Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Syria Scrubs Attack Site

Pictures can say a thousand words, and the New York Times has a couple of interesting ones from high over Syria.

New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site believed to have been attacked by Israel last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what some analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor.

Two photos, taken Wednesday from space by rival companies, show the site near the Euphrates River to have been wiped clean since August, when imagery showed a tall square building there measuring about 150 feet on a side.

I loved this line from deep in the article:

Later in the interview, he said, “ We understand that if Syria even contemplated nuclear technology, then the gates of hell would open on us.”

Did they understand that before or after Israel's attack? I'm guessing it was after a window of hell opened on their nuclear site.

Bobby Caina Calvin, Media Idiot of the Week

Bobby Caina Calvin of Knight-Ridder/McClatchy is a short-sighted, self-absorbed moron.

Calvin's post at his blog is spreading around the web like wild fire, but if you haven't seen or heard it yet, here's the quick and short of it. Calvin wrote on his blog (reproduced here) about difficulties he had getting into the green zone in Baghdad because two forms or ID were required at the checkpoint and not just the one that he had, identifying him as media with Knight-Ridder. The American soldiers at the check point did not know what Knight-Ridder was. No big surprise there; I'd wager that a majority of Americans do not know what Knight-Ridder is. It was a classic "don't you know who I am?" piece from someone that really had no justification for expecting people to know who he was or who he was with.

Calvin was short-sighted because he wanted to breeze in and out of the green zone as if it were a Parisian cafe. Fortunately for Calvin and other media members of his ilk, the green zone is safe because it is not a place that can be entered and exited breezily. Scrutiny of identification is what has kept out the type of people who would love nothing more than to kill someone like Calvin because he doesn't worship in the exact same religion. Calvin doesn't have to like the scrutiny, but if he appreciates the existence of a 'green zone', then he damn well better accept it.

Calvin was self-absorbed because he had absolutely no justifiable reason to expect a soldier at a check point would know or even care what Knight-Ridder, a company that publishes(ed) no newspapers in its own name, is. And even if they did, they would still be absolutely justified in expecting a second form of ID as stolen or faked identification is hardly a rare thing in this world. In his post, Calvin essentially throws a hissy fit about the failure to be recognized by a young man who is basically on the front line in his position as a check point guard to an area that enemies would love to breach. Given that, Calvin's post epitomized selfishness.

Typically, I'd have skipped this story because opinion on it is already a dime a dozen. But Calvin's selfish irresponsibility should be recorded, and now that his original post seems to have disappeared, I'm more than happy to join in with the others who makes sure it stays recorded.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clearing away Jena 6 myths

As the national media reported on the Jena 6 story, some things just did not seem to add up and the string of the story didn't always seem to connect quite right. In the Christian Science Monitor, a local Jena reporter says that was because the national media did a horrible job covering the story. In his CSM piece, he also addresses some of the 'myths' of the Jena 6 story. It is worth the read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quick Hitters

I've read a number of things today that I've found noteworthy. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to write about them and I'm probably not going to be able to in the next couple of days. Just the same, I'd like to share these quick hitters with everyone.

*Fred Thompson has laid out his immigration plan, and it looks pretty good to me. It might help him in the primaries, but it might hurt him in a general election. We'll see.
*Remember the Israeli bombing of the supposed Syrian nuclear site? Last week a Syrian official confirmed it was a nuclear site, and again very quietly. It is as if nobody wants to touch this story. Except Stanley Kurtz at NRO, but even Kurtz leaves many questions unanswered.
*The momentum continues to grow against ethanol.
*I've done a few searches on Flickr in the last couple of days on the fires in Southern California. By and large, it looks like people are being smart and staying the hell away from the flames. Still, a few cool pics like this one have popped up.
*Ya know, anti-war protests keep happening, but does anyone really notice?

China Continues Offensive Military Space Program

Next time you see someone criticizing the U.S. for militarizing space, remember that we didn't start this fire:

A Chinese submarine will send test signals that could change the course of a satellite when China launches its first moon orbiter, as part of the country's effort to develop space war technology, a human rights watchdog said Tuesday.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said two survey ships are deployed in the South Pacific Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean to send signals to maneuver the lunar exploration satellite, expected to be launched Wednesday. At the same time, a nuclear-powered submarine will send simulated signals to the satellite as a test, it said in a statement.

Once the satellite-maneuvering technology matures, the group said, China would have the know-how to destroy other satellites in space in wartime. China could launch cheaply-made weapon-carrying objects into space and change their courses to destroy or damage satellites of other countries by sending signals from submarines, the center said.

China shocked the world in January by firing a missile at an old weather satellite without notifying anyone in advance, showing off its anti-satellite weaponry and its ability to shoot down satellites without being immediately noticed.

Some might point out that we got the ball rolling with 'Star Wars'. The 'Star Wars' missile defense idea, while partially located in orbit, is/was a defense system of earthly concern. The Chinese are aggressively pursuing offensive, space focused weapons, and unless we get on the ball soon, they are going to have us, and our communications, completely defenseless.

