Saddam Hussein, the new Elvis.
In a most bizarre stories ever heard, some people in Baghdad are claiming that they are seeing Saddam’s ghost in Baghdad public areas. Sources say, this may be a plot by the Baathists to keep Saddam ‘alive’ among the Sunni communities.
Some claim he is seen in restaurants, markets and so on. It is possible many Saddam look-alikes are now more prominent and people are mistaking these look-alikes as possible Saddam. It is also possible that Saddam was such a threat that people just cannot believe he is dead and not coming back.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
British scientists are on the verge of producing a revolutionary flu vaccine that works against all major types of the disease.
Described as the 'holy grail' of flu vaccines, it would protect against all strains of influenza A - the virus behind both bird flu and the nastiest outbreaks of winter flu.
If this vaccine works as anticipated, I predict that the media will rediscover their abject terror over ebola in record time.
The death penalty can easily be misused for repression. Saddam's regime was exhibit 'A'. However, there are some crimes that are so heinous, so offensive to human life, that the way justice can truly be done is by taking the offender's life. Today Saddam Hussein was held accountable to his victims and justice was done.
Former President Gerald R. Ford questioned the Bush administration's rationale for the U.S. invasion and war in Iraq in interviews he granted on condition they not be released until after his death.
In his embargoed July 2004 interview with The Washington Post, Ford said the Iraq war was not justified, the Post reported Wednesday night.
I'm not disappointed because of the nature of his opinion; I'm disappointed because he chose to embargo these comments until after his death. If he believed that, then he should have come right out and said so at the time so we could ask follow up questions on his thoughts. Instead he released these comments at a time where it is impossible to question him and difficult to even criticize the comments. It was almost cowardly. And any argument that he was too old and tired to respond to the comments doesn't cut it with me.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The joke is clearly on the 'old media'. The rap WTMJ showed was barely deserving of a few hits on whatever video site it was on. Not all new media material is deserving of a wide audience. Just because a certain piece of content exists in the internet does not mean it is worthwhile. WTMJ didn't seem to 'get' that key aspect of the new media yet. Yes, user driven content does create a lot of interesting new view points, but the key is only the cream rises to the top.
Good luck, Fred!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A Spanish surgeon who has just examined Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday he is making a good recovery from intestinal surgery, does not have cancer, and could return to governing his country.
Castro's disappearance from the public eye after emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding in July sparked frenzied speculation about his state of health but surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido said the communist leader was in good condition.
This counterintuitive propaganda is something the Soviet regimes and their satellite states perfected. It is absurd, which is what makes it amusing. Expect an announcement in the coming weeks/months that the Comrade has developed a bad cold. He'll catch his death, so to speak.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
I can't wait to go to northwestern Wisconsin for a couple of days. At least we will have a white Christmas there. Hopefully.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
1. a noisy dispute or quarrel; commotion.
This word, which is primarily used by the Brits, can be found in what seems like every third headline originating from the U.K. On any given day, you will stumble upon row at Reuters, the BBC, and any number of British newspaper websites. For 2007, Jiblog asks that the major British media and new organizations purchase their headline writers a thesaurus.
Two Christmas grinches were arrested Monday, accused of stabbing a 12-foot-tall inflatable Frosty the snowman with a screwdriver. The Hamilton County Sheriff's office said two 18-year-olds were charged with criminal damaging, and the investigation continues to snowball.
The assault on Frosty was caught on tape when homeowner Matt Williquette set up a motion-sensitive video camera in a tree in his yard because the snowman had fallen victim to two earlier attacks.
You know how pets will occasionally get agitated by something they have no reason to fear or be angry with? I'm kind of like that with these inflatable decorations. I fear I may start barking uncontrollably when driving past them one day. These guys are vandals and they deserve whatever punishment they get. But in some small but illegal way they did us a favor.
I guess I'm as snobby as the New York Times.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a significant setback in nationwide elections held on Friday for municipal councils and a key supervisory body, with voters evidently rebuking him for failing to deliver on promises to improve the economy.
Although results from the councils were still coming in on Monday, the tally so far indicated that candidates from the reformist and pragmatic conservative camps — the two main groups opposing the populist, hard-line president — emerged stronger from the vote. Presidential allies took a drubbing in important cities.
Municipal elections reflect the voters’ feelings on basic concerns like growing unemployment and the slumping real estate market, according to analysts inside Iran and overseas. Domestic problems eclipse the more notorious issues to which the president has drawn international attention, like developing nuclear technology or questioning the Holocaust.
Iran's economic problems are our best hope of applying pressure on them. Diplomacy means nothing to them. Let's hope that there are enough forward thinkers in Washington to sieze upon this. It isn't a silver bullet for the problems Iran is causing across the Middle East and the world, but it is a damn good starting place.
Not that I'm complaining. These lulls help recharge the batteries. Sometime in January things will start to fire back up again. Politics will have meaning. The world will change a little more and we'll need to re-engage it, sometimes with new ideas, sometimes with old. I think it is best to relax right now, enjoy the company of family and friends, and be ready to come back out blogging en force after the New Year. Now is the time for the fun writing, the quirky posts, and the nostalgic looks at the holiday season. We'll be back confronting reality soon enough.
