Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blog sweeps for the ladies

Some say that blogging is still a largely male endeavor, and they are probably right. Mary Katharine Ham helps to even out one inequality, though, with blog sweeps for women. For the past six months or so, male bloggers have been excusing their posting of pictures of attractive women by jokingly calling it blog sweeps. Ham returns the favor with pictures (completely safe for work) of the men of the IDF. Enjoy, ladies.


im-po-tent [im-puh-tuhnt]
1.not potent; lacking power or ability.
2.utterly unable (to do something).
3.without force or effectiveness.
4.lacking bodily strength or physically helpless.

-synonyms 1, 2. powerless, helpless. 3. ineffectual, ineffective, feeble, weak. 1, 2, 3, 4. The United Nations.

(Thanks to for all of this post except the twist at the end)

Speaking of pinging...

If you don't already use it, I highly recommend Ping-o-Matic. Whenever you publish a new post, Blogger and some other blog softwares will automatically send out a ping that lets various services know that you've just updated your site. Ping-o-Matic will do this as well, but it will ping some very specific services that keep track of new blog posts. The ping is the same kind of ping as mentioned in the trackbacks, only this one will update a variety of directories that will hopefully bring new visitors to your blog.

What is a trackback?

First, I apologize for the delay on this post. Trackbacks are the simplest yet most oddly complicated part of blogging, and I just didn't have the time to do the topic justice. Now on with the show.

Everybody who reads blogs and their comments should have at least a vague familiarity with trackbacks. Some blog software & blog comment providers allow people to leave a trackback on post. This trackback is little more than a friendly notification to a blog and its readers that you have written something at your blog that mentions that particular post and/or it's topic. It is a mutually beneficial activity: It benefits you as the person who is leaving the trackback in that it cues readers of the other person's blog to the fact that you have more on the other words, it brings traffic; it benefits the blogger whose post is being trackbacked in that it lets them know that you have thought enough about what they wrote to comment on it and to link back to them; finally, it benefits readers because it gives them more sources of information to read if they have an interest in the topic of a post.

Good blogging ethics dictates that you only trackback to someone's blog post when you have mentioned them and linked back to their post in your own. The reason for this is that when you leave a trackback, you are giving their readers and their traffic a reason to leave their blog through an action your own, not theirs. Most trackbacks that do not mention or link to the host's blog post are regarded as little more than annoying spam.

Now, how does it actually work? Well, it is all easier than you might suspect. What you are doing when you trackback is sending a notification or "ping" to the other blogger's software to let it know that you have written about that post. (Don't be confused by the word ping-think of it in similar terms to one submarine bouncing sonar, or pinging, off of another sub, just like in the movies.) For most Blogger users, trackbacks are confusing because Blogger is not trackback friendly. In fact, if you use Blogger's default comments, I still don't think you can use trackbacks on your own blog, although you can with Haloscan comments.

So how do you leave a trackback on someone else's blog? I personally use Wizbang's Standalone Trackback Pinger (if you use Haloscan, you can click on your Manage Trackback tab and then choose "Send a Trackback"). With this, all you need to do is follow the instructions. The first thing you will need is the trackback URL from the post at the other person's blog. This tells Wizbang's pinger where it is actually sending the trackback to. After that, all you need to do is fill in the permanent address of your post that you are leaving the trackback to, the post title, your blog's name, and short excerpt from your post. Those four items then become the content of your trackback.

I wish I could explain this in one paragraph. I know that reading through all of this can still be a little confusing-I know because it used to confuse the hell out of me when people tried to explain it. If you are still a bit confused, go to either Wizbang's or Haloscan's manual trackback services mentioned in the paragraph above and look at the form. Then read this post again. Just seeing the manual trackback forms helps crystalize everything. If you want to practice, feel free to trackback to this post. I hope this helps.

Additional sources
Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger
Haloscan trackback FAQ
Haloscan trackback intro
Wikipedia trackback entry

Displeased with Drudge

There is no doubt about the fact that the Drudge Report loves sensationalism. The sensationalism was more than a little rude this afternoon, however. Right now Drudge is featuring a story about a new flick that will portray the assassination of President Bush in 2007. This is how it looks over at his page:

It is midday right now-lunch time. There are plenty of people out there like me that do a quick scan of the news. During those quick scans, you get the gist of a headline very quickly but it takes an additional moment for what you saw to really register. That was the case here. I briefly scanned the page as I scrolled, and the fact that this was just a movie did not register immediately. That's a punch in the chest, especially with the realistic low resolution image. I'm rather miffed with the Drudge Report right now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On the docket

Coming up on Thursday at Jiblog: Actual blogging. My two top priorities will be a long delayed post on tracbacks and responding to the meme Chris tagged me with. After that, I will share the secret of life as whispered in my ear by the ghost of Johnny Walker.

People behind the blogs

Damn. You know, I've been running for almost two weeks now. It has kept me away from blogging, it has made me tired, and I've felt sorry for myself at times. It is just mundane stuff, though. Last week I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Casper from Ask Me Later. A lot apparently happened in Casper's life between then, when we invited him to the BBA, and now. So rather than listen to me whine about mundane stuff, go read this post of Casper's and then watch his two videos. The second video is the fruit of the first video. Frankly, I have no idea how it pertains to me be cranky about being busy with mundane stuff, but it somehow put it into a nice perspective. Take the 16 minutes to read and watch.

Dumb headline of the year

From Reuters:

JonBenet killer still unknown.

Gee, ya think?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Playin' in the rain

The local rec softball league was desperate to get rid of us for the season. They rain delayed the entire night's schedule of games, dumping 20 bags of kitty litter on the field to make it playable. Our meaningless game was to follow the championship, first at 8:15, then at 9:15. So we waited and, for the first time this year, pre-drank. When gametime came, our opponents, who on the authority of the lovely Mrs. Jib talked smack about us all year, failed to show. We gutted out the cold rain and the pansies didn't even come to play. 7-0 good guys.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Iran's memory of convenience

The opening to this New York Times article is worth reflecting upon:

A former high-ranking Iranian official wants Americans to see his cracked thumbnails. They were torn out, he said, after Washington’s friend, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, put him in prison in the 1970’s.

His point is instantly clear: look at what happened when we had close ties to the United States.

I'd buy that if the guys who had their thumbnails cracked then weren't the same guys torturing and killing people that don't agree with them today. The only thing that has changed in Iran is who gets to do the torturing. Blaming it on the U.S. is folly.

When big retail screws up

Heh. I suspect Cybersh*t is what they mumbled when Best Buy found this typo.

Thank you, Eau Claire

I can now drive to my parents' house in Chippewa Falls without thinking about your city and without spending a nickel there. Granted, the new Highway 53 bypass was well designed to benefit your city and the Village of Lake Hallie while further cutting Chippewa Falls off from the Chippewa Valley's major roadways, but no matter. I'll take my money to that little community to your north.

The most disturbing sentence you'll ever read

From The Seattle Times:

Deputies don't believe a crime occurred because bestiality is not illegal in Washington state and the horse was uninjured, said Urquhart.

And here I always thought that when people said, "it's illegal in 49 states," they were referring to Alabama as the one state. Guess I was wrong. Congrats, Washington.

Where have you gone, deadly bird flu?

Don't call it a comeback, but here it is again. Flu season must be just around the corner.

Class act

I've been watching Gene Simmons' new reality show and I've been reasonably impressed with him as a parent and family man, despite his refusal to marry long time girlfriend Shannon Tweed. This, however, comes close to cementing my opinion that the KISS rocker is a class act:
Israeli-born "KISS" rocker Gene Simmons sent a get-well video to an Israeli soldier wounded in Lebanon, calling him a hero the world should be proud of.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of you and how much the world and Israel owe you a debt of gratitude," Simmons told Ron Weinreich, a tank crewman paralyzed from the chest down, in a video broadcast on Saturday on Israel's Channel 2 television.

Channel 2 said the KISS bassist made the video for Weinreich, a fan of the legendary rock group, at the request of Israel's Soldiers' Welfare Association, a fund-raising group.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Feeling bad for a happy couple

The lovely Mrs. Jib and I were at the wedding of her cousin and her new husband today. I like them, and I wish them all the best and all of the happiness their life together can bring. And I also feel a little bad for them. Why? Well, this headline has a lot to do with it:

Ernesto aims at Jamaica, may hit Gulf

Yep, they are scheduled to fly off to their honeymoon Jamaica.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Frosty Falls Niagra

This is pretty cool-pictures of Niagra Falls frozen solid. Apparently it has only happened 6 times since records started being kept.