The Time We Invest in Controversies of Fiction

I couldn't care less if J.K. Rowling has thoughts of a gay Dumbledore dancing in her head. Really, why should we care, besides the fact that some parents of kids that read the news are going to have to explain that gay doesn't really mean happy anymore. You can't really shelter your kids about that for very long anymore, anyway (unlike, say, the early 1980's when it worked on me...partially.) Personally, I think Rowling is just tweaking people now that she's finished the series, and she is probably sitting back with a drink, laughing at the froth she's created.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your friend, the hurricane

So we are taught that hurricanes and tropical storms are bad, and more of them is worse. With that, I give you Atlanta.
For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

And life has, for the most part, gone on just as before.

Everything has its place in nature. Hurricanes in particular send us into hysterics but they are incredible, if inefficient, contributors to the aquifers they cross.

I am at times amused by our current opinions of conservation. On the one hand, we are hell bent on freezing our ever changing nature as it was at a time in the past we deem as 'perfect'. On the other hand, we view some parts of nature as menaces, but even menaces like hurricanes can be beneficial to us. I'm sure that parts of the east coast would trade a good tropical storm right now for the water conservation they've been forced into by drought. I'm also sure that if we could find a way to eliminate or re-direct those storms, we'd do it.

Rest in Peace, Max McGee

I know that I'm late to this one, and there isn't much to be said that hasn't been said already. I would like to say a few things, just the same. I grew up with McGee. We went on a lot of Sunday rides with my grandmother when I was a kid, and one concession my Raider fan father always made was to flip the radio to the Packer games in the fall. McGee and partner Jim Irwin provided the descriptions that allowed the game to play in my head. McGee played the part of the colorful, knowledgeable fan, and I stress colorful. It isn't every day that you'll hear an announcer today refer to a wrap around draw, common in the early Holmgren days, as an "enema draw". Once in a great while this would get him in trouble, but by and large McGee's commentary was much appreciated by Packer fans who suffered through horrible teams during much of his radio career. His ten Wisconsin "Sportscaster of the Year" awards were much deserved. Rest well, Max.

"Way of the Warrior"

This sounds like it will be interesting:

As a United States soldier in the second decade of the 20th century, Edward DeNomie chased Pancho Villa and fought in all seven major battles of World War I. He took shrapnel in his ear and lost a lung in a German gas attack. He saw some of his best friends die, all while serving a country of which he was not a citizen.

That is because he — like 12,000 other soldiers who volunteered for military service during World War I — was Native American.

Patty Loew, a veteran television journalist and an associate professor of life sciences communication, has long wondered what motivated men such as DeNomie, who also happens to be her grandfather, to fight for a country that considered them outsiders. Now, she has produced “Way of the Warrior,” a one-hour documentary that will air nationally on the PBS network in November, to explore these questions.

In chronicling the war stories of Native American soldiers from World War I to Vietnam, “Way of the Warrior” offers an interesting counterpart to Ken Burns’ seven-part series, “The War,” which was criticized by some for neglecting the contributions of minority soldiers in World War II. Like Burns, Loew uses historical footage, primary documents and interviews with veterans and their families to relate deeply personal tales of bravery, heroism and loss. But she also probes social stereotypes and aspects of tribal cultures that have made the experiences of Native American soldiers unique.

Because Native Americans were not guaranteed U.S. citizenship until 1924, most Native American soldiers in World War I wore the uniform of a country that did not permit them to vote. Some chose to serve in guard units for a steady income, Loew says, but many others were motivated by tribal values of obligation, service and protection.

About 8 years ago, I met Loew and and I had the opportunity to have a long discussion with her. I was very impressed with her intelligence and her depth of knowledge. I'm sure that this will be a very interesting documentary.

B.S. Alarms Hit Rare Eddie Haskell Levels in Eau Claire

This amused me. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram brings us the story of the Girls Gone Wild bus that visited the Water Street bar The Pickle last Friday. In it, they talk with a UW Eau Claire freshman who had this to say:

"I'm against the objectification of women," he said. His friends declined to comment.

What a fine lad, right? Well, now let's work in the context.

UW-Eau Claire freshman Dan Bock and two of his friends took cell-phone pictures of each other in front of the coach bus Friday afternoon. Bock said he has never seen a "Girls Gone Wild" video.

I'm guessing his friends declined to comment because they were laughing too hard. But hey, if smarmy works for Bock, more power to him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

AFP Taxpayer Rally in Madison

Taxpayer Rally 128
Originally uploaded by Jibby7
I had the opportunity to hit the Americans for Prosperity's "Defend Wisconsin Taxpayers Rally" in Madison today. It was interesting, to say the least. To see some of my photos, go here.

I decided right off the bat that since I was already on board with what the AFP was saying, I wanted to hang with the counter protesters. They were going to be much more...amusing. I also figured that they'd make better photography subjects. I was right on both accounts.

The first thing that struck me was that a portion of the counter protesters seemed to be under informed. Before the rally, AFP blasted a campaign promise made by Jim Doyle over their speakers. In it, Doyle promises, amongst other things, to not raise taxes and to be open to solutions to Wisconsin's budget problems. After it had come over the speakers a couple of times, I heard one counter protester turn to another and say, "That's funny. Look at all these no new taxes signs. They don't seem very open to solutions." She had no idea that the voice coming over the speakers was not someone with AFP, but Jim Doyle.

