Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dispatch From the Religion of Peace

From MSNBC comes this report from Karachi, Pakistan outlining activities by practitioners of the Religion of Peace:
A mob angered by an al-Qaida-linked suicide bombing in a Shiite mosque set a KFC restaurant on fire in overnight rioting, killing six employees and bringing the day’s overall death toll to 11, police said Tuesday.


The bomber slipped into the mosque during a gunbattle with police that left another attacker and two officers dead, and blew himself up during evening prayers Monday, killing one worshipper and wounding 20.

An outraged crowd of about 1,000 Shiites, many beating their chests in mourning, rampaged afterward in this southern city, setting fire to cars and shops and killing at least six more people.
No report on how many Korans were destroyed in the bombing.

Monday, May 30, 2005

What does Memorial Day means to a nine year-old?

Well if you are Colin Kelly of Framingham, MA, the answer is more than many Americans. I doubt this story was picked up nationally, but it is heart wrenching touching and reminds us all of those who have lost their lives in service to this country.

Thank you Colin...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

After reading Don’s post, I decided to wander around in the comments section at the Democrat web site. Here are some highlights.
Want the truth? Elect a Democrat. Want a fair shake? Elect a Democrat. Want religious freedom? Elect a Democrat? Want privacy? Elect a Democrat. Want a job? Elect a Democrat. Want education? Elect a Democrat. Want good roads, clean water, renewable energy? Elect a Democrat.
Wow. They can do all that? They’re not Democrats, they’re Deities.
. . . the main difficulty of Democrats is that we want to tell you everything we know with immediacy.
Translation: We want to lecture about why we’re right and you’re wrong constantly.
The way to decrease abortions is to provide jobs and healthcare and not to pass a law.
Well that’s an interesting take on things. I guess theoretically providing jobs would reduce abortions if people were to busy working to, well, do anything else. Unless they were having an affair at work, of course, in which case providing jobs could increase abortions.
America has never looked worse in the eyes of the international community I believe that Democrats will once again clean up the mess Republicans have left behind and return America to a country respected throughout the world.
Want to get right with the French? Elect a Democrat!
I'm so grateful for a Democrat who doesn't equivocate and who doesn't apologize that I'm positively giddy. Now if our man will just stop bashing Castro I'll probably swoon, too.
Translation: “He’s good, but he’s not favorable enough to Communist thug dictators as I would like.”
If it was up to me, I would give the Repukelicans [sic] the French Revolution treatment. All Repooplicans [sic] with the exception of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio would fall victim of the guilletine [sic]. "Off with their heads!" I'm sorry if I'm a little extreme.
That last one is a classic. I will say that the commenter’s view of history is a little dated. “Off with their heads” should more recently be described as the “Zarqawi treatment,” but if that’s the ground the Dems want to tread, let ‘em have at it.

Water Cooler Dialog

Colleague: "I shot a 44 this weekend."
Me: "Really? That's great. I shot a 38."
Colleague (astonished): "That's incredible."
Me: "Not really. I shot a 45 ACP and a 9mm too."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Howard Dean and Meet the Press

Lots of folks beside myself were obviously picking their jaw up off the floor in disbelief over Howard Dean's statements on "NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS." I have watched Fox & Friends this morning they were tearing apart his answers and also heard several clips throughout the day on talk radio. Basically Howard Dean gave Rush Limbaugh and his ilk months worth of material.

I was not a Deaniac, but I did think his infamous scream speech, was spun by the powers that be to elevate John Kerry to be the "oh so boring blow-hard and blow-dried reporting for duty" Democratic Presidential Candidate. I enjoyed hearing an alternative voice and hearing from a politician who had the gonads to stand-up against the Iraq War. But now I wonder if those gonads weren't really just rocks in his head.

Howard Dean is no longer a maverick Vermont Governor running for the highest office in the land, he is his party's chosen leader. Therefore he is supposed to represent the best interests of the party.

In his answers, he refused to back down on his comments suggesting Tom Delay should be thrown in jail without any nod to due process. And Tim Russert nailed him with the fact he had previously called for due process for Osama Bin Laden (following quote from NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS):

(Videotape, May 14):
DR. DEAN: I think Tom DeLay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers.
(End videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: "Serve his jail sentence"? He--what's he been convicted of?
DR. DEAN: He hasn't been convicted yet, but he is also, in addition to the things that I just mentioned, under investigation in Texas by a district attorney down there for violating the campaign finance laws of Texas by funneling corporate donations, which is illegal, into certain campaign activities. This gentleman is not an ethical person, and he ought not to be leading Congress, period. And it is endemic of what happens in Congress when one party controls everything.
MR. RUSSERT: You said in December of 2003 that we shouldn't prejudge Osama bin Laden. How can you sit here and have a different standard for Tom DeLay and prejudge him?