Monday, December 18, 2006
On Monday, Tiger Stadium, perhaps for the final time, will be open to visitors.
But not just anybody is invited. Only representatives of companies readying bids to remove and auction parts of the old ballpark at Michigan and Trumbull will be allowed inside for a look.
There is a group that wants to preserve the stadium. I'm sympathetic towards them, but I was past that stadium years ago when the Tigers still played there, and it looked rough then. Still, I think the day is coming when someone will propose a way to preserve the facade of these historic old ballparks while turning the inside of the stadium into something economically viable.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
9. Santa has been treating himself to the Olive Garden after mall visits in Indiana. EPA worried about unlawful dumping in American chimneys.
8. The local Elves Union #1225 was on strike much of the year. Their demands? More sugar and better health benefits.
7. Santa is a Canadian citizen. As such, he's been waiting 8 months for a quadruple bypass.
6. Santa's new sleigh is subject to a recall by Toyota.
5. After Santa found elf briefs under the bed last Christmas, he doesn't want to let Mrs. Clause out of his sight.
4. Rudolph tore a hamstring while kicking a field goal during the filming of a Budweiser Super Bowl commerical. Will be out 4 to 6 weeks.
3. U.S. Congress concerned about outsourcing of U.S. toy production to North Pole. May slap punative tariffs on Santa to protect U.S. toy industry.
2. Santa is still waiting in line at a Best Buy Day after Thanksgiving sale.
1. Santa fears violence at many homes because even he couldn't get Playstation 3's this year.
In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission today adopted, but hasn't yet released, the long-awaited Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235, the "Morse code" proceeding. Also today, the FCC adopted an Order on Reconsideration in WT Docket 04-140 -- the "omnibus" proceeding -- modifying the Amateur Radio rules in response to an ARRL request to accommodate automatically controlled narrowband digital stations on 80 meters in the wake of rule changes that became effective today at 12:01 AM Eastern Time.
I have heard from people involved in amateur radio that the number of operators has been decreasing in the internet era. If so, I'd have to guess that would be the reason that the FCC is dropping morse code requirements. In doing so, they are really dropping one of the biggest barriers to amateur radio participation. I held an amateur radio license for 10 years before I let expire without renewal in 2000. The hardest part for me in getting that license was becoming proficient enough in morse code. At the same time, the morse code communications were also the most charming part of amateur radio.
Friday, December 15, 2006
First, the instability in Iraq is not optimal for our purposes. However, the instability that does exist there at least opens up some some opportunities to reduce the instability. First off, the instability in Iraq has the Saudis a little antsy, correct? They are threatening to support the Iraqi Sunni if we bail. Since it is a realistic possibility that we might bail, why not use that as leverage? Tell the Saudis this: We'll stick around and continue to work on stabilizing Iraq, but you, Saudi Arabia, need to do something for us. If you keep pumping as much oil as you can, regardless of whatever limits OPEC sets, other OPEC oil producers will follow your lead. This will press oil prices lower. Were not talking $12 a barrel prices here, but still significant decreases. The one country that can probably least afford to see oil prices drop is Iran. That would play into the next step-instability that benefits us and Iraq.
Iran's economy has been bad and the Iranian government is very dependent on oil revenues. Lower oil prices will exacerbate that. Now Iran has been giving off the appearance of strength through all of its bluster the past year, but internally Iran is not as strong as it appears. First and most importantly, Ayatollah Khamenei is quite ill and it is unlikely he will live another year. There is likely a behind the scenes power struggle going on in Iran right now for the right to be his successor. Secondly, there has been discontent nationwide over the economy. Ahmadinejad's promises on the economy and relief were part of what got him his position. Third, students in Iran have been restless. Fourth, there are ethnic minorities in Iran, too, and there has been enough discontent amongst them that there are some areas of Iran that Ahmadinejad has not visited yet despite a promise to visit all parts of the country. None of those things alone are enough to cause Iran much trouble. If their economy gets much worse, though, all of those problems intensify and start to play off of each other a little. If you can get the Saudis to go along with the oil plan and prices do depress, even to $45 or $50 a barrel, then you put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Iranian economy at a time when they are also trying to invest funds in their nuclear program. With that much instability internally in Iran, their focus is going to have to turn inward in an attempt to maintain control over their own internal security. That will hopefully at least lessen the hand they are playing in both Iraq via the Shi'ite militias and also Lebanon via Hezbollah. That would give us an opening to stabilize Iraq at the very least and hopefully give Lebanon the chance to steel itself against Hezbollah. With any luck, things even get a little out of hand in Iran, which would leave Syria on an island, which would give us our greatest chance of prying them away from Iran.
So what I am saying in a slightly rambling manner is why not use Iraqi instability in a way that can create instability in Iran? Iran is the major outside problem for Iraqi stability. If we can force Iran to turn inward to deal with serious domestic problems, then we lessen the amount they can encourage the insurgency in Iraq and, by extension, the amount that Syria can do. It doesn't solve the age old conflict between Sunni's and Shi'ites, but without Iran stirring the pot as much, it makes the friction between the two more manageable.