The second thing that struck me was that the many of the counter protesters were completely divorced from reason and completely married to emotion. Emotion is a fine thing, but by itself it is merely dangerous. When the rally began, I was standing between two male counter protesters. I did not hear one intelligent thing come out of the mouth of either all day. One was very skilled at spewing vitriol. He in fact, after pulling out all the expletives he knew, started several of the "Do your job" chants that were yelled out today. The only problem? They were yelling "do your job" at people who weren't lawmakers but private citizens. The other gentlemen joined in all of the chants at the top of his very voluminous lungs. But he did one other thing that I found pointless. As if he thought he could drown out the speakers all by himself, he'd blare "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah!" over and over and over and over again. Counter protesters such as these seemed to have no interest in winning over converts to their beliefs, but rather seemed more interest in just making sure their opponents couldn't be heard themselves.

And speaking of emotion. The prime emotion that seemed to be the currency of the counter protest was rage. And at least in the area where I was standing, bloggers seemed to particularly evoke rage. Bloggers Fred Dooley and Owen Robinson both spoke at the event, and some of the most vile things I heard all day were directed at them. It was at that point that I actually began to get nervous about the froth the counter protesters were working themselves into. I started to work my way to the opposite side of the counter protest to see if the rage was all consuming on that side. Thankfully, it wasn't, but quite another thing dawned on me as Madison and Milwaukee talk show host Vicki McKenna finished up her speech, and that was that the end of this event was going to be potentially dangerous. You see, the rally was held on one of the malls that led up to the capitol building. It was blocked off on both sides leading up to the capital in order to keep the protesters/rally members and the counter protesters separated. Unfortunately, that meant that there was only one way out for the rally participants. As Mckenna finished up her speech, I worked my way back to that choke point. When I first got there, the counter protesters had left the exit unmolested. As more rally participants began to leave, that changed. I began to be pushed forward by people coming up from behind me to crowd the exit. I went with the flow and followed around to get a better look, but while I was crowded out, I heard a guy shouting at someone who in hindsight I think was Karen Carpenter. I ended up in a crowd of counter protesters that created two very narrow and curvy lanes for rally participants to leave. While they harassed the participants aggressively at first, they calmed down a little bit when it became apparent that police were not going to tolerate a free for all. It was still a potentially ugly situation that I hope can be better planned for the next time around.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jiblog on The Google

Search terms are fun, especially when they are goofy terms and your site ranks high in the search. Take for instance the search that brought some poor, unsuspecting soul here last night. She (I'm assuming it was a she) did a Google search for "All Men Are Pigs." Interestingly enough, Jiblog is the number 2 result for that search right now. So what sage wisdom about men did she receive from me? Only this post wherein I encourage guys to ogle Milka Duno.

Sorry, but I did say we're all pigs.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bonfire Displays Pope John Paul II?

Some people think so. Here's the picture:

Normally I'm not one to pick on religion, but give me a break. Two things. First, this is like looking at a cloud-you can see whatever you want to see. I looked at this pic and two famous movie characters came to mind before Pope John Paul II did:

Now keep in mind, I'm much more religious than I am a fan of Star Wars (of which I'm not very much at all).

Second, this is a photograph, and not one at a very high shutter speed. That means the light had a little bit of time to "play" while the shutter was open. A faster shutter speed, and the fire/light never forms this image.

I'm not a Wisconsin blog...

...according to BlogNetNews. But then again, neither is the Badger Blog Alliance.

Two Things You Might Not Have Known, Baseball Edition

I enjoy the occasional random factoid, so it is my pleasure to pass along a couple that I learned today. Did you know...

1. Robin Yount won as many MVPs in his career as Ted Williams and Willie Mays did?

2. Over the course of their franchise histories, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cleveland Indians have won the same number of MVPs with 3. The Indians were a charter member of the American League. The Brewers are less than 40 years old. If Prince Fielder were to win the NL MVP this year, something that seems unlikely at this point, then the Brewers will move into an MVP award tie with another charter member of the American League, the Chicago White Sox.

The Iranian "Threat" to Putin

Over the weekend a Russian news service reported that Russian officials were aware of a specific assassination threat against Vladamir Putin during his upcoming visit to Iran. It is entirely possible that there is a threat to Putin's safety in Iran, but something struck me as unusual about this story, and I just can't quite put my finger on it. I then began to wonder if Putin wasn't doing a little PR to continue to bolster his brave, manly image in Russia as he refused to cancel his trip, which then got me wondering if the "threat" was completely made up by the Russian government to begin with. It's thin, I know, but not something I'd put past this current rendition of the Russian government.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Heineken Bottle Brick

It's too bad this never caught on.

Mr. Heineken’s idea came after a visit to the Caribbean where he saw two problems: beaches littered with bottles and a lack of affordable building materials. The WOBO became his vision to solve both the recycling and housing challenges that he had witnessed on the islands.

The final WOBO design came in two sizes - 350 and 500 mm versions that were meant to lay horizontally, interlock and layout in the same manner as ‘brick and mortar’ construction. One production run in 1963 yielded 100,000 bottles some of which were used to build a small shed on Mr. Heineken’s estate in Noordwijk, Netherlands. One of the construction challenges “was to find a way in which corners and openings could be made without cutting bottles,” said Mr. Habraken.

I knew guys in college that made virtually all of the furniture in their apartments out of cases of returnable Leinie's bottles. They'd have switched brands for bottle bricks and then they'd have built an addition onto their apartment.

