Wednesday, January 31, 2007

There's always France to push around

From the New York Times:
President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.

The remarks, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, were vastly different from stated French policy and what Mr. Chirac has often said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks.

Mr. Chirac said repeatedly during the second interview that he had spoken casually and quickly the day before because he believed he had been talking about Iran off the record.

Well, at least we know that France is ready to be bullied by Iran. MAD is a dangerous policy to take with a nation that may or may not make a rational decision when it comes to Israel. And if France is willing to back off on Iran now, what are they going to say when Iran wants 10 or 15 nukes? Then 50 or 100. And if at that point they were to nuke Israel, would France actually stand behind it's pledge to retaliate against Tehran, or would it cower out of fear of Iranian reprisal against Paris? I'm betting on them cowering.

The barbershop conversation

My barber has set his hours of operation to meet the needs of his primary market-farmers and retirees. That means that people like me who work an 8-5 type schedule have to get up at an unholy hour to get a haircut. This morning I got there 10 minutes after the shop opened and there were three farmers ahead of me in line. I usually enjoy the conversations, although I keep my mouth shut on controversial topics unless I know that I'm in line with the opinions of the guy in control of the quality of my haircut. This morning pained me, though. The conversation was about how wonderful ethanol is. The only negative they could come up with was the loss of fuel efficiency in blended fuels. Of course, the corn farmers are loving ethanol. They are making better money this year and there was talk of growing corn in more fields next year. I wanted so badly to discuss the drawbacks and the possible consequences down the road for them, but it was definitely unfriendly territory for that this morning.

Courage & Chuck Hagel

On Monday, Mickey Kaus took a look at the "courage" of Chuck Hagel. It left me with the nagging feeling that if Dan Rather were still at CBS, he's be signing off each night by saying nothing more than, "Chuck Hagel."

Speaking of singing...

...there's this from John McCain. Just as bad as Hillary, but pretty damn funny stuff. Watch it all the way through.

Giving Hillary a pass

I'll be criticizing Hillary Clinton plenty over the next year plus, so I'm going to give her a pass on this. For those of you who don't click on the link, it is video, from a distance, of her singing during the playing of the national anthem. It ain't good singing, folks, but let's be truthful here-the last time you sang the national anthem under your breath at the ball park or at the arena, did your voice sound like an angel's?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A hideously early 2008 thought

It is terribly early to be talking about the 2008 election, and I plan on only doing so sporadically until later this year when things start to get more serious. I will say this, though: Newt Gingrich is grabbing my imagination, and unless someone better enters the field, he may wind up with my support if he runs. He is saying the things I want to hear from a Republican right now, but of course that could easily change over the course of this year and early next year.

Occasionally I hear "electability" when Gingrich's name is brought up in connection with '08. To hell with electability. I hope Republicans don't fall into that trap. Electability is loser talk. In a somewhat lackluster field, he may just end up being the best candidate for conservatives. But we have an entire year for this to shake out-a month from now, Newt may end up looking like a newt.

Please step away from the computer, the sky is falling

The top six headlines at the Drudge Report are all about global warming. In fact, this week seems to be Chicken Little's global warming week. The articles out this week on the topic vary in details, tone, and opinions, but a common strain seems to be coming out in the most hysterical ones: We're all going to die. I'm not interested in debating my position on global warming right now, but one thing does interest me, and that is how all of these experts think man is mighty enough to create this tremendous global warming, but not mighty enough to adjust to significant climate change. For instance, one predicts that billions will suffer water scarcity. Lets stop to think here. If billions of people need water, and we have oceans and oceans of the stuff, I can guarentee you some enterprising individuals will figure out how to efficiently de-salinate water. There would be too much money in it for someone not to do so. That's just one example. We've proven to be a very clever species at adapting to our environment, and I expect that we will continue to be so in other problem areas that climate change, if it were to occur as the experts prophesize, throws at us.

20,000,000 deaths is the benchmark for war

At least it is according to this crummy historian. By his logic, we really shouldn't get worked up about attacks until our enemies have conquered a large percentage of the nation and besieged Chicago for five and a half months. Then and only then may we really get mad and fight back. He apparently believes we should fight a rope-a-dope style of war where we wear down the enemy by getting our asses kicked for a while.

I've been thinking about that 20,000,000. It really is a testament to the people of the USSR that they continued to fight under such staggering losses. It should be a disgrace to the Soviet government, though. Any historian that throws that number around as some sort of relevant benchmark for national defense should go back to taking undergraduate history courses.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The curse of the Boomers

Jack Langer has a rather humorous look at the anti-war protest in Washington last weekend.
"A man could make a fortune selling Geritol to these people."

Capitalist stooge that I am, that was my first reaction upon reaching the Washington Mall last Saturday to observe tens of thousands of demonstrators rally against the war in Iraq.

Expecting a healthy turnout of idealistic youths, I was surprised to find that the crowd was comprised predominantly of middle-aged '60s throwbacks looking to recapture the glory days of the jarring folk music, campus occupations, and general social chaos that accompanied the Vietnam War. When the Raging Grannies showed up, it was hard to distinguish them from the rest of the crowd.

What a disappointment. Nothing against the old folks, but they simply can’t match the energy of a young crowd of college kids unencumbered by work responsibilities or age-related health problems. The whole rally was flat, dispirited, and even boring. I felt especially sorry for the speakers: it’s hard to rile up a crowd when so many attendees are afraid to stray too far from the porta-potties.

They say you can't kill and idea. But maybe, just maybe, you can wait until it enters the retirement home.

Skewed historical source

While I was in college, I wrote a lot of history papers. That meant that I spent a lot of time pouring over old newspaper accounts of events. When using those sources, you expect them to give a good picture of the event in question. I'm not sure my local paper did that, though, for future local historians.