And Howard Dean also walked flat into an equivocation of being a liberal democrat and a socialist(following quote from NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS):

MR. RUSSERT: In your home state of Vermont, there's a vacancy for the United States Senate about to occur. Bernie Sanders, the congressman from Vermont, wants to run for that seat. He is a self- described avowed socialist.
DR. DEAN: Well, that's what he says. He's really a populist.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there room in the Democratic Party for a socialist?
DR. DEAN: Well, first of all, he's not a socialist, really.
DR. DEAN: He hasn't said that for a while.
MR. RUSSERT: Oh, he has a--he wrote in his book: "Outside or in the House, I am a Democratic socialist."
DR. DEAN: Well, a Democratic socialist--all right, we're talking about words here. And Bernie can call himself anything he wants. He is basically a liberal Democrat, and he is a Democrat that--he runs as an Independent because he doesn't like the structure and the money that gets involved. And he actually has, I think, some good points about campaign finance reform. The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time. And that is a candidate that we think...

The scary thing is the Chair of the Democratic Party basically just admitted what Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and every other conservative talk show host has been saying for years-- that liberal democrats are basically socialists. No, wait I'm sorry Dean said a self-admitted Socialist is basically a liberal Democrat. Oh, that is so much better.

What is even more amusing is the comments on www.democrats.org, the majority of the posters don't even realize how much damage Howard Dean has caused.

It is scary when Barney Frank, a homosexual liberal Democrat Congressman from Massachusetts, is your voice of reason and tolerance about the Tom Delay issue.

Go Dems! Keep this up and not even Hillary will be able to save the Donkeys.
Front Page magazine has this article, written by Keith Thompson, a former liberal/leftist who just can't drink the Kool-Aid anymore:
Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.


These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.


In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).
That's good stuff that.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Conundrum of Cafeteria Catholicism

Cafeteria Catholicism is being currently practiced by an increasing amount of people not only in the USA, but also in South America and elsewhere. Many of these people are surprised the new pope does not hear their pain, or wish for change, or even back down on the Catholic stance that artificial means of birth control are sinful.

Artificial means of birth control includes condoms and many people including some Catholic clergy believe this to be wrong because condoms help prevent HIV infection.

However, whether they like it or not these people are not just committing the sin of using birth control, most of them are catching the virus due to having sexual relations outside of marriage.

In Honduras, most married men have lovers outside their marriage, and given the HIV infection rate of their wives, it seems like they're not using condoms with their wives or lovers. In this extreme version of Cafeteria Catholicism, they are being good Catholics by not wrapping their chorizo sausages, but I guess the marriage vows aren't too sacred to these Catholic men.

Now these people are obviously not following the teachings of Catholicism yet they still have the gall to call themselves Catholics. And somehow, I think if they did not have sex outside of Catholic marriage they would not have a raging AIDS crisis.

Yet many of the Catholic clergy in these countries are obviously willing to accept that these men are breaking their marriage vows but not able to accept the fact that as priests they are not supposed to be handing out condoms to help facilitate them breaking their marriage vows more safely. So who is truly insane and out of touch with the teachings and realities of Catholicism, the new pope, or the condom crazy clergy?

If you don't agree with the Catholic Church then why claim to be a member of it?

Change will happen faster within the Church if it does not have any members. The disciples of Jesus founded the Catholic Church and their successors established the rules, the flock has never ruled the Shepard in this religion.

If you want the successors to Peter and Paul to change the rules, a really good way to get them to do it is to stop supporting their cause.

Many Catholics, like The Voice of the Faithful, believe the answer is to work within the Catholic Church. But listen up people, the Catholic Church doesn't care want its members think. It is a one way street. The priests and church hierarchy tell you what to believe and you either follow it or you are a sinners.

So ask yourself, am I truly a Catholic? And if the answer is no. Then find a church or religion that will let you worship God in a way that is not in conflict with your beliefs. Perhaps in another 100 years or so the Catholic Church will have changed enough that your descendants can be Catholic again.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Law & Order

I watched three consecutive episodes of Law & Order last night. TNT plays this little game in which they run the opening scene of the subsequent program simultaneously with the closing credits of the previous one, which appear in a little black bar across the bottom of the screen.

The result is that final scene of one is back-to-back with the opening scene of the next, and you get caught in the story before you realize it. The hope of escape is an episode you might have seen before. Without that to break the trance, it just goes on an on.