Friday, August 25, 2006


In the past six months or so, vlogging, the kind of dorky name for video blogging, has built up a head of steam. In fact, to some degree it is pulling a lot of buzz away from podcasts. I just can't get into it, though. I'm a fast reader, and when I read a blog I can get through it as quickly or as slowly as I want. When I listen to a podcast, I can choose to devote 100% of my attention to it or I can do something else while I listen to it. With a vlog, I'm a captive audience that has to dedicate X amount of time to watch it. Especially during busy times, a vlog is a real time commitment to make when I want to get through all of my regular news and opinion sources and podcasts in that limited time that I have. The good ones are worth it, no doubt, but for me they are the first thing that gets cut.

Having said that, there will be no Jibvlog anytime soon, even though the word Jibvlog makes me giggle. If you are lucky, I may one day convert the home video I made of myself as Timothy Treadwell and my cat as one of his bears. You may or may not find it funny, but hearing the lovely Mrs. Jib laughing/crying in the background as my cat freaks out is well worth the price of admission.

The Bob Marley commemorative coin

The 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth will be commemorated with a collectable coin:
Though the coins were intended to mark the 60th anniversary of Marley's birth, which was celebrated in 2005, the bank is just now offering them for sale, said Morgan, who didn't offer a further explanation.

Word is the coins will be available in silver or Jamaican Gold.

Hurtling towards disaster

I have a rough theory of world conflict that guides my world view. The theory, in brief, is this: Conflict and war is inevitable. Humans, try as they may, are imperfect and incapable of "world peace." Therefore, we must manage conflict as carefully as possible. At times, the world acts like a boiling pot of water with the lid sealed on tight. All looks pretty good from the outside until the pot starts shaking and then explodes. Small, justified wars can reduce the heat being applied and avert disaster. I believe we were following a strategy that could reduce the odds of a major global conflict or nuclear disaster until we smacked headlong into North Korea and Iran. With those two, we've gone wobbly and the heat is building again.

Because we've lost our backbone as it relates to Iran and North Korea, I sometimes sense that we've lost some control over future conflicts that will find us whether we like it or not. The fear is less that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons but more that they have no qualms about using nuclear weapons, and the use of those weapons will start spinning global actions out of anyone's control. All of the 'respected' intelligence says that Iran is a few years away from acquiring nuclear weapons yet. But what if, and this shouldn't take any stretch of the imagination to conceive, the intelligence is somehow wrong and an Iranian nuclear birth or surprise is just off on the horizon? Once that day arrives, whether it be next week, next year, or 2010, I fear we will be perilously close to hurtling towards disaster.

Ann Coulter a "commentatrix"

Heh. As headlines go, this one for Mark Steyn's book review of Ann Coulter's Godless is a winner:
Ann Coulter: America's fiery, blond commentatrix

Time to line up behind Mark Green

I'd give the pep talk, but Chris already has.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shaking hands, etc.

Over at the BBA I have some brief impressions of my evening at a political fund raiser last night.


I got home from an event at 10 pm tonight. All I wanted to do was slide online and start blogging. But my $%*#$!@ wi-fi wasn't working. Right now I've been connected to my wi-fi for about two minutes straight. That's my longest stretch yet. Technology-sometimes it just pisses you off.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Iran to get 'serious' about negotiations; West renamed Charlie Brown

So Iran says it is ready for serious talks now. Am I the only person that sees the Iran nuclear talks as a Peanuts comic strip now? You know the one, where Lucy (Iran) convinces Charlie Brown (the West) that she's going to hold the football (Iran's nuke program) in place so he can kick it. And then when he goes to kick it, Lucy pulls the football away and Charlie Brown ends up flat on his ass. And he falls for it every time, as do we.

Scientists: Pluto may be too small. Mars gets a size complex

I don't get this one. Why are people so emotionally invested in Pluto's planetary status?

Say it ain't so, Pluto. Pluto's status as a planet "could go either way" after a stormy day of debate over a newly proposed planet definition.

At the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague, astronomers voted Tuesday on a handful of amendments to revise a proposal that would make 12 planets in the solar system.

"Stormy day of debate"? This just goes to show that the nightlife of astronomers is even less salacious than that of bloggers.

Trackback post delayed

A couple of days ago I had promised to the commentors in another post that I would go over trackbacks in a little more detail. I'll still be doing that, but the post is going to be a little delayed. The last three days or so have not conducive to me sitting down and grinding out posts of any real length. I will get on the trackback conversation as soon as I can, though.

Define "solved"

As found today's Patriot Post 06-34 Chronicle (Email subscription):

Now, what also needs to come out of this cease-fire [between Israel and Hizballah], I think, is a much more general agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and get this solved. I think that that is the one thing that could really be seminal and positively effective in terms of the American relationship with the Muslim world. ~Diane Feinstein

I don't expect mind blowing logic from Feinstein, but a better understanding of the situation would at least be nice. "Solved" has very different meanings for Israel and Hezbollah. For Israel, solved means finding a way to peacefully co-exist with its neighbors. For Hezbollah, solved means destroying Israel and claiming that land for Palestinians/Arabs/Islam. Those are pretty incompatible solutions. The only way to "get this solved" is to convince Hezbollah to give up on its desire to wipe Israel off the map, or to convince Israel to no longer exist. The latter is abhorrent, and I've seen no serious efforts towards the former. If anyone wants this solved, then they are going to have to go to the root of the problem and convince Israel's neighbors to no longer desire and attempt to bring about Israel's destruction.

Just for the record...

...trying to blog with a PDA is pain in the rump.


Ah yes, this is nice. 8/22 has come and gone, quietly and peacefully. I'm always pleased when much ado turns into nothing .

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

90 pound weakling...

...thy name is Europe:

Italy, which is expected to lead a U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, will be unable to send troops if Israel "keeps shooting", Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said on Tuesday.

"From Israel, we expect a renewed effort, this time truly binding, to respect the ceasefire," D'Alema said. "It's fair to expect that Hizbollah put down their weapons, but we cannot send our troops to Lebanon if the (Israeli) army keeps shooting."

Pathetic. Do European countries issue weapons to their military forces anymore, or is being a European soldier all about facials, manicures, and pedicures now? The good news is we don't have to worry about European wars anymore because it is pretty easy to break up armies that are sissy slapping each other and shooting spitwads. The bad news is that Europe is absolutely worthless on the world stage.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A date line note on August 22nd

As I have noted already, I don't think August 22nd is going to be too notable. Just the same, a little extra caution and awareness of one's surroundings probably isn't uncalled for, especially if you will be traveling or in an area where a lot of people congregate. In that vein, note that the 22nd of August will begin in Tehran at around our 3:30 PM Central Daylight Savings time today, if my math is correct. Heightened awareness would be prudent through tomorrow night.

Iraqi Ambassador to U.S.: Quitting irresponsible, dangerous

Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, in today's Washington Post:

The United States cannot escape responsibility for the current situation in Iraq. Not only would abandoning Iraq to its fate now be irresponsible, it would almost certainly lead to disintegration and dictatorship, with a high risk of a wide regional conflict. It would be catastrophic not just for Iraq but also for the United States and for world peace and stability for decades to come. On the other hand, winning this war would be one of the best gifts the United States could make to the world and to its own people.

He's dead on, here. The time for the anti-war wailing and gnashing of teeth was in the months-long build up to the Iraq War. Now that we've done so, it is our responsibility to stabilize the country and to help it build up a security force. Otherwise, what we will have effectively done is de-quill a porcupine in a forest full of predators. In fact, it would be worse than that because leaving Iraq vulnerible to its neighbors will only guarentee that we'll have to go back their again at some point.

