Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The AP gives us two issues for the price of one today in this article on a children’s protest in
About 5,000 children chanting "Hang those who insulted the prophet" rallied in
's largest city on Tuesday in the latest protest in the Islamic nation against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan
The children, ages 8 to 12, burned a coffin draped in
U.S., Israeli and Danish flags at a traffic intersection in the port city of as police in riot gear looked on. Karachi
The political is not a natural voice for children of that age frame, even in a hard bitten nation like
The second item of interest is this by Pakistani opposition politician Liakat Baluch:
Baluch also said a "line should be drawn" between freedom of expression — the justification newspapers gave for reproducing the drawings, which Muslims consider blasphemous — and actions that offend cultural sensitivities.
"A freedom of expression that destroys world peace is against basic human rights," he said.
Baluch is trying to make the Danish cartoons akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater, as though they (the cartoons) were so inflammatory that the Muslim world could not help but explode in violence. While that analogy makes sense to some, it is both disingenuous and inaccurate. The Danish cartoons were much more like loudly dropping an F-bomb in said crowded theater. It is going to offend some, and it is probably not a good idea. But it doesn’t give everyone else in the theater the right to lose their minds and started breaking seats, punching people, and setting things on fire.
Monday, February 27, 2006
German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend the Iraqi capital, which was passed on to U.S. commanders a month before the 2003 invasion, The New York Times reported.Thanks for possibly saving a few of our soldiers' lives, Germany.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Ah, who am I kidding. What guy can say vas deferens or epididymis without giggling? Not this guy.
I'll be having a local HVAC company come look at it, anyway, but it is nice knowing that the visit will be on my terms and according to my schedule, not the furnace's.
I patiently await the day she learns how to get a job and earn her own way around here.
"What was most disturbing," said John Tierney, the ex- FBI agent who translated the tapes, "was the fact that the individuals briefing Saddam were totally unknown to the U.N. Special Commission (or UNSCOM, the group set up to look into Iraq's WMD programs)."It must be a leisurely existence to be a war opponent and to wipe away these concerns as though they didn't even exist.
Perhaps most chillingly, the tapes record Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz talking about how easy it would be to set off a WMD in Washington. The comments come shortly after Saddam muses about using "proxies" in a terror attack.
Read it yet? Okay, some thoughts then.
1. No third grader has the analytical skills to come up with that on their own. It requires a parent or a teacher to indoctrinate them.
2. Whatever parent or teacher took the time to indoctrinate a child with that kind of thought is disturbed in their own right. The kid is in 3rd grade for God's sake! Let him have a childhood. He'll have enough time worry about this kind of crap in his life, he doesn't need adults to push him a long. A 3rd graders biggest concern should be whether his favorite cartoon will be a repeat today.
3. What kind of sick puke is so disturbed as to put this up at one of the more visited blogs out there? Is the drawing of a third grader supposed make some sort of logical argument that eludes adults?
Wretched. Simply wretched.
I strongly disagreed with both the creation and the publication of cartoons that were considered blasphemous to devout Muslims around the world because they depicted the Prophet.I agree with Stuttaford's opinion that Clinton is wrong, but I think he is taking too short a view on it. Stuttaford seems to treat Clinton's words as Clinton's beliefs. We all know that isn't the fact. Clinton uses his words to further whatever agenda he may have, regardless of his beliefs, and it has long been rumored that Clinton would like to become Secretary General of the United Nations. I view every Clinton trip abroad as a campaign visit. In my opinion, Bill Clinton is biding his time until he can get an opportunity to be Secretary General, and every time he goes abroad it is to ingratiate himself with the locals. Unlike Al Gore, who seems to have lost his mind and spews forth his anger when in foreign lands, Bill Clinton is schmoozing the populace in hopes of future benefit for himself.
For those confused by this post, I refer you to Dictionary.com.
A study by the World Health Organisation found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. According to the WHO study, the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202.I hope that blond is a male, because if it is a female, she is going to end up being chased by about a billion young males. And what a nightmare it would be to be her dad as a thousand dates show up a night. A dad can only intimidate so many would be suitors at a time.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
The problem affects programs that use the POSIX time representation, which represents time as the number of seconds (ignoring leap seconds) since January 1, 1970. This representation is standard in Unix-like operating systems and also affects software written for most other operating systems because of the broad deployment of C. On most 32-bit systems, the time_t data type used to store this second count is a signed 32-bit integer. The latest time that can be represented in this format, following the POSIX standard, is 03:14:08 on Tuesday, January 19, 2038. Times beyond this moment will "wrap around" and be represented internally as a negative number, and cause programs to fail, since they will see these times not as being in 2038 but rather in 1970 or 1901, depending on the implementationI say we get on top of this one and begin the hysteria now.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
There's a new rule inside the White House for fans of Fox's hit 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland: Don't talk about the latest episode for a week, until the next one airs. The reason: Working hours at the White House are so bad that dozens of 24fans TiVo it for the weekend and don't want to know what happened before watching. After one episode, our insider says she overheard staffers telling Chief of Staff Andy Card about how the 24 character who plays his role hanged himself. "They totally ruined that for me."
