Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager, a guest panelist on the Dennis Miller Show last night, rendered a pro gay marriage panelist completely speechless.

"Let me ask you one question," he said. "Should two brothers be allowed to marry?"

The other panelist, whose name escapes me, just sat there, staring blankly back at Prager. "I'm serious," Prager continued, "They're two adults, they love each other, why shouldn't they be allowed to marry?"

Nothing. No response whatsoever. And none appeared forthcoming, so Dennis cracked a joke and went to a commercial, but it was startling to see a typical know-it-all liberal left completely unresponsive.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004's Virtual Toy Shop

Keeping the nostalgia ball rolling one last time, here is the Virtual Toy Shop. Five big pages of classic toys including the classic monster models:

Check out that Johnny Seven machine gun, too! Can you imagine a kid playing with a toy like that these days? People would report his parents to child protective services.

Monday, March 29, 2004

1970s Tour - Toy Memories

I am having too much fun with this to quit now. Check out Michael Lerner's site. He has catalogued not just toys, but classic 70's food and clothing. Who can forget that classic duel of high octane sugar-water, Hawaiian Punch versus Funny Face?

I was a Funny Face man, myself, but I did occasionally employ the old Hawaiian Punch as a way to justify socking my friends. "How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?" "Sure" **POW**

Friday, March 26, 2004

Reader's Bike Pix!

Continuing on our nostalgia kick, This site collects reader's pictures of their customized and restored "chopper" bicycles. Lot's of great snaps of Apple Crates, Lemon Peelers, and the like.

I still remember my first stingray, made by my Dad in the basement. Although I had the run of the house, he somehow managed to keep me away from that thing as he built it, so it was a surprise on Christmas morning. It had a metallic silver banana seat and classic ape-hanger handlebars. I never had a padded sissy bar, which was probably just as well, the way we used to ride through the woods playing "bicycle tag" on those things.

Too much fun.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Sam's Toybox

A gentleman named Sam Cancilla has website documenting his extensive vintage toy collection. There are lots of toys I had as a kid, and the nostalgia of seeing them again is compelling. He's got Battling Tops, Booby Trap, Spirograph, and lots more.

If you are of a "certain age," surf on over and reminisce.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Just When You Thought He Couldn't Get Weirder

"Jersey Girl" director Kevin Smith says he once got an offer to direct (Michael Jackson) in a movie about a man who turns into a car that gets ridden around by a boy. Smith tells Playboy magazine that Jackson wanted to play the car/man role. The proposed title of the film, and Smith says this is no lie, was "Hot Rod."
Oh. My. Goodness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A (very) Little Philosophy

At the top of my BlogRoll is a link to the self-described "Dullest Blog in the World." I keep it there for two reasons:
1 - It's pretty funny. The posts are very creative in humorously describing next to nothing.
2 - It's a reminder to me to try to keep my little blog from degenerating into a bland recitation of zero interest minutiae.
The Dullest Blog in the World is also an illustration of an interesting paradox: the very condition of being the dullest (or least interesting) anything is in itself inherently interesting. Philosopher and author Martin Gardner summed it up as follows:
The question arises: Are there any uninteresting numbers? We can prove that there are none by the following simple steps. If there are dull numbers, then we can divide all numbers into two sets - interesting and dull. In the set of dull numbers there will be only one number that is the smallest. Since it is the smallest uninteresting number it becomes, ipso facto, an interesting number. We must therefore remove it from the dull set and place it in the other. But now there will be another smallest uninteresting number. Repeating this process will make any dull number interesting."
The same argument could be made for people, television shows, and blogs. That said, we all know that there are boring people, television shows, and blogs. None of them, however, could be the most boring.

Who's Counting Anyway?

Well, as of today, I am. I've added a webcounter to the site. Now, instead of merely suspecting that my mother and I are the only two people reading this nonsense, I will be able to confirm it.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Signs of Insensitivity?

