas Wish:
What do I want for Christmas? A contractual agreement between M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson to make their next five films together. Collaborators on Signs, Shyamalan and Gibson together have, in the midst of a craven Hollywood culture that idolizes superficial novelty, the rare ability to deliver the unusual and the truly novel. It is interesting and instructive that their independence is intimately connected to their preoccupation with the big questions about human existence and with possible spiritual responses to those questions. But they also suffer from certain deficiencies — Shyamalan from increasingly impoverished plots and Gibson, aside from his offensive rants, from an inordinate reliance on explicit violence.
Sounds good.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Cheer

Thanks to the good offices of Allahpundit at Hot Air I can share one of my favorite Christmas specials with you: Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas. Enjoy!

Update: I love You Tube sometimes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rome Season 2

Season two of Rome begins in January and I am looking forward to it. Here is a link to a three minute teaser, The embedding has been disabled so you'll have to click the link.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Funny and Sad

at the same time:

Be Seeing You

It was bound to happen:
AMC will air a remake of the trippy 1968 TV series The Prisoner, with a storyline similar to that of the original series, which starred Patrick McGoohan, who also was creator, producer, writer and director, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original series aired on CBS 1967-'68.

The new series will follow a man who finds himself inexplicably trapped in "the Village," with no memory of how he arrived. All of the inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of a previous existence or outside civilization and are under constant surveillance. The man, Number Six, sets out to discover the truth behind the Village, why he's there and how he can escape.

Production on the hourlong series is scheduled to begin in the spring for a worldwide premiere targeted for January 2008.

The number of episodes is yet to be determined, but it will be a minimum of six or eight.

AMC also has acquired rights to the original Prisoner and will air those episodes around the time of the new series' launch, along with films in the same genre as the show.

Yeah but when are they going to air Patrick McGoohan's truely hair raising stuff: Doctor Syn; Alias the Scarecrow?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dough Boy

I have always found the Pillsbury Dough Boy to be creepy. The pupilless blue eyes, inane smile and the giggle edged with psychopathic hysteria conspire to stand my hair on end. I am not alone:
He was part of an advertising team that birthed the Pillsbury Doughboy, an ingeniously conceived icon whose implications are best not considered. (What separates him from the other dough? Self-awareness, upright stance, a modicum of shame [he clothes his head and neck] and an easy, ingratiating rapport with the meat-giants who feast on his kin. What was his goal, exactly? Perhaps he wanted to shape our conceptions of dough – not what it was, but what it could be. Perhaps – and more likely, really – he had found himself come to life, realized that a horrible life of experimentation and confinement awaited, and deftly disarmed the Meat Giants by tempting them with delicious biscuits and sugar-drenched rolls. We can only imagine him alone at night, his day’s work done, trying to shape dough into the form of a companion, and breathing into its mouth. Failure; every time, failure. He wept small clear perfect tears, and they tasted like beer.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is the End Nigh?

Hands off my dictionary Rachel Ray!
Today, on Rachael Ray’s talk show, Erin McKean, editor of Oxford American Dictionaries, showed up to present Ray with a framed certificate of recognition. As she explained to Ray, “Because of you, we are putting EVOO in the next edition of the Oxford American College Dictionary.” The entry will read: “EVOO: abbr. extra-virgin olive oil.”

Yet another chip in the Rachel Ray annoys me more than convicted criminal Martha Stewart. I can't see that without reading eee-vu. Fad-tastic.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kid Movies

I just watched Barbie Nutcracker with the Muralist and have been amazed again at the strength of the Barbie movies. While it certainly is not the Baryshnikov masterpiece, it is a great version. Barbie (as Clara) is persistent, honorable and self reliant and brave. Not a bad set virtues to showcase. Plus Tim Curry voices the Rat King, which is delicious.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Geek Check

I know, I know, as if my header tag didn't give it away (via Glenn):

Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.

I have never played a MMORPG before but if I did I might start here.
The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.

"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises in an e-mail. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Saint Paul?

I put a plea out to all magazines and newspapers: If these are the remains of Saint Paul, can we please go easy on the "shocking" story of Saint Paul? Can you focus on his explosive energy and not allegations of mysoginy? Why is is that biblical figures are portrayed as hypocrites not humans? Moses was a murderer, King David was a lecher, James, brother of Jesus, was controlling and biased against gentiles beyond reason. If it were not for Paul, we might not be here enjoying the fruits of a civilied country.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tres Amazonian

Via Glenn Reynolds, from USA Today:
Before long, "user-generated content" won't refer only to media, but to just about anything: user-generated jeans, user-generated sports cars, user-generated breakfast meats.

This is because setting up a company that designs, makes and globally sells physical products could become almost as easy as starting a blog — and the repercussions would be earthshaking.

That's the future CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to set in motion with the company's new direction. If you tease out Bezos' plan, you get to a point where a high school cheerleader sitting at home with a laptop could theoretically harness computing power, design capabilities, manufacturing and distribution from around the world, and make and market a cute little pink hot rod that would compete against General Motors.

Just what GM's board wants to hear about now, huh?

Did I mention the Dear Husband begins work with Amazon after January first?

Friday, December 01, 2006

And the Four Year Old Wept

If you have never heard of the Wiggles, then you have no contact with the under six crowd. The Wiggles are the Aussie invasion, clean cut, full of boundless energy and catchy songs, which will not get out of your head. Alas, Greg Page, the Yellow Wiggle is leaving the group due to illness.
Greg Page, 34, said in a statement that the disorder orthostatic intolerance, which causes dizziness, fatigue and nausea, had left him debilitated.

He said it was not life-threatening but "it means I'll no longer be able to sing and dance as I want to".

The condition is related to blood pressure and has affected Page's balance, breathing and co-ordination at unpredictable times and with varying severity, according to a statement on the band's website.

Page withdrew from the group's US tour in June after suffering from fainting spells and lethargy.

The Wiggles concerts are exhausting to watch, so much energy radiates from the stage. Imagine an arena filled with clapping, wriggling tots singing songs at the top of their lungs.

The Wiggles were Australia's top-earning entertainers last year, ahead of AC/DC and Nicole Kidman.

We'll miss ye Greg, yellow Wiggle, but I'll be glad to skip the creepy puppet version of ya. Havenu Shalom Alachem.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iran and IEDs, now with evidence!