Sometimes in sports, athletes develop mental blocks. Cohen seems to have a mental block about succeeding when she could be in the driver's seat. It is unfortunate, because she really is fun to watch when she is on like she was Tuesday night. Cohen's eyes are incredibly descriptive, and Tuesday night you could watch her eyes and tell that she was going to skate an incredible program. Tonight you could read her eyes before the program and tell that it just wasn't going to be her night.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
See? Civil war was over doing it.
A Jacksonville man says he was attacked by a goat, but its owner says the animal was just playing.First, he wrestled the damn thing for 5 minutes? Was Dueling Banjos playing in the background? Second, at least Butler was a kind hearted goat fighter, choosing wing the goat rather than kill it.
Richard Butler told authorities he was getting out of his car when a goat charged at him. He grabbed the animal by the horns and wrestled it to the ground.
Butler wasn't injured.After about five minutes, Butler says he let go and started running but the animal charged at him. He told police he shot the goat, injuring it but not killing it.
Taser President Tom Smith said company engineers were still working on how the shell will latch on to suspects but said the shells will have the same incapacitating effect as traditional Tasers because they will use the same electrical wave form.I'm waiting for the day when they come out with a shell that stops in mid-air, a cartoon rabbit pops out and beats the subject with a bat, and then gets hit with an electrical jolt.
President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.In and of itself, this doesn't bother me much because President's have administrations for a reason-to delegate this kind of work. It is natural that he is not going to be aware of some things until they reach his desk. Still, someone made a big error in thinking this deal was business as usual. The President's staff shoulf have made him aware of this in advance so they could be out ahead of any controversy. This news further weakens his ability to keep the deal in place.
Defending the deal anew, the administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among both Republicans and Democrats.
Of course, an alternate reading on this could be that his administration just gave him a back door to get out of his comments from yesterday.
I want to apologize to all of the readers of this blog for referring to Vice President Cheney as a terrorist. I suppose that, in the post-9/11 world, one would be hard-pressed to refer to anyone other than a militant Arab fundamentalist who hijacks a plane and pilots it into a building somewhere on our shores or a Palestinian who bears a bomb into a cafe in Israel as a terrorist.Don't get me wrong, he's still a clown, but you can still get a good laugh from a clown. For instance, his next paragraph made me chuckle:
How about something more measured, then? How about...a lying, thieving Oil Whore.Oil whore? First thing I thought of was Heidi Fleiss for some reason. But anyway, okay, Alec. You don't have to move to Winnipeg. You can stay here to make your movies.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
With events in the Middle East lately, from Iran's nuclear program to the riots, I understand why some people are inclined to oppose this, but the passion really does need to dialed back a bit. Emotion is over ruling logic for some, and we need a more clear headed conversation right now.
But he got a boost Monday from an unlikely source, frequent critic and former president Jimmy Carter, who downplayed fears that the deal poses a risk.
''The overall threat to the United States and security, I don't think it exists,'' Carter said on CNN's The Situation Room. ``I'm sure the president's done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat.''
I'm with Kevin in thinking that this is really not that big of a deal, but Carter's support of Bush is making me wonder if I need to re-think that. Carter has a talent for choosing the wrong side of an issue to be on.
I find climatologists as reliable as snake oil doctors. What they seem to be saying is that the only years all goes well is when everything is average. The problem is "average" years are probably less common than extreme years. Climatology also looks like a science that is more affected by personal political beliefs than most other sciences.
Now I'll sit back and wait for my weather and math geek readers to pounce on me for this post.
Monday, February 20, 2006
I think Jenna and Aaron should have kept the sign off from the February 2nd Cheddar Chat.
"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.If his wish is to never be taken alive, then perhaps the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Marines can get together and grant it to him.
But even with thousands of dust devils blowing around, most scientists thought that the chance of actually imaging one was very small. At first, excitement bubbled when Spirit's camera imaged a distant white streak that might have been a passing dust devil. How fortuitous! Then another came by, even closer. In the end, engineers were taking panoramic shots of the plains of Gusev Crater, watching as many as three dust devils ramble by at a time. Yes, the rovers had found themselves in the midst of a veritable dust devil party. And it gradually began to dawn on the Earth-bound rover operators what was happening: wind from the passing dust devils was blowing away any dust that had accumulated on the solar panels, giving the rovers a new lease on life with each passage.So let me get this straight. We spent all this money to learn that Mars is Oklahoma?
