Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Indulgences for a New Age

Heh. I think Aaron is on to something here.

Van Bakel rightly points out that this is an amusing tactic. The concept of a “carbon footprint” is relatively new. Now we’re being told that in the Church of Global Warming the sinners can redeem themselves by purchasing credits against their transgressions.

Well, that’s “An Awfully Convenient Loophole” (I call movie rights on that one). How often have we been told that the science behind global climate changeis not exact? Yet, somehow we understand it enough to say that one tree equals X number of hair driers? If that’s really the case, shouldn’t we be able to calculate the environmental impact of all man kind?

Do you understand why it’s dangerous to the environmental movement to quantify global warming? If they did, it means that we could actually calculate how much change is actually necessary. We’d have an attainable (or not) goal of how many trees to plant and megawatts to convert to nuclear energy. Then, they’d all have to shut up because we’ve solved the problem.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thanks for the headache

Well that was unpleasant. My 2006 taxes are complete, and I'd like to thank the state and the Feds the headache, the bald spots where I pulled my hair out, and for the loss of those several hours of my life. And of course for helping themselves to my earnings.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Half Hour News Hour

I Tivo'd the Half Hour News Hour on Fox News tonight as a little treat for me after the Oscars. I've now watched it and I'm disappointed. There is potential there, but it has a lot of flaws. The laugh track stinks. The anchors are fake but not personable, which means it completely misses out on the whole "Weekend Update" feel. The jokes are okay and I'm sure that with a few more episodes, the writers will jell and they'll get better, but the laugh track and the overly fake and somewhat unlikeable anchors will still kill the laughs.

Hopefully my last Oscars comment of the night

I rarely watch the Oscars, and now I remember why: It is insufferable. There are so many segments they can do without, the acceptance speeches stink, and most importantly, all too many actors and actresses are incapable of reading out loud, something I find very ironic, and the smugness is unbearable at times. Word of advice to the "talent": If you can't do an animated job of reading from a teleprompter, or even get through it without stumbling, then memorize your lines and act.

Lest anyone criticize me for not changing the channel, let me say that I am being forced to watch against my will. Married men out there will understand where I'm coming from. I think tomorrow night I'm going to make her watch wrestling.

Academy Awards preach

Damn, the Academy Awards are a liberal Disney World. I'm watching Melissa Ethridge sing some dredge from An Inconvenient Truth, and I'm left wondering if she took mass transit to the ceremony.

DiCaprio just said the awards have "gone green". Is he kidding me? Gone green? How many tons of CO2 went into these awards, and getting people to and from the venue?

Update 2
To rip off South Park, the smug level in LA is at an all time high tonight.


We're over at over a foot of snow total since snow start on Friday, but last night's contribution was uglier than the previous night's. The lovely Mrs. Jib came home from work this morning but couldn't make it down our street. After it was plowed, she couldn't make it in the driveway because the plow had left boulders of snow stacked there. I fired up the snowblower (best purchase I've ever made), and it handled the snow okay, but neighbors with smaller snowblowers were struggling. People who were shoveling really struggled with the concrete-like snow.

I helped a few neighbors out by blowing their sidewalks, and the teamwork that they showed me was very nice to see. While I quickly cleared their water laden snow, they cleaned up the schnivels I left behind on my sidewalk and cleared the small walk up to my house. I've heard a lot of stories about the stupid and pig headed people who had trouble with the snow last night, but I've also heard a lot of stories about people helping one another. The difficult people make you shake your head, but the people helping each other more than makes up for it.

A great question

There is an interesting article over at Slate titled "Does the president know what the word Neocon means?" I'll let Timothy Noah set the scene:
But then Cockburn continues:

Notwithstanding this episode, Bush 43 still sometimes drew on his father's wide knowledge of the world. Though he refused to read newspapers, he was aware of criticism that his administration had been excessively beholden to a particular clique, and wanted to know more about them. One day during that holiday, according to friends of the family, 43 asked his father, "What's a neocon?"

"Do you want names, or a description?" answered 41.


"Well," said the former president of the United States, "I'll give it to you in one word: Israel."

Let's set aside the question of whether it's fair to describe neocons as caring only about Israel. (My own view is that it would have been unfair, and possibly anti-Semitic, 20 years ago, but that the neocon agenda has since dwindled to such an extent that by now it's an acceptable shorthand, if slightly risqué.) Instead, let's focus on the anecdote's suggestion that as recently as two and a half years ago, the president of the United States didn't know what neocon meant.

Can this possibly be true?

Noah goes on to give Bush a half hearted benefit of the doubt, noting that the President's question may have involved more involved than just a request for a definition.

It's possible that Bush fils was not asking Bush père to define a term whose meaning was unfamiliar to him, but rather inviting a ruminative conversation about the category's proper parameters. If Irving Kristol were to ask me, "What's a neocon?", he wouldn't be demonstrating ignorance of the term's meaning. He'd be initiating a lively give-and-take about the movement's nature and evolution.