Blogging courtesy

I'm not very good at leaving trackbacks. While I like bringing in new traffic as much as the next blogger, I seem determined to do it the hardest way possible-minus as much self promotion as possible. My opinion is changing on the trackbacks, though. Even if you aren't into inserting your own link in someone else's comments, setting a trackback is still actually a courteous thing to do. It lets the other blogger know that you've found what they've said interesting enough to chip in on the conversation. This blog, by most comparisons, is pretty low traffic, but I still find the trackbacks left here useful. So today I resolve to become a dilligent trackbacker, for the convenience of my fellow bloggers.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Evil incarnate

2008 primary line up change

In my 30 years, I've never seen politics quite like those of today. I view it as a championship boxing match between Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans have spent the last three rounds making stupid mistakes, and I'm one of the trainers in their corner wondering what the hell they are thinking. Just when I think the Democrats have my guys ready for the knockout, the Dems start punching themselves in the face. First was this Lamont-Lieberman deal, and now there is this:

The plan would keep Iowa's caucuses in their leadoff position Jan. 14. Nevada would follow with its own caucuses Jan. 19. New Hampshire would retain its status as the first-in-the-nation primary, with voting Jan. 22. South Carolina would hold its primary Jan. 29.

Eager to keep states from jumping in line, the DNC also passed enforcement rules that would punish candidates who campaign in states that ignore the party and set their own schedule. Some party members worry that would create an unseemly intraparty fight when Democrats can least afford it.

Under that plan, candidates who venture into states that ignore party rules would not get any delegates from those contests. But some DNC members were unsure how effective such a sanction would be, particularly if the states doing the leapfrogging are small and have few delegates to offer.

I'm going to offer a free piece of advice to Democrats. The last 8 years have been a tough slog for Americans. A bit of war fatigue is setting in, and if you just get out of your own way, the American public would probably elect Mickey Mouse (D-FL) to the presidency in '08 just to change things up. I don't think the Democrats are capable of getting out of their own way right now, though. In fact, the more I watch them, the more it appears that they are getting ready to fall on their own swords.

I don't fault the Democrats for trying to make the caucus/primary system better or more to their advantage. What I do fault them for is their timing. In bucolic 2000, this change would have been worth arguing over. And who knows, maybe it would be again in 2012 or 2016. Right now it is not, though.

The failure of the UN

Perhaps that should read "failures," because the UN has had many. One has to wonder how long the world will continue to put its faith in this incompetent body:

There were no signs of further clashes, but the flare-up underlined worries about the fragility of the cease-fire as the U.N. pleaded for nations to send troops to an international force in southern Lebanon that is to separate Israeli and Hezbollah fighters.

Look, I'm not one who says that the UN is completely useless. I just think that the world has a misplaced faith in it and out of line expectations for what its capabilities. It is useful in that it can be a central, formal location for international diplomatic efforts during times of minor crisis. Unfortunately, it will always be an organization of lowest common denominators, and that will always serve to undermine it. It will also never be able to effectively enforce anything it resolves unless the actions in question are championed by major nations that are willing to put their young men where their mouths are.

The defiencies of the UN have become more and more glaring since the Gulf War came to an end. History may well look back and ask why we put so much faith in an organization that at best could not halt the march to war, and at worst contributed to it.

How they may have fallen

On March 29th, 2002, the New York Times took an early look at what may have led to the collapse of both towers. As we approach the fifth anniversary, it is worth another read.

Towers Withstood Impact, But Fell To Fire, Report Says

Free energy?

These things have a way of never amounting to much, but it is interesting none the less.

Sean McCarthy says that no one was more sceptical than he when Steorn, his small hi-tech firm in Dublin, hit upon a way of generating clean, free and constant energy from the interaction of magnetic fields. 'It wasn't so much a Eureka moment as a get-back-in-there-and-check-your-instruments moment, although in far more colourful language,' said McCarthy.
McCarthy claims it provides five times the amount of energy a mobile phone battery generates for the same size, and does not have to be recharged. Within 36 hours of his advert appearing he had been contacted by 420 scientists in Europe, America and Australia, and a further 4,606 people had registered to receive the results.

I've long thought that we've underestimated the energy potential in magnetic fields. I hope this "break through" passes a thorough scientific review.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Video game injuries

I think I know why Belle at Leaning Blue has been so quiet lately. Here's Exhibit 'A'.

Piano Man

A weekend music video double feature: Piano Man. Make sure you have a drink at the ready before hitting the play button.

Land of Confusion

Despite the dim caricature of Reagan, Land of Confusion is one of my favorite videos. Enjoy.

August 22nd: Much ado about nothing

Bernard Lewis set off a lot of discussion about an Iranian surprise on August 22nd with this piece in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal. Frankly, I don't think Iran is capable of a devestating "surprise" on this coming August 22nd. What consists of their air force would be lucky to get out of Iranian air space. They do not have their own nuclear technology yet. Logic just says that they do not have the ability to do much on that day except to defy the UN Security Council.

Just they same, I am a big proponent of never underestimating an enemy. With North Korea possibly preparing a nuclear test, it is somewhat concerning that they may have passed a completed but untested nuclear weapon to Iran. On August 21st here in the U.S. and into the 22nd, it will pay to be on guard, but just the same, don't get too worked up about what will probably be little more than Iran thumbing its nose at the world.

If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, you're under arrest

Las Vegas has passed an odd ordinance:

City officials have made it illegal to sleep within 500 feet of urine or feces, but the city attorney says the new law was passed by mistake and won't be enforced.

My headline is a bit misleading in that urine or feces in an "approved sanitary facility" can be within 500 feet of you while you sleep, so you can feel safe if you live in Vegas and you forgot to flush before bed. Still, if Las Vegas wants to target homelessness, one would think they could pass more sensible laws than this.

Misidentifying the nature of the current war

It is politically incorrect to say that we are at war with Islam. It is also confusing. It is also inaccurate, because even in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've gone to lengths to avoid total war. It is more accurate to say this, though: Large swaths of Islam are at war with us, whether we like it or care to admit it. And by us I do not mean just the United States, but rather the West and all first world nations. We have two choices. We can engage the battle, which again, despite Iraq and Afghanistan, we've barely attempted, and thereby protect our respective homelands. Our other option is to continue to wait, waffle, and equivicate, in which case we will be weakened bit by bit until the day that a truly catastrophic attack takes place, at which time our challenge will be far more grave and all the more difficult than it is even today.

Jiblog overthrows Google in bloody coup?

Ya never know.

Make your own Google-style logo.

Farewell Marine

Watch, listen, reflect.

Sandler donates video game systems to Israelis

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this story:

Adam Sandler is doing his part to help Israel following its 34-day war with Lebanon. The 50 First Dates star announced earlier this week he would donate 400 Sony Playstations to Israelis whose homes were damaged in the fighting.

While I applaud Sandler's spirit of generosity, I'm confused by the importance of 400 Playstations to Israelis with damaged homes and the threat of war and death on their door steps.

NY History: B-25 crashes into Empire State Building

Most of us are aware that back in the 1940's a plane crashed into the Empire State Building, but prior to 9/11 it was a somewhat forgotten event. Damn Interesting has a, well, damn interesting account of what happened that day in 1945.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pakistan arrests al Qaeda leader

Reuters reports:

ABC News reported on Friday that Pakistani officials have arrested a top al Qaeda commander and that he could provide clues on the whereabouts of Islamic militant cells worldwide and Osama bin Laden.

The television network said Pakistani police arrested Matiur Rehman based on leads in the investigation of a foiled plot to bomb U.S.-bound airplanes from London.

Here's to hoping the Pakistanis are handling the interrogation.

Willy's Wonka in the Chocolate

This is gross.

It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but stepping into a vat of viscous chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old man Friday morning.

Darmin Garcia, an employee of a company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said he was pushing the chocolate down into the vat at Debelis Corp. because it was stuck. But it became loose and he slid into the hopper.

I really, really hope that that they scrapped that vat of chocolate.

In a side note, this happened in Kenosha. What is with this corner of the state this week? Earlier in the week there was another bizarre accident in that area when a guy was pulled through a wood chipper.

Mmmm. Now you can really picture the scene.

Holy chocolate

We have a vision of the Virgin in Chocolate.

But on Thursday she held in her hand a figure that dazzles her more than any Hollywood star: a 2-inch-tall column of chocolate drippings that workers at her gourmet chocolate company believe bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary.

I just don't see it. Looks kind of like poo to me.

The Patriot Post website

If you are right of center politically and do not already receive the Patriot Post's thrice weekly digests, you really should. As a blogger, I find that I've already read and perhaps covered some of things they take a look at, but in every digest there is something that I've missed. For me, The Patriot Post was always about those emailed digests. They have relaunched their website, though, and it is now becoming more of a resource. Check it out.

