Friday, June 30, 2006


Am I the only one who has never, ever liked Superman? Not the movies, not the comics, not the TV shows, nothing. Am I the only one who didn't fawn over Christopher Reeve's Superman, and who found Margo Kidder incredibly obnoxious as Lois Lane?

Just asking.

Blogging pay for play

From Business Week:
Murphy is launching, which will automate such hookups between advertisers and bloggers and thus codify a new frontier of product placement. Advertisers pay to post details about their "opportunity," specifying, among other things, how they want bloggers to write about, say, a new shoe, if they want photos to be included, and whether they'll pay only for positive mentions. Bloggers who abide by the rules get paid; heavily trafficked blogs may command premium rates. Those seeking to subvert PayPerPost from within can't: No pornographic or "illicit" content is accepted.

I just want the record to show that I have never been paid in free product to write nice things about the beers of the Jacob Leinkugel Brewing Company.

I'll accept it if they want to, though.

On line Polaroid club

I'm surprised it took this long for this to pop up on the web:
We are building the biggest Polaroid-picture-collection of the planet to celebrate the magic of instant photography. So please seach your archives and attics and reactivate your Instant Cameras. This is the slamming comeback of Instant Photo Fun.

Umm, a couple of things. First, there is this new device that is already quite popular for its "magic of instant photography." It's called the digital camera. Second, Polaroids were creepy, and a lot of the pictures taken with them are pictures I don't really ever care to see, thank you very much. (Think 1970's and excessive hair). Flickr this is not, but if you are a Polaroid fan, by all means, enjoy.

Air conditioning: The devil's tool

Not only is air conditioning supposedly making us fat, it is now supposedly making us more conservative:

The American left is blaming a new culprit in the country’s turn towards the Republican Party in recent years — air conditioning.

An article on the liberal Web site, titled “America’s Air Conditioned Nightmare,” argues that the southward migration made possible by AC’s ability to beat the southern heat has caused citizens who might normally be influenced by the more liberal north to instead soak up the Sun Belt’s conservative culture.

The piece also blames air conditioning for a “social chill” that’s weakened the political system, making people “less inclined to gather spontaneously” and crippling grassroots political action.

I've seen vapid college juniors come up with better theories to examine than that one. "How MacGuyver hastened the end of the Cold War" is likely to have more supporting evidence than that thesis.

Must read article of the day: Ethanol

The Heartland Institute has a great article on ethanol that I recommend to everyone, especially those in Wisconsin who will be wrangling with the issue of ethanol again and again in the coming years. The concise article manages to cover a lot of territory, so it is difficult to sumise with a snippet. Instead, go there and read the whole thing.

Hollywood gossip

As a spin off of the post below, word has it Death Row Records will be releasing a posthumous album by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The title track was recorded in the 30 minutes between the bombing of his hideaway and when U.S. troops arrived. The song? I Fought the Law (and the Law Won.)

Bin Laden pays tribute to al-Zarqawi

Jiblog Press-Osama bin Laden today released a taped memorial message today in honor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The message, released by al Qaeda in house press organ As-Sahab, was 19 minutes long and released on the internet.

In one touching scene, the narrating Bin Laden called al-Zarqawi a lion as images of al-Zarqawi flashed across the screen to Elton John's "Circle of Life" from the Lion King sound track. The video also featured a tribute from Ayman al-Zawahiri, who did an accoustic version of Skid Row's "I'll Remember You" that is sure to moisten the eyes of jihadists everywhere.

The al-Qaeda tribute to al-Zarqawi comes sharp on the heals of an underground video on YouTube showing Moqtada al-Sadr singing "Hakuna Moqtada" to his militia members. In a move expected to possibly bring an early end to the War on Terror, the RIAA is expected to announce lawsuits against al-Sadr and al Qaeda on Friday claiming that intellectual property rights have been violated by the two videos.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A bubble of oil

I want to point this morning a column by Larry Kudlow. In it he discusses why there could be a drop in oil prices. I actually read this a day or two ago and agreed with almost everything Kudlow said. In fact, his evidence was my rationale for twice now predicting that we'd see a drop in oil prices. As it turned out, I was wrong both times, and the reason that I was wrong and also why Mr. Kudlow's thoughts may not come to pass is because we both neglected the 'fear premium' that is leading to the speculation that is supporting high prices despite rising inventories. As long as investors think that there is a chance the oil supply could be cut off tomorrow, next week, or next month, they are going to continue to buy into the commodity, even if we are swimming in oil.

Blink of an Eye

Flickr has a cool new contest called "Blink of an Eye." It allows users to submit their one best photo to a pool which will be judged by a Flickr panel. If you get any great shots over the Fourth of July weekend, make sure you submit your entry by July 5. My favorite so far is this shot. I'm most disturbed by this picture.

I take that back...I'm most disturbed by this pic.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How ethanol can make it big

Last week I promised this post. After further thought, I'm still skeptical, but I will give the ethanol industry a couple of pieces of unsolicited advice, anyway.

1. Get off the government teat. Industries that are subsidized by the government tend to be very slow to react to trends. The ethanol industry is vulnerable to low oil/gas prices, and should have a healthy dose of fear that oil prices may one day crash. That fear should be turned into innovation to make ethanol more cheaply and efficiently. It isn't likely to happen with those subsidies and tariff protections in place.

2. Don't hang your hat on ethanol's environmental benefits. Ethanol's environmental benefits over gasoline are dubious and tough to measure. It won't be long before the environmentalists figure out that ethanol's net impact on the environment are about equal to gasoline. When that day comes, ethanol will become the same bastard child that oil is today.

3. Diversify the raw materials. If the price of oil remains the same and we see a drought similar to that of 1988, the ethanol industry is going to be in a serious bind. An over investment in corn based ethanol is just asking for trouble.

4. Use coal. If you throw off the yoke of environmentalism, then get on the coal train. The supply of coal will be steady and less price volatile than natural gas, which has become the energy du jour of the United States over the past ten years.

5. Be prepared for the next miracle fuel. It'll probably be biobutanol, which BP is dumping money into developing right now. It can be great to be the underdog (against "big oil") until somebody else takes the underdog role away from you. Ironically, it could be big oil that steals the role back.

There you go, ethanol industry. Even with these five tips, I'm still not sure you'll be around long, but if you follow my tips, you might have a better shot. Maybe.

Corn shortages in Minnesota because of ethanol?

A couple of months ago, a knowledgeable commentor told me that Minnesota was able to meet the ethanol demand for corn without growing one additional acre of corn. That may not be the case for long:

For decades corn has been plentiful and forecasts offer little reason to think that will change. Ethanol production used one-eighth of the corn crop in 2005, and state officials had predicted that figure would rise to one-sixth by 2012.

But nobody predicted today's ethanol explosion, as oil prices soared and ethanol became liquid gold. If all the factories now seeking permits are built, ethanol soon will consume more than 40 percent of Minnesota's corn crop. That will rise to 50 percent if the wave of plants now on the drawing board are built. A possible third wave of plants, cited by pollution-control officials, would bring corn usage to nearly 60 percent.

In Iowa, the effect is even more dramatic. There, some 55 ethanol plants are open or proposed, and "if all these plants are built, it would use virtually all the Iowa corn crop," said Iowa State University economist Bob Wisner.

Ethanol may or may not be here to stay, but don't for a second think it is the miracle alternative to oil and gas. It is going to have its own attendent problems.

The baseless rumor mongering on the Rush story

Okay, I've scanned the web tonight, and I've read plenty of posts from the left on Rush Limbaugh's viagra confiscation. It looks like the line for mud slinging is to mention that the Dominican Republic is a big sex tourism destination. If memory serves me, on his show last Thursday, Limbaugh had mentioned where he was going and with whom. I was driving to a meeting and concentrating on that more than listening, though, and I do not recall the where and who. Any Rush listeners out there remember this? I'd be interested to hear from you if you do-he was discussing his panel discussion on 24 at the time. My impulse is to defend Limbaugh against this circumstantial linking of viagra to the Dominican sex industry, but my cynicism ain't allowing for it yet without those two pieces of info.