Is this plan perfect? No. Afterall, I just cobbled it together with some thoughts I've been mulling over. And if we did something like this, we'd certainly need other prongs of action to shore up Iraq. There is enough to it though that I think we can use Middle East instability to our advantage if we play our cards right. The problem with playing with instability is that you can end up with unintended consequences. Unfortunately, instability is the name of the game right now, and I'm beginning to think we need to start playing it ourselves.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
What are some simple steps or creative ideas that people can take at home and work to combat global warming?
In a statement, Titanic Leo said this about his question:
"We can all be environmentalists," DiCaprio, 32, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Creating communities online that are interested in discussing and embracing smart, simple and serious solutions reminds us we can all take action in our own homes and where we work."
I have been motivated by Leo's question, so I am going to share three things that I think we all can do to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce global warming, and live in warm, fuzzy harmony with our environment.
1. We should all stop or greatly reduce our use of private planes. Yes, I know this is hard. So many of us would rather go to that interview in New York or to that vacation in Africa on our private planes. It is nerve wracking to fly commercial with all of the riff-raff. But by taking commercial flights, we can all save on wasted jet fuel used to just fly ourselves to and fro across the globe. We Americans are so inconsiderate that way.
2. We all love a little glamour in our lives once in a while. I for one am going to sacrifice for the planet, though. Next time the lovely Mrs. Jib and I go out on the town, we are not going to rent that stretch limo unless we can pack it tighter than a clown car. That's a lot of gas to transport around just two or four people. Instead, the next time we go to an awards event for work, we're going to take the bus.
3. Don't buy that second mansion! This one is tough for all of us. I know that when I want to get away for a while, I like to go to my mansion in the Northwoods where I can relax with all of the comforts of home. Unfortunately, that mansion still has big energy requirements the 360 days out the year when I'm not there. Instead do what I plan to do. Turn that second mansion into a hippy co-op. They'll appreciate having a roof, they are incredible at not using much energy (especially wash water), and what little energy they do use will get split amongst the 100 of them or so that live there. Oh, I'm not going to give up on my retreat. I'm going to buy a 1 room cabin that was built by the Conservation Corps. It doesn't have electricity or running water, but who needs that?
These are just three things that I think we all can do to help the environment, whether you are Joe Blow or Leonardo DiCaprio.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Talk of the Senate balance came from all directions-left, center, right, and the media. It has been a little unseemly to watch people discuss what could happen in the event that Johnson could not continue in the Senate without even knowing if his condition were serious yet. This is one incident where Democrats have every right to get their rhetorical rifles out in order to start shooting at all the vultures.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Some of the scientists who first advanced the controversial "nuclear winter" theory more than two decades ago have come up with another bleak forecast: Even a regional nuclear war would devastate the environment.
Using modern climate and population models, researchers estimated that a small-scale nuclear conflict between two warring nations would cause 3 million to 17 million immediate casualties and lead to a marked cooldown of the planet that could lead to crop failures and further misery.
As dire as the predictions seem, they fall short of nuclear winter. That theory says that smoke and dust from an atomic war between the superpowers would blot out the sun, plunge the Earth into the deep freeze and cause mass starvation, wiping out 90 percent of the Earth's population, or billions of people.
Let me get this straight...if there is a small nuclear war somewhere on the planet, the planet will get cooler? And in this day of global warming hyperventilation, that's bad? So if I am to understand this correctly, the globe must always stay the same temperature, year after year after year. Yeah, that's likely.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Since it is possible to destroy Israel with just one bomb, the Americans should be asking themselves what Iran needs all those other bombs for. There are senior military sources in the US who have been warning the administration to take into consideration that the day that Iran attacks Israel with a nuclear bomb, 10 cities in the US and Europe are liable to also be attacked with nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, no one is listening to these voices today.
I'm not concerned with the point of Glick's column, just the significance of this one paragraph. From a strategic standpoint, Iran nuking Israel and Israel alone would be an act of pure national suicide. Given the Ahmadinejad's public statements the past year, it would be fair to say that he does not fear the destruction of Iran if it furthers the cause of Shia Islam and that of the 12th Imam. Still, even I don't think he is that crazy. An attack on Israel would invite a nuclear response against Iran by Israel's allies, but what if Iran could forestall that counterattack? How do you do that? By creating chaos in Israel's nuclear allies by attacking their cities while attacking Israel. Chances are Iran would still be obliterated, but now there is that small chance that Iran might actually be able to sue for peace without being anhilated. Either way, in Ahmadinejad's mind, Iran gets its victory over Israel and furthers the cause of Islam and the 12th Imam. In one situation, Iran is destoyed and it's martyrdom is a call to arms for like-minded Muslims. In the other situation, Iran declares total victory over the West and survives.
How likely is this scenario? Well, it would certainly be tough for Iran to pull off. If they acquire missiles capable of hitting Europe and the United States, the counter-attack would be on its way before the Iranian missiles hit the ground. If they tried to smuggle nukes into Europe or the U.S., the odds are in favor of at least one weapon being discovered in time for the others to be rooted out.