Feasibility of the TATP airline bombs

The Register takes a look at the science of TATP bombs and the feasibility of those explosives taking down an airliner. The science seems solid, except this part:

While it's true that a slapdash concoction will explode, it's unlikely to do more than blow out a few windows. At best, an infidel or two might be killed by the blast, and one or two others by flying debris as the cabin suddenly depressurizes, but that's about all you're likely to manage under the most favorable conditions possible.

Ahhh. They show a fine understanding of TATP, but a lesser understanding of explosives on an airliner. Just a couple of windows? In a pressurized airliner at cruising altitude, that's darn near a death sentence. Remember Pan Am 103? All it took was a 20 inch hole at 31,000 feet to tear the plane apart.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Well said, Gerard Baker.

Gerard Baker criticizes President Bush and U.S. foreign policy in the Times of London. It is well founded criticism, and his parting words say it all.

It is hard for me to recall a time when the world was such a scary place. No one should rejoice at America’s weakness. The world is scarier still because of it.

We've bent to the so called world opinion, it has made us as weak and vacillating as our critics.

France a joke

Q: Why did France only send 200 soldiers to the Lebannon peace keeping force?
A: For more efficient retreats.

And an additional question. Do French peace keeping forces also get 35 hour work weeks, Sundays off, and long holidays?

Oil prices drop; Enjoy it while it lasts

Oil prices dropped again today.

Oil fell sharply on Thursday to its lowest price in nearly two months after ample U.S. fuel stockpiles eased investor fears of supply shortages as the U.S. summer driving season drawing to a close.

Although prices have fallen for four consecutive sessions, the market is still up 14 percent this year on healthy global demand, geopolitical tensions and supply disruptions in key oil-producing countries.

U.S. light, sweet crude for September delivery dropped $1.19 to $70.70 a barrel by 1510 GMT, its lowest since June 26. London Brent fell $1.04 to $71.79 a barrel.

U.S. crude prices have tumbled more than seven percent, declining in six of the last eight sessions, as a ceasefire took hold in the Middle East and BP decided to shut in only half of its 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Prudhoe Bay oilfield for pipeline repairs.

I give this downward trend about one more day. Then we'll see it shoot back up after Iran tells the UN Security Council to take its resolution and stick it in its collective bum. Almost immediately after that, the market will start freaking out about winter heating oil supplies, particualarly if some university genius predicts a cold winter.

The logic behind the term

Have you been following the debate over the accuracy of the term Islamofascism? If so, or if you don't understand the the term, then read this TCS Daily piece. It is by Stephen Schwartz, and he explains why Islamofascism is a logically accurate term when used correctly.

UN to act swiftly?

This is a joke:

The United States expects the United Nations to act swiftly next month and consider sanctions against Iran if it does not drop its nuclear program, said a senior State Department official on Thursday.

The debating society that is the UN never acts swiftly. In fact, infrequently ever acts on its words. If we continue along this current path with Iran, they will acquire nuclear weapons, no doubt about it. If and when that day comes, the UN should be dismantled brick by brick for its incredible failure, and the U.S. State Department should go with it.

A dark pessimism

Has anyone besides me noticed that many opinion writers have turned much more dark, gloomy, and pessimistic over the past month? Leading that trend is National Review Online. Opinion journalism is never a terribly optomistic venture, but of late it seems to have gotten even gloomier than what is typical.

What if 9/11 never happened?

That is the title of this piece in New York Magazine. It is interesting, even if it is a little shallow at times. In the spirit of the article, I'm going to contribute a few thoughts to the theme.

If 9/11 never happened...
*Hundreds, maybe thousands of Americans would still die from continuing terrorist attacks of our interests over seas.
*George Bush would have had his record low poll numbers by the middle of his first term.
*All of the major terror attacks since still would have happened.
*8/16/06 likely would have likely happened.
*With Al Qaeda safely ensconsed behind the Taliban in Afghanistan, and without having to dedicate resources to Iraq, more major attacks would have occurred
*The U.S., if not hit by a major attack by the present, would have a major attack on its horizon.
*Russia and France would have gotten sanctions lifted against Iraq in 2003 or 2004.
*We'd be worried about nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Iran, and Iraq right now.
*George Bush would have lost his re-election in 2004 as conservatives began to grow as unsatisfied with him in 2003 as they did in 2005/2006.

Pop quiz

Profiling for terrorists is growing in popularity in this nation. What country is it?

A: Great Britain.

Surprised? I was.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Allen, fading star

George Allen is well on his way towards avoiding all that nasty effort that goes into a Presidential run. If he does something dumb like this again, his candidacy will be over by 2007:

Sen. George Allen apologized Tuesday for remarks that offended a man of Indian descent who was tracking the Republican's re-election campaign for Democratic challenger Jim Webb.

S.R. Sidarth said he felt Allen was singling him out because of his race when the senator called him "Macaca" during a GOP rally Friday at Breaks, Va., near the Kentucky border.

"In no way was it meant to demean him, and I'm sorry if he was offended," Allen said in a telephone interview.

Allen, who is positioning himself for a possible run for president in 2008, said the name was "just made up" and that he had no idea that macaca is a genus of monkeys including macaques. The name also could be spelled Makaka, which is a city in South Africa.

The article went on to mention that Allen used to keep a noose in his office during his days as a lawyer. It must have been for his presidential hopes.

The last word on 9/11 conspiracies

Heh. This comment in response to a 9/11 conspiracist at is pretty amusing:

Do you really be live (sic) the same people who didn't bother to plant WMD in Iraq conspired to commit 9/11 and got away with it? Is this what you are saying?

Conspiracy theorists amuse me. Here we have a government that spews secrets out to the press on an ongoing basis, and yet somehow it was supposedly capable of pulling of the assassination of JFK and 9/11, both plots that hundreds would have been in on, without a single person blowing the whistle. Oh if they could just put that child-like faith to better use. They always remind me of the classic SNL skit in which President Reagan acts like a bumbling idiot in front of the public and then turns into a brilliant but evil genius behind closed doors with his cabinet, with the point being neither portrayal is accurate or possible.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ad subsidized college textbooks

When I was in college, there were two things that were guarenteed to send steam pouring out of my ears. The first was professors who required subscriptions to the New York Times but then never used them in class. The second was buying textbooks that the professor then used once or never at all. Those books were a waste of funds, because if you had buy it new, you were only going to get pennies on the dollar back for it, even if the cover had never been cracked. That could be a thing of the past for future college students, though:

Textbook prices are soaring into the hundreds of dollars, but in some courses this fall, students won't pay a dime. The catch: Their textbooks will have ads for companies including FedEx Kinko's and Pura Vida coffee.
Now, a small Minnesota startup is trying to shake up the status quo in the $6 billion college textbook industry. Freeload Press will offer more than 100 titles this fall - mostly for business courses - completely free. Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book, which they can store on their hard drive and print.

If I know college students as well as I think I do, then I can tell you who is really behind this idea: Big Beer.

Pssst. Copperfield is nuts.

Okay, so that may not exactly be news. This odd story just reaffirms it, though.

Master illusionist David Copperfield says he has found the "Fountain of Youth" in the southern Bahamas, amid a cluster of four tiny islands he recently bought for $50 million.
"I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting."

Yeah, Claudia Schiffer got out of that engagement while the getting was good.

Iran unhappy with Israel-Hezbollah cease fire?

From Debka, so take it for what it is worth:

After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon,– one from Iran's foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.

While the foreign ministry report highlighted the negative aspects of the UN resolution, the council's document complained that Hizballah squandered thousands of rockets,– either by firing them into Israel or having them destroyed by the Israeli air force.

This story indicates that Hezbollah blew through a lot of rockets-and Iranian money-with very little return. It also pays to keep this in the back of one's mind as the days and weeks go by:

After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon, one from Iran'’s foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.

While the foreign ministry report highlighted the negative aspects of the UN resolution, the council'’s document complained that Hizballah squandered thousands of rockets, either by firing them into Israel or having them destroyed by the Israeli air force.

The article has a ton of information and I recommend reading it, if only to be used as background information as time passes. It also claims that there is an American-Israeli plan to strike Iran's reactors and that Iran regards Israel's efforts against Hezbollah, decried as a failure by some, as having seriously degraded Hezbollah's capabilities.