Under the catagory of "comfirming beliefs" comes this story from ABC news:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2006 — U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official.
Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.

Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, is receiving training support from the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah.

So state sponsered Iranian nuts are killing Americans, Iraqis and democratically elected Iraqui officials it is confirmed. Iran is provoking tensions in Iraq trying to create a civil war, rejoices and encourages withdrawal, and so "realist" James Baker recommends - withdrawal. Riiigghhttt.


The snow and Ice are finally melting here, which is good. The temperature has shot from mid twenties back to the forties - which is better. I do not live in the snowy reaches of Minnesota for a reason.

Any way here is the Verbalist and the Muralist:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving:

We set the last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas, and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn [i.e., wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown, they came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Sounds about right.

Friday, November 17, 2006

May the (U.N.) Force Be With You

Forget worries about the Notre Dame becoming a mosque, worry about the Archbishop of Canturbury turning into Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Jedi Knights demand Britain's fourth largest 'religion' receives recognition

Yeah, it's not an Onion article, it's legit.
But self-proclaimed Jedis Umada and Yunyun, better known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law, have adopted a more conventional approach in their pursuit of recognition – delivering a protest letter.

The unconventional pair are calling for the UN to acknowlegde what has become Britain's fourth largest ‘religion’ with 390,000 followers.
‘Like the UN, the Jedi Knights are peacekeepers and we feel we have the basic right to express our religion through wearing our robes, and to be recognised by the national and international community.

‘We therefore are calling upon the United Nations Association to change November 16 to the UN Interstellar Day of Tolerance, to reflect the religious make-up of our twenty-first century civilisation.

‘Tolerance is about respecting difference where ever it lies, including other galaxies. Please don't exclude us from your important work. May the Force be with you.’

Have a good day (ht Hot Air)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wind Storm

Early Wednesday morning the windstorms finally knocked out the power here. School was cancelled so I packed up the kids and headed to my sister's house - she still had power (and does not count on a pump from a well to bring her water). Of course the power did not last long up there either, but she had taken the opportunity of temporary childlessness to run to town and grab some deli chicken and coloring books for the kids. We were glad she went early, as it was there was a run on deli chicken and most of the shops shut down not to long after.

When you wait out power outages with small children the convienece of modernity is enhanced in direct proportion to it's usage. I was jonesin' for a computer pretty badly.

A most telling incident occured right after the baby came up from a nap. She stumped out of the room and down the hall with sleepy eyes and touseled hair. After observing the activities of the Verbalist (legos, batman) and the Muralist (coloring, fairy dolls) and the Cousinator (also coloring, fairy dolls) she walked over to my sister's tv and pushed the power button. Nothing.

She stood there a minute then psuhed the power button again. Still nothing. Then using the bit curious body language peculiar to toddlers, she, hands at side, craned her neck around the side looking for another button. Standing on tippy toes she tried to run her fingers along the top then she checked the other side. At last she fell back to default and pushed the power button again.

The look on her face was priceless. She looked at me and the expresion on her face translated a look of disbelief it was if gravity reversed itself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kid Funny

Time for another lame cop out post! Hurrah! Life in a Shoe host's the Carnival of Kid Funny.

Monday, November 13, 2006

NaNoWriMo Day 13

The book project that ate my life and I am still 6000 words down. Pure EEEEEEVIL!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What is Important in Governement

John Hawkins has a post up entitled What Should Republican Principles Be? and it is illustrative of how far the party has screwed up that we even need to talk about these basics:

A political party should have a set of abiding principles that will help guide its representatives towards where they should stand on the issues. If members of that party lose sight of those principles, it becomes all too easy for them to simply make bad decisions based on the shifting political winds of the moment. So, with that in mind, here are some the Republican Party principles that GOPers in Congress should keep in mind when they're trying to decide which what to do in Washington.

Among other things, the Republican Party should be:

The "America First" party.
The capitalist party.
The daddy party
The law and order party.
The party of free trade.
The party of honest government and reform.
The party of low taxes.
The party of moral values.
The party of optimism.
The party of personal responsibility.
The party of small government.
The party of strong national Defense.
The party that believes in defending America.
The party that believes in sticking to the Constitution as closely as possble.
The party that's friendly to Christians.

The party that believes the business of America is business.
The party of fiscal responsibility.
The patriotic party.

I have highlighted the ones I find most important because I feel that if you have those as your guiding principals everything else will fall in place. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Next?

These is alot of talky-talk about the election results going on and I think Mike Pence best sums it up:
Some will argue that we lost our majority because of scandals at home and challenges abroad. I say, we did not just lose our majority, we lost our way.

While the scandals of the 109th Congress harmed our cause, the greatest scandal in Washington, D.C. is runaway federal spending.

After 1994, we were a majority committed to balanced federal budgets, entitlement reform and advancing the principles of limited government. In recent years, our majority voted to expand the federal government's role in education, entitlements and pursued spending policies that created record deficits and national debt.

This was not in the Contract with America and Republican voters said, 'enough is enough.

Our opponents will say that the American people rejected our Republican vision. I say the American people didn't quit on the Contract with America, we did. And in so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.

As the 110th Congress convenes next year, Republicans must cordially accept defeat and dedicate ourselves to advancing our cause as the loyal opposition knowing that the only way to retake our natural, governing majority, is to renew our commitment to limited government, national defense, traditional values and reform.

Or to quote Speaker of the House Pelosi:
"The gavel of the speaker of the it will be in the hands of America’s children."

Man, my whole life is monitoring children to take dangerous objects away from them, thanks alot Nancy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I just realized I lost a day. Instead of only being 2000 words down I am at 4000 words down. Darn! Somehow Monday and Sunday blended together. It's Tuesday - Go Vote!

There that's my contribution to representational democracy today. I voted last week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good Readin'

Bill Whittle has a new essay up.
We live in a sea of information, an Information Age: and yet, it has been almost half a millennia since mankind has been so unwilling or unable to use critical thinking to separate the intellectual wheat from so…much…chaff! Critical Thinking -- the ability to analyze data, determine it’s usefulness and fidelity, to learn how to asses reliability, question methodology, weigh expertise and all the rest – is in shockingly short supply these days. It’s not just a shame; it’s an epidemic, it is a fatal metastasizing disease in a democracy where information is used by the public to make the decisions that steer the ship of state. For the ability to think critically allows us to see the unseen; to find the truth behind the falsehood, as well as the falsehood behind the truth.