The big point here is this: When it comes to Iran and nuclear weapons, I think a lot of people in Europe and the United States are disinterested because Iran's preoccupation with Israel makes them feel safe from Iranian nukes. But nobody should feel safe. If Iran is predisposed to a first nuclear strike against Israel, then it only makes sense for them to deliver nuclear terror into the nations capable of retribution as well. It would be their only outside chance of surviving.
Purists may find it hard to find faults with the holy cow, but for hard nosed scientists, they are the single largest contributors to the malady of global warming. A recent study has revealed that cow flatulence is to a great extent responsible for global warming and the green house effect. British researchers have found that bovine emissions account for about one million tonnes or roughly 36 percent of the UK's methane emissions, and cows contribute the vast majority of it.
I want the EPA to crack down on bovine emissions. I want to see them force farmers to grow reformulated grass for the cows to graze on. I want a requirement that forces cows to be fitted with cowtalytic converters. I want to see them require breeders to re-engineer cows so they include EGR devices.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
That's why I have so much respect for people who really get into the local issues. There is a new blog out there that is focusing in on my city, Fort Atkinson. I hope that 'Ellis Wyatt' finds enough material to work with to keep churning out posts at Watchdog Fort Atkinson. I enjoyed his second post at the site, "One Headline You Will Never See" (Fort Atkinson City Council Solves Global Warming). Good luck, Ellis. I'll be reading.
Friday, December 08, 2006
A Muslim convert who talked about his desire to wage jihad against civilians was charged Friday in a plot to set off hand grenades at a shopping mall at the height of the Christmas rush, authorities said.
Investigators said Derrick Shareef, 22, an American citizen from Rockford, was acting alone and never actually obtained any grenades. He was arrested Wednesday when he met with an undercover agent in a parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a gun, authorities said.
"He fixed on a day of December 22nd on Friday ... because it was the Friday before Christmas and thought that would be the highest concentration of shoppers that he could kill and injure," said Robert Grant, the agent in charge of the Chicago FBI Office.
This is, for me, a little scarier than some other threats. First, that mall is an hour down the road from me and I've shopped there a handful of times. Second, I am going to be off on December 22nd, and who knows if fate would have found me at the CherryVale Mall in search of last minute Christmas gifts that day. Although I've been loathe to give voice to the idea, I think Sean's terror assessment is correct. This kind of thing is much more frightening to most Americans because everyone is vulnerable to it.
I haven’t engaged much in the parlor game of identifying mistakes in the occupation, because none of them (and there were many) reached a magnitude of those in World War II (e.g., daylight bombing without fighter escort in 1942-3, intelligence failures about the hedgerows, surprise at the Bulge, etc) or Korea (surprise at the Yalu). Nor were any fatal to our cause, despite the ‘disbanding’ of the army, Abu Ghraib, etc. If there were any serious blunders, they concerned the sense of hesitation that gave our enemies confidence—the sudden departure of Gen. Franks, the pullback from first Fallujah, the reprieve given Sadr, etc. In other words, once we were in a war, whatever public downside there was to using too much force was far outweighed by losing our sense of control and power, and ceding momentum to the terrorists. So we can learn from that, and begin again cracking down hard on the insurgents before calling for more troops.
While circumstance made us a hegemon, we've never played the part, regardless of what anti-American protestors might say. What has developed over the past ten to fifteen years is a huge sucking power vacuum in opposition to us, right in that place the Soviet Union used to occupy. Today we are watching parts of the world test their mettle as a global power counter-balances to us. This can be seen in Europe, in Russia and China, in Iran and the Middle East, and also in an ideology, Radical Islam. These global power wannabes do not conflict often with one another, but they do conflict frequently with us because we are the benchmark by which their power will be measured.
It is too late for us to fill that power vacuum left by both the Soviet fall and our reluctance for more power, not that we ever really wanted to fill it ourselves, anyway. We would be well advised to understand that things are going to remain quite unstable until some nation(s) or ideology does fill that power vacuum opposite us, though.
Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.
Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.
But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.
Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zaqat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.
Is it concerning that private Saudi citizens are supporting the minority Iraqi Sunni? Yes, a little bit, but not as concerning as the state support that the majority Shi'ites are likely getting from Iran and Syria. It is chic for the media to try to point out Saudi faults, but organizations like the AP really should be focusing harder on the involvement of Iran and Syria in the mess that is Iraq. Saudis fear a bloodbath for their Sunni cousins in Iraq at the hands of Shi'ites that are supported by Iran, so I don't see them (the Saudis) as the root of the problem.
One book that I never though got the attention it deserved earlier on in the war was The Secret History of the Iraq War by Yossef Bodansky. I remember driving from New Jersey to Philadelphia one day in 2004 and listening to the book discussed on the radio. Since I had some time before my flight out of Philly, I stopped in a bookstore and became engrossed by it. I had no way of vouching for the facts in the book, but Bodansky painted a very clear picture of a war where the Russians were less than helpful and the Iranians were elbow deep in the events in Iraq. That was over two years ago, and I suspect it has only gotten worse with the Iranians.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
FDR's Address to Congress, December 8th, 1941
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Nintendo Co. Ltd. has some cautionary advice for players of its Wii video game console: when waving the controller, use the wrist strap, keep your palms dry and, whatever you do, don't let go.
