Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Trackback Novels

Deacon at Power Line wonders what post Ulysses novels people would read twice. Two come to my mind:
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a philosophical treatise of sufficient depth and interest to warrant several readings. I select it over Atlas Shrugged simply on the basis of the latter's excessive length (and exceedingly small print to boot).

  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, the epic story of the construction of a medieval cathedral. The book spans generations and tells the tale of the builders, craftsmen, and church leaders as they struggle to erect and control the great structure.
  • Any other ideas?

    Another New Look

    Here we go again with another template. The old one, which was only a couple months old, had started behaving badly, with the sidebar suddenly positioning below the main body.

    I fiddled around with the widths of the various elements to try and make it display properly, but to no avail. So here we go again. Lost in the shuffle (and probably just as well) is the double-helix graphic I had been using as a title. Also gone is the Yankee logo (baseball season is over, and I never said much about baseball anyway) and the silly little "terror alert level" graphic.

    Hopefully this look will last me awhile. Now, if I could find something interesting to write about . . .

    Fear Factor Standards?

    I watched part of a Fear Factor rerun on FX last night. One stunt involved the contestants picking up dead rats in their mouths, running them about 30 feet and spitting them into a garbage pail. Some rats missed and landed on the floor.

    It appeared that "fresh" dead rats were provided to each contestant because no one in their right mind would put a dead rat in their mouth after it had been in someone else's mouth.

    There is some truly weird stuff on television.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Woman Charged With Killing Baby in Texas

    First there was Susan Smith, then Andrea Yates. Now this:
    With a calm and dispassionate voice and a hymn playing in the background, Dena Schlosser confessed to the unthinkable, telling a 911 operator she'd cut off the arms of her baby girl.

    The woman was sitting in her living room covered with blood when police arrived Monday. Her nearly 11-month-old daughter lay fatally injured in a crib in a bedroom of the family's apartment in Plano. The child died shortly afterward at a nearby hospital.

    Police have charged the 35-year-old mother with capital murder, but declined to reveal where she is being held.
    Mark Davis played the 911 tape on his radio program. It was chilling.

    National Review Blog Entry

    This is from Rich Lowry's e-mail inbox:
    I am also a professor at a military-related institution, and my little brother is an enlisted Marine (a sniper with 1-3) in Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a report in the media of this. Imagine that.
    Here's how to send a big "thank you" to these guys.

    Hat Tip to Betsy

    Friday, November 19, 2004

    A message from Baghdad

    From Power Line comes this message from Baghdad, which bears repeating:
    I just got of the phone with my father in Baghdad. I asked him what is the reaction of the Marine killing the injured Iraqi in the Mosque in Felujah. His first words were "Good riddance."

    People are not giving it a second thought. Any terrorist who attacks soldiers from Mosques has no sanctuary. Any terrorists who fake death to kill in a mosque deserve no mercy. He says Iraqis (including Sunnis) are fed up with the terrorists and want them eliminated.

    There was much uproar about the brutal kidnapping killing of Mrs. Margaret Hassan. Iraqis are upset outraged and disgusted with her brutal abduction & killing. She helped us, helped the poor & needy and this what the terrorist do to her and her family.

    He says we must stay strong, united and relentless in the pursuit of the terrorist. Baghdad had relative calm over the last few days. People are even going out in the street till 9:30pm now.

    Please spread the message, let America Know that the Iraqis are with us, grateful and want us to stay strong and get stronger so that we can all defeat terrorism.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    Tree Protestor Shelter

    This is from the November issue of Architectural Record. The caption reads:
    Styx Valley Protest Structure
    Tasmania, Australia, 2004

    Although protesters have already been gathering within the forest, this new design concept would shelter them in extreme weather conditions. Additionally, the shelter would be attached to three trees, thereby spreading the load and saving more endangered trees in the process.
    The shelter is the design of Aussie Andrew Maynard. In either an ironic twist or an example of poor rendering, the shelters appear to be constructed of . . . WOOD!

    It is difficult to see at this size, but the occupants inside are milling around as if at a cocktail party. If moonbat Julia "Butterfly" Hill had had one of these things, she might be up there still!

    UPDATE: More elaboration on the shelter and the protests, as well as another graphic, is at Andrew Maynard's website.