Read. Enjoy.

Day Five

Struggling back from my devestating blow on Saturday:

Weekend Goal: 1900-2100 words
Weekend total: 5033 words

Accumulative Goal: 7600-8400 words
Accumulative Total: 5680 words

Actually it is a bit more, and by a bit I mean less than a hundred words, of the first part of the 4000+ words I lost. It's the introduction of the first two of the three major characters and the set up to the first major plot vehicle but I couldn't summon the will to go back and rewrite it. I have decided to push forward into the plot and make up the word count by moving forward not retrieving what was lost. I feel as if I go back I will lose momentum and the project will fizzle and I will fail to finish the 50,000 word goal.

So I need to make up a little under 2000 words to be back on track with my cumulative goal. Plus I want to get a nice cushion of words in place of the three or so days I am going to sacrifice to the holiday. Two driving and one day of revelry is what i am looking at. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I have lost the first 4274 words of my NaNoWriMo novel. Curses.

We're Number One

Don Surber has a great economy post up. I will excerpt a bit and then send you over to read the rest.
The greatest economic experiment in history continues to succeed well into its 230th year since those merchants and farmers meeting in Philadelphia gave the real King George the finger.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez: "We're Growing Faster Than Any Other G7 Country . . . This Is A Phenomenal Performance." "Well, I think the important thing is that what got us here and the fact that we have such a strong economy. What we've been through as a nation – we've got to go back and remember: we had a recession; we had a stock market crash; we had 9/11; last year, we had the most devastating year in our history for hurricanes; and we have an economy that is truly the envy of the industrialized world. We're growing faster than any other G7 country; our unemployment now – at 4.4 percent – is below the average of the last five decades. We've created 1.5 million jobs this year, 6.8 million jobs since August of 2003, . . . we're now seeing wages increasing, and we're able to keep inflation in check."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Day Three

I saw a hearse broken down on the side of the road, The driver was a friendly guy and seemed to have everything well in hand when I paused and inquired. Still, you hope that there wasn't a body inside. Not that a body would care, but it is a weird ugh! factor to the thought.

Disasterous day for the novel. Too amny chores and very limited access to a computer.

A miserable Daily total of 647 words.
daily goal: 1900-2100 words
cumulative goal: 5700-6300 words
cumulative total: 4921 words.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

America Alone

A quote from Mark Steyn's new book:
What would happen if America were to follow Mr. Hutton's advice and "join the world"? Well, those "40 million Americans without health insurance" would enjoy the benefit of a new government health care system and, like their 250 million neighbors, would discover the charms of the health care "waiting list" -- the one year, two years, or more Britons and others wait in pain for even routine operations; the six, twelve, eighteen months Canadians wait for an MRI scans, there being more scanners in the city of Philadelphia than in the entire Great White North. They're now pioneering the ultimate expression of government health care: the ten month waiting list for the maternity ward. -- P.51

Day Two

Fueled by kettle corn and pomegranate seeds, the counter stands thus:
Daily Goal: 1900-2100 words
Cumulative Goal: 3800-4200 words
Achievement: 4274 words

Quote of the day: "You baby sister is not Count Dooku. The Dog is not Yoda."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo The Beginning

Fueled by discarded and distained halloween candy, I have completed my first day of NaNoWriMo. Daily Goal: 1900-2100 words. Daily progress: 2115 words. Kid interruptions? Thousands. The mountain is steeper than I thought.

Sky is Blue

John Kerry puts foot in mouth:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

His defense? I was slamming the President, your right wing nutjobs! Sure because you have been such a staunch supporter of the troops in the past you pathetic dimwit.

John Kerry sure does love the troops:
...they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war...

And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not--Iraqis should be doing that.

October 30, 2006:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

October 31, 2006:
"If any one thinks that a veteran, someone like me who's been fighting my entire career, to provide for veterans, to fight for their benefits, to help honor what their service is, if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq, and not the President and his people who put them there, they're crazy."

Says Military Historian extraordinaire Victor Davis Hanson in his magnificent slap down:
The mea culpa that Democrats are blaming the war and not the warriors is laughable after Sens. Durbin, Kennedy, and Kerry have collectively compared American soldiers to Nazis, Pol Pot's killers, Stalinists, terrorists, and Baathists.

Darn tooting! I've family serving in Iraq. It's personal.
I leave you with the pitch perfect Scott Ott:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Science Today

From the Daily Mail:

British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.

The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.

Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

and a bit later in the article:
The Newcastle researchers foresee a time when cord blood from millions of babies born each year is banked, creating a worldwide donor register for liver dialysis and transplant.

Computerised registers could then be created to match the cord blood with tissue type or immune system of patients with liver problems.

Already used to treat leukaemia, more than 11,000 British parents have so far chosen frozen their children's cord blood in a dozen such banks around the UK.

Prof McGuckin said: "One hundred million children are born around the world every year - that is 100 million different tissue types.

"With that number of children being born every year, we should be able to find a tissue for me and you and every other person who doesn't have stem cells banked."

Portland, Oregon has a cord blood bank. I donated my first born's cord blood simply by signing a Red Cross form at the same time I was filling out the other new born registry papers. The Red Cross representative explained what it was for and why scientists show interest in it. That was six years ago and even in my post labor fatigue I was able to follow her simple explaination.

This is why I find the whole cloning and embryonic stem cell debate so frustrating. As a pro-lifer and a conservative, I am not at all convinced by the disengenuous arguements that embryonic research is the only one that promises to deliver the cures, because of the types of cells used. I am distrustful of a campaign for an ethically debatable process which uses half truths to push their message while wholly acceptable alternatives are available.

Classical Values adds:
I'm wondering what is meant by "more ethically acceptable than the use of embryonic stem cells," though.

Does "more ethically acceptable" mean that there are any ethical objections to utilizing umbilical cord blood? Or is it just surplusage of language, like saying that good is more ethically acceptable than evil?

I'm not going to spend all day on this, but I was unable to find a single objection to umbilical cord blood research.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Numbers Polka

Don Surber has a funny post (as they say not funny "ha-ha" but funny weird) up about the cost of balancing the budget:
In 1835, the seventh year of the tyrannical presidency of Andrew Jackson, the federal budget ran a surplus and the national debt was eliminated.