People who think highly of their own intelligence, particularly those on the left, have "misunderestimated" this President's intellectual capacity since day one. Noah goes onto do just that in this article by backing off of the statement above. I'm inclined to think that this explanation by Noah is correct. I've asked myself that question every time I've heard "neocon" for the past five years. It is a reasonable question to ask because "neocon" has been hijacked by the left and shorn of any of its original meaning. Today, it is little more than a pejorative term used by the left to try to dirty anyone on the right who supports the war in Iraq, and it works because since the dawn of the Neo-Nazis, anything with "Neo" in front of it tends to frighten people. In a sense, the left has claimed the term neocon as it's own and the meaning of the word shifts according to the political needs of the person using it. Given that, I too ask, what's a neocon?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Live from the WJIB Super Storm Team Dopplar 7 Winter Center Weather Deck

I just stepped outside to shut off a light that was on in my garage. We've had 3 inches of snow since 6 pm from the great blizzard of '07. The storm has gone through an interesting change here, though. It isn't snowing anymore. I guess you could term it sleet, although it is awfully close to being freezing rain. And it is lightning. At this point, I'm rooting for the snow to come back because I'm not anxious to deal with the side effects of ice.

Cancel church?!

I'm watching the news tonight and I must admit that I'm surprised to see all the churches that have cancelled services tomorrow because of the snow storm. Cancel church? I don't think I've ever seen that, but there are a lot of churches doing just that tomorrow. Church is a pretty voluntary event, and services can be held even in the absence of an organist or scheduled ushers. As a child, I can remember going to church amid a few snowstorms because the trip was not a difficult one for us. Attendance would be very low those days, which means people had the good common sense not to drive if it was going to be dangerous. So is cancelling services really necessary, or do we just not have enough hardy German-Lutheran and Catholic congregations left anymore?

Happy Lent from James Cameron

Self-proclaimed king of the world James Cameron is about to make himself the talk of the Christian world, and a lot of the talk isn't going to be very Christian-like because he is going to declare that archaeologists have found the bodies/caskets of Jesus and his family.

Digging for controversy, the Titanic filmmaker James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici are about to stun Christians the world over with a docu-drama that claims archaeologists have located the casket of Jesus.

The inscribed box, with some human remains still inside, apparently was crammed into an old cave near Talpiyot, an industrial zone in Jerusalem, alongside nine other two thousand year-old sarcophagi allegedly containing the bodies of Mother Mary, the carpenter Joseph, a little-known brother called Jofah, Mary Magdalene, and, most surprisingly of all, Jesus's son Judah, who technically could be considered the grandson of God.

It sounds like Cameron is going to hold a press conference on this on Monday. It does pay to note the timing of this. Cameron just happened to roll this out at the beginning of Lent, which will probably ensure that it will remain a topic of conversation until Easter and generate ample publicity for his documentary on this story, which will be on the Discovery Channel prior to Easter.

Rage against nature

How exactly does one rage against nature, you ask? Well, I for one toy with the idea of waiting until a blizzard rolls in, and then heading outside in shorts (and a coat-I'm not crazy) to grill up brats and dogs for dinner.

I may let the lovely Mrs. Jib talk me out of that one later, even though it seems like a damn good idea right now.

Those primates are getting cleverer

I saw this headline today and my brain completely misinterpreted it:

Chimpanzees 'hunt using spears'

The vision that came to mind? Chimps sending Britney and her umbrella out to get dinner. The celebrity obsession of the news is starting to rot my brain.

My dream USB gadget

LIB and Lakeshore Laments have both talked this week about USB gadgets. Personally, I'm waiting for the USB gadget that will write pithy posts for me and make me millions of dollars while I nap with my belly pointed in the air like a sleepy poodle. I may be asking too much from USB gadgets, though.

Round One to Mother Nature

Here in Wisconsin, along with large swaths of the nation's midsection, we are facing the biggest "white death" of the year. The weather forecasting services have been particularly squeamish on settling on a prediction for the final snow depth from this storm, so until this evening I assumed we would get less snow than the hype led us to believe. I think that assumption is going to be wrong. At 8:30, here in my little slice of south central Wisconsin, there was no new snow on the ground and just a couple of flurries floating in the air. At 9 pm, I was surprised to see that there was about a half inch of snow on the ground. 15 minutes ago at midnight, I went outside and did a quick measure of the new snowfall. That measurement came to 5 1/4 three and a half hours. Tonight was supposed to be the light night of this storm. It looks like we are going to see one of our deepest snowfalls in several years.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Squishy Joe

Sometimes the news amuses. Take the Joe Lieberman story for example. It seems that Lieberman would consider leaving the Democratic party if they voted to defund the war in Iraq. I'm watching and reading Republicans, conservatives even, who excitedly call for Lieberman to make the switch. These are some of the same people who pull their hair out at the likes of Lincoln Chaffee, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Spectre, and other Republicans who lean too far left. I like Lieberman, too, and I applaud his position on the war, but his changing parties wouldn't change much. His vote on war issues would remain the same. Control of the Senate would not necessarily flip to Republicans. And Lieberman would still vote Democrat on a number of issues. Seems like a wash to me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Random throw-away thoughts

*It took Britney Spears to make Kevin Federline look responsible and respectable. He still isn't, but he does look that way compared to her.

*Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle still looks like Droopy Dog, only less cool.

*Las Vegas was a violent place during the recent NBA All-Star weekend, but if you thought that was bad, wait until next year when the NBA All-Star game heads to New Orleans. What's next for the game, Detroit during Halloween?

*You can tell that your cat is really not feeling well when, faced with the option, it throws up on a hard floor instead of punishing you by doing it on the carpet.

*I've noticed there are a lot of Dayight Savings Time haters out there. Well, consider me a Standard Time hater. I'll take that hour of light in the evening over the hour of light in the morning every time.

*It seems like everyone I know is fleeing to warmer places this weekend. This clearly means that I'm going to have to suffer through miserable weather this weekend with nothing to do.