We're #1! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Eat it, Venezuala.

Americans rank No. 1 in patriotism survey

You poor women

And I do mean that...your are getting poorer buying underwear, and you shouldn't be taken advantage of in this way. I was reading this web exclusive piece at Time about the supossedly growing American bosom. In that article was a link to what I guess is some sort of super bra. The damn thing is $66!

Look, we guys love you ladies, and we do appreciate it when our wives/girlfriends (as the case may be) buy frilly underthings. Most of the time, the frilly underthings at Walmart would be sufficient for us, but most of us realize that there is a comfort component for you, which is why we are cool with Vicky's. But 66 bones? For a guy to buy underwear that cost $66, it would have to have a built in cooler, universal remote, a power drill, and it would have to come with an optional Lazy Boy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Flag burning amendment dead

I really wish I could get worked up about this, but I just can't. I'm a Rick Monday fan because I detest flag burners and I respect him for saving a flag from a lighter. I just don't feel so strongly about it that I think it should be outlawed. Flag burning is disrespectful and somewhat childish, but I do not see the greater harm in it that requires that we ban it on the Federal level. In fact, I quite approve of people dispelling for me any doubts that I may have of their idiocy.

There is only one way that I could have gotten on board with an amendment, and I came to it via the comments on this post at PurpleSlog:

I’d prefer a “federalist” flag burning amendment — The Right of the States to ban desecration of the Flags of the several States or of the United States shall not be infringed — but demonstrating the harm the Courts have had through the amendment would not be a bad thing.

I can handle states making this call much easier than I can the Feds doing so.

The perfidy of the New York Times

Guess what? The New York Times was for financial surveillance before it was against it-or at least against it being done secretly.

The cost of these plots suggests that putting Osama bin Laden and other international terrorists out of business will require more than diplomatic coalitions and military action. Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists.
The Bush administration is preparing new laws to help track terrorists through their money-laundering activity and is readying an executive order freezing the assets of known terrorists. Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities. There must also must be closer coordination among America's law enforcement, national security and financial regulatory agencies.

The New York Times does not really care one iota whether we win the war on terror. All they are looking for is the latest stone they can get their inky little hands on to toss at the President, the security of this country be damned.


I love the surprise when news organizations look at all of the waste in the Katrina aid:

Among the many superlatives associated with Hurricane Katrina can now be added this one: it produced one of the most extraordinary displays of scams, schemes and stupefying bureaucratic bungles in modern history, costing taxpayers up to $2 billion.

Why is this a surprise? You may be able to hold some individuals accountable for the poorly run aid program, but you cannot hold the bureaucracy accountable. Oh, it may get renamed, or slightly reorganized, but it will remain the same old rotten bureaucracy getting tax dollars shoveled at it. It is just another reason why private aid organizations are preferable. If they waste your donation, you can withhold your donations or give them to another group. If you are upset about government waste and withhold your money, you go to jail.

Today Show oops

I didn't see it, but word has it that on the Today Show this morning, after a segment on Rush Limbaugh, they cut to local weather but their mikes were still hot. During that time, Al Roker made a slightly off color joke about Limbaugh and Viagra. It'll be interesting to see if there is any reaction to it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Softball 1st half slip sliding away

Note. I'm going to continue the softball posts even though nobody gives a rip about 'em. I'm just going to bury them because I don't really like them at the top of the page.

The first half officially began to slip away from us. Literally. The diamond was soaked last night. The game really should have been a rainout as there was standing water in the outfield, the warning tracks were mudholes, and multiple outfields picked up wet softballs and chucked them over the fence. Ooos filled the complex everytime and outfield tried to stop quickly, only to head over heals as his cleats gave way, sending five foot high sprays of water into the air.

The team we played started with 8 guys. They jumped out to a 6-2 lead on us before they picked up their 9th guy. We played from way behind all game, finally tying it at 18 in the bottom of the 7th. After a 1-2-3 8th for both teams, we fell apart in the 9th, giving up 8 and only putting one on the board ourselves. Final: 26-19.

Personal stats for the game: 4 for 5, single, two doubles, triple, and a sac fly.

Worst place in the world to live: Indonesia

Where else in the world is death by natural disaster so common? Tsunamis, volcanos, earthquakes, floods. I've heard it is a beautiful place to visit, and I don't doubt that, but it seems like the most beautiful places are sometimes the most dangerous.

Beer blogging by Miller

Are you beer loving geek? Good. Then, like me, you'll enjoy this beer blog by Miller. Now some might think a good beer blog includes a lot of stories about drinking and maybe some pictures of scantily clad women. Those of you who do are not geeks, though, and will not enjoy the brewing industry news over at Brew blog. Yeah, the cool drinkers may wake up the next day with a hang over in a strange bed, but we geek drinkers will never wake up regretting the beer blogging from the night before.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Satellite image of a mid-air refueling

This is pretty cool. Apparently, there is an active hobby of poring over satellite images for shots of planes in flight. This guy found an image of a mid-air refueling.

Warning: Don't go commando in Milwaukee

Going commando is, of course, slang for not wearing underwear. So why should you avoid it in Milwaukee? Well, you never know when thieves may publicize your short comings:

Ten robberies were reported in Milwaukee late Friday and early Saturday, including one of an 18-year-old police aide who was relieved of his pants in the process.
Police speculate it's a matter of efficiency. "We think it's just easier to take the pants and go through the pockets later," Shepard said.

For those pre-disposed to going commando, think of how bad that indecent exposure ticket will hurt on top of getting robbed. Do us all a favor-wear your undies in Milwaukee.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Cardinals not allowed

The lovely Mrs. Jib and I have a bird feeder on our deck. It came with the house, and I was never all that crazy about it. Last year we did not fill it at all, but because I knew that my wife wanted to use it, I've been putting food in it this summer. At first I used a cheap seed, and all it really attracted was sparrows and morning doves. A couple of weeks ago I put in a higher quality seed mix, and my deck has turned into Noah's Ark. The sparrows, morning doves, squirrels, gophers, and a couple of birds species I haven't identified are happily cohabitating and eating together on my deck. Except the neighborhood cardinals, my favorite birds, that is. We have two pairs of cardinals that I know of in the neighborhood, and they have not taken part in the feeding frenzy. This morning I watched out the door to my deck as all of these animals ate together, and then a male cardinal joined the group. That lasted about 5 seconds. Once the sparrows figured out he was there, they promptly chased him off. Apparently, the gray, brown, black, and white creatures don't look kindly on bright plummage.

The lonely only

I guess that I am, somehow, some way, a lonely only in support of Arianna Huffington in the HuffPo's great Peter Rost affair. At least I am according to Mr. Rost. I must admit, this is the first time I've ever been accused of supporting Huffington. Going back and reading the post, I personally can't see where I was supporting Huffington, but as the moderator of a group blog myself, I will go on record now as saying that she and her staff made the right choice on Rost.

If your erection lasts longer than ten years...

...get legal help. And that's exactly what this guy did (HT-Boots & Sabers):
A former handyman has won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile implant that gave him a 10-year erection.

Charles "Chick" Lennon, 68, received the steel and plastic implant in 1996, about two years before Viagra went on the market. The Dura-II is designed to allow impotent men to position the penis upward for sex, then lower it.

But Lennon could not position his penis downward. He said he could no longer hug people, ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment. He has become a recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.

I have no additional analysis-I just wanted to write that headline.

Invest in ethanol?

I'm very dubious about investment in ethanol, and if your follow the ethanol business news, a number of other people and publications are as well. In the past, ethanol has been a boom-bust type of industry, and with prices high as they are right now, it is conceivable we could see another bust if, once the ethanol industry builds all of this vaunted capacity during high gas and ethanol prices, oil prices tumble. Another threat to investments in ethanol businesses is the viability of other alternative fuels. If there were a breakthrough in hydrogen fuel cells or if biobutanol takes off, ethanol investments would tank. If you are thinking about investing in the ethanol industry, you may want to play the game only in the short term, and keep a very close eye on the energy industries.