Final note: Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe is simply terrific. What a shame to lose him last fall.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Through the Looking Glass

You can't make this stuff up:
Restricting the ability of Democrats to block final votes on several of Bush's most controversial nominees "would be particularly offensive to people of color," members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote Majority Leader Bill Frist during the day. "All of the major legislation that today bars racial discrimination in voting, employment and housing was passed after filibusters" were broken, it said.
Say what? Let's try to figure that out. Eliminating filibusters on judicial nominees would be offensive to black folks because the filibuster was used to block civil rights legislation. Must be some sort of reverse nostalgia thing, but it makes my head explode. Here's what Minority Leader and Constitutional expert Harry Reid thinks about the whole thing:
Reid says that the Constitution does not require that judicial nominees get confirmation votes, allowing the minority to block them.
Rather than take Harry's word for what the Constitution says, I decided to go wild and actually read the thing. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:
He (The President) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
There you have it: "... with the Advice and Consent of the Senate" So far, only the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued its consent. The rest of the Senators have had their power to advise and consent, as granted them in the US Constitution, usurped by 41 Democrats. Changing this rule really is "The Constitutional Option."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cowboy Poets

Best lyric from last night's Academy of Country Music awards program:
It's hard to kiss the lips at night
That chew your ass out all day long.
The Notorious Cherry Bombs

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

MSNBC Defending Newsweek?

Craig Crawford, MSNBC CBS reporter, defended Newsweek this morning on Imus in the Morning.

He wanted to know why when Newsweek asked two other governmental agencies about the Koran flushing incident, they did not respond.

Now, if they had responded that the reports were false, would Newsweek have believed them?

I doubt it.

In my opinion, Newsweek would have probably run the story with the the tagline, "George W. Bush denies any flushing."

When Mr. Imus asked if Mr. Crawford thought it was a plant (presumably by the Bush administration), Mr. Crawford definitely was not rushing to the administration's defense.

Survivor Palau: The Grand Finale

The final episode ran late and long, so I am a day late. And a dollar short.

The show starts with a paralyzingly dull rehash of the last 13 episodes. The entire season is recreated, including the events of only three days ago. C'mon, Burnett, give us viewers a little credit for knowing what's going on. Finally, at 8:15, the opening credits roll. At this point, I am considering giving up on the gin and rolling a few of my own.

Day 37 finds the final four, Tom, Ian, Katie and Jenn pondering their good fortune. Suddenly, a blood curdling scream echoes down the beach from the women, stirring Tom and Ian into ... well, into what can only be described as modest concern. They are probably with a couple cameramen, right? Anyway, what sounded like a murder turned out to be the girls squealing over a cooler full of food and beverages. The team consumes the feast with great delight and the game is put away for a couple hours.

Respite over, Katie and Jenn declare that should anyone but Tom win immunity, it is Tom that's going home. And Ian seems ready to play that deal.

For immunity, the survivors must navigate another freaking monster obstacle course, involving ropes, knots, keys, and a vertical climb. The rules and tasks are so numerous and convoluted that I can't even begin to describe them. But then, if you are taking the time to read this, you probably watched it, so you know what I am talking about.

Probst is not as lucky as I, so he describes the challenge. In depth. Somehow, the players nod in assent and are ready to play. I guess the "say whats," "huhs," and "you're freaking kiddings," are on a cutting room floor somewhere.

Off they go, with Jenn in the early lead, followed by Tom. At the end of the lengthy key/rope course thingy, Tom leads and begins to climb, followed by Ian. Katie looks like she's out for a walk around the reservoir in Central Park.

As a parenthetical aside, let me say that Tom demonstrates amazing skill with the grappling hook portion of the course. Now I won’t describe that portion in depth, but suffice it to say that Tom is scooping his targets off the beach with the skill of a rescue worker picking bodies off the bottom of the East River. But of course, Tom is a New York Fireman.

Ultimately, Tom and Ian move to the final phase of the challenge – that’s right, this thing is so elaborate, they had to do it in phases. They slide down a zip line, race back through the water, and unlock a combination lock. Through no special skills beyond dumb luck, Tom opens his lock first, wins immunity, and unknowingly saves his skin.

Back at the beach on day 37, the tribe tries to make sense of what to do. Ian wants to send Jenn home, having failed to defeat Tom. Tom tells Jenn he's true to Ian, so Jenn is gone. They hug and cry, and we see that Tom is more loyal than Ian, who was ready to send Tom packing in a heartbeat. Ian says he wouldn't have had an easy decision, and this sets Tom to thinking.

Jenn brilliantly dishes on Ian's duplicity to Tom, creating her only window of hope. Tom obliges by confronting Ian directly. Ian is screwing up big time, and he admits to promising to vote Tom off. Tom has a new game to play.

At tribal council, the jury marches in. Usually, jurors are transformed once out of the game. Coby has a swishy shawl on, Janu is positively radiant, Steph has her Jersey girl hair, and Caryn . . . looks just like she did on her last day in the game. That is, I suppose, apropos of nothing.

Under Probst's questioning, Ian wilts and screws up again. Tom is now fully ready to toss Ian overboard. The verbal sparring is mind-numbing, but let me just quote Tom to demonstrate his newfound animosity, after Ian implored him not to listen to Jenn: "It's not Jenn's words I'm listening to. It's your words I'm listening to." The final four is in turmoil, but it's time to vote.

Probst adds up the votes and it's a tie. Ian and Jenn have two votes each. Katie and Tom vote again, and it's still tied. Tom and Katie are intransigent. Either that or they are both changed their. I'm not into comparing the handwriting on the ballots, so whatever.

