Friday, September 14, 2007

In honor of my Brother in Law

it's the Terror Alert systems for parents.

Terror Alert Level

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

Silver Screen

While not as stunningly beautiful as the women in art from a while back this is still lovely.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

As You Like It

Ken Branagh's 2006 film As You Like It is premiering to US audiences on HBO later this month. I am glad I splurged and added HBO to our cable package. All images found here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Popular Mechanics has the 10 worst disasters of the century (in the USA). 1905-2005 I am guessing based on the dates they used which is odd considering it's 2007. Anyway, closest to home?:
1980: Mount St. Helens Eruption
One last earthquake turned the sleeping giant loose, and soon 230 sq. mi. of lush forest was entombed in a lunar wasteland. Fifty-seven fatalities and $1 billion of damage later, the eighth—and perhaps most famous—of our 10 Worst Disasters of the Century is now considered the dawn of American earthquake science—and a jumping off point for GPS.

Pirate Master Episode 10 Recap

Braving CBS' pixilation so you don't have to, Welcome to Pirate Master episode 10!

Last Week: rules change tripped up Azmyth. Without the dubious protection of Ben and Jay, Azmyth lost the Captinancy and was set adrift. Christa was nominated and set up for a fall by Jay but was smart enough to sidestep the trap.

This week: Christa, Ben and Jay are cozily chatting in the Captain's quarters about their competitors' strengths and the final four. It's almost as if Ben and Jay are still officers! Jay says that Nessa is strong and smart and sneaky and they ought to employ an "enemies close" strategy and invite her into the cabin. Jay says in a camera confessional that Christa is his new puppet. Christa says in her camera confessional that the ship has only had one captain this entire time and it has been Jay even though he has never worn the hat. I say to the intertubes at large that Jay is finally dealing with a Captain that will not blindly dance to his tune. Jay gets Nessa and they all charmingly lie to each other about how happy they are that they will be the final four. Nessa is feeling "solid" in this group.


Laurel and Nessa are working in the galley and are in fear of the Cook's curse that has struck other ship mates starting with Sean and hitting Jupiter last. Kendra opines that there is something about galley work that loosens the lips and sure enough the producers oblige with Kendra talking non-stop. Laurel says that everyone wants Kendra gone but she has slipped through the cracks. Ben agrees. They all see two whales.

Jay and Ben conspire to keep Christa in power by pointing out the treasure to someone on Christa's team if they get there first. Ben calls Jay a snake in an admiring tone. Cameron calls the pirates up to open the next part of the Chest of Zanzibar. The next treasure is the Cooper's treasure. Black Team comprises of Christa, Jay, Ben and Laurel. Red team is Louie, Kendra and Nessa. Nessa is screwed.

They grab buckets and then row to shore. First stop is a stream to fill their buckets with water. Black crew leads to shore and races to the stream where they fill their buckets. Red team trails and arrives as the black team finishes filling their buckets. They race off to a bridge where they will have to solve a simple conversion problem: 16 pints equals how many gallons? (answer 2) then fill their appropriately marked bucket to float their next clue to the top. Black team (JAY!)says 4 - dummies. Red team runs up and it is Kendra who directs them to the correct answer.

As both teams realize they do not have enough water to float their clues to the top, Ben asides to Christa, "How many pints are in a gallon?" Christa whispers that she thought it was eight and they realize they are working on the wrong pipe. Black team opens the number two pipe and then they scramble to get water under the bridge as Red teams gets their clue and runs off. Black team gets their clue, mainly due to Ben's long arm.

The next clue sends teams looking for a cave behind a waterfall. Red team reaches the cave first closely followed by the black team who has a lot of hustle in it. The all reach the obligatory skull on a spike and start climbing down to the pool at the base of the 1000 foot fall. The cave is actually to one side of the foot of the fall. They dive into the frigid water and Ben powers over and up into the cave. If you have never climbed up rocks in a waterfall cave it is slippery. Inside the cave is a sign that says "PWN3D! No clues here!" Actually, it tells the teams to seek a clue where the water flows, i.e. under water where the waterfall is pounding down. The production crew laugh their butts off at the hapless contestants. Swim you monkeys! All except Kendra who clings to rocks and looks pathetic.

Ben dives and grabs the next clue and they race up the jungle and looks for a mud pit. Louie dives underwater and grabs Red Team's clue. Red teams hauls themselves out of the water and Nessa encourages her team to "jog it out!" and I am assuming she means the cold and muscle fatigue that everyone has described to the camera after their dip in the waterfall pool's icy water. Nessa runs way ahead of her team mates with the vigor of someone who has never puked after a forced run. I hate people like that.

Ben and Christa dive first into the mud pit, but that thick sucking mud slows them until Red team catches up. Everyone mucks around until Christa touches the treasure and then her and Jay work together to bring it up.

Nessa is sad as she is 6 for 6 on the losing crew. Black Crew counts up a 40 thousand dollar pot.

Jay stumps down to crew quarters and begins to drum up a bitch session about how hard the last expedition was. Nessa pipes up about her love of 90 minute jungle runs and Jay gives her a dirty look I wholeheartedly concur with. Nessa has just confirms to Jay she needs to go.

Christa gives everyone on black crew ten grand. Ben wants Christa to black spot Kendra. Christa again solicits black spot nominations from the entire crew. The penny drops with Jay that Christa has her own brain. Uh oh. Jay tells Christa that he wants her to put Nessa up with Kendra. The plan is to tell Nessa that she is a pawn to get Kendra out but blindside Nessa with votes. Jay will tell Nessa he recommended Laurel and Kendra to Christa. Christa plans to blame everything on Jay. This is a story most crew will buy, actually, and the weakness in Jay's overall strategy. They all know Jay has been playing deep.

Nessa and Kendra get black spots. Nessa feels stabbed in the back and cries foul to Jay. Jay wastes no time in blaming Christa saying now he has to "scramble" for her and that Christa must have it in for Nessa. You can't be Howdy Doody and play this game says Jay.

Kendra tells Louie that Nessa is a threat. Louie agrees and tells the camera that Christa put up the best two people for black spots and that it just depends on your strategy if you want to cut weak or strong. Ben tells Nessa everyone is saying Kendra goes but he doesn't really know.

Pirate court!

Christa CYA's that she put those two up on the block based on what the crew wants. Cameron asks the two to defend themselves. Kendra gives her standard I'll never stop let me say speech. Cameron asks Laurel why has Kendra managed to stay if she is weak enough to be on the block six times. Laurel says baldly it's strategy of going up against a weak person in the end.

Nessa snarks about being flattered to be considered a threat and then says she has been on an expedition losing streak. She asks if she has been missing a secret agreement calling out Christa, Jay and Ben. They all shake their heads innocently. "No scheming going on here, huh uh!"

Four ballets cast. No mutiny. With four votes Nessa is gone. Jay strikes again! Nessa calls them cowards and Christa whacks her loose. She motors off to be with Joe Don at loser lodge.

Next Week jay cheats Ben out of thousands of dollars! Hilarity Ensues,

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Homer Simspon Wept.

Pork Rain and the residents are complaining:
Butchers Pet Care could shelve plans for a factory in Coton Park, near Rugby, because angry Asian families have complained to their residents’ association about pork smells drifting into their garden.

Muslim residents in the area also claim the pork will effectively “rain down” on their homes and gardens after the factory’s 100ft chimney has pumped the meat extracts into the atmosphere.

It's like that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie slows and inhales the air around the Wonka factory like it was sustenance. Except it isn't. Prats.
A statement from Butchers Pet Care said: “The majority of our natural products are beef and poultry.

“Pork ingredients account for less than 10% of our range.

“At Coton Park we plan to introduce state-of-the-art odour extraction through the chimney stack…

“We would like to reiterate that we do not burn any animal materials.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Well I had a traffic spike for the Pirate Master Recap so expect another one next Tuesday or Wednesday. Man, I should have blogged Daybreak.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I am making pizza tonight, specifically bacon, red onion, sun-dried tomato and pineapple - except the can of pineapple I bought has disappeared from the shelves of the pantry. As I rummaged through the shelves muttering darkly ingredients that disappear right when you want them, I had a brain wave. Fruit cocktail. Sometime ago I purchase a case of fruit cocktail because it was on sale. We don't actually eat fruit cocktail, The Muralist insists it's not really fruit and her argument is bolstered by the Verbalist's assertions that the grapes are Ogre eyeballs. But barring the desperation can pulled out of the pantry when the Infant puts away 9 square meals a day, it sits dusty and forlorn next to the cans of extra onion chili, cream corn, and Sirloin Burger Soup which constitutes our disaster rations. The single can of Coconut milk (destined for coconut cream pie and Thai Soup which have yet to materialize on my menu plan) seems hardly worth mentioning.