    Hillary Speaks

    Hillary Clinton was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren last night on Fox News. Here are some highlights:

    This is the first museum of the 21st century.
    Well, that will certainly come as a surprise to these people and these people and these people.
    He wants people to see everything that he wrote on.
    Everything he "wrote on", one imagines, except a certain blue dress.
    He hopes to hold international meetings at the library.
    With Yasser Arafat gone, who will Bill invite?
    An alcove on the main floor covers the work that I did.
    I guess that alcove is the final resting place of the Rose Law firm billing records and the 500 FBI files the Clintons took.
    On the second floor there is some of the personal features.
    The mind reels at the possibilities.
    The archivists tell me that it's likely to be the most popular part of the library
    Adult book stores are popular, too.
    You can touch a video screen and see what happened on every day of the year of all eight years.
    Every day? "Clinton pardons Marc Rich." "Clinton fakes crying at Ron Brown's funeral." "Clinton carries a Bible out of church on the way to a rendezvous with Monica." "Yasser Arafat cools his heels in the Rose Garden while Clinton diddles Monica." I think I'll pass on that exhibit.
    I have no plans to do that (run for President - ed). I'm really happy being the Senator from New York.
    Groaaan. I have no plans for going home at the end of the day, but I am darn well going to do it. By the way, you have to know a lot to listen to Hillary, because every third sentence is punctuated by "you know."
    We didn't do a good job addressing the issues.
    Wow, Hillary, nobody thought of that before. You have staggering political acumen.
    We haven't provided first responders with the resources they need.
    Um, first responders are only needed after an attack, Hillary. You don't fight terrorism with firemen and cadaver dogs.
    We went from a balanced budget and a surplus when Bill left office to the biggest deficit we've ever had.
    We also went from seven World Trade Center buildings to ZERO, a plan that was hatched, planned, and put in place while you and your husband were busy burning down buildings in Waco, sending small children back to Cuba, and making Kosovo save for the oppressed Muslims.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Messing with TiVo's Head

    This weekend we added TiVo to our DirecTV satellite system. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled across a cooking show that had a good-looking recipe for turkey stuffing. With Thanksgiving so close, I recorded it for later use. Then I remembered this:
    Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described "straightest guy on earth," he tried to tame TiVo's gay fixation by recording war movies and other "guy stuff." "The problem was, I overcompensated," he says. "It started giving me documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the Third Reich."


    Mike Binder, creator and star of that show, had set his home TiVo to record his 1999 movie, "The Sex Monster," about a man whose wife becomes bisexual. After that, Mr. Binder's TiVo assumed he would enjoy a steady stream of gay programming. Unnerved, he counteracted the onslaught by recording the Playboy Channel and MTV's spring break bikini coverage. It worked, he says. "My TiVo doesn't look at me funny anymore." His wife, however, was taken aback when she saw all the half-naked women he was ordering through TiVo. He told her those women meant nothing to him: "I'm just counterprogramming because TiVo thinks I'm gay." She was unamused.

    So after recording the recipe on the Food Network, I made sure to record an Episode of Oliver North's "War Stories," just to keep things in proper balance.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Compare and Contrast

    Compare this from The Washington Post:
    Under cloudy skies and drizzling rain, crowds gathered in the streets of the capital to watch the hearse containing the mahogany casket make the five-mile trip to the cathedral from the Rotunda.

    By the time public viewing ended at 8 a.m. EDT, more than 104,000 people had filed past the casket in the hushed Rotunda, according to U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. As they did so, the silence was broken only by the shuffling of feet and the periodic changing of the joint honor guard composed of members of the armed services.

    Well before the funeral service began, mourners had staked out spots near the National Cathedral around the intersections of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW. They sat on the curb, rain jackets and coolers by their sides, cameras and video recorders ready to capture the moment of history that soon would pass before them.

    With this from Yahoo News:
    RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Yasser Arafat was buried on Friday in chaotic scenes of grief and gunfire at the compound where he spent his final years encircled by the Israeli army and powerless to realize his dream of a Palestinian state.


    Firing into the air, Palestinian security men struggled earlier to remove the coffin from the aircraft and then held on to it tight as they placed it on a vehicle that plied its way through a dense throng of weeping mourners.


    At least nine Palestinians were wounded by shots fired by the security forces or gunmen. Medics said hundreds were treated after fainting or for minor injuries during the crush.
    If the Palestinians can't conduct a dignified funeral, why should we expect them to be capable of running a country?