Boobs, hardly newsmen

For the New York Daily News, catching terrorists isn't legit unless you catch them once their plot is fully in place, Jack Bauer style. The Daily News has this to say in a piece entitled: "7 boobs, hardly bombers":

But the strikes on the FBI's Miami field office and the Sears Tower in Chicago - a well-publicized target of nabbed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - were mere fantasy (italics mine).

I see. For the Daily News, it is unacceptable to upset the apple cart of terrorist plans before they are an immediate threat. The fact remains, and I'll use the Daily News' own words here:

"The alleged cell gave a cooperating witness, who they thought was an "Al Qaeda representative," a wish list of military gear. The members even gave their shoe sizes for the combat boots that the informant provided.

Looks like a strong enough indication of intent to me. Something tells me that the inserted editorial comments in that article would have been different if the plot had been against, say, the Lincoln Tunnel or Madison Sqaure Garden, both of which are in the Daily News' neighborhood.

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same. That's the gist of this column by Jonah Goldberg:

<>In the 19th century, newspapers played a different role from the one we think they’re “supposed” to play. Newspapers contributed a sense of community to the boisterous new cities and towns popping up across the country. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the young American democracy thrived on competing “associations” between like-minded citizens. But because these people could never all physically meet, newspapers were essential to American democracy because “newspapers make associations, and associations make newspapers.”

<>American newspapers were never as unapologetically and uniformly partisan as European ones were (and still are), but they were still mostly creatures of specific political biases. There were Republican and Democratic newspapers, populist and communist newspapers, union and anti-union newspapers. These publications served as vehicles for partisan education and crusading personalities, in much the same way leading blogs do today.

Take another look at the most flagrantly partisan websites today: the liberal Daily Kos and its conservative doppelganger, Red State. What you see are media outlets trying to serve the same function as newspapers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They’re vehicles for political education and community organization.

This column is along the same lines as a post I've been trying to put together for some time now. I'd actually add that there are a number of newspapers out there that would benefit by borrowing from the pre-World War I model and also by having a cross-town, partisan competitor.

A jagged memory

I don't why I was thinking about this today, but it occurred to me that I've had an email, maybe two, excerpted up at NRO's The Corner. Back in the days before I started this blog, I used to email thoughts and opinions to the editors and writers of National Review Online. I'm pretty sure one of my emails was excerpted once in a post there, possibly twice, but since I've started blogging getting an email excerpted has seemed like less and less of a big deal, and I just can't remember the details very well. I kind of want to go back and look through their archives, but at the same time I don't want to have to dig through three years of The Corner's archives to figure it out.

Foul ball!

Last year I helped a friend coach his son's Little League team. It was a painful experience in a lesser league outside of a larger city. My friend decided to put his son in the larger city's Little League this year, and we aren't coaching. Yesterday I went to watch one of the games and take some pictures for my friend and his wife. I got one shot that I thought was really cool. I won't post the whole shot because, as a rule, I won't put pictures of other people's kids up on the web. I did crop the action in the shot to show here, though. My one regret is that I was shooting through a chain link fence, which affect the right side of the picture a little bit.

Don't take North Korea's missile out on the launch pad

A number of different people, from blogs to Newt Gingrich to William Perry, have mentioned this week that we should take out North Korea's Taepodong-2 missile while it is still on the launch pad. I'd like to remind everyone that we and the South Koreans are still technically in a cease-fire with the North Koreans. A cruise missile attack by us on that missile site in North Korean territory would be a flagrant violation of that cease-fire, giving the North the excuse to retaliate against the South. We are in no way prepared for either defending South Korea or are we in a position to fight a full scale war on the Korean peninsula, so attacking that missile site would be like hanging the South Koreans out to dry.

I should note, the talk of doing so may serve a purpose, though. One advantage of our wild public discourse is that it makes us appear less predictable to more authoritarian nations like China. The last thing China wants is an escalation on the Korea peninsula. If they are monitoring our media, and I'm sure they are, seeing a former Secretary of Defense and a former Speaker of the House advocating this on a bipartisan level is giving them pause and perhaps encouraging them to turn up the pressure on Kim Jong-Il.

Add Walter Mondale to the list of those in favor of taking it out on the pad.

Human to human bird flu transmission: Non-story

Yesterday the world health organization announced that a case of the bird flu that had spread amongst an Indonesian family was spread human to human, the first known case of such a transmission. They even tossed in mention of a mutation which will serve to terrify news skimmers, even though the mutation was normal and small, and had no bearing on the ability of the virus to pass between humans.

If I've said it once, I'll say it a hundred more times. This is a non-story. The bird flu has always been transmissable between people. It is just very difficult because it requires close, prolonged contact with the virus and its host. This case fit that bill. It changes nothing when it comes to the threat level of this virus, though. If I were at an airport and I had a brief contact with someone who was coming down with the bird flu, I still would not catch it, unlike the regular flu where I'd have a chance of catching it. The only thing noteworthy about this story is that doctors have documented a case of a type of transmission that they new was possible all along.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

AOL and Vincent Ferrari

If you haven't heard this story yet, here's the overview:

An incredible video from CNBC shows an AOL customer trying to cancel his account, but a phone rep won't let him do it. What customer Vincent Ferrari got when he tried to cancel his account was a lot of frustration.

I think I know what is going on here. Those reps are being taught pretty standard sales/customer service techniques. It is probably being pounded into them that they need to get to the heart of a customer's objections by asking them questions, and then to resolve the customer's problem. They are also probably being trained that they are not doing their job if they do not try to overcome the no and get to the heart of the matter, the objection. Their calls are likely being monitored, and they are trying to impress their superiors by using all of the techniques that they've been taught. Unfortunately, there are occasionally business relationships that cannot be salvaged right then and there. In those instances, the rep really needs to let the situation go and hopefully leave at least a positive impression in the departing customer's mind in the hopes they can get another chance at that business down the road. This one clearly did not do that, but he also probably never thought it was an acceptable option.

Sears bombing plot

I'm sure there will be more substantive information coming on this story in the days ahead.
U.S. anti-terrorism agents arrested seven people in the last two days suspected of planning attacks on federal offices in Miami and the landmark Sears Tower in Chicago, a law enforcement source said on Thursday.

The source, elaborating on a brief statement on the operation from Florida authorities, said the suspects had thought they were dealing with the international al Qaeda group but had been infiltrated by a U.S. government informant.

House passes line item veto

From the AP:
President Bush would receive greater power to try to kill "pork barrel" spending projects under a bill passed Thursday by the House.

Lawmakers voted to give Bush and his successor a weaker version of the line-item veto law struck down by the Supreme Court in 1998, despite a recent series of lopsided votes in which they've rallied to preserve each other's back-home projects. The new power would expire after six years.

The idea advances amid increasing public concern about lawmakers' penchant for stuffing parochial projects into spending bills that the president must accept or reject in their entirety.

On the surface, I can get on board with this line item veto. What concerns me are any unintended consequences that may prove difficult to undo. This veto is weak enough that it should prove difficult to misuse, but I never put it past a dedicated politician to pervert otherwise good laws.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The latest "big one" warning

It is stuff like this that gives me the chills when I am in Southern California:

The southern end of the San Andreas fault near Los Angeles, which has been still for more than two centuries, is under immense stress and could produce a massive earthquake at any moment, a scientist said on Wednesday.

Yuri Fialko, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California, said that given average annual movement rates in other areas of the fault, there could be enough pent-up energy in the southern end to trigger a cataclysmic jolt of up to 10 meters (32 ft).

I don't foresee ever living there, although I will continue to visit on occasion. I prefer to dodge tornados, thank you very much.

About those WMD

I think a blogstorm is rapidly building on this story:
U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, joined Congressman Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI-2), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today to make a major announcement regarding the release of newly declassified information that proves the existence of chemical munitions in Iraq since 2003. The information was released by the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, and contained an unclassified summary of analysis conducted by the National Ground Intelligence Center. In March, Senator Santorum began advocating for the release of these documents to the American public.

“The information released today proves that weapons of mass destruction are, in fact, in Iraq,” said Senator Santorum. “It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq. I will continue to advocate for the complete declassification of this report so we can more fully understand the complete WMD picture inside Iraq.”

