Showing posts from April 9, 2006
Classic movies as family fare. I'm too old to remember the days before ratings systems or the need for them. I do remember the advent of the "PG-13" nonsense which is really a way of wiggling out of an R.

I'm a huge fan of older movies. They have a look and feel that is largely missing today. The slam cuts and overly loud nature of today's films puts me off even more than content. I love a mindless movie as much as the next guys, just do it right and I'll be happy.

I've not seen a plurality of the movies on the list so I'll have to check them out.
Brad Pitt has a sense of humor
Oh the humanity! Make it stop! Make it stop!
Troops in Support Of the War

Read the whole thing for a true picture of how Moran and Murtha support the troops. More importantly how the troops feel about that "support".
The Volokh Conspiracy explains the latest on the Mohammed cartoon controversy. Comedy Central censored and image of Mohammed in an episode about censoring pictures of Mohammed in cartoons! That's getting overly meta for me.
How the GOP plans to make itself a minority. I say, good riddance. They are inveterate spenders and out of control. Only a beating at the polls will change that.
Student fights write-up for showing U.S. flag.

Hell yes you fight this one. If the national flag has become a symbol of controversy in a school, anyone who feels offended needs a crash course in civics. The entire staff should be fired and required to re-apply for their jobs back and give a detailed explanation of what, exactly, went so horribly wrong.
Is it still a motorcycle if it's silent?

Answer: No, it's a moped. I like the idea of a modular hydrogen fuel cell though...
Real Qi Gong, Master John Chang. This MUST be a trick but if it is, it's a good one. Anyone have any idea how he pulled this off?
Proof that there's a webpage about every topic ever.
The Inner Savant. An interesting article about savants, technology and what we know about the brain.

Another 9/11 victim. Honor him and remember them all. I can't believe people are still dying from that day 5 years later.
Location, location: Developers snatch up trailer parks Delaware, call your office.

I understand both sides there. The people in the parks are of modest means and don't have the ability to find a comparable dwelling if they are forced to move. However, it is unfair to the property owner if they cannot sell their property as they wish. I'd reluctantly be in favor of some sort of assistance for the evicted by either the developer, the property owner, the state or some combination of the three.

Nonetheless, whenever I drive by a local trailer park I think it can't be long before most of them are gone.
Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests

Chalk this one up to the law of unintended consequences. I didn't see this one coming but I'm glad to see it happening. Maybe this will help push programs like it over a cliff. The point here is a salient one. This is not to say that bigotry doesn't exist. Rather, it simply illustrates the minefield created when you have a system of privlidges assigned to one group or another. Everyone will suddenly identify themselves as part of that group to gain an advantage.
Perhaps you should have your head examined!
Nerd-o-riffic. The saddest part of the article was the end when it explains what Joust is. That means I'm really, really old.
Flight 93 transcript: half an hour to hell

If you read it, it sounds like they made it into the cockpit. Someone is saying "I'm injured" but it's never clear who that is. Is it one of the hijackers or one of the passengers? Much is lost by reading, rather than hearing the tape.
New addition to the blogroll: Annavenger. Link on the right. Let's keep that list growing.
Varifrank is on a roll. Just keep scrolling. Lord know why this guy doesn't get more traffic.
Mapping religion in America. Interesting breakdown of the various religious groups nationally and how concentrated they are. Some of the concentrations are surprising. The big blob of Catholics in the Midwest (St. Louis?). The blob of Jews in Idaho and the big swath of adherents generally along the center spine of the country.
Here's a post about The Gospel of Judas. I don't know why everyone is so agitated about this one. This isn't new and it isn't, by any means, a "lost" gospel. It was not written by Judas but rather, by Gnostics over a hundred years after his death. The author was not a Christian and there's nothing in there that is groundbreaking. The aforementioned post, links to this one about what's in there and what it all means. The author has a PhD from Harvard in New Testament so I think he's a wee bit more qualified than me to comment. It is interesting from an historical perspective but other than that, all smoke and no fire.
Pen and Teller Bullshit! - Holier Than Thou

Brutal. I didn't know any of this stuff. I had heard of Hitch's criticism of Mother Theresa but I don't agree with him. Some of her statements are commpletely misconstrued. When she said she wanted people to live in poverty to be closer to them, she was talking about her order living in poverty, not the people in the streets of Calcutta. However, the fact that her charity does not have transparent financial records is, very troubling. As for the Baby Doc thing, something doesn't smell right. I don't know what it is but I'll have to see if I can find any more info about it.
Austin Bay has an article about The Quiet War Against Muqtada Sadr. Very interesting and exactly why the Iraqis need to handle more of these types of things. Without their help, we're not going to win. The resolution to this one was perfect. It was handled quietly and Sadr was defeated soundly yet allowed to save some face. He also knows he was beaten and has to change his strategery if he's going to keep a chip in the game. More please.
Popular Mechanics has an article about The Dangerous, Yet Promising Energy Source, methane hyrdrates. It contains gems like this:

"Then someone began to do the math. Methane bound in hydrates could provide the world with an astounding amount of natural gas--if it could be safely extracted. If released inadvertently, it could cause untold damage: hastening global warming and kick-starting tsunamis by causing seafloor slumping."

