Friday, March 30, 2007

World emplores UN to create more serious words

AP- In a move that then entire world has dreaded for years, Great Britain today asked the United Nations to pass a resolution that "deplored" Iran's decision to seize fifteen British sailors.

By taking "deplore" off the table, the community of nations is now devoid of all serious words that sound scary in resolutions. Many member nations fear this may greatly reduce the effectiveness of the UN.

Canadian international expert Claude Lemieux thinks the Brits acted irresponsibly.

"It is clear that the British are international rogues. The world community has been clinging to the phrase "dire consequences" for years now because it knew that once we explored deploring, we were going to be at the end of the line. How will anyone take the UN serious once we've over used 'deplore'? I ask you, how will the UN accomplish anything without the linguistic tools to do so? We need to create more serious words, preferably of French origin, in order to maintain world peace."

Some Brits and Americans think that the UN still has linguistic wiggle room. In fact, British factory work John Stanislaw struck a note of hope by opening a new range of UN condemnations.

"We've not yet broken into our insults of the French. We should be able to keep the UN going for another 20 years with just resolutions denouncing nations as being like the bloody frogs."

An observation on technology

Bloglines is down. I feel helpless when Bloglines is down because I've concentrated my most read sources onto Bloglines, and in situations like this I have to, *gasp*, go to the sites. God help me if there is ever a major black out. (Come to think of it, when we were out of power for 8 hours a year and a half ago when my town got hit by a small tornado, I did almost flip out.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Disturbing Bush-Pelosi photo

Is it just me, or does it look like Nancy Pelosi gave President Bush a surprise prostate exam in this photo?

Jiblog breaking beer news alert!

There is a new Leinenkugel's beer out there, and I'm not talking about Summer Shandy. This new beer was made in a very small quantity, 130 barrels as I understand it, and it is only available on tap in a few locations in Milwaukee and Madison. I could tell you the name of this beer, but I'm not going to. Why? Well, because I haven't had the chance to try it yet, and I don't want any of you running the taps dry before I get my chance, hopefully on Sunday. Once I've had it I'll share the knowledge.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Throwing free speech (and logic) out the window with campaign laws

Okay, let me get this straight. It is my prerogative if I do this:


On the other hand, if I do this-

-then someone can lodge a complaint because there is no disclaimer.

My how we've trodden all over free speech with our campaign laws and regulations.

Let me add one thing. The fact that there is even a question over whether or not it is okay to have a web button without a disclaimer is the problem here. The button is in all likelihood legal, but with all of the various Federal and State campaign laws and regulations out there, it is getting to the point where a person needs a lawyer to wade through them all to be sure, and even then you might be one court decision away from finding that the government is allowed to regulate your speech because of the form of it or the forum in which it is spoken, contrary to what the whole "Bill of Rights" thing says.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The browser blues

It is official. I loathe Firefox. It reminds me of that pain in the rump, Netscape 6.X. Here are my two most common problems with it. First, it will completely lock up on me. It is completely unpredictable on this count. Sometimes I can have 8 tabs open, some of which are memory intensive, and it will run like a dream. Other times, I'll have three tabs open to simple pages and I need to go to the old ctrl-alt-del to get out of it. The other problem that I have is that it will lock me into one tab. That tab will operate correctly, but it will be impossible for me to switch to another tab. This is particularly obnoxious when I'm blogging and flipping between tabs for a post. I was promised a great browser by all the Firefox lovers; I didn't get one.

Unfortunately, the three main alternatives on my computer are no better. My beloved Netscape 7.x browser is now useless. I'm not fond of Netscape's decision to drop its own engine and use IE and Firefox in 8.X. And I still hate IE. So I am going to continue to use Firefox, but I'm not happy about it.

Tony Snow's cancer returns, spreads

Tony Snow is a guy I have a lot of respect for. I hope he gets well soon.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow's surgery to remove a small growth showed that his cancer has returned, the White House said Tuesday.

Snow, 51, had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. A small growth was discovered last year in his lower right pelvic area, and it was removed on Monday. Doctors determined that it was cancerous, and that his cancer had metastasized, or spread, to his liver, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

To boldly go where only a Clinton will

One word: absurd.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday blamed the Bush administration's fear of scandal for the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, dismissals she said were virtually unprecedented.

The New York senator dismissed any comparison between the midterm firing of the federal prosecutors last fall with the replacement of 93 U.S. attorneys when her husband, Bill Clinton, took office in 1993.

Go participate in Aaron's poll

Here, if only because the phrase "second-hand boobies" is pretty funny. Completely safe for work, by the way.

Walmart, the great scapegoat

I know this grocery store, and the excuse given for its closing annoys me.

Last year in a bid to stay in business, Gutknecht’s Market in Chippewa Falls reduced its staff to three.

But that move wasn’t enough to keep open the store famed for its sausage, hot dogs, hamburger and steaks.

The popular meat market at 440 W. Elm St. is closing at the end of April, store manager John Demers confirmed Friday.
Demers said the Gutknecht Market’s closure is due much to competition from large stores, such as Wal-mart. (ital mine)

“It’s hard to compete,” he said.

This is actually the second tour of business for the store, which was originally opened in 1930 by Robert W. Gutknecht.

Four generations of the Gutknecht family operated the store until April 2002, when Dave Gutknecht Sr. decided to retire.

The store reopened in July 2003 under the ownership of Scott and Stacey Bernard of Yorkville, Ill.

Yes, competition played a part in their closing, but not because outfits like Walmart proved an insurmountable competitor. It played a part because this smaller store didn't optomize its advantage, which was a meat market that customers in the area and beyond loved. Under the original owners, this was a small, family-owned, neighborhood grocery store that had a great meat department. The meat department was the bread and butter, but the groceries kept those in the neighborhood from going downtown or to Eau Claire for the basic grocery needs that came up on a day to day basis. I cannot tell you how many times I went on small trips to pickup urgent needs at that store. The new owners did not follow that model, and that would have been fine, but they would have needed to turn the store into a meat and dairy products destination. Instead, they ended up somewhere in the middle, and that just wasn't good enough. I was just talking with someone today about the fact that they charged $18 for an 18 pack of MGD cans. If you are going to raise the margin that high, why bother? The loyal local customers would have supported that store at higher margins because of the convenience and the meat department. But when they raised margins on items beyond what their convenience was worth and cut back on assortment, all they were left with was a meat department that wasn't the destination it could have been. None of that is Walmart's fault.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The incredible edible bio-car

Okay, maybe not edible. But it is very natural.

University of Warwick WMG (innovative industry solutions provider) researchers managed to make an environment-friendly race car.

Eco One runs on bio-fuels and bio-lubricants, has tyres made of potatoes and brake pads made of cashew nut shells. The car can run with a speed up to 150mph (241km/h) and will be shown at the Sexy Green Car Show (Eden Project in Cornwall).

In other news, a car going 150 mph crashed into a farm market in Cornwall when it accelerated unexpectedly, the tires blew, and the brakes failed.