Sunday, February 19, 2006
There are early signs that outrage may have actually been started by Sylvester the Cat. Sylvester distributed the computer generated images of Pixar characters, along with computerized images of Porky Pig and Yosemite Sam in an intinate position, Tweety Bird painting white stripes on Pepe LePew, and Speedy Gonzales sneaking through a fence at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Across the West, stores are pulling Pixar films and publications are refusing to show images of Shrek, Buzz Lightyear, and Woody out of sensitivity towards the WB-ias.
It is also reported that unrest is developing in the comic books and funny pages of major newspapers. There are concerns that Peanuts gang may be protesting in Minneapolis on Monday. Some publications and politicians are also angry that the blogosphere may be further inflaming the cartoon world by showing the offending cartoons on their websites.
When I first became an Earnhardt and NASCAR fan back in those days in the mid 1980's, I desperately wanted a Matchbox car of my favorite driver, but they were very hard to come by. A couple of years later I received as a Christmas gift what would be a prized possession-a Dale Earnhardt remote control car. Fast forward to 2001. I was working in retail management at that time, and NASCAR was huge. It seemed the drivers were on every item imaginable, from die cast cars to shirts to playing cards, and we stocked it all. People would figure out when trucks would come into the store and then they'd be their the next morning to get first crack at the new die casts that arrived. In 15 plus years, NASCAR had gone from a southern sport broadcast on WTBS and ESPN to a national past time, and much of that was built on the back of a driver who was now in the twilight of his career: Dale Earnhardt.
Five years ago today, I was closing the store. I was irritated because it was the third straight year that I had to miss the Daytona 500 because of work. I snuck into the break room to catch the last three laps of the race. It was some of the most exciting racing I had seen in a while. I watched as Earnhardt held off two lines of traffic as his son and his employee pulled away and raced towards the finish line, and I watched as his car wiggled and the veered into the wall. The crash did not look all that serious, but I had a bad feeling about it and remembered thinking as Darrel Waltrip cheered on his brother and the camera followed Michael's car, "they are going to be sorry for that exuberance if Earnhardt got killed." I then left the break room to go about my work.
Sometime after 6 o'clock, my front end supervisor that night approached me and said, "did you hear Dale Earnhardt died?" I was a bit shocked because even though I had a bad feeling about that accident, it was not comprehensible that the Intimidator could have died in a race. After helping her with whatever it was that she needed, I went to the back of the store where our electronics department was, and I turned all of the TV's over to ESPN News to see what was going on. Over the next 10 minutes, on of the stranger nights I've experienced began to play out. You see, within 10 minutes of me turning on ESPN News, the news of Dale Earnhardt's death had spread around the store and about 25 to 30 people had gathered around the televisions. I left the group and walked the store. There was not a customer to be had anywhere in the store except around those televisions.
Within 30 to 45 minutes, everything that we had one the floor with Earnhardt's face, name, or number was gone. Sunday nights were typically very quiet in our store, but on this Sunday night we were like Grand Central Station. I worked at pushing out every Earnhardt product we had from the backroom to the sales floor. By 8 pm, we were sold out of everything, from the smallest of key chains to the largest of die cast cars. Some people thought they were making an investment they could sell on eBay, but most came in because they had to have something of Earnhardt's that night, something physical that they could hold and relate to.
Until that point, I had still thought of NASCAR as a minor sport and Dale Earnhardt as a minor celebrity, even though he and the sport were favorites of mine. Even though I was in a racing town, I underestimated how big NASCAR had become and how big a part of the culture Dale Earnhardt had become, especially in rural areas, blue collar areas, and small towns. I did not think I would ever see a sports celebrity's death receive such a reaction, especially a race car driver. In a way, though, Dale Earnhardt and his life symbolized the American Dream for a lot of people. Here is a guy who didn't do well in school, who scuffled about in his younger years, and who was not a polished public figure. Still, with hard work he became the most successful person in his sport and he became bigger than that sport. In his later years he tried to rectify some of his mistakes from his younger years. A lot of people identified with that, respected it, idolized it, and wanted to emulate it. That is a sign of a life well lived for a guy from North Carolina who just wanted to race cars. He touched the lives of many people who never met him, and 5 years after his death still does.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
St. Louis and Sacramento, California, may be the next two U.S. flooding disasters waiting to happen, with rivers prone to overflow and insufficient levees protecting developments that never should have been allowed, experts said on Saturday.
U.S. officials have not absorbed the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, in which floodwaters breached levees and inundated most of New Orleans, relying on outdated models to forecast risks to low-lying areas and allowing development in places that have been under 10 feet of water as recently as 1993.
First off, while those two cities are at risk of significant flooding, the danger is no where near as extreme as the danger to New Orleans. Secondly, people always flock to areas that have some sort of inherent natural danger. They do this because they view the advantages of the area as outweighing the risks, and most times they are right.
The best thing you can do is make people fully aware that by developing homes and businesses in floodplains, they are at high risk of total economic disaster and the government will not bail them out if that occurs. Insurance companies already refuse to sell flood insurance to high risk areas. If people know with absolute certainity that there will be no government bail out, either, then these areas will not be developed. Who is going to risk everything in a flood prone area without a safety net?