Jenn and Ian are subjected to the same firemaking challenge that Steph and Bobby Jon played way back when - I think it was snowing then. Ian wins handily, and Jenn is gone.

Tom, Ian, and Katie now constitute the final three. In the past, the final immunity challenge has always been some sort of endurance test. If that pattern holds, Tom the firefighter is certainly in the driver's seat.

Later that night, back at camp, Tom and Ian are at each other's throats: Tom thinks (rightly so) that Ian was ready to stab him in the back, and Ian is scrambling (lamely I might add) to cover up his duplicity.

Tom scolds Ian like a middle-aged man with children, and Ian responds like a boy caught in his first big lie:
Tom: Dere's all tree of us, dere's no mawh lyin' now.
Ian: "No matter what I say, I'm the bad guy tonight?"
Tom: "Cuz yer lyin'. Ta her an ta me."

Katie joins in, and Ian is cut off at the knees. Tom begs Ian to own up to his duplicity, to no avail. Ian is unable to "be a man" in Tom's eyes.

The next morning finds Ian in tears. He looks totally beaten. Katie encourages Ian to buck up and take her to the final two. Ian continues weeping and rationalizing his game. It’s not a pretty site.

Off to the final challenge they go, picking up the torches of their vanquished competitors. It is, as usual, the cornball moment of the series. Each competitor is given a burial at sea, coupled by a reminder video/audio clip. I thank the good Lord for TiVo, fast forward past this mess, and switch to rum and coke. It's getting late.

It's time for the final immunity challenge, and as predicted it is an endurance event.The survivors will stand on a small metal disk around a pole attached to a buoy. Last one standing wins.

One hour passes, then two. The wind picks up and the buoys start to list.

At over three hours, the thunder and rain starts. Now I have some knowledge of lightning, and my sense is that clinging to a metal pole attached to a metal buoy in a sea of salt water is not a good situation. But this show is about ratings, not safety, so the Survivors soldier on.

Katie looks cramped, Ian parched, and Tom zen-like. Hmm. Ian's parched, and so am I. Time for a refresher.

Probst: "Tom, is this rain going to make this any more difficult?"
Tom: "Not more than the sun would be."
Cue the sun.

At 5 hours, it is now dark, and Katie sensibly packs it in. Tom and Ian are still at it at 7 hours. And at 8 hours. Probst apparently has had enough, as he tries to goad tom and Ian into a deal so he can go back to his trailer.

On goes the posturing, neither Tom nor Ian willing to bow out in a battle of wills.
After 12 hours even Probst looks exhausted, and he's just watching. At this point, Ian proposes to step down in exchange for his good name. He will pack it in if Tom takes Katie. Tom offers his respect, and that's enough for Ian. Tom wins.

Tom holds Ian to his word, and sends him packing. Ian seems delighted to have won back Tom's respect. This is either a tribute to Tom's strength of personality or Ian's need for a father figure. We'll never know. In any event, Tom and Katie are the final two.

Day 39, and Tom and Katie are pinching themselves on their last day. They set to burning down the camp, and paddle into the sunset for the final tribal council.

Tom opens by basically saying "props to y’all," albeit in New Yorkese. Katie points out that although she skated by, she did it because that was her plan. Way to go, Katie.

Jury Q&A:

Coby blasts Katie, then tells Tom he played dirty and sits down. Thanks, Coby.

Gregg asks Tom why he voted him out. Tom blames Ian. He asks Katie why she did nothing, further asking how "being pathetic is a plan." Katie has no real answer, other than to say she is not pathetic. Hmmmm.

Steph wants Tom to explain how he fought for her, as he promised to. Tom admits to holding to his alliance. Katie makes an implausible lie.

Janu accuses Tom of compromising his integrity. Tom admits to playing the game as well as he could. She asks Katie for three positives and negatives, and Katie declines, implying she neither wants nor needs Janu's vote. Maybe being pathetic is a strategy.

Caryn confronts Tom, who blows it all right back in her face. She then calls Katie phony, cruel, lazy, mean, incompetent, unkind, and treacherous. Katie responds that she is not unkind. Wow, solid defense.

Jenn calls Tom a chauvinist, and disrespectful to boot. Tom brilliantly throws back that Jenn's game was to hide her strength, so how could he know? Pretty swift thinking. Jenn accuses Katie of not being a strong enough woman, and Katie points out that she is still here playing. I ask "why is one compelled to play by Jenn's predetermined gender roles?" Beyond that, Jenn, how is depending upon Gregg for comfort at night playing the game "as a strong woman?" You, my dear, are all smoke and no mirrors.

Ian asks each why they think they should not win the game. Katie answers because she is too funny. Tom answers that because he was compensated by simply playing the game. Yawn.