The Wii has been pitched as a cheap alternative to pricier machines from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., but some gamers complain they are facing unexpected costs after losing their grip on the console's remote control and smashing their televisions and other appliances.
I know a knob is not attractive and stylish, but they had to have seen this coming.
(Disclosure: I'm actually not all that interested in this story, but I was excited about making the Wiipon Wii pun in the title).
An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.
The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a "body odor," Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.
In all fairness, lighting the match was very bad idea, even if it was considerate. I've flown next to people who I wish would have lit a match, but it would tend to rile up the other passengers. In the post 9-11 world, we share in one anothers' farts, kind of like in marriage.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Unveiling the agency's bold plan for a return to the moon, NASA said it will establish an international base camp on one of the moon's poles, permanently staffing it by 2024, four years after astronauts land there.
It is a sweeping departure from the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and represents a new phase of space exploration after space shuttles are retired in 2010.
My only complaint is the long time frame for this project. I'd have much preferred to see NASA challenged to do this in a shorter (but still safe) time frame.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Gathering with reporters at Independence Hall, the animated Founders opened the press conference with a statement by Benjamin Franklin.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we gather with you today to make one request upon all Americans: Please stop trying to divine our opinions as if we were modern Americans. We do not have access to television where we are, and frankly, what we've seen in our return scares the hell out of us. You've made some remarkable advances, but we don't understand them. Because we don't understand them, we don't understand your present society. Why, just one day last week my soul was hit with 10,000 statements that claimed the founders would not approve of warrantless wire taps. I turned to Sam (Adams) and said, 'I don't know what they are doing down there, but if there is good ale in those wires, I don't see a reason why they would need a warrant to tap them.' (Laughter) Then old Sam said 'You devil, Ben. There wasn't a female in our day you wouldn't tap.' (More laughter). Anyway, we beseech you to stop divining our opinions. It is seriously disturbing our ever after. We hope that our fellow countrymen have carried on the principals that we believed in, but this is your country now. You have to make what we bequeathed you work or have the courage to start anew."
The first 12 questions from reporters went to Thomas Jefferson, all asking about his relationship with Sally Hemmings. Jefferson, clearly frustrated, angrily told the reporters, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Hemmings," before vaporizing.
When asked his opinion about the Iraq War, President Washington reacted in a stunned fashion and posed a question back to reporters.
"What is wrong with this America? What kind of stewards have you been of this nation? We would never have gone to war over a rack back in my day. And who exactly did we fight over a rack?"
The breakdown in communication between reporters and the Founders continued when one reporter asked about Guantanamo and President Adams made a derogatory slur when asking whether Guantamo was the Native American that Chester A. Arthur kept complaining about.
At that point, a frustrated Franklin called an abrupt end to the press conference and the Founders dissipated into a mist while reporters continued screaming questions. Most reporters present expect the approval ratings of President Washington, President Jefferson, and President Adams to drop after this performance.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A DEVELOPING WINTER STORM IS FORECAST TO TRACK FROM THE MID
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY THURSDAY NIGHT TO THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES BY
FRIDAY. THE TRACK OF THIS STORM IS FAVORABLE FOR PRODUCING HEAVY
SNOW IN EXCESS OF 6 INCHES FOR MUCH OF SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN. IN
ADDITION STRONG NORTHEAST WINDS MAY PRODUCE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW.
Sitting here without a snowblower, I'm really, really hoping they're wrong about this one.
I bought one and, thanks to my brother-in-law, got it home tonight (special thanks to Chris who offered to help me transport the snowblower as well). So this means that Jefferson County will not see a flake of snow from this storm.
Britney Spears is behaving more like her soon to be ex-husband, Kevin Federline, than a pop princess on the verge of a career comeback.
Fresh from her split from the club-hopping Federline, Spears looked hip and wholesome weeks ago in a surprise appearance on David Letterman's show and while ice skating in New York's Rockefeller Center in a Gap sweater. But now she's unleashing her inner wild child, running around with party girls Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, sporting unflattering hair extensions and flashing her apparently panty-less crotch to the paparazzi. (Be prepared to cringe if you dare to view the uncensored photos, splashed unceremoniously across the Web).
If I've said it once then I've said it a hundred times. Spears ain't a high class gal, and anyone who expects her to be is setting expectations Spears is never going to meet. This is a woman who I really think would have been content to be living in an old trailer park in Louisiana with a guy she married in high school, all the while being almost continually pregnant. If she weren't flashing her cooter to paparazzi, she'd be hanging clothes on a clothesline wearing nothing but a towel that was two inches too short (it happens, I've seen it, folks.)
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
For decades, college gates have opened wider and wider to the American public, with more whites and minorities attending than ever before. But that expansion is under strain in the face of rising costs and faster growth of minority populations long left behind in the march to graduation.