General information on The Great Flood of 1993 which affected the Missouri and Mississippi River basins and thus St. Louis.
If it were 48 degrees out right now, I'd be sitting on my deck and blogging with shorts on. It ain't, though. In fact, this is what the bank down the street from me said:
That's fahrenheit, not celsius.
For those you not in the great white north who are wondering how cold four degrees is, do this. Open your refrigerator and grab a beer. Open the beer. Take a drink. Now put your head in your freezer for a half an hour. 4 degrees is colder than that.
Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately. Who ever thought Harry Whittington would be the answer to America's prayers. Finally, someone who might get that lying, thieving Cheney into a courtroom to answer some direct questions.First off, what is Baldwin still doing here in the United States? Didn't he promise us he'd leave if we elected George Bush five plus years ago? But seriously, he is either disingenuous, unhitched from reality, or enormously stupid to think Cheney is a terrorist. When Dick Cheney straps a suicide vest on and kills women and children indiscriminately or flies an airplane into a building, then I will apologize to Baldwin. Until then I am going to continue in my belief that Alec Baldwin is the King of Fools in Hollywood.
Is the announcement Friday of a million dollar bounty on the head of any cartoonist who drew one of the images of the prophet Muhammad an "I am Spartacus!" moment for publications worldwide?I'm willing to stand up to this bullying of a free press, but to put it into Zorn's context, my standing up would be like a midget in Spartacus's forces saying "no, I am Spartacus!" It would be a symbolic gesture more than anything. Those who can do the most, and who risk the most, are the publications and the editorial cartoonists of Western publications. Will they have the courage to stand up both for their own and themselves, or is CYA so endemic in the Western press today that anyone can bully them around?
The idea being, well, you know. Unity. Solidarity. Defiance. You can't push us around by picking on just one of us.
So does this grotesque, million-dollar offer mean we should all just apologize more loudly, promise we'll work harder next time to be sure no one dares violate Islamic taboos when expressing himself, and hope these dozen-odd artists can stay in hiding while appeasement works its magic?
We are learning a lot about the Western media right now, and they are not impressing many of us. They are willing to lob volleys at people who really are of no threat to them, like George W. Bush, but to those who would just as soon silence them permanently they have very little to say.
“Oprah, you had Bill Clinton on your show,” Bruce said. “Do you remember? Give this guy a break. His publisher put the memoir thing on there.”It is funny to see one celebrity tar and feather another one with Bill Clinton.
Willis, apparently sensing that he had stepped over a line, also had this to say:
But Bruce also told us: “I admire Oprah Winfrey, she does a great job. I have great respect for what she does for people all over the world and I think her book club is so important.”You can tell that, with that statement, he realized that he had just gone off on OPRAH. You don't piss off the Oprah. Expect to see Willis with his lips firmly attached to Oprah's behind for years to come.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Your intrepid blogger, snow thug.
The surface of the moon? Nah, just my deck in black and white.
And such are our lives-large foot prints that fade with the winds of time.
1. Later in the morning
2. To a gentle thundershower
3. With breakfast in bed.
Ways I hate waking up:
1. To an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night
2. Waking up sick.
3. Early to shovel 4 inches of snow with the full knowledge that there are 6-11 inches more of it on the way yet.
I am going to be a cranky blogger today.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
At one point Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and the man who was in charge of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction efforts can be heard on the tapes, speaking openly about hiding information from the U.N.
"We did not reveal all that we have," Kamel says in the meeting. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct." Shortly after this meeting, in August 1995, Hussein Kamel defected to Jordan, and Iraq was forced to admit that it had concealed its biological weapons program. (Kamel returned to Iraq in February 1996 and was killed in a firefight with Iraqi security forces.)
Tempering any optomism is this quote from an aide to John Negroponte:
"Intelligence community analysts from the CIA, and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that while fascinating from a historical perspective the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their post war analysis of Iraq's weapons programs nor do they change the findings contained in the comprehensive Iraq Survey group report," the spokeswoman said in a statement.We shall soon see.
Vice President Dick Cheney should publicly explain his shooting of a Texas lawyer in a hunting accident, top congressional Democrats said on Wednesday after a White House meeting that included Cheney.Really, what is there to explain? The story seems pretty clear. Do Democrats think that the American people are so dense that they can't figure this story out without Cheney telling it to them himself? Not that I oppose this. I think Cheney actually comes across as likeable when people see him speak.
As if that weren't a dumb enough call by the Democrats, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have more.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, emerged from a breakfast meeting with President George W. Bush and Cheney to say the vice president needed to come forward.
"I guess I'm kind of old-fashioned," Reid said. "He hasn't had a press conference in three and a half years."