I opened a can, picked through it for pineapple and came up with 9 miserly tidbits. Nine, NINE! What happened the scads of pineapple that inhabited the fruit cocktails if my youth? For that matter what about the Jello salads chock full of pineapple at the church buffets?

Like Heck!

Discovery Channel is running shark Week and one of the promos was touting the "Misunderstood shark". Like heck! Sharks are soulless eating machines which never die unless they are actively killed. There is no misunderstanding here. In that spirit i present Creepy fish of the deep:

Pirate Master Episode 9 Recap

Well the Chuckleheads at CBS have once again cancelled a show without warning. I'm not too broke up, after all Pirate Master is mostly mediocre. Darn it all though, I really was grooving on Jay's wicked gaming and wanted to see who his next sucker was. If you are dedicated you can watch episodes on CBS's crap-tastic Innertube site. I stuck through the pixilation and intermittant sound to recap so you don't have too.

On the last Pirate Master: Captain Azmyth gets big for his britches and the crew murmur that mutiny sounds like a good idea. Jupiter decides that she better warn Azmyth but does so in such a stupid way as to ensure that Azmyth black spots her for being a mutineer herself. Jupiter then seals her fate by announcing that she would never vote for mutiny and Captain A. realizes too late he must cut adrift his best ally. Oops.


Cameron-the-host opens the next section of the Chest of Zanzibar and finds the next letter detailing the next treasure was the Cook's, who was a party dude. So the final 8 row to shore, find an old fort, and precede to get drunk to celebrate getting half way through.

The next morning, Cameron shows up and hands out keys and clues and tells them the hunt for the next part of the treasure begins today. Further he explains that the captain no longer has officers and Azmyth is stripped to Ben and Jay who draw shot with the common crew in the team divvys. This suits Jay just fine as he knows a mutiny had been almost certain if Azmyth retains the Captaincy and now he has a chance to get rid of some competition without looking like the backstabber he is.

After they draw shot and the black team is: Azmyth, Nessa, Louie, and Laurell and the red team is: Jay, Ben, Christa, and Kendra. Cameron starts them with a pistol shot and they all huddle and read the clue. "find the stockade", line up your keys from large to small, look through the loops, find the cannon and torture chamber which is their next destination.

Red team is immediately hampered by the fact that Jay's vocabulary skills are better than the producers. "Stockade, stockade means like a prison, look along the walls." says Jay who knows that stockade means "fan enclosure or pen made with posts and stakes." Meanwhile black team makes the same assumption that the producers do and runs over to the stock(a device for publicly punishing offenders consisting of a wooden frame with holes in which the feet or feet and hands can be locked) where a skeleton hangs. They line up their keys, site the cannon and go running off.

Christa notes the keyholes on the stock as she passes it and pulls them back from their fruitless search of the walls. They run after the black team.

The black team has run to the cannon and torture chamber beneath and where Louie works at a puzzle to unlock shackles for the next part of their clue. Louie is stumped by the key puzzle long enough for Jay to squirm in beside him, burn through it and squirm out with red team's shackles. Red team makes their way to some steps that they have to count and then work out a simple math problem: x stairs-1/22=y under y is the key to the treasure.

As the red team counts stairs, black team is agitated the Louie can't seem to get their shackles free and Azmyth huffs that he could have done it much faster because he is smarter than Louie.

Back at the stairs, Jay counts 68 and Ben counts 66. "It must be one or the other." says Jay his brain on pause. "You dumbass it's 67! You have to get a whole number when you divide." I shout. Fortunately, Christa knows that one less the final number needs to be divided by 22 evenly and tells them it must be 67. 67-1/22=3. CBS scrolls the equation on the screen quickly for those whose brains have switched off as Jay's seems to have. They hurry back down the steps and scrabble for the key.

Black key finally gets their shackles and runs to the stairs. They have a different equation so they can't just look where red team does. The clues then tell them to put the shackles on someone and have them pace 300 steps in one direction. Jay does the honors for red team and later Louie for black. Jay finds the treasure right as black team arrives in the clearing. Buh-bye Azmyth.

Back on the ship, they pour out the gold and count it up to 50,000 dubloons. Jay directs in the counting in an experienced manner and they whoop at the high number. Cameron asks who is nominated as captain. Jay nominates Christa, who seems less than thrilled to be a target, and Ben and Kendra back Jay's choice. Cameron goes on to explain that because she has no officers that she nominates only 2 people for a black spot and what's more the Captain get ALL the money. Furthermore, this Pirate's court is the last time the pardon will work. Jay interviews he now wishes that he put himself up for captain instead of putting up a puppet. Immediately they are wondering if Christa is going to get greedy or if she is going to divvy it up evenly in shares of 12,500.

Jay starts to butter up Christa dubbing her Sweetbeard and mutters to her that he has a devious plan. His plan is to screw Kendra out of her share while Christa takes the fall for doing it. Sounds pretty good huh?

Back in Captain's quarters Jay tells Ben and Christa his scheme. Christa is to call Kendra in and give her 2,500 now and promise to bid 10,000 on the Royal pardon. Then not actually bid on the pardon, black spot her and cut her adrift. Jay is still steaming that Kendra lied to him a few episodes ago. Christa seems to think it's mostly a good idea but is savvy enough to know that it is dirty pool and reserves the right to change her mind.

Kendra can not swim but she is not stupid and manages to figure out what Jay cooked up with Christa but can only hope that Christa is not as shady as Jay is. Really, she has no other options.

Christa knows that black spotting sets you up as a target so she canvasses the crew's opinions one by one on who ought to get a black spot. Their opinions dovetail with hers and it takes the heat off of her. Kendra and Azmyth get black spots. Kendra is worried as she gets her forth black spot. Azmyth deludes himself that he is safe and doesn't bid on the pardon. Jay is surprised by his blindness.

At this point CBS' crappy site no longer plays audio feed and the picture is stuck on the Picton Castle at sunset. So for the Pirate court I go to the offical episode recap:
At Pirates' Court, Cameron addresses the new Captain and points out that without Officers, the threat of Mutiny is greater than ever. Christa explains that Azmyth was marked tonight because he's the strongest and everyone thinks he'll win if he's not set adrift and Kendra was marked because she's the weakest link on Expeditions.

Azmyth begins his defense by saying that this has been a powerful experience before adding, "You are correct in saying that I am a strong competitor… And I will tell you that I will fight my hardest for myself to be here, to win. And for the rest of the crews that I'm on, I'll stay positive, I'll stay strong." Kendra steps forward and points out that she wanted to do something different for her fourth time as a marked Pirate. She starts to read a poem about her life on the ship, which elicits fond smiles from the crew. "My heart is here with my Captain and crew, breathing deep the possibility of treasure to be found," she reads. "The Black Spot does not cast a shadow, for I saw a red sky tonight, a sailor's prediction of fair winds and good fortune."

When Cameron turns to the crew, Jay reiterates his belief that Kendra deserves the Black Spot, Laurel says she's glad to see Azmyth marked because she doesn't understand him, and Ben says Azmyth is up there because of his strengths. "He never stops," Ben says of Azmyth. "He's smart, so rightfully he's up there."

When it's time to vote, the Pirates cast their ballots atop the dagger's blade. Cameron announces Christa as the highest bidder at $10,000, proving that she didn't comply with Jay's plan to sabotage Kendra. As Christa pays Kendra, Cameron tells her there were no Mutiny ballots. Cameron then points out that Kendra has escaped from Pirates' Court yet again. The vote is unanimous: Azmyth is to be cut adrift. As he disembarks, Azmyth turns to the crew and says, "It'll be interesting to see who the actual Pirate Master is. If it's not me, I don't know who it's gonna be."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Better, stronger, faster.

