Thursday, January 29, 2004

Newsflash: Kerry Waffles

It seems John Kerry wants to have it both ways on the war in Iraq, voting in favor of the use of force resolution and then excoriating the President for actually doing it. AsRamesh Ponnuru pointed out in October of 2002, Kerry wasn't much more decisive regarding the 1991 Kuwaiti conflict.

It seems one of Mr. Kerry's constituents, Walter Carter, wrote to his senator urging support for the eviction of Saddam from Kuwait. He received a letter dated 1/22/01 from stating:
"Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition ... to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns. On January 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president the immediate authority to go to war."
Okay, fair enough. But wait! Another letter, dated 1/31/01 soon arrived:
"Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf."
Boy, it's going to be fun to see this guy squirm when this sort of nonsense comes out. Oh, and the official explanation for the contradiction? Computer Error!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Traffic Alert 

Some months ago I posted a brief note concerning Wesley Clark's failure to blink on a regular basis. Well apparently Anna Holmes, a columnist at on line magazine noticed the same thing. In researching an article she is writing, she came across my post and contacted me. We chatted yesterday evening for a few minutes, and she will be linking to my little corner of the internet in her article. Now, Salon tends to lean a little to the left, so it will interesting to see what kind of traffic (if any) shows up.

Schools Banish Honor Rolls 

The Associated Press reports that schools in Nashville, Tennessee have stopped posting honor rolls, and are considering banning the posting of good work in the hallways. Other targeted activities include academic honor rolls and spelling bees.

What a sad commentary on a society when any celebration of excellence is banned to avoid offending the less-than-excellent. How will children ever learn to strive for excellence if we never acknowledge its achievement, or even its existence? What will become of them as adults if all they ever aspire to is mediocrity? We have to wrest control of education in this country away from unions and lawyers, or we are doomed.

Monday, January 26, 2004


That's right, it snowed here yesterday. It started falling around 3 PM and continued until about 10 PM. We got about 2 inches before it changed over to sleet and rain. It's supposed to rain tonight and stay above freezing, so it won't last long.

The local newscast at 6 PM was hilarious. They had correspondents stationed all around the region, reporting breathtakingly on the accumulations. We were informed that VDOT was applying a "100% salt mixture" to the road" (if it's 100%, why is it a mixture). We were warned not go out, as the roads were treacherous. This went on for 20 minutes, before we received a report on Old Dominion University's women's basketball team. Yup. That was our news for the night. It's snowing, and Wendy's taking it to the hoop.

The best moment was when the weatherman warned about conditions outside the region, stating that it was unsafe to travel to the north, west, or, south. With the Atlantic Ocean sitting there due east, we were pretty much hemmed in! Fun.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I have nothing to add to the following, posted purely for amusement purposes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Cause for Optimism 

Pete DuPont, writing for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, has penned a great piece ,culled from a Greg Easterbrook book, detailing how good life has become.
"We are not running out of any resource--oil, natural gas, copper, aluminum or anything else. Pollution is down; today's new cars emit "less than 2% as much pollution per mile as a car of 1970." Man and technology are not the enemies of the natural environment. In Connecticut the population tripled and agricultural production quadrupled in the 20th century, yet the state is 59% forested today compared with 37% in the 19th century."
Follow this link now, and feel better about America 2004. OpinionJournal - Outside the Box

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Holland America's cruise ship Maasdam, shown below, is in town (just up the street from here actually). It's on its way to the Caribbean for an 11 day cruise, calling on the Bahamas, Tortola, Dominica, Barbados, and Guadeloupe. With temperatures today in the mid-30s, and no significant warming trend in sight, stowing away on that ride sure is an attractive thought.

Monday, January 19, 2004


We all remember when the library morphed into the media center. The Washington Post has an article detailing the changing vocabularly in the academic community. "Talking the Edutalk" lists the following terminology revisions:

  • Students don't compare books, they make "text to text connections."
  • There is no more detention. Rather, miscreants are sent to the "alternative instruction room," the "reinforcement room," or the "reflection room."
  • Reading is now referred to as SSR or "sustained silent reading."
  • Essays are "extended constructed responses," and paragraphs are "brief constructed responses."
  • Multiple choice exams? Nope. Think "selected response assessments."
  • Why just learn to subtract when you can "model efficient subtraction strategies"?
  • That's not a classroom trailer out back . . . it's a "learning cottage."
  • Students don't take classes. They accumulate "standard units of credit."

  • Why do they do this? That's the best part of the article! One educator says this nonsense is in the interest of (get this) clarity! "My hope is that we're creating language for kids that is more explicit and to the point than it is confusing." Oh man, that is too much.

    Friday, January 16, 2004

    Violent Outbreak

    Wow, the last 20 hours have sure been violent in Norfolk. We have had three shootings (two fatal) and a family of four in the Ocean View section has been found dead, with the cause unreported at this time.