I'll give them a little benefit of the doubt because I have not seen the print edition of this article (link will not last long), but here's how it starts:

Area residents gathered outside the Fort Atkinson Municipal Building Saturday afternoon to protest the United States' continued involvement in the Iraq war.

The mid-afternoon rally was organized by Fort Atkinson resident Chuck Ogg, who said he wanted to inform the public about the current situation in the Middle East. Residents from all over Jefferson County endured cold temperatures and cloudy skies to share their thoughts and feelings about the escalating conflict.

"Even in a small town like Fort Atkinson, there are people who feel strongly about it," Ogg said of the war in Iraq.

Protesters held signs and chanted as cars and pedestrians passed by during the hour-long vigil, and they received honks and comments in response from several people.

The article posted on the paper's website goes on to quote Ogg at great length. The article misses some very improtant information, though-how big was this protest? Not a word was expended to detail that rather important information. I'd be interested to hear the size of the protest from a news source, because I heard from a witness of this protest that there were 7 protestors, give or take a person. Even in a small town, 7 protestors is not news. You can get more people to make fools of themselves at karaoke on a Friday night than the number of protestors on Saturday.

Jimmy Carter, a pathetic legacy

During the 1990's, as I began my political maturation, I gave Jimmy Carter's legacy a lot of leeway. He seemed to be a nice man who wanted to do good in his post-Presidential years. Any leeway I was willing to give Carter has evaporated over the last 7 years due largely to his own actions. With the publication of his most recent book, I can't help but be fully and completely opposed to Carter and almost anything he does or says. His presidency was a tremendous disappointment and so too is his post-presidency. In 150 years, Carter will only be remembered for his failures and what they lead to in the following years.

Don't get it: Vlogs

Vlogging became the next big thing last year, but I just don't quite get vlogs. That isn't to say that they don't have value, because I'm sure for some internet users they do. They just lack value to me. I get fidgety during a vlog. It takes too long to get to the point. My net useage has developed to the point where I can quickly decide if something I'm reading is of value to me or not, and then make a decision on whether I'm going to continue with it. The vlog forces me to be a captive audience to the end. On TV, I can still deal with that because my pace of TV watching, my expectations of it, allow for it, but not on the net. The advantage of the podcast is that it is portable, so you can listen to it while doing other things. Vlogs do not have that same portability advantage because your are forced to use two senses to take them in. They just don't fit into my net mindset.

Free speech diligence

I think I'm going to take the opportunity to applaud the blogosphere for aggressively guarding its collective freedom of speech. Congress has passed law and regulations have been drawn up over the past few years that don't directly address or impact bloggers, yet most bloggers have been aware enough to fight them because of their potential future use. After all, it is not the direct assault on speech that should be feared, because those direct assaults can be easily turned back. It is the indirect regulation which gets re-interpreted or extended over time that we should fear, and it is those regulations that the blogosphere has wisely raised stinks about. Keep it up, everyone.

Case in point

In a post below, I talked about the volume of information we produce in this country. I did not discuss quality, but inherent in that volume is a lot of bad, poor quality, or useless information. This post at PajamasMedia by Ron Rosenbaum would be a prime example. Are we really at the point where we need to dissect the actions of the cavemen in Geico commercials? It is no less inane than my posts this weekend that habitually apologize for absence last week, but at least my posts communicated partially useful information to readers. I love the cavemen commercials, too, but do we really need to put that much thought into them, let alone save them? What's next, the AFLAC duck as Christ figure?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What a backlog

Ugh. Man, do we pump out a lot of information in this country. I'm trying to catch up on the news after being completely away from it for 4 days, and it is a long, hard, slog to do so. My RSS feed reader had over 3,000 new items on it when I checked it last night, and each individual feed caps out at 200 items. I went through some of it, spent some time with the lovely Mrs. Jib, and came back to it tonight to find that a lot of my progress had been wiped out by new material. I think I'm going to end up pretending that anything that happened before Friday never occured, including the SOTU.

Keep the dream catchers out of your car, please

Maxim has a list of the "50 Lamest Things of All Time!" and number 15 on that list is dream catchers. I have no beef with dream catchers, but I do have a beef with people that dangle them from their rear view mirrors. If you need a dream catcher to filter out the nightmares while you are driving, you might want to also get yourself right with the Lord and buy one of those dashboard Jesuses, too, because you'll be meeting him sooner rather than later.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Random thought

Several times during this past I was exposed to Las Vegas' slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." That got me thinking a little...yeah, that slogan is probably true, but bankruptcy, drunken marriages, tattoos, STDs and pregnancy have a way of following people home.

Where was Jib?

I was working in Vegas this week. I apologize for the non-existant blogging, but it couldn't be helped.

The week without the internet

I apologize offering up a game of "Where in the world is Jib?" As it turns out, I had next to no internet access this week. I'm just glad that the airport I'm sitting in right now has free wi-fi. I get back to Wisconsin later today, so tonight or this weekend I'll get pictures downloaded off my camera and I'll give you the answer with a photograph. Regularly scheduled blogging will also return sometime this weekend.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This Week at Jiblog

It is going to be a particularly spotty week here (more so than it has been). I'll be heading out of town in the morning and will be gone until the weekend. I thought about inviting in a guest blogger, but I had some trouble deciding between worthy candidates. I considered calling in the Master, Karl Rove. Mr. Rove lost all of his Joementum on election day, though, and I was afraid he wouldn't move Jiblog forward this week. I thought about bringing in Vice President Cheney, but he wanted me to go hunting with him in exchange (word has it he's had trouble finding hunting partners). I really wanted Tommy Thompson to help out, but I guess the chip he had implanted under his skin interferes with Wifi.

Instead I think I am going to play a game of "Where in the world is Jib?" That will be highly dependent on my free time, though, so we'll see. There will be posts here and there, but not with any kind of consistency.