Said Pelosi: "Open government demands that the vice president come clean with what happened ... There's probably a very simple answer to it, but we have to break this habit of the administration, of closed government without the openness that is healthy to a democracy."
They said they did not tell Cheney to his face that he should come forward and that the vice president said little during the breakfast.
The guy is Vice President. Vice Presidents only get face time with the media when Presidents are using them to push an agenda or to campaign. While Cheney is involved a little more in this administration than most V.P.s, their primary job is to sit down and shut up unless the President needs to utilize them or, God forbid, they are called on to serve as President.
Cheney will talk with Brit Hume on FOX. I'm sure the Washington press corp will now be infuriated that Cheney chose Fox to talk with.
Driving my swank rented Toyota from LAX to Pomona (yes, yes, yes: Stupid me for not flying into Ontario airport), I grew increasingly baffled how you can spend so much time on those freeways. Traffic in DC is bad. But there's something depraved about LA.My first time in LA, I had to drive from a lunch appointment in El Segundo (just south of LAX) to a 3 pm meeting in Pomona (east of LA). I had enough time to make the drive, but I was still stunned to find myself in a traffic jam...at 1:30 in the afternoon. California drivers have to be masochists.
Let me work in a very rough analogy here. Let's say that tomorrow a picture surfaced that showed Jack Abramhof and President Bush shaking hands and smiling as Abramhof handed the president a check. That picture would be the heart of the story, and the news media would have no choice but show it in order to fully tell the story. It is the same here. The public cannot get the full picture of the cartoon riots without seeing the pictures. To me, the news media forfeits its right to talk about their high journalistic ideals if they refuse to fully report an important story to its customers. You can avoid publicizing images when they are incidental or merely supportive of a story. For example, pictures of coffins are incidental to a news story on military casualities but not the story. You can present the story without the photos but not lose any context. That is not the case with the Danish cartoons. There is no context for the public if they can't see the cartoons.
Personally, I think the media is just doing more to drive people to alternative news sources on the internet. I have very little sympathy for them when they complain about low circulation, viewership, or ad sales because they are doing it to themselves. Any moderately inquisitive person who hears this story on the news is going to want to know exactly what the hubub is about by seeing the cartoons for themselves. If the news media refuses to give them that context, they are naturally going to turn to sources that do.
Thousands of protesters rampaged through two cities Tuesday, storming into a diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and a provincial assembly in Pakistan's worst violence against the Prophet Muhammad drawings, officials said. At least two people were killed and 11 injured.
Security forces fired into the air as they struggled to contain the unrest in the eastern city of Lahore, where protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of a Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor.
U.S. and British embassy staffers were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, "Death to America!"
Apparently, Colonel Sanders is also holy to Muslims, and caricaturized images of him are blasphemous. Check out the pictures at Malkin's website, linked to above. It appears that they blame Ronald McDonald for offending their tender sensibilities. The un-burkahed Miss Piggy in American Pizza Hut commercials also must have been too much.
As for me, I'm so incensed by the destruction of these symbols of capitalism that I'm going to go to a BP gas station and burn it down. So what if I actually like buying gas at that station. I'm pissed, it's my right. (/Sharp sarcasm).
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
If there are more people blogging, but no increase in the number of people reading blogs, maybe blog readership has actually been siphoned off by blog writing. I know that the time I spend writing this post is time I might otherwise spend reading other blogs.Completely closed? No, but it is still a pretty tight circle of those "in the know" about blogs. I know plenty of people who wouldn't know what the hell a blog is if it weren't for the fact that I'm a blogger and the topic has come up in our conversations. Blogs also tend to be a bit "niche" in nature. For example, there are a lot of blogs that focus primarily on politics. A lot of Americans just aren't interested enough in politics to go searching out those blogs. It's the same thing with the blog diaries that are popular with kids and college students. The media will almost always have an advantage there, because they typically provide a larger diversity of topics for their readers/viewers/listeners than blogs do. There is also the sheer number of blogs that acts as an impediment to bringing in new readers in mass quantities. If the average Joe wants news, they know the newspapers, TV and radio stations available to them. Even large blogs like Instapundit aren't household names, though, and there is no entry portal for people to go to in order to jump into blog reading. The average guy on the street doesn't usually know where to start when it comes to reading blogs for news or op/ed.
Which makes me wonder — how much of blog writing and blog reading is a completely closed system, both self-referential and self-absorbed?
I've always held the opinion that blogs have an outsized influence for their readership numbers, and appropriately so. The best ones develop an audience because they are entertaining and intelligent. They draw readers from those who deal in the same marketplace of ideas as they do, which means blogs influence the influencers of public opinion. Will blogs one day reach mass audiences? Yes, and some are already approaching that, but I suspect the culture and the structure of blogging will change before that becomes common. Some will applaud when that day comes, but even then there will be something to be said for having a highly targeted, high quality readership, even if total unique visitors for a site are lower.