*I still don't get the gyroball.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

5 songs playing

I don't think I've done a post like this before, but I'm enjoying the tunes on my Sonic Foundry Siren Jukebox (it's old school software, kiddos) so I'm going to share my last five songs:

1. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
2. The Dance - Garth Brooks
3. Snoopy vs. The Red Baron - The Royal Guardsmen
4. Danny's Song - Kenny Loggins
5. Fat Bottom Girls - Queen

Bravo, Prince Harry

I'm not much for the British Royal family, but I've got to respect this and the approach he has taken on it publicly.

Prince Harry will almost certainly be deployed to carry out a tour of duty in Iraq, according to Whitehall sources.

The prince would be the first senior royal to serve on the front line since Prince Andrew in the Falklands in 1982.

His regiment, the Blues and Royals, is expected to be told it will serve in Iraq as part of the latest round of UK troop deployments.

Godspeed to Harry and all troops deploying to Iraq.

Freezing nature in time

Standing athwart history, yelling "Stop!" Those famous words launched National Review and conservatism, but they could also very well be the motto for global warming worshippers and enviro-nuts. This earth has been constantly changing since the beginning. All the species of the earth have been helping that change along in our own ways, and we've watched the undulating changes our entire lives. Yet these two groups are digging their heels in trying to freeze everything on the earth into a mythical state that they believe it existed 200 years ago. If there is anything that is not natural, it is that.

Save the Italian wines from global warming!

The global warming hand wringing just keeps getting more and more absurd.

Imagine a world where Scandinavia produces wines to rival Italy's fabled Chianti region. It could come to just that by the end of the century, experts in Italy warn, if global warming continues unchecked.

A study by Florence University linking the effects of rain and temperature to wine production found that increasingly high temperatures and intense rains are likely to threaten the quality of Tuscan wines. Italy's farmers association warned the cultivation of olive trees, which grow in a mild climate, has almost reached the Alps.

"This rise in temperatures will continue in the next years, and they will be too high and unfavorable for the quality of wine," because they cause the grapes to over-ripen, said Simone Orlandini, an agronomist at Florence University and co-author of the study.

Let's say the earth warms to the extent the doomsayers predict. People will adapt-we're pretty good at it, and it is a lot easier for us to adapt to more warmth than more cold. I for one look forward to a good Norwegian wine.


I am amazed by this. The grandson of our tenth President, John Tyler, is still alive.

John Tyler was born in 1790. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, his fourteenth child of fifteen (eight children by his first wife, seven by his second) was born in 1853, when President Tyler was 63. Harrison Tyler, Lyon Tyler’s fifth child of six (three children by each of his two wives) was born in 1928, when Lyon Tyler was 75. And Harrison Tyler, now 79, still inhabits Sherwood Forest Plantation, the Tyler family home.

From grandfather to grandson, 217 years…and counting.

For the record, John Tyler was born while Washington was still alive, and his presidency lasted from 1841 to 1845. I'm not sure I can count the number of generations that have passed in my family during that time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Backwards fence logic

Slate has an article up today that lists the reasons why the border fence approved last year will not be built. I don't have too many beefs with the article as I fully anticipate Congress will find reasons not to build the fence, but there was one paragraph in that story that to me exemplifies much of the backwards logic some people employ today.

Some experts worry that new barriers would only encourage would-be crossers to find other ways to get across—for instance, by using forged documents or by hiding in vehicles and crossing at legal crossing points. "Barriers make it more difficult to cross, of course," said Koslowski. "But more barriers between the ports of entry will drive people through those ports; they will figure out more clandestine ways of hiding."

Okay, where is the negative in all that? Right now people are wandering across the border unnoticed. By forcing them through the ports of entry, we are accomplishing a few things. First, we are increasing the odds an illegal will be caught. That means smuggling will get more expensive and the likelihood of success will drop, decreasing the number of people who even try to cross illegally. Secondly, by forcing them to sneak across at the border crossings, we at least have a shot of catching them and while at the same time reducing the total amount of manpower needed to enforce the border. This is not going to lead to a vast increase in illegal documentation because that is already rampant amongst illegal immigrants. It also is not going to appreciably increase the danger to illegals in the long term. Hiding in a vehicle is very dangerous, and it isn't going to take long for most potential illegal immigrants to figure out that it isn't worth the risk to try.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The kid's a fighter

You have to give the modern American medical community credit for saving this little one, but you have to give a lot of credit to the little girl, too; she's a fighter.
Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered 21 weeks and six days after conception. Full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.

"We weren't too optimistic," Dr. William Smalling said Monday. "But she proved us all wrong."

Neonatologists who cared for Amillia say she is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks. A database run by the University of Iowa's Department of Pediatrics lists seven babies born at 23 weeks between 1994 and 2003.

The March of the Penguins

The lovely Mrs. Jib and I are watching The March of the Penguins for the first time on Tivo. I've already learned two things:

1. My children will never see this movie because I can't afford the psychiatric bill.
2. I will never allow the lovely Mrs. Jib to watch this movie again. I cannot afford the Kleenex bill and I'm not very good at hooking up an IV when she gets dehydrated like this.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Girls wrestling boys

The New York Times has an article today on a trend that isn't really new, but it is growing, and that is high school girls wrestling with the boys.

Nationwide, about 5,000 high school girls wrestled last year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, nearly five times as many as a decade earlier. Those numbers are no doubt low, since many states failed to report girls’ wrestling participation, but whatever the full count, it is dwarfed by the quarter-million boys who wrestle.

