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 Amazon.com'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 Pollhost.com

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 Pollhost.com

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 Pollhost.com

Question 3:

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

Question 4:

9/11 Conspiracy Theorists are:
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Question 5:

How big a problem terrorism?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

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 Pollhost.com

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 Cooks.com:

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.