The nation immediately plunged into a recession.

The powers that be in Washington learned their lesson. We have not paid our national debt off since. Congresses and presidents were careful ever since to spend more than they dare tax their constituents.

The one exception was the 1920s, when Republicans ran up 10 consecutive budget surpluses.

Then came the Great Depression.

In recent years only Nixon and Clinton presided over surpluses. Their reward? One was forced to resign or face impeachment; the other was impeached.

Now correlation does not prove causation, but it is worth your eyes. Anecdotally, I was listening to some Market analyst guy and he was prdicting doom and gloom in the market. How might this appear? His answer the next few months might "explore the low end of historic high numbers spectrum." I'm shaking in my boots.

Win or Lose?

There is a quesstion that is beginning to surface. A good question and one which needs to be asked: do you want to win or lose? It is being asked by Lynne Cheney, populist blowhard Bill O'Reilly, and pointedly by Mark Steyn:
"We are on the offense," he (Bush) insisted, sounding sometimes as frustrated as us columnists that so much of the wider momentum had become (in Charles Krauthammer's words) "mired in diplomacy." Still, it was a different conversation than most Bush encounters with the media-political class. I happened to be plugging my book on a local radio show this week just as a Minnesota "conservative" (ish) Democrat joined the herd of stampeding donkeys explaining why they were now disowning their vote in favor of the Iraq war. What a sorry sight. It's not a question of whether you're "for" or "against" a war. Once you're in it, the choice is to win it or lose it. And, if you're arguing for what will look to most of the world like the latter option, you better understand what the consequences are. In this case, it would, in effect, end the American moment.

Does that bother people? Bush said something, en passant, that I brooded on all the way home. Asked about poll numbers, he said that 25 percent of the population are always against the war -- any war.

That sounds about right. And it's a bit disturbing. To be sure, if Canadian storm troopers were swarming across the 49th Parallel or Bahamian warships were firing off the coast of Florida, some of that 25 percent might change their mind, though it might be a bit late by then. But, as America's highly unlikely to be facing that kind of war in the foreseeable future, that 25 percent's objection to the only wars on offer is rather unnerving.

The invaluable Brussels Journal recently translated an interview with the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from the Belgian paper De Standaard. A Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), van den Boogaard was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it."

Too many of us are only good at enjoying freedom. That war-is-never-the-answer 25 percent are in essence saying that there's nothing about America worth fighting for, and that, ultimately, the continuation of their society is a bet on the kindness of strangers -- on the goodnaturedness of Kim Jong Il and the mullahs and al-Qaida and what the president called "al-Qaida lookalikes and al-Qaida wannabes" and whatever nuclear combination thereof comes down the pike. Some of us don't reckon that's a good bet, and think America's arms-are-for-hugging crowd need to get real. Van den Boogaard's arms are likely to be doing rather less of their preferred form of hugging in the European twilight.

As tiresome and as frustrating as Bush and the GOP are, at least they get the serious of the war, the consequences if we lose - most of the time. Some folks I talk to say that they do not think this is a "real" war, still others that why we are fighting is not worth a war. What is worth a war? Our way of life? Our religious freedom? The oppression of women and minorities? Our safety? The safety of our allies?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Universal Sucks Eggs

Hat tip to Glenn. From Slashdot:
What happens when a film studio and a fanbase get into bed? Fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly, and the movie by Universal Studios — Serenity — are not amused. After being encouraged to viral market Serenity, the studio has started legal action against fans (demanding $9000 in retroactive licensing fees in one case and demanding fan promotion stop), and going after Cafepress. The fans response? Retroactively invoice Universal for their services."

Yeah, I don't think that is going to work. I promoted the movie and got free passes to see it under the understanding that I would blog about it. Not a big deal, I would have blogged about it anyway, but this is an instance of Universal cutting the nose of the bread they buttered - one of those metaphors anyway.

From Affinative:
Utilizing the flexibility of Affinitive's technology platform, Universal was able to create a community around the release of Serenity that harnessed the power of a large member base that exceeded the most optimistic of expectations. Members were encouraged to form regional groups to promote the film and perform activities that would help generate word of mouth, like creating bumper stickers and gift cards to accompany the DVD release.

While the theatrical release of Serenity met only modest success at the box office, the Browncoats campaign maintained momentum through the DVD release, whose success spurred additional sales of the original Firefly DVD. At one point following the release of Serenity on DVD, both Serenity and Firefly were #1 and #2 on's bestseller list despite the Firefly DVD being over a year old.

The community itself also grew far in excess of what was originally projected. By the campaign's end, there were more than 75,000 members of the Browncoats, with over 85% of all members having been recruited by other members. The platform proved to be scalable enough to handle sustained periods of heavy traffic and activity.

Due to the long-term success of the Firefly/Serenity franchise, Joss Whedon has expressed interest in creating sequels to the film and even revive the television series although no formal plans are in the works.

So how much money did Universal make in the DVD sales alone, driven by viral marketing almost exclusively done by fans? They are willing to forgo that same enthusiasm for future DVDs or TV advertising dollars because they got greedy. If Universal wanted to generate licensing fees all they had to do was notify fans they would starting at a set date. To make it retroactive has sqandered good will.

Windy City has more plus Comedy Central flapping about Colbert and Daily Show.

In the Mail

In the Mail: America Alone by Mark Steyn. To The Person who might wish to steal this from me: You can borrow it as soon as I am done.

Interview with Steyn here: part one and part two.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rhetorical Question

Main Entry: rhe·tor·i·cal
Pronunciation: ri-'tor-i-k&l, -'tär-
Variant(s): also rhe·tor·ic /ri-'tor-ik, -'tär-/
Function: adjective
1 a : of, relating to, or concerned with rhetoric b : employed for rhetorical effect; especially : asked merely for effect with no answer expected rhetorical question

Example: Why did I feed pea soup to the baby last night?

Was I aware that that shade of green existed before?

Men In Black, the MIB's strike again

I would be much more open to state recognized gay unions if it wasn't being shoved down my throat. Case in point the New Jersey Supreme Court decision:

New Jersey's highest court ruled Wednesday that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue believed the state posed best chance for gay marriage to win approval since Massachusetts became the only state to do so in 2003 because the New Jersey Supreme Court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Instead, the high court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage and gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include gay couples or create new civil unions.