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Veteran's Day Post

    Mackubin Thomas Owens, writing for National Review Online, says it better than I ever will:
    In his birthday message to Marines this year, the Commandant, Gen. Mike Hagee, related a story about a Marine who had been wounded in Iraq earlier this year. A squad leader, he refused evacuation until he finally passed out from a loss of blood. When he woke up in an Army hospital in Germany, he talked the staff into releasing him. He borrowed some utilities from a Navy corpsman and then talked his way aboard an Air Force transport that was flying back to Iraq. But before boarding the plane, he called his wife to tell her that he was O.K. but that he wouldn't be home because the Marines in his squad needed him. As the old question goes, where do we find such men?

    The truth is that we find them all the time. My father was a Marine who fought and was wounded in the Pacific during World War II. Marine Sgt. John Basilone, a contemporary of my dad, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal. Though he was not obligated to do so, he insisted on returning to combat and was killed on the first day of the struggle for Iwo Jima. Where do we find such men?


    So pray for our servicemen in Fallujah today and for the souls of those who have given the last full measure. May they rest in peace. Happy birthday, Marines. Semper fi. And to all veterans, God bless you and thank you for your service. And may you live long, sweet lives.

    And thank you, too, Dad.
    Our office has about 75 employees, most in Norfolk, with smaller offices in Tampa, FL and Wytheville, VA. Add on spouses and kids, and that's several hundred people tied into our firm in some way, each living life to the fullest.

    Needless to say, our email inboxes are regularly filled with notices of cookie sales, art auctions, local charity pleas, and any manner of personal causes in no way releated to business.

    It occurred to me that the perfect remedy was an office blog, where any employee could post their personal cause or accomplishment, and employees could browse without affecting productivity. So I set one up.

    <crickets> chirp chirp chirp </crickets>. Interrupted only by a couple complaints from people too bothered to waste their time browsing a blog when they just as effectively do so reading email. And this from people 15 years my junior and presumably more web-savvy than I.

    Never underestimate the weight of inertia.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    This is rich

    Nothing like being lectured on morality and truth. By Bill Clinton.
    "I do not believe either party has a monopoly on morality or truth," Clinton told an audience of more than 4,500 at Hamilton College in upstate New York.


    "I think the current divisions are partly the fault of the people in my party for not engaging the Christian evangelical community in a serious discussion of what it would take to promote a real culture of life," Clinton said.
    Hey, Bill. A large portion of the "current divisions" are the result of your impeachment, which was brought on by YOUR moral lapses, followed by your lapses in veracity.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Now that the election is over, and "values" has been transformed by the media to mean "gay marriage," I thought it a good time to reflect on what the gay marriage movement is really about.

    Advocates consistently portray gay marriage as a civil rights issue, equating it to the struggle of blacks and women for voting rights and other anti-discrimination legislation. But what civil rights are currently denied gay couples? Here are the ones typically trotted out.

    Hospital visitation. Does anyone seriously believe this is better remedied by federal legislation than by simply changing hospital policy? C'mon, people, write your local hospital, not your congressman.

    Property inheritance rights. This "problem" is already solved: all gays need do is write a will and allow the inheritance tax to disappear, as currently legislated.

    Now we come to the big issue that no one seems to admit is the real source of the controversy: child rearing.

    The fact is that marriage was established and supported over the millenia as an institution to encourage a stable family as the best environment in which to raise children. It is meant to reign in the rogue males and keep them legally and financially tied to their offspring, thereby insuring that society (i.e. the taxpayer) does not need to assume that responsibility. That is society's interest in marriage, and that equality is what the gay agenda seeks: equality under law as parents.

    The debate we need to be having, rather than the import of hospital visitation, inheritance rights, or health care benefits, is whether or not a gay household represents an equally beneficial environment for the raising of children as a heterosexual household. All other nuances of marital law can be easily remedied without changing the meaning of "marriage."

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    Tony Snow's Blog

    Fox News's affable Tony Snow has a blog! And not one attached to his network, like Chris Matthews and his abysmal "Hardblogger." Tony's running a standard Blogger site - or at least someone claiming to be Tony Snow is.