I don't doubt that the girls are fully capable of competing with the boys, and I'll pass along a personal anecdote to that effect. I did not wrestle, but I had a little bit of wrestling training and a there were a few people who wanted to wrestle. One day a female friend of mine was feeling full of "girl power" decided that she wanted to wrestle and gave me no choice in the matter. I found her to be stronger than I anticipated and her flexibility was a big advantage (this was all clean and on the up and up for those of you with less than pristine minds). After that experience, I did not doubt that they could compete with boys in that sport, even if many are at a certain strength disadvantage.

The mixed gender part of the wrestling can be very uncomfortable for some guys, though, especially those who grow up in families that emphasize traditional values. From the Times:

Occasionally, boys choose to forfeit rather than wrestle a girl, as happened at a Dobbs Ferry High School exhibition match this season, leaving Sophia Veiras, a sophomore, with no one to fight.

“It’s always a little intimidating for the boys at first,” said Jamie Block, the coach at the school, in Westchester. “They’re raised not to do this to a girl. And the thing about Sophia is, she’s very good. If you don’t really fight, she’ll pummel you. The girls who come out for wrestling now, they go to wrestling camps in the summer. They’re serious.”

A friend of mine was a top wrestler in the state in his weight class. Every year he was a favorite going into the state tournament. He refused to wrestle the girls, period, and would forfeit the occasional match he'd have against one. It wasn't sexism. He and his coach (his father) just chose for him not to wrestle girls because it went against what they believed. Even in a competitive environment, it was not right to do this to a girl. I'll say from my own free-lanced experience, it is very uncomfortable for a boy. Wrestling hurts, and you don't want to do things that hurt girls. In some cases, this does give girls an added mental advantage against the boys. Maybe that just balances out the strength difference, but there is something about it that just doesn't feel kosher. My friend had the luxury of taking a blemish or two on his record each season. Not all of the boys have that luxury and have to do something they'd prefer not to.

I am a proponent of girls playing sports with boys when they are good enough to do so. Growing up playing baseball, we had a girl in our leagues who was better than most of the boys. In fact, one year she hit a double in a tough situation that knocked my team out of a tournament. If she had chosen to try out for the high school baseball team and made because of her ability, I'd have been pleased because it would have made our team better (she went out for softball instead). Wrestling is the one sport where coed competition leaves me very uncomfortable, though. The one on one nature and the pain that comes with it change the dynamics of coed sporting competition.

Gone racin'

There used to be a time where I was a cranky guy on weekends during the long gap between the Super Bowl and the start of Spring Training and the Daytona 500. Thanks to the NFL extending the Super Bowl into February, that gap is almost non-existant. The Daytona 500 is here, and Spring Training games are just around the corner. My year of sports is almost gapless now.

Things I'll never do, Volumer 31, Number 97

The river in my town finally froze over a few weeks ago, and I was a little amazed at what I saw once it did. I drove past one particular spot one day and their was still a small gap of open water. I looked at it and wondered how long before their would be snowmobile tracks on the ice. I drove past that same spot the next day during a snowfall. The ice had closed up, but the spot that had been open was still wet and pretty rotten looking. There were fresh snowmobile tracks within ten feet of it. Further down river, some gaps in the ice took longer to freeze over and the ice there still looks ratty, but by now the river has become a super speedway of snowmobile tracks, tracks which at times come with feet of that fresh, rotten looking ice.

Now I'm no ice prude. I grew up in this state and I've spent plenty of time on lake ice. I've even fallen through ice before, although I and my uncle were able to drag ourselves out. But you couldn't pay me to play on river ice. It isn't as stable or as thick as lake ice, and once it is covered in snow, it gets tougher to tell what parts of ice are and are not safe. Yet many people go out and tempt fate on the river ice, often times snowmobiling right over very bad ice under bridges. I hope it is fun for everyone that does it, but you won't catch me out there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Smartest thing I've ever read at FARK

The politics in the comment threads at can often times be, well, dumb. Right now there is a flame war going on in this thread because, *gasp*, Pennsylvania proved competent in getting the National Guard to provide aid to motorists stranded by the most recent ice/snowstorm in comparison to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I usually avoid reading comment threads in submissions like that one because, while occasionally amusing, they are a waste of time. But I perused this one, and read one of the smartest comments I've read over there:

Well, Blanco didn't ask for the national guard until it was much, much too late. I for one prefer having local government decide when the military moves into an American city. Unless anyone in this thread wants Bush to have the legal authority to "cross the Rubicon" shut the fark up. The last thing we need is Bush and ilk (or any president) to have the authority to mobilize the national guard domestically without proper authority. Blanco and Nagin are far worse than Bush on that issue, and that says more than anything else I could type would.

/The less power a president/any president has in regard to local issues the better.

The commenter has this dead on, but way too many people don't understand the dynamics of local, state, and the federal government today. You can call it a failure of the educational system or call it the elevation of the Feds to near godly status, and either way I'll probably agree with you. New Orleans and Katrina was a catastrophic failure of the local and state governments to do their jobs, and a prime but sad example of what happens when you expect the Federal government to do the jobs of the more local governments.