Did you know?

The man who played Sgt. Schultz on Hogan's Heroes was Jewish and spent some time in a concentration camp?

Yay! Blogger upgrades coming!

I'm very, very excited. For the first time in the two plus years I've been on Blogger, some significant upgrades are on the horizon. To see screen shots of what is going on, head over to Google Operating System. The bad news? The Beta is going to be strictly invite only.

Monday, August 14, 2006

McCain-Lieberman. Why?

Okay, the theory du jour in the blogosphere right now is a Republican McCain ticket in '08 that includes liberal/Democrat/Independent Joe Lieberman. Can somebody help me with this one? McCain is no friend of free speech, and he only flashes his conservative credentials when he needs something from conservatives. Lieberman is a supporter of President Bush's war plans. So what? There are a lot of conservative Republicans that support the President, too. I ask this of those who are enamored of this idea: Do you really want a liberal Democrat as the Vice President to a Republican President who would be quite old when he took office? Here's another question: Perhaps they could be electable, but is that what we want to be? Hand wringers over "electibility" like the Democrats have been? Look where it has gotten them. That's right, nowhere. Yet another question. Do you really think McCain-Lieberman ticket would accomplish any kind of consensus in Washington? It ain't going to happen. As long as the Democrats are in the minority, they would try to filet anyone in power who had an (R) next to his/her name, even if a Dem that only half of them like was on the ticket. I hate to say it, but everyone who is enamored of this ticket is dillusional.

Must read of the day, 8/14/06

If you didn't read this article by Michael Gerson when Instapundit linked to it, then go read it now. Gerson, President Bush's former speech writer, writes an important article on where we've been, where we are, and where we need to go in the War on Terror.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Whitewater immigration protest

Yesterday afternoon, a group Latinos gathered across an the intersection from the Whitewater police department to protest a recent illegal immigration raid staged at a local business. I showed up shortly after three o'clock, the scheduled start time of the protest. I took about a dozen pictures, but this one tells the story all by itself. I'm told the crowd grew to about 50 people after I left.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Silent protest of immigration enforcement

Over at the BBA, we've been discussing an illegal immigration enforcement action that took place in Whitewater, WI. The story is here, and you can follow the discussion here, here, and here (and Dad29's coverage here). It sounds like this afternoon there will be some sort of "silent protest" of the raid that rounded up 25 illegal aliens at a local business. I am going to try to swing by and get a picture or two. I have an event this evening in the Wisconsin Dells, so if I do get any pictures I'll have them here and at the BBA on Sunday sometime.

Nuclear powered dream

I have to stop blogging before bed.

I'm not much of a dreamer when I sleep, and it is very infrequent that I can remember any dreams that I've had the next morning. Even less frequently than that do I have bad dreams. Last night was the exception to all of that. In my dream, it was about four in the morning, and something was happening, although I wasn't able to really grasp the specifics. I do know that we were awake and in our living room, watching live, breaking news and gathering up supplies. Then, coming from the front of our house (the east), came a flash, followed by a brightening horizon and a slowly rising mushroom cloud. Now there were more people in the house, and I quickly ushered they and my wife into the basement. I came back up to monitor the situation and take some pictures. As I got back to the living room a strong wind blew through town and caused some minor damage. I then went out front to photograph the still rising mushroom cloud when the sun began to rise in the northeastern sky, out of place and ahead of schedule. Bizarre stuff.

Cease fire a feel good mirage

I told you so.

I just thought I'd get that out of the way now, because not too far down the road this cease fire will disappear like a mirage in the desert. Hezbollah & company will take the time to recoup and resupply. When the time is right, they will begin to terrorize Israel again. Only this time Israel will have to sit and take it as there will be an armed international force acting as a buffer to protect Hezbollah. Israel thinks it is getting a buffer from Hezbollah, but it will end up being nothing of the sort.

So my message to the international community is this: Feel good today, but remember that I told you so.

Brian Williams responds

NBC Nightly News said something silly on Hardball on Thursday night and he got ripped pretty good by the blogosphere for it. If you haven't heard or read Williams' comments, head on back over to Radio Blogger. The comments are below the previously mentioned Mike Wallace comments.

Friday night, Williams responded. I'm actually buying what he is selling in his post, although it doesn't change the fact that his comments on Hardball were incredibly ineloquent and easily misinterpreted.

HT NewsBusters

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peak weekend for the Perseid meteor showers

This weekend will be the peak of the annual Perseid meteor showers. The show will not be quite as good as past years because of the bright lunar conditions, but if you can get away from the city lights you should still be able to see the show.

Mike Wallace on Ahmadinejad

Sean Hannity had the opportunity to interview Mike Wallace on his interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad. Radio Blogger has the transcript here. Wallace was clearly charmed, impressed, flattered, although not quite droolingly so. Close, though. A few of his thoughts in the interview with Hannity deserve a little more attention, so I am going to pull those thoughts out of the interview and comment on them.

SH: So you don't think he's an anti-Semite?

MW: He himself, an anti-Semite, an anti-Jew...anti-Jew?

SH: Yes.

MW: No, I don't.

I cannot quite fathom how Wallace can think Ahmadinejad isn't an anti-Semite. By just casually following the news, one would know that Ahmadinejad's own words have displayed his anti-Semitism. It is tough to call for the anhiliation of the entire nation of Israel and not be an anti-Semite. Perhaps senility is setting in for Wallace.

I mean, we were having a discussion. And he was infinitely more rational than I had expected him to be.

Wallace is making a mistake in judgement here. Crazed individuals are not incapable of rationality, especially those who ascend to the leadership of nations. In fact, many of them appear to be incredibly rational. The problem is that they are masterful at bending rationality to meet their needs. In other words, Ahmadinejad may be able able to make rational arguments or statements, but his ultimate goal, the elimination of Israel, is the pinnacle of irrationality.

(MW on Ahmadinejad's belief that Israel should be in Germany) Where did the Holocaust take place? Did it take place in an Arab neighborhood? Did it take place in Jerusalem? No. It took place in Germany. Then it seems to me, under those circumstances, take Israel, the Zionist entity, he called it, move it to Germany. Move it to Europe. That's where it happened.

SH: Do you agree with him?

MW: Move it to the United States.

Well, at least we know where Wallace is coming from now. He clearly views Israel as illegitimate.

MW: Khamenei, who is the supreme leader, really, in Iran, if there's one man to whom this man, pronounce his name better than I do...that the president of Iran defers to...

The important part of this is that Wallace cannot even pronounce Ahmadinejad's name. Now granted, it isn't an easy name, but if you are a serious TV or radio journalist, then you are paid to pronounce. If Wallace couldn't even take the time to learn how to pronounce Ahmadinejad's name, how am I, as a listener to this interview, supposed to take Wallace's perceptions seriously. How am I, as a likely viewer of the Ahmadinejad interview, supposed to even take Wallace's piece seriously?

27 years ago, I went to the holy city of Qum to talk to Khomenei, which is one of the reasons, I'm sure, that they decided that they were going to let me talk, or he was going to let me talk. I know that I am making him sound more human, more surely than I expected, and by all means, more human than you feel that he is.

Or perhaps they let Wallace talk because they knew he could be a useful idiot for them.

Britney unplugged

I've always thought that Britney Spears would have been perfectly happy, maybe happier, if fame had never come her way. I envision a not-famous Britney marrying some high school sweetheart at age 18. I see her husband becoming a trucker, buying Britney her first of many homes in trailer parks, and the two of them raising somewhere in the vicinity of 8 to 12 kids. I don't say this judgementally, either. I just see that scenario as having suited a non-famous Britney Spears. This video only reinforces that in my mind.

Guess the beer at a geographic location

Okay, I have to jump on the bandwagon. Boots & Sabers pioneered "Guess that Geographical Location." It is such a cool game that Blogger Beer is picking up on it. Not wanting to be left out of all the blogger games, I've decided to start the game here, as well. Here's the twist: You can tell me the geographic location if you want, except I don't really care; but if you tell me which beer is at the mystery location, then you're a champ. Here's game #1:

Okay, this game might be a little too tough. The correct answer is a Miller High Life in my backyard shortly after noon on a Friday.