Cat bleg

I have a favor to ask of all of you, my readers. I'm hoping your collective wisdom can help me out. Our 7 year old cat started pooing on the carpet occasionally a little while back. She then abruptly stopped for a while. Then a couple of weeks back, when the weather warmed up, she started peeing on the carpet. The frequency of this has picked up, and now today she started pooing and peeing on the carpet. We have a vet appointment tomorrow to get her checked out, and we've started using a more cat pee specific cleaner on the spots. We've closed the windows in case an outdoor scent was getting her riled up. Beyond that, we're at a loss for this sudden bad behaviour on her part. Has anybody experienced this, and would you tell me a little about your experience. The lovely Mrs. Jib adores this cat, so I'd just as soon see it live a long, healthy life. Thanks.

We've been to the vet and he has given us his prognosis: It's probably a bladder infection. We don't know with complete certainty because he was not able to take a urine sample because she did not have enough in her bladder at the time (they take the sample with a needle, by the way). The pooping on the floor is not uncommon with a bladder infection because the pain of peeing causes them to strain quite a bit and dropping a deuce is an unexpected side effect. She's been put on antibiotics and special food which will increase the acidity of her urine and dissolve any crystals that might be forming the more alkaline, infected urine. Hopefully she'll be back to normal in 3 to 5 days and free of the infection in 3 weeks.

I must say, I'm quite thankful for our vet. He is extremely knowledgeable and he takes the time to explain things. Our previous cat had a terrible vet and he was never able to explain to us why our previous cat died unexpectedly on his examination table. When we got our current cat 7 or so years ago, we switched to the current vet and he was able to tell us what our previous cat had died from just based off the description. It was a rare condition, which made it all the more impressive. He has been a great vet and great for the health of our pet.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Flat-landed out

Over the past several days, I have spent way too much time in Illinois and Indiana. A person could slip into a self induced coma driving across those two states, and it has taken me a day just to get the synapses firing again in my brain. Blogging will start up again here this week.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'd have dropped out

I'm on the road right now, and I was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the car radio this afternoon when I heard him somewhat surprisedly announce that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer was back and "treatable but not curable." First off, I feel terrible for the Edwards family. That is something you don't want to see anyone have to experience. Secondly, I just don't understand John Edwards' decision to stay in the race. If I were just told that my wife had cancer that was treatable but not curable, and her long term prognosis were uncertain, I'd have been out of the race in a heart beat. A presidential campaign and a presidency itself is incredibly difficult. If I had to choose how to spend that uncertain amount of time left with my wife, the focus would certainly be on her, not on my ambitions. Maybe this is the right thing for them, but I'm not going to pretend to understand why.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stand up for yourselves, already!

Like him or hate him, Dick Morris gets it right on the U.S. Attorney firings "scandal":

Bush, Rove, Gonzales and Co. should explain why the U.S. attorneys were dismissed by emphasizing the importance of the cases they were refusing to prosecute. By doing so, they can turn the Democratic attacks on them into demands to go easy on fraudulent voting. A good sense of public relations -- and some courage -- could turn this issue against the Democrats for blocking Bush's efforts to crack down on the criminals he wanted prosecuted.

In making such a big deal over the routine exercise of a presidential prerogative to fire these prosecutors, the Democrats, led by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) may be biting off more than they can chew. Unless the administration turns and aggressively defends its decision to get rid of these particular appointees, it could be left holding the bag and defending the U.S. attorneys' decision to avoid prosecuting voter-fraud cases.

If the administration continues to follow its run-and-hide policy, it will look terrible asserting claims of executive privilege as it seeks to shield its appointees from Senate interrogation and its documents from committee scrutiny. But if it contextualizes the issue by using the specific failings of the dismissed appointees to prosecute particular cases, it will assume the high ground and its procedural objections will be seen in a more positive light by the American people. If only the administration would show some courage.

The Bush administration came in thinking they could play nice with Democrats. They should have thrown that thought out the window the moment the 2000 election became contested. Their desire to play nice has stuck around, though, and it has hurt them in a political game where the Democrats have been playing for blood. As a result, the Bush administration has been on its political heals for large chunks of it's two terms. It is more than time to fight back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So I finally run into a fellow conservative in Madison...

...and she was nuttier than squirrel shit. I don't mean nutty in the eccentric way. I mean nutty in the senile way. What is in the drinking water in that town? She was just as loony as most of the old hippies.

...And the little bastard contributes to global warming

You know all those polar bears that are supposedly in peril because of global warming? Thank goodness they weren't raised by humans, because if they were, these animal rights activists would be in the Arctic melting the ice by hand.
Everyone loves Knut. The three-month-old polar bear born in one of Berlin's zoos has become a star in the German capital and has won hearts the world over. Indeed, the exact date of his first public appearance -- likely to be made later this week -- is the subject of almost as much anticipation as the details of Britney Spears Alcoholics Anonymous love affair. It's impossible not to love the little guy, right?

Well, not quite. Animal rights activists, as SPIEGEL reported Monday, aren't so enthralled with the polar bear baby. They are concerned that Knut, who is being raised by human hand after his mother rejected him, is in danger of losing touch with the bear necessities. Some would like to see him dead.

"Raising him by hand is not appropriate to the species but rather a blatant violation of animal welfare laws," animal rights activist Frank Albrecht told the mass circulation newspaper Bild, whose front page headline Monday read "Will Sweet Knut Be Killed by Injection?"

Berlin Zoo is allowing Knut to be raised in such a way that the bear will have a behavioral disorder for the rest of his life, Albrecht believes. "In actual fact, the zoo needs to kill the bear cub," he adds.

Is it wrong of me to be humored by the ironic vision of an animal rights activist wielding a club above a cute, fuzzy little polar bear that's just trying to get by with a little help from his human friends?

NYU Receives US Communist Party History

Expect a flourish of new works on the Communist Party in the coming years. The party has just given the documents of it's history to NYU.

The cache contains decades of party history including founding documents, secret code words, stacks of personal letters, smuggled directives from Moscow, Lenin buttons, photographs and stern commands about how good party members should behave (no charity work, for instance, to distract them from their revolutionary duties).

By offering such an inside view, the archives have the potential to revise assumptions on both the left and the right about one of the most contentious subjects in American history, in addition to filling out the story of progressive politics, the labor movement and the civil rights struggles.

The new works resulting from this archive should make for some, well, spirited discussion. There will be plenty of scholarship that fawns over the party, and there will be a lot that is quite critical of it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The age of the retreads

The San Francisco Chronicle is raving about a new YouTube video, Hillary 1984.

It may be the most stunning and creative attack ad yet for a 2008 presidential candidate -- one experts say could represent a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising.

Yet the groundbreaking 74-second pitch for Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, which remixes the classic "1984" ad that introduced Apple computers to the world, is not on cable or network TV, but on the Internet.

I find very little groundbreaking about that video. It is a blatant rip off of a comercial that hasn't been interesting in 20 years. YouTube itself is hardly groundbreaking anymore. The video adds nothing to the fight between Hillary & Obama. Frankly, I'm tired of watching things that are remade. My kingdom for a fresh idea. Unfortunately, we are in the age of the retread, where a lame remake of an old commercial is considered groundbreaking because it is on the net. Please. That commercial, and ones like it, are unlikely to sway new voters. If anything, they serve as boosters for those already in a politician's support base.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Earthquake watches?