Tom and Katie make their self-serving closing arguments, with Tom being more convincing than Katie, who again invokes her "sense of humor." Katie: if you have to remind people about your sense of humor, maybe it ain’t as sharp as you think.

The jury votes, Probst collects 'em, and as we know by now, he flies them home to New York.

And here he comes, into the re-made tribal council set in Gotham City. Tom is sitting there holding hands with a woman I take to be his wife, but who turns out to be Katie; she looks that different than when we saw her last. With little adieu, (except for a pregnant pause while basking in the crowds rapt attention and fanfare) Probst tallies the votes. In the end, it is Tom in a landslide. He hugs his wife, and damned if she doesn't look a little like Katie.

In the end, Tom has won $1 million (closer to $500K after taxes), and a 2005 El Camino. Sure, they call it a Chevy SSR, but who are they kidding? It’s an El Camino. Katie has $100,000, and Ian a Corvette. Not a bad haul for 40 days of obstacle courses and puzzles.

Coming next fall: Montezuma’s Revenge.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Never mind that Newsweek has "apologized" for their ridiculous report about Gitmo Koranic abuse. These reporters should be fired for not knowing that today's toilets are severely challenged by toilet paper. In order to get a religious tome down one of those things, it would have to be of such small text as to be unreadable, in which case what's point of printing it?

Update: Isn't this story a little more in line with our knowledge of the function of a low-flow toilet? "A detainee was reported by a guard to be ripping pages out of a Koran and putting them in a toilet to stop it up as a protest," Gen. Myers said, in quotes picked up by the Washington Times.
Regarding the little Newsweek issue Don mentioned previously, the Belmont Club has this to say:
Newsweek is admitting to starting an international political firestorm, which got actual people killed, caused civil disturbances, endangered the lives of American troops and significantly set back US efforts in the war on terror because they ran a story from an anonymous source who cannot even remember if he told them what they said he told them. Their efforts at "confirmation" yielded a denial and a non-denial from Defense officials, but no confirmation.


Newsweek magazine should forthwith compensate the Afghans who died as a result of their baseless, and I mean baseless, story. Even if it turns out, as result of further investigation, that a Quran has somewhere, somehow been flushed down a toilet by somebody, it will not alter the fact that as matters stand, their Guantanamo story hasn't got a leg to stand on.
And Newsweek is more credible than al Jazeera how? If I had a subscription to that rag, it wouldn't last the day.


The liberal bias of our news organizations has screwed the good old USA again.

Newsweek Magazine published a gutter muck raking story accusing guards at Guantanamo Bay of Koran desecration. Now Newsweek is scrambling because it turns out, they released the story based on the word of one source. Have we heard this before? What's the frequency Kenneth?

Of course, it seems the story of Koran desecration was "not credible."

The surprising thing is the editor of Newsweek is trying to give their side of the story.

Hasn't anyone learned anything since the Clinton Administration, "apologize and move on." The American public does not want to hear your excuses.

I don't know if this would qualify as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," the Constitutional definition of treason, but it sure comes close.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Alright it's list time

When I'm being lame and have a lack of new ideas for a blog entry with some slight degree of creativity I do a list.

This one is Cousin Don's top five favorite modern (after 1960) works of Fiction: (I'd put links but then I'd feel like I was shilling for Amazon)

1. Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
Unbelievable book full of sex, philosophy, and set against the backdrop of Prague falling to Communist Russia.

2. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Great, hysterical work by Vonnegut (I like it better than Slaughterhouse V) with lots of Cornell references which mock my alma mater much to my pleasure.

3. Another Roadside Attraction - Tom Robbins
The body of the messiah found on the side of the road. Bizarre and brilliant!

4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
I read his first novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh when it first hit paperback, and then Wonder Boys in hardcover. The most stylish writer of American prose since Faulkner IMHO. I was glad to see The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay win the Pulitzer.

5. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Sci-fi with a twist. This book blew me away when I first read it.

Dispatch from the Religion of Peace

Via lgf comes this:
Srinigar, India - Suspected Muslim rebels detonated a grenade on Thursday as children left a Christian missionary school in Indian Kashmir, killing two women and wounding about 50 people including 20 pupils, police said.

"Please save me, I don't want to die. Call my parents," screamed a girl, her leg covered in blood, outside the school in Srinagar.

Distraught parents, many of them weeping, searched for their children at the scene of the blast in the centre of the main city of Kashmir where separatist rebels are waging a 15-year-old revolt against Indian rule.

"The grenade exploded as the schoolchildren were coming out of the gate of the school as it closed for the day," a police officer told reporters.

Survivor Update

I blogged last night's Survivor, but the show was so much talk and so little action that it was hard to find any humor in it. If you are interested nevertheless, it is here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Last night on Dennis Miller's program, radio personality Doug McIntyre perfectly captured my sentiments on the ongoing Senate whining about the filibuster rules changes: "If they're going to stay up all night for months at a time yammerin', keep the filibuster, but if they're gonna go to the Sheridan and sleep it off, get rid of it."

