10 December 2006

Where's the outrage

Where's the outrage from the left about the president's rampant fundamentalism? Oh yeah, wrong president. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

13 October 2006

Can't we turn the refugee weapon around?

This bit on Instapundit caught my attention. The international community - which of course means the United States - should go to China and offer to help them manage the refugee crisis - route them to South Korea, or Siberia or somewhere. I expect they'll be happy to go anywhere there's food and no sociopathic tyrant in charge.

North Korea is a humanitarian nightmare. We can do the right thing by helping these poor people and defuse Kim Jong Il's refugee bomb at the same time.

11 September 2006

9/11 1565

France had signed a treaty with Turkey some years before, and although much of the Order was of French descent, that country was neither able nor inclined to ride to its rescue.
<snicker> Of course they signed a treaty. I hadn't realized how long the French have been committed to appeasement.

16 August 2006

Kidman, et al.

Yeah, it's nice that a bunch of Hollywood types have condemned terrorism - how hard is that, anyway? But it's still a little annoying to have entertainers offering opinions on non-entertainment topics and having people pay attention to them as if they were experts, or somehow involved in that arena.

I mean, I'm glad to see them showing (IMHO) some ability to recognize that we are in fact at war, but how can I reasonably credit them any more than their cohorts who speak out so vehemently against Bush and our Iraq policy?.

Nicole's pretty cute, though. She was pretty hot in Eyes Wide Shut. Bet she's glad she dropped that alien-worshipping freak Cruise.

coffee

Top source for antioxidants

Money quotes:

Larger quantities of coffee seem to be especially helpful in diabetes prevention. In a report that combined statistical data from many studies, researchers found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people who drank two or fewer. Those who drank more than six had a 35 percent risk reduction.

"We were surprised to learn that coffee quantitatively is the major contributor of antioxidants in the diet both in Norway and in the U.S.A.," said Rune Blomhoff, the senior author of both studies and a professor of nutrition at the University of Oslo.

These same anti-inflammatory properties may explain why coffee appears to decrease the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis and liver cancer.

EXCELLENT!

08 August 2006

Army of Terrorist Davids the future?

Bruce Sterling offers up a vision from a British military thinker that suggests national borders will be less defined, the world population will be more mobile, and the third world will invade the first on 737s with laptops and blackberries.

07 August 2006

Best fans in the NFL

Favre looked fairly sharp in front of a sold-out Lambeau Field crowd during the Green Bay Packers' "Family Night" scrimmage on Saturday.

27 July 2006

Lileks high school reunion

I think Lileks is a wonderful writer. Really excellent. I don't own any of his books (yet) but I read the Bleat most every day and usually really enjoy it. This week he's been writing about his trip home for his (30th?) high school class reunion. After reading today's installment I think this is one of the things he's best at. I'm not sure what to call it - the retrospective, the look-back-and-forth. It's not earth-shaking, but he captures an essence that seems not often to be distilled.

30 June 2006

Babies and Their Fathers

Oh my, this is funny. ROTFLMAO.

26 June 2006

NY Times

I agree with this thread on Instapundit.

I think there should be consequences for someone who releases secret information.

23 June 2006

Instapundit buys deck chair from FRANCE!!

Is the boycott over?

The Professor has been tempted by the charms of a high-priced French deck chair.

What could he have been thinking?

:-)

22 June 2006

WMD

Holy cow, they found WMD in Iraq.

I agree with Prof. Reynolds that WMD was never high on my list of reasons for freeing Iraq. At the same time I never doubted that they existed. I always thought everyone jumped too quickly to the conclusion that since we didn't find them in the middle of the road into Baghdad they weren't there. Iraq is a big country. Why anyone thought it could have been thoroughly searched in the midst of war just wasn't thinking clearly or honestly.

I'm glad they found them so maybe people will shut up about them now. I always thought there were more important reasons for the invasion -
  • Saddam was evil
  • He was violating UN sanctions
  • He was a supporter of terrorists
  • He wanted to kill all the Kurds (and yes I think we should be doing something more in Darfur, too)
Mainly, though, I think it's vital to the war on terror that we work to change the culture in which islamic terrorism flourishes. A free, democratic Iraq will flourish and serve as a constant reminder to the rest of the Middle East that such a system can work. The people of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Iran will find it hard to blame anyone but their own governments and religious leaders for the state of their countries and their lives.