You have 180 days to change the law to agree with our decision. If that isn't a blatant strong arm of the NJ legislature I don't know what is. The Legislature changes law, the judiciary only interprets existing law, at least that is what I learned in American Government and Civics.


Via John Hawkins, a story about folks faced with courage v. conviction:
Animal rights activists who broke into a circus to liberate a rare white tiger changed their minds after seeing it - and took a bunny rabbit instead.

Campaigners from the Swiss faction of the Animal Liberation Front had earlier told Circus Royal director Oliver Skreinig they planned to steal the Siberian tiger and hand him to a zoo.

But when they broke into the circus enclosure and saw the animal they changed their minds - and stole a rabbit instead.

The liberationists then posted pictures of themselves online wearing black army uniforms and balaclavas and holding the rabbit.

Skreinig said: "The pet rabbit was not even in the show, it belonged to our clown's six-year-old daughter."

John asks:
Is it wrong to root for animal rights terrorists to be mauled by the animals they're trying to steal? Maybe so, but I figure that a member of ALF being killed by a tiger is roughly the equivalent of a Palestinian terrorist accidentally blowing himself up in his basement working on a bomb.

I am just laughing at the bolded bit above.


I have at last given in to the blandishments of my Dear Husband. If you look to the right of your screen, you will see the icon for the national Novel Writing Month 2006. I have had friends who have been pushing me to do this for years, but somehow it was alot more persuasive coming from my hubby.

To his credit, he finished last year writing of 50,000 words in a month. Now I only have shame and competitveness to goad me - slothfulness a sin to which I am prone so I promise weekly updates. I write - you shame me into writing. Sounds fair to me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Shocked! Shocked to find Riots here...

Youths, pesky youths.

As America prepares for Halloween, France is girding for a wave of attacks from Muslim youths—a reprise of the deadly French riots of last year.

A leaked French intelligence report warns that during the first week of November, a school holiday (Nov. 1 or All Saint’s Day), Muslim riots could convulse the country.

On Monday, Le Figaro, the leading center-right newspaper in the country, quoted a confidential report written by the Renseignements Généraux (RG), the French equivalent of the FBI. The 17-page RG report, dated 11 October, states that the root causes of last year’s riots are still in place. The authorities are especially concerned All Saints Day when “many urban youths are left to their own and have more time to cause unrest.”

Not that France has been a peace since last year’s riots. In the past few weeks alone, several policemen were ambushed by youths who seemed intent on killing them. In response, the French Interior Ministry asked the police to keep a low profile and not to show themselves in the Muslim suburbs in order to avoid tension.

Because with crime rampant the last thing you want are police. When "youths" begin to riot near the Louvre I hope they hide the masterpeices from them. It would be a shame if anything happened to the Mona Lisa, she's not wearing a nikab.

Agincourt Day

Today's the day:
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires;
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispian's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Monday, October 23, 2006


"Mom," began the Verbalist in the tone of voice that signifies an excursion into the landscape of polysyllabic words. "Panda's differential needs to be adjusted. I think I need to build a contraption tool that I can take with me to school and work on there."

"Oh?" I replied coolly, having learned anything more than nominal interest will provoke an all day lecture on the subject. I wondered where he picked up the phrase adjusted differential, ours not being a house where that is a typical topic of conversation.

"Yes," he said, "there's a large workspace there where I will not be bothered by those little girls." He gestured expansively to his siblings.

"Hmmm," I hummed in a slightly discouraging tone. I did not want the exodus of LEGOs to school begin, say yes once and the floodgates open. I run a benevolent tyranny but exit visas were more easily available to Viktor Laslo than to the kidling'd toys.

"Besides," the Verbalist said, "Cody is the only person I know who is good at adjusting bears." This represented his (imagined) coup d'etat. I let him stew a bit. Unkind, but frequently it yields bonus arguements of circular kid logic that can take you hours to puzzle out. No more arguements surfaced, the friend was his last best shot.

"Well how about a bargain?" I glanced down at the Verbalist's attentive face. "You may take Panda to school on Friday and get him adjusted then." He turned a jubilant face to the heavens. "Just this once," I said firmly.

"Yes!!!! Yes!!!" he cried dancing around. I let him revel in his victory. Why tell him I had planned on letting him take the bear anyways? Friday is the kindergarten Halloween party. The Verbalist is dressed as Robin and Panda as Batman, the Dynamic Duo lives!

An Appropriate Use of Music

Via Dave, is this hilarious video. The song is "Older" by They Might Be Giants. TMBG have a very distinctive sound and a weirdly skewed lyric outlook that is perfect for this kind of mayhem.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rainy Night

October has trickled in at last, by which I mean it's rainy. We had been having a beautiful Indian Summer, clear and sunny with a nip in the air and pumpkins gleaming a friendly shade of orange. Last night over the hum of the fan in our bedroom window, I heard the rain begin. Rain drumming on the roof is the best soporific known to man. Well, perhaps to man but not to my 18 month old daughter who woke up crying four times last night, provoking middle of the night bargaining between the Dear Husband and I.

"You get her and I'll put her back," said Dear Husband.

"Ok," say I thinking it a good bargain. After all, that means I can go back to sleep right? No. It means that she kicks and squirms and thrashes. It means she beans me in the eye and knocks the wind out of me and the spouse snores blissfully.

I put her back in bed and 2 hours later she cries again. This time Dear husband gets her and we start again. And Again. The last time he pushed the squirming toddler at me and DH gets ready to leaves for work. The Littlest calms down and snoozes lightly and I get pulled back to my dreams.

Just as I was finding out Who-Dun-it in The Case of the Missing Brownies (yes my dream life tends to have an Encyclopedia Brown shadow to it), I jumped awake to realize the Littlest was no longer snuggled up against me.

I found her communing with the dog in the darkened hallway. I picked her up and popped her back in her own bed and grabbed the last bit of sleep I could.

The Dog is snoozing. Apparently she had a hard night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Douthat Channels Norris

Ok I can't help it one last quote from the debate mentioned below. It's Ross Douthat's roundhouse Chuck Norris kick:
But you couldn't just say that the "theocons" are out of step with America and leave it at that, because your alarmist thesis required you to have it both ways: Thus "theoconservatism" is somehow both wildly unpopular and primed to regulate every aspect of our daily life--out of touch with the public and somehow capable of keeping secular America "under siege." And, worse, you don't want to just argue with your political opponents; you want to remove them from public life entirely by accusing them of violating the bargain that supposedly holds our country together.