Precisely. The so-called tradition of "unlimited debate" should include some debate.

Class Act and Fool

Being from Southern New Jersey just outside the City of Brotherly Love, I'm a dyed-in-green Eagles fan. E-A-G-L-E-S!!!! GO EAGLES!!! Sorry tourettes typing.

It is not surprising that I'm following the idiocy of Terrell Owens' recent hissy fit.

T.O. signed a contract with the Eagles last year after blowing his chance to be an unrestricted free agent because his agent failed to file the correct papers on time. He has a new agent nowadays who is giving him equally bad advice.

The Eagles managed to acquire him via Baltimore and with Owens reached the Superbowl last year.

But it is now obvious to all which Superstar on the Eagles is the class act. McNabb throughout his career has been a class act despite those Campbell Soup commercials which I deplore but my mother loves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I started this blog 18 months ago because I always liked to write and I wanted to expand my skills beyond business letters. So far I have been pretty unhappy with my progress, so I am neither surprised nor concerned that traffic has been slow. Further, I don't leave a lot of comments or trackbacks on other blogs, so my "footprint" in the blogosphere has been pretty meager.

Still, the occasional straggler wanders by and leaves a comment. In response to this post about little girls being challenged with cool and interesting activities while little boys are subjected to "gender equity" indoctrination by a radical feminist, I received this comment from Amanda:
leave it to a man to post something so disgusting. i think you need to learn about gender equity before you open your sexist mouth. i hope you never have any daughters
Notice that Amanda didn't challenge a single point, nor defend the program I questioned. Rather, her "debate" style is to call me names and question my parenting qualifications. It's instructive, too, that Amanda thinks that observing that I am "a man" somehow explains my "disgusting" post. And she calls me sexist!

I would love nothing better than to debate Amanda had she made a point. But how does one debate ignorant petulence?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Survivor Palau: Episode 13

Night 33 finds Jenn back at the still rat-infested camp, shocked that her compatriot, Gregg, was voted out. She shudders at the thought of spending a night without Gregg's comfort. Oh, please. If Janu can spend a night all alone, I think Jenn can get by without Gregg. Ian astutely notices that he and Tom have to avoid being on the losing end of an all-girl alliance, with the tally now at 3-2.

The next morning, the group starts turning on each other in earnest: Tom tells Caryn he wants to dump Katie and Jenn. Jenn and Katie try to get Ian to turn on Tom. Ian wants to take out Caryn.

Treemail promises a trip, a feast, and a view. Tom and Ian try to figure out who to take on reward, should they win. They agree not to take each other, so as to separate the girls. At this point, the gamesmanship becomes so twisted that I can't even begin to document it. Well, I can begin, but I can't do it justice: the upshot of it all is that Tom trusts Caryn, and Ian trusts Katie (even though she betrayed him once).

Reward for this week is the annual car. This time, it's a candy-apple red Chevy Corvette, with an overnight feast at a luxury mansion.

The challenge consist of collecting mileage markers from the other end of the lagoon and assigning them to various world cities.

The raft paddle portion of this challenge is a distinct advantage for the men: Tom and Ian's strength and balance seem too much for the women to keep up. That said, it is still painfully slow to watch even the men negotiate the course.

Eventually, and I do mean that in the most disengaged, ennui-laden sense, Ian returns first and starts assigning mileage. He gets it right the first time, and sits behind the wheel of his new Vette. *Yawn*

Which girl will Ian take with him on the trip, having already agreed with Tom not to take each other? Inexplicably, Ian throws out their previous agreement and takes Tom, leaving the three girls alone to plot for a night. How does this work into his strategy? If the girls get solid, Ian and Tom are toast. Well, whatever. Tom and Ian arrive at the Palaun mansion in Ian's Vette, and we learn that Ian has never had a car before. Of any sort. I guess there isn't much money in that much-coveted dolphin-training gig.

Oddly, Tom is nonplussed that Ian bailed on their previous strategy, and the pair proceed to plan anew, seemingly unaware that the three girls are doing the same. They decide to resolidify their alliance with Katie.

Back at camp, Katie is royally pissed off that she is not enjoying reward with Ian. The girls plot and dish, and Katie is shown to be smarter than we ever thought: A tentative alliance is formed, and Caryn aggressively machetes a coconut in half. The symbolism of that gesture is not lost on this guy.

Back at the beach the next day, Caryn plays the game: in front of Tom, she directly asks Ian: "Is it you, me and Tom or you, me and Katie."

Ian is caught totally unaware, and stumbles back, rolling his eyes in an apparent attempt to think, "It's you, me, kay, er you ... me .. and ...Tom." This Freudian blunder is not missed by Tom, who looks up at Ian and blinks. These people have so many lies strung out to so many people, they can barely function.

