Sunday, March 30, 2008

Muslims Outnumber Roman Catholics

I find this an odd comparison, but then again, I'm one of those upstart, troublesome Protestants:
Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the biggest single religious denomination in the world, the Vatican said on Sunday.

Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican's newly-released 2008 yearbook of statistics, said Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics 17.4 percent.

"For the first time in history we are no longer at the top: the Muslims have overtaken us," Formenti told Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview, saying the data referred to 2006.

Why is the Vatican comparing the whole of Islam to Roman Catholicism? Islam is not without its theological divisions. Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufi are all Islamic 'denominations', if you will. Is the Roman Catholic church still that steeped in its belief that it is the only Christian Church that it is willing to make this nonsensical comparison?

The Flood of 2008

'08 Rock River Flood 002
Originally uploaded by Jibby7
I took a drive out Blackhawk Island Road in Fort Atkinson today. Flooding like this is typical about once a year. This year is going to be much worse, though, as the National Weather Service is projecting the river to crest about a foot and a half higher than this. The road itself usually floods but most years you can still pass through. I tried today but stopped after a few hundred feet because two to three inches of water was flowing over the road at very high rate of speed. If we get the amount of rain over the next 36 hours that forecasters are projecting, this is going to be a flood people are going to remember for a long time.

Well Spoken Words on Fitna

From the folks at Power Line:

So, let's see: Fitna says that a propensity to violence is inherent in Islam, a deeply controversial proposition. The film can't be shown anywhere because people are afraid of...something. So instead, the film is posted online, where millions of people view it. But after 24 hours or so, the film is taken down because threats of violence are made by...someone. I dunno, it's really puzzling. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that it's ridiculous to think that Muslims can be violent. So the headchopping threats must be coming from...someone else.

And yet some will still go out of their way to excuse...someone else...because some other Muslims aren't violent. The fact is a not insignificant minority of Muslims are fanatically violent, enough so to present a threat to life and liberty across the globe. Ignoring this fact accomplishes nothing but paying that problem forward.

I will add one thing, even though I really shouldn't have to do so but I know somebody will comment to the contrary if I do not. I do not believe that all or even a majority of Muslims are violent threats. I, like many others, have come to know Muslim men and women over the years. I've liked and respected them, but I harbor no doubt that there is small but very significant number of Muslims willing and enthusiastic about pursuing violent ends. In and of itself, that would be manageable. The problem lies in the sizable number of Muslims who are not violent but theologically empathetic to the violent members of their religion. It is that empathetic support network that amplifies the impact of the violent fanatics.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Cutting Edge Stories of the New York Times

This is not a new story but it the Times runs with it anyway:

Jose Fernandez said he decided some time ago that on his salary as a restaurant worker, he was better off without his 1996 Toyota 4Runner. He hoped to make a nice bit of cash from its sale. Before he could do that, though, someone beat him to extracting value: A thief sneaked under the sport utility vehicle with a battery-powered saw, slicing from the Toyota’s underbelly what may be one of the most expensive small parts of the auto world: the catalytic converter, an essential emissions-control device made with small amounts of metals more precious than gold. Who knew?

I've been hearing about this for at least a year and a half. Who knows, maybe this was just news to those at the Times. I'm sure they don't hob knob with the common folk who make their livings in some association with the automobile.

Protecting Preemies from Noise

I've been to a NICU once, and during that visit there were just four of us adults in the room with a handful of preemies. We made sure we kept the volume on our conversation low, but as wide open as the room was, I wondered what it was like when many people were there. The babies need their rest during that stage and the rooms seemed potentially conducive to noise. Given that, I'm think this system is a great tool for NICUs.
Warning lights hover over the snoozing patients in Riley Hospital for Children's neonatal intensive care unit, ready to flash whenever sound levels creep beyond normal conversation. As decibels rise, the colors on the new monitoring system change from green to yellow to red, hushing chatty parents or doctors so the babies get the rest they need to develop.
Smith, 43, had no training as a sound engineer and no plans to become an entrepreneur when his son Sean was born five weeks premature in 2000. But he noticed Sean flinch in response to bright light in the NICU of St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, and he wound up designing a system to soften the unit's lighting.

Then the nurses asked him what he could do about sound.

"That's really when I realized that there was no good way out there to measure sound, other than your standard, hand-held meter," he said.
The former car mechanic filled hours of spare time in the evenings and on weekends researching sound standards and building a system.