    The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that a woman was found shot and killed at 1:29 AM this morning, a man was shot and seriously injured at 10:30 last night, a bank guard was killed by an armed robber at 9:45 this morning, and the four dead were in a single apartment together.

    I did a Yahoo map route from said apartment to my house, and the distance is 1.2 miles.

    Update 1: Investigators declined to identify the victims, but said they are treating the case as a homicide.
    Update 2: The four dead were a mother, her two children, and her brother. They were all apparently shot.

    Thursday, January 15, 2004

    Global Warming 

    Al Gore is scheduled to give a speech in New York tonight. The topic? How Bush Administration policies are accelerating "global warming." The forecast calls for the coldest night in New York in ten years, and the coldest in Boston in fifty years. Reports indicate that Gore intends to use the cold temperatures as evidence in support of his hypothesis. "The extreme conditions are actually the end result of the planet warming," Gore has told advisers, sources say, in explaining his motivations. "The Bush policies are leading to weather extremes."

    This is precisely the problem with global warming theory as science. The hypothesis is this: "earth is warming as a result of human industrial activity." It is virtually untestable. How can one test a hypothesis that its proponents claim predicts both hot and cold temperatures? The null hypothesis, "the earth is not warming as a result of human industrial activity" predicts the same thing! It is always going to be one or the other, regardless of the hypothesis veracity. Gore seems to be claiming that weather extremes are predicted by the global warming hypothesis, but weather extremes existed long before society became industrialized.

    Further, if one were to document a significant rise in global temperature (something that has not yet been done), wouldn't the hypothesis "the earth is warming as a result of increased solar radiation" be just as valid? After all, enormous "global warming" occurred at the end of the last ice age, and no one is claiming SUVs and power plants as the cause. All this global warming and climate change nonsense is not science; it is social engineering and politics masquerading as science.
    Rampant Jew-Hating

    A 22-year-old Palestinian woman blew herself up in Israel the other day, killing four Israelis. "I always wanted to be the first woman to carry out a martyr attack, where parts of my body can fly all over. That is the only wish I can ask God for," she said with a smile. The mother of two small children, she obviously hated Jews more than she loved her children.

    Let me write that one more time: She hated Jews more than she loved her children.

    Think about that. What does one say about a society that inspires that level of hatred? And why should such a society be granted the perks of "statehood?" The Palestinians have a long way to go before than can be trusted with things like ambassadors, embassies, and armies.

    Monday, January 12, 2004

    Who Knew?

    Remember Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State who came to prominence during the Presidential election re-count fiasco? Here she is in a recent campaign appearance. Certainly a better look than the makeup-and-red-power-suit one she presented in 2000.

    Friday, January 09, 2004

    Wesley Clark and the Women's Vote

    From the New York Times:
    CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 8 — Gen. Wesley K. Clark has begun to show a softer side. Gone are his navy blue suit, red tie and loafers, replaced by argyle sweaters, corduroys and duck boots.
    At many campaign events recently, a woman has accompanied the general, who is retired, to introduce him. Earlier this week it was the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin. On Thursday General Clark was accompanied by Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistle-blower, who endorsed him here at a center for the elderly.

    The Clark presidential campaign is also running a commercial featuring a female soldier who formerly reported to him. And it is sending out fund-raising letters from Madonna announcing her support "not only as a celebrity but as an American citizen and a mother."
    Can politics in this country get any shallower? Are we to believe that women are so gullible or emotional that they won't vote for a politician in a blue suit, but they will vote for one in an argyle sweater? Have we reached a point where we take political advice from Madonna because she is a celebrity, citizen, and mother (forgetting, presumably, that she became a celebrity primarily via her sexuality, she lives in London, and her "mothering" includes hiding her lesbian television activities from her daughter? What a sad commentary on how politicians perceive the American electorate.

    Thursday, January 08, 2004

    Holiday Cheer

    Near my office in downtown Norfolk is a large shopping mall. One of the employees, whose car my wife and I see regularly in the lot and surrounding streets, has a vanity plate with the sentiment "2QTBSTR8."

    During the holidays, employees at Dillard's replace their employee number with a more festive designation. Pages over the store intercom sound like "Rudolph, dial extension 11" or "Frosty, report to customer service." Apparently, the employees can pick their own name, because we were shopping for winter coats when the following page was broadcast: "Fruitcake, call the service desk." I looked at my wife and she said knowingly, "That's got to be 'Too Cute to be Straight.'" I couldn't argue with her.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2004

    America Bashing 101

    Lee Harris, writing for the Wall Street Journal last January, penned a fascinating analysis of the roots of America bashing. It is worthwhile to read the whole essay, but I will attempt to nutshell it here.