From a childless man looking towards parenthood

I've become a fan of Michael Lewis' column at Slate on fatherhood. I am not a father yet, but that day is probably in my realtively near future and I've taken an interest in reading other people's parenting experiences. I had good parental role models and I approach this unjustifiably confident in my abilities, but I know that I will need to lean heavily on the lovely Mrs. Jib on some things because I was an only child. I did not experience the sibling relationship, and I have next to no clue on the special skills needed for raising daughters. So while reading Lewis' most recent column tonight, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

And off they went again, at the tops of their lungs—which they will do, I now know, until Quinn clobbers Dixie with a hair brush or Dixie rakes her fingernails across Quinn's chest or some near-mortal wound is inflicted. Earlier this very day, seeking solace, I described their strange case over lunch to a good friend who happens to be a social psychologist. "Do you know the data on siblings across species?" he asked, before I was even half done. I didn't. "Oh yeah," he said. "Half the time they kill each other." He ran through a few species: Sand-shark siblings eat each other in their mother's oviducts; hyena siblings eat each other the minute they get out. The blue-footed booby is especially ruthless: "If their siblings drop below 80 percent of normal body weight," he explained, "they peck 'em to death." That would be Dixie, whose teeth marks can now be found on her sister's legs.

People would occasionally tell me when I was young that I was smart/wise beyond my years. I guess that would explain why I never yearned for a sibling. I didn't want to have to kill them. But now I wonder how I'm going to be abel to prevent it in my kids. (Can I get a nomination for bad pun of the year, please?)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Go Hillary!

I don't want to go into great detail on this, but I recently witnessed an interesting transition. A long time Democrat associate of mine talked politics with me. We never agree on politics. The spector of a Hillary Clinton presidency seems to have changed that, though. This individual is probably the exception more than the rule, but this person so despised Hillary that his/her mind was opened to ideas of the right. If there is one, there are others, so I'm beginning to think that Hillary might be good for conservatives in 2008.

Minnesota Senator Franken?

I couldn't help but laugh at this post at NRO's The Corner:

NY Al [Myrna Blyth]

Saw that Al Franken just announced that he is running for senator from Minnesota. Kind of surprising since he is my neighbor on 81st and Riverside Drive, just around the corner from that fine lutefisk establishment, Zabar's. In fact, I ran into Al just the other day and he said he couldn't stop and talk because he was rushing to get a haircut. Guess he feels he is good enough for the people of Minnesota but a Minneapolis haircut is not good enough for him. That New York haircut looked great in his announcement!

Heh. The lutefisk reference was a nice touch.

Where it's at for Detroit

The New York Times has a story about the American automakers, but I think the story primarily comes down to two sentences:

Simply cutting is not enough, analysts said. All the Detroit companies need to build appealing cars in flexible plants that can shift according to buyers’ tastes.

Don't get me wrong; I've said before that cuts are necessary for the Big Three and I'm sticking with that, but all three need to do a better job of designing vehicles the market wants. Cuts allow them to do that cost efficiently, and it needs to be done. The Big Three have another obstacle to overcome, though, too. Branding seems to be the bastard child of marketing these days, but the Big Three need to invest in it. There are too many car buyers in this country today who dismiss American vehicles out of hand. The Big Three have focused so much on the idea of American blue collar vehicles that they have lost site of a growing market that wants to feel like they bought an incredible, slightly exotic vehicle for their money. European and, to a lesser extent, Asian automakers have benefited from Detroit's neglect of that market, which has grown with American affluence.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wisconsin capitol goes red

It looks like, after last night's speech of many tax increases, the Wisconsin state capitol is finally showing its true colors.

Giuliani leaks not all bad for his '08 bid

About a month or so ago, a confidential campaign book for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid was leaked. Now another leak has hit his campaign, this time of a 1993 mayoral campaign evaluation. Neither document is something a presidential campaign would want in the public domain, but this isn't all bad for Giuliani. Giuliani is a presidential candidate with a lot of weaknesses, and his time as Mayor of New York means that these weaknesses are not secrets. These two documents dump them all on the public when people are not yet fully paying attention to the 2008 race. That gives his campaign a chance to make all of this seem like old news by the time the campaigns really heat up. Recent history has shown that a Presidential candidate can get away with serious weaknesses if the voting public perceives them to be old hat or that the candidate has moved beyond them. It is the surprise revelations that lose voters.

Global warming hearing cancelled due to winter weather

Drudge is reporting that a House hearing on global warming was cancelled because of a winter storm. Here's a word of advice to the global warming crowd: Really push your agenda during the summer months, and then hole up for winter. Winter has a way of making you all look silly to the average person.

Happy Valentine's Day

For all you lovers and romantics out there, I wish you a happy Valentine's Day. Enjoy your time with your loved ones tonight.

For all the lonely singles out there, take a risk tonight. Ask a stranger to dance with you, or talk to someone that maybe you wouldn't normally. Ya never know.

For all of you angry feminists out there, enjoy your Vagina Monologues. I'll even pass up the opportunity to pick on the V-Ms today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Dutch are messed up

This seems kind of warped.

Dutch primary school teacher who is dying of cancer is overseeing one last project among her beloved pupils - they are making a coffin for her.

Eri van den Biggelaar, 40, has just a few weeks left to live after being diagnosed last year with an aggressive form of cervical cancer. Always popular at school, she asked the arts and crafts teacher to build a casket for her.

If you think back to your own shop classes during your school years, you just know that they are going to go to close the lid on the thing and it won't shut because of bad measurements.

Mitt's in

I'm so unenthusiastic about him, I'm only going to write this one sentence.