They issue these things now?
Warning! A rapid decompression in lithospheric stress is being detected by the instrumentation situated in the region along the Pacific-North American Plate Boundary at the Cajon Pass (Southern California) near GeoSeismic Labs. You shoulld be aware of this potentially dangerous interaction occurring between the Southern San Andreas Fault Zone, and the San Jacinto/ Cucamonga-Eastern Sierra Madre Fault Zones. A recent M2.7 epicentered N of La Verne at 3:02:27 UTC (03/27) appears to have been related to the San Antonio Fault, which is a blind fault located in the San Gabriel Mountains between Wrightwood and La Verne, CA. Such a rapid change in compressional stress is suspect for being a precursor for a larger magnitude seismic event within the same region. I consider the M2.7 to be a possible foreshock. You are now advised to stay on Seismic Alert in Southern California. In the Inland Empire, especially along the nearby, and long overdue San Jacinto Fault Zone, you should be prepared for a moderate magnitude or larger earthquake during the next several days.

If it is accurate, great, but something tells me these are going to be less effective than weather watches sometimes are.


A jury gets one right.
A man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit was convicted Sunday of murdering a photographer, whose charred bones were found in a burn pit outside his home.

Steven Avery, 44, shook his head when the verdict was read. He faces a mandatory life prison term for killing Teresa Halbach, 25, on Halloween 2005 near his family's salvage yard.

Halbach disappeared Oct. 31, 2005, after going to the yard in rural Manitowoc County to photograph a minivan that Avery's sister had for sale through Auto Trader Magazine. Avery had called that morning to request the photo, testimony showed.

A few days later, Halbach's vehicle was found in the Avery salvage lot under branches, pieces of wood and car parts. Investigators then spent a week on the 40-acre property and found charred fragments of her bones in a pit behind Avery's garage and in a barrel, along with her camera and cell phone.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Gerry Ford almost became Reagan's VP

I was a wee little one in 1979, and while I can remember little snippets of that year's presidential campaign (mostly complaints about Carter and election night itself), I can't remember it any great detail. So imagine my surprise when, while bumming around the net tonight, I learned that Ronald Reagan came this close to selecting Gerald Ford, not George H.W. Bush, as his running mate in 1979.
At 11:25, the negotiators returned; Casey reported that “the answer is probably no.” Five minutes later, Ford, accompanied by Barrett, entered the suite to talk with Reagan, and we left the room. The two men spent a few minutes alone, and at 11:35, Ford departed. We rushed back into the room, and Reagan said: "I have to say the answer is no. All this time, my gut instinct has been that this is not the right thing. I have affection and respect for Ford. He said he would go all out to help." There was complete silence.

Reagan glanced around and asked those assembled—a group that included Casey, Meese, Wirthlin, Hannaford, Deaver, and me—"Well, what do we do now?" There was no immediate response. No one offered an alternate plan. No one tossed out a name. Expecting instant opposition, I ventured, "We call Bush." Once more, silence. Reagan again looked at each of us; hearing no objection, he said, "Well, let’s get Bush on the phone."

At precisely 11:38, the phone was in Reagan’s hand; though they barely knew each other, Reagan dove right in. "George," he said warmly, "I would like to go over there and tell them that I am recommending you for vice president. Could I ask you one thing—do I have your permission to make an announcement that you support the platform across the board?" We could hear Bush agreeing at the other end. Reagan then left for the convention center where, shortly after midnight, he took the podium to praise Ford and then to announce his running mate, George Bush.

I feel deficient for not having known this already. Read the entire article, even if you know the story, though. The behind the scenes look at Reagan's VP selection process is fascinating.

Kahlid Sheikh Mohammad

You've read about the 31 things Kahlid Sheikh Mohammad has confessed to, or at least the ones the government wants you to know about. But did you know that the vast right wing conspiracy is holding back on many more of KSM's confessions? I'll probably lose my double secret membership in the VRWC over this, but here are the other things that KSM confessed to:

1. I am the killer OJ is looking for.
2. I was the second shooter in Dallas.
3. I, with my blessed right hand, stole Al Gore ballots in Florida.
4. I am responsible for the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby.
5. I am responsible for the terrorist attack on the American people known as "Cop Rock."
6. I was responsible for the funding funnelled through George Soros which cursed the infidel with the sight of John Kerry on there TV's every day in 2004.
7. I am responsible for the poo on the floor that your pet really was innocent of.
8. I am responsible for the plot to may Clay Aiken the biggest pop star the planet has or ever will know.
9. I was responsible for the fan interference that caused the Chicago Cubs to melt down and blow a chance at the World Series.
10. I am responsible for the ascendency of Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.
11. I am responsible for that guy who will be peeing on your tire downtown on St. Patrick's Day.
12. I am responsible for planning Crystal Pepsi.
13. I am responsible-excuse me, my picture is responsible for the loss of sexual desire in millions of heterosexual American women and homosexual American men.
14. I'm the lyrical gangster, murderer.
15. I am the great pretender.

NYC bans metal baseball bats

This is just plain dumb. New York City must be running on all cylinders if banning metal baseball bats is what the city council has as a priority.
The New York City Council passed a bill yesterday to ban the use of metal bats in high school baseball games, securing enough votes to override a potential veto by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The vote set up a possible legal challenge from the metal-bat industry.

Industry officials, who opposed the bill, said they believed that the Council was the first legislative body in the nation to pass such a measure.

I'm not going to lie to anybody; some metal baseball bats have been so well engineered that they can send a batted ball into the field at very dangerous speeds. For most of the players on the field, this isn't a problem, but it is for pitchers who are less than 60 feet away from the hitters and finishing their follow through when the ball is hit. Still, there are better ways to handle this than with a city law. First, any league or conference can set their own rules on bats, outlawing the use of those bats that have an excessive trampoline effect. Softball leagues all across the nation do it every year, and the umps do bat checks prior to games. Secondly, I'm sure the state of New York has a regulating body for high school athletics. This would be an even better place to address it since it would be able to set bat standards across the state that would eliminate confusion during non-conference games. Those are the proper venues for the regulation of the bats, not the city council. Had the city addressed their concerns by working with the leagues/conferences/regulatory bodies, the regulations would have been smarter than the city's across the board ban, and they'd have avoided the legal expenses the city will incure when this law gets challenged.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The DOJ U.S. Attorney firings "scandal"

I'll be honest, I've only been casually following the latest "scandal," the firing of 8 U.S. Attorney Generals mid-term for performance over their record of prosecuting voter fraud. I've been waiting for that shoe to drop that makes this a legit scandal rather than one of those manufactured scandals that every president seems to have but which people forget the details of 6 months later. I haven't seen that shoe drop, so I haven't been bothered to add to the cacophony over this. I wouldn't be writing about it right now if it weren't for the fact that Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters does seem to be getting worked up. This excerpt in particular has me a little befuddled:

One question that these memos raise is why it took so long to dismiss these prosecutors if they were performing so badly. Sampson compiled that ranking list two years ago this month. The effort seemed to be back-burnered until September of last year, when new rules on appointment of interim federal prosecutors made their way through Congress as part of a homeland-security bill. The new rules allow Justice and the White House to forego Senate approval on interim appointments, and the terminations commenced almost immediately after the law went into effect.