It won't be easy, but it needs to be done. Chasing down individual terrorists and blowing them up may be fun and rewarding, but ultimately this is a cultural war. For the moment I'm taking the word of everyone who says it's not a religious war, who says Islam is a religion of peace and the jihadists are extremists not unlike some white supremecist groups in the US. For the moment.

To truly win this war we have to change the cultures that are attacking us.

21 June 2006

Yahoo mail

The last few times I've sent group emails, Yahoo has made me verify by typing in a verification string. If that keeps up I'll probably switch completely to Gmail.

15 June 2006

The UN hates homeschooling

This (HT instapundit) piece on the trials of a couple of home-schoolers in Belgium is chilling.

Fear the nanny state - it wants only to rub down the rough edges that make life interesting.

13 June 2006

Euro-hooligans

If you've watched the world cup at all you've probably noticed that the players benches are protected by clear enclosures. This strikes me as a capitulation to the hooliganism that's given soccer fans - particularly in Europe I think - a bad reputation. I don't really think emotions run any less high in American football stadiums, but I haven't noticed any sort of shield protecting the players. Any fan who threw something at a player would be thrown out of the game and - I expect - charged with a crime. Apparently that's not the case in Germany.

01 June 2006

An unfortunate turn of phrase ...

See if you can spot it ...

When Moscow's mayor can abuse fundamental freedoms with impunity, it is doubtful that Russia is fit to hold the presidency of the Council of Europe - or even be a member.

President Putin's silence is damning. He has said nothing in defence of the right to protest or of the human rights of Russia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Nevertheless, Moscow Pride was a huge success, despite all the homophobia it revealed and the savage repression it unleashed. It is a major milestone in Russian queer history. A handful of courageous gay Russians got up off their knees and stood tall, proud and defiant. They dared to take on the authoritarian regime of Mayor Luzhkov.

By insisting on the right to protest, they were defending more than gay rights: they were defending the democratic freedoms of all Russians, gay and straight.

Spotted here on Instapundit.

I admire their resolve and courage, but I did laugh out loud as I read one bit.

30 May 2006

Smaller government now!

From Wired:
A 2004 study by the agency found that 2 percent of fireworks-related injuries that year were caused by homemade or altered fireworks; the majority involved the mishandling of commercial firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers. Nonetheless, Wolfson says, "we've fostered a very close relationship with the Justice Department and we're out there on the Internet looking to see who is promoting these core chemicals. Fireworks is one area where we're putting people in prison."

The story is about a mail-order chemical company that got busted because they sell ingredients - among many, many other things - that CAN be used to make fireworks.

Isn't blowing yourself up making fireworks kind of a self-limiting sort of activity. Is it REALLY worth spending tax-payer money to crack down on this epidemic that involved 2 whole percent of injuries last year.

26 May 2006

Moles, holes, and other earmarks

About this. I wonder if the reason the porkers are acting so seeming stupid is that they've already written off their chances in November and are in a feeding frenzy to get all they can of the other white meat before the barbecue ends.
(Can I flog this metaphor any further?)

24 May 2006

Schools

I was just looking back at this bit from blackprof.com and had some further thoughts.

Mr. Jeffries argues, as have many others, that school choice is the answer for fixing our deteriorating school system. I mentioned in the comments that I'd read some research years ago that suggested most students in a pioneering school choice program in Milwaukee who actually took advantage of the program did so either for social or athletics reasons. That is they either wanted to go to school with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend or they wanted to play for a particular school's athletic team.

Another commenter suggested I was wrong.

I don't pretend to be an expert on school choice, education in general, or inner-city education in particular. I'm not completely inexperienced - I actually have a (never-used) masters in education and my student teaching took place in the closest thing Knoxville, Tennessee has to an inner-city. But - to reiterate - I know I'm no expert in this area and the little knowledge I have is many-years old.

That said. While school choice may be laudable it can't - by itself - fix the nation's education problems. And it especially can't fix our inner-city education problems because those problems are ultimately the problems of the inner-city itself.

Schools don't operate in a vacuum. They are products of their communities.