Muqtada vacations in Iran

It looks like Iraq's most recent boogie man, Muqtada al-Sadr has picked up and left for the friendly confines of Iran while the U.S. implements the surge strategy. I'd like to say that this is significant, but it probably isn't. The Sadr Militias have become bigger than the man and are likely self sufficient and requiring his leadership. About all this accomplishes is making him look like the yellow bellied coward that he is.

Chimp advances

Apparently we've underestimated our chimp cousins:

Chimpanzees may have been using stone "hammers" as long as 4,300 years ago. An international research team, led by archaeologist Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary, Canada, said Monday it had uncovered the hammers, dated to that time, in the West African country Ivory Coast. It would be the earliest known use of tools by chimpanzees.

The hammers were used to crack nuts, a behavior still seen in chimps in that area, the researchers said in a paper in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding may indicate that a "chimpanzee stone age" began in ancient times, the researchers say.

Good for the chimps, but I won't be impressed until they can open a bottle of beer with a bottle opener, successfully operate a remote control, and convince the female chimp in their lives to let them watch football on Thursday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and Monday night. Then and only then will I welcome them as brothers. Anybody can fling poop; only man can fling bull poop well enough to let his wife let him get fat watching football 4 days a week.

From The Land of Milk and Honey Weiss

Last Saturday I went out to capture some pictures of my hometown of Chippewa Falls, but events conspired against me a little. There was a harsh winter light on Saturday afternoon, and I didn't want to use it for the pictures I had in mind. I had some places in mind that would have made for great pictures in that type of light, but most of them required some walking, and the drinking I had done with my father the previous made me highly resistant to walks. So I give you two photos. One is a shot of the Leinenkugel Brewery, a staple for me. The other is of the "Rainbow Bridge" over Duncan Creek.

The Rainbow Bridge is a great subject in the fall when the leaves are at peak color, and it is also quite good early in winter before the creek freezes. I had to get this shot, though, because they are debating whether to repair or rip down this memorable bridge located just down the hill from where I spent my early childhood.

Chicks dig the long ball

My paperwork for the 2007 softball season arrived in the mail, the scent of leather and infield dust is in my nose, and pitchers and catchers are about to report to spring training. This isn't my favorite time of the year, but nothing beats the start of spring training. In an attempt to share my excitement for a new year of baseball and softball, I'm going to share my favorite baseball commercial: Nike's "Chicks dig the long ball."

The commercial is great in and of itself, but a little background is required. I am a Brewers fan, but for a long time I got away with being a Braves fan as well. They were in different leagues then, which made it easy. In my late teens, I was told by two different (and seriously misguided) strangers that they thought I looked like Tom Glavine. Before the lovely Mrs. Jib even became my girlfriend, I told her this and she was able to see the comparison. In our pre-dating courtship period, she even watched a Braves World Series game with me and successfully pretended to be interested (she looked incredible that night, too). Glavine became her favorite baseball player until he ditched the Braves for the Mets, by which time I was about 40 pounds heavier and no long bore much resemblance at all to the former hockey player. But when this commercial came out, it was a favorite of both of ours. We still drop a "Step into it!" or a "Cy Young winners over here!" during appropriately humorous times. So not only does it hold great baseball memories for me, it holds great memories of the history of the lovely Mrs. Jib and I. Enjoy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dixie Chicks' big night

The Dixie Chicks won several Grammys last night, which begs a most serious question: The Dixie Chicks put out an album last year? I'll be damned.

Time for a great pep talk

I hate to admit, but conservatives and conservative bloggers have been in some funk for the past several months, and I don't see anything on the horizon that is going to drag us out of it. If this were a football movie, it would be halftime and the coach would give a fiery pep talk to get everyone fired up for a big comeback in the second half. The problem is there is no coach. I'm going to slam my head into my virtual locker a few times to fire myself up, but for the conservative team, it ain't looking good with everyone hanging their heads as the second half begins.

Pending North Korea deal?

Possibly. Maybe. It sure sounds like a nice pay off.

There is new hope that North Korea may be nearing a nuclear disarmament agreement. A compromise was reached that would give North Korea one million tons of fuel oil and electricity, ABC News' Martha Raddatz has learned.

The major sticking point in the six-party-talks in Beijing had been North Korea's demand for an energy package. The country had requested two million tons of fuel oil and two million kilowatts of power before it would agree to begin shutting down its nuclear program.

While the deal gives North Korea half of what it initially demanded, it's twice as much fuel oil as was offered to Kim Jong Il during the Clinton adminstration's 1994 U.S.-North Korea disarmament agreement. That deal would have sent 500,000 tons of fuel oil a year to North Korea, but it was squashed five years ago when North Korea was accused of conducting a secret uranium enrichment program.

You'll have to pardon me for not dancing in the street. I have no doubt that this deal will be broken eventually, too. It's North Korea's M.O. It isn't a matter of if, it is a matter of when. The nuclear program will go silent for a while. Then, a little way into this fuel aid, the North Koreans will feign offense at something and quietly start it right back up again. But hey, if this deal gets done, it let's us pretend that there isn't a problem on the Korean peninsula for a little while, and that's what the world is about today, isn't it? Pretending problems don't really exist?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Back in town with a brand new Blogger

I'm back in town, but I've been afraid to sign into Blogger because Jiblog was due to be forced over to the new Blogger when I finally mustered the courage. If any of you have trouble with Jiblog, please email me at ojibway7rj-at-gmail-dot-com. Thanks.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jiblog weekend roadtrip

I am in the land of milk and Honey Weiss this weekend, so things will be a little light, although I may post from time to time now that an errant wi-fi signal finds it way into location. Pictures are a maybe.