A new report released Monday from the National Conference of State Legislatures sounds the alarm: For every 100 ninth graders, only 18 will enter college and finish within six years.
"These results simply are not good enough," concludes the report, which was compiled by a bipartisan commission over 18 months.
To help more students earn diplomas, higher education and the states that oversee much of the system need to tackle spiraling tuition, poor college preparation, and the lack of help to keep students moving toward a degree, say experts.
Okay, now let's look at some of the particulars that really stuck out in my mind.
The financial burdens appear to be making it more difficult for low-income students to complete a degree. Of students starting at a four-year college in 1996, only 50 percent of those from households making $25,000 or less ended up with a bachelor's degree by 2001, compared with 74 percent of students from households making $70,000 or more.
I don't really get this one. The article discusses how reliant students have become on student loans. I was no different. I had a couple of small scholarships, but the majority of my schooling was paid for with student loans. I did not go to the top school that accepted me but rather the top school I could afford given my financing. I did not feel the pain of the tuition once during my college years. I felt it after my college years, no doubt, but not once during my college years. Still, a college education is one of those assets in life that are worth the debt. Given all of the college options available to students today and the ready availability of loans that do not have to be paid back until after graduation and the flexibility in repayment, I don't see how this can be an excuse unless students are poorly managing the financial options available to them or insisting on going to schools they cannot afford.
Working while in school also depresses graduation rates. In those same years, 65 percent of those who did not work graduated, while only 31 percent who worked full time did so.
Let's make sure we get the cause and effect straight on this one. Is working really the problem, or are students who are less into school more likely to find a job and prefer doing it to going to school? My wife and I both worked full time while in school, and while it was not easy, we made it work. I know other people who could have made it work, too, but they just weren't that interested in going to school and they ended up taking the job over finishing school.
Indiana is striking a bargain with its poor and lower-middle-class eighth graders: Maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average through high school, stay out of drugs and alcohol, and take the right set of classes, and we'll pay your in-state college tuition.
Hoorah for Indiana for its benevolence, but is this really such a good idea? First of all, by setting the floor at a 2.0 GPA, they aren't exactly motivating these kids to excel academically prior to college. Some of those 2.0 students I'm sure could do much better but they can coast and still get their tuition paid for, and coasting just isn't going to cut for them in college. Academically, they'll be totally unprepared for what is expected of them. Secondly, I shudder at the sight of kids that don't have to worry about paying for their own schooling. Many handle it well, and I mean no offense to those that do, but many others never take their college education seriously because they really don't have anything personally on the line. I saw many more kids who didn't have to pay a cent drop out my freshman and sophomore years than kids who had their own money tied up in their educations. Indiana's intentions may be good, but their methods are weak and I don't think this little experiment is going to turn out the way they expect. In fact, it may exacerbate the graduation problem.
Oklahoma offers a similar program. Texas has a variation on the theme: Finish college within five years and maintain a 3.0 grade point average and all tuition loans will be forgiven.
This is better as it incentifies students to excel and finish school, but at the same time I don't think full ride higher education is the responsibility of the taxpayer. There may be a return on investment argument that can be made, but I'm not sure how strong that argument is.
State legislatures also have control over the spending of public colleges and universities, meaning they could in theory drive down tuition increases by curbing spending. But higher education - both public and private - is under tremendous pressure to provide more amenities to students.
That pressure is much more internal and illusory than anyone wants to believe. In other words, most in state Wisconsin students are not going to choose a Wisconsin school over an out of state school because the Wisconsin schools have newer, prettier buildings. They are choosing those Wisconsin schools over out of state schools and in state private schools because of cost, proximity to home, and the programs offered. Instead, that tremendous pressure is in part a myth that university systems are glad to spread not because they are in dire need of these capital improvements but because they really, really want the things that the money is being spent on and the pressure story helps them get them.
I don't have much sympathy for many of the arguments in this story. If students want that college diploma and the career benefits that come with it, then they have to reach out and grab it, period. Even most poor & lower middle class kids should be able to overcome the financial part of the deal. I should know. I was on my own for my schooling. I passed up an opportunity for a full ride because I did not believe it was the right thing for me to do, much to my father's consternation. I worked hard, I accepted that I'd have debt throughout my twenties, got a couple of scholarships, and I made it work. You can only guide people so far towards all of the good things you want for them. At some point they need to want those things, too, and be willing to work hard and guide themselves to those ends. I know that I am brushing in broad strokes here, so you exceptions to some of the things I've discussed should not take it personally, but there are many others out there that probably should. Many people who do not graduate college don't have the system to blame but themselves.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
One squirrel got a fiery surprise when it apparently got curious about a chimney. The squirrel fell down a chimney at a Two Rivers home and landed in a fire in a fireplace Monday night, said Two Rivers Assistant Fire Chief Gary Shavlik.
The squirrel escaped the fire and ran around the house, Shavlik said.
Firefighters later caught it and called Wildlife of Wisconsin, an agency that helps wild animals. The squirrel suffered from bloody paws.