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

Via Ace:
A highly functional bionic hand which was invented by a Scottish NHS worker has gone on the market.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


A boy buys a PS2 console on eBay and finds 65,400 Euros but not the promised games. The best part is the quote from the eBay spokesman:
"We know eBay is a great place to pick up a bargain although, in this case, we agree that the contents of the parcel were somewhat unusual and we will assist with any inquiries police may wish to make."

Uh huh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Heart Attack

...waiting to happen.

Write In

Dave Burge as President in '08. I know I will, but for goodness sakes don't let Goldstein write his speeches!

He's got the support of the troops:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter mania has a list of the most Harry Potter crazy locales in the USA based on book pre-orders. Washington State has quite a few with Gig Harbor coming in at number 2 on the list and Snohomish at number 8. Washington State cities also took spots 7, 17, 56, 65, 70, and 75.

More Cowbell

Via Ace, the USAF will be unleashing The Reaper a robotic attack squadron equipted with hunter killer drones:
The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It's outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and with a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.

The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.

The arrival of these outsized U.S. "hunter-killer" drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.

That moment, one the Air Force will likely low-key, is expected "soon," says the regional U.S. air commander. How soon? "We're still working that," Lt. Gen. Gary North said in an interview.

The Reaper's first combat deployment is expected in Afghanistan, and senior Air Force officers estimate it will land in Iraq sometime between this fall and next spring. They look forward to it.

Friday, July 13, 2007


There are instructional videos for everything by folks not necessarily good at making videos. But this is why we have our Chorus:
Once the preliminaries are out of the way, we meet Jim Miotke, the host, who – it must be said – appears to be overlit. In a voice not overly burdened with inflection, he sets out the problems people confront when photographing kids: “Sometimes the subject’s too blurry, other times too dark, other times too bright.” This is a comprehensive DVD, in other words. He also notes that “sometimes your subject suffers from things such as red eye,” and you might think, well, that’s what the “Remove Red Eye” button in the photo-editing software is for, right? Or do we use antibiotics? Well, there’s the automated idiot-proof computer programs, and there’s the skill of the artist. Which would you rather have? Right.

Session 1: Jim’s back, holding a kid; he introduces himself as Jim Miotke, again. He’s much better lit. Unfortunately, instead of learning anything about light, and how to work with it, we get what seems to be an alternate opening. “How would you like to take pictures of your kids that truly capture the qualities that make them so adorable?” Love to! And by some peculiar coincidence that’s why I rented “Photographing Kids.” This bonus, extended-cut opening includes a third example of Jim Miotke telling us he is Jim Miotke, and he says he’d “like to welcome us to another adventure in photography.” Another? Isn’t this the first? Is this the second disk in a six-disk series? You know sometimes how you’re watching season three of the Sopranos and your spouse is watching Season two, and you get the disks mixed up and all of a sudden she’s wondering who these characters are and why their hair looks different – could be like that. Let’s check the package.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two Excellent Looks

at withdrawal from Iraq: The first is Col. Austen Bay:
But this “Iraqi scenario” post strikes me as one I needed to get on the blog sooner rather than later. I saw the Prime Minister Maliki and Ambassador Crocker provided Hell scenarios earlier this week. These scenarios will appear in an upcoming Creators Syndicate column. I created these scenarios last month for a company which is starting a new media venture. The company’s senior leadership has been involved in elementary school education software. I’ve been doing “content consulting” —which by any other name is course and program content development. Good work for a teacher. I’ll put up a detailed post once the organization “launches” its product. The scenarios were tacked on to a much (much) longer “background history” of the Middle East.

Here are seven “scenarios” sketching “potential outcomes” of a quick withdrawal from Iraq. They are not mutually exclusive. They could well “blend.” In fact, an amalgam of the first six could occur.

These are speculative dramas. The US and the Iraqi governments have their own scenarios. I am certain that Iran, Al Qaeda, Syria and Turkey have also analyzed potential outcomes and made plans accordingly.

The second is Gateway Pundit's side by side numbers for various death rates for US soldiers in various conflicts and peacetime.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy Birthday

To both our Nation (the 4th) and Mr. Huey Lewis (whose birthday is the 5th):

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dave For President!

Finally, an honest politician:

That is why I have taken the first step towards announcing my candidacy for the 2008 presidential campaign. I have officially formed an exploratory committee to advise me on this important decision. This blue ribbon panel includes a number of distinguished public service veterans, including Chuck Helbertson, Supervisor of the Cedar County Pool Maintenance Department, and my brother-in-law Steve Lehr, a part-time Driver's Education professional in the Dubuque public school system and defending Late Model Modifieds champion at Eddyville Speedway.

I have not taken this decision lightly. When considering a run for public office, the first thing a candidate must ask himself is: what can I, as newly elected public servant, expect to get out of this deal? I have researched this question thoroughly, and believe me: being President is a pretty sweet gig. Not only does it pay 400 large, it has plenty of perks including "three hots and a cot," and the world's most fearsome military force at my disposal.

The second thing a candidate must ask is: am I qualified for the position? Let's look at the facts. First, I am a native-born citizen of the United States. Second, I am over 35 years old. Third, I have never had a felony conviction stick beyond the appeals court. And Mister, if that's good enough for the Constitution of the United States, then that's good enough for me. Google it.

The third thing a candidate must ask is: once elected, what can I do for the voters to keep them off my back, so I can enjoy all those badass job perks? The answer here is "plenty." Just take a gander at the Dave Burge Platform:

Read the rest.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yo Ho

National Geographic (courtesy of Tennessee Tsar Reynolds) lists their top 100 true life adventure stories. Notable entries in the top 20:
17. Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl (1950) Nine balsa-wood logs, a big square sail, a bamboo "cabin" with a roof made of banana leaves—thus did Norwegian Heyerdahl and his companions set sail from Peru toward Polynesia to prove a point: that the South Pacific was settled from the east. Point proved? Maybe not, but it's one hell of a ride—a daring tale, dramatically told.
Hardcover edition from Adventure Library, 1997.

14. Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana (1840) Scion of a prominent Boston family, Dana dropped out of Harvard and, hoping to recover the strength of his eyes, weakened by measles, signed on with a merchant ship as a common sailor. His book about his time at sea is an American classic, vivid in its description of the sailor's life and all its dangers and delights.
Penguin, 2000.

13. Roughing It, by Mark Twain (1872) Twain lit out for the territory when the Civil War started and knocked around the West for six years. Roughing It is the record of that time, a great comic bonanza, hilarious when it isn't simply funny, full of the most outrageous characters and events. It is not an adventure book, it is an anti-adventure book, but no less indispensable.
Penguin, 2000.

11. Farthest North, by Fridtjof Nansen (1897) In 1893, Nansen purposely froze his ship into the Arctic ice and traveled with the drift of the pack. When the ship approached striking distance of the Pole, he set out for it by dogsled, reaching the highest latitude yet attained by man before turning back to Norway. He was gone three years. The book is both an epic and a lyric masterpiece.
Modern Library, 1999.

1. The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922) As War and Peace is to novels, so is The Worst Journey in the World to the literature of polar travel: the one to beat. The author volunteered as a young man to go to the Antarctic with Robert Falcon Scott in 1910; that, and writing this book, are the only things of substance he ever did in life. They were enough. The expedition set up camp on the edge of the continent while Scott waited to go for the Pole in the spring. But first, Cherry-Garrard and two other men set out on a midwinter trek to collect emperor penguin eggs. It was a heartbreaker: three men hauling 700 pounds (318 kilograms) of gear through unrelieved darkness, with temperatures reaching 50, 60, and 70 degrees below zero (-46, -51, and -57 degrees Celsius); clothes frozen so hard it took two men to bend them. But Cherry-Garrard's greater achievement was to imbue everything he endured with humanity and even humor. And—as when he describes his later search for Scott and the doomed South Pole team—with tragedy as well. His book earns its preeminent place on this list by captivating us on every level: It is vivid; it is moving; it is unforgettable.
National Geographic Books, 2002.

The list also includes Into Thin Air, The Right Stuff, and various explorer's journals - Lewis and Clark, Captain Cook; good stuff. Darn it! It's my gift list to my father in law though - don't buy them Jim, I'll dole them out to you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

After eight years in Washington, I longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Woman After My Own Heart

Hat tip to James Lileks at his new gig for this story:
Shortly before landing, Bob Hayden and a flight attendant had agreed on a signal: When she waved the plastic handcuffs, he would discreetly leave his seat and restrain an unruly passenger who had frightened some of the 150 people on board a Minneapolis-to-Boston flight Saturday night with erratic behavior.