For the Tombstone lovers

Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, is one of those movies that has gained a huge following on VHS and DVD. The dialogue is quick and catchy, and as such it is not difficult to find yourself quoting it without even thinking about it. For those of you out there who can quote 3/4's of the movie, I give you a gift link today: The fourth draft of the script. It is an interesting read as you compare the movie to this draft and figure what did and did not make it into the movie.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

No passing zone

I followed this down a "Rustic Road" late this afternoon. It was a little slow, and it definitely didn't meet proper emission standards, but I peacefully shared the roadway with it, anyway.

Why on a Saturday?

That was my thought yesterday when the news came out that Hillary had tossed her hat in the ring for '08. Does her campaign not want the full glare of the white hot spotlight? And if this announcement was planned (as hypothesized) to overshadow Barack Obama, then don't all of the other Democratic candidates stand to gain from Hillary and Obama going toe to toe for the next year? It would seem one savvy politician amongst 'the rest' would be able to position themselves to take advantage of a weakened Hillary & Obama come next year.

A single primary/caucus day?

We aren't there yet, but things like this show that we may be moving in that direction.

The presidential nomination process in the Democratic and Republican parties is on the verge of being upended with a move by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to shift next year’s California presidential primaries to February 5th. The move would totally alter the dynamic of the presidential campaign.

A bipartisan bill was introduced in the state Senate yesterday. The beneficiaries of the move will probably fall in one or more of several categories. Those who do very well in the earliest states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Those who are well known and very well funded. And those who are relatively liberal Democrats and more moderate Republicans.

The move would place California fifth on the calendar for the Democratic presidential nomination fight, following Iowa on January 14th, Nevada on January 19th, New Hampshire on January 22nd, and South Carolina on January 29th. (The NWN report on the Las Vegas event kicking off the Nevada presidential caucuses is below, with video.) The Republicans currently have Iowa and New Hampshire first and second, though other changes are in the air.

The current staggered calender of primaries and cuacuses allow for candidates with smaller campaign war chests to have a shot if they can do well in the early match ups. Unfortunately, it makes many of the later matchups irrelevant as money and support floods away from candidates who do not do well in early states, and it has been a long time since the later states have seen their primaries have meaning. I see more states looking to move their primary closer to the start of the season in an effort to seem meaningful again. The parties are probably not going to be able to stop this as they jostle for the ideological advantage some changes present, and the big monied candidates are probably not going to complain much, either, because they are going to maintain a huge advantage in a super primary or a highly condensed primary season.

Don't anticipate the change to happen quickly, because it won't. But do expect to see the primary season to start to condense over the next several presidential cycles. I wouldn't be surprised if 100 years from now, on National Primary Election Day, people look back in confusion on why we had this staggered system that made individual states so influential. It is just another step in Americans' movement away from asserting themselves through the state and instead directly with the Federal government. Unfortunately, I think we are reducing our influence with the Federal government by our disregard to the influence of the state.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I saw gas under two bucks today at a local gas station. I can't remember the last time I saw gas under two bucks, even if it was only a tenth of a cent less. The only problem? It was a CITGO.

Who's militarizing space?

Just remember this next time you hear someone accuse the United States of spearheading the militarization of space.

The United States, Australia and Canada have voiced concerns to China over the first known satellite-killing test in space in more than 20 years, the White House said on Thursday.

"The U.S. believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "We and other countries have expressed our concern regarding this action to the Chinese."

Using a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile, the test knocked out an aging Chinese weather satellite about 537 miles above the Earth on January 11 through "kinetic impact," or by slamming into it, Johndroe said.

The ideal of non-militarized space was always a mirage, anyway. The only reason that the Soviets had a gentlemen's agreement in that regard was because they knew they couldn't compete with us in space, and we were content to keep military force out of space as long as everyone else did. The Chinese are becoming a legitimate threat to our assets in space, though, and it is essential that we have new assets in place in orbit and on the moon to counter that threat, lest one day we find out that the Chinese have cut our (military and commercial) communications and surveillance abilities.

The next big thing in racing: Ashley Force

A couple of years back I lead the charge in excessive Danica Patrick coverage. I'll probably do it again with Ashley Force, only this time the coverage (and links to pictures) will be over at The Wisconsin Sports Bar, where this kind of male depravity is the expectation rather than the exception.

They're on Democrat time

I'm amused by the clock on Nancy Pelosi's "100 hours." It's running slower than a broken watch.

According to Pelosi's count, it has taken just over 34 hours to pass the first five bills, including a measure approved Wednesday to lower interest rates on some student loans.

The House actually has been in session for more than 72 hours since the 110th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 4. But the clock on Pelosi's Web site suggested that 34 hours, 5 minutes had elapsed by the close of House business Wednesday.

The San Francisco Democrat's clock only tracks hours spent on legislation.

Make it mean whatever you like, Madame Speaker. Perhaps you could only count the hours the House spends voting to really stretch it out. Frankly, I'm looking forward to the month it is going to take her to complete her "100 hours." That should make her and the Democrats the butt of some fine jokes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Obesity and the love life of a Panda

The Ron Jeremys of the panda world just don't get the lovin':
Chuang Chuang the Panda is just too heavy to have sex. Thai authorities have put him on a strict diet as part of a long-running campaign to get him to mate with female partner Lin Hui at the Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand.

Chuang Chuang is gaining weight too fast and we found Lin Hui is no longer comfortable with having sex with him,'' said the zoo's chief veterinarian, Kanika Limtrakul, adding that Chuang Chuang weighed 331 pounds while Lin Hui is only 253 pounds.

I loved that line, "...Lin Hui is no longer comfortable with having sex with him." That "with" is key to making this entire thing funny. Did Lin Hui sit down with a counselor to discuss what she was and was not comfortable with about Chuang Chuang? Is he hanging out with the boys too much, too? Is she unhappy with the rut her life has gotten into? Or is she just superficial and no longer attracted to Chuang?