    My wife and I saw Tony when he spoke in Virginia Beach last winter, and he is a terrific speaker, uplifting, inspirational, and positive. We left that evening feeling good about ourselves and our country.

    Via Jessica's Well

    The Battle for Fallujah

    On Fox News this past weekend, the embedded reporter was interviewing Marine Brian Chontosh as he prepared for the assult on Fallujah. You remember Brian Chontosh, don't you?
    It was a year ago on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.

    When all hell broke loose. Ambush city.

    The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or die and it was up to him.

    So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire.
    It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.
    And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.

    Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines. Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.

    And he ran down the trench.

    With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.
    And he killed them all.

    He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo.

    At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.

    When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon’s flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.

    But that’s probably not how he would tell it.

    He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Hoo-ah, and drive on.
    With people like Brian taking up the fight, can there be any doubt about the outcome of this battle?

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    Urban Elitism

    This New York Times article perfectly captures the kind of liberal urban navel gazing and elitism that passes for "nuance" in New York.
    Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush. (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.) Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.
    Got that, middle America? New Yorkers think you voted for Bush because you don't care about Them!
    "I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."

    "New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.
    So that's a New Yorker's explanation of why heartlanders don't care about THEM.They're obtuse, shortsighted, rednecks, unable to appreciate the sophisticated level of consciousness of the average New Yorker. In fact, New Yorkers are so sophisticated, they can say the same thing many different ways:
    His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say."
    Polly wanna a cracker, Ms. Cohn? Stunningly, they know they are obnoxious elitists and don't much care:
    Dr. Joseph acknowledged that such attitudes could feed into the perception that New Yorkers are cultural elitists, but he didn't apologize for it.

    "People who are more competitive and proficient at what they do tend to gravitate toward cities," he (sniffed).
    Unless, of course, you are competitive and proficient in a field that can't easily be pursued in a city. You don't find the most proficient and competitive athletes (no, I don't count squash), farmers, landscapers, boat dealers, dog breeders, or forresters hanging around Washington Square.
    "To paraphrase our current president, I'm in shock and awe," said Keithe Sales, a 58-year-old former publishing administrator walking a dog near Central Park. He said he and friends shared a feeling of "disempowerment" as a result of the country's choice of President Bush. "There is a feeling of 'What do I have to do to get this man out of office?'"
    Awww. The poor dears feel disempowered because they didn't get their way. They seem to think it is their birthright to run roughshod over the rest of America, never mind that would "disempower" everyone else. But New Yorkers are prepared to reach out and make everyone else in the country live like them:
    "What's different about New York City is it tends to bring people together and so we can't ignore each others' dreams and values and it creates a much more inclusive consciousness," she said. "When you're in a more isolated environment, you're more susceptible to some ideology that's imposed on you."


    "If the heartland feels so alienated from us, then it behooves us to wrap our arms around the heartland," she said. "We need to bring our way of life, which is honoring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles, on a trip around the country."

    That was my head exploding. In New York, nobody pays any attention to anyone else! Try riding the subway, or walking the sidewalks. No one will even venture to look you in the eye, say hello, or acknowledge your existence. Heck, crimes are comitted regularly in full view on New York streets, and no one intervenes.

    Meanwhile, us rednecks are having barbecues for the volunteer fire department, waving to cars passing on the street, and joining our neighbors in church. Yet New Yorkers feel it is they that need to teach the heartlanders how to be inclusive! And they feel that that would constitute freeing the heartlanders from some imposed ideology!

    Now that's some nuanced thinking.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    Blog Election Gloat Roundup

    Vodkapundit has this list of losers:
    Michael Moore (you lose again, lardass)
    Terry McAuliffe (three elections, three losses; nice work)
    George Soros ("I gave $27 million, and all I got was… nothing!")
    Harold Ickies ("Damn, now I have to carry Hillary's purse again.")
    Dan Rather ("I believe Kerry winning Ohio is still accurate")
    Markos Moulitsas (0-for-12. Carville you ain't)
    The New York Times ("Nobody we know voted for him! You're fired, Brooks!")
    The Guardian ("Bloody 'ell!")
    Letter writers from The Guardian
    Kofi Annan
    Mohammed ElBaradei (Better start checking the UN want-ads)
    Old Europe
    Every Freakin' Idiot Rock Star On The "Vote For Change Tour" (Shut up and sing. Better yet, just shut up)