Hayden, a 65-year-old former police commander, had enlisted a gray-haired gentleman sitting next to him to assist. The man turned out to be a former US Marine.

"I had looked around the plane for help, and all the younger guys had averted their eyes. When I asked the guy next to me if he was up to it, all he said was, 'Retired captain. USMC.' I said, 'You'll do,' " Hayden recalled. "So, basically, a couple of grandfathers took care of the situation."

The best part of the story is the guy's wife:
Hayden's wife of 42 years, Katie, who was also on the flight, was less impressed. Even as her husband struggled with the agitated passenger, she barely looked up from "The Richest Man in Babylon," the book she was reading.

"The woman sitting in front of us was very upset and asked me how I could just sit there reading," Katie Hayden said. "Bob's been shot at. He's been stabbed. He's taken knives away. He knows how to handle those situations. I figured he would go up there and step on somebody's neck, and that would be the end of it. I knew how that situation would end. I didn't know how the book would end."

Ah yes.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jerry Pournelle is Safeguarding my Freedom

This is cool. It's cool because government is always in need of ideas and these are idea folks:

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers.

"We spend our entire careers living in the future," says author Arlan Andrews, one of a handful of writers the government brought to Washington this month to attend a Homeland Security conference on science and technology.

Those responsible for keeping the nation safe from devastating attacks realize that in addition to border agents, police and airport screeners, they "need people to think of crazy ideas," Andrews says.

The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials. The last time the group gathered was in the late 1990s, when members met with government scientists to discuss what a post-nuclear age might look like, says group member Greg Bear. He has written 30 sci-fi books, including the best seller Darwin's Radio.

Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government's latest top mission of combating terrorism.

Jasper Fforde

I was sent this interview with Jasper Fforde in Newsweek asking him about his favorite books:

#1 "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. At the age of 7 or 8, I was swept away by Alice's madcap escapades and respectful irreverence of established nursery characters and situations.

#2"Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome. Fresh and joyous self-deprecating humor of lazy Victorian gentlemen going for a cruise on the Thames in the late 19th century.

Not mentioned but a heavy influence in his books are Edward Lear's nonsense poems, but not his most famous, The Owl and the Pussycat which only gets an fun sidebar.

It also asks him:
A classic that, on rereading, disappointed: "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë. I had thought it was deep and full of painful unrequited love, but on rereading I think it's a bunch of very drippy people who accept being bullied for no very good reason.

Fforde's delightful books savage Wuthering Heights even as they are reletively affectionate when they satirize everything from Barbara Cartland to Kafka. The only other books he is cruel to are Ulysses by James Joyce and Spencer's Fairy Queene, Joyce for pretension and Spencer actually kills a character through boredom. Wuthering Heights comes in as a punching bag for a whole subplot in Well of Lost Plots from therapy sessions to assassination attempts to a Hollywood style awards show, the scorn heaped on Heights is palpable and hilarious.

I eagerly await Fforde's next book, First Among Sequels.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Clone Wars

A look at the new Star Wars animated tv show:

Friday, May 25, 2007

I've got Rhythm

Quote of the Day:
This bit caught my eye: “To be honest, we don’t really know what Gregorian chants sounded like. Probably the ones you hear today are not rhythmically correct,” Howell said. My first thought was "Rhythm? They have rhythm?" and my second thought was something along the lines of "Oh my God, what if they rapped them???"

Econ for Dummies

Why using simple language in textbooks is never going to happen:

I think it ought to be:

1. people are stupid
2. governments are stupider

Funny stuff.
via Jules Crittendon

Monday, May 21, 2007


I preface my following remarks by saying that I enjoy TV and movies alot. I think it is funny to see the backlash against electronic entertainment that is gaining ground. In this article the opening salvo bristles with hostility against electronics:
well armed in the battle against childhood boredom, with a bedroom arsenal that includes a computer hooked to the Internet, a DVD player, two Game Boys, as well as an Xbox and a GameCube.

It is not the fault of electronics; it's the fault of disapprovniks who shrill at you for letting your kids run around your yard or neighborhood and parents who knuckle under to them. Conn Iggulden, whose book is sweeping through my various reading circles, says this:
Conn Iggulden said in an e-mail message that he routinely received correspondence from parents who yearn for a “return to simple pleasures,” which seems to stem from “potent forces, like the realisation that keeping your kids locked up in the house on PlayStations isn’t actually that good for them; or the appalled reaction of many parents to a health-and-safety culture that prevents half the activities they took for granted as kids — and that they know were important to their growth and confidence.”

Sis and I were talking about this the other day, about how we ran around everywhere together on our bikes as kids - without helmets. I was letting my own children ride their bicycles and tricycle and scootie-scoot around the flat part of our driveway. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and they were having a grand time. A adult from down the (dirt) road where our house is situated filled me in on her disapproval that the kids were helmetless. It was as if I were telling my kids to walk through a construction site without a hard hat, or ocean kayaking without a life vest.

Ann Althouse references the skads of outdoor games she used to play:
Here are some of the thing we found to do outside (none of it taught by an adult): octopus, swinging statutes, tag, freeze tag, two-square, four-square, "Mother may I," red-light-green-light, Chinese school, monkey in the middle, leap frog, jump rope, Chinese jump rope, hopscotch, hide and seek, crack the whip. We also invented our games that we played at recess. I remember one called "jail." There was one called "Horsemasters," based on the Disney show. And I somehow got a lot of people to play a game I came up with based on a book I liked called "The Little Witch."

Sis and I played Statue Store, kind of a cross between freeze tag and used car salesman lot.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

100, movies, 100 quotes

This is fun. I tried to identify each movie and I think I did pretty good. If my Dad can not get 88, 11 and 1 before they come up I will be heartily disappointed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I thought Ron Paul was running as a Republican!

"Nutter Wins in Democratic Primary"--headline, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 16

ht: Best of the Web, WSJ

SCENE: Olive Garden

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune decided to move their best known columnist, James Lileks, to local beat reporting even the great Dave Barry, patron saint of humor columnists, chimed in with a WTF post. From that imbroglio Iowahawk has found parody gold a few times. His latest is a imagining of literary greats covering the local beat including Raymond Chandler
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon and I had just placed my size 11 EE brogues on my desk in the City Room. I uncorked a fifth of Old Crow I keep in the Steelcase’s third door left, hoping to cure a bad case of sobriety that had been nagging me since breakfast.

That’s when she walked in. Five feet two inches of trouble in sensible shoes with a master’s from Missouri J-School. Nancy Barnes, my editor.

“Got a light?” she purred, thumbing through her copy of Editor & Publisher.

“Sure, dollface,” I answered, handing her the hot end of my Lucky. “Your butt or mine?”

“Douse it, sleuth,” she sneered. “The Strib maintains a smoke-free environment. And call me ‘dollface’ again I’ll have the Harassment training boys downtown work you over.”
Hunter Thompson
We were on the 494 en route to Wayzata when my Samoan photographer handed me a plastic bag with the psilocybin. I gulped a mouthful of the acrid fungus and washed it down with chaser of Wild Turkey to take the bitter edge off. God knows we would need it. We were on a brutal odyssey into the maniacal heart of suburban pee wee baseball.
Sylvia Plath
There is a low pressure system
A grey wall, purple specked, black
In Canada skies descending, incandescent
Approaching, radiant, spasmodic
Doppler detected
and William (Bill) Shakespeare (wedding announcements):

Two Households, both alike in dignity
In Edina where we lay our scene,
At the Olive Garden where rehearsal supper wends
Over plates of Pasta Florentine.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


We just changed some of the lightbulbs in our living room ceiling fan to those new(ish) compact florescent bulbs. With nice bright light without being harsh, I recommend the GE brand. Really though it's an excuse to post this snippet:
In the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, Sen. Barack Obama was asked what he personally was doing to save the environment, and replied that his family was “working on” changing their light bulbs.

Is this the new version of the old joke? How many senators does it take to “work on” changing a light bulb? One to propose a bipartisan commission. One to threaten to de-fund the light bulbs. One to demand the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for keeping us all in the dark. One to vote to pull out the first of the light bulbs by fall of this year with a view to getting them all pulled out by the end of 2008.

As the man says, read the whole thing.