Oil nearing $50

And quietly it tumbles (for now):
Oil prices plunged more than 3 percent back near $51 a barrel Tuesday after Saudi Arabia said OPEC production cuts were working well and that there was no need for an emergency meeting of the producer group.

U.S. light crude for February delivery tumbled $1.78 to $51.21 a barrel after touching $50.93, the lowest since May 2005, in earlier New York Mercantile Exchange trading. In London, Brent futures shed 82 cents to $52.30.

So what's next? The nuts on the left don't have big oil to flog for the time being. When juice prices rise because of the freeze in California, will it be Bob Dole, Haliburton, and Big Orange conspiring? Or will it be the fault of a juice-Jews cabal?

All joking aside, I'd be surprised if these prices stay low all year. This is partially due to a warm winter but also partially due to a market correction amongst investors. There is plenty of instability in the Middle East, Venezuela, and Russia to drive the price back up this year.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fidel death watch,, hell, I lost count

Given that this infomation is coming out of the same hospital that employs the Spanish doctor recently flown into Cuba to look at Fidel Castro, I'm inclined to believe it is highly credible.

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.

The newspaper El Pais cited two unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.

In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said: "A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis."

Unfortunately, Uncle Fidel is going to have the last laugh. If his death had been sudden, it would have left the Cuban government in a much more precarious position. As it is, Raul has had enough time to consolidate the post Fidel transfer of power. When it comes, Fidel's death will be anti-climactic. Forget the death watch for Fidel. Now it's time to start the clock on Raul.

24 question

I was watching 24 tonight and a question started nagging at me. Why do the writers continue to insist upon writing satellite surveillance into the story? Satellite imagery is so 2002. I want to see drone aircraft written into the story line. After all, we'd be much more likely to use the more flexible drones in real life, wouldn't we?

Okay, nitpick over. Oh, and by the way, I found this amusing. Someone mapped out the blast radius that the nuke on tonight's show would have created.

Oh, and one more thing...yes, I do feel kind of dorky 24 blogging.

Niall Ferguson: "It's time to send in the blue helmets"

Niall Ferguson is an author/columnist that I'm never sure what to make of. Sometimes his ideas make absolutely no sense. Take this one from his most recent LA Times column:

For these reasons, I see only one credible alternative to Bush's strategy: U.S. forces should hand over responsibility for Iraq's security not to the Iraqis but to a new force provided by the United Nations.

Cute idea, but wrought with problems. First, where is the UN going to get this force from? I can't think of many nations that would be contributing to it. Second, UN forces are notable for two things: Raping women and girls, and avoiding confrontation at all costs. How, praytell, is a UN force going to accomplish anything in Iraq? Third, who honestly thinks the UN is going take on that kind of responsibility when it has been ducking responsibility on Iraq since the early 1990's. Why now?

Ferguson isn't saying it directly, but this is what he is offering in this piece: A way for the United States to cop out of finishing the job in Iraq.

Monday, January 15, 2007

(Insert horrified look here)

If I start getting spam for this penis lengthening procedure, I'm quitting the internet. (HT Dave Barry)

Nuke kidnapping foiled in Pakistan

And if watching a fictionalized nuclear detonation in LA didn't jar you, here is a little food for thought.
Police in north-west Pakistan say they have foiled a bid to abduct six officials working for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).

Police say the gang seized the staff south of Peshawar late on Sunday, but were stopped at a security checkpoint.

Three would-be kidnappers were shot dead in the gunfight, while two others were arrested. Police say they have yet to establish a motive.

It's tough to say whether this is just the actions of petty criminals or if it is something more sinister. It did occur near the Afghanistan-Pakistani border.

I don't believe what I just saw

24 actually detonated a suitcase nuke in Los Angeles. I'm stunned they actually went there.

Snowblowing etiquette

I woke up early this morning, something I am loathe to do, in order to clear snow before work. I got outside at 6 a.m. to find a measly three inches of snow on the ground. I'm fairly new to the snowblowing thing, so I had to debate what my next move was going to be. Shoveling was out of the question because I have too much surface area to clear and I wouldn't have had enough time before work. At the same time, though, I felt guilty about firing up the snowblower at 6 a.m., waking up the neighborhood just so I could clear 3 inches of snow. So on one hand, I had 'be a good neighbor', and on the other I had a driveway, car pad, deck, and sidewalk free of snow. Needless to say, I fired up the snowblower and acted as the neighborhood alarm clock. Did I show bad snowblowing etiquette?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


24, 24, 24, 24, 24! And it opens a new season with an explosion!

Night vision view of the war

My former co-blogger Col. Ollie has turned me onto It is kind of like YouTube, only with much more combat video, as well as other videos YouTube deems innapropriate. As a blogger, the stuff posted over there is much more pertinent than the vast majority of the stuff at YouTube. Check it out if you get the chance.

As a sample, I offer up this little video. Here is the description that goes along with it:

This is a video taken from atop OP Hotel in Ramadi, Iraq. The building getting hit by the Hellfire was known as the AG Center. The insurgents used it as a OP to spot mortars hitting Corregidor and COP and also as a general pop-shot location. Our engineers finished the job in December with some few-hundred pounds of explosives.

And now to the video goodness.

Although I said above that some of the material at this would be deemed innapropriate by YouTube, it appears that some people need an explicit warning, so here we go: SOME MATERIAL AT THIS SITE CAN BE DISTURBING OR NOT SAFE FOR WORK. And one more disclaimer: I DO NOT ENDORSE ALL OF THE VIDEO AT THIS SITE. Again, as I said above, I just think there is more relevant materials to political bloggers at that site than at YouTube. And one more thing. If you find it cute to post links to disturbing videos in the comments, your comment will be deleted. Thank you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Well played, Staff Sgt.