    Marxist theory holds that capitalism will implode as the working class, in the face of mounting poverty, revolt to overthrow the capitalist system that exploits them.

    Unfortunately for the Marxists, the West in general and America in particular show this world view to be wrong. The working class in America is NOT facing mounting poverty, and in fact the working class generally has seen their wealth increase over time under capitalism. No poverty, no discontent, no revolution, no socialism.

    Then, in the late 1950s, a Marxist economist hit on a new paradigm. It isn't the American working class that is facing poverty and sinking into despair. It is third world workers! Under this theory, capitalism actually created poverty in third world countries. This theory was further developed and crystalized in 1974, and taken up by the socialist intellectuals: America became rich by making others poor. The west (both capitalists and workers) are now the oppressors, and the entire third world is their victim. Marxism and socialism were once again relevent, since an oppressed class had been "found." This is why today's socialists spend so much time complaining about America and trying to dismantle its systems.

    The glaring deficiency in this world view was in imbalance of power. The relative might of capitalistic countries to third world countries made a Socialist revolution impossible. Enter September 11th.

    The attacks of that day were seen as first blow by the oppressed againts the oppressors. Socialism was back on track, and revolution was possible. This explains the glee of so many on the far left (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter). Harris goes on to conclude that any "revolution" based on the model of 9/11 is doomed to fail because it unifies the classes in America rather than driving them apart, as is required for Marxist revolution.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2004

    Guns and Dogs

    With the "assault weapons ban" set to expire this year, expect to hear a lot of political posturing on both sides of the issue. Do not expect to hear much discussion of what defines an assault weapon. For the record, an assault weapon, as defined in this law, is a gun which bears two of the following four features: a flash supressor, a collapsible stock, a bayonet lug, or a pistol grip. Note that each of these features pertain to the appearance of the gun, and not to its operation. No mention of the rate of fire (machine guns have been illegal since the 1930s), power of the round, accuracy, propensity to misfire, or any other characteristic relating to the actual lethality of the weapon. In fact, The main difference between an assault rifle and a semi-automatic hunting rifle is that the assault rifle looks more "military."

    Remember, as the gun-control advocates predict carnage in the streets if this law expires, the only differences between these guns and a common hunting rifle are purely cosmetic. This law is all about banning guns that liberals think look scary.

    Meanwhile, in New York City the Director of Animal Care and Control has renamed the Pit Bull Terrior the "New Yorkie" because they "need to have the same opportunities as any other breed of dog." Apparently, when people become frightened by an especially aggressive breed of animal, an appropriate course of action is to rename the breed.

    If we rename our assault weapons "toy guns," can we have 'em back?

    Don't Shoot! 

    The recent F-16 fighter plane "escorts" of civilian airplanes illustrates the absurdity of denying pilots access to cockpit weapons. The fact is that every passenger in those planes was faced with an air-to-air missile as a "last resort" in case of hijacking. Wouldn't it be prudent to allow the pilot a 9mm pistol as a "next-to-last resort"? As a passenger, I would rather risk a stray bullet aimed at a terrorist, which I would be likely to survive, than a missile aimed at the plane, which I certainly would not.
    Property Rights

    George Washington University economist Walter Williams, writing for the Cato Institute, has penned a terrific essay about how tobacco legislation is used to undermine property rights:
    "The totalitarian method to resolve the conflict is through political power and guns. In other words, the group with the greatest power to organize government's brute force decides whether there'll be smoking or no smoking in restaurants.

    "The liberty-oriented method to resolve conflict is through the institution of private property. In fact, conflict resolution is one of the primary functions of private property, namely it decides who gets to decide how what property is used in what way. Put another way: Who may harm whom in what ways? In a nutshell, private property rights have to do with rights held by an owner to keep, acquire and use property in ways so long as he doesn't interfere with similar rights held by another."
    Williams is right, and now we see the tobacco model of tyranny being employed against an array of industries, including alcohol, fast food, and firearms. It's a sad turn of events.

    Monday, January 05, 2004

    Howard Dean, Theologian for the Common Man

    Howard Dean, though a former governor of Vermont, was actually raised in an apartment on 5th Avenue in New York. During a recent interview, Howard's Mommy, in an attempt to play down her little boy's ritzy childhood, said this:
    "Howard didn't have the least bit of a glamorous upbringing. When he was growing up, we didn't even treat the servants like servants."
    Now there's a real man of the people. But wait! Howard is not only humble, he's a theologian. Just ask him:
    "If you know much about the Bible--which I do--to see and be in the place where Christ was and understand the intimate history of what was going on 2000 years ago is an exceptional experience." Asked to name his favorite book in the New Testament, Dean cited Job
    Hey, Howie, The Book of Job is in the Old Testament!