"Complaining that Women are Dressing Like Fashion Models"

Cover the dangerous and Sexy allure of the forehead!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Heroes, Who, Batman

I am really looking forward to Christopher Nolan's next installment of the Batman franchise The Dark Knight. Christian Bale was marvelous as the moody Gazillionaire vigilante and I especially enjoyed Gary Oldman as Gordon. (Look Gary Oldman playing a good role - not quasi-evil actually good!) So what to make of this tidbit:
"Bruce Wayne will have his hands full with some Eric Roberts come 2008, as the actor has just been cast as a villain in the "Batman Begins" sequel, "The Dark Knight."

Holey Moley! Call the Doctor!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


One of the prettiest pieces composed for the piano lately:

It's the theme and incidental music from Kingdom Hearts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


of the day:
you go to war with the politicians that you have, not the ones that you wish you had

Heh. Be sure and read the excellent war analysis piece that spawned it over at Wretchards:
American political hopes rest on the Shi'ites keeping their cool and resisting any large scale attempts to lash out uncontrollably. There have been simultaneous American efforts to divide the Sunni insurgency by working with the Anbar tribes, taking advantage of the alienation caused by al-Qaeda in Iraq's vicious brutality and unyielding fundamentalism. (This process is vividly described by Outside the Wire.) If the Sunnis insurgents could arrange for Iran to turn Sadr or some other Shi'ite leader into loose cannons, the both could cooperate in politically undermining the US, in the hopes of removing it from the board leaving the field clear for the two Muslim parties to settle differences between themselves later. We have already seen the tactical response of the Sunni insurgents to the surge. But their political response has not yet been been unveiled. Can the Sunni insurgents forge an alliance of convenience with their sectarian enemies to evict a common foe by concluding a 21st century Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? Time alone will tell.

The US operation in Iraq has consciously or accidentally, but nevertheless definitely had the effect of transforming it into the central battlefield of the current world crisis. The al-Qaeda type forces have converged there because there they can attack the hated American in the heart of the Arab world. But that circumstance also allows US combat power to be focused on individuals who would otherwise be scattered throughout the world. But the contest in Iraq is not purely military; it is also political and psychological. What is underappreciated is that the war in Iraq has also forced Sunni Islamic fundamentalism to indirectly take the Shi'ite world and explicitly show the world its political face. A victory in Iraq for either side will not simply be one of arms, but of legitimacy.

Friday, April 13, 2007

To Be Read: Books for a real education

Hugh Hewitt had a fascinating discussion with David Allen White, Shakespeare teacher at the Naval Acadamey, and John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola University on his show a few days back.
HH: A few days ago, I was riding around with my intern, who is an enrollee at the Torrey Honors program at Biola University, and we were talking about what he was reading and not reading. And it occurred to me that most young college students are absolutely lost. They lack a program like Torrey, they lack a teacher like David Allen White, to tell them what they ought to read, at least when they’re freshmen or sophomores. And so I conspired with David Allen White, professor extraordinaire at the United States Naval Academy, where he’s been teaching Shakespeare and other matters to the mid-shipmen for more than a quarter century, and John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola University, and the head of the Torrey Honors program there, to put together a reading list, and it’s the top 30 books that every one of you ought to have read, and certainly freshmen and sophomores ought to have read. Here’s my plan. Take one a week for the next 30 weeks, or one a week during your year in college, you’ll be at least partially educated. Professor White, Professor John Mark Reynolds, welcome to you both. I’m going to lead off with you, Professor White. Since we’re going to be pressed for time, I’m going to ask you to just spit out your top ten, and I’m going to do the same with John Mark Reynolds, and then we’ll go back and compare and contrast.

Now this is the cat's meow for me. Not only do I love to read, but I have taken time to do my best to aquaint myself with the Classics. Even if I do not understand all the levels of meaning; I have, at least, gotten the baseline. I've read The Divine Comedy a couple of times and had the privilege of discussing it with a US Poet Laureate. It was the funnest, most mentally stimulating thing I'd done in a long while. Hugh says reflecting on the interview:
I thought it was a very interesting conversation, but I was unprepared for the volume of mail requesting the list from across the country. We talk show hosts tend to forget that America is full of very bright, very curious people who at least occasionally want to step back and look up.

I am tempted to ask today's guests, Mark Steyn and James Lileks, how many of the 40-odd titles thrown out by the good professors they have read. But I am afraid it would be another exercise in humility for your host, who, sad to say, didn't even recognize Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy.

Well, Hugh, I'd read most of the books on the list and heard of them all but I have yet to read Boethius and I imagine I am in good company.

The List:
1. The Bible
2. Shakespeare

I remember the Bible studies I slogged through as a middle schooler, then enjoyed as a highschooler. I studied out of a King James Version, then later a New King james Version, and a little Bible study prepares your mind to grasp complex language and images and lays a referential groundwork for some much other literature it is indespensible. If you know the basic story of David and Goliath than the laguage is less daunting and if you can grasp David and Goliath:
Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
2And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.
3And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
4And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
6And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
7And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
8And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.
9If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
10And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
Suddenly the Iliad is looking pretty lingustically tame:
"Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger of
King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and swear
that you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I know that
I shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to whom all the
Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand against the anger
of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure now, will yet nurse revenge
till he has wreaked it. Consider, therefore, whether or no you will
protect me."

3. Plato's Republic and Dialogues
4. The Iliad
5. The Divine Comedy (I would add The Figure of Beatrice as a fantastic commentary)
6. Cervantes Don Quixote
7. Dickens' David Copperfield (I have not read this. Dickens suffers from a wordiness I can not get past - even for a Victorian writer. He was paid by the word and it shows at times in his circumlocutions.)
8. Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov
9. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (Another I have not read.)
10. Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (A trauma to read but riveting and essential to understanding the dangers we have faced.)
11. The Odyssey
12. Aristotle's Ethics
13. Oedipus Rex
14. Augustine’s Confessions
15. Second Treatise on Government by Locke
16. Virgil’s Aeneid
17. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address & Second Inaugeral Address
18. Johnson's Birth of the Modern
19. Declaration of Independence/Constitution of the United States
20. Federalist Papers
21. Democracy In America
22. Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (This I have actually read once apon a time. It is much better to read P.J. O'Roark having read Adam Smith, one feels a certain superiority as well as commiseration)
23. Communist Manifesto
24. Origin of Species (David Allen White disagrees with this but I agree with JMReynolds. One must expose themselves fully to Darwin's reasoning and conclusions before deciding that a good deal of what he said was dangerous bunkum - like Eugenics.)
25. On The Genealogy of Morals
26. Civilization And Its Discontents (and if you must read Freud you must read the antidote:)
27. C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man (For a wonderful comparison of Freud and Lewis I heartily recommend: The Question of God: CS Lewis & Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life by Armond Nicholi. Nicholi teaches a class at Harvard, I think, and this volume has grown from his classes there. I would also recommend Mere Christianity)
28. Aeschylus’ Oresteia (Thank goodness for Penguin Classics. I plunked down only a quarter for this treasure)
29. Aquinas’ Summa Theologica
30. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (My favorite fiction book of all time. From the show:
DAW....I’m going to include one of my favorites, everybody who wants to be married has to read it, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

HH: Oh, that’s a disaster for the men listening here.

DAW: No, no, no. It’s a great book, and boy, they can learn something about being a man. She had a better sense of manhood than most men in our time…

HH: Can we watch the movie instead, David Allen White?

DAW: No, you’ve got to read it. The sentences are exquisite, and the wisdom of this woman is profound.