Also, I'd like to congratulate Dennis York, aka Christian Schneider, on his new opportunity. Good luck, Dennis/Chris.

One other note for readers and BBA members: The next time I sign into blogger, Jiblog and the BBA will be forced over to new Blogger. I apologize for any technical difficulties that may arise.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Random thought, Clinton edition

Think back to your history classes (or if you remember the early '60s, just think back). Do you remember how big Jackie Kennedy's televised tour of the White House was? Now flash forward to 2009. We're in the age of the internet video. Do you really want to see the internet video of First Manwhore Bill Clinton's tour of the White House? America would know everything thing there is to know about the underside of White House desks and the insides of White House closets. I shudder at the thought of the ten-plus year old missed carpet stains he'd point out.

The aging of Jib

I'm not much of a bird watcher, and I never have been. I can name a small handful of birds and that's it. Last summer I began filling the bird feeder on my deck as a nice gesture to the lovely Mrs. Jib, though, and my curiosity grew over the different bird species I was seeing. Not to a great degree, mind you. Dingy little birds are still dingy little birds to me, but some of the unique ones I began to wonder about. Finally, some black birds with a purple irradescence began to visit the bird feeder. I actually researched what these birds and learned that they were some sort of grackle. I even took a couple of pictures. By fall, I completely forgot about them.

Then I read this story tonight. It appears that the great-tailed grackle is a unique sight here in Wisconsin. At the mention of the word grackle, my mind flashed back to the grackles from the bird feeder this summer. I'm ashamed to admit that I was excited at the thought that some rare bird to the area had visited my bird feeder. I hurriedly went back through my photos to see if the great-tailed grackle had made a pit stop at the Jib homestead. I studied the photos, only to determine that it wasn't the great-tailed grackle but rather the common grackle that had made my backyard home for a short time. I was disappointed.

This lead me to one conclusion. If not for the presence of the lovely Mrs. Jib in my life, I would now be living the life of a 70 year old man, spending all of my free time at the park feeding bread crumbs to the pigeons. Just the same, it is in my future, my genes. My father, who has has my mother in his life, is migrating towards the birds. They have more bird feeders per square foot of property than anyone I know. So if you see me muttering to myself in the park and tossing bread crumbs in the near future, please walk away. I don't want you to see me that way.

1950's "Duck and Cover" advice made sense

Back in the 1950's (and if my memory serves, continuing on into my early school years in the 1980's), schools ran drills in case of nuclear attack. In these drills, students would duck under their desks and cover their heads. The duck & cover technique has become fodder for comedians and wise asses over the years. After all, how is ducking and covering going to save you from a nuclear detonation, right? I even bought into how absurd it seemed for many years. It is actually good advice, though. Of course, this is not going to save anyone near ground zero of a nuclear detonation. This advice isn't really for them, but rather those still within the blast radius but not within that circle of 90% to 100% fatalities. For those individuals, getting as close to the ground and covering up may be the difference between a death from flying debris and surviving a nuclear blast. In a conventional nuclear attack, this makes all the sense in the world as there would be enough warning time for people to get themselves into a protective position (and place) before the blast. In today's world of nuclear terror, it is still good advice, but people need to believe that ducking and covering is in their best interest and they would also need to react instantly to what would be a surprise blast. Because of the way "duck and cover" has been ridiculed over the years, though, I'm not sure enough people do believe that it is in their best interests. I'm afraid too many would instead opt for the less effective "bend over and kiss your ass goodbye" method.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Almost back to the 9/10 world

I can't shake the feeling the we've almost completely returned to the world as it was for us on September 10, 2001. Do you remember that summer? The news was obsessed with Chandra Levy's murder. Tragedy though her death was, it turned the respectable media into sensationalizing machines. And we were all transfixed. Our world lacked a certain seriousness, and we seem to be right back where we were as our attentions get gobbled up by crazy, diaper wearing astronauts and the young deaths of c-list celebrities. In listening to some normal people chat, it seems as though they dislike the war in Iraq because it is depressing, and it is the one thing holding them back from being back in that happy go lucky world of September 10th. It is concerning because while we may try to recreate that 9-10 world, it will never change the fact that we will never again be as safe as we believed we were that day. If we self-delude ourselves by buying into our re-creation, it is going to make us much less prepared for that next threat.

Why the surprise?

Here's a conversation I overheard numerous times today:

"Anna Nicole's dead!"

"What!? Dead dead?"

"Yeah, she died this afternoon."

I'm going be looked upon as cold and heartless here (I know because I've gotten funny looks twice already for saying this), but why are any of us surprised? If you had ever seen her reality TV show once, or any of her numerous interviews, you had to know this woman dealt with life by copiously numbing herself with drugs. Her young death is sad, but it can't be surprising. The writing has been on the wall with her for a long time. What would be a surprise is if it wasn't the drugs that killed her.

The end of anti-perspirant as we know it

This would go a long way towards explaining why some wives seem to enjoy placing back breaking labor on their honey do lists.

For women, apparently there's nothing like the smell of a man's sweat.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley said women who sniffed a chemical found in male sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone, along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other effects.

What I don't understand is why, given this study, the lovely Mrs. Jib finds my sweaty laundry so distasteful. Stale sweat must ruin the effect.