There was no fire damage and the squirrel is alive, Shavlik said.
Never trust a tree rat and always keep a fire going.
Monday, November 27, 2006
1. The election was weeks ago.
2. Gutknecht was running for a seat in Minnesota. This is Wisconsin.
3. He lost.
Gil, the RNC, Charter, somebody please stop showing that ad. Cancel future placements.
Canada's Parliament recognized Quebecers as a nation within a united Canada on Monday, backing a controversial proposal that has already prompted one minister in the minority Conservative government to quit.
The House of Commons, Parliament's elected chamber, voted 266 to 16 in favor of the motion, which the government said it saw as a way to head off pressure from separatists who want to break away from Canada.
But critics said the proposal could actually bolster the separatists, and the pro-independence Bloc Quebecois said it would use the change to demand extra powers, including Quebec's right to speak at international meetings.
This heads off nothing. It is just a feeble attempt to avoid the inevitable, to put off until tomorrow that which would be better dealt with today.
So, a question for all of my readers. Should Canada one day dissolve, and should its western provinces then petition the United States for statehood (a possibility that seems to come up whenever Quebec's secessionist movement fires up), do we accept them?
For more Get Fuzzy, which is typically more left leaning, go here.
THE break-up of the United Kingdom became a stark possibility last night as thousands of English and Scottish voters demanded home rule.
Most people on both sides of the border want their countries to “divorce” after almost 300 years together, according to a poll.
It showed that more than half of Scots and three out of five English folk want the two countries to go it alone. And thousands more want breakaway governments for Wales and Northern Ireland, too.
The survey revealed that backing for Scottish home rule has hit 52 per cent among Scots and 59 per cent south of the border.
Two-thirds — 68 per cent — of English people quizzed want their own parliament, an idea supported by 58 per cent of Scots.
And almost half of English voters — 48 per cent — want complete independence.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The lovely Mrs. Jib and I had purchased a couple of strings of LED Christmas lights for our backyard. I had anticipated that LED lights would be hot, and we bought ours early. We put them up the day before Thanksgiving and we were pleased with how bright the pine cone shaped lights were. Then on Saturday night one of the strands did not turn on. I found that one of the dumb assed squirrels thought the lights were actually a pine cone or nut of some sort and it had chewed one of the lights off of its wire. Unfortunately, it did this during the day and not when the lights were on. We've searched 3 Walmarts, only to find that they were all sold out of this variety of light.
I have since done a little amateur electric work to get the string lit again, but I consider this a direct violation of the truce. The furry, chattering little rats are going to regret the day they let the idiot amongst them try to eat my Christmas lights.
Friday, November 24, 2006
As a former retail employee and manager in a small town, I thought that if I went to a big box like, say, Best Buy, in a small city an hour and fifteen minutes before it opened, I might have a shot at a ticket that they were handing out for their big bargains. I knew I'd have no shot in a bigger city, but I was confident I'd do okay in a smaller city. I was oh so wrong.
We came rolling up on Best Buy in Janesville at 3:50. I already had a bad feeling because there was a lot of traffic and stores like Shopko had about 30 people in front of them. I was stunned at what I saw at Best Buy. The parking lot was full and the parking lot at the adjacent outlet mall was busy with cars. The line started at the front door and went down the side of the store. I still thought maybe there was a very outside chance I might get a ticket for what I was looking for. We parked and started trudging towards the end of the line. Little did we know that what we thought was the end of the line really wasn't. Towards the back corner of the store, the line made a turn and stretched behind the outlet mall. I'm not kidding when I say that the line was almost a quarter of a mile long.
As it turns out, and I'm sure some of you were already aware of this, at Best Buy the tradition is to ruin your family's Thanksgiving by starting to line up at the door during the mid-afternoon. The first guy in line at the store that we were at got there at 3:30 the previous afternoon. We ran into someone we knew who got tickets for all three (two?) computers that they had on sale, and they had gotten into line at 5 pm the previous afternoon. We talked to another person who had driven by the store at midnight and the line had already turned its first corner.
We stuck it out, though. The lovely Mrs. Jib got one of the doorbusters that she was looking for plus a slew of other things. As for me, I managed to maintain a pleasant attitude...until I got inside of the store. My temper started to flare as I got jostled, so I went to the car until the lovely Mrs. Jib called me to come back in and run the store for some things while she stood in line for one product.
One other notable thing about standing in that line. An enterprising gentleman had set himself up in line yesterday and he got tickets for almost all of the big sale items. As soon as he got them, he started up the line, selling the tickets to people further back in line for $50 a ticket. I'll give him credit for finding a way to make a little not-so-quick cash, but he is lucky that the Janesville crowd was in generally a good mood. A number of people were not so fond of his enterprising spirit, especially considering that he couldn't sell the tickets for some of the more expensive items because those who wanted them didn't bring cash, and thus didn't have the $50 for the ticket. He ended with several items that nobody ever got a crack at.