Austen is a treasure trove of morals and manners relating to the obligations and duties you owe in relationships. She glorifies love but tempers it with wisdom and humor, extolls honor but balances it with realism about it's sometimes uncomfortable effects.
31. Immortal Poems of the English Language (I worried that had yet to get to Donne but this volume covers it and Shelley too, if you like that sort of thing. I dislike Shelley but it is far from universal.)
32. Moby Dick (Suffers the same issue as Dickens but the themes are phenomenal)
33. Canterbury Tales
34. The Prince
35. The Faeire Queene (CS Lewis lauded Spenser. I have not read it. Jasper Fforde (I know he's no Lewis) calls Feaire Queene one of the deadliest dull books of all time and uses it to kill off one of his characters. This is also the man who roasts James Joyce in a few well chosen words, he would most likley be at home with JMR and DAW.)
36. Song of Roland (another buy from penguin classics for a quarter. Glorious!)
37. Through the Looking Glass
38. Alice in Wonderland
39. Paradise Lost
40. Boethius, the Consolation of Philosophy (I have not read this. Must put in the To Be Read Pile)
41. Cicero on Friendship and on Duties
42. Hobbes’ Leviathan (I have actively avoided Hobbes. When the word is a synonym for unrestrained, selfish barbarism you tend to avoid the work that coined the term. I know it is a critique of such a state of being. I still avoid it.)
43. Calvin’s Institutes (One cannot now seperate Calvin and Hobbes)
44. Anna Karenina
45. War And Peace (labored through this in 9th grade. If you read Tolstoy read the above or his Children's stories)
46. The Collected Poems of T.S. Elliot

The gentlemen go on to include a few books they read not only for edification but pure pleasure and so I will include a few of mine here: Perelandra and Till We Have Faces by CS. Lewis. I think nearly every philosophy Lewis later expounds upon are encompassed in one of those two books. Reason, Mercy, Forgiveness, Sin, Pain, Sacrifice, and Creation are all addressed in their relationships to God and they are cracking good reads.

Three Men in a Boat farce deserves a place among the great pantheon of literature and Jerome K. Jerome's sublime comedy beats out PG Wodehouse because I can not think of a single Wodehouse which sums up his cannon.

On the Shores of Silver Lakeby Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House? Great Literature? I often mention To Kill a Mockingbird as a Great American novel and have been remiss in mentioning Laura Ingalls Wilder's bedrock lit. Silver Lake recounts the turning points in Laura's life with spare, telling prose. Her sister's blindness causes her to sublimate her desires for the good of her family, her last season of unworried childhood with a wild cousin, her first glimspe of her future husband. In a few sentances the course of Laura's life and her motivations are explored, her understanding of adulthood and the American citizen's contract with God and Government is explored.

There are scads more but I think it's a good list to start on.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Quote of Today

From the Underground Grammarian:

Civilization is itself an institution and has, like all institutions, one paramount goal, its own perpetuation. It was Jefferson's dream that that civilization could best perpetuate itself in which the citizens were "educated," whatever he meant by that, and we do have some clue as to what he meant. He wrote of the "informed discretion" of the people as the only acceptable depository of power in a republic. He knew very well that the people might be neither informed nor discreet, that is, able to make fine distinctions, but held that the remedy for that was not to be sought in depriving the people of their proper power but in better informing their discretion.

And to what end were the people to exercise the power of their informed discretion? The answer, of course, shouldn't be surprising, but, because we have been taught to confuse government and its institutions with civilization in general, it often is. Jefferson saw the informed discretion of the people as one of those checks and balances for which our constitutional democracy is justly famous, for it was only with such a power that the people could defend themselves against government and its institutions. "The functionaries of every government," wrote Jefferson, although the italics are mine, "have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents." Jefferson knew--isn't this the unique genius of American constitutionalism? that government was a dangerous master and a treacherous servant and that the first concern of free people was to keep their government on a leash, a pretty short one at that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Giant Squid Attack California Coast

Really the header says it all. Giant squid are cannibals, it just gets better and better:
They are deadly, huge and fast moving. Their tentacles can suck the life out of a human being and they've arrived in Northern California.

They are giant squid. Nobody knows why, but for three years now fishing boats out of Bodega Bay have been catching the ink spewing fish by the droves.

"They feed like a pack of wolves, and what they'll do is they will force their prey to the surface," said sport fisherman Rick Powers. "And they just get themselves into an absolute feeding frenzy. These things are literally eating machines."

I am now invisioning a TV movie. "In a World..."
ht: Llama butchers

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No Clothes? No Telling!

UN out of US! Turtle Bay is a currupt joke.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Carnival of the Recipes - Irish Edition

I love Saint Patrick's Day. I get to pinch my kids for not wearing green until they realize I didn't pick out green clothes for them. The Verbalist, a skeptical six years, demanded the precedents for pinching. The Muralist, at four, didn't want to change because she likes getting pinched. The Littlest, at almost two, kept trying to swipe my coffee spiked with the Bailey's Irish Cream I had hoarded. I was going to post my own recipe for Corned Beef Sandwiches but who am I kidding, that's not really a recipe. Rye Bread? Check. Corned Beef? Check. Cream Cheese? Check. Bell Peppers? Check. Ok now I can read these scrumptious recipes without getting too hungry.

Drinks! What is Saint Patty's Day without a good drink or two?

Everything and Nothing the Irish Manhattan.

More 4 Kids posts three kid pleasing treats including an intriguing Shamrock Shake.

Soups, Stews and Sauces! Or the Three Esses as I like to say.

Kneadle Work has a Microwave Applesauce recipe.

Bean Sprouts has a Chinese Egg Soup.

Blog d'Ellison fires off a Garlic and Potato Soup designed to keep Vampires at bay.

Me-ander shares a microwave tomato sauce recipe.

Knerq showcases and Irish Stew Recipe.

Closing out this catagory, Slow Cooker recipes also submits a Irish Stew Recipe.

Breads and Side Dishes

Via Eat Your History is the Anchoress' Irish Soda Bread recipe.

It's the Irish Soda bread showdown! Our second recipe is from Diabetic Recipes.

Triticale Green Bean and Green Pea Cassarole

Dewey's Treehouse features Turnip Slaw

Empty Purse praises the versitility of the Potato.

Trinity Prep School (There's an Irish name for ya) has Unstuffed Cabbage.


Signaleer's Tuna Steaks with Mustard Butter

Rebuild From Depression's Caterpillar Recipe, no it's not a euphemism. For the less adventurous Moroccan Beef.

A-Team one-ups the competition with Granny Mac's Mac n' Cheese recipe. Who can compete with grandmas?

Electric Venom dines on Shrimp Linguine.

Chicken Recipes send us (what else?): Irish Roast Chicken and Crockpot Chicken and Veggies.

Desserts (Spelt with two esses because you want to spend as long as possible over it.)

Chocolate World's Chocolate Truffle Cake.

Lemon Triangles from In the Headlights.

Keewee's Corner brings out Caramel Meringue

MotherLoad has brilliant Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanutbutter Frosting.

Disease Proof posts and Oatmeal recipe that made the 6 year old Verbalist sit up and take notice.

World Famous Recipes submits the Irish Jig Dessert. It contains Sugar, Whiskey, and Cream need I tout it more?

Famous Recipes, do not confuse with the site above spotlights Irish Flag Cookies.

That is it. No Famine here just a feast full of recipes to dive into. Be sure and browse the sites of this weeks contributers. Happy Eating.

Carnival of the Recipes

I was supposed to host the Carnival this weekend but no recipes awaited me in the carnival inbox. I'm stumped. Perhaps I am in the wrong weekend.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Team

Via Llama-Butchers:

America's dollars and brain power at work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rabbit Flashing

I mow with the sole intent of keeping a jungle from springing up over night. I mow to warn the rest of the yard not to grow so fast and maybe, just maybe, I might not get to it for another week or so. Grass intimidation, my stock in trade.

The rabbits are out and dashing around in that kamikazi way that field rabbits in these parts do. The farmer behind us, not Farmer John but his neighbor, had plowed his fields and the seagulls were thick and white across it like a crop in bloom. The field in front of the house was plowed a week or so ago and the eagles have been diving that field for the rabbits.

I mowed in front of the barn today in that shady spot that sends up grass so thickly I feel as if I need a machete to deal with it properly. I made the unfortunate mistake of wearing low rise cargo pants to mow in. On the outset this seemed like a rational choice. I would not be sweating at the waistband and small of my back as I do when mowing in jeans. It was not so warm that shorts are an option and capri length cargo pants seem to meet the delicate balance of heating and cooling that mowing in mid March demands.

The sun is out and the wind was light. I was mowing and the kids each had a fresh bottle of bubbles to tease the Dog with. The Dog was running in circles. She was desperate to catch the bubbles and make her Her Children were where she could properly watch them and it seemed a mutually exclusive task. Finally, she concentrated on the Verbalist when the Muralist and the Littlest began to follow my perambulations around the barn yard. Through the growl of the mower I could hear the Muralist sing "The Ants Go Marching" at the top of her lungs. The verses were nonsensicle in a Carrollian fashion. She would sing one by one or two by two but the ants would slam a shoe or make some goo. By the time fives came round the ants "Miled a Pive". The Littlest just inserted random shreiks of ANTS! to the musical arias behind me. By eight the Muralist had grown bored with shrinking circles of lawn and peeled off to hit pine cones with sticks. The Littlest followed.