U.S. to Owe $100 Billion Gambling Debt?


A Brussels think-tank has accused the US government of reneging on commitments made to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over internet gaming.

Panellists at a trade forum levelled harsh criticism at the US, focusing on a burgeoning trade clash between the US and Europe over internet gaming.

The forum believes that the US could be liable for up to US$100 billion in trade concessions to European industries after placing illegal discriminatory trade restrictions on European gaming operators.

The disputed concessions arise from Antigua's victory earlier this year when the WTO ruled that the US violated its treaty obligations by excluding online Antiguan gaming operators, while allowing domestic operators to offer various forms of online gaming.

Instead of complying with the ruling, the Bush administration withdrew the sizeable gambling industry from its free trade commitments.

As a result, all 151 WTO members are considering seeking compensation for the withdrawal equal to the size of the entire US land-based and online gaming market, estimated at nearly US$100 billion.

The European Union, along with India and five other countries, has filed notice that it intends to seek compensation.

What are they going to do if we don't pay, break our Florida? Cut off our Maine with a cigar cutter?

And now, the rest of the story

Heh. When you read the stories today about former Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez criticizing the war effort, make sure you wash it down with this post at Power Line. In it, they reprint the portion of the speech that the media is largely ignoring-the part where he launches heavy criticism of them.

Mondale, The Deathly Endorsement of Presidential Aspirations

I'll admit, I was getting nervous about Hillary Clinton's chances in 2008 until I saw this:

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, is planning to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), The Hill has learned.

Mondale’s endorsement could prove especially valuable in Iowa, which borders his home state of Minnesota. Mondale won Iowa overwhelmingly in the ’84 primary.

The endorsement is fitting given Mondale’s decision more than two decades ago to select Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the first time a woman was tapped to serve on a major party’s presidential ticket. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, she would also make history.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to several requests for comment.

Heh. I'd avoid comment, too, if I were the Clinton campaign. Associating your campaign with Walter Mondale is hardly helpful unless you really think you need Minnesota in the general election.

What Happened to Friday Night Blogging?

My RSS feed reader dried up several hours ago, and normally I can't keep up with the thing. Doesn't anyone stay at home and blog all night on a Friday night anymore? Am I the only uncool blogger left? (I kid, I kid)

Yet Another Profitable Idea From Me to the Recording Industry

I've offered up profitable ideas to the record industry at least one time here at Jiblog. I'd link to it/them, but frankly, I don't care about the record industry enough to do the search. Anyway, here's my thought. Digital music is certainly a growth sector. People love buying music online. But there is an old school segment of the market that still isn't all that big on the internet. So for them, and for some who are internet savvy but love shopping at bricks and mortar stores, set up kiosks in record stores and big boxes. Partner with flash drive manufacturers, and at these kiosks sell flash drives filled with music that the user can sample and select from on the computer screen. Offer several different flash drive sizes at different prices, and for each size let the consumers fill it up with music. Is it a great deal? Probably not as great a deal as buying music online, but it would fill a niche. I know that if I were shopping and I wanted to get a 'no reason' gift for the lovely Mrs. Jib, I'd bite on the chance to buy her a 'mix tape' for the 21st century.

Get Well, Teddy K.

Tonight I came up with what I think is a pretty funny quip about Ted Kennedy but I'm going to wait until he is healthy again to use it. There is nothing I loathe more than when people put their politics above the personal and kick people when they are truly down. So all I have to say tonight is get well soon, Teddy K. We've got more battles to fight with you, but we can't do it until you're feeling better.

On Tonight's Posts

If I haven't managed to get under the skin of 6 of my 7 regular readers tonight, then I just ain't trying hard enough.

Is Tolerance Tomorrow's Politically Incorrect Word?

Let me illustrate. Using American Heritage definitions, here is how the word is popularly used today:
1. The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

Seems cool, right? But what about those other meanings?

    1. Leeway for variation from a standard.
    2. The permissible deviation from a specified value of a structural dimension, often expressed as a percent.
    3. Physiological resistance to a poison.
    4. The capacity to absorb a drug continuously or in large doses without adverse effect; diminution in the response to a drug after prolonged use.
    5. Acceptance of a tissue graft or transplant without immunological rejection.
    6. Unresponsiveness to an antigen that normally produces an immunological reaction.

Variation from the "Standard." Not as cool when it comes to the modern meaning because it would imply your belief is standard and someone else's isn't. So let's look at one more meaning:

3. The capacity to endure hardship or pain.

Definitely not cool in relation to our more common modern meaning. If you publicly said that you endured people different from you, you'd be crucified. I'll bet that when our kids or grandkids are our age, they will frown and furrow their brows if they hear us old coots use the word "tolerance." They might even scold us, even though today the word is more than acceptable. Think of that the next time one of your parents or grandparents say a word that falls harshly on your ears.

Atheists to Celebrate "Nonprayer Breakfasts"

This made me chuckle:

Hundreds of atheists are gathering in Madison this weekend.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is hosting its 30th annual convention. Its members will gather for a weekend of nonprayer breakfasts and raffles for God-free currency.

Ooooh, that'll show all of us dumb religionists. Those crazy folks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I'll tell ya. I see they didn't push things by having nonprayer bedtimes, though. Imagine the hell that would have raised. Actually, can atheists raise hell if hell doesn't exist?