If you're the arbiter of what the liberal bargain means, then I want no part of it. The American experiment has succeeded for so long precisely because it doesn't force its citizens channel their "theological passions and certainties ... out of public life and into the private sphere." It forces them to play by a certain set of political rules, yes, which prevent those passions and certainties from creating a religious tyranny. But it doesn't make the mistake of telling people that their deepest beliefs should be irrelevant to how they vote, or what causes they support. The kind of secularism that you're promoting--and that Neuhaus and the rest of the "theocons" were originally reacting against--is an attempt to change those rules and impose greater restrictions on religious Americans than have heretofore existed. This isn't just blinkered, unfair, and contrary to the actual American tradition of how religion and politics interact; it's also dangerous to liberalism, because it vindicates those people--Christians and secularists alike--who have always said that faith and liberalism aren't compatible and that everyone need to choose between Christ and the republic, between God and Caesar. And, if you force Americans to make that choice, I'm not sure you'll be happy with the results.

Looming Theocracy or the Catholic Menace (cue music)

Ross Douthat and Damon Linker engage in interesting debate (scroll down)over Linker's book, The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege. Linker, unlike many pounding the theocon drum, actually has some familiarity with conservative religious voters being a founding member of First Things an online magazine which:
is published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.

Mr. Douthat begins with the book saying:
Earlier this year, I spent several months reading a series of books on the looming theocratic menace--by Kevin Phillips, Michelle Goldberg, and Randall Balmer, among others--for a review essay that appeared in (where else?) First Things, and The Theocons is definitely a cut above that sorry crop. (How's that for a blurb?) Unlike most of these authors, you have the advantage of understanding the terrain you're writing about, and you actually engage with the ideas of your friends-turned-opponents rather than simply caricaturing or smearing them. (I can't tell you how relieved I was to read a book about the menace of the religious right that didn't pin its narrative on the supposedly vast influence of the Christian Reconstructionists.) Your description of the intellectual trajectory of figures like Neuhaus and Novak is often illuminating, and--though, as you might expect, I took their side more often than yours--I thought you scored your fair share of points.

From there Douthat segues into an examination of a hoary old arguement on religion and American politics, notably Catholicsm. Not those Johnny-Come-Lately Evangelicals , oh no. Again, Douthat:
But, of course, it's not enough for a book (particularly a book about a coterie of intellectuals that most people have never heard of) simply to dispute particular aspects of the "theocon" agenda, or to point out holes and contradictions in its worldview. You need a big, bold thesis about its malign influence over our national life--preferably one that involves the end of America as we know it. And so you favor us with the inevitable and hysterical talk about "secular America under siege," the dire warnings--redolent of old-school anti-Catholicism--about the "the imposition of an alien religious ideology onto an otherwise secular nation," the ridiculous comparisons between the "theocons" and the old throne-and-altar European right ... and so on. None of it even begins to convince, and your attempts to detail the supposedly sweeping influence of the First Things crowd feel strained: On your evidence, their direct power seems to extend to consulting with George W. Bush on how he can play to the Catholic vote, inspiring a largely symbolic bill protecting infants from postnatal abortion, and having their friends show up on the President's Council on Bioethics. (My God--presidents are appointing like-minded intellectuals to powerless commissions! Where will it end?)

.... theocons, you inform us, want to return abortion law to the states, allowing the procedure "to be banned outright in states dominated by populist religiosity." (That is, they want the abortion regime that prevailed throughout 95 percent of America's existence.) They want a return to more traditional family structures, and they want to keep gay marriage and assisted suicide illegal. Oh, and they want people to be more religious, so that all the events of daily life would be "permeated by Christian piety and conviction." I understand that you disagree with all these positions, but is it really shocking news--let alone a looming threat to the republic--that socially conservative Christians want America to be more, well, socially conservative and Christian?

...for the most part, I suspect that you believe that the attempt to link the American Founding to the Catholic natural-law tradition--which is at the heart of the "theoconservative project," insofar as there is one--marks a greater departure from America's supposed secular ideal than did the God-soaked politics of, say, Bryan or King.

...If this is what you mean, I wish you had been gutsy enough to take your argument to its logical conclusion and to say outright what you repeatedly imply--namely that orthodox Catholicism is essentially incompatible with the American liberal order, and that Neuhaus (like John Courtney Murray before him) is wrong to tell his co-believers that there's no great tension between Rome and the United States. You spend a great deal of time talking about the "authoritarian" political inclinations of Neuhaus and company and how they threaten liberalism, but your evidence is nearly always that they believe in accepting the Catholic magisterium's religious authority on matters of faith and morals--with the implication being that, if you let the magisterium tell you what to think about birth control or the Virgin Birth, you aren't fit for the responsibilities of democratic self-governance.

It gets juicy and interesting from there.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Definative Iraq War Op-Ed

From Frank J.:

After listening to the numerous opinions on the Iraq War, it has become quite obvious that something is happening in that country. The current state of affairs will most certainly be detrimental to the Middle East's future unless it is beneficial or of no effect whatsoever. This goes doubly for Iraqis themselves. And I can say that with great certainty as it the opinion of the numerous pundits who have been to Iraq or read a book on Iraq or saw numerous news stories on Iraq as well as the numerous pundits who have listened to those pundits. While some (or many) may argue that some (or many) of those opinions are based more on biases than facts, it is important to remember that that doesn't mean those opinions are wrong. Unless they are wrong... but they may not be. So keep that in mind.

So how did Iraq end up it's current state? This is quite directly attributable to the success or failure of the Bush Administration... unless of course things happened that were completely out of their hands. The consensus of opinion, though, is that the blame lies somewhere unless it was no one's fault. It's hard to argue with that... but some will anyway. Obviously, Rumsfeld underestimated the number of troops needed unless he got the number right or possibly sent too many. This caused the Iraq War to be a front or distraction to the War on Terror, which we all agree is an important fight or a blunder that never should have been started. According to those in the know, and those not in the know, and those who don't know what they know, this should all have some or no effect on the future.