Staff Sgt. Michelle Manhart posed for Playboy. As you would expect, that did not play particularly well with the military brass and she's been relieved of duty during their investigation. Of the hubub, Manhart has this to say:

"Of what I did, nothing is wrong, so I didn't anticipate anything, of course," Manhart, 30, told The Associated Press. "I didn't do anything wrong, so I didn't think it would be a major issue."

Umm, yeah, right. Playboy and Manhart are playing the publicity game to 'T' here. They sell more issues, and she gets a higher profile for any post-Playboy/military endeavors she chooses to pursue.

And how suckered am I by their publicity gig? This much: Here's her Myspace page, boys. No good self promoter would be without one now days, right?

I understand that there is a problem with the Myspace link above. Try this link for now (as long as it works), or check out the Google cache of it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Explosion at U.S. embassy in Athens

This story is just breaking so details are a little light yet. FOX News is reporting that Greek police say the blast came from within the embassy, though.

It looks like there are conflicting reports as to whether the explosion came from inside the building or the courtyard. It does appear that the third floor in particular was hit.

Like most breaking news like this, information is all over the map. A Greek network says that police have told them the blast came from outside the building. Just a thought, complete and pure speculation on my part, but if this is a terror attack, might something have been fired at/into the building?

Well, at this point Greek police say it was a rocket or a bomb. Thankfully this happened early in the morning in Greece.

Blue screen of death kills satellite

Okay, not exactly, but a bad software patch may have killed the Mars Global Surveyor.

NASA is investigating whether incorrect software commands may have doomed the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, which abruptly fell silent last year after a decade of meticulously mapping the Red Planet.

The space agency said that theory is just one of several that may explain the probe's failure. NASA on Wednesday announced the formation of an internal review board to investigate why the Global Surveyor lost contact with controllers during a routine adjustment of its solar array.

John McNamee, deputy director of solar system exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said a preliminary investigation points to incorrect software commands uploaded to the spacecraft in June.

The software was aimed at improving the spacecraft's flight processors. Instead, bad commands may have overheated the battery and forced the spacecraft into safe mode, McNamee told scientists gathered Tuesday in Virginia to plan for future Mars missions.

Doesn't sound like control-alt-delete is going to do the job on this one.

Low key story of the day


US forces have stormed an Iranian consulate in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six members of staff.

The troops raided the building at about 0300 (0001GMT), taking away computers and papers, according to Kurdish media and senior local officials.

The US military would only confirm the detention of six people around Irbil.

The raid comes amid high Iran-US tension. The US accuses Iran of helping to fuel violence in Iraq and seeking nuclear arms. Iran denies both charges.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Article fails to answer the "why"

I found this story interesting, but I have questions.
Members of a close-harmony group from Yale University are recovering after being ambushed and beaten up while on tour in California.

Members of the a cappella Baker's Dozen were performing at a party in San Francisco at the new year when their rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" apparently sparked taunts and threats from fellow partygoers.

As the group left the house, they were attacked by dozens of assailants, suffering scrapes, black eyes and concussions, said Connecticut's News Channel 8.

The article didn't say much more than that. Here are the three questions I had:

1. Did they get beat up because the San Francisco mob hate America and were upset by the Star Spangled Banner?

2. Did they get beat up because they sang an offensive "rendition" of the Star Spangled Banner and offended the fellow partygoers?

3. Or did they just get beat up because they are in an a capella group?

It looks like it may have been number three.

"Send his daughters"

I'm watching the news on Milwaukee's NBC channel and they flashed up a quote from a woman that said something to the effect of 'Send President Bush's daughters to Iraq, then.' I hate that stupid, tired, old idea and I'm disappointed that TMJ4 felt the need to give it more play. If there was a draft in place right now, I'd probably just shrug off that over used comment because it at least would have some pertinence. But with an all volunteer military, the fact is every soldier signed on knowing that they might have to serve long, hard tours in a theater of war. They were not forcibly placed into military service, which is exactly what that comment requests of the President's daughters. I respect our soldiers beyond belief for making that decision, and I'm sympathetic to their parents and loved ones who worry about them and get frustrated, but please, stop with the vapid "send his daughters" comment already.

The plan for the surge

I didn't watch President Bush's speech tonight, opting instead to read it. There is a lot of promising things in the body of the speech, and I am quite confident that U.S. and Iraqi forces will be able accomplish the goals set forth for them in Baghdad. I still have one major reservation, though: There is no dagger to the insurgency's heart in this plan. When forces move through Baghdad, they will kill and capture many insurgents and terrorists but many will slip away. As our forces make progress in Baghdad, the rest of the terrorists and insurgents will fall back and filter out of the city. They will take a little bit of time to regroup, implement new tactics of their own, and the violence in Iraq will escalate again.

The President's speech indicates that we will cut off outside support for these groups. We will need to be highly effective at it. Since it doesn't look like we will be delivering a knockout punch to the insurgency, if we don't starve them of their support this will be little more than a short term fix to a problem that will re-emerge after a short time.

Sectarian the Motor City?

Hopefully not, as Detroit's Sunni and Shi'ite communities are trying to calm things down before they get out of hand:

Concerned about the possible spread of sectarian violence in metro Detroit, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims are set to meet today in a Dearborn Heights mosque to hash out any tensions between the diverse Middle Eastern and Muslim communities.

As Iraqi-American Shi'ites seethed over the trashing of several of their businesses and mosques in Detroit over the weekend, leaders in the Shi'ite and Sunni sects of Islam worked Tuesday to try to defuse animosity between the two sides that has existed for years but was amplified with the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December.

There was some talk of reprisal attacks, but no more incidents were reported Tuesday. Detroit police are investigating the vandalism and are aware that Shi'ite-Sunni tensions may be involved, said Sgt. Eren Stephens, Detroit police spokeswoman. The FBI also is monitoring the situation, said Special Agent Dawn Clenney.