After that, my inside the store experience was nearly complete. I caught up on some sleep in one parking lot, went into one other store, and patiently listened to talk radio while the lovely Mrs. Jib did her bidding at other stores. We have both agreed that this may be the last time we do the Black Friday thing together again.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
In the end, the Islamicists' best way to blow up the world's Starbucks or to turn off freewheeling American television is ultimately with a whimper, not a bang. They need not plant a hundred thousand bombs across the Westernized globe, but simply to cauterize its very spinal cord in the United States--the willingness of the American public, as in the past, to confront only the latest challenge to their freedom and all the ripples from it.
The sad part is that they've been succeeding at that, Hanson knows it, and that's why he wrote the above. On 9-11 Islamists slapped us in the face hard. As the sting faded, so did our stomach for the fight. Unfortunately, the battles are still being waged against us, and pulling the blanket over our heads and pretending that they aren't may be the biggest threat to the way of life we and our predecessors have been building since 1776.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Example: Charlie Rangel calling for the reinstation of the draft and other proposed legislation by the new Democrat Congress that will only prove to be wildly unpopular.
You never want to be the minority party, but it sure is going to be fun to watch the Democrats destroy their majority and recreate themselves as the minority party again. They are acting with the confidence of a party that just won an overwhelming landslide, which they dd not. At this rate, they are going to burn through their political capital faster than President Bush did. And I'm really going to enjoy tossing their rhetoric back at them.
Aww, dem sum'da birches yust knocked out Favre! Git me da Jagermeister!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Seeking the perfect holiday gift for the golfer who has everything? Try flavored golf tees.
U.S. inventors John Packes and Ramon Peralta have come up a product line called Tasty Golf Tees in various flavors including mint, cherry, strawberry, and grape.
Mint is the strongest-tasting flavor in the range.
"It will knock out the foulest of cigar, beer breath within five seconds," Packes of Norwalk, Connecticut, told Reuters on Tuesday.
I go through more tees by gnawing on them then hitting them. If you saw me golf, you'd know how many thousands of dollars in dental work those tees save.
I still don't get the entire story.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I blame the new Democrat Congress.
Nevermind, I don't want to know. But I will probably will know. I should have brought earplugs.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who served as Health and Human Services Secretary in President Bush's first term, said Wednesday he intends to form a committee to explore a possible run for the White House in 2008.
"I intend to do so after the first of the year," the Republican said in reference to establishing an exploratory committee.
This is why he wouldn't run against Herb Kohl this year? Clearly his ego knows no bounds.
I have been considering putting my picture up on this blog, and I was debating whether I'd use a picture with or without the new glasses. Then I got freaked out because while my identity is no secret, it is still not obvious. I was getting comfortable with that until a search result came to this site that freaked me out a bit because of the IP and the exact words used-Jiblog and my full name. That search string and that IP address shouldn't have happened together. So for now, no picture. Perhaps soon, though.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Iran's university campuses are falling silent. Student activists, once at the vanguard of a movement seeking political and social change in the Islamic Republic, say they are increasingly afraid to speak out.
"I used to take part in so many protests. I was arrested twice, once in 2001 and once in 2003," said student Mehdi Aminzadeh, describing his role in rallies during the tenure of pro-reform former President Mohammad Khatami.
"The situation has changed a lot since that time. The pressures have pushed us to be more cautious," said the 29-year-old, who says he has been barred from registering for a masters in political science.
I no longer do this to sturdy resolve. I'm beginning to think we are past that point. Instead I do it to illustrate how unwilling and unable we are to wage war anymore. Don't get me wrong, our troops are amongst the most able and willing soldiers this world has ever seen. It is here at home where we are lacking. I don't think we understand what war is anymore, and I don't think we will again until something truly stomach turningly devestating happens to us. And unfortunately that day will come, be it tomorrow, 100 years from now, or a thousand years from now. History is replete with days such as that, and we are not an exception, contrary to popular belief. My concern is that we are hastening that day with our weakness here at home.
Monday, November 13, 2006
The first cracks in the united front over Iraq between Tony Blair and President Bush appeared last night as the Prime Minister offered Iran and Syria the prospect of dialogue over the future of Iraq and the Middle East.
I'm not so sure. These four paragraphs are why.
Mr Blair said that Iran’s “genuine fear” that America sought a military solution was “entirely misplaced”. It did not, he said bluntly.
Mr Bush ducked any direct confrontation with Mr Blair, saying that he had not read the speech. But, in a White House press conference alongside Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, he gave warning against cracks appearing in the united front with which the West has approached Iran.
“I think it’s very important for the world to unite with one common voice to say to the Iranians that, if you choose to continue forward, you’ll be isolated,” Mr Bush said.
Although Robert Gates, the new US Defence Secretary, is also among those who have advocated a more open approach to Iran, Mr Bush said that the regime’s nuclear ambitions were a “threat to world peace” and went on to discuss the prospect of economic sanctions against the regime.
President Bush has nominated a man to the post of Secretary of Defense who believes in dialogue with Iran. I don't approve, but this was not a mistake. The decision has been made to engage Iran. Blair is paving the way and the Baker Commission will provide the cover. There is no split here, just an evolving game of good cop, bad cop.