Background details on this are just starting to come out, and I'd be uncomfortable offering any analysis at this early stage. I will offer a couple of preliminary thoughts, though. First, I suspect the 500 weapons that have been found are an accumulation of miscellaneous discoveries that have been noted in non-MSM media sources over the past three years. If it stops at the 500 weapons, this will be dismissed and brushed away by those on the "where are the WMD" storyline as small finds and not a stockpile.

It is going to be tough to decided what is fact and what is speculation in the next day or two. For instance, it is already being stated that the Bush administration was keeping this on the down low to shield three members of the Security Council. Speculation or fact, who the hell knows? I'm kind of hoping that my fellow bloggers approach this cautiously.

Let 'em launch it

North Korea is now trying to get the United States to the bargaining table in exchange for them dropping their ballistic missile test. To do so would be a huge mistake. It would only reinforce the belief held in Pyonyang and Tehran that they can threaten nations and get their way. Instead, let them fire it and make them deal with all of the consequences of doing so. Pyonyang has cornered itself, and we should keep them in that corner for now. And when they do test it, we should try to shoot the damn thing down. It would be a useful test for the new missile defense systems. If it works, then it translates into a big political and diplomatic victory. If it doesn't, then we have some real life data to work with to make the system better, which is more important than any possible political embarassment over a failed attempt.

Dr. Paranoia

I skim the Huffington Post, usually for the comedic relief of reading many of the absurd posts. One that had stuck out to me was a post by one Dr. Peter Rost. Dr. Rost is apparently the king of paranoia. In a post titled How a Public Relations Firm Helped Start the War, Rost discussed a little bit about how disturbed he was that he thought his writings were being monitored the government and the Rendon Group. Despite his paranoia, Rost is apparently a good researcher. A commentor to his writings sarcasticly mentioned what an outrage it was that people in the government his public writing. Rost figured out through internet research that the commentor was a University of Wisconsin grad who is now the HuffPo's technology manager. He wrote another paranoid post at the HuffPo about that, which, for a time, the HuffPo yanked and later reinstated.

Keep this in mind when reading the HuffPo. Read the bios of the authors, and get to know some of their past ramblings. The HuffPo technology manager that Rost outed was dead on with his comment...if you are publicly writing your opinion, those who you are criticizing might actually read what you wrote. Even government. If you can't handle that, don't write. But just because they are reading what you write, it doesn't mean that anyone is out to get you. If there is one weakness with blogs today it is that some writers are given more credibility than they deserve, and despite Rost's accomplishments at Pfizer, he is one of them. And Arianna Huffington gives a lot of credibility to people like Rost who don't deserve it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

National Guard to N'awleans

Patrick says it best:
In New Orleans, they are putting National Guard troops on the streets after a weekend with 6 murders. In Milwaukee, they send out the bookmobile to pass out baseball tickets and Summerfest schedules.

If you want to do a per capita comparison between Milwaukee and New Orleans on murders this year, New Orleans is going to come out on top. But at least New Orleans is looking at doing something substantive. Meanwhile, community leaders in Milwaukee will continue to cower in deference to thugs.

$135 million for a painting

I'm sorry, but even if I were a multi-multi-billionaire, you wouldn't be able to get me to pay $135 million for a painting. So what if it was a Klimt? I don't care if Michelangelo painted it with his butt, I still wouldn't pay that much for a damn painting. It is the 21st century, and photos take real nice nowdays.

How ethanol could break through

This is just a sneak peak. In the next day or two, I'm going to have a post on how ethanol could break through as our next big energy source. Unfortunately, I have bad news for corn farmers and environmetalists-if ethanol is to break through as a reliable, affordable energy source, it will be without both of you.

Joe Lieberman

Ya know, if Joe Lieberman postured himself as a Republican, most of us conservatives would loath him. As a Democrat, though, he commands a certain amount of respect from many of us for his willingness to stand up for his Scoop Jackson-esque values. That's why I can't believe the mistake the Democrats, led by the Kossacks, are making. With Lieberman, they had an ounce of influence on the Republican Party. Instead, they are choosing to hang him out to dry, even his former running mate Al Gore (HT Jenna & Patrick). If they push Lieberman to make a run for Senate as an Independent, he'll probably win. And he may continue to caucus with the Democrats, but he will be forever a wild card vote, one that may end up on the Republican side as often as on the Democrat side. They just created a Jim Jeffords for themselves out of a reliable liberal. Congrats to the Kossacks on another brilliant political victory. Thank goodness for the enlightenment of the far lefty bloggers.

In a lighter note

The softball team is now 2-3 and after a game that we should not have lost. Final score, 20-19 bad guys. We had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th with one out and an iced pitcher, and somehow managed to hit into the ever illusive softball double play. Personally, I was 3-4 with a walk, 2 singles and a double. Currently, I'm 13-19, a .684 average. It don't mean squat without the wins, though.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19th

June 19th is a tough day for the Jib clan. 12 years ago on this date, our family matriarch and my grandmother passed away somewhat unexpectedly. It was a tough Father's Day for everyone in the family, but particularly for my dad, uncles, and aunts. When Grandpa died in the early 1960's, he left Grandma to take care of 12 kids, the oldest 15 years old and the youngest just barely conceived. In such a situtation back then, it was not unusual for the tribe or band to take young American Indian children back to the reservation. Somehow Grandma kept the family together with her, despite being legally blind in one eye and unable to work. A lot transpired between that day when Grandpa passed on and her passing over thirty years later, but she was always the glue that bound the family together. Thank you, Grandma.

On tribalism

Steven Pressfield has an interesting take on the Middle East in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Essentially, he does not see us at war with radical Islam, but rather with tribalism.
Islam is not our opponent in Baghdad or Fallujah. We delude ourselves if we believe the foe is a religion. The enemy is tribalism articulated in terms of religion.

For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counterguerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What has struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today -- even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.

In other words, the clash of East and West is at bottom not about religion. It's about two different ways of being in the world. Those ways haven't changed in 2,300 years. They are polar antagonists, incompatible and irreconcilable.

It is an interesting piece, and the part tribalism plays in the conflicts of the Middle East should be looked at in more depth by Western nations. The problem is that right now, it doesn't play well into anybody's vision of this conflict, be it the right's or the left's.

Just the same, there are some flaws to Pressfield's theory. First, he seems to be strongly in favor of a Middle East ruled by strongmen in the name of stability. Unfortunately, it is strongmen in the Middle East who have in part led us to where we are today. I think he gets to that point by looking at tribalism in a vacuum, without seeing the uncomfortable overlay of modernity which makes it impossible to address the issue in pure terms of tribalism. Still, he raises some thoughts which are worth further discussion and debate.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

I'd like to wish all the dads out there a happy Father's Day, most notably my own dad and my father-in-law. I don't have a squishy post for the occasion, so I'll just say that the lovely Mrs. Jib and I love you both very much.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lack of humor over humor quite humorous

The HuffPo is always good for a post that is so absurd that it can make you laugh. Today, Russell Shaw must be lacking in causes to be agitated about, because he takes on Animal Planet's Planet's Funniest Videos in one of the goofier posts I've read over there.

Formerly known as "America's Funniest Animals," the show features a steady diet of oft-befuddled domestic and wild creatures doing "cute" things.

But this definition of "cute" I cannot often abide.

When I see these stunts, I don't think, or see, "cute." For they are not stunts. These are animals who are trying to do the best they can in unfamiliar surroundings. And when they don't execute well- or execute too well - we laugh at them.

I hope Shaw has never had a chuckle over America's Funniest Home Videos, or had a laugh when a friend unexpectedly took a shot in the family jewels. Something tells me he has, but I suspect that Shaw does not understand that a laugh is not a vindictive thing for the vast majority of people.


World Cup Soccer. It's a great way for an American to catch a nap on a Saturday afternoon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

NorKo's readying launch

North Korea is readying the launch of a long range missile:

North Korea has moved key components of a long-range missile to a launch pad as well as 10 large liquid-gas tanks to fuel it, a South Korean newspaper reported on Saturday, citing government officials.