Could Frank J have a future in politics? Read the rest.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's About Time

Adam Gadahn to be indicted for the crime of treason. Who is Adam Gadahn? He is the the traitor I blogged about here. He has done the voice overs and videos for Al Qaeda, at least two others besides the one my old post dealt with.

John Walker Lindh, should have been convicted of treason - being a confessed and battlefield captured member of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The law pertaining to treason states:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where is Jerry Heleva?

When Airplane! and Top Secret meet foreign policy comes the North Korean Dear Leader playing basketball:

Sadly, the ad is real. He's so Ronery.

Oh and the title refers to the Guy who played Saddam Hussein in the Hot Shots part Deux and the Big Lebowski among others.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Our Lady of Perpetual Taxes

There is a story in Wired about the leading, neo-Democrat Markos Moulitas Zuniga. Kos, his internet moniker, is not going the next traditional step, from activist to politician. Instead he is going to start a sports blog concern:
An activist who has succeeded in mobilizing so many passionate users might next head for a career inside the political machine. Run for office. Start a PAC. Become a consultant. But no. At what's arguably the top of his game, Moulitsas says he's "going offline" next year, taking his obvious knack for building online communities and applying it to that other great American pastime: sports.

It was really the next sentance that caught my interest:
And once he gets his network of sports blogs ramped up, he'll turn to building communities in the real world, a chain of giant meeting places "replicating megachurches for the left" – complete with cafés and child care. Moulitsas has shown he can harness people's enthusiasm, but he says he doesn't want a leadership role in these "democracy centers." (bolding mine)

I am going to make a prediction. The first few of these churches of progressive politics are going to heralded with much fanfare, they will last through one or two political cycles and they will die in bankruptcy court. Churches are a difficult enough proposition for those who begin one with a codified belief system. It seems Kos is giving credence to the view proposed by Ann Coulter's last book: Godless: The Church of Liberalism.


The Muralist had a Birthday party on Saturday and on Friday I was rushing to finish all my last minute shopping. It was one of those days where I just felt pressured. I did have one moment of genuine humor though. I heard a toilet flush and my two toilet using children were otherwise occupied. Divesting myself of laundry, I walked into the bathroom in time to see the baby flush again. She stood, one had gripped in the dog's ruff, the other on the potty lever. They both watched the water swirl and gurgle away with the same look of amazement on their faces.

I herded them both out of the bathroom but had to stop and just chuckle for a minute at the memory of their rapt expressions.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Western Civ against Barbarism

Stories like these reinforce my opinion that we are in the clash of civilizations.
Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.

As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin.

It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.

I am aware that France's disasterous socialist economy has contributed to the problem but it is not the root of the problem.

Senior officers insisted that the problem was essentially criminal in nature, with crime bosses on the estates fighting back against tough tactics.

The interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also the leading centre-Right candidate for the presidency, has sent heavily equipped units into areas with orders to regain control from drug smuggling gangs and other organised crime rings. Such aggressive raids were "disrupting the underground economy in the estates", one senior official told Le Figaro.

However, not all officers on the ground accept that essentially secular interpretation. Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an "intifada" on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas.

He said yesterday: "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their 'comrades' free when they are arrested."

Do you believe the officials or the cops on the ground? Couple that with a growing abhorent practice of systemic gang rape in those same areas:
In deprived, out-of-town estates in France, teenage girls have become targets, victims of a code that labels them easy game for gang rape.

It's not even called rape. They call it a tournante, or pass-round. The banality is deliberate: a joint, a girl - same difference. Sometimes, they call it a plan petasse, or slag-plan, because that's what any girl who sleeps with her boyfriend is, and that's why she's fair game. Sometimes, it's a basement-plan, because that's where it happens, as well as in garbage disposal rooms, schools, courtroom toilets.

The kids who live in the banlieue call them "the neighbourhoods". Or, in the outskirts of Paris, Neuf-trois (93), Neuf-deux (92), or the other postcodes that set them apart from the 75 of the city centre, and a whole other life. In official-speak, they are "difficult zones" or "sensitive areas", both of which are accurate for these huge, grim housing estates, thrown up in the 1950s to house immigrants - mostly north African, but also sub-Saharan or French Caribbean - and workers for the nearby factories.

This is the code of the banlieue. At a family planning class, a teenage boy says, "French girls are for f***ing and Arab girls are for marrying." The woman who told me this was shocked, not only because the boy was white and "French", but because all the girls in the class applauded. Being more macho than the lads is an escape route, explains Deflaoui. To the extent that girls act as touts. Nadia was delivered to her rapists by two girls she knew...

The girl interviewed in the second article insists that this practice does not stem from Islamic attitudes, she herself is a Muslim. And yet, later in the article only girls who stay home, take care of men and wear concealing clothing are deemed "safe". Safe wearing a burkha?

Mail Bag

Mail. I got Mail!

Why isn't Socialist listed as a party choice in your stupid poll?

Because my socialist friend, I forgot.

You(sic) list of voting reasons aren't any good - no healthcare or Global Warming.

Yep. Sorry. Make your own poll. Are those the reasons you didn't vote?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I forgot a question for the poll post below I'll add it here and below:

What were the top three reasons for your presidential vote in 2004?
Didn't Like Bush
Didn't Like Kerry
War on Terror
War in Iraq
Social/Domestic Policy
Taxes too High
Taxes not High Enough
Free polls from

Local Granny Eats

From the Seattle Times:
A Whidbey Island grandmother ended a three-week hunger strike Saturday night after being convinced that she had made her point against the Bush administration and its decision to go to war in Iraq.

OK, Now for a little background on this granny's town. It is the county seat but has only one traffic light. I sits on the North/South border of the Island. The North is Navy bases - red Bush country with lots of flags and magnetic car ribbons. The South is Blue; get the recruiters out of our schools, save the marsh grass folks.

Many weekends, on one corner of the traffic light fourway, a group of 10 (at most)greying protesters gather to impress on passing traffic the importance of Impeaching Bush and withdrawing from Iraq. Every protest weekend these folks unfurl protest banners and deploy a giant dove of peace which looks like a giant chicken. Maybe the Granny began to notice the chicken like qualities of their dove - I would have.

Curiosity Poll

I know I have readers across the political spectrum and I am hoping you are willing to participate in a poll to satisfy my curiosity. This is bodged together on the spur of the moment so it is not elegant, sorry.