I've spent more time in Detroit than I would prefer. If sectarian violence became commonplace, I'm not sure anyone could scroung up the funds to pay me to ever go back.

Wes Clark school of diplomacy

Umm, this quote from Wesley Clark that was posted at the HuffPo last week is weird, even for Space Cadet Clark. Note in particular the last sentence.

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table -- but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, What will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq? It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."

Yeah! And maybe if our diplomats buy their diplomats a really expensive dinner, they'll put out!

General Clark's form of international diplomacy sounds more like the beginning stages of a relationship between a man and a woman. I hate to be the one to break it to him, but sharing family stories, hopes, and dreams at a negotiating table isn't going to change one very important fact: Part of Iran's hopes and dreams are to develop nuclear weapons with which they can dominate Iraq and a large swath of the Middle East. I'd be interested to know how his personal relationship building changes that fact.

Accuweather predicts a rough end to winter

I hope that all of you have been enjoying this very mild winter that we've been having, because if Accuweather's prediction for the remainder of the winter is accurate, it is going to get nasty.

The unseasonably warm winter experienced by much of the country is likely to "turn on a dime," in the words of Chief Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

Bastardi said that the weather pattern from mid-January through mid-February has a chance to mimic the winters of 1965-66 and 1957-58, each of which ended cold and stormy after a warm start. A worst-case scenario would be if this winter plays out as did the winter of 1977-1978.

And Bastardi doesn't hold back in telling us what the next couple of months could hold for us:

Long-range forecasting expert Bastardi points out that it's too early to say with certainty that the change in the weather pattern will be long-lasting or produce heavy amounts of snow. However, he believes that if the weather pattern reaches its full potential, the dramatic change from warmth to cold could result in "one of the top-five coldest 30-day stretches in the past half century."

If you dread brutally cold and snowy winters, you can take some consolation in the fact that divining long term weather forecasts yields worse odds than Vegas. Just the same, you may want to stock up on hot cocoa.

Another dumb study and dumb article

This is one of the dumber ones I've seen in a while.

U.S. home prices may have dipped over the past year, but many American workers would still struggle to afford a median-priced home in major cities, a new study said on Wednesday.

The key words here are "median-priced." If you think back to your school days, you'll remember that you calculate the median by laying all of the numbers of a sample out in a line from lowest to highest. The number that falls directly in the center is the median. Now let's look at how people tend to buy houses. They tend to buy the most house that they can afford within their budget at that time, and some even buy more house than they can really afford. So if you assume that most home owners buy a house that is within +/- 10% of the top of what they can afford, and most non-homeowners and half the sample of homeowners fall below the median, then by definition most people cannot afford a median-priced house. And guess what? That will probably never change. The reason that will never change is because the price spread for houses would have to become very narrow and a large majority of people would need to become homeowners for the median to fall within reach of those below it.

This article is trying to seed the economic storm clouds, and rather stupidly at that. The fact remains home ownership is near or at all-time highs. It takes a pretty healthy economic situation for that to happen

Bush to announce troops surge

This is not really a surprise, but President Bush is expected to announce the "surge" of troops to Iraq in a speech tonight. I haven't written about this surge because I've been very tentative about it. 20,000 additional troops, in and of themselves, aren't going to accomplish much. With an achievable goal, tactics to achieve that goal(s), and the operational freedom to use those tactics, they may just make some difference. Unfortunately, it is really tough to tell if their presence is going to be more of the same or if it signals an operational change in Iraq.

And about the situation in Iraq. My former co-blogger Col. Ollie made what I thought was an interesting point today. What is happening in Iraq, the violence between sects, is not terribly unusual in that part of the world today. We may well never fully quell it. But that doesn't mean that Iraq cannot be a functional nation. It does increase the risk of things going horribly wrong in Iraq, no question about that. But if a complete end to the violence is the goal, it might be a goal that cannot be met in the free and open society we've tried to create.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wisconsin hunter murder takes turn for the bizarre

I'm not really sure what to make of this.

A man jailed in the death of another squirrel hunter in northern Wisconsin was shot once in each hand before the two wrestled in the woods and he stabbed the victim with a knife he carried to cut the tails off his quarry, the suspect's fiancee told The Associated Press today.

Details from the Sheriff's Department/DA in this case would be nice. I will say this, it does not reflect well on the suspect, James Nichols, that he chose to hide Cha Vang's body. Also peculiar is the fact that Nichols was shot in the hands. I would think that would mean one of two things. Either Vang was a hell of shot and was shooting in some sort of preventative self defense, or Nichols was up close and struggling with Vang at the time of the shots. Pure speculation on my part, of course. I certainly never thought I'd see hand to hand combat break out in the Northwoods, though.

Cha Vang hunting death

As I mentioned this weekend, the woods of Wisconsin have seen another incident of violence between white and Hmong hunters. This time, it was Hmong hunter Cha Vang (not to be confuse with Chai Vang) who was murdered by a white hunter. News reports are still short on details, but it is becoming clear that this was a homicide. That is inexcuseable. I'll have more to say on this as details emerge, but it is highly disappointing to see this violence continue.

Wedding value

I'm tooling through my feed reader right now, and I came across this article on wedding locations in Lake Geneva. It amused me, and here's why. I'm sure that there are many wonderful places to have a wedding or a reception in Lake Geneva, but the lovely Mrs. Jib and I had just as nice a wedding at a fraction of the cost. We got married here in town in a lovely white church. It was a spring day, ahead of the wedding onslaught in June, and we were blessed with absolutely perfect weather. Our reception was held at a site on the shores of a local lake, and as dinner was served the sun began to set in the picture window behind us, right over the lake. There were some hiccups along the way-a passing in my family the previous week, our car started smoking on the way to the hall (as it came out of the squirrel cage, it looked like her dress was smoking-hubba hubba), and one of her relatives had some health problems just before the dinner. Despite those hiccups, I dare say that we had a picture perfect wedding, and we did so without having to break the bank with the type of wedding that I'm sure can be had in places like Lake Geneva.