Smith, who tinkered in radio and TV electronics in high school, hired an acoustical engineer to help. They created a ceiling-mounted system of microphones that picked up sound and funneled data back to a large control panel.

"There was a lot of wiring, a lot of labor, a lot of programming," he said.

St. Vincent paid around $100,000 for the system, which it installed about five years ago. Smith had no interest in shopping his invention to other hospitals because the work took so much time.

Other hospitals came a knocking though, and now this system is Smith's business. I wish him and his his system all the success in the world.

For Once He Was Lost, But Now He Is Found...In a Strip Joint

Bad pastor.

Police say a pastor who was reported missing from his home in western New York has been found at an Ohio strip club.
Detective Matt Sturgeon said Rhodenizer was disoriented when confronted by police and said he felt "emotionally guilty."

Why the qualifier on his guilt? I'll bet a communion wafer (and I think I can go to hell for that) he didn't feel an ounce of guilt, except for being caught.

Huge, Sucking Hole of Death Possible in France?

Many would say it already is a huge sucking death hole, but this guy sees a bigger threat:
Walter F. Wagner and his colleague Luis Sancho have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop work on the Large Hadron Collider, a gigantic atom smasher on the Franco-Swiss border that's set to start operations in May.

Physicists hope its incredible energies will form briefly-lived new particles that could shed light on the origins of the universe, among other marvels.

The plaintiffs' concerns? That the LHC could accidentally create strange new particles that would instantly transform any matter they touched, engulfing the Earth, or, even worse, make a rapidly expanding black hole that could consume the entire planet.

I support him and his lawsuit, if only because I've long suspected that the French would be the death of all of us. (HT: Still at Real)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary claims an 'oops'

By now most of us have seen the two videos.  In one, Hillary Clinton claims to have dodged sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia 12 years ago when leaving an airport.  In the other, we see Hillary being greated by children at said airport with a younger Chelsea watching.  Now her campaign says 'oops, that's not what she meant.'
The absurdity of the idea that the Secret Service would allow a First Lady to enter an area as hot as Mrs. Clinton described notwithstanding, what lead her to decide to embellish a story like that?  She's lived in the video age her entire life.  Did she not think that some news organization out there would still have video of her trip to Bosnia?  Did she not think that people on that trip would remember what really happened.
If you are running for office, you just aren't allowed to tell fishing stories.  You get caught in your embellishments.  This shows bad judgement and a certain lack of political sense on her part.  She had the chance to starve Obama of momentum while she sets up a convention floor battle.  Instead, this story hands the momentum right back to him.  There will probably still be a convention battle, but she needs every once of credibility she can get going into it.  Stupid moves like this don't accomplish that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Final Indignity

An elephant is a better photographer than I am.

I'm guessing it wasn't a good flight

I'm pretty sure this was a pants filler for all passengers:
The gun carried by a US Airways pilot accidentally went off on a flight from Denver to Charlotte on Saturday, causing the plane to be pulled from service, the airline said on Monday.

No one was injured by the shot, and the aircraft landed safely in Charlotte. Flight 1536 had 124 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants aboard, US Airways said.

The pilot was a Federal Flight Deck Officer, permissioned by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to carry a firearm.

I support allowing pilots to carry arms, but they've got to take great care to make sure they are carrying securely.

I bet the passengers were well behaved for the rest of the flight.

The 4,000

I have an idea for a political cartoon. Unfortunately, I can't draw, so I'll have to explain my cartoon for you all. In it there are a group of reporters and anti-war protesters wearing pointy paper hats and holding noise makers, yelling in unison 5!...4!...3!...2!...1!...4000!

Some have been waiting with anticipation over the past week for the 4000th U.S. soldier to die and now they've finally gotten it. I find the countdown and anticipation abhorrent, especially since the story is predominantly about not how heroic yet tragic each of those 4,000 were, but rather how bad the war is, largely because of what party was in charge when it started.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

On Hollywood

The lovely Mrs. Jib and I are currently watching Bridget Jones's Diary. This was a role that Hollywood raved about, in part because of the weight that Rene Zellweger put on for the role. Unfortunately for Hollywood (and Zellweger), we both agree that she was actually at her most attractive when she was at that weight. Hollywood acted as though she had really packed on the pounds, but frankly, Zellweger was anything but fat in that role. She had her natural curves and shape. Of course, in Hollywood that's just not acceptable. That's very unfortunate.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Snow Friday

I remember the Good Fridays of my youth quite well. The day stood out because it seemed like almost every Good Friday from when I was 7 to about 18 had sunny weather.