The United States on Friday warned North Korea against conducting a "provocative" intercontinental missile test after U.S. officials said there were signs a launch could take place as early as this weekend.

Kim Jong Il is an attention whore extraordinaire. He obviously wants the spotlight back from Iran.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The failed pull out amendment

The Senate debated and rejected an amendment by John Kerry to pull out of Iraq by a vote of 93-6. Kerry's take?
Kerry, who lost to President George W. Bush in the 2004 election, said he resented the "fictitious" vote on the amendment he said was still being crafted with other senators and which he intended to offer next week.

I guess I am 2/3's in support of today's actions. First, it was a savvy legislative move to both kill the amendment and to force Democrats to go on record with their support/non-support of immediate withdrawal. This will be even more significant in the upcoming House vote and House races. Second, it sends the right message that we are not a nation that runs away from its obligations. The one part that I don't really like about it is that this is a non-story that is getting blown up a little by the debate and vote. Kerry's amendment didn't have a chance of passage, anyway.

Subliminal message or Freudian slip?

Ha ha ha ha! The Democrats' new slogan for the '06 elections is "New Direction for America." As K-Lo noted at The Corner, a lot of people have noticed it sounds a lot like "Nude Erection for America." Without mentioning that first, I quoted the slogan to the lovely Mrs. Jib, and the first thing she thought of was 'nude.'

Nude Erection for America. Heh. Is this the beginning of Bill Clinton's comeback?

The next great bugaboo: Sleep mode

Next time you put your computer into sleep mode while you mow the lawn, know that the State of California ain't happy about it:

The Vampire Slayer Act of 2006 has been approved by the California Assembly. AB1970, a bill proposed by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, would force companies to put labels on devices that tell consumers how much energy is being used while the device is in standby mode. AB1970 supporters claim that the average household will pay an additional $200 per year due to electronics on standby.

Of course, the thing about standby or sleep modes is that it saves energy during times when users would normally keep the device on full power. But hey, it's California. You can't buy squat anymore without some sort of California warning label on it. In fact, just think of how many trees die each year because of California warning labels. I want a warning on that: It is known to the State of California that the warning label under this warning label...

Don't believe your eyes

Next time you see a studio shot of "the beautiful people", take some solace in the fact that the photo was probably heavily touched up. How much, you ask? This much.

A 2 year blogiversary

I'm not feeling particularly nostalgic today, but this site is now two years old. I guess all I really have to say is that time flies...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The new ringtone for kids

There is a new ringtone that is at such a high pitch that kids can hear it, but adults can't. Here is an audio file of the ringtone. I'd describe it for you, but I can't hear it, and boy does that piss me off. Can you hear it?

Build a home in 6 hours, Toyota style

Toyota builds houses in Japan. The prefabricated components are put together on site.

Toyota homes are mass produced like Toyota cars. About 85 percent of the work on the metal-frame cubicles is finished at the plant. The prefabricated cubicles, made to order for the customer, are stacked like toy blocks with a huge crane and topped with a roof in just six hours.

The cubicles called units vary in size, with the bigger ones measuring 20 feet long. An average Japanese home requires 12 units. A buyer chooses from several designs, ranging from sleek modern to standard fare with tiled roofing and balcony windows.

Talk about your instant gratification. 6 hours!

16% of Katrina, Rita aid "unwarranted"

The GAO is now reporting that 16% of the FEMA aid for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was "unwarranted", with money being spent on things like a divorce lawyer and a sex change. I found this part of the story very telling:

"This is an assault on the American taxpayer," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the subcommittee that will conduct the hearing. "Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time."

FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Tuesday that the agency, already criticized for a poor response to Katrina, makes its highest priority during a disaster "to get help quickly to those in desperate need of our assistance."

"Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed appropriately," he said.

McCaul is correct in that these crimes should be aggresively prosecuted, but the assault on the American taxpayer was originally perpetrated by the Feds. Our initial solution to problems in this country is to just throw cash at it. It is politically expedient, it helps people feel good, and we are wealthy enough of a nation to endulge it. When you throw cash at a problem, though, people are going to take advantage of it. Yes, you prosecute those that do, but we also need to look inward at our processes because the Feds made that abuse of aid possible.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


...Just trying to end the day on an even number.

20. What a show off. :-)

Need good a good employee? Here's your guy.

Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind is looking for a change of careers:
Like Mike Gousha and Bob Dolan I find it is time for me to make a career change. For them it will be something in media, both being well-known Milwaukee personalities. Me, I am looking for something different than the grind of working retail. Exactly what, I do not know. Not to get too Oprah-like but part of this is an exploration into myself and my possibilities.

Sean was on the cutting edge of this whole blogging thing. If you are an employer out there looking for a sharp cookie, it would be tough to go wrong with someone like him. Go check out his resume.


There will be no Fitzmas in July:


Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one of President Bush’s most trusted advisers.


For some out there, this is going to be like the day they learned that there is no Santa Claus.

Wear the helmet, Big Ben

Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback and Super Bowl Champion Ben Roethlisberger, as everyone knows, was in a motorcycle accident today and messed himself up pretty good. I'm not going to get into the mandatory helmet issue because, frankly, I don't care if you are an idiot who chooses not to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. Consider it my nod to survival of the fittest.

I came this close to never having been born. My Dad had a motorcycle in his youthful days, after he met Mom but before I was a consideration. One day he was riding on a city street when a car pulled out in front of him. He hit the car, was vaulted over the hood of it, and as family legend goes, slid for 100 feet, much of it on his head. The friction wore through his helmet. He spent some time in the hospital but ended up not much worse for wear. Without the helmet, though, he is pretty sure he would have died. Because of that, I am in favor of people wearing helmets when riding their motorcycles. If you choose not to, though, it is you own damn dumb decision.

Despite my harsh words, I am glad that Big Ben came through okay. I don't wish harm on anybody who chooses not to wear a helmet when on a motorcycle. If harm comes, though, it is awfully tough for me to feel very sorry for you. One has to deal with the consequences of one's own decisions. I'll wish you all the luck in the world in your recovery if you live, but I sure as hell ain't going to feel sorry for you.

Post Script
Thanks for wearing a helmet, Dad.

York on vacation...again

Dennis York is taking yet another vacation. This guy takes more holidays than a Frenchman. If I find out Bush is in Crawford this week, then I think I know York's secret identity.

Chicks dig the long ball

Softball tonight resulted in a 15-14 win for the good guys. I was 1 for the 3, but for the first time in our ten and a half years together (yes dear, it has been that long), the lovely Mrs. Jib had the opportunity to watch me hit a home run. It isn't that uncommon of an occurence, but it just seems to happen when she can't make it. Sufficeth to say, she dug it. Of course, she'll deny that on her death bed.

Season average: 10-15, .667. Team win-loss: 2-2.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The post podcast conversation

Ever wonder what kind of conversation occurs when the microphone gets shut off on a podcast? Then listen to the conversation that Aaron, Jenna, Owen, and I had after recording our podcast. I apparently need to have my mouth washed out with a mild soap.

The Jib anti-cancer diet

Finally, a diet I can get on board with. We learned earlier today that 17 beers a day may cut the risk of prostate cancer. Two more studies came out today which meld nicely with the first. The second study says that eating pizza may cut the risk of of colon and mouth cancers. Beer and pie? Hurrah! On top of that, in the third study we are told that coffee may reduce the risk of cirrhosis of the liver as caused by alcohol. Do you know what this means? You may get fat as hell, but if you drink 17 beers and a couple of pizza pies a night, and start your day off with a gallon of coffee, you are a walking cancer antidote.

Matt Damon!


Matt Damon!

17 beers a day keeps the doctor away

There is good news if you have an 18 pack a day habit. Beer in large quantities may help prevent prostate cancer:
A main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement, according to a new study. But researchers say don't rush out to stock the refrigerator because the ingredient is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit.

The nectar of the gods proves to have even more healthy side effects. Well, aside from the fact that this really only helps alcoholics. Hopefully the rest of can get some residual affects from moderate drinking.