If competence and performance were the reasons for the terminations, why did Justice wait almost two years to do anything about it?

It seems to me that Ed answers his own question with the sentences I italicized above. Chances are, without the rule change, Justice never would have gone forward with the terminations. The Democrats in the Senate have fought Presidential nominations tooth and nail for the entire duration of the Bush administration. As Slate outlines, the topic of voter fraud tends to break out along partisan lines, and there is every reason to believe that the Senate Democrats would have tried to bury any replacements nominated by Bush. Given that environment, it was not worth removing the 8 individuals despite any displeasure over how they were handling voter fraud cases. Better to have the 8 U.S. Attorneys in place and not performing to expectation in the area of voter fraud than to remove them and having the positions sit open while the Senate Democrats obstruct the nomination of their replacements. Once the Senate changed the rules, however, that barrier was removed. The 8 could be fired and their positions filled with as little disruption as possible. That is why Justice waited for two years.

This is not to that Alberto Gonzales has done a stellar job running the DOJ. It has been flawed at times. There is something to be said for Andy McCarthy's opinion on defending him, though.

The Chippendale workout

I'm watching the news on WTMJ out of Milwaukee, and they have a special report on the pole dance workout. After this illuminating look at newest craze in workouts for women, I've decided I'm going to start the Chippendale workout for men. I expect it will be a massive hit, and I can't wait to put out the exercise video:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Our northern amazement with spring

Spring is a season that never fails to amaze and amuse me. It is enough that we can see some wild swings in the weather during this season, but the human factor of spring in the north is what truly gets me. Most people would never consider wearing shorts and a t-shirt on 55 degree day in the summer or fall, but in spring there is little hesitation to do so on the part of some, especially on college campuses. And listening to people is even better. The days get longer and the temperatures get warmer every year at this really shouldn't be a surprise to any of us. Yet we still speak as though we are awestruck that the sun does not set until 7 pm, and we react to a 67 degree day like today as though we've just gone through an ice age, having not seen such a warm day in decades. Perhaps this is all just a product of living through long, dark winters that seem like they will never end, but our reaction to changes we know will occur never fails to amuse me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Get ready for an enviro-guilt blast at the theaters

It has already been a year of enviro self-flagellation, and soon Hollywood will be taking up the flog:
Tired of abuse by mankind, the earth is angry. Worse, the planet is out to even the score.

Audiences can expect a story along those lines when M. Night Shyamalan’s film “The Happening” reaches screens in the next year. The project, to which 20th Century Fox signed on last week, imagines a planet that is starting to act like the vigilante Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver.”

“The Happening” will not be the only big-budget studio film to test a new kind of villainy, in which the real victim is the environment, and, whatever the plot variations, the enemy is all of us. Beginning this summer and for months after, movies as diverse as the “The Simpsons Movie,” “Transformers,” a remake of “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” will take on environmental themes.

And Hollywood wonders why it struggles at the box office. Everyone will drop $8 to watch themselves get implicitly preached at and blamed for 2 hours once in a while, but it takes a special brand of masochist to do this over and over and over again during the course of a year. Hollywood has become a place hell bent on sending messages. The first studio that grasps the fact that the public likes message movies occasionally, but prefers to escape from reality at the movie theater will crush the other studios.

Kucinich gets it right

Dennis Kucinich on the Nevada debate mess:

Other candidates were trying to sidestep the Nevada debate because they claimed that the sponsoring television network, Fox News Channel, was conservatively biased.

“If you want to be the President of the United States, you can’t be afraid to deal with people with whom you disagree politically,” Kucinich said. “No one is further removed from Fox’s political philosophy than I am, but fear should not dictate decisions that affect hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of others around the world who are starving for real leadership.”

Kucinich said “the public deserves honest, open, and fair public debate, and the media have a responsibility to demand that candidates come forward now, before the next war vote in Congress, to explain themselves.”

Of course, Kucinich can say this because it is politically expedient for him to do so from his position. Just the same, he gets this right, and it is not often you'll hear me say Kucinich got anything right.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nevada debate pull out a Kos power play

I think that Dean Barnett hits the nail on the head when it comes to Kos and the pull out by the Democratic Presidential hopefuls from the FOX News Nevada debate:

SO ABOUT THIS WHOLE STUPID NEVADA DEBATE CONTROVERSY: It was a power play. It was one of Markos’ well-chosen battles that allowed him to demonstrate his power. Yes, the entire Democratic presidential field looks pathetic for bowing to the irrational wish of a blogger. But it doesn’t make the blogger look ridiculous. It makes him look like a king-maker.

The knock on Markos used to be his record. In response to the claim that he was a king-maker, it was easy (and fun) to say, “Name the king.” But times have changed, and so has the netroots’ record. The prevailing sentiment in the Democratic Party is obviously that an ambitious pol isn’t going anywhere without the blogosphere’s approval.

At the end of the day, it’s my humble opinion that the netroots’ power is vastly overrated. But leading Democrats perceive things differently. And in this case, their perception is the reality.

I think Kos is going to drive the Democrats into the ground again in 2008, but he clearly does wield a lot of power when it comes to any one candidate's ascendency within the party. This Nevada thing is a litle bit of foreshadowing, in my humble opinion. The Democrat candidates will all make sure that they have his blessing to become the nominee, but they are going to turn off a lot of general election voters in doing so.

Where's Lloyd Bentsen when you need him?

Because Hillary Clinton is no Jack Kennedy.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the campaign of the nation's lone Catholic president, John Kennedy, last night as she talked about her challenge in becoming the first female commander-in-chief.

"He was smart, he was dynamic, he was inspiring and he was Catholic. A lot of people back then [1960] said, 'America will never elect a Catholic as president,' " the White House hopeful told the New Hampshire Democrats' 100 Club fund-raiser here.

"But those who gathered here almost a half century ago knew better," she said. "They believed America was bigger than that and Americans would give Sen. John F. Kennedy a fair shake, and the rest, as they say, is history."

Noting women are "the majority" of voters and are in the workforce in "record numbers," she added, "So when people tell me 'a woman can never be president,' I say, we'll never know unless we try."

It's funny, because I hear surprisingly few people say that a woman can never be president. I do hear people say that Hillary could never be president. There's a difference there.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A semantic complaint about the phrase "hook up"

Boots and Sabers this morning looks at an article that discusses the phenomenon of hooking up. That little piece got my hackles up. Not for the reasons you might expect, mind you, but rather because the age group just behind me stole a phrase I used to use a lot.