The British Telegraph is reporting that changes are being instituted in British Sign Language to avoid offending people:
The abandoned signs include "Jewish", in which a hand mimes a hooked nose; the sign for "gay", a flick of a limp wrist; and "Chinese", in which the index fingertips pull the eyes into a slant. Another dropped sign is that for "Indian", which is a finger pointing to an imaginary spot in the middle of a forehead.
Okay, fair enough. Maybe some of those signs are a little, well, 1950s in their attitude. But no good turn goes unpunished these days; the deaf people are offended:
Critics labelled the move as silly yesterday, saying that the producers were interfering with "deaf culture".

Polly Smith, the acting chairperson of the British Council for Disabled People, said that the changes were a form of discrimination.

"The programme makers at Channel 4 are interfering with deaf people's language, culture and view of society, and that is a form of discrimination," she said.
So deaf people in Great Britain have their own culture, and all elements of it defensible as such, no matter how bigoted. Isn't that the same argument that civil war buffs, gun enthusiasts, and southerners in the US have been making (and vilified for) for years?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Lifestyles of the Rich and Powerful

The New York Times has an Article detailing John Kerry's ski trip. Apparently there was some question n whether he would ski or snowboard. Upon settling on snowboarding, the press was treated to this little bit of sweetness and light:
His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis — just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, "I don't fall down," then used an expletive to describe the agent who "knocked me over."
Can anyone imagine George Bush on a run, inadvertently tripped by a secret service agent, responding by cursing the agent, with such self-absorbed vanity? It's okay, though, because Kerry's wife, the demure and humble Therese, had this to add:
"I'm going tentatively, but prettily," she said, wearing tight black pants and a flaming red jacket.
Again, the contrast with Laura Bush is startling. The Bushes clearly do not wear their privilege and wealth with the same level of arrogance and superiority as the Kerrys.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Notable Quotables

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." - John Kerry
With statements like that, George Bush doesn't need a "right wing smear machine." Just let Kerry keep on keepin on.

A Few of my Favorite Things

James Taranto over at the Journal's "Best of the Web Today" page (link available a droit) noted that John Kerry, answering a Humane Society questionaire, had this to say concerning his own pets:
When I was serving on a swiftboat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called VC. We all took care of him, and he stayed with us and loved riding on the swiftboat deck. I think he provided all of us with a link to home and a few moments of peace and tranquility during a dangerous time. One day as our swiftboat was heading up a river, a mine exploded hard under our boat. After picking ourselves up, we discovered VC was MIA. Several minutes of frantic search followed after which we thought we'd lost him. We were relieved when another boat called asking if we were missing a dog. It turns out VC was catapulted from the deck of our boat and landed confused, but unhurt, on the deck of another boat in our patrol.
That's right! Kerry managed to turn a question about a pet into a Vietnam story! I began to wonder how he might answer other such questions:

  • Favorite pet: VC the Vietnamese dog

  • Favorite food: The rice we picked ourselves as we slogged through a paddy and boiled in our helmets while I stood guard over my band of brothers.

  • Favorite color: Jungle Camo, stained with the blood of my best friend, the company Chaplain, who died in my arms after a friendly-fire incident.

  • Favorite childhood experience: I didn't really grow up until I went to Vietnam, so I would say the first time I saw the sunset over the Mekong Delta, as I ducked incoming mortar fire.

  • Favorite weapon system: None

  • Favorite politician: Ted Kennedy, a loyal and true American who, had he been serving with me in Vietnam, would surely have jumped into a river to save his brothers (the rivers in 'Nam are much warmer than Nantucket Sound, after all)

  • Monday, March 15, 2004

    International Terrorism

    Several times since my last post I have sat down to write something in response to the news, but each time a became paralyzed. It seems the news is happening so fast, I can't keep up with it. In just the past four days, 200 innocents were killed in Spain, rescue workers had to be consoled as cell-phones kept ringing inside bodybags, al-Queda was exonerated from, but then claimed "credit" for the bombings, the Spanish government was run out of office, the prime-minister-elect promised to withdraw from the coalition in Iraq and also "endorsed" Kerry for president.