"Giving birth in Berkeley"

Michael Lewis, the author the Slate article "Giving birth in Berkeley," is hillarious. I can only hope that when the day comes that we finally become parents, I have both the talent and the permission to write about it as well as he did.

When our day does come, I am quite confident that there will be no birthing fad of the week in our delivery room. She'll have her pain killers and I certainly won't be holding a video camera. We both saw that video in health class and neither of us cares to see it over and over again, even if it is our own progeny entering this life. We're a great match that way.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Accepting various currencies

I'm not seeing the big deal here.
Mexican pesos won't buy you much north of the border. But from Monday they'll buy you a pizza.

A Dallas-based pizza chain which caters to the Hispanic community is accepting the Mexican currency at all of its 59 U.S. stores starting on Monday, giving the greenback some unusual competition at the cash register.

"Unlike many other businesses for us it makes sense. Our stores are located in predominately Hispanic communities and so the majority of our customers are Hispanic," said Andrew Gamm, director of brand development for Pizza Patron.

If accepting pesos helps them better serve their clientelle, I don't see what makes this particularly noteworthy. When I was younger, some friends and I had to spend a week in Detroit. We ended up with a lot of extra time on our hands, so we spent an afternoon in Windsor, Ontario. We were quite thankful for the many businesses that were happy to take American dollars. Now if this business only accepted the peso, then there would be a news story.

Recommended reading, 1/8/07

If most of us were given an exam in which we were tested on our knowledge of Islam, we'd fail. Even if it were just a quiz on the things that we should know, most of us would still fail. For whatever reason, as a country we have not chosen to learn more about a religion that has come to affect our lives whether we like it or not.

When articles like The War Against Global Jihadism are published, it is in all of our interests to read it, learn from it, and encourage others to read it. It is a very basic primer that provides information that we should all know by now but do not. I recommend taking a couple of minutes to read it over.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Quick quiz

Can you name one of the current boxing Heavyweight Champions?

I couldn't. In fact, the only champion of any weight class that I recognized on this list was Oscar De La Hoya in the Junior Middleweight division. Boxing is in a worse place than it was portrayed in Rocky Balboa. At least people knew who the champ was in the movie and cared enough to boo him.

Cardinal sin of brat preparation

We're having brats for dinner tonight, so I decided to look around the net to see the various ways people simmer their brats before grilling. A friend had served me brats towards the end of summer that had been prepared with such care prior to grilling that they almost literally melted in your mouth. The first place I went on my search was The Bratwurst Pages. The author was quite knowledgeable, but I found something there that horrified me. The author demeaned yellow mustard while advocating ketchup for brats. What a crime! Yellow mustard is fine for those who have no appreciation for mustards, but ketchup on a brat should never, ever, be allowed to occur. Friends don't let friends put ketchup on bratwurst. Mustard is a complementary flavor for a brat, but ketchup does nothing but cover up the taste.

Thoughts on methods of capital punishment

Hangings, firing squads, and the guillotine are viewed as horrible methods of execution from our less civilized past. The electric chair is going that direction. Lethal injection is the new 'sanitary' way of executing. But who is it really sanitary for, the executed criminal or the living? All forms of execution can be painful for the executed criminal if not properly applied, so let's assume that all of these methods are going to be properly applied. Our modern, humane methods of execution actually take longer than the older, disreputed methods. In a proper hanging, guillotine beheading, or firing squad exectuion, death is instantaneous. In the electric chair or a lethal injection, we may feel more civilized, but the death is actually prolonged and the executed must experience dying. Is either really improvement upon the previous three, or are they just ways to assuage our guilt and to keep our hands physically cleaner?

Putting a finger on what's been bothering me

I've really been disturbed by the political scene lately, but I haven't been able to quite figure out why. It hasn't been the Democrat victory in November, it hasn't been the ineptitude of Republicans, and it hasn't been the seeming loss of momentum suffered by conservatism. With today's story on Israel's tactical nuke "plan," I've finally figured out what has been bothering me. 2007 seems like it could be a very dangerous year. Iran, in particular, is going to take world events in directions we don't want them to go. Yet there have been two twin obsessions here in the United States this fall and early winter: The 2008 presidential elections and the quote-unquote fact that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. The source of my discontent is that we are in serious danger of being caught unaware again in 2007 as we collectively pick lint out of our belly buttons and gaze in the wrong directions.

The British Mosque scene: Disturbing, but not new

NRO The Corner's Andrew Stuttaford points out this disturbing report on the British Mossque scene:

An undercover investigation has revealed disturbing evidence of Islamic extremism at a number of Britain's leading mosques and Muslim institutions, including an organisation praised by the Prime Minister. Secret video footage reveals Muslim preachers exhorting followers to prepare for jihad, to hit girls for not wearing the hijab, and to create a 'state within a state'. Many of the preachers are linked to the Wahhabi strain of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, which funds a number of Britain's leading Islamic institutions.

I can't say that there is anything new about this. In the book I just finished reading, Inside the Jihad, the author reports seeing speeches and teachings like this over ten years ago. And the most disturbing aspect of his story was that the Brits didn't seem to understand how to handle these things. In fact, as the author painted the story, the French better understood radical Islam than the Brits did. I hope that has changed, but something tells me the Brits are still behind the curve on this.

Ice Storm photos

I am incredibly thankful that we very infrequently get severe ice storms in Wisconsin. How does one define severe? Well, I think these photos from last week's ice storm in Nebraska make it pretty clear.

I spoke with someone in Nebraska on Friday. They had only had their power restored on Friday (the storm occurred just before New Year's), and as soon as it came back up, it went out again. I've experienced a few ice storms here in Wisconsin, but nothing as bad as what they've had to deal with.