I'd say the hook up culture started in the age group just behind mine, the group that was entering college as I was graduating. Actually, I take that back. The hook up culture already sort of existed, but I believe it had different names when I was that age-booty calls, friends with benefits, etc. But it was that age group that began to commandeer the phrase hook up. I have friends from college in that age group, so I was aware of the terminology change fairly early on. I wasn't part of that culture, though, so I left them to use the phrase as they chose, and I continued to use it as I chose. And I used to use it a lot. It would not be uncommon to hear me say something to a friend along the lines of, "let's hook up at the bar at around 1, then we'll head on over to catch our tee time at 3." For a while, the two meanings of "hook up" were able to peacefully live on simultaneously.

Then it started to happen. Several years back I began to notice that I'd get a funny look every once in a while when I'd say "hook up" in my parlance. Usually the funny look would come from someone younger who did not know me as well as my close friends. At first, I soldiered on with my preferred meaning of the phrase, youngsters be damned. But as more and more people from that "hook up" age group began to enter the work force, I found myself more and more uncomfortable using the the phrase hook up anymore. The last thing a career minded guy wants is a business associate or a co-worker misinterpreting what you mean by hook up. I began to make a concerted effort to cease using the phrase at all. I would catch myself and insert some other way of saying meet or get together. I have now come close to eliminating my use of the phrase "hook up" all together.

I find it irritating that this younger age group's definition of hook up has all but killed the old meaning for me. Hook up was a great, casual, active way of saying get together or meet up, and it had no sexual connotations. It was ingrained in my lexicon. The new meaning of the phrase has begun to seep into society's collective conscience now, and as it does it becomes more and more of pet peeve to me. I hear it now and it sounds like finger nails on a chalk board. I want to fight back for the meaning of the phrase, but it is hopeless. Hook up is dead to me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Dave Obey being, well, Dave Obey

I can't wait to watch the video of this tonight:
A tipster sent this fascinating video from left-wing, anti-war group Occupation Project, which interviewed Appropriations Chairman Democrat David Obey in a hallway and grilled him about the war funding bill.

I'll have a transcript up shortly. Rep. Obey works up a steam castigating "idiot liberals" who want Democrats to vote against funding.

He fumes: "I’m the sponsor of the bill that’s going to be on floor. And that bill ends the war. If that’s not good enough for you you’re smoking something illegal…"

I doubt that there is a soul alive that Dave Obey wouldn't be an ass to. In fact, I think he came out of the womb and started chewing out his mom for everything she didn't know and got wrong during the birth. It used to piss me off when I lived in his district. Now it just amuses me.

It was everything I expected it to be. Obey only works up a light froth early in the video, but at the end his true colors show.

The line of the week

I'm not saying that I agree with this, but Gerard Baker has the line of the week over at The Times Online:
Watching them embrace Mr Giuliani is like watching survivors from a shipwreck clinging to a giant turd in the water.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

This is not a new revelation

The problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center have led the media to take a look at the VA hospital system:

Substandard care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center appears to extend to the nation's vast network of veterans hospitals, the head of a House panel investigating the situation said Thursday.

Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., cited recent audits and reports that pointed to confusing paperwork and poor health care coordination as well as backlogs in the treatment of returning servicemembers who were deemed at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That's unacceptable and embarrassing, and the American people deserve answers," Mitchell said in remarks prepared for a hearing late Thursday. "I'm not convinced the Veterans Affairs Department is doing its part."

I'm glad this is being looked into by the press and the government, but this is far from being a new revelation. I'm going to speak anecdotally here, but I have had veteran relatives who have utilized the medical care available to them at VA hospitals, but only when they did not have the money or insurance for care in the private sector because the service at those hospitals could be quite substandard. That is a damnable shame, and it is a damnable shame that stretches at least as far back as my childhood. Perhaps this will be the impetus for changes that allow our veterans to get the care that they deserve. But if this becomes a partisan issue, if the media and the left try to make this all about Bush and ignore the long standing problems at these facilities, our vets will ultimately get short changed again. Mark my words.

How to have your lunch ruined in 10 blocks

Against all of the logic my brain was providing me with today, I decided to hit McDonald's for lunch. I really try to talk myself out of McDonald's because I know that, even in moderation, I don't need to be putting that into my arteries. Today I was weak, though, and hit the drive-through. As I pulled out of the drive-through with my food, I took a right and ended up at a red light while traffic piled up behind me. Once the light turned green, the three cars immediately behind me turned right while I went straight. I normally wouldn't have noticed that if it weren't for the hearse that got bigger and bigger in my rear view. Seeing this as a bad omen, I set my double cheeseburger down and plotted out a winding way through town in an effort to lose the harbinger of death that was by now attached to my bumper. Nothing against the hearse or its driver, but I just wanted to peacefully enjoy the artery bomb that my brain had been trying to talk me out of. Unfortunately for me, my new route was apparently along the route this hearse needed to travel. Also unfortunately for me, I had so sufficiently fought back my brain's logic that I began to wonder if he knew something I did not, and I began to contemplate ditching my fast food and making a fast get away. It finally turned off after a while, but by then my meal was just about completely ruined. I also now have a perverse desire to run, an activity which, given my current lack of conditioning, will probably give me a heart attack sooner than that double cheeseburger.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy

This new Leinenkugel's beer makes the northwoods boy in me bristle a little bit, but I'll probably give it a shot once it hits the shelves on April 1st.

Leinenkugel's has expanded summer seasonal Berry Weiss to year-round production and is introducing a new seasonal, Summer Shandy, modeled after European beers that are mixed with either lemonade or lemon-lime soda. "We're actually going to have real lemonade flavor in our beer," Leinenkugel says. "This is the first of this style I've seen from any American brewer. There are hard lemonades out there, but this will actually be beer with lemonade. We're excited about the possibilities and are putting together our marketing."

At least is has a German heritage and it is a beer and not a hard lemonade. I am not pleased with the continued frou-frouing of beer, though. And since they took away my Leinie's Northwoods, I'd much prefer to see a return of Leinie's Limited or perhaps even my favorite short lived Leinie's product, Leinie's Ice.

Jackass or dumbasses?

The collective IQ of the area where I grew up must have dropped after I moved:

-- Attempts to do a movie stunt landed one man in the hospital with burned genitals and another facing criminal charges. The men were trying to do a stunt from one of the "Jackass" movies, in which a character lights his genitals on fire.

Jared W. Anderson, 20, suffered serious burns to his hands and genitals, according to the criminal complaint. Randell D. Peterson, 43, who sprayed lighter fluid on Anderson and lit him on fire, was charged with felony battery and first-degree reckless endangerment Tuesday in Eau Claire County Court.

Witnesses told police that Anderson, who was drunk, volunteered to do the stunt Sunday after watching the movie, the complaint said.

Back in the days when I worked at the brewery, I would watch the fresh cases of beer go past me and wonder what stupidity each one held for its consumers. In this case, I'm pretty sure the stupidity was a pre-existing condition.

And baby makes three!

Congratulations to Aaron and Kelly on the birth of their little Blogger, Jr. And to the little guy, welcome to the world, and happy original birth day.

What level of service does your tax dollar buy in D.C.?