Katrina analysis

Jonah Goldberg does a little urban myth busting on the subject of Katrina and who screwed up what. (HT Instapundit) My favorite bit - paraphrased - if the President screwed up so badly in New Orleans, how did he manage to do okay in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida - the other states hammered by Katrina and her siblings? What should be obvious is that in a crisis, it's the people who are there that ultimately need to deal with it.
And they just re-elected Ray Nagin.
Wow.

15 May 2006

Carter administration offers assistance with Iran

This struck me as kinda funny. I mean I know Jimmy had some ... experience ... with Iran, but I'm not sure that's what we're looking for.

26 April 2006

Skool Choys

This was always my argument against school choice and vouchers:
"Many of the most empowered parents and families are removing their children. What's left, in even working-class communities, are schools filled with the least empowered families. Families with the least parent involvement to offer, families with the least help with homework to offer.  There's been a continual outflow for at least 10 years, and it isn't stopping now."
School choice is great for involved parents and motivated students - also for students who want to play sports on a different team or go to school with a boy/girlfriend - but they don't do anything for the VAST majority of poor, inner city students.

19 April 2006

Christianity in the US

Map of dominant churches by county in the US.

Links to maps for each major religion - with Christianity broken down by denomination.

Interesting to me, at least. I grew up a Catholic (nominally, at least) in Tennessee. Recently we've started attending a Lutheran (ELCA) church in Minnesota. There's also a map of Religious Adherents which suggests how the coastal power brokers might have a little trouble understanding and relating to those of us in the fly-over states.

04 April 2006

Very cool medical stuff

It's not sci-fi anymore - they're actually cloning organs and re-implanting them. Excellent.

24 March 2006

What a classy response in the most horrible of situations

"I don't have anything to say. I appreciate your interest. I just have nothing to say right now." -- from the father of the Tennessee woman who has confessed to shooting her pastor husband.

Can't imagine many more horrible situations for a parent to find himself in.

22 March 2006

war casualties

from Glenn

I've had the feeling that by and large our casualties have been relatively light in the WOT (war on terror), and I suspected they weren't too much higher than the numbers in peace time.

That's not to discount any of them. Every single death is a tragedy for a lot of people, and I regret every one. Nevertheless, the aggregate numbers are interesting and really impressive considering the type of war we're fighting.

Being a soldier (airman, marine, etc) is a dangerous profession even in times of peace, and naturally more so when actively engaging an enemy. If anything it's a credit to the training and leadership of our forces that we haven't lost more people.

21 March 2006

Steer clear of Mississippi

The Cory Maye incident appears not to have been too unusual. Sounds like the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force possibly should be on the other side of the bars.


20 March 2006

kids

My youngest child is six. It seems that she grows older by the moment. I find myself holding her on my lap, my head to her head, eyes closed as I try to fix that moment, to burn it into my memory forever. There are only a limited number of those moments available to us and they are the most precious commodity in the world.

G and I were talking about one of my old girlfriends who has no children, and I remarked that she was never terribly maternal. "I can't imagine," was G's comment. And I had to agree. I can't imagine my life without my kids. I guess that's not strictly true. There's nothing wrong with my imagination. What I really mean is that when I imagine my life without my kids it seems so empty, so desperately empty.

What would I do? I'd obviously have more time for myself. I could go to movies, plays, and concerts. I could go out to eat. I could travel more and it would be more relaxing. And I'd be able to afford to do those things since I wouldn't have kids hoovering up every scant penny that I hadn't yet earned.

I wonder if I would be more liberal. Would I hate George W. Bush? Would I think Islamic terrorists were moral equals of US troops fighting to create a democratic Iraq? I know that opinion doesn't break that cleanly on the demographic fault line between those with kids and those without. But ... still. It makes me wonder if there's more than a casual correlation between the declining birth rates in Europe and their rabid hatred for our President and anything he does.

It's hard to be completely selfish when you are a parent - and I'd say impossible when you are a good parent.* You have to be concerned with something other than yourself. You have to make sacrifices of time and money and attention. And you become concerned with the future in a more concrete way than previously. I think you begin to be less concerned with small endangered animals and more concerned with small human animals and the kind of world they will live in.

Life is more complicated than I'm drawing it here. But I think it's an interesting thought experiment.

Oh, one interesting tidbit - the old GF has lived in Europe since she graduated from college.