Unintended consequences, Volume 233,492,958

About the extra Hummer armor:
Thousands of pounds of armor added to military Humvees, intended to protect U.S. troops, have made the vehicles more likely to roll over, killing and injuring soldiers in Iraq, a newspaper reported.

"I believe the up-armoring has caused more deaths than it has saved," said Scott Badenoch, a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert told the Dayton Daily News for Sunday editions.

Big oops, huh? I'd like all those who pounded the Hummer armor issue into the ground to come forward and apologize for their stupidity, please. After all, what's good for the Bush is good for the gander, right? Please give me that apology so I can flout your admission of being wrong over and over and over again. Thank you.

Question for the new week

When you see footage of 9-11, do you still get upset and/or angry?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Camo art as nose art

One of the many things that fascinate me about the Second World War is aircraft nose art. In some ways I've lamented the jet age as nose art seemed to disappear from military aircraft. That's why I was gratified to see this creative piece of camo art on a Marine helicopter.

As I dug around the net after seeing that creative camo art, I found that nose art isn't quite dead and buried. Our military friends in the RAF continued the tradition as late as the Gulf War. Still, the salad days of nose art is long gone, but it is nice to see that a few Marines managed to keep it alive.

Opportunistic cat

A cat has supposedly treed a bear (with pics):

A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree — twice.

Jack, a 15-pound orange and white cat, keeps a close vigil on his property, often chasing small animals, but his owners and neighbors say his latest escapade was surprising.

Personally, I think the story went a little bit differently. Jack is a male. This leads me to believe the following occured. Jack saw a bear in a tree. Being no dummy, he knew said bear could crush him, but not so long as the bear remained in the tree. So with the bear up in the tree, he hissed and snorted to look tough and to convince any passing female cats how tough he was. Doubt my version of events? Go to some busy bars on a Friday or Saturday night and wait for a near fight to break out. If actual fisticuffs do not break out, then I guarantee there was a whole lot of "don't hold me back, don't hold me back!" going on. I know. I once held back a guy who was twice my size, with ease. But boy, did he look tough.

We need 1,000 jaws of life, STAT!

This is an emergency situation, folks. Without those jaws of lifes, Kossacks may never get their heads out of their belly buttons after this past weekend's YearlyKos. Yeah, we here in the Wisconsin blogosphere have our little drinking get togethers, our picnics, and our Christmas parties, but at no point have I ever seen a Wisconsin blogger attempt to shove their head in their navel like that.

Casey Sheehan finally has a headstone

The picture of Casey Sheehan's gravesite, minus a headstone, has been circulating around the web recently. It should be noted that on May 25th, a headstone was finally placed on Sheehan's grave. Snopes has the whole story.

The 'C' word is back

You are a journalist. You have what is a good story, the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which is already collecting dust. You need to spin out a story, preferably bad, that will have some shelf life for you. What do you do? You ignore the fact that the death of Zarqawi could have a weakening effect on his organization and instead link Zarqawi's death to a line you know has legs: Civil War.

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi raised hopes that Iraq's slide toward civil war or sectarian disintegration could be arrested, but there are signs that Shiite-Sunni antagonism may now be too deeply rooted.

Perhaps, but what this theory neglects is that there are going to be others who are jockeying to become al Qaeda of Iraq's next Zarqawi. That is going to temporarily weaken the organization, which is going to make it susceptible to both infiltration and a divide and conquer policy by the U.S., and also to home grown Iraqi insurgents that want nothing to do with al Qaeda. Zarqawi's band of idiots have never been overly popular in Iraq, and right now they risk finding out how true "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" can be.

What's the difference between a native Hawaiian and a Native American?

I've thought about this topic a lot given the bill I discussed a couple of posts down. It is a topic I generally don't like discussing much, for reasons I shall not bore anyone with. As I thought about this post, I decided I could take one of two routes. I could write a very detailed post that looks at all of the legalities of the situation, a post which approximately three people would read because of its necessary length, or I could write the ultra-slimmed down version, which leaves the door open for unnecessary debate. I've chosen a mid length compromise between the two (yes, this post could have been much longer).

When the United States finally threw off the yoke of Great Britain and found itself an independent nation, it looked westward and found dual claims to the lands it wished to expand into. For example, the French had claimed the lands that would be purchased in the Louisiana Purchase, and Britain had claim to the land that would become Canada. Despite the land claims, neither nation had a strong rule over the land. Because of that, the various tribes or nations of that land still had what was for all intents and purposes, full sovereignty over the territories in which they lived. These territories had fluid boundaries as the natives of North America had never had their version of the Treaty of Westphalia that had established nation-states in Europe. The way the United States approached this was thus: They would buy or take by military force the land claims of other nation-states. In the Western legal tradition, this was necessary in order for the United States to have its own legitimate claim to the land.

Once the land was claimed as territory of the United States, there was a second level of land ownership/occupation to deal with, that of the Native Americans. Typically, the United States government tried to deal with this by treating the various tribes as if they were Western nation-states. This meant that they purchased land by treaty were they could, and by military force where they could not. By 1912, the contiguous United States had been established from sea to shining sea with 48 states. In 1912, all of the various Native American tribes or "nations" had been placed onto reservations. At that time, it was possible for Native Americans to become U.S. citizens, but their tribes and reservations were in a limbo status. They were within the boundaries of the United States, but their residents were not automatically U.S. citizens. The reservations were treated as if they were wards of the state (i.e. the Federal Government), but not necessarily American.

In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act was passed by Congress. This act gave full citizenship to all Native Americans. It did not change the limbo-like status of the tribes/nations, though. The plan all along had been to slowly assimilate Native Americans into the mainstream of American life, which would allow the tribal governance to slowly disappear. Assimilation, and later extermination, did not occur as naturally as was anticipated, and at times the brutal and/or heartless ways it was imposed actually acted as a roadblock to the process, and generally failed. Neither Congressional Act nor Constitutional Amendment has ever been implemented that has changed the unusual status of the Native American tribes/nations in American society. As such, the tribes/nations of Native Americans still retain a partial sovereignty and certain rights accorded to them via various treaties. These are not "special rights" but rather rights which they retain by treaty (think contract) with the Federal Government of the United States of America. The only ways to change this is to abrogate the treaties and/or to pass a Congressional Act or a Constitutional Amendment which will eliminate this partially sovereign status. This is why there is a limited self governance amongst Native American tribes/nations. From the outside, it looks like a racial preference, but the race portion of it is coincidental to the fact that the United States chose to absorb the various tribes as if they were their own nations.

The native Hawaiians never had this kind of interaction with the United States. Yes, there were Americans that they dealt with on the islands, but they also dealt with many other nationalities that came to the island. The point is that they never really had this official war/treaty relationship with the United States government. When Hawaii voted to become the 50th state, native Hawaiians, unlike Native Americans in the lower 48, were part of that process. By the democratic process, they opted to become a part of the United States. They did not come into the United States as a separate nation without American citizenship. They came in as citizens of a U.S. territory, citizens who were allowed to participate in that territory's process of becoming a state. If they wanted a certain form of self governance, than they should have worked to reject statehood as Puerto Rico has done several times.

This bill could have ultimately been bad for native Hawaiians. They would have found themselves with the same ambiguities that Native Americans face. Perhaps native Hawaiians would have parlayed the status into wealth via something like casino operations, but it pays to remember that it is only a minority of Native American Nations that are reaping the rewards of gaming. For most, life on the reservation is just as poor as it ever has been. If you don't believe, I'll gladly take you through many reservations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota where mansions are not popping up from casino profits. What native Hawaiians would have instead felt was the incredible yoke of the Federal Government on their shoulders. Many see government aid and programs as compassionate things for many of the poorer Native American reservations, and given the poverty they are to a certain degree. But think of how deeply the Federal Government is involved in your life, and then think of how difficult it would be to get ahead if the Feds were twice as involved in your life. Such is life on the reservation, and so to would it be for Native Hawaiians. And in their case, the result would have indeed been "special rights."