More Unsolicited Advice

Over at Boots & Sabers, Owen offers up a good list of recommendations to newer bloggers in a post entitled "Unrequested and Unwanted Advice." I recommend it if you are looking to improve your blogging. It inspired me to come up with my own list, although mine may not be as useful for you.

1. Quit your job. It has always been in your way, anyway. Now you'll have that extra 8 hours a day for blogging and the big money that bloggers make.
2. Content is important, but if you are in a bind, pictures and videos will tide you over. Nobody will notice!
3. Feel free to be a sporadic blogger. After all, it's you blogging! The people will come regardless!
4. Suck up to the big bloggers. Previous waves of bloggers have relied on this strategy, and the big bloggers really, really love it when you do so.
5. Cute cat pictures=winner!
6. Take up drinking. Yeah, it may get you in trouble once in a while, but you can always go into rehab and plead for forgiveness.
7. I didn't believe this one either until I saw it, but posting pictures of ugly politicos in banana hammocks works. Seriously.
8. If you choose to blog on Blogger, non-Blogger bloggers will expect you to blog your blogpologies for the blogferior blog service you use. You can complain about Blogger all you want, but never apologize for being a cheapskate like the rest of us here.
9. Work the word blog into posts and create new bloggy words as much as you can-people love it. Make it your quest to write a sentence that uses "blog" in every word (AKA Bloglatin; see #8).
10. Imitate the Instpaundit style of excerpting and linking with little or no analysis. There is never enough of that out there.
11. Be prepared for the fame and fortune that is destined to you from blogging!

I should note that most of the above is tounge in cheek, with a few grains of truth. If you rely on Owen's advice, you'll do well for yourself. If you rely on mine, I really can't be held responsible for the results.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stick a fork in Ford, they're done

I don't quite get this, despite some accolades I've already seen for it.

Ford Motor Co. might hope resurrecting the once-mighty Taurus name will help reverse lackluster sales and a lack of desirable cars. One analyst says it's a good start but the automaker has a long way to go. Ford will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name Ford previously had used for a car that became the nation's top-seller, two company officials said Tuesday.

You can call a turd a rose, but it still smells like a turd. The Five Hundred isn't selling well, and it isn't because of its name. It isn't selling well because Ford, like the other U.S. manufacturers, tries to cut corners on the construction/materials of the vehicle in order to make up for their labor cost disadvantage with the Japanese car makers in particular. That means when you pop $20,000 plus for a new car like the Five Hundred from a U.S. manufacturer, it feels cheaper than a similarly priced car from a non-U.S. manufacturer and thus the purchase feels less satisfying. By bringing back the Taurus name, Ford is futilely trying to treat one of the symptoms of its illness, but is doing nothing to address the root cause of the illness. I know that for a lot of autoworkers for the Big 3, their jobs (and the resulting wages and benefits) are their American Dream. Their short-sightedness is stunning, though. The labor market has changed, as it always does, and their plump compensation/benefits today are the thing that is going to poison their golden goose.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Suggestion to CTU

Drones, people, drones.


There is nothing quite as sphincter tighteningly uncomfortable as expensive furnace repairs on the coldest day of the year. It just seems to hurt more than it normally would. But the relief of warm air is nice afterwards.

Miserable cold

There are a handful of days each year where you really curse living in Wisconsin. Today is one of them. It was -12 (Fahrenheit for you Canadians) when I drove past a local bank this morning. On days like this, the cold just kind of seeps into you and won't go away. The only consolation is knowing that in less than two months we'll probably see our first 70 degree day.

For some reason, the cold gets more annoying the older I get. It was just 14 or 15 years ago when we got hit with a cold snap like this and my friends and I went outside to beat the hell out of each other in yard football, never thinking twice about how cold it least until after the games when I'd have to thaw my cold, painful extremities in a hot bath. Now that I'm a little older, I wouldn't dare spend a couple hours outside playing football. If anything, the cold now gives me an appreciation for why Russians drink.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mother Nature's wicked sense of humor

If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Mother Nature is capable of following human events and likes to throw little wrinkles at those who claim to know it all. On Friday, the UN will be releasing its "Summary for Policy Makers" to a climate change report that is due in May. The experts have been wringing their hands all week at our impending doom, and that will all culminate tomorrow in wailing and gnashing of teeth over our implied fate. So what does Mother nature bring us here in the U.S. in the wake of this report? A cold snap. And not just any cold snap, but one that our local National Weather Service office here in Wisconsin says could become "...PERHAPS THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES IN THE PAST DECADE." I curse Mother Nature as much as the next guy, but this irony is simply delicious. I'm going to enjoy watching the shivering global warming extremists proselytize in thick, heavy parkas.

What, you thought old Joe had a chance?

Joe Biden is an ass. If you haven't been in the blogosphere today, here's what he said:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical, —albeit in a slightly more backhanded way, —about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,”" he said. “"I mean, that'’s a storybook, man.”"

There have been two strains of commentary on this. One looks at how that quote can be interpreted differently than it appears, and one that talks about how this affects his presidential candidacy. Okay, now let's stop right there and consider a couple of things. First, Joe Biden is a blubbering ass. I'm not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that this quote should have been edited to include a comma before "who," or that by clean he means politically clean (see 1st comment). This is the same Joe Biden who 6 months ago said, "you cannot go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts without an Indian accent." He is a moron of the first degree, and I do not believe that he meant today's comment any differently than it reads. Second, for those who are discussing how it affects his candidacy-you actually thought his candidacy was going to last past New Hampshire? He was going to be done early without this stupid quote. That is not going to change.