Monday, February 13, 2006
U.N. peacekeepers opened fire Monday on protesters, killing at least one and wounding four, witnesses said, as flaming roadblocks paralyzed this city and protesters stormed into a hotel where election officials have been announcing results of presidential elections.
Associated Press journalists saw the body of a man in the street in the Tabarre neighborhood, a T-shirt bearing the image of popular candidate Rene Preval soaked in blood. Witnesses said Jordanian U.N. peacekeepers opened fire on them, killing two and wounding four. The body of the second victim was not at the scene.
"We were peacefully protesting when the U.N. started shooting. There were a lot of shots. Everybody ran," said Walrick Michel, 22, one of the pro-Preval protesters. U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst denied in a phone interview that peacekeepers opened fire.
While I have my doubts that this was the peaceful protest that Michel claims it to have been, it certainly wouldn't surprise me. UN peacekeepers never really seem to know when is and isn't the appropriate time to use their firepower.
In its rush to provide Katrina disaster aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasted millions of dollars and overpaid for hotel rooms, including $438-a-day lodging in New York City, government investigators said Monday.
Two reports released by the Government Accountability Office and the Homeland Security Department's office of inspector general detail a series of accounting flaws, fraud or mismanagement in their initial review of how $85 billion in federal aid is being spent.
The two audits found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under FEMA's emergency cash assistance program — which included the $2,000 debit cards given to evacuees — were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names.
This should surprise no one. First off, anytime government money is involved, there will be waste. There not as much personal accountability when you are doling out money that is not yours or your organizations, and which seems to grow on trees. Second, there are always those that will game the system. Third, the environment was ripe for gaming the system. There was a lot of money being made available and the critical response to the Government's handling of things meant that people were probably more likely to get the benefit of the doubt or slip through when they should not have gotten anything.
Filtering more money through private organizations may have decreased the amount of waste, but it still would have been there. Such is life with a government that tries to have all the solutions. I don't like it and neither should you, but as long as we put up with it, this is what we are going to get.
"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the one in which it was passed." ---Thomas Jefferson
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Anybody up for some laughs at the expense of the Swedes?
All former Secretaries of the Treasury are advised to avoid duels with Vice President Cheney.
Britons texting St Valentine's Day love messages next Tuesday should be careful they don't send them to the wrong person.Heh. It pays to watch where you send those emails, too.
A poll of 3,000 mobile phone users that found 40 percent will be texting rather than sending cards and that one in four have misdirected a provocative text or photo.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Islamic world is fed up with violence and extremism in the name of religion and is ready for an era of progressive, democratic Muslim governments, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Friday.
Khatami said current conflicts between the West and Islam have created a situation that "can only see ever-escalating violence, whether in the form of war and occupation and repression, or in the form of terror and destruction."
"After about two centuries of dispute between tradition and modernity in the world of Islam (there is) a high level of mental preparation for the acceptance of a major transformation in the mind and lives of Muslims," Khatami said in a speech at an international conference on Islam and the West.
I can't imagine current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejab will be terribly excited to hear about that.
After about an hour of impassioned debate, South Dakota's House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that seeks to ban most abortions in the state.If I were an aging Supreme Court justice that thought Roe was a correct ruling, I'd do everything in my power to stay on the bench long enough for a Democrat President to be in place to name my replacement, even if I had been considering retirement. I can't help but wonder if South Dakota's actions help insure that Bush doesn't get another Supreme Court nomination.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, passed with a 57-22 vote. A similar bill in 2004 passed the House 54-14.
Supporters of the bill hope it will draw other states into passing similar measures in an attempt to get the Supreme Court to revisit its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Hunt said several other states are considering like-minded bills.
New members on the Supreme Court and the prospects of another vacancy within the next two years make now the right time for an abortion ban, Hunt said.
1. Ice prancing. Each contestant gets 2 two minute periods wearing hard soled dress shoes on an extra slick ice surface. In the first period, contestants are graded on a fast paced program in which their ability to remaining standing is judged. Judges look for technical moves such as the double-triple arm flail, the one leg master balance, and the forward lunge & catch. In the second period, the contestant's program is judged on their artisitic eating of ice. A complex computer scoring system looks at the technical aspects of bruising one's face without causing permanent brain damage. The scores are then combined, with the the highest three scores taking a place on the medal stand.
2. Wind chill sprint. This one is pretty straight forward. Contestants are outfitted in attire that is half as warm as it should be for the weather conditions. They then race each other from a large, warm shelter to another smaller one that only holds three people. The three who make it into the small shelter are the medalists. This Olympic game awards speed and raw brute strength, as participants are allowed to brawl at the entrance to the small shelter.