What the hell happened to those days

Granted, Easter is quite early this year. Still, where did this snowstorm come from? It is the end of March. The Wisconsin spring high school baseball season starts in two weeks. That means that even in the Northwoods, the snow is usually gone by the end of this month. Global warming my ass. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: This was the worst winter that I can remember.

And I do have one little gripe for Dane County. I know the interstate has embarrassed you guys twice this winter, so I can't blame you if you gave it a little extra love and attention today. Did you put all of your damn plows on it, though? U.S. Highway 12 is a major artery through your county, too, but when I drove home from work on it this afternoon it looked like a plow hadn't touched it all day. The snow depths in your county weren't all that bad-maybe 4 or 5 inches-but a major U.S. highway was treacherous. I think you can manage your snow clearing a little better than that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The 'Everybody Does It' Defense

It's funny. When there is a Republican sex scandal, the tone of MSM stories generally get prudish. When there is a Democrat sex scandal, the tone shifts to either 'it's just sex' or 'everybody does it'. The latter is this story's approach.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Philly to build 2nd tallest building in the world...

...that would be, at best, fourth largest upon its completion. So really, with the Chicago Spire and New York's Freedom Tower likely beating them to 1500 feet and above, why bother bragging about 2nd?

And they both reached for the gun!

There is nothing funny about this headline, but I can't help but think of the film version of Chicago when reading it:
Tosa man Tasered after lunging for gun.

A Word of Caution to My Blogging Friends and Opponents

While you are all completely justified in flogging the police department in question here, I do recommend carefully and thoroughly reading any totally anonymous blogger before extending your credibility to defend him or her. I suspect most bloggers are linking to the story in knee jerk fashion (again, the police department is due criticism in this case) without stopping to determine if the blogger in question could cause them embarrassment now or down the road.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What, they can't play tennis?

The Ukranian military should make this into a recruitment poster. What I'm left to wonder is if that is the "hot but not good enough for the women's tennis tour" division of the Ukranian military.

SNL Classic: Reagan Mastermind

This is one of my favorite SNL clips ever.

'Tis Good to be Home Again

Las Vegas always is, at the very least, an interesting experience. Coming home after a trip to Las Vegas is always better, especially when the home you are returning to seems to be breaking winter's icy death grip. I feel like I was blindsided by a Mack truck, which makes being home even better. My left foot is the equivalent of a blown tire that I decided to drive on for four days. My knees and ankles are shocks that have gone bad, and my calves just plain hurt like hell. I'm now parked in my recliner, and I don't think I'll be leaving it until Monday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Checking In

I am so far out of the loop it isn't even amusing. My RSS feed reader is at 2507 unread items, and that doesn't include all of the sources that have capped out at 200 items. Despite that, the Elliot Spitzer story has penetrated my isolation from the news. Given that, I want to relay an anecdote uttered by my former co-blogger Col. Ollie. When asked about the story, he said, "Never has a politician had a more appropriate last name."

I don't care who you are, that was funny.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Programing Note

I was just working my way out of a light time here but I'm afraid I'm going to be entering another. A surprise business trip has come up and I'm going to away from the blog for the next week. I'll be checking in and even posting when the opportunity arises, but it is going to be very, very light.

The fun of blogging

Something happened today that made me realize that I've had a pretty blessed blogging career so far. On Tuesday, I wrote a post at the Wisconsin Sports Bar entitled "Favrepocalypse." This morning, a couple of commentors over there said that the post was quoted on Fox News in the run up to Favre's presser today. I was tickled. Because of blogging, over the past 4 years I've been quoted on MSNBC and Fox News, on a major Wisconsin radio station, on a New York Times blog, and I've had the chance to be on the radio personally. That's not too bad a ride. Thank you to all of you who've read Jiblog, the Badger Blog Alliance, and the Wisconsin Sports Bar.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The One-Way Manned Mission to Mars

This is intriguing but potentially self defeating.