    Wizbang on the state of Democratic party:
    They've shot up, broken into and vandalized GOP offices. Kicked people who wore GOP t-shirts and slashed tires of GOP vans. And that was just in the last 48 hours.
    They have increasingly lost touch with the needs of the average voter and have been co-opted by the radical left. Where once the Democrats stood for the common man, now they stand against all his values.
    But the electoral nightmare is not over for the Democrats. They predicted a large turnout would help them, but instead the good honest people who were (disgusted) by their behavior turned out in even bigger numbers and learned that they are indeed part of the silent majority. These people now got a vivid reminder that they are the majority and their vote counts. A lesson that won't soon be forgotten.

    Ace has an amusing buh-bye for John Kerry:
    Let's say it together: John Kerry couldn't get elected warden in monkey-prison with a wheelbarrow full of bananas and a lenient policy on flinging feces.

    Power Line:
    President Bush's reelection is a remarkable victory. He won not only an electoral college majority, he won the popular vote. He won not only the popular vote, he appears to have won an outright majority of the popular vote, something no president has done since 1988. Yet his victory was not only a personal triumph, it was also a triumph of party. Republicans increased their majority in both the House and the Senate.
    President Bush won this remarkable victory in the face of a campaign of disinformation the likes of which we have not seen since the heyday of the Big Lie, and in the face of an orgy of hatred ... the likes of which we have not seen in the West since the days of the Nuremberg rallies.

    Finally, Mark Davis on his radio program this morning:
    I now look forward to not caring about what a strange chick Teresa Heinz Kerry is.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Krauthammer Shoots and Scores

    Charles Krauthammmer has great column examining George Bush's prosecution of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and John Kerry's subsequent criticism of it. Krauthammer concludes with this bit of complete rhetorical brilliance:
    Now, as always, the retroactive military genius says he would have done it differently. Yet in the same interview, asked about how things were going overall in Afghanistan, he said ``I think we have been smart, I think the administration leadership has done it well and we are on the right track.''
    Once again, the senator's position has evolved, to borrow The New York Times' delicate term for Kerry's many about-faces.
    This election comes down to a choice between one man's evolution and the other man's resolution. With his endlessly repeated Tora Bora charges, Kerry has made Afghanistan a major campaign issue. So be it. Who do you want as president? The man who conceived the Afghan campaign, carried it through without flinching when it was being called a "quagmire'' during its
    second week, and has seen it through to Afghanistan's transition to democracy? Or the retroactive genius, who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened - who would have done "everything'' differently in Iraq, yet in Afghanistan would have replicated Bush's every correct, courageous, radical and risky decision - except one. Which, of course, he would have done differently. He says. Now.


    Well that was an interesting Halloween. About 5:30 yesterday evening, I was outside lighting our Jack-O-Lantern, and a group of four teenagers passed by on the street.

    The tallest boy, maybe 6 feet, asked if I had any candy for him. I told him that candy was only available for trick-or-treaters in costume, and if he wanted any he would have to come back dressed in the spirit if the night. Trying to be a nice guy, I also pointed out that my next door neighbor had an unattended tray if he really wanted a candy bar to munch on.

    As I watched, this young man walked up to my neighbor's porch, picked up the entire tray of candy, and proceeded down the street with it. I called out to him, "Hey, put that back," but the group continued on.

    Feeling that I was witnessing someone actually stealing candy from children, I hustled out and got in front of the young man. "C'mon, man, that's for the kids," I implored. "Are you gonna put it back for me?" he responded.

    "Yeah, I can do that," I said, grasping the tray in both hands. The youth wrenched the tray in my hands, twisting my wrists, and spilling most of the candy. Shocked, I pushed his shoulder to get a little distance from him and referred to him as a the male offspring of a female dog.

    At this point I had apparently challenged him in front of his friends, and he assumed a comic boxing pose, saying, "Let's go, man." Realizing I now had the candy tray in my hands, I told him I didn't want any more to do with him, but he took a roundhouse left at my head, which I ducked neatly.

    Thankfully, I didn't lose my temper, and backed off with the understanding that any escalation from this point was not in my best interest.

    Later the same night, a sweet little girl in a fairy costume came by for candy, and wouldn't leave until I had given her a hug. I came away from the night very confused about our youth.