Vicious Attack on Inflatable Halloween Decorations

I had to double check this story to make sure the culprit wasn't the lovely Mrs. Jib. She hates inflatable decorations.

A woman says a neighbor attacked her inflatable Halloween lawn display of three ghosts and a giant pumpkin, then apparently smashed his head through her window in a fit of rage.

State Police said officers found a drunken John Odee, 43, inside Dawn Garcia's house in the Hudson Valley town of Lloyd on Thursday night, arrested him after a brief struggle and charged him with burglary.

Only three things keep my wife from doing the same thing: A respect for personal property, a sense of decorum, and an unwillingness to smash her head through a window.

Pelosi Erodes America's Moral Authority

I have a simple question. With Turkey already straining at the bit to invade Iraq, and with Nancy Pelosi simultaneously pushing a resolution condemning a Turkish genocide on Armenians from nearly 100 years ago, are the Democrats trying to ruin our relations with our allies? Are they trying to provoke instability in the Middle East? Are they risking our remaining 'moral authority' around the world by going off half-cocked on this resolution that they know is provocative? Why we've allowed chickenhawks like Pelosi rise to positions of influence, I'll never know. The likes of Nancy Pelosi will just make peaceful people like the Turks hate us.

(See Jib's cheek. See Jib's tongue planted firmly in said cheek to make a point.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Rare Ann Coulter Non-Controversy Controversy

So, Ann Coulter said on the Donny Deutsch (really, somebody watches it?) show that everyone should be a Christian. Normally I wouldn't touch this story, but would there be any controversy whatsoever if:

-A prominent atheist, say, Christopher Hitchens, said that everyone shouldn't believe in God?
-A prominent Muslim, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that everyone should believe in Allah for salvation?
-A prominent Jew said that the true route to God is through the Torah?

C'mon, now. This smacks more of anti-Christian or anti-Coulter backlash than anything else. I'll let this blogger make a couple of the major points being overlooked:

In reality, Coulter shows a pretty liberal Christian perspective. Deutsch says to her “So I should not be a Jew, I should be a Christian, and this would be a better place?” Her answer: “Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you’re not.” Catch that? Her view is that a better America would be a more religious America.

She also says, “We believe your religion, but you have to obey.” Judaism isn’t wrong according to her version of Christianity (as I said, she is pretty liberal). She doesn’t say Judaism is wrong. She says Christianity is “a lot easier. It’s kind of a fast track.” Guess what? Christianity is a lot easier than observing 613 Commandments. And she believes it works.

Is this a surprise? In the words of Iago, the obviously, stereotypically Jewish-sounding parrot in Disney’s Alladin—the Jewish character is the one with the mile-long shnozolla, and no one gets upset at that—“I think I’m just going to die from that surprise!” [Yeah, he’s Jewish all right.]

For this, Deutsch attempts to compare her with Iran, and wiping Israel off the map. She then clarifies that this isn’t what she said at all, but that, as Christians, “we just want Jews to be perfected.”

It’s completely acceptable to think your politics are right and everyone else’s is wrong, but to think your religion has it right is evil and backwards—even if she acknowledges that practicing Judaism would contribute just as well to making America a better place. Again, the true target here isn’t Coulter, but religion, and the true intolerance here is coming not from Coulter, but from Deutsch.

I'll say this much-on this issue, he is right: Coulter is liberal. I personally did not grow up in a church that believed that there are other routes to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Coulter seemed to leave that possibility open. But even if she didn't, saying that others should believe what you believe does not mean that you cannot display tolerance towards others who are not like you, and to pretend that Coulter's comments mean that she thinks Jews (or anyone else) should be wiped out is disingenuous at best.

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas...

...on a hard drive:

The Las Vegas Strip has one of the tightest security surveillance systems in the world. Soon, there will be more eyes watching us on the Strip. That's not sitting well with some people.

The Regional Transportation Commission, which operates the CAT bus system, approved a $554,000 contract with Motorola to install cameras along Las Vegas Boulevard.

I guess just because 'it' stays in Vegas doesn't mean that there isn't a record of it. Which reminds me, I should repeat my corollary to the Vegas Doctrine: What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas...unless 'it' is a baby, an STD, or a huge gambling debt; then 'it' finds a way of following you home.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for electrons?

This kills me:

Humans could marry robots within the century. And consummate those vows.

"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.

Ha! Massachusetts! That's too funny. Why not California? Silicon Valley is near San Francisco, and one would think they'd want their robots to be happy, right?

This prediction has one thing going against it-do you have to marry something that you can shut off? It also has one thing going for it-the robot can be shut off.

C'mon, At Least Give Us a Nobel Red Carpet

I, for one, wish that the Nobel Prizes were awarded in a ceremony like the Academy Awards. I'd have enjoyed the Al Gore "I'm the King of the World" speech. And who wouldn't have wanted to see Jimmy Carter in a Vera Wang?

The Long Reagan Shadow

I haven't fleshed out my thoughts fully on this, so consider this a precursor to a future, longer post. I am convinced that one of the biggest things the Republican party has to overcome right now is the long shadow, legend, and myth of Ronald Reagan. Long shadow because Reagan truly was a historic leader. Legend because he was proven right on much of his doctrine during his post presidency. Myth because, in retrospect, many of us have chosen to forget that he wasn't perfectly conservative. As a result, all Republicans today are judged against a yard stick that they cannot realistically live up to, and when they don't, it sends we present day conservatives into fits of rage and despondency.