Effective issue propoganda

This is one way to change some guys' minds about women in combat-appeal to one of their more base instincts. What better way to do that than a safe for work pictorial of the hot women of the IDF (HT: Right Wing News). The only problem with it is that some men's heads may spontaneously combust from the burning confusion caused by the conflict created between the instincts of protecting women and sex.

Thoughts on the Wisconsin AG debate

Okay, I've listened to the debate. It is every bit the embarrassment that the stories made it out to be, particularly segment one and just into segment two. This was a very unprofessional debate on the part of the candidates. They not only gave their Democratic opponent to be ammunition, but they probably blew their chance to reach the ears of many voters that they'll need after the primary. The first segment was particularly damaging in that I could almost hear radio stations being changed all over Wisconsin as listeners grew quickly tired of the bickering that overwhelmed any issues.

My impression is that Bucher has some fine talking points that could be effective against Van Hollen. Unfortunately for Bucher, his abrasive personality in this debate overwhelmed those talking points and may have even created empathy in some listeners for Van Hollen. Van Hollen's reasonably calm, confident style may appeal to voters, but if he allows Bucher to get under his skin, that is going to go away quickly. Either way, if this type of interaction between Bucher and Van Hollen continues over the next month, their intraparty warfare is only going to make the Democrats' candidate stronger and more difficult to defeat, regardless of which one of these two win.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sucking it up in the Wisconsin AG race

I was unable to listen to the J.B. Van Hollen v. Paul Bucher grudge match on Charlie Sykes' show today, but I've certainly read a lot about it. Since I couldn't catch the debate, I am going to refrain from analysis of it until I've had a chance to download the podcasts of it at Sykes Writes. Except for one point. But first, let's take a peek at an excerpt of the AP's report on the debate.

That great sucking sound you hear ... just might be coming from the race for Wisconsin attorney general.

A radio debate Tuesday between two Republicans running for the office plunged into personal attacks, with J.B. Van Hollen, a former federal prosecutor, telling his opponent during a break that "you suck ... because you only listen to people who agree with you."

Paul Bucher, a Waukesha County district attorney, shot back on the air: "I don't suck!"

Congratulations, boys. You've managed to embarrass yourselves and the state at the national level. If the two of them keep this up, neither one is going to be able to win in November. If Van Hollen wants to claim the high road, he'd better reign it in and actually take it. As for Bucher, aggressiveness is a fine trait for an AG and a politician. But if that aggressiveness looks like aggression to the average voter, then it becomes a liability, and he is certainly flirting with that liability.

Are they Islamic fascists or not?

This blogger says "not."

The reason it’s inappropriate to describe Islamists as fascists is simple: They’re not statists. To Muslims, including that subset of Muslims I call Islamists (see below), a state is at best a temporary thing, performing certain administrative, organizational, or ideological tasks. It has no independent significance, as it does in, say, the Christian tradition. (“Render unto Caesar” and all that.) Islamists aren’t trying to create a state in which all the parts work as one; their ultimate goal is a stateless world in which everyone worships Allah. Read up on Islam if this seems strange to you.

I tend to disagree. That may be the face they are presenting to the rest of the world, this stateless Islamic world, but have you seen one radically Islamic nation do away with the state yet? No, and you never will. The real face of radical Islam is one of a fascist Islamic state with religous leaders at the head, but really more similar to fascist governments than his portrayal lets on. Power is power, irregardless of religion.

Israel as Czechoslovakia

I've been seeing the similarities between the 1930's and the present day, but this is one that hadn't even dawned on me, oddly enough. From the Spectator, via Power Line.

For Netanyahu, Israel is a latter-day Czechoslovakia, which deluded and desperately anti-war European powers, led by Neville Chamberlain, sacrificed to the Nazis in 1938 because of the German-speaking minority in Sudetenland, whom he compares with today’s Palestinians. ‘And, yes, there was apologetics and, yes, there was appeasement and, yes, there was pressure on a small resistant democracy in the face of this German onslaught. It was called Czechoslovakia at the time. And, yes, there were articles in the British press condemning Czechoslovakia for inciting a German response because of the denial of the rights of the Sudeten Germans. Do you want to go on with this?’

Benjamin Netanyahu makes another excellent point in the excerpted piece at Power Line. A lot of people are viewing Iran through the lense of the old Soviet days. That is a mistake because the Soviets always put their survival and well being first. In Iran, that may not be the case if the Islamic government actually believes it can bring back the hidden Imam.

Airline bomb plot thwarted

Thank goodness.

British authorities said Thursday they had thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage. Heathrow was closed to most flights from Europe, and British Airways canceled all its flights Thursday between the airport and points in Britain, Europe and Libya.

When I got in my car this morning, the radio was my first source of news. At the time I turned on my car, they were talking about grounding flights. It was a somewhat rude and chilling way to start the day.

So this is what a red terror alert looks like.

The power of Rove

This paranoid thought at the HuffPo got me thinking:

Everybody's talking about the report that Karl Rove's offered to help the Lieberman campaign. An offer like this, leaked by one of Joe's top aides, it raises the question: Has Rove been guiding the Lieberman campaign from the very beginning? That alleged "website hacking" could well be Rove's handiwork - and more clues abound.

Okay, here's what it has me thinking. Karl Rove clearly has a lot of talent for politics. Still, he and the Bush team have had more than their fair share of political missteps. What has made Rove lethal as a political advisor is the boogie man image that has been built up for him by paranoid leftists like this. He is literally an all knowing, all powerful evil deity to some of these people. Rove would be an asset to any campaign, but lefties have built him up to such mythic proportions that he becomes indispensable if only for the psychological affect he has on opponents.

Another HuffPo example of this. Is it possible to have thoughts like this and still maintain one's sanity?

Wider war always just a cat's whisker away

I fully support the military actions that Israel is taking against Hezbollah. It is not only necessary for Israel's long term survival, their success weakens Iran via their proxies. It should be noted that all hell could break lose in the Middle East at the drop of a hat, though. Nobody wants or is ready for a full scale regional war in the Middle East, but I think this illustrates how close that reality is at any given time.

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have been found among Hizbollah guerrillas slain by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, Israel's Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday citing diplomatic sources.

It said the Iranians were identified by documents found on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were discovered or when. Neither the Israeli military nor Hizbollah representatives in Beirut had immediate comment on the report.

This will probably not trigger regional war. However, as Iran and Syria, particularly Iran, delve deeper into the business of other nations around the Middle East, it will spin us closer and closer to that one moment where the spark hits the powder keg.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Do you remember?

You should, but 3 in 10 have already forgotten:

Some 30 percent of Americans cannot say in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place, according to a poll published in the Washington Post newspaper.

Ugh (uff da for my Norwegian compadres out there)

Take your customer "goodwill" and shove it, J.C. Penny

Tonight the lovely Mrs. Jib and I had a little shopping we had to get done. While we were at the mall, she decided to stop in at J.C. Penny to use a gift coupon she had received from the company. This coupon claimed to be a way for Penny's to thank customers, offering $10 off of merchandise for any transaction exceeding $10. On the front of the coupon it said some exceptions apply.

I will be the first to admit that neither of us took the time to read the exceptions. Shame on us. My wife wandered around the store and picked out something that she wanted. When it came time to ring it up, we found out that it was on the "exception" list. She looked pretty disappointed, so I offered to just buy the product for her, but at that point it had become less about the product and more about the principle of the whole thing to her. And so began our death by fine print.

After that first rejection, buying something she wanted became secondary to her. Getting $10 of flesh out of J.C. Penney while spending as little as possible became the goal. So we went and picked out a secondary product that she was interested in, a coin purse/wallet. It cost $9.99. She picked out a pair of socks to bump the total over $10, and we were off to a register. We get up there and the price of the socks come off the total, but nothing from wallet. The cashier takes us over to the rack in small print, the sign says "value item" or some such nonsense. Turns out, these volume items are exceptions. So we go back to the drawing board, and she tries to pick out a piece of apparel that she likes. The cashier says, "umm, no, that won't work either. Anything that is '2 for' or '3 for' is excluded." So we walked around a little more only to find that almost all of Penny's clothing was either regularly priced as an "x for" or marked down on sale as such.