    And that was just in Spain! Where does one begin? What does one say? Events have happened too fast for me to get my puny little mind around them, so I have no real thoughts to write. All I can do is wait and see what happens next. I will say that the path followed by the Spainards in the wake of "3/11" is hard for me to understand.

    Thursday, March 11, 2004

    Islamic Terrorism

    Spanish authorities have so far insisted that Basque separatists were reponsible for the heinous bombing that killed nearly 200 in Madrid. Yahoo! News is reporting now that al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the attics.
    "We have succeeded in infiltrating the heart of crusader Europe and struck one of the bases of the crusader alliance," said the letter which called the attacks "Operation Death Trains."
    If terrorists continue to threaten Europe and manage to frighten the French, Germans, and Russians into backing additional US action, I bet there will be some dictators in Iran and Syria that will be shaking in their sandals.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    France Through the Eyes of an Expatriot

    Commentary Magazine has a fascinating article written by Nidra Poller, an American Jewish woman who moved to France in 1972. She has lived in Paris ever since, raised a family, and considers herself more European than American. She now finds, however, she cannot stay.
    I came back to be European and, irony of ironies, Europe is showing me why my grandparents left. For a novelist and student of history, this is a fantastic experience. For a grandmother, it is agony. How can I explain to French grandchildren whose very existence is the consequence of my once flighty decision that I cannot entrust them to their native land? But how can I lead them to safety if I myself do not know how to go home?
    Poller goes on to explain why she loves France and embraced life there. She finally documents how France is changing with the rise of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism. In conclusion, she observes that she, like her ancestors, is being forced from Europe:
    We are not free in France. I know the difference. I come from a free country. A rough and ready, clumsy, slapped together, tacky country where people say wow and gosh and shop at Costco. A country so vast I haven’t the faintest idea where I would put myself. A homeland I would have liked to keep at a distance, visit with pleasure, and leave with relief. A native land I walked out on with belated adolescent insouciance. A foreign land where I was born because Europe vomited up my grandparents as it is now coughing up me and mine.
    The anti-semitism of socialist totalitarianism is, apparently, not much different than the anti-semitism of fascist totalitarianism.

    Tuesday, March 09, 2004

    John Kerry - as Deep as a Wading Pool

    Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had this to say on CNN's Crossfire as President Bill Clinton got revved up for a big four month bombing run in Iraq in 1997:
    Secretary Cohen canceled his trip, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff canceled a trip, troops are deployed, the aircraft carriers are being brandished. There's no misunderstanding here about where the United States is prepared to go.

    Clearly the allies may not like it. Where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity?
    Sounds like reckless unitalateralism to me, John.
    The [Clinton] administration is leading. The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by [U.S. weapons inspector Richard] Butler.
    Kerry didn't even care what the U.N. thought in 1997.
    I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests.
    Unless there's a Republican in charge, I guess. Then we need endless U.N. resolutions, a congressional mandate, and a permission slip from every two-bit political hack on the planet. Oh, and by the way, the congressional mandate only entitles a Republican to ask for the permission slips. If someone says "no," then congress didn't really mean it.

    It's worth noting that not only is Kerry again revealed as a hollow political opportunist, but that it took George Bush about month to overthrow Saddam and set about rebuilding the country while Clinton spent four months bombing the daylights out of Baghdad and ended up with nothing to show for it.

    Monday, March 08, 2004

    Joke du Jour

    A father watched his daughter playing in the garden. He smiled as he reflected on how sweet and innocent his little girl was.

    Suddenly she just stopped and stared at the ground. He went over to her and noticed she was looking at two spiders mating. "Daddy, what are those two spiders doing?" she asked.

    "They're mating," her father replied. "What do you call the spider on top, Daddy?" she asked.

    "That's a Daddy Longlegs." Her father answered.