It was just as well, I was beginning to have problems with the cargoes. They were slipping dangerously low and taking the bikini underwear with them. If I were willing to take my hands off the mower I could hitch them up, but the mower has a engine choke bar because it it self propelled. If I took my hands from the mower I would have to start it again and I hate pulling the starter cord. So I waited until the last minute and just as I was about to stop my pants fell and a stealth dry rose bramble kicked up and swatted my now exposed bottom. It was the most rediculous thing I have experienced in a while and it was exacerbated by the impassive glance of a field rabbit sitting at the edge of the ditch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Writing News

I recovered some short stories I submitted for publication about a year ago and was pleased to find they were not awful. Too often you write something go back and read it later and ask yourself, "What was I thinking?" I didn't do that this time although I can now see why I was told they were great, fun stories but not suited for the venue. They weren't suited for the venue so I am going to repolish them and find another place to submit them.

Friday, March 09, 2007


This is for the Dear Husband:

I always knew Dwight was special.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Go Fly A Kite

The air has a definate springtime feel to it. I think it has to do with the wind having a well not warm, but mild edge to it. I'm quite a connoisseur of wind living where I do on looking out across the Pacific. Also the Vast Tract of Jungle Lawn has begun to grow again which means Spring is Here. I hauled out the lawn mower, gave it an oil change and started it up. The engine caught and roared to life and the children poured from the house, then turned ran into the house and came back out again wearing their coats. It was not cold but windy and soon everyone's cheeks and noses were bright red and eyes were sparkling.

I mowed the first large rectangle, trudging up and down the hill that comprises our front lawn. It is steep enough to be a workout but not so steep that you have much reason to complain without sounding like a weenie. The kids got bored of following me in ever decreasing rectangles so they found sticks and started hitting pinecones into the ditch. I finished my rectangle and decided that I was sick of marching in shrinking rectangles also so I got out a kite instead.

The Kite looks as if my four year old drew and colored a butterfly. It is black and yellow with screaming pink on the wings. The wind soughed through the trees and every now and then a gust would catch the kids' pinecones and skew them to the side before their sticks could connect - a good kite flying day. All the kite flying days of my kidhood seem saturated with sunshine, but there must have been some days like today - a brisk wind and rain clouds high overhead moving fast enough to pass you by.
I remember at least one session of flying my dragon kite until it rained.I remember reeling it in as fast as I could because I was scared to repeat Ben Franklin's tango with electricity.

The Muralist immediately ditched her sticks and came to help with the kite and a few minutes later the Verbalist did as well. Kite flying is a learned skill and it has been many years since I whiled away an afternoon getting a kite aloft. At last the Verbalist abandoned us to navigate the wind, he was too emotionally invested in the outcome. Everytime the kite crashed to the ground he flinched and looked for broken peices so he stoped watching and got out his bicycle instead.

The Muralist and I flew the kite awhile more and at last she too abandoned the kite for the allure of bicycles. There was a squwak from the girls' room and I went and got the Littlest up. She barely waited to be shod and coated before she ran laughing for the outdoors. She scooted with the older two then I got out bubbles for everyone and they held their wands to the wind and let the wind whip the bubbles across the yard at terrific speeds while the dog tried to catch them all.

Tired, hungry and chilled we trooped back into the house and washed up for dinner.

Know your Unphotogenic Congress Critter or Don't Vote

Hat tip to Jonah Goldberg. The Don't Vote test. Don't know who most of these folks are? Don't vote.

Among the media personalities thrown in there I almost got tripped up by Paris Hilton I thought she might be Jessica Simpson. But I guessed correctly and managed 100%.

Monday, March 05, 2007

That's All I Have to Say About That

or so says the imitible Forest Gump when he's forever done with a topic. From the American Mind:
An Open Letter to CPAC Sponsors and Organizers Regarding Ann Coulter

Conservatism treats humans as they are, as moral creatures possessing rational minds and capable of discerning right from wrong. There comes a time when we must speak out in the defense of the conservative movement, and make a stand for political civility. This is one of those times.

Ann Coulter used to serve the movement well. She was telegenic, intelligent, and witty. She was also fearless: saying provocative things to inspire deeper thought and cutting through the haze of competing information has its uses. But Coulter’s fearlessness has become an addiction to shock value. She draws attention to herself, rather than placing the spotlight on conservative ideas.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2006, Coulter referred to Iranians as “ragheads.” She is one of the most prominent women in the conservative movement; for her to employ such reckless language reinforces the stereotype that conservatives are racists.

At CPAC 2007 Coulter decided to turn up the volume by referring to John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate, as a “faggot.” Such offensive language–and the cavalier attitude that lies behind it–is intolerable to us. It may be tolerated on liberal websites but not at the nation’s premier conservative gathering.

The legendary conservative thinker Richard Weaver wrote a book entitled Ideas Have Consequences. Rush Limbaugh has said again and again that “words mean things.” Both phrases apply to Coulter’s awful remarks.

Coulter’s vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas.

Within a day of Coulter’s remark John Edwards sent out a fundraising email that used Coulter’s words to raise money for his faltering campaign. She is helping those she claims to oppose. How does that advance any of the causes we hold dear?

Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her “raghead” remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?

One of the points of CPAC is the opportunity it gives college students to meet other young conservatives and learn from our leaders. Unlike on their campuses—where they often feel alone—at CPAC they know they are part of a vibrant political movement. What example is set when one highlight of the conference is finding out what shocking phrase will emerge from Ann Coulter’s mouth? How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference? Coulter’s invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking.

CPAC sponsors, the Age of Ann has passed. We, the undersigned, request that CPAC speaking invitations no longer be extended to Ann Coulter. Her words and attitude simply do too much damage.

Sean Hackbarth

Me too.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

In Honor of Jim Baen

Baen Publishing is sponsoring a short story contest. Baen is looking for old school upbeat Rocketship to the stars stories:
Write a short story of no more than 8,000 words, that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration in a positive, exciting and hopeful way.
Moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice, adventure.
Stories where everyone dies, stories that show technology or space travel as evil or bad, dystopias, Star Wars type galactic empires, UFO abductions.

I am already 2,00 words into my entry. Who wants to be my first reader?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I love Iowahawk.

Damning Self With Faint Praise

From The Hill:

Richardson claims first place among second-tier candidates

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said yesterday that he is “alone” on the second tier of Democratic presidential candidates, claiming a solid lead over his closest rivals — Sens. Joseph Biden (Del.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.).

“We’ve moved into a solid fourth,” Richardson told reporters.

Speaking at the Latino Leaders Luncheon Series, Richardson told the crowd he had moved from registering 1 percent in polls up to 8 percent since getting in the race in late January, putting him in fourth place in the contest, behind Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.) and ex-Sen. John Edwards (N.C.).

You're out in front of Slow Joe and Chris Dodd. Congrats. Call me when you fall behind Edwards the Silky Pony, and close in on First Term and The Triangulator.

The Littlest Explained

My youngest child snuck up on me unawares. The Dear Husband and I had decided that for reasons of his health we were going to stop at the Muralist. Lo and behold the Littlest began my 9 month morning sickness only two weeks later. I have gotten quite a bit of ribbing about getting pregnant not long after Dear Husband exodused the hospital. But now I am going to blame the bulk of the responsibility on Tillamook and their unreasonably good Oregon Strawberry Ice Cream:
For a woman trying to conceive, the best prescription could be a knickerbocker glory. It might play havoc with her diet but the old-fashioned confection, made with cream and ice cream, could help her get pregnant, according to a study.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Approaching the Singularity?

I caught this on Hugh Hewitt's site.

Also look at this article from The Futurist:
One of the most popular dinner party conversation topics is the possibility that the United States will be joined or even surpassed as a superpower by another nation, such as China. China has some very smart people, a vast land area, and over four times the population of the US, so it should catch up easily, right? Let's assess the what makes a superpower, and what it would take for China to match the US on each pillar of superpowerdom.