This level:

That horrible Washington weather.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor this morning to explain why the scheduled 10 a.m. vote on a homeland security measure would have to take place at 1 p.m. instead.

Noting it might seem strange for those outside the Beltway that a little white powder falling from the sky could cripple Senate operations, the Nevada Democrat said Washington is "different from a lot of other places."

He added that some might scratch their head at "an inch or two" of snow creating "all the pause, but it does."

To be honest, I think that might be the best value we get out of the Senate all week. Here's to more one inch snowfalls!

It's on!

Barak Obama has had the luxury of appearing as Mr. Clean thus far, but in politics, anybody can be made to look bad. Drudge is reporting that the New York Times is going to take the first step in Mr. Obama's political deflowering. The Obama honeymoon with the media may be over, and it looks like their fight is on.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Indian Tracking" lives on along Mexican border

This is pretty cool.
A fresh footprint in the dirt, fibers in the mesquite. Harold Thompson reads the signs like a map.

They point to drug smugglers, 10 or 11, crossing from Mexico. The deep impressions and spacing are a giveaway to the heavy loads on their backs. With no insect tracks or paw prints of nocturnal creatures marking the steps, Mr. Thompson determines the smugglers probably crossed a few hours ago.

“These guys are not far ahead; we’ll get them,” said Mr. Thompson, 50, a strapping Navajo who follows the trail like a bloodhound.

At a time when all manner of high technology is arriving to help beef up security at the Mexican border — infrared cameras, sensors, unmanned drones — there is a growing appreciation among the federal authorities for the American Indian art of tracking, honed over generations by ancestors hunting animals.

Mr. Thompson belongs to the Shadow Wolves, a federal law enforcement unit of Indian officers that has operated since the early 1970s on this vast Indian nation straddling the Mexican border.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Drinking Right, Jr.

It was great seeing everybody at the Drinking Right, Jr., tonight. It was also nice to have the lovely Mrs. Jib there, even if her's was a quiet appearance. Good luck in the second interview, Kevin, and good luck to Aaron and Kelly with the impending birth of Blogger Jr. And everyone else who was there, it was enjoyable to talk with you all again.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Who stands to profit from Coulter slur?

John Edwards.

Help us raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign. I just threw in 100 bucks. Will you join me? Just click here.

Played as only a lawyer can play it.

Damned if you don't, damned if you do

This is why a President needs to ignore 98% of all criticism.

This past weekend, seemingly determined to get it right, he -- along with his PR crew -- hightailed it to Georgia and Alabama to express depict concern for a ready batch of storm victims. (The region had just been victimized by a violent tornado.)

Apparently, the visual geniuses at the White House saw a quick opportunity to "do over" the politically catastrophic images of Bush's Katrina fly-by. Certainly, this result (featured on Sunday's White House photo gallery) is a dramatic and detailed image, putting the President that much closer to the scene.

As much as pictures can be tweaked to make you look good, however, they can just as easily reveal your hand. Besides attempting to profit off the local misery, one has to wonder just how many potential relief dollars went into hiring a whole second helicopter just to ferry the camera man to visualize such compassion.

You just can't win with these idiots. Personally, if my town gets hit by a catastrophic disaster, I don't want any President, Democrat or Republican, there unless he is helping my neighbors dig my carcass out of the debris. Presidents do not need to go to disaster scenes to do their jobs, and if anything they get in the way of the recovery, even though the current expectation is that they go to empathize. But for asses like this, it is all about scoring points on a Republican president.

Next President may be guarenteed a single term

The opening of this AP article on the 2008 Presidential election leads one naturally to an important question: Will the next President be guarenteed a single term because of this long race?
Two months before the 1992 presidential election, an NBC reporter cornered a man to ask whether he preferred Bill Clinton or President Bush.

The man said he didn't care. He just wanted them off his TV screen.

Imagine how he'd feel today?

The 2008 campaign is already playing out so intensely that it dominates airtime at a point where only political junkies usually pay attention. Remember: it's 20 months before voters will make the ultimate decision.

This is uncharted territory for people in both politics and television, who wonder when campaign fatigue will set in. Many Americans may be sick of seeing their next president before he or she even takes the oath of office.

"Many Americans may be sick of seeing their next preisdent before he or she even takes the oath of office." That is a very important consideration here. I'm pretty sure that if U.S. Presidential terms were five or six years long, almost no one would win re-election to the office. We tend to tire of any individual in that office shortly after they start their second term. A lot of people chalk that up to our short attention spans, but that isn't what does it. What does it is the fact that the President is in our living rooms nearly every single day, be it on the news, in a newspaper or magazine, or on the internet. We are flooded with coverage of the President to an extent that was unimagineable 50 years ago. Now, with a two year campaign for the Presidency under way, itis very possible that we will all be so tired of our next President by 2012 that he or she will not stand a chance of re-election.

Speaking of dumbasses...

...we have another winner of the Red Forman Dumbass Award (TM)! Congratulations to you, Bill Maher! You share the spotlight with Ann Coulter this week for saying the following on your show:

I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact.

That sentence was in reference to the bombing in Afghanistan that was an assassination attempt on Vice President Cheney. So in other words, Maher thinks a successful assassination, murder, of the sitting Vice President would be a good thing. I doubt the left will race to condemn Maher like the right did to condemn Coulter this week, but they probably should.

Red Forman Dumbass Award (TM)

I haven't given one of these out in quite some time, but given Ann Coulter's speech at CPAC, I think she is more than deserving. Congratulations, Ann. You keeping shunting yourself further and further from the conservatives whose support your success is predicated on.

Cherokee vote to pare rolls of their former slaves

I'd love to know the internal politics that led to this.

Cherokee Nation members voted Saturday to revoke the tribal citizenship of an estimated 2,800 descendants of the people the Cherokee once owned as slaves.

With all 32 precincts reporting, 76.6 percent had voted in favor of an amendment to the tribal constitution that would limit citizenship to descendants of "by blood" tribe members as listed on the federal Dawes Commission's rolls from more than 100 years ago.

As common as "White Indians" are throughout the country, most people in the north and the west don't realize that there are "Black Indians" too. They are most common amongst the Five Civilized Tribes. Some have descendants from the tribes, while others, such as these Freedman, have been adopted into the tribes over the years. They have a pretty rich history with the Five Civilized Tribes, so I was a bit surprised to see this.

Move over Swiffer

This is one cleaning that could pass anybody's white-glove test. A high-tech dust rag developed by a research chemist at a nuclear weapons plant can pick up potentially deadly beryllium particles that are 20 times smaller than what can be seen with the naked eye. Its inventor, Ron Simandl, says it could be used to mop up industrial accidents or wipe down semiconductor "clean rooms."
Simandl also tried out the cloths at home. Using his simple instructions "Use dry, rub hard," Simandl dry-buffed the alloy wheels on his car.

"The stubborn brake and road dirt came right off and left the wheels bright and showroom-shiny," he said. "You could even polish your titanium golf clubs with them."