The value of play

Playing is a valuable way for mammals to learn lessons for life and skills they may need down the road. When you see two puppies rolling around together, trying to nip at one another's ears, shoulders, and legs, you don't separate the two of them out of fear that they are going to learn how to be violent attack dogs. You let them play because it is a) relatively harmless, and b) it will allow the dog to have some experience in defending both itself and possibly you. Humans are no different. Our children learn lessons through out their childhood by playing. I know that the so called experts agree with this, because the toy industry is built, in part, on toys that will help kids develop critical thinking skills. If you substitute a gun for that latest and greatest expensive learning toy, however, people's hands start wringing fast and hard enough to get water from desert sand.

Example A of this hand wringing appears in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Here's a little taste:

Today, however, weapon play that once seemed an innocent part of childhood has become more of a concern. When April Klinter's 7-year-old son engaged in some gunplay with sticks on the school playground, Klinter was called to a school meeting.

"His teacher became concerned about their gunplay and called a group of us to school to talk about it," Klinter, of Saukville, says.

Barb Luedke, who is the mother of boys ages 7and 9 and also works with children, does not allow gunplay in her home.

"When other kids are visiting our house, I explain that we don't have gun play or other weapons," the Wisconsin Rapids parent says.

According to a study by the Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C., about two-thirds of parents felt it was never OK for a child to play with toy guns, and a similar proportion responded that they never allowed their children to do so.

Let's take away the toy in hand for a second and look at the bigger picture here. When kids play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians, they always fight over who gets to be "the good guys." Nobody ever wants to be the robber, and very few ever want to be the Indian (there are a few of us who were the exceptions to that). During the course of this type of play, toy guns may indeed be the prop, and play violence may be the avenue, but violence and a lack of respect for guns is not what the kids are learning. Instead, they are learning that there is right and wrong and that there are good people and bad people. They are learning that it feels good to be a good person doing the right things. They are are also learning that violence has some very adverse consequences in a way that their minds can comprehend. Kids may not be able to fully understand death, but they do understand that it is very undesireable to be "play dead," a consequence of play violence. Yes, they may be able to get back up and keep playing, but to be play killed means you lost in some way shape or form, and it builds on their ability to understand the consequences of violence.

I defy any expert or non-expert to try and prove to me that toy guns lead children to grow up to be violent, careless with guns, or unappreciative of life. What is in question here is the lessons parents choose to teach or not teach, not the toy or play in question. There are millions of us who grew up playing with toy guns. Our parents reinforced the lessons we learned by playing. We grew up with a very healthy respect for guns and the harm they can cause. Most of us grew up to be the most careful gun handlers around, much more careful than those who never learned lessons about guns as kids. Where the problem comes in is with parents who are not reinforcing lessons to their kids, and who do not set clear boundries for their kids behaviors. It is these kids who are more likely to grow up with a disrespect for life, property and the health of others, and who may use guns irresponsibly.

Are their exceptions? Yes. Sometimes all the good parenting in the world will not help certain kids. Those cases are much rarer than you think, though. My advice in those cases is that if your kid always wants to be the robber, or if he or she likes to beat the hell out of their friends, maybe you should rethink allowing toy guns in the house. Otherwise, don't dictate to other parents that their kids can't or shouldn't play with toy guns, because your are depriving them of chances to teach lifelong lessons to their children.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Irony of Geno's English Only Policy

If you haven't heard about the Great Geno's English Only controversy, here's a quick synopsis:
Bistec con queso? Not at Geno's Steaks.

An English-only ordering policy has thrust one of Philadelphia's best-known cheesesteak joints into the national immigration debate.

Situated in a South Philadelphia immigrant neighborhood, Geno's--which with its chief rival, Pat's King of Steaks, forms the epicenter of an area called "ground zero for cheesesteaks"--has posted small signs telling customers, "This Is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING `SPEAK ENGLISH."

So what is the great irony, you say? Well, it is this. Across the street at Pat's King of Steaks, you have to order in Philadelphian or they send you to the back of the line to try again. Since Philadelphian is an accent of English, the English only policy has already been in place in the Philly Cheese Steak world, the difference being that at Pat's, it is part of their well known schtick, whereas at Geno's, there is a sign. And God knows what a problem signs are for some people. You know, sign, sign everywhere a sign...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Native Hawaiian bill rejected

This is a good thing:

The U.S. Senate began debating on Wednesday the long-stalled Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill at the U.S. Capitol.

The bill needed 60 of the 100 senators to vote for it, but only 56 did with 41 voting against it. Thursday's vote effectively kills the bill.

I'm probably not going to have time to discuss this today at length, but I may touch upon it over the weekend. One thing that bothered me about this bill was the parallels supporters would try to draw between Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. There is no comparison between the two.

Hallelujah! Blogger is up at last!

Good Lord. Was I the only person on Blogger who was down for the vast majority of the day? I see others had made postings. Each time I tried, I got the Blogger "sorry" message. I'm beginning to think Blogger just has it out for me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Buh-Bye, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, given a one way ticket to the afterlife by a couple of 500 pound bombs. I hope he enjoys his 72 white grapes.

This is a victory for coalition troops, but victories in battles are fleeting. There is now an opening at the top of al-Qaida in Iraq. It is very possible that someone worse than al-Zarqawi could ascend to that position. Our job at this point should be to divide and conquer al-Qaida of Iraq while that power vacuum is at work.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Watch the Ehren Watada story

The big news tonight is an Army Officer, Lt. Ehren Watada, who has refused to serve in Iraq. From Reuters:

A U.S. Army officer said on Wednesday that fighting in the war in Iraq would make him "party to war crimes" and he would not go.

First Lt. Ehren Watada's supporters -- including clergy and a military family group -- said he is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq and risked being court-martialed.

I'm not accusing Watada of manipulating the military in an effort to make a carefully crafted statement. At least not yet, anyway. A very bad smell is wafting off of this story, though. Plus, if you do a little search work, you'll find that Watada does not exactly come from a family that is sympathetic to current (or past) U.S. foreign policy. His father Bob Watada, a former member of the Peace Corps (As confirmed by the Hawaii Reporter), and he had this to say at a Peace Corps message board on June 1, 2004:

I am a RPCV 1964 Peru. Last year I visited Peru twice and wherever I went, friends, relatives, and people of all walks of life expressed disgust with "Bushy" and it was impossible to disagree. Their perception of the USA is like a "Rambo". "Have gun, am right." Whatever good the Peace Corps did forty years ago in developing good will has now been destroyed. We eliminated the myth that we were CIA henchmen out to get the communistas.
We are now obsessed with a "terrorist" behind every tree, as we were obsessed with a "communist" around every corner forty-five years ago. We need to start somewhere to make a change. Bob Watada

It's thin gruel, I'll be the first to admit that, but Watada enlisted after this war had already begun. He had to have known that there was a pretty good chance he'd be going to Iraq. I'll give him a little wiggle room on this for now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this refusal has probably been in the plans for a while. Watch as this story unfolds and more details about the Watadas emerge.

Molten power

Jonah Goldberg has long been in favor of lancing volcanoes. If he ever perfects that technology, I want to use to to create volcano-electric power.

Don't ask me how yet. I'll figure that out once Goldberg gets the lancing technology down pat.

MAD, and Comparing Iran & the USSR

I see that a couple of my fellow Wisconsin bloggers seem to be coming to terms with a nuclear armed Iran, something that I cannot yet do. As I watch people begin to accept the likelihood of Iran acquiring nukes, I see MAD (mutually assured destruction) trotted out frequently as part of the rationale. Is it really possible to compare the nuclear situation with the USSR to the potential nuclear situation with Iran, though? MAD worked during the Cold War because, despite our occasional doubts, there was a reasonable certainty that the Soviets were not wild about becoming crispy critters should they use their arsenal themselves. Can we say that about Iran?

Prior to Ahmadinejad becoming President, I might have been willing to believe that the mullahs were too comfortable with their privileged lives to so foolishly risk them, but with him at the helm I'm no longer sure of that. He is a fanatic, and I think that was nicely shown as fact when he claimed that he was bathed in a light and had a halo during a speech at the UN. He is the type who I can easily see living his life solely as a path to his place in paradise, and a nuclear detonation in say, Israel or New York City would accomplish that nicely for him. We are dealing with a government that does not have the earthly concerns the Soviet government did. We are dealing with a government that places Allah and the after life above those things, and that makes MAD a question mark, not a certainty. It very well could end up that those in the Iranian government like being alive so much that MAD does become reality. Betting on that is a very risky wager, though.