A genuine superpower does not merely have military and political influence, but also must be at the top of the economic, scientific, and cultural pyramids. Thus, the Soviet Union was only a partial superpower, and the most recent genuine superpower before the United States was the British Empire.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Newbery Awards

David Frum paints with a broad, inaccurate brush when hrumphing agianst the Newbery award winners:
I suppose as a parent I should express shock. But actually, I have found the Newberry award a very helpful guide. My kids learned long ago that any book bearing the Newberry gold star is to be avoided like the plague. If not perverse, it will be vapid; if not politically correct, then it will be grimly didactic. We own hundreds of children's book, many contemporary - but no Newberry winners of later vintage than Johnny Tremain (1942). That saves a lot of time!

Here are my favorites since 1942:

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton)

1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

Granted there are some lean years in there but I think it a fallacy to call the above titles vapid, perverse, politically correct; possibly didactic, but grimly so? Shouldn't we look to literature to teach us something? When did a book with a moral become something to be upset about? Frum needs to loosen his corset strings before he faints of the vapors.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dollar Coins

Have you seen the new dollar coin the Mint is rolling out? The presidential depictions have an unfortuneate zombie aspect to them. John Miller at NRO says:
So the new $1 coins, featuring America's presidents much as recent quarters have featured the states, are about to roll out. The U.S. Mint has tried before to persuade Americans to abandon their paper dollars for coins. The two previous efforts, however, surrendered to feminist demands that the $1 coin feature a woman rather than a man. The Susan B. Anthony dollar failed in large part because it looked and felt too much like a quarter. The Sacajawea dollar, however, looked and felt nothing like a quarter. Yet it flopped as well. Was it because of a poorly chosen symbol? I have no idea. It may be that Americans are just too attached to their dollars bills, even though they are one of the least valuable forms of paper currency in the world. We'll see. For my part, I would have preferred a Reagan dollar.

The dollar coin flops because it is heavy. How many people have bought a book of stamps at a kiosk and cursed the plethora of dollar coins which the machine has spat at them? They weigh down your pocket or pocketbook. They cross the threshold of being valuable enough that you'd care if they rolled under the vending machine.

Still one more thing to take into account, cash register drawers. Cashiers go though more ones than any other denomination and to accomodate dollar coins cash register drawers would need to be significantly changed. That hasn't happened yet.

Linked at Basil's.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


have you seen Ice Age? It's an animated animal quest with Ray Romano as a pessimistic Wooly Mammoth and John Leguizamo as a comic, ladies lovin' sloth. The kids loved it, especially the burping jokes. If you were to take Ice Age as a guideline what movie would you recommend to my children? Flushed Away? Land Before Time? Ice Age 2: The Meltdown? No?

How about Independence Day?
On July 2nd, communications systems worldwide are sent into chaos by a strange atmospheric interference. It is soon learned by the military that a number of enormous objects are on a collision course with Earth. At first thought to be meteors, they are later revealed to be gigantic spacecraft, piloted by a mysterious alien species. After attempts to communicate with the aliens go nowhere, David Levinson, an ex-scientist turned cable technician, discovers that the aliens are going to attack major points around the globe in less than a day. On July 3rd, the aliens all but obliterate New York, Los Angeles, and Washington. The survivors set out in convoys towards Area 51, a strange government testing ground where it is rumored the military has a captured alien spacecraft of their own. The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens, and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom. July 4th is their Independence Day.
Oh yeah! Thanks Netflix! I'd have never dreamed showing this to my four year old without you!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lady Friday

The newest in the Keys of the Kingdom series will be out March 1. Whoo hoo! Says Nix:
The first real copy of Lady Friday (The Keys To The Kingdom) just arrived at my office. I never know whether the US, British or Australian advance copies will arrive first. This time the Aussie edition is the early bird.

I've been writing for 24 years and my first book (The Ragwitch) came out in 1991, but I still get excited when a new book of mine arrives. There is nothing quite like the real article, though galleys, bound proofs or advance reading copies are also welcome harbingers of impending publication.

This is my 21st book (I think) or 25th (if you count the tiny VERY CLEVER BABY books which may one day make a reappearance) and as always I wonder how I managed to finish it and also how on earth have I managed to write so many books. The answer, is of course, that it's taken almost a quarter of a century of constant work. Even so, I am still pleasantly surprised. I'm also greatly relieved that I started young :-)

In other news, I am delighted to have sold a story to Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for their forthcoming fairy tale villains anthology which is yet to find a title, I believe. My story is called "An Unwelcome Guest" and is a sideways look at the Rapunzel story.

I also have quite a long story -- almost a novelette -- coming up in
Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy , edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. There are some great contributors in this and I'm happy to be one of them. My piece for this anthology is called 'Holly and Iron' and is kind of a Robin Hood story. Only Robin is a girl and it takes places in an alternative Ingland shortly after that country's conquest by Normans and their iron magic. Which like nearly all summaries of stories sounds dumb and boring . . . the real story is much more interesting, I assure you!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Condecending, Ungrateful Cluelessness

I was going to share a quick amusing anecdote from the kids this morning, I will later, before I could type it out I made the mistake of reading some news and opinion. So, so, so. First a little background. Here's the video which started his out:

It is some soldiers from Fort Lewis saying that supporting the troops means more than lipservice and it's imperative that Americans back home support the mission even if they don't support specific policy. In other words, you have to want us to win to support the troops. OK?

Along comes William Arkin, activist turned writer for the WaPo who writes:
I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people.

The condesention of that made my mouth drop open and I just about left the article there. It's not for them to disapprove?! Last I looked these soldiers were citizens too Mr. Arkin, not subjugated lackeys who dare not have a differing opinion without reprisals.

These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.

Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

Sure, it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail. But even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We don't see very many "baby killer" epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon.

Oh yes, how lucky you are that you are not being spit on. Instead you get death threats while you are recovering in the hospital or spat at by idiots spraying graffiti on the Capital Building.

I could go on but I am too angry. Instead I will let the inestimable Lileks answer for me because he is not going to decend into profanity the way I want to. Arkin is italicized.
So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?

As for the obscene amenities, I recall putting together that package to send to the troops a month ago. Foot and hand warmers were requested. I realize now they were just stockpiling those things in case the fancy propane-fired boots run low, and the fur-lined Gucci gloves get swiped by the locals. Fine. I heard the other day that some bases have fast-food outlets. They have a Subway stand. And you can just walk to it. Me, I have to drive. And find a parking place. And they don’t give stamps anymore. I suspect the Subway stand in Iraq gives stamps. Right now I’d imagine there’s some guy who’s paid a decent wage whose family back home in a nice house with freshly painted cinder block walls is sitting in his bunk (with a blanket he got for free, no doubt) licking the stamps that bring him ever closer to a free six incher. With meatballs. And he has the nerve to have an opinion about other people’s opinions.

No, that’s not fair; he’s entitled to his opinion. But it’s another thing to express it. It’s almost as if the actual troops think they have some sort of absolute moral authority to have an opinion, and this gives them the right to express themselves without considering the impact that might have on people who disagree. They do have a moral authority, but only when they’re killed, and it transfers immediately to the closest relative who disagreed with the mission.

Yeah as for the obcene amenities being enjoyed by my brother in law right now? An extra footlocker. Extra two feet of storage and a single beer on a sqad mate's birthday. Watchout! They might demand cake next. A little bit later:

The coup de gracelessness occurs in the next paragraph:

But it is the United States and instead this NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.

Oops, indeed. That just slipped out. He temporarily forgot the patriotism that motivates many, and provides a definitional difference between mercs and volunteer soldiers, but thank God he caught himself in time. As for that dirty work, it is best understood in terms of soiled linen, which wives are ALWAYS complaining about. We don’t do the laundry, we don’t do it right, we mix the bloody clothes with the silk shirts, et cetera:

The notion of dirty work is that, like laundry, it is something that has to be done but no one else wants to do it. But Iraq is not dirty work: it is not some necessary endeavor; the people just don't believe that anymore.
I'll accept that the soldiers, in order to soldier on, have to believe that they are manning the parapet, and that's where their frustrations come in. I'll accept as well that they are young and naïve and are frustrated with their own lack of progress and the never changing situation in Iraq. Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.

Dear lambs, confused by Robust Debate, thinking that the big package of letters from the elementary school back home means more than last Tuesday’s editorial in the Times.