* Yes, obviously, I consider myself a good parent. I guess we'll see how good in 20 years or so.

18 March 2006

math

This was interesting. I've been regretting for a while that I didn't suck it up and learn more math in college (the first time). Hindsight being what it is, though, it's hard for me to be too upset about it. If I had been a more dedicated student - and less a dedicated hedonist - I'd have gotten that Math\Comp Sci degree instead of the English degree. I would likely have gotten a job in Atlanta instead of moving back to Tennessee and meeting my wife-to-be working in a restaurant.
So, being thoroughly happy with my life, it's hard for me to have much regret for anything I didn't do that might have put me on a different path to today.
Still, I've always had it in the back of my mind that if I found myself financially secure I'd go back to school and learn all the math I skipped back in the day.

09 March 2006

Extremely cool game

I don't know who Will Wright is, but here's an hour long presentation by him of the new game he's working on. The presentation is very entertaining and the game looks VERY cool. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, fast forward to the bits where he shows the game.


update:
I guess that video is almost a year old. Game's not out yet and apparently has not firm release date, but I saw one projection on Gamespot that it would be coming out Q3 of 2006.

I'm not a gamer - at all. But this looks really, really cool. I'm a little afraid of it.

Exercise yer mind

Exercising your body and mind along with eating well can improve brain function

17 February 2006

Careful, it's kind of like crack

blueprint

Interesting thinking about thinking

Dammit, Fenster, close those blinds -- I'm trying to make a decision in here: Today brings fresh evidence that it's not wise to trust too much to your conscious mind (see " You think you know what you think? Think again"). A Dutch study on the decision-making process found that while the conscious mind, with its limited bandwidth, is find for making little choices like which cereal to buy, it tends to fumble anything much bigger. Much better choices in complex matters, the researchers found, come by "deliberating without attention," or in technical terms, "sleeping on it," letting the unconscious, with its non-linear processing system, do the heavy crunching.

D'oh! or is it Duh!

From Instapundit:

GUN REGISTRATION: Such a bad idea that even the Canadians are scrapping it. "One former Mountie called the registry 'totally useless' because criminals don't register their guns." Too bad they didn't figure that out a few billion dollars ago, but at least it's an object lesson for the United States.

Who'd 'a' thought?

14 February 2006

Soccer highlights

Some incredible soccer highlights in this google video.

If you're into soccer at all you'll probably enjoy this.

Katrina report

I look forward to seeing a summary of this
"Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," the report said. "At every level -- individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental -- we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina. In this cautionary tale, all the little pigs built houses of straw."

It sounds a little bombastic. I still think that first response has to be the job of the people on the ground and that most of the failure in Katrina rests with the Mayor and Governor. Yeah, the FEMA director probably was "clueless", and cetainly that reflects somewhat on his boss, but I can't see it as really being the President's responsibility except in a buck-stops-here sort of way.
I wonder if the report has anything to say about the media's horrible job of reporting on conditions in the Superdome?

13 February 2006

Blizzard of '93

Glenn's mention of the Blizzard of '93 brought back some memories.

We lived in Knoxville - it was the spring before we moved to the great white north. I was waiting tables at Calhoun's on the River. She was a nurse at St. Mary's and pregnant with our second child. When the city shut down after we got - I think it was - 18 inches of snow, our son was at his babysitter's house, and we decided we had to go get him. Somehow we got the Civic out of the driveway and eventually got to within a couple of blocks of the sitter's house before the driver (the one who grew up in Wisconsin) went in the ditch.

We didn't want to be stuck at the sitter's house, so we walked and hitchhiked back home. There was no getting the Integra out of the driveway - well I did actually get it just out of the driveway,but then it was stuck and it was all I could do to get out of the road.

We ended up begging our neighbor - a teenager with a 4WD toyota pickup - to take us to pick up the kid. So we got into his truck which reeked of smoke (not tobacco smoke either) and took off. As we got into the sitter's neighborhood, the drifts got a good bit higher and our driver chickened out. He was afraid of getting stuck or running out of gas - 'cause most of the gas stations were closed. So he ended up dropping us off on the wrong side of our stuck car and we walked in to get the boy.
Our sitter was not too sure about the whole situation. Our boy was three at the time and our plan - such as it was - was to walk out to the main road (Chapman Highway) and get a ride towards home.