Hopefully when commercialized, it'll have a catchier name than "Negligible-residue Non-tacky Tack Cloth."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Sixto Lezcano of blogging

Hugh Hewitt and the guys at Power Line are comparing their blogs and themselves to famous baseball teams and players. In that vein, I don't think I am going out on a limb in calling myself the Sixto Lezcano of blogging, and this blog to be the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers.

U.S. Putin critic shot in Maryland

This is enough to raise one's eyebrows, at least:
FBI agents say they are assisting police in suburban Washington who are investigating the shooting of a Russian expert — a man who spoke out on "Dateline NBC" last weekend and strongly suggested that remnants of the KGB were responsible for the bizarre poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko.

The Russian expert, Paul Joyal, was shot Thursday night as he got out of his car in front of his house in Adelphi, Md. Investigators in Prince Georges County say a witness claims to have seen two men running away after the shooting. Joyal remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the midsection. Authorities have not said whether they've been able to talk to him.

The fact that he lived indicates to me that this was just a coincidence. Additionally, Putin has to know that a killing of a U.S. citizen would create a diplomatic shitstorm. Just the same, anytime a critic of Putin's dies mysteriously or, in this case is randomly shot, it pays to look a little deeper into it, because very few people think Putin's Russia is above this sort of thing anymore.

School second guessed over tornado decision

I hate this kind of second guessing.

Administrators at a high school where eight students died in a tornado were warned about severe weather nearly three hours before the twister struck, raising questions Friday about whether classes should have been dismissed earlier.

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding Enterprise High School said they heard warning sirens long before the tornado slammed into the building, crushing the victims in an avalanche of concrete and metal.

"It came real fast, but they had plenty of time to get those kids out because sirens were going off all morning," said Pearl Green, whose 15-year-old niece attends the school and was hit in the head by a flying brick.

But school officials said they had no chance to evacuate earlier because of the approaching severe weather. And others said the carnage would have been greater if students had been outside or on the road when the storm hit.

The second guessers would have a case in one scenario and one scenario only: If someone had told them the exact time a tornado would hit and that it would bear directly down on the school. Otherwise, they made the right call. First, in a situation with ongoing severe weather, you can't risk sending kids home. How do you know exactly when those sirens will go off again and a tornado will drop from the clouds? Second, in 99% of all situations, that high school is going to be a very safe place for the kids as high schools are typically very sturdy buildings which will hold up well to anything but direct hits. Third, if you release the kids early, can you rely on them going home and taking shelter? If winter cancellations here in Wisconsin are any indicator, you can't. What would the outrage have been if they'd released the kids early and then 15 of them died at a mall that was hit by a tornado? A situation like the one the administrators faced is fluid and filled with imperfect information about potential future events. Given all the things they had to weigh in their decision, including advise from emergency management officials to hold the kids, I think they made the right decision. The loss of life and the injuries are sad, but it could have been a lot worse.

Jesus H. Christ, Joker! You're a killer, not a writer!

Every once in a while, coincidences are pretty damn satisfying. I've had the History Channel on tonight, and Roll Call just came on. I heard R. Lee Ermey's voice come up and I had an overwhelming desire to watch him in Full Metal Jacket. I have a half full drink and a cat sleeping at my side, which is a nice way of saying that I was too lazy to get up and grab my DVD and pop it in. So I flipped over to HBO to see if any good movies were on, and what movie had just started? That's right, Full Metal Jacket. I may have nightmares about Vincent D'Onofrio's method acting tonight, but I'm okay with that.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Expensive collision repair part of the give and take

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released the results of testing that found that low speed collisions create more expensive damage to bumpers than occurred to cars of yesteryear.

Testing for the first time by the Virginia-based Institute found that only three midsize vehicles — the Mitsubishi Galant, Toyota Camry and Mazda 6 — sustained less than $1,500 in repairs from each of the four crash tests.


"The cars with the lowest repair bills after our new bumper tests still sustained much more damage than they should have in some of the tests," said Adrian Lund, the Institute's president. "We got crumpled grilles and headlights plus buckled fenders in impacts at speeds equivalent to an average person walking fast."

The Institute conducted tests on 17 midsize cars in low-speed tests. In one test of the front-end at 6 mph, four vehicles — the Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen Passat, Pontiac G6, and Hyundai Sonata — had damages of more than $4,000.

By comparison, the Institute conducted similar tests on a 1981 Ford Escort and found the front-end test only caused $86 in damages. They said it highlighted federal requirements that were in effect until 1982 that required bumpers to keep damage away from vehicle safety equipment and sheet metal parts in crashes of up to 5 mph.

I'm actually having trouble narrowing this down to just one topic to discuss, so I'm going to handle several things separately.

First, as you place more expensive, higher performance parts/components/treatments in vehicles, the repair costs for that area of a vehicle are going to get more expensive as well. The molded fenders on today's vehicles are generally not repairable. If you buckle, puncture, crack, or otherwise significantly damage the fender, you have to replace it and have the new fender painted. The metal fenders like those on the old 1981 Ford could not only withstand more impact, but they could be fixed rather than completely replaced. In some cases, headlights are even worse. If a damaged vehicle has Xenon headlights, you are going to pay through the nose for new ones because they just aren't cheap. Even the paint is more expensive. Next time you get the chance, compare the paints on cars from the early 1980's to the paints on cars today. The paints today are more attractive than the fairly flat paints of 25 plus years ago, but they cost more, too.

Second, your car isn't designed to be a Sherman tank anymore. Safety standards and CAFE requirements have had a lot to do with that. Those older, cheaper to repair vehicles were heavier, stiffer vehicles. When it came to repairing it after a collision, that was a good thing. Body shops could very easily work with the metal to return to you a car that was, while not quite as strong as it had been, still quite strong and which looked like new. Today, manufacturers are working with more plastics and with lighter metals to meet CAFE standards, and vehicles are designed to absorb more of an impact. The plus to this is better gas mileage and crashes which impart less of the impact to the occupants. Unfortunately, plastics have to be replaced instead of repaired, which is more costly, and lighter metals tend to be more difficult to work with and repair to a safe strength, particularly if a pull must be made to the frame of the car. Over the past 30 years, cars have become safer and more gas efficient, but the trade off is the changes have also made it much more expensive to repair those new materials.

Third, there is no incentive for manufacturers to pour millions of dollars into finding a way to make your car safer, more gas efficient, and also to hold down collision repair costs. Some might say that the manufacturers are intentionally trying to make disposable cars that are easily totaled, requiring more car purchases. I don't buy that because the manufacturers can make money on the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts used in repairs at quality body shops. At the same time, they sure as hell aren't going to pour money into making cars more repairable after collisions because the return is just not high enough.

Getting upset with the auto manufacturers, as I'm sure more than a few will after reading the article, is a waste. For the most part, the driving experience is much better today than it was 30 years ago (with some exceptions). Unfortunately, some of the changes that led to that improvement also make your car more expensive to repair. Our driving experience will continue to get better and better, especially if the auto industry moves to a 42 volt system, but the repairs, collision and mechanical, will continue to get more expensive as well.

Swiss invade Lichtenstein!