    "So, the other one is a Mommy Longlegs?" the little girl asked.

    "No," her father replied. "Both of them are Daddy Longlegs." The little girl thought for a moment, then took her foot and stomped them flat. "Well, that might be OK in Massachusetts but we're not having any of that shit in Texas "

    Thursday, March 04, 2004

    Political Ads

    The Virginian-Pilot has picked up an Associated Press Report that relatives of 9/11 victims are sickened that a Bush campaign ad actually shows scenes of Ground Zero.
    "It makes me sick," Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother Bill Kelly Jr., in the attacks and leads a victims families group called Peaceful Tomorrows, said Thursday. "Would you ever go to someone's grave site and use that as an instrument of politics? That truly is what Ground Zero represents to me."
    With all due respect, Miss Kelly, politicians use grave sites for political purposes all the time. From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the beaches of Normandy, presidents have honored the dead and forever. President Clinton filmed at a D-Day beach making a cross out of pepples was a totally contrived political event at a gravesite. In fact, President Bush has been criticized for not attending the funeral of every soldier killed in Iraq. Isn't that exploiting the dead for political gain as well?

    I have great sympathy for the relatives of the victims, but at some point they have to realize that they cannot control what is or isn't built in New York, and they can't tell the public what images of the tragedy are or are not acceptable for public use. Period.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2004

    A Religion of Peace

    From Fox News:
    Armed men opened fire on Shiite Muslim worshippers during a religious procession in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 29 people and wounding more than 100, authorities said.

    Soon after, a Sunni Muslim mosque, a television network office and several shops were set afire as Shiites rioted in parts of the city, and a shootout occurred near the scene of the initial attack, police said.

    The violence occurred hours after a series of coordinated blasts in Iraq struck major Shiite Muslim shrines in Karbala and Baghdad, killing at least 125 religious pilgrims.

    Meanwhile, two people — one Shiite and one Sunni — were killed and 40 other people wounded in a clash between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Phalia, a town in Punjab province, about 100 miles east of Islamabad. The shootout happened during a Shiite procession and people from the two sides then set several houses on fire.

    (A) Sunni mosque was partially destroyed by fire. There also was an exchange of gunfire between Shiite Muslims and unidentified rivals.

    (A) reporter for the private GEO television network, said six unidentified people entered the GEO office there and set it afire. Last week, the network televised a talk show that allegedly aired offensive comments against Shiites.

    Quetta was the site of one of the deadliest acts of sectarian violence in years in Pakistan. Attackers armed with machine-guns and grenades stormed a Shiite Muslim mosque there in July, killing 50 worshippers inside.

    Monday, March 01, 2004

    Catholic Group Must Provide Birth Control

    Fox News is reporting that a Roman Catholic charity must provide birth control as part of its health care plan. The charity is opposed to contraception on religious grounds.

    This raises the obvious question: Whatever became of the sacred "separation of church and state"? Because no matter how you cut it, this is an example of a government entity telling a religious organization how it must spend its money.

    Taking a Stand

    On the issue of gay rights, the Democrats have all become states-rights proponents. They are unified in this position, from frontrunners Kerry and Edwards to Chairman McAuliffe. On every other issue I can think of, big and small, the Democrat position is that federal law should override state sensibilities:

    Gun control, abortion, environmental regulation, energy consumption, the drinking age, even seat belt use, have all been dictated in some manner to the states, and always at the behest of the Democratic party. Along comes gay marriage, which the far left supports enthusiastically, but the moderates and centrists oppose, and the Democratic party is too intellectually weak to take a stand one way or the other. So they say they oppose gay marriage, but favor "civil unions," and shrug that it's up to the states, so their position doesn't matter anyway. They have been thrown a political hot potato, and they don't want to touch it, so they are throwing it back at the states.

    When John Kerry announced his candidacy, he stood before a sign reading "The courage to do what's right for America." He would do well to demonstrate what he meant by that.