In Re Today's Media Covering D-Day

Charlie Sykes has posted a satirical look (Via Boortz) at how the media of today would have covered D-Day. The fictional report on D-Day hits all of the big points right on. The only flaw is today's media would have been reporting on D-Day from a hotel in London. The dangers of the day's mission would have been obvious, and they wouldn't have gone. Now, some of today's TV media superstars would have tried to tape reports from the hedgerows in the coming days, thinking all was safe, but as for D-Day, nada.

As an aside, I keep thinking of the time Geraldo Rivera was imbedded with some troops and the convoy took fire. First, I think he soiled himself. Then he started talking about running out to help those in a truck in the convoy, and he nearly had to be held down and kept in the vehicle by the troops. Can you imagine Geraldo trying to report from the beaches of Normandy?

What is funny about Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo?

I get regular search engine traffic for the term "Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo." I can't imagine that I am any type of authority on the three, so my best guess is that I made a common spelling mistake on one of their names. I hope I can expand someone's knowledge out there, but tonight I had a hit from a S, M, & A search that I've not seen before: "Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo Jokes." What? What is funny about S, M, & A? I can't think of a funny joke that begins Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo walk into a bar...

Common sense in Canada

Have you been ready the Canadian papers since authorities broke the terror ring in Ontario? They are showing much more common sense than what I'm accustomed to from Canadian papers.
Be sickened. Be frightened. Be angry. But don't you dare be shocked.

Unless you've been had.

Either way, the time has long passed for domestic bliss born of ignorance, virtue and wilful denial.

For everyone who thought Canada could cower in a corner of the planet, unnoticed and unthreatened by evil men — even when the most menacing of a very bad lot has twice referenced this country as a target for attack — take a good, hard look at what's been presented and what's being alleged.

Now the questions remains, when this story fades out of the news, and it is no longer quite so insulting to the decency of most Canadians, will the common sense remain?

The Deal

The big offer has been made to Iran, and it is a sweet and tasty bag of carrots.

Iran and the United States had a rare moment of agreement Tuesday, using similar language to describe ''positive steps'' toward an accord on a package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.

Diplomats said the incentives include a previously undisclosed offer of some U.S. nuclear technology on top of European help in building light-water nuclear reactors. Other incentives include allowing Iran to buy spare airplane parts and support for joining the World Trade Organization.

The deal that Iran was offered was probably a necessity, and if we are extremely lucky, it'll work. I caution against idealism here, though. If Iran rejects this offer, then continuing talks is rather futile because it will be clear that Iran is not interesting in negotiating. In that case, we'll need to start steeling ourselves for our much less palatible options, i.e. the diplomatic "sticks" that we are carrying. If Iran takes the deal, we still shouldn't be lulled into a sense of security. Afterall, we had a deal with North Korea once, too, remember? That didn't stop Kim Jong Il's nuclear program. Whenever I see a deal like this, I think of a line uttered by Powers Boothe's Curly Bill Brocious in Tombstone in reference to Faustian bargains: "I'd take the deal, then crawfish and drill that ol' devil in the ass."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I want one

To hell with the military applications, I want one of these for myself (Hat tip: Every other male blogger on the internet).
If these ever become affordable, I can see emergency rooms across the nation having drastic increases in the number of men breaking arms and legs from jumping off their roofs.



You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United States have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned ! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory !

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory !

Good Luck ! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

[signed] Dwight D. Eisenhower

9 for 12

This is perhaps my best start to a softball season to date, and I was pretty damngood when I was younger, faster, and mor limber. 9 for 12 with 6 doubles. Unfortunately, we were screwed by the field umpire tonight. He screwed up three calls tonight. He admited to one but did not change his call. Then in the fifth, a runner tried to take second. I took the throw and laid by glove down in front of the bag three steps before the runner began to slide. After I applied the tag, I held up my glove and the ump, who was right beside me, called the runner safe. Tonight was the closest I've ever come to getting kicked out of a game They went on to score 5 runs after that, and it would have been the third out. We lost by four. So while I'm off to a good start hitting, we are 1-2 on the season, which just goes to show that the individual good does not always benefit the whole.

Rather than correct the horrible grammar in this piece, I'm going to leave it unchanged as a stark example of why no one should ever BWI. Remember, friends don't let friends blog drunk, and I don't have any friends.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Corn and sugar pigging out at the trough of ethanol subsidies

I follow the news feeds on ethanol, and I'm really taken aback at how brazenly corn and sugar interests are lining up to pig out at the ethanol subsidy trough. Here are but two examples of it. Forget the mixed scientific reports on ethanol; if we continue down this road of subsidizing it, if it does get a major foothold as an energy source, we will ultimately pay through the nose for it, both with our consumer and tax dollars.

Caution: Economic work zone ahead

In Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria predicts the end of American economic dominance.

Well, Americans have replaced Britons atop the world, and we are now worried that history is happening to us. History has arrived in the form of "Three Billion New Capitalists," as Clyde Prestowitz's recent book puts it, people from countries like China, India and the former Soviet Union, which all once scorned the global market economy but are now enthusiastic and increasingly sophisticated participants in it. They are poorer, hungrier and in some cases well trained, and will inevitably compete with Americans and America for a slice of the pie. A Goldman Sachs study concludes that by 2045, China will be the largest economy in the world, replacing the United States.

He goes on to discuss our relative weaknesses in science and engineering as compared to developing economies. I for one welcome his pessimism, and I look forward to seeing more of it. Americans neurotic when it comes to our standing in the world. When the competition comes knocking our door, we collectively freak out and throw ourselves into the practice of getting ahead. It is our form of economic renewal, and it is somewhat unique to us. Other economies must get very depressed before they begin to renew. In the United States, paranoia kicks in and acts as the spark for renewal.

Zakaria points out this American paranoia in the article, but I'm not sure he truely understands it. His concern is that we aren't paranoid right now, in advance of the coming storm. That isn't really the American way. We feel no sense of urgency until we perceive that the competitor is knocking down our door, even if he isn't. Over the coming years, I think we'll see that old paranoia kick back in. Yes, we have some competitive disadvantages with the Chinas and Indias of the world, but Zakaria really glosses over how far those economies have to go yet, even if they are currently making gains.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who, pray tell, is manipulating oil prices?

All of you who had visions of oil companies in your head, you fail this quiz. These guys are the true masters of oil price manipulation:

U.S. crude prices climbed a dollar to over $73 on Monday after Iran hinted it might use oil flows as a weapon in its nuclear dispute with the West and problems at U.S. refineries spurred worries over fuel supplies.

If I were in the government or oil ministry of any oil producing nation, I'd be laughing my tail off and hoping that Iran strings this nuclear dispute out as long as possible. All Iran has to do is run out an minor official to make an off handed comment about oil supply, and the price goes up a buck. As long as the world economy continues to absorb price increases, OPEC, the original big oil, will just sit back and laugh.

Smile, you're on illegal alien cam!

I'm not quite sure how effective this idea is going to work:
A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.

The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.

Texas is trying, but this program doesn't seem like it would be very effective. Of course, if it were to be combined with this program, I suspect it would be quite effective. Nobody would even die because the advance word would be enough to keep anyone from even trying to illegally cross the border.

France rioting...again

Here we go again:
Small gangs of youths pelted riot police with rocks and set cars and garbage bins ablaze late Tuesday in a second night of unrest in the Paris suburbs, raising fears of a return of the disturbances that inflamed 300 French towns and suburbs last fall.

The violence of the last two nights -- in which youths attacked police cars, government buildings and riot police -- was sparked in part by mounting resentment toward the mayor of the northeastern Paris suburb of Montfermeil, who in recent weeks imposed a law prohibiting 15- to 18-year-olds from gathering in groups of more than three and requiring anyone under 16 to be accompanied by an adult on city streets after 8 p.m.

It must a result of the heat.