The photographer of the shots linked above is having some bandwidth issues this month due to the overwhelming amount of traffic he's receiving. You may want to check out the photos on Flickr in order to help him out.

Yes, but will he leave his blinker on?

A 72 year old has entered to qualify for the 2007 Daytona 500.

1966 was a year of change and new beginnings in America. Ronald Reagan was elected Governor in California and began a political career that would lead to the White House; NASA began test launches for the Apollo series, thus starting a program that would result in a successful moon landing in 1969; and James Harvey Hylton was named "Rookie of the Year" in NASCAR's Grand National Division, starting an amazing career that would span five decades.
When asked why he has sat his sites on the 2007 Daytona 500, Hylton states "I have never been able to come to Daytona with a well-financed operation and a first-rate car. I have always wanted to be able to race the 500 and not be limited by budget constraints and even though it has taken over 40 years, I am finally at that position. At my age, the odds against me are astronomical but it's a challenge and I love a good challenge."

I wish him luck. If a 60 year old Sylvester Stallone can make a credible boxing movie (Rocky Balboa was an excellent flick, by the way), then why can't a 72 year old give the Daytona 500 a try? Just the same, perhaps we should be thankful there are no farmer's markets on the infield.

Two years of quiet in Wisconsin woods shattered

A little over two years, a violence exploded in the woods of Northwestern Wisconsin. Chai Vang, confronted by hunters for hunting on their private property, shot and killed 6 people. There was some unease as to what kind of new dynamic would appear in the woods between Hmong and white hunters. Fortunately, for two years things remained peaceful during the gun deer season. Unfortunately, that ended today in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Authorities are treating the death of a missing hunter as a homicide and have a 28-year-old Peshtigo man detained as a person of interest in the case.

The hunter’s friends called 911 about 6:30 p.m. Friday and reported him missing when he did not reunite with his hunting group after a hunt in the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area in the Town of Peshtigo.

Details are very sketchy right now, and I hesitate to comment further until authorities release further information. The violence in this instance appears to be white on Hmong, though. I'll be adding new posts on this as further information is released.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Israel plans tactical nuke strike on Iran nuke sites?

That's the splash over at Drudge right now. He's reporting that a British paper will break this story in tomorrow's editions and there is no further information right now. We know little about this story yet, but a couple things should be said in advance of it. First, nations draw up military plans all of the time for wide variety of realistic and less than realistic scenarios. It does not mean that they intend to initiate those plans. After all, we have plans to invade Canada, if necessary. Second, if the plan is to use tactical nukes, that is very different from the nukes most of us are familiar with. These are lower yield bombs designed to destroy buried targets, by and large. Third, I hope this paper understands the gravity of the report they are about to make. If this plan is a contingency plan and not an imminent plan, then they are going to be significantly enflaming the situation in the Middle East, and very irresponsibily at that.

The article is up. I think this is probably the key paragraph:

Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.
It is going to be one wild year.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Taliban's Mullah Omar: Haven't seen Osama

First the story, then I'll give my take on it.

Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar has added to the mystery over Osama bin Laden, saying he hasn't seen his ally and fellow fugitive since U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001.

"No, I have neither seen him, nor have I made any effort to do so, but I pray for his health and safety," Omar said in an e-mailed response to questions sent by Reuters.

This story will probably get some play on the news, but it is pretty much a non-story. After all, both men are very much wanted, and as such would avoid meeting each other. If one or the other were being tracked at all, having both of them in the same place at the same time would present an incredible kill opportunity for their enemies.

Secondly, the Taliban and al Qaeda may have been aligned but it doesn't mean they were tightly aligned. In fact, at some of the pre 9-11 camps in Afghanistan, it could be a tense arrangement. The Taliban would try to help themselves to terrorist camp weapons, and some ideologues in the camps didn't believe the Taliban was fighting the right jihad (see Inside Al Qaeda, A Spy's Story). They were able to scratch one another's backs at one time in Afghanistan, but that just isn't the case right now. There has been very little reason for the two of them to meet or even carry on contacts with each other. So Mullah Omar having not seen Bin Laden for several years really doesn't say much of anything about Bin Laden.

Beware the Pakistani kites

This is one of those things that is just messed up beyond belief. Pakistan had to ban kite-flying last year because of all the deaths it caused. Now they are lifting the ban for the very event that caused the deaths.

Authorities on Thursday lifted a ban on kite-flying in a Pakistan province after the sport was forbidden last year following a series of deaths caused by reinforced kite strings, an official said.

The ban was lifted about a month ahead of Basant, an annual festival that heralds spring and is marked by flying colorful kites in the eastern province of Punjab and its capital, Lahore.

This year's festival will be celebrated on Feb. 25, said Salman Ghani, chairman of Punjab's planning and development department.

During Basant last year, seven people were fatally slashed by glass-coated or metal-reinforced kite strings, prompting authorities to ban kite-flying. They arrested hundreds who defied the new regulation.

Apparently very large kites and reinforced strings will still be banned, but that does not change the fact that something so innocent is so deadly in Pakistan. It makes you shudder to think that a nation that cannot safely fly kites is also a nuclear power.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Catching up on old pastimes

I used to read a lot of books. I wasn't as voracious reader as the lovely Mrs. Jib, who goes through over 100 books a year, but I still read a lot of books. Since I've started up this blog, I've found that I've read fewer and fewer books, mostly because I was investing a lot of my reading time into reading online news for the blog. Over Christmas I began to set down the computer and pick up a book, though. In fact, I just finished Inside the Jihad, A Spy's Story. It was an interesting read and it reminded me how much I miss reading books. If I have one resolution for the new year, it will be to strike a balance that allows me to get back into reading books more.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy belated New Year...

...and welcome back to work, everyone. Except those of you in the Federal government.