I should have read this first. Jonah Goldberg fleshes out some of my thoughts on this for me.

Republican Presidential Politics and the National League Central

I have just a quick observation on the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. It reminds me a great deal of the National League Central-a bunch of flawed candidates, none of whom seem to really want to win the crown at times. The only question that remains for me is whether this field is the 2006 National League Central that gave us the World Champion, 83 win St. Louis Cardinals, or the 2007 National League Central that gave us the easily vanquished Chicago Cubs.

America, Home of Creative Destruction

I love this post at The Corner from Michael Ledeen:

As I am often vilified for claiming that America is the homeland of "creative destruction," these two quotations (lifted from some comments on The Long War Journal make me palpitate:

"The reason Americans do so well in war, is war is chaos, and Americans practice chaos on a daily basis." Rommel 1942

"The difficulty in planning against American doctrine is that Americans neither see fit to follow their doctrine nor even read their manuals." KGB Document

To which one should add Churchill's observation that Americans always do the right thing after having exhausted all the other possibilities.

And it follows, I think, that the impulse to screw up is ever present, and so while things may look pretty good today, tomorrow is always another day. We still have no Iran policy, do we?

The quotes are all excellent descriptors of America that don't often appear in our self perception, but which contribute to our strength more so than our weakness.

Retail's Weather Excuses

This always amuses me, and I'll explain why in a moment.

Sales at department store retailers like Kohl's Corp., Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Macy's Inc. did not fare as well as the discount chains in September, with weather being the main culprit for softer sales.

Same-store sales at Menomonee Falls-based Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS) dropped 3.2 percent for the five-week period ended Oct. 6, while total sales rose 5.9 percent to $1.3 billion from $1.25 billion a year ago. Same-store sales is a measure of sales at stores open both years.

"September sales were affected by weak demand in weather-sensitive businesses such as long bottoms, fleece and sweaters," said Kohl's chairman and CEO Larry Montgomery.

Fresh out of college, I did a stint in retail management. Stores are held accountable for their performance, and if performance isn't up to expectations, some explaining needs to be done. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that we were absolutely, positively forbidden from using weather as part of our reasoning because the individual stores were expected to rise above weather influences to meet expectations. I suspect run of the mill managers in other chains are forbidden to use the 'W' word, too. Yet when retail chains go to their stockholders to explain sub par performance, weather seems to work its way into the reasoning 50% of the time.

Eat Poo...And Live!

That's kind of what this guy is saying over at Slate:

But here is the problem: We have become victims of our own success. Ever wonder why your dog can gobble, lick, and gnaw all he wants along the glorious buffet of a city street and (almost) never get sick? Your dog is used to eating shit. Americans, on the other hand, grow up eating almost no shit at all. Our food is hosed and boiled and rinsed and detoxified and frozen and salted and preserved. Recently, we have begun to irradiate it, too—just in case. As a result, when our bodies encounter the occasional inevitable bug, they're unhappy. Our centuries-long program of winnowing out all the muck has turned us into sissies and withered the substantial part of the immune system mediated by our intestinal tract.

So let me get this straight-the next time someone tells me to eat shit, I should thank them?

Just a Far Fetched Thought on MillerCoors & Stadiums

With the merger of Miller Brewing and Coors, an issue arises when it comes to stadium names. National League adversaries the Brewers and Rockies play in Miller Park and Coors Field, respectively. There is no reason that both cannot keep their stadium names as both of those brands will retain their identity. However, if in the off chance that MillerCoors moves its headquarters to Colorado, the Miller Park name just isn't going to cut it in Milwaukee anymore. In that scenario, I say make it Leinenkugel Park and change Coors Field to MillerCoors Field. At least leave us with a stadium name that still has pertinence to our state.

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore joins Jimmy Carter as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. And I react with a giant yawn. This only further proves that the Nobel Peace Prize is a political popularity contest. After all, one question still remains for me-what has Gore's crusading had to do with peace? As it turns out, Czech President Vaclav Klaus has similar thoughts.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a rare vocal global- warming sceptic among heads of state, is "somewhat surprised" that former US vice president Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize, the president's spokesman Petr Hajek said in a statement.

"The relationship between his activities and world peace is unclear and indistinct," the statement said. "It rather seems that Gore's doubting of basic cornerstones of the current civilization does not contribute to peace."

Apparently, Gaia worship and ecological harmony and balance equal peace. Now if Al Gore can just find a way to do away with all of us brutish humans who get in the way of that dream...

Sorry Grumps, but I call BS on this. There always has been and always will be resource wars. Any shifts due to climate change don't change that fact.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some people are cruel to their pets in October

But it is just too funny.

Raid? What Raid? We Don't Know Nuttin' 'Bout No Stinkin' Raid

The quiet nature of an Israeli raid on a supposed nuclear facility in Syria just keeps getting more and more strange.

Israel has been unusually quiet about the attack on Sept. 6 and has effectively imposed a news blackout about it. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader, on Sept. 19 became the first public figure in Israel to acknowledge that an attack had even taken place. Some Israeli officials have said, though not publicly, that the raid hit a nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip, but they have not specified where.