3. The closing time crawl. This game is popular with American college students. Contestants begin at a pub outside of the Olympic village. At the pub they drink for 6 consecutive hours. Then at closing time the race back to their rooms at the Olympic village begins. Again, all contestants are wearing clothes that are not warm enough for winter conditions. The real trick to this game comes in the fact that all contestants must urinate in the yards of at least two locals on their way back to the village. All contestants who are caught are immediately out of the race. The men's version of this game tends to be very fast paced, while the women's version revolves around strategy.
4. The teflon saucer. Over the years, high speed down hill sports have become entirely too safe. This sport would honor the crazed-but-handy American dads who have tried to build the fastest sledding experience possible for their children. Each participant uses a titanium saucer style sled that is coated with teflon and which only makes one square centimeter of contact with the sledding surface. The course is a 70 degree, ice covered hill that is dotted with evergreen trees. This is a timed race, so the fastest to the finishline wins. Time penalties are assessed for losing conciousness, dying, soiling one's underpants, and crying.
Early on in the winter, we received a number of solid snowfalls in our area. Ollie and I both are tried and true snow shovelers, but the regular snowfalls were wearing on us. Col. Ollie broke down and bought a snow blower, while Mrs. Jib and I started a snow blower fund. Well, since Ollie bought that snow blower, temperatures have been above normal and there has only been one snowfall of any significance, and our money is still in our pockets. So Col. Ollie, thanks for spending the money that insured we would not get a major snowfall here in Wisconsin this winter.
In recent national television appearances, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist backed away from unequivocal support of President Bush in what Republican insiders viewed as preparation for a 2008 presidential run.Frist has not exactly been Mr. Reliable himself, and I think a lot of conservatives started backing away from him months ago. If he thinks he still has a shot at the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination (and Novak does not imply that this is what Frist's move is about), I think he is deluding himself.
Plagued as he is with elephantiasis of the ego, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly relishes attacks from the New York Times or any other A-list media.Heh. Nice imagery. Then there is this, in reference to Nicholas Kristoff:
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make a newspaper columnist. Most columnists start off with a bag full of ideas and endless energy. But the job begins to weigh on even the most talented journalist. He starts writing columns about columns he's written, about his kids, or about the deaths of relatives. He composes columns as open letters to world leaders—or writes from inside their heads. He quotes cab drivers. His columns become more assertion than argument. Finally, he starts picking silly, protracted fights with other media machers.
I knew this story would get written, but I was surprised that I had to go looking for it to make sure.
The WWF called the 5-meter (16-foot) high Olympic flame, which will be lit at the opening ceremony on Friday evening and burn until the end of the Games on February 26, "a kind of mockery, a monument to waste".
The flame, which will flicker atop a 57-meter (187-foot) high torch, will burn some 3 million cubic meters (105 million cubic feet) of gas during the Games -- enough to supply a town of 3,500 people for an entire year, it said.
Look, we are all concerned about energy supplies, but the Olympic Games are supposed to represent some of the finer traits of mankind. In that effort, I think we can justify wasting some gas on a very important symbol.
Speaking of that. Hewitt et al are very uncomfortable about a number of things surrounding the controversy. The one that irks me the most is the always thinly veiled assertion that those of us who are speaking on this topic are hungry for greater war with the Islamic world. That's not true. I don't think any of us have a hunger for war. In fact, four plus years of war tends to fatigue a person towards it. We are very concerned, though. Western culture and Islamic culture are compatible only when there is give and take on both sides. Western culture is adaptable to this give and take, as there are already built in safe guards in most nations to protect religious belief. Islamic culture can be adaptable, too, if the practitioner of the faith allows for it. I've worked with Muslim immigrants over the years, and I've watched them slowly adapt to this culture. The problem in this cartoon situation is the conversation is being dominated by Muslims that not only refuse to adapt, they expect the world to completely bend to their will, with force being their first choice to bring this subservience about. Think about it. Many of us knew about these cartoons months ago, but we either did not discuss them or we only made note of it. It wasn't until the more radical portion of the Islamic world threatened and carried out violence in an effort to silence controversial speech that we stood up for the right of the Danish newspaper to publish them.
Mr. Hewitt and those who share his opinions on this may think that bloggers who support the Danish paper are war hungry, racist, or whatever other ignorant vice they choose. Unfortunately, their ability to take the high ground is completely dependent upon others taking a firm stand against the erosion of free speech.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Thursday, February 09, 2006
One Oklahoma woman might get cold feet if she comes to New York and tries to hail a cab. But Betty Bell will have to do just that if she's going to whistle.Okay, maybe one comment. Do her boyfriends risk a case of athlete's mouth?
Bell has the unique ability to whistle with her toes in her mouth.
The number of Japanese killing themselves in groups after meeting through the Internet -- strangers afraid to die alone -- soared to a record 91 last year, nearly double that of 2004, police said on Thursday.I guess once a craze like Pokemon runs its course, there just isn't much to live for anymore.
The deadly pacts pose a grim challenge for officials struggling to deal with Japan's high suicide rate, one of the worst among industrialised nations.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg said Monday that temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak, RIA Novosti reported.