At that point I asked for this coupon that represented J.C. Penney's generous customer goodwill. As I read it, I discovered that damn near half the store was off limits to this coupon. "Some Exceptions" actually meant "many, many exceptions." At that point I started getting really, really pissed with this little horseshit ruse Penney's was playing on us. As best I could tell, about all you could buy with it were two styles of socks, a couple of different items of costume jewelry, and their ample supply of ugly assed clearance clothing.

We spent an hour in that damn store. What at first was a feel good activity, something that could build the bond between us and the store, became a quest to get from J.C. Penny without giving them very much in return. I frankly resent their little attempt at expressing goodwill by putting half the store off limits. I worked retail for 4 years and I know a lot of the tricks stores play. This was easily the most bush league ploy I've ever seen. Every year at Christmas I spend money at J.C. Penney. This year, Penney's is going to have to do without my pennies. I refuse to spend a dime or a moment in their stores. And the best part is that I know that there are others out there just like me, because our cashier told us how common this problem was. So take my advice...spend your money at another department store.

More angry, ominous Condi

I recently commented on the media trend of using dark, scary Condi photos. Here's another example, and the article even seems sympathetic towards her.

As an aside to that point, I also read the article and came away with this impression. As Secretary of State, Rice is taking a very 'micro' view of the Israel-Hezbollah fight in Lebanon. In that micro view, tunnel vision is leading her to the position that ending the conflict at all costs is the goal. My sense from the article is that Bush is taking the 'macro' view that he and his administration are grasping the bigger power play going on in the Middle East right. The article neither says nor implies it, but I will come straight out and say it. Iran is making its play for power over the Middle East. The fight Israel is in right now is with a proxy of Iran, and it is critically important that Israel crush that proxy. Unfortunately, Israel is taking its sweet assed time in doing so.

The heavy hand of Iran in Iraq

This is the most depressing thought I've read in a while.

Why I don't watch Scarborough Country

I have some respect for Joe Scarborough. Some. Unfortunately, while Joe can be a rock ribbed conservative at times, his powers of analysis can be questionable. Over at the HuffPo, Scartissue (as former Jiblog contributor Col. Ollie calls him) had this to say:

The conventional wisdom for tonight's Connecticut primary seems to be that a Joe Leiberman loss will yank the Democratic Party so far left as to make other Democratic candidates unelectable this fall. The logic is laughable and similar to what I heard from Republican leaders in 1994. <>

That was the election year when the most conservative wing of the GOP took over the party and swept into power in the US Congress.
My advice to Democratic voters this year is "Go left, young man!"

There may be hell to pay in 2008, but for now the only thing that should matter to you is seizing control of Congress. Do that for the first time in a decade and then you can start worrying about swing voters in the suburbs.

There is only one problem with Scarborough's logic. While there are damn few Scoop Jackson Democrat congressmen right now, there are still Scoop Jackson Democrats in this country. Veering hard left means Dems will need to veer hard left on the War on Terror, and in doing so they will sheer off part of their base, a part they are neglecting in order to grease the squeaky wheel. In 1994, that wasn't a problem because the platform of conservatives was acceptable to popular across the Republican base and into the "Reagan Democrat" portion of the left.

Joementum turns...

...and unfortunately for Lieberman, it started to turn the moment he agreed to be Al Gore's running mate in 2000.

Republicans should actually be elated. Lieberman should win the general election in November while Lamont's victory drags the rest of the Democratic party even further left towards the abyss that is the Kossacks.

It'll be interesting to watch Lieberman's campaign for the next several months. Does he continue to campaign to Democrats? Does he target the crossover Republicans he needs? If so, how does he do so without further eroding his Democrat base?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reminder: 911 is for emergencies only

Just a reminder...911 is an emergency line, not an all purpose police line.

Only a third of 911 calls for help are actual emergencies, according to dispatchers who say some of the calls are simply wacky.

"People have called because they went through the drive-thru and their order was wrong," said California Highway Patrol dispatcher Dennis Kirchner. "People call because they're lost."

People have also been known to call 911 to see why their power is out (call the power company), to get parade times (get a paper), to check on parking regulations (call the regular police line), to see if there are storm warnings (listen to a radio), and for other wacky and mundane reasons. That's not what it is for.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bump key makes traditional locks obsolete

The locks on your house could soon become obsolete with the advent of the "bump key."

A large majority of locks that open with a key, called pin tumbler locks, have structural weaknesses built into them that can be exploited with picks and practice. But a relatively new lockpicking technique known as "bumping" takes advantage of that weakness and requires no real understanding of how locks work. "You don't need expensive tools or anything," says encryption expert Barry Wels. "Any 15-year-old who's motivated can learn how to do it in 15 minutes on the Internet."

Once a person learns how to make the "bump key," they can easily open any lock that key fits into. All they have to do is bump the key with a screw driver or a small hammer. Don't believe it? Then watch this video.

Killing Jews ain't so bad as long as you're charitable

I'm incredulous. If the New York Times gets its nose any farther up Hezbollah's collective behind, the paper will risk dying of e.coli.

Hezbollah paid for his wife’s Caesarean section. It brought olive oil, sugar and nuts when he lost his job and even covered the cost of an operation on his broken nose.

Like many poor Shiites across southern Lebanon, Ahmed Awali, 41, a security guard at an apartment building in this southern city, has received charity from Hezbollah for years. He says he is not a member. He does not even know the names of those who helped him.

So let me get this straight. If your avowed goal is to kill Jews and eliminate Israel, the New York Times will run a big old sloppy wet kiss of a story on you? And some wonder why respect for the media is so low. They insult our intelligence on a daily basis.

Peace in the Middle East?


HOPES rose for a peace deal in Lebanon yesterday after the American and French governments reached agreement on a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The draft called for a “full cessation of hostilities” between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas, but fell short of French demands that there be an immediate unconditional halt to the military action that has plagued the region for four weeks. The resolution will allow Israel to retaliate if Hezbollah launches attacks against it.

However, in a concession to the French, there will be a second UN resolution, yet to be negotiated but possibly within the next two weeks, that will deal with the longer-term issue of peace between Israel and Hezbollah and the creation of an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

I wouldn't get my hopes up too far. Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran want war. The U.S. and France hammering out an agreement will not change that.

James Cameron, Hollywood director, explains the Exodus

This is pretty cool. A Hollywood director is trying to explain the events of the Exodus instead of flat out dismissing it.

THE greatest story ever told has acquired a Hollywood twist. James Cameron, the director of Titanic, is the executive producer of a new documentary that claims to have uncovered fresh evidence confirming one of the most dramatic episodes in the Old Testament — the parting of the Red Sea and the Jewish exodus from Egypt.

You don't see that every day.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

History will view us dimly on Africa

There is no doubt in my mind that history will have a dim view of the present day global powers when it comes to Africa. For a taste of what I'm talking about, read this post by Michael Ledeen at The Corner.

The flaw of history is that while it can look back with the accumulated wisdom of passed time, it is much more difficult to comprehend the concerns and focuses of the day. One thing history may overlook as it glances back and passes judgement on us over Africa is the fact that Africa's inability to project its threats abroad is what is keeping the West detached. That is a relief to us because with radical Islam and nuclear profligation, the West has its hands plenty full right now without worrying about threats from Africa. That is very bad for Africa, and I suspect we will be judged harshly for it.

Ya down with OCD?

Wow. The anonymous commenter in this post by Ingrid at "No On The Ammendment" really can't handle the fact that Jenna is moderating the Marriage Amendment debate between Ingrid and Owen. And he/she just won't let up on it throughout. I think the "No" side has a pretty good shot of winning at the polls in November, but if the closed minded (yes, closed minded) among them like that anonymous commenter take the lead, that could change. They could easily turn off the slightly libertarian conservatives who normally would not vote yes for this ammendment.

Oil Shale

Oil shale is an interesting thing. Like the oil sands which are being converted to crude in Canada, oil shale also requires high prices to be profitable. At the current prices, it would be plenty profitable. In fact, the United States has the highest known oil shale reserves in the world, an estimated 1 to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil. That's more than the Middle East has in crude reserves. So what is the hold up? From Wikipedia's article on oil shale:

During the oil crisis of the 1970s, people thought that oil supplies were peaking, expected oil prices to be around seventy dollars a barrel for some time to come, and invested huge amounts of money in refining oil shale — money that they lost. Because of the astronomical sums that were lost last time around there is considerable reluctance to invest in oil shale this time around. Investors are waiting to see if oil prices really will remain this high (in April 2006: US$75). Prices are rising because of increased demand in rapidly developing countries, particularly China. Will high prices stimulate the discovery of more oil, as happened in the seventies, or will alternatives to drilling for oil have to be developed? Investors, burnt badly in the 1980s for their enthusiasm of the seventies, are in no hurry to develop oil shale. Those who lost money then are inclined to believe that more oil will be found in the near future, although the increasing resource nationalism in producer countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia mean resources in those countries will be off-limits to Western oil and gas companies.