Well it was a long walk out to Chapman, but we were young and it was an adventure so I guess that made it okay. Matt was fine with it, I think. He walked most of the way. Eventually we got out to Chapman and it didn't take too long for someone in an RV to stop. They were hippies hot on the trail of 'white gas' (propane) and did we know of anywhere that was open and selling it. We didn't but they offered us a ride in the back of their vehicle with their dog. The dog, naturally, turned out to be a pit bull who - at least to my parental eyes - seemed to be sizing up the boy as a possible snack. I spent the entire trip keeping myself between the dog and the child.

They dropped us off and we walked the rest of the way home - me, my 6 month pregnant wife, and our three-year-old son. We were very happy to get home to our cold, dark home.

The hospital ended up sending a van to pick Gerri up since there was no way our cars were going anywhere. They were also opening the hospital to employee's families, but I said we'd be fine in the house without heat or lights or pretty much anything but a lot of snow outside. We did have a gas grill to cook on, and at night I used it to heat water that I poured in gallon milk jugs and took to bed with us. It was cold and I remember I didn't sleep well, because I kept waking up to check on Matt.

06 February 2006

The Great Zucch

Lileks recommended this piece about a children's entertainer in the Washington DC area. I second his praise. The writing is wonderful and the story as well. I was struck by the way the Great Zucchini's dysfunctions seemed wrapped up so intimately with his genius. He's a gambling addict and a kid's magician. Gambling is like another magic trick - predicting the winner of a game, throwing a particular combination of dice. At the craps table he's as popular with adults (while he's winning) as he is with the kids at one of his gigs.
Now if he'd just bump his rates by $100 and hire an assistant to manage his life he'd be golden.

02 February 2006

Frey tempest

I'm not a big fan of Oprah, anyway, and I didn't see the show where she lambasted James Frey.

I did read the book - A Million Little Pieces - though. I thought it was excellent - powerful, raw, compelling. It matters less than a whit to me if some of the details were not strictly factual. I don't see how it compromises the message of the book in any way. If it were entirely fictional it would be no less powerful.

I think it's a shame that Oprah couldn't say the same.

31 January 2006

Google's evil

Google's crossroads deal with China has a lot of people upset, and certainly it's a slippery slope they tread. But I'm not convinced that they've truly - at least with this deal - turned their back on their famous motto.

I think they sat down and they made a real world decision recognizing how bad it would look, but that the potential for good outweighed the blow to their cred.

Google of all organizations has to understand how hard it is to effectively censor the internet. Information flows too quickly and in too many directions to be easily confined. I suspect that China's thought police do not yet grok this in fullness.

Google, however, certainly does. At the same time, they can't come right out and say so.

I think Google.cn will be good for the Chinese people, though now it appears to support a totalitarian regime.

I guess we'll see.

25 January 2006

Car Quiz

If you're an RX-8 (like a certain prominent blogger) then your WhichSportsCar Quiz must look a lot like this:
Are you an Italian exotic or an American muscle car? A classic roadster or a high-tech racer?

This test will show you your true inner vehicle...

Are you passionate?
Yes

Do you change direction quickly?
No

Are you powerful?
No

Are you loud?
No

Are you high-maintenance?
No

Do you easily spin out of control?
No

Do you like to go topless in the summer?
No

Are you competitive?
Yes

Are you practical?
Yes

Do you have expensive tastes?
No

Are you happy in the rain?
Yes

Which tool would you be more comfortable wielding?
Sledgehammer
I don't know, Glenn, I think you're somewhat powerful ...

Hmmm. Can't complain ...

I'm a Porsche 911!



You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.


Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

17 January 2006

Lileks

At the checkout Gnat saw a Seasonal My Little Pony named Wish I Might – it had red wings and a red box of chocolates on its haunch. Special to Target. She was enthralled. When she wasn't looking I tossed it in the basket, and took it out when we were in the car.

She was ecstatic. Daddy, why did you get this for me?

Because it's special for Valentine's day. Because I knew it would surprise you, and you didn't beg, and because I thought it would make this day even better. Because I like to make you happy.

I can never say the other reason: because some day you won't want a My Little Pony.