The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said.
There are many more viable climate change theories out there than just global warming. Too much focus on popular global warming theories could stand to leave us unprepared for something like a mini ice age.
Monday, February 06, 2006
IRAN'S largest selling newspaper announced today it was holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. "It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust," said Farid Mortazavi, the graphics editor for Hamshahri newspaper - which is published by Teheran's conservative municipality.
He said the plan was to turn the tables on the assertion that newspapers can print offensive material in the name of freedom of expression.
I am quite certain that these cartoons are going to be grotesque, but at least they (Hamshahri) aren't advocating violence or censorship. Maybe some will even learn the difference between denouncing something and lighting embassies on fire.
So is Europe now finally at the front or will they retreat Madrid-like in the face of the inevitable second round of terrorist bombings and threats to come?
Americans are not confident, but we should remember at least one simple fact: Europe is the embryo of the entire Western military tradition. The new European Union encompasses a population greater than the United States and spans a continent larger than our own territory. It has a greater gross domestic product than that of America and could, in theory, field military forces as disciplined and as well equipped as our own.
It is not the capability but the will power of the Europeans that has been missing in this war so far. But while pundits argue over whether the European demographic crisis, lack of faith, stalled economy, or multiculturalism are at the root of the continent’s impotence, we should never forget that if aroused and pushed, a rearmed and powerful Europe could still be at the side of the United States in joint efforts against the jihadists. And should we ever see a true alliance of such Western powers, the war against the fascists of the Middle East would be simply over in short order.
At first I thought VDH was being a little too pie in the sky with this piece, but then a 'what if' hit me. What if, as Europe gradually takes seriously the threat radical Islam poses to it, terrorists partake in a 9-11 style attack somewhere in Europe? Would that shock the continent into action the way Pearl Harbor shocked the original sleeping giant, the U.S., into action in 1941? I don't know the answer to that question. In some ways I find Europe as too lost a cause to think it possible, but at the same time isn't it human nature to fight back if punched far enough into a corner? Could the European giant awaken without having its nose bloodied? A lot of questions that I think we'd all prefer not to have to learn the answer to, but it is possible that one day we will.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Talk about economic clusters: We claim firms that describe themselves as the country's largest producer of toilets (Kohler Co., in Kohler) and the world's largest maker of toilet seats (Bemis Manufacturing Co., in Sheboygan Falls), not to mention the world's thickest concentration of makers of toilet paper (in the Fox Valley). To finish the job, we've got Glade. Each year, S.C. Johnson & Son's Sturtevant factory turns out millions of cans of the nation's top-selling air freshener.
The Super Bowl itself testifies to our dominance: Kohler supplied the 880 toilets and 370 urinals at Detroit's Ford Field. Georgia-Pacific, which runs two mills in Green Bay and is the country's biggest producer of away-from-home toilet paper, furnished the tissue.
"Wisconsin does seem to have a pretty large share of the bathroom market, from the plumbing to the toilet paper," said Patrick Schillinger, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council. "It's not bumper-sticker type of material, so that distinction might go less noticed than other flashier industries."
Wisconsin. America's Potty Land.
Thousands of Syrians enraged by caricatures of Islam's revered prophet torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday - the most violent in days of furious protests by Muslims in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
In Gaza, Palestinians marched through the streets, storming European buildings and burning German and Danish flags. Protesters smashed the windows of the German cultural center and threw stones at the European Commission building, police said.
Iraqis rallying by the hundreds demanded an apology from the European Union, and the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas called the cartoons "an unforgivable insult" that merited punishment by death.
Pakistan summoned the envoys of nine Western countries in protest, and even Europeans took to the streets in Denmark and Britain to voice their anger.
I think the Islamic world is much more aware of the clash of values than the West-or less willingly ignorant of it. Ignoring it won't make it go away, though.
Even as politically correct as some areas of the West have become, free speech is still a cherished idea, placed on a pedestal. Westerners have developed a thick skin to that which can be considered blasphemous, even the faithful. Yes, blasphemous images may anger religious Westerners, but free speech is so culturally ingrained that violence is a taboo response to such things. In the Islamic world, the only values that matter are those of the Koran, and there is no such taboo against violence. The two cultures are not easily compatible, and we are going to see more and more of this. If we really do cherish our Western values, we are going to have no choice but to stand up for them.
Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush has some very sensible words on this topic in an update to this post. I will make a clarifying statement in regards to the post above. The fact that our two cultures are colliding does not mean that one or the other must go. We (the West) does risk fading out in the face of this collision if we do not stand up for our values. It is not an either or (Islamic v. Western values) proposition, but it will be if we give up our values for accomodation.
On the surface, this all seems silly-so much being made of some bad cartoons. It is a very important battleground of ideas, though, and needs to be taken seriously as such.