On Monday, journalists toured the agricultural center at the government’s invitation to prove, Mr. Mehdi said, that no nuclear weapons program or Israeli attacks occurred there. “The allegations are completely groundless, and I don’t really understand where all this W.M.D. talk came from,” Mr. Mehdi said, referring to weapons of mass destruction.

“There was no raid here — we heard nothing,“ he added.

Syria is really going out of its way to deny that this ever happened. It leads me to believe two things: 1) The effectiveness of the raid scares the hell out of Syria, and 2) Syria has more to hide.

A passing thought on a Democratic 2009

If the Democrats win the presidency in 2008 and manage to hold congress, I'm going to buy a great big tub of popcorn and enjoy the cannibalistic horror show. The lefty blogosphere has never experienced being in complete control of Washington. They have not experienced the inherent political disappointments a minority party can and frequently does deliver in our system. Once they do, they are going to devour the Democratic establishment like a particularly aggressive flesh eating virus. It should be a great show.

Kudos to a post at HuffPo

Linger over that headline because it isn't often that you'll see it here. John Ridley deserves the kudos, though, because he writes a post on Che Gueverra that should be included with every Che t-shirt and every copy of The Motorcycle Diaries.

In death Guevara has certainly managed to whitewash his image. A cleansing aided by such personality cultisms as the film The Motorcycle Diaries, which portrays Guevara as a young, wide-eyed do-gooder who travels South America looking to right social wrongs. Romanticized and corporate pimped, for most who even know who Guevara was they have no idea what he stood for. They merely accept that he was the South American Martin Luther King.

He was not.

Guevara was a brutal, egotistical killer without the smarts to enact lasting economic reform nor the guile to achieve true insurgent victory. His most significant military achievement -- the taking of Santa Clara during Castro's Cuban revolution -- might have been more a matter of financial bribery than military strategy.

What is in little dispute is the savagery of his tenure as the commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison. Think of it as Cuba's Abu Ghraib. In a mere five months Guevara oversaw and personally signed off on the execution of as many as 500 people. Men, women, children. Not all merely loyalists to overthrown Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Also executed were political prisoners, dissidents, artist, intellectuals and homosexuals. A representative number of the left the revolution was supposed to be lifting up.

His bloody handiwork should come as no surprise. Before Guvera was a soap pitchman from beyond the grave, he was the "The Butcher of la Cabaña" who preached: "hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine."

Mr. Ridley makes a gross error of scale in comparing La Cabana to Abu Ghraib, but he is otherwise dead on in his treatment of Che.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Phantom phone vibrations

I keep my cell phone clipped to my belt on my hip, mostly because I'm afraid I'd lose the damn thing if I put it anywhere else. I also keep it on vibrate mode because I hate the sound of ringing cell phones. So I was very surprised to learn that I'm not the only one who feels phantom phone rings.

If your hipbone is connected to your BlackBerry or your thighbone is connected to your cell phone, those vibrations you're feeling in the car, in your pajamas, in the shower, may be coming from your headbone.

Many mobile phone addicts and BlackBerry junkies report feeling vibrations when there are none, or feeling as if they're wearing a cell phone when they're not.

The first time it happened to Jonathan Zaback, a manager at the public relations company Burson-Marsteller, he was out with friends and showing off his new BlackBerry Curve.

"While they were looking at it, I felt this vibration on my side. I reached down to grab it and realized there was no BlackBerry there."

I'm no cell phone addict. Hell, people don't even call me that much. Still, I get the phantom ring.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Did you know? Lethal Weapon Edition

Did you know...

...that Al Leong was a cast member in two of the biggest action movies of the 80's? In 1987's Lethal Weapon, he played Endo, the character who shocked Martin Riggs with a car battery. In 1988's Die Hard, he played Uli, the terrorist seen stealing candy early in the movie.

...that Jackie Swanson, the woman who played prostitute/porn starlette Amanda Hunsaker in Lethal Weapon, went on to greater fame by playing good girl Kelly Gaines in the TV show Cheers.

Iran So Far

On Saturday I mentioned an amusing short on Saturday Night Live that featured Andy Samberg. For those of you who missed it, here it is:

Must be one of them "Happy California Cows"

Talk about your species confusion:

When Beverly and Ernie Fischer gathered up their cattle this fall in Morton County, they rounded up a little more than they expected. We were moving some cattle, and we got a moose," Ernie Fischer said. "He thinks he is a cow," said his wife.

I'll pay good money to see a mooing moose

...And speaking of unsanitary public places

Ya might want to avoid the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn:

A New York City College of Technology biologist released a report Thursday finding the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn tested positive for gonorrhea contamination.

Umm, yuck.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Forget Miller's Sponsorship

The real issue should be the numerous public health code violations at the Folsom Street Fair. That looks like it is the most unsanitary public event from which I've ever had the displeasure of seeing pictures.

Is Larry Craig a masochist?

Seriously. Does this guy get gratification from all of this?
Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho reversed course on Thursday and said he would remain in the U.S. Congress despite his conviction in a sex-sting operation at an airport men's room.

In a statement just hours after a Minnesota court refused to let him withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, Craig said he planned to complete his third term that ends in January 2009.

There is no good reason for him to stay on at this point, and he's going to have to deal with this continually. I'm beginning to wonder if he's enjoying this.