At this point, let me say that this thing has devolved into so much talk, so many lies, and so much plotting, that writing a cogent summary is beyond my interest. It has gone beyond snarky infighting and into plain nasty posturing. And that's fun to watch, but really dull to write about. I can't wait to see how Jeff Harrell handles it.

Suffice it to say that Ian and Katie have some sort of nasty break-down, like that first fight between two people that are finally realizing the other is not Prince Charming or Cinderella. In the end, both Ian and Katie end up in tears, with Ian lying down incredulous that Katie is so emotional over such a small thing as missing a dinner. I am sympathetic, but I have long ago given up on deluding myself that there is any such thing as a "small thing" when it comes to failing to meet the expectations of a woman's trust. And Ian will discover this eventually as well. In the end, it seems that Ian and Katie may be more of a "couple' than Gregg and Jenn ever were.

Day 36, and Tom and Caryn are feeling each other up out. Treemail describes a memory-agility immunity challenge. Tom tries to talk sense into Katie, who resents his bullying. After working on Katie, Tom goes after Ian, telling him not to trust Katie. He is playing more aggressive psychological games than I have ever seen on this show.

Immunity challenge is an obstacle course, followed by a puzzle, a return trip, and a memory duplication of the previously viewed puzzle.

Tom makes it back first, puts together one row, and heads back to look again. Jenn assembles her entire puzzle before heading back. Back and forth, back and forth, with Tom taking a real beating on the course. He falls hard four times on the robe bridge. On and on it goes In the end, finally, finally, thank you lord, someone wins immunity. Tom

Day 36 and the tribe arrives back on the beach. If the women's allliance hold together, Tom and Ian are in trouble. Ian and Katie try to figure out where to go from here. Katie, who has never won a single challenge, and who heretofore has flown under the radar, has suddenly become the most powerful person in the tribe. She can side with the girls or the guys, managing to have split the difference. Ian knows this and sucks up as hard as he can.

Tribal council. Probst throws salt into Katie's little reward pout, and then turns and does the same to Ian. Caryn accuses the guys of duplicity, and suddenly she has some power.

Everyone starts ratting out every conversation they had, and Coby on the jury covers his mouth in mock horror but genuine delight. Coby loved gossip during the game, and he loves it still.

At this point, everyone of these five seem to hate every other one. All the lies have been revealed, the deals exposed.

The votes are cast, and tallied, and Caryn is gone. The girls alliance didn't hold. Who flipped? Katie or Jenn? We are led to believe it was Katie, but we never saw Tom and Ian talking to Jenn. Maybe it's another editing twist. Tom, Ian, Katie, and Jenn are left and Probst grimly intones: "You are the final four. Over the next three days you will have three tribal councils, two imunity challenges, one winner. I can't wait to see how this plays out."

Next week: after a contentious tribal council, everyone's freaking happy with each other.

Survivor Palau: Episode 12

Day 31, and everyone feels sorry for Steph, who they previously eliminated. Tom goes on an ego trip, saying "If I'd have been playing against me, I'd have voted me off." That relativistic statement flashes me back to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, a book that freaked me out totally as a 5th grader. Better refresh my cocktail after that one.

Tom further cements his position with Caryn by telling her she's on her own. Caryn is understandably worried, and realizes she needs to break up Tom's alliance.

Treemail promises a pampered reward to whoever wins. The challenge: a quiz on Palau. The reward: shower, feast, and a night's sleep on a luxury yacht.

Probst asks the questions, and the Survivors provide the answers. The rules for elimination are so complex, involving levers, knotted ropes, and lanterns, that I won't even begin to describe them. Let me just say that if this event took place in America instead of Palau, the environmentalist would not permit kerosene torches to be dunked into a "wetland" like they are here.

This game demonstrates that Gregg is totally whipped; he actually asks Jenn for permission to vote. I can't believe it and neither can Probst. In the end, Gregg and Jenn remain, with Gregg winning. Allowed to take a friend, he of course chooses Jenn. Allowed a second choice, he picks Katie, who he had betrayed seconds before. Gregg is slowly and methodically building himself a chick alliance, with him at the center. It looks to me like a Jim Jones kind of following, though.

At this point, Ian and Tom realize what is going on: it's Gregg, Jenn and Katie aligned against Tom, Ian, and Caryn. They try to figure out how to short-circuit Gregg's plan, and the answer is obvious: vote off Gregg.

Back at reward, we are treated to Gregg, Jenn, and Katie living the life of luxury, which now includes Gregg's best friend, Jenn's sister, and Katie's brother-in-law (Katie must be really hurting for family and friends if the best the producers can produce is her brother-in-law. The six of them are so smug and self-satisfied that, for the first time, I am rooting for Tom and Ian to defeat these clowns.

Back at camp, Ian and Tom hatch a plan to force a tie with Gregg's coalition by bringing Caryn into the mix. So there we have it, sports fans: Tom, Ian and Caryn against Gregg, Jenn, and Katie. Whoever survives this next tribal council is on the fast track to the finals.