I always knew that their neutrality was a facade to lull us all to sleep. The age of Switzerland begins in Lichtenstein.
What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

Word is they used a unit heavily armed with pocket knives, spoons, and toothpicks to overcome any resistance to their determined march.

Obama's ancestors may have owned slaves

I usually try to shy away from stories like this one at the Chicago Tribune until they are verified, but I think this one brings up an interesting topic. Barak Obama's ancestors may have owned slaves:

Many people know that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas.

But an intriguing sliver of his family history has received almost no attention until now: it appears that forebears of his white mother owned slaves, according to genealogical research and Census records.

The records -- which had never been addressed publicly by the Illinois senator or his relatives -- were first noted in an ancestry report compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner, who works at the Library of Congress and practices genealogy in his spare time. The report, on Reitwiesner's Web site, carries a disclaimer that it is a "first draft" -- one likely to be examined more closely if Obama is nominated.

According to the research, one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned two slaves who were recorded in the 1850 Census in Nelson County, Ky. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two slaves.

Does this reflect on Obama in any way? Absolutely not. He cannot be held accountable for the actions of his forebears. We have grown very accustomed in this country to pillar-like racial classifications, though, and I think we are going to struggle a bit to redefine racial classifications as those pillars break up and more and more Americans come from multiple races. I studied race relations in the Americas for a semester in college, and in Latin American the issue of mixed-bloods is still very complicated. I think we've had a certain advantage here in that we've been able to deal with race in very simple terms for many years, and that has given us a jump start on being able to handle thorny racial situations. We may still face the difficult overlapping issues of race and class that Latin America has struggled with, though, and as our racial paradigms shift, there will be some struggling to come to understand the new reality. This Obama story may seem unusual to us now, but it behooves us to absorb and understand it as quickly as possible because things are only going to get more complicated over time.

What's next? Bo knows breast feeding?

This just ain't right: cross-nursing.

When my son was a few months old and my dear, dear friend Anastasia was at the end of her pregnancy, she turned to me one day and said, "I have a request."

"Anything," I said. After all, she had come over two or three times a week since my baby was born to help me as I finished a book. She'd done everything from returning phone calls to burping the baby to vacuuming. When she tipped over in the course of trying to rock my son, Skuli, she bonked her head rather than drop him, prompting me to wonder if it was fair to relegate administrative tasks and baby-care to a woman who was nine months pregnant.

"I want us to nurse each other's babies," Anastasia said.

"Okay," I said, immediately.

"They'll be milk-siblings," she said excitedly.

"Yeah," I said. "Wow."

In cases of necessity, I can see where this would be okay, but in this day and age of formula, necessity is very rare. First, I can't see why a mother would be anything but selfish about that bond her child. Second, I don't care how much you trust your closest friends, you still don't know with certainity that they do not carry any illnesses which can be passed through the milk, which is still a bodily fluid.

Hawking to ride a vomit comet

Good for him.

Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who authored the best-selling book, "A Brief History of Time," soon will experience a brief history with weightlessness.
"As someone who has studied gravity and black holes all of my life, I am excited to experience first hand weightlessness and a zero-gravity environment," Hawking said in a statement.

I feel horribly guilty for even thinking this, let alone writing it, but the thought of hearing him exclaim something like "h-o-l-y s-h-i-t!" during the flight makes me giggle a little. But I hope he enjoys it and that the ride isn't too hard on him.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Yawn. Wake me in '08

I'm reading everything there is about the 2008 Presidential candidates, mostly because the race is sucking all the oxygen out of the news worlds. Despite that, I'd sooner slam my hand in a door while drinking Bud then start pontificating heavily on the Democrat and Republican candidates. There are already pieces of conventional wisdom forming on the race, and people are predicting the nominees will be all but chosen by September. I hate to disappoint everyone, but today's conventional wisdom is going to be junk a month from now, and April's c.w. will be garbage by May. Money is going to be important in this race, but there will be enough to go around. We're going to go into next year like we go into every Presidential election year-wondering which of two or three candidates on each side will win their party's nomination.

There are a number of reasons that we are seeing this election cycle start at an unholy early date, but the one that I think is a little neglected is the fact that for the first time there is a fully developed "Punditocracy of Davids" that are feeding the beast. The 7th year of a presidency is a typical lull year, so we've all started looking towards the next big event on the horizon, the election. The more we talk, the more the media talks, and the more the politicians talk, and in turn we talk some more. Can't we just have a year of memes and timewasters in the blogosphere, please?

Bird flu futures

Yep, that's right, there is a bird flu futures market now.

Organizers hope to recruit at least 100 epidemiologists, veterinarians and other medical experts from around the world for the two-year project. They will be asked to join an online trading system akin to agricultural futures markets, in which investor buys contracts that businesses will be able to deliver certain volumes of, say, corn or pork bellies.

But in this project, the contracts represent not the likelihood of a good corn harvest but the odds that deadly bird flu will infect a human in Hong Kong by July 1.

"Yes" contracts on that prediction are currently trading at 43 cents. That means the experts think there's a 43 percent chance of that occurring.

You can't join in on this futures market, as it is only for the "experts" and designed to be a predictive indicator for the bird flu. Too bad, because there ain't quite anything like betting on the death of an anonnymous person in Hoong Kong.

That's never happened before

I've seen some wild weather since moving into our current house. I can remember watching debris fall from the sky from the Stoughton tornado, and then eating dinner huddled in the basement with the lovely Mrs. Jib. I remember a wild wind storm last fall that caught me outside and off-guard. In the short time we've been here, I've never seen a gust of wind blow one of my doors open, though, and it just happened. I'm going to need a pliers to pry my cat's claws out of the ceiling.

What, Pickled Eggs and Pork Rinds Aren't Healthy?

It appears wine snobbery has now infected medical science research.

Wine drinkers tend to buy healthier food than beer drinkers, according to a Danish study published Tuesday on the website of a weekly medical review.

People who bought wine at the store were also more likely to buy more olives, fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats and dairy products than beer consumers did, said the study.

Beer buyers were more likely to buy frozen dinners, cold cuts, pork, mutton, crisps, sugary products, butter, margarine and soft drinks.

I've enjoyed beer for quite a while now, and not once has mutton made it into my shopping cart. On top of that, beer drinkers catch their own fish and don't need to buy it. And since when are deep fried cheese curds not dairy products?

Left to benefit from Haliburton?

Ahhh. Sometimes real life events are just too delicious to appropriately put into words. Take this, for example.

But the latest move by globe trotting, hyper-liberal billionaire George Soros borders on being too much. According to papers filed with the SEC, in the fourth quarter of 2006 Soros purchased nearly 2 million shares of ... hold your breath ... Halliburton. The Halliburton shares reportedly went for an average purchase price of $31.30 a share. That puts Soros' total investment in Halliburton at around $62.6 million, or about 2 percent of his total portfolio.

So if Soros pours money into the 2008 presidential campaign, does that mean the those on the left who have lambasted the evil Haliburton and Dick Cheney for years are going to now be indirectly benefiting from George Soros' profits from Haliburton?