Traffic cat is out of the bag

Traffic is important for most websites. It determines ad rates as well a website's influence. Most people do not question traffic numbers very much, but they should. Patrick Ruffini (via Dean Barnett) shows us why:

Our own Patrick Ruffini made some headlines a couple of days ago with an extremely interesting post. Delving into the vicissitudes of the Sitemeter counting system, Patrick estimated that Sitemeter overstates the amount of Daily Kos traffic by roughly 60% and that the actual number of Daily Kos readers is closer to a 250,000/day than the much ballyhooed figure of 600,000 a day.

Sitemeter is a great little web application, but it is not a reliable tool. Unique visitors is the key measurement for traffic. Established and commercial traffic trackers like Hitbox will track unique visitors over the course of a day, week, month, etc. Sitemeter tracks unique visitors per 30 minutes and no farther. That means if you visit a site once an hour, all day, you will count as 24 unique visits under Sitemeter's system. This creates an echo chamber than can over count the actual number of unique visitors to a site like Daily Kos in a day, and thus greatly skew how much influence such a site has in the political process.

That's not to come down on Sitemeter. Sitemeter was never designed to be an authoritative voice on traffic, and that's part of the reason you don't see it on commercial web sites. But even among those companies that are in business to count and log traffic there can be significant disparities. There is no defined standard for counting traffic, and that means there is a lot of gray area that can be exploited. And in the case of blogs and Sitemeter, you can be sure that the actual number of unique visitors in a day are smaller in most cases (RSS feeds play a part in this, too, but that is another discussion for another day).

Headlines you wish you never clicked

This one is at the top of my list:

Charges dropped in sherry enema death.

I'll let you decide whether you choose to make the same mistake that I did. Note: The last paragraph is the kicker.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's time to put a leash on Jimmy Carter for his own good

I can only imagine how terrified Jimmy Carter's cohorts were in this situation; I'm quite sure some emergency underwear changes were required.

Former President Carter got in a shouting match Wednesday with Sudanese security services who blocked him from a town in Darfur where he was trying to meet with refugees from the ongoing conflict.

The 83-year-old Carter walked into this highly volatile pro-Sudanese government town to meet refugees too frightened to attend a scheduled meeting at a nearby compound. He was able to make it to a school where he met with one tribal representative and was preparing to go further into the town when Sudanese security officers stopped him.

"You can't go. It's not on the program!" the local security chief, who only gave his first name as Omar, yelled at Carter, who is in Darfur as part of a delegation of respected international figures known as "The Elders."

"We're going to anyway!" an angry Carter retorted as a crowd began to gather. "You don't have the power to stop me."

U.N. officials told Carter's entourage the Sudanese state police could bar his way. Carter's traveling companions, billionaire businessman Richard Branson and Graca Machel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, tried to ease his frustration and his Secret Service detail urged him to get into a car and leave.

I assure you, former President Carter, when a guy is holding a gun in a third world country with a propensity for using said gun, he does indeed have "the power to stop" you.

Smell of chili evacuates a restaurant

From London:

Super spicy chili sauce being cooked at a London Thai restaurant sparked road closures and evacuations after passers-by complained that the smell was burning their throats, police said Wednesday.

London Fire Brigade's chemical response team was called after reports that a strong smell was wafting from the restaurant in the heart of London's Soho district Monday afternoon, a Metropolitan police spokesman said, speaking anonymously in line with force policy.

Authorities sealed off several premises and closed roads. The Times of London described shoppers coughing and spluttering as firefighters wearing special breathing masks sought the source of the smell.

I've been in rooms that I wish had been evacuated because of chili caused scents-but never before the meal had actually been served.

Question of the Day

Does it give a law professor a feeling of superiority to question the word usage of a Supreme Court Justice in a situation where the word has variant spellings and the editor did not even flag it? It just seems an odd thing to critique.

The Toothless Bear Growls Again

Russia continues its recent pattern of scare tactics:
Russia's military space commander vowed to retaliate with an arms race if any country started putting weapon systems into orbit, he said in remarks published on Wednesday.

"We need to have strong rules about space, to avoid its militarization and if any country will place a weapon in space, then our response will be the same," Space Forces Commander Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin told the newspaper Trud.

I know that there is a strong sentiment out there against the militarization of space, but the realist in me says that it is unavoidable. Space wasn't militarized from the 60's to the 90's because: A) The USSR/Russia knew it couldn't compete with us and would lose any space militarization race B) We had little desire to militarize something that did not need military presence C) The technology and the sophistication wasn't their yet to do it at anything less than astronomical costs. All of that is changing now, though. Except for A. With China showing great interest in militarizing space, we leave our satellite dependent society very vulnerable if we are not prepared to do the same. Additionally, the next space race may be one with economic benefits, and as such there will inevitably be national conflict over space "turf". And the technology is there and space programs seem to be developing into more sophisticated programs that involve long term human presence in space and on other heavenly bodies, making a military presence more realistic than in the days of less than one week orbits and months spent confined to a space station.

Russia is rattling its sabers on this for the exact same reason it agreed to co-operate with us in space during the Cold War and for the same reason that it agreed to space being a demilitarized zone in the first place-because they know they cannot compete with us or the Chinese. If you can't do, then you can't lose much by trying to scare.