Meanwhile, on the yacht, we are treated to both a dolphin swim and a strategy session. Gregg confirms the split, and Katie throws in her lot with Gregg, at least until something better comes along.

The family and friends take off, the Survivors get all weepy, and we go to commercial. And I go to the kitchen for a fresh gin and tonic. . .

Treemail for immunity challenge is unusually cryptic, but the challenge turns out to be less surprising. The challenge is - wait for it - an obstacle course consisting of a series of challenges that are repeats of challenges already used this season.

Off they go, with one eliminated at each station. Caryn is eliminated at the rope climb. Katie is gone at the puzzle. Gregg can't eat the chicken egg, and he's gone. Jenn loses the flag raising, and Tom and Ian's plan seems to to be a lock. In the end Ian wins immunity, and the game is on.

Tonight, Tom, Ian and Caryn are voting together against Gregg, Jenn, and Katie. Gregg, for his part, has no clue, as Caryn plays the part of victim. An editing trick? Who knows, but probably so.

Inexplicably, Ian flips the plan to Katie, who doesn't know what to do. Last night, Katie told us that she would stay with Gregg as long as he was in control. Ian has now told her he is not. Now what will she do?

Tribal council finds Gregg blowing smoke up everyone's behind: "It did hurt to leave behind three tribe members who didn't get to share in the reward." That would be the same three that Gregg plans to eliminate in succession. Caryn is cryptic: "They thought I had too many rewards." Jenn and Gregg claim not to be a couple as far as the game goes, but nobody really believes them. Tom is in "go for it" mode: "All's fair in love and war."

As a parenthetical aside, let me say that over on the jury, Stephenie has obtained full-on "Jersey Girl" hair. Don mentioned it previously, and he is right: I haven't seen a mane like that since I tried to pick up a Hawthorne chick at Nickel's Alley in Paramus, circa 1982.

The vote is cast, and Probst tallies 'em up: Gregg is gone, and Jenn looks like someone took away her lollypop. And you know what? They did, because she is now all alone in this game. And from the look on her face, she knows it.

Next week: A cryptic preview in which we learn nothing, other than to expect an emotional debacle.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Update on Milton Academy Hockey Hummers II

Two of the boys involved in the Milton Academy scandal are going to be formally charged. This sets an ugly precendent for future consensual sex between teenagers.

Will they be arresting the 16 & 17 year old father of every pregnant 14 & 15 year-old girl's baby now?

Will Quincy police be staking out Planned Parenthood to find out who the perpetrators are having sex with girls a whole one or two years younger than them?

Parents - lock your teenage sons in their rooms before the Quincy DA does it for you...

Survivor and Aquanet

Well, I don't want to ruin Survivor for my cousin and the horde (Do my wife, his wife, and our mothers make a horde?) of readers devoted to his semi-intoxicated ramblings on the details of life on an island swarming with boom microphones.

But I must comment on the major Coby treatment Stephenie had done to her hair when she appeared at the end as part of "the jury." Man, talk about some Jersey girl tunnel rat hair styling. I haven't seen that much Aquanet in someone's hair since 1989.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Well, we are off to New Jersey tomorrow morning. The in-laws don't have internet (heck their telephone barely works), so this will be my last post until Monday morning. Unless I have some sort of stupendous inspiration that sends me to the public library, but that's never happened before, so why even think about it? Anyhoo, the Pool is all Don's until then. I will TiVO Survivor, so you can expect that lengthy exercise in absurdity upon our return.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Kramer vs. nobody

I recently learned of this lie that has been foisted on the American Public.

Here's a nice summary of the misleading divorce rate from another blog.


My wife and I often watch Jeopardy in the evenings. I know a fair amount of useless information, but I often wonder what these contestants study for the show.

Multi-millionaire Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings will be facing two winners of an elimination tournament between past Jeopardy Champions.

What is Ken Jennings reading for his off season workout?

Good News from Iraq

The AP has this report detailing a letter sent to terrorist "leader" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Apparently, things aren't going all that well for our buddy Abu.
The letter advocated a jihad, or holy war, and praised "the sheik" for being "a thorn in the mouth of the Americans," the military said. But it also described low morale, weakening support for the insurgency, and the incompetence of many militant leaders, the statement said. The author also reportedly admonished the "the sheik" for abandoning his followers since Fallujah — an insurgent stronghold that was hit hard by a major U.S.-led assault in November.
Here's a link to the same article on the NY Times website:
And here's ABC's take on the story:
And CBS's:
Washington Post:
I don't expect tonight's broadcast news will be any more forthcoming.

Update: At 3:00 PM, ABC radio news is speculating the letter is a fake. They present no evidence, other than that the letter sounds like propaganda to the field reporter's finely honed ears.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Exit 18W, to answer the usual question

So we are off to the Garden State next weekend to visit the inlaws. The good news is that on Saturday afternoon, I will be sitting here: Box 328, Row D, in the South Bronx.