You know what? Investors got burned by ethanol in the 1970's, too, and that hasn't stopped them from pouring their money back into that even shakier energy source. There is either a component to the recovery of crude from oil shale that isn't being acknowledged (environmentalism, anyone?), or those in the know that the current high oil prices are only temporary, or we're just plain stupid for not tapping this resource.

Racism, sexism, or blinding hate of Republicans?

I ask because it seems that whenever a lefty brings up Condoleeza Rice, they also toss in a picture of her looking as mean, scary, and nasty as possible. I find it repugnant, but oddly no one will call them on it.

A waste of breath

Or, the right words for the wrong place at the wrong time. From Reuters:

The United States urged Cubans on Friday to seize the opportunity to rid themselves of Communist rule as ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his designated successor and brother Raul remained out of public view, fueling anxiety over what could happen in the next days or weeks.
In a message beamed to Cuba on Friday evening, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Cubans now was the time to push for a new, democratic leadership. <>

"We will stand with you to secure your rights -- to speak as you choose, to think as you please, to worship as you wish, and to choose your leaders, freely and fairly, in democratic elections," she said in a broadcast on the U.S.-funded Radio Marti network.
I doubt that a democratic "counter revolution" is in the making for Cuba. Yes, there is a small dissident population, but Castro has deftly used the United States as his safety valve for years. We've taken in his opponents if they could make it to our shores. Those Castro couldn't get rid of, he imprisoned. Rice's words may have been reassuring to some on the island, but they are misplaced. Instead, they should have been broadcast into Iran. Money should be piped to Iran's dissidents. Iran is a nation with built up dissenting pressures. Iran is perhaps the biggest threat to peace the world faces right now. Iran is the right place for those words, and now is the right time. Within five years or so, the Castro cult of personality will have crumbled and we will be looking at new relations with them. The same cannot be easily said about Iran unless we start stoking the fires under its building internal dissent.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Levi's Wyler "Walk the Line" commercial

Commenter Alkalinearmy has posted the Levi's "Walk the Line Commercial" at YouTube. You can either view it below or go to YouTube.

Note to the record industry: Sign Megan Wyler
Damn you Levi Strauss!

Hanson: It's the 1930's again

Victor Davis Hanson has been picking up on the same feeling that I've been having, namely that we are in a period similar to the pre World War II period.

When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.
Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

This does not mean that a new World War is definitely on the horizon; after all, while history tends to repeat itself, it never does so exactly. What it does mean is that if we aren't going to apply the lessons learned prior to World War II, we will end up with our hands full of world turmoil, turmoil that will lead to a lot of deaths.

Civilians and war

The New York Times has a long piece titled, "Civilians Lose as Fighters Slip Into Fog of War." It focuses on the Lebanese civilian deaths during Israel's military actions. I'm going to clue the New York Times in on something. Civilians die during wars. Nations fighting ethically avoid causing needless civilian deaths, attempting to limit damage to non-militarial locations and infrastructure as much as possible given the situation. Nations fighting unethically make no distinction between the civilian and military death, or worse yet intentionally target and kill civilians. Israel is the former. Hezbollah is the latter. There is no equivalance.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The odd thing about Lebanon

I just can't get this thought out of my head. There is one unusual aspect to the military actions in Lebanon right now. The national army of Israel is waging war inside their neighbor's borders, only to have Lebanon's government and military essentially sit on their hands and watch the fight. That says a lot about the deep divisions inside of Lebanon.

Is Kim Jong Il tutoring Ahmadinejad?

In grossly over wrought statements, that is:

I warn them: Know that the fire of the wrath of the peoples is about to erupt and overflow. If you do not put an end to your crimes, know that the ocean of the peoples will soon rage. When the peoples begin to move, they will drag everybody to the defendant's bench, and will remove them from the throne of power."

In all seriousness, read the excerpts of Ahmadinejad's latest speech. It makes me uneasy when I think of how similar the nature of the speech is to that of certain fascists in the 1930's.

"Breast-feeding reduces anxiety into childhood"

So says the latest study.

I post this mostly because I find the headline very amusing. There are just so many funny things that could be said based off of it. I mean, who's to say it is the feeding...maybe it is just the breast? It would go a long way to explaining us men.

Throw open the door to Cuba or slowly nurse it

Peggy Noonan is of the opinion that we should "blow open the doors" to Cuba.

How about this: Treat it as an opportunity. Use the change of facts to announce a change of course. Declare the old way over. Declare a new U.S.-Cuban relationship, blow open the doors of commerce and human interaction, allow American investment and tourism, mix it up, reach out one by one and person by person to the people of Cuba. "Flood the zone." Flood it with incipient prosperity and the insinuation of democratic values. Let Castroism drown in it.

It is not often that I disagree with Noonan, but in this case I do. Cuba is a sick nation. It has a boatload of problems that are not going to be fixed over night. Throwing open the doors is going to be a huge shock to Cuba, and that shock is going to create as many problems as it will fix. Additionally, pre-Castro Cuba already had a long love-hate relationship with the United States, and the suddenness of going from an isolated 3rd world nation to being swamped with Americanism is only going to help nurture the "hate" part amongst Cubans who will find the transition difficult. I think the United States and a post-Castro Cuba can build a strong nation to nation relationship, but only if we open just one door at a time. If we overwhelm the island, it is going to make the transition longer and more difficult for everyone involved. In a post-Castro Cuba, we will have the luxury helping the island out of the haze of Communism gradually and at a pace the nation can more easily absorb. We should utilize that time.

Pieces of 9/11 audio history

Wow. Head on over to Vanity Fair to listen to some of the audio history of 9/11, including the first call to NEADS requesting F-16's. That first call is extremely calm and matter of fact. The audio is just an amazing peak into the lives of normal people who manned our air defenses during that horrible morning. After listening, it is much easier to understand the confusion that occurs during a surprise attack.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bad news for Castro: He says he's stable

Castro's communism is different from the old Soviet brand, but when I read this I began to think back to the old Soviet days.

Fidel Castro told his people he was in good spirits and stable after surgery that has raised speculation his illness might be the beginning of the end of his 47-year rule.

Days short of his 80th birthday, Castro issued a statement on Tuesday playing down talk he might be at death's door after an operation to halt stomach bleeding that forced him to temporarily relinquish power to his 75-year-old brother, Raul.

Back in the USSR, when a statement was issued about an ill leader's good health, he was usually already dead and the wrangling over succession was already taking place. Again, Castro's communism is very different from the USSR, so he may very well be doing quite well. But then again, don't be surprised if he dies soon.

"Poop to pump"

This is the kind of thinking that I like when it comes to creating alternative fuels without using an equivilant amount of fossil fuels.

One company's drive to locate domestic sources of energy is taking a turn into the barnyard.

Panda Ethanol has secured nearly $160-million in financing to build an ethanol plant that will be fired by mountains of manure in Hereford, a cattle town in the Texas panhandle.

This doesn't mean that I'm on the ethanol bandwagon. It is one small step in the right direction, though. I can see potentially huge NIMBY problems popping up with poo, though.

A new 9/11 source for historians

I'm pleased to see this:

Photographs of the carnage of Sept. 11 and tape-recorded final phone calls from victims in the World Trade Center were posted Monday by a federal court, a total of 1,202 exhibits from the Zacarias Moussaoui trial.

The videos, photographs and taped phone calls on the court's website were graphic in some cases, leading the court to mark 18 of the exhibits "discretion advised."

The U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., said it is the first criminal case for which a federal court has provided access to all exhibits online.

All of the materials historians would have been able to get their hands on, anyway. What pleases me is that all of this material is being collected in one place on the web where high schoolers or collegians studying history can easily access it. Also, as a History major who spent a lot of time submitting requests for materials at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, the convenience factor is huge. You can view the exhibits here.