However, one former NASA engineer believes a human mission to Mars is quite doable, and such an event would unify the world as never before. But Jim McLane’s proposal includes a couple of major caveats: the trip to Mars should be one-way, and have a crew of only one person.

In McLane's opinion, such a mission would be more easily accomplished because of the reduced amount of supplies needed and the elimination of the biggest challenge-returning to Earth. He also believes that there would be plenty of pioneering, tough individuals who would be able and willing to enjoin such a mission. I agree with him on that, but there is always the risk of that individual cracking after months or years without any direct human contact. Man has lost people on space missions, but we have never lost a human to space. I can see the worst case scenario being so traumatic that it actually sets manned missions to Mars back by decades.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

U.S. State, 160, Commits Suicide

(Jiblog News Network)-In a stunning turn of events, the U.S. state of Wisconsin was found dead today of an apparent suicide.

The state was found hanging from a tree near Lake Superior by the state of Minnesota.

"I was just looking wistfully out across the Mississippi River like I do everyday," said the melancholy Land of 10,000 Lakes. "The scene was different, though. Wisconsin wasn't there. I looked up and there it was, swinging from that tree."

Federal officials were immediately called to the scene. Resuscitation was attempted but the state, weakened from years of being bled dry by high taxes, never regained consciousness.

This afternoon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that a suicide note had been found near the U.P. of Michigan. While the text of the note has not yet been released, confidential sources say that it showed a state extremely distraught and depressed over the retirement announcement by Green Bay Packer Brett Favre.

Officials are very concerned about the U.P. of Michigan, as it has been taking Wisconsin's death particularly hard. Late this afternoon, the U.P. was seen wailing and muttering, "No dere, no way, not Favre, not Wisconsin." A suicide watch may be placed on the Upper Peninsula as its lifelong partner, Lower Michigan, is broke and on life support, further deepening the U.P.'s grief.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but relatives are asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Illinois so it can finally have a football team.

It was a frosty Tuesday morning in March

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hugo Chavez making noise

I see this as little more than saber-rattling:
South America was on the brink of war yesterday as Venezuela and Ecuador amassed troops on the Colombian border in response to the killing of a Marxist rebel leader.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to join the rebels in a war to overthrow hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key ally of the United States, deploying tanks, fighter jets and thousands of troops along the Colombian border.

It is worth watching, but I doubt that Chavez will pull the trigger-at least not this time. I can see any number of reasons that might be behind his troop movements, though. First, it allows him to see what a response to possible military action would be and how far he can push the envelope. That can be very useful information should he ever decide to start a shooting war. Second, it allows him to further his carefully crafted populist image as a leader who will stand up to the United States and all of its allies. Third, sometimes a bluff is enough to increase power and influence in a region if it works. Whatever the reason(s), I suspect that this is just the beginning of Chavez lead confrontations in Latin America.

Pilot averts crash landing

I've experienced unpleasant landings before, most notably hard landings in Orlando and Milwaukee because of high winds, but thankfully I've never experienced anything like this. If I'd have been on that plane, I'd have really been white knuckling it on the second approach. Hopefully the passengers thanked the pilot for his skill in saving the plane during the first approach.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

How forgetfulness can bestow pleasant surprises

I, like most Wisconsinites, have an abundance of built up ice but no salt. Anticipating a worse winter than usual, I'd doubled up my salt supply in December and I still managed to blow through almost all of it. So yesterday I went digging through my shed. I knew that somewhere in there was a nearly full bag of sand that would at least make my icy sidewalks safe. After moving my lawn furniture and digging to the bottom of a round tub that would be better served cooling a quarter barrel, I found my bag of sand. Much to my surprise, though, was a bag of pure gold right next to it. 2 winters ago, I did not use all of my salt. In fact, I ended up with a full, unopened bag left over. I had stored it away for future use and then forgotten about it. Finding that bag of salt was probably more exciting to me than any gift could have been at that moment. When you are 16 years old, it is unimaginable that finding a bag of salt will be terribly exciting when you're 32, but it was.

Long Live PETA

I give PETA plenty of hell here, all of it well deserved. Despite the fact that their own animal shelter is positively lethal for stray & abandoned pets, I'm okay with PETA sticking around as a whack job protest organization, but only on one condition. They must continue to hold protests like this (pic sfw, others in slide show may not be). As long as they do, I'll put up with their idiocy in exchange for their entertainment value.