Question 1:
How are you Registered to Vote?
Free polls from

Question 2:

Have You ever Voted for a Member of the Opposition Party? (i.e. Registered Democrat voting for a Republican candidate)
Free polls from

Question 3:

Would you ever consider voting for the opposite party?
Free polls from

Question 4:

9/11 Conspiracy Theorists are:
Free polls from

Question 5:

How big a problem terrorism?
Free polls from

Question 6:

What were the top three reasons for your presidential vote in 2004?
Didn't Like Bush
Didn't Like Kerry
War on Terror
War in Iraq
Social/Domestic Policy
Taxes too High
Taxes not High Enough
Free polls from

If I get a decent response to this poll, I'll do more.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cripes! Rice Krispy Treats

I am planning the Muralist's birthday party for Saturday. As I was making the checklist of items to include on my shopping list I realized I had a big knowlege gap: i have no clue what goes into Rice Krispy Treat Squares. Mystifyingly, I think I am the only person in the United States who doesn't enjoy them. Why anyone wants eat sickeningly sweet pressed cardboard cubes is unfathomable. They are not soft nor are they crunchy, and melted marshmallows seem impervious to commercial cleaning solutions. In short they are a headache waiting to happen. But they are superb building blocks so they are slated for the festivities.

Anyway in case there are other clueless folks out there here is the recipe for Rice Krispy Treats, courtesy of

1/4 cup butter
1 (10 oz., about 40) pkg. regular marshmallows or 3 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and continue to stir until the marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in the Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal coating them well with the melted marshmallow mixture.

Using a buttered or silicone spatula, press the mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan which has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with wax paper.

Cut into squares when the mixture cools.

Makes 24 squares.

A Tantrum of Politicians

Via Glenn, an article worth your time came to my attention. WaPo's Sebastian Mallaby:
After years of single-party government, the prospect of a Democratic majority in the House ought to feel refreshing. But even with Republicans collapsing in a pile of sexual sleaze, I just can't get excited. Most Democrats in Congress seem bereft of ideas or the courage to stand up for them. They clearly want power, but they have no principles to guide their use of it.

Not that I am pining for Speaker of the House Pelosi running full tilt with her socialist, Berkeley, peacenik idiocities, we can't get along with madmen who hate free societies. Golly it would be nice if there were credible, idea driven candidates in the opposition - it might make the GOP straighten up and be serious and accountable.

Back to Mallaby:
Democrats' under-the-radar behavior was even more depressing. A conservative group circulated a petition calling for bipartisan talks on Social Security, with all potential solutions to be part of the discussion. Rather than embracing this eminently sane idea, top Democrats in Congress loudly slammed the door on it.

In rejecting Social Security discussions last week, the Democrats painted the conservatives' petition as a Trojan horse designed to get personal accounts back onto the table. Even if that were true, since when was all mention of personal accounts taboo for Democrats? A decade ago, a majority of the appointees to Bill Clinton's Social Security commission came out in favor of personal accounts. Even the dissenting minority was open to the idea of investing Social Security funds in the stock market.

If Democrats cared about poor women and minorities, they would be clamoring to reform Social Security. But instead they get a childish gratification out of stamping their feet and refusing to discuss the subject.

I am glad off cycles tend to focus around local issues. Otherwise I would be tempted to sit at home election day. I feel like there has to be a pony in this pile of politicians somewhere.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Went to Space and All I Got Was this Lousy Worm

Anousheh Ansari, the first female tourist in space, touched down in the Asian hinterlands of Kustanai, Kazakhstan. She got a kiss from her hubby, a dozen roses and a beaurocrat:
The first female paying space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, has landed on the Kazakh steppe after a journey back from the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz capsule also carried fellow US astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov. It landed in the 56-mile (90km) predicted zone.

The craft slowed its descent by firing rockets and opening parachutes until it landed softly on its side in a field.

A dozen helicopter rescue teams rushed over to help the astronauts out.

Ms Ansari was given a bunch of red roses by an official as well as a kiss from her husband, Hamid.

All three astronauts were carried on reclining chairs to waiting helicopters. From Kustanai, Kazakhstan, they were to fly to a training centre outside Moscow.

Ansari paid 20 million dollars to go. Man, if she just waited a few years she could go for 200 grand. It's not like she did know that either:
Ahead of her lift-off, Ms Ansari said she was an ambassador for attracting private investment into space programmes. Her family sponsored the X-Prize, which honoured the first private vehicle to make it into space.
The X-prize went to SpaceShipOne which is in turn connected with Virgin Galactic who are looking at tourist space fleets.

Ansari did bring back a momento:
The space explorers brought back snails, worms and barley grown during experiments aboard the ISS.

And is is just me or does Virgin Galactic sound like a character from Buck Rogers?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Have Spaceship, Will Travel

In Have Spacesuit, Will Travel the hero, Kip Russell, dreams of going to space. PanAm announces tourist trips to the moon and in a desperate bid to go Kip enters a contest, the grand prize of which is a trip to the moon. Fast forward from 1958, the year Spacesuit was published, to 2006 and zillionaire nutjob, Sir Richard Branson:
Sir Richard Branson has unveiled a mock-up of the rocket-powered vehicle that will carry clients into space through his Virgin Galactic business.

The Virgin "spaceships" are designed to carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 140km on a sub-orbital space flight.

Tickets on a Virgin Galactic flight are expected to cost £100,000 ($190,000).

The mock-up of the spacecraft was unveiled at the Javits exhibition centre in New York on Thursday.

The Virgin craft are based on the design of SpaceShipOne, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, which became the first privately built vehicle to reach space in 2004.

If I had a spare 200 grand I know what I'd do. Since I don't I may be looking at other options:
Virgin Group has contracted Rutan's company Scaled Composites to design and build the passenger spaceship and its mothership. Virgin Galactic will own and operate at least five spaceships and two motherships.

The passenger flights, which could begin in 2009, will take off from a $225m (£127m) facility called Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert.

Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, said the firm was in negotiations over a reality TV show.

In the show, contestants would compete to win a place on a space flight, the Press Association reported.

Mr Whitehorn said: "The indications are that we can create a show that would give people the chance to go into space. It would be a cross between Dr Who, Star Trek and the Krypton Factor."

Virgin Galactic is one of several private firms vying to open up public access to space.