Oh, great. Now I'm wearing a huge happy hat. Like I don't have enough to worry about? Now I have to worry that some guy on a platform 300 miles at sea isn't going to kill all life on the planet?
Soccer & Israel. It's stories like these that prove to me that Jew hatred is rampant in Europe. Why on Earth is FIFA getting involved? This is the most tenuous connection to soccer. Isn't there anything else they have to worry about?
Jokers to the has the goods on Ambassador Bolton's speech at U of D. I would have like to have attended. It's a rare opportunity to get a speaker of that caliber around these parts. The summary makes me glad we have someone like Bolton in the position he's in. He recognizes that the UN has major problems and is in need of radical reform if it is to survive.

Personally, I don't want it to survive in its current form. I would rather see it destroyed and rebuilt as a League of Democratic Nations. Create conditions for entry like election monitoring and transparency for admittance.

The US, UK, Australia, Canada, Austria, Germany, France, India, Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg, and Andorra come to mind as easy entrants. That's a very good start. Make it a place for diplomacy. Any other actions would have to be by coalition agreement. No standing peacekeeping force or other standin…
Yes, I'm late to the game on this one but it's interesting. I'm not a fan of Morgan Spurlock. I think he queers the dice to find the story he wants as in the story about minimum wage. However, this one is about 30 days as a Muslim in America. I think he picked somebody who he thought would be small minded and inflexible. He also picked a native born family who are quite well assimilated yet still retain a strong sense of faith and culture.

Overall the issue was presented fairly and I think everyone learned something. (It similar to Black. White. but without the weirdo unreconstructed hippy mom.)

I hope the family and mosque he experienced are typical of American Muslims. Are they? I don't know but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Areas like Jersey City and Dearborne should seek to create these sort of exchanges between families to reduce tensions between ethnic groups. It would really go a long way toward ending stereotypes and strife.
Car porn from Monaco. You're welcome.
The BIDINOTTO BLOG has the goods on Oprah channeling Ayn Rand.

Scroll down to the one called laugh reel. It's pretty funny and Tom actually looks sane for once.
Reaction grows to gay student's expulsion. That's right, a student is expelled simply for being gay not engaging in any form of sexual activity. Truly awful. I understand they don't approve or condone homosexuality but this? Is there no room for someone who is gay and chaste? Why not? What if someone is an alcoholic but sober? Would you kick them out too? I'll never understand.
By God this man is confusing. These two posts are a perfect example of why I am conflicted by his blog. On one hadn you have this post which is patently absurd. The writer blames the President for the loss of his house and and his job. If the President and FEMA had done everything correctly, the levees still would have been topped and the city still would have flooded. No amount of negiligence by anyone caused that. Blame the man for his response, but not the storm.

OTOH, you have this post which is hilarious and frankly, hits a little too clost to home. It is not the domain of any party, it's just a function of how government operates.
Facing Down Iran by Mark Steyn

Nail, meet head:

"Twenty-seven years ago, because Islam didn’t fit into the old cold war template, analysts mostly discounted it. We looked at the map like that Broadway marquee: West and East, the old double act. As with most of the down-page turf, Iran’s significance lay in which half of the act she’d sign on with. To the Left, the shah was a high-profile example of an unsavory U.S. client propped up on traditional he-may-be-a-sonofabitch-but-he’s-our-sonofabitch grounds: in those heady days SAVAK, his secret police, were a household name among Western progressives, and insofar as they took the stern-faced man in the turban seriously, they assured themselves he was a kind of novelty front for the urbane Paris √©migr√© socialists who accompanied him back to Tehran. To the realpolitik Right, the issue was Soviet containment: the shah may be our sonofabitch, but he’d outlived his usefulness, and a weak Iran could prove too tempting an invitation to Mosco…
God or the Girl is a special about young men struggling with the pull between two worlds. Are you called to a vocation or are you going to get married and have a family? It's getting very good reviews in the more conservative Catholic circles. It is lauded for its fairness and thoughtfulness. I'm looking forward to it.
I saw this post over at Sully's Place and didn't get a chance to comment on it.

The GOP is in the midst of a crisis of consciousness. There are two poles that are fighting for control. The current dominant pole is socially conservative and fiscally liberal. Call it the "W. Pole". This locus is a great departure from the Party of Reagan. Reagan was a fiscal tightwad (aside from military spending) and socially conservative as well. Those days are long gone. The other pole that has a strong following in the GOP is the exact opposite of W's pole. That is, socially liberal and fiscally conservative. This sector of the party is represented by the Rudy Guilanis and John Mcains of the party. Call it the neo-Reaganites pole. Many younger GOP members are likely to be in the latter rather than the former. (NB: I have zero evidence for that, just me gut feeling)

The battle for the soul of the GOP is nigh. Either they are going to remain the profligate spending C…
Top 50 Restauants in the world. Quite a list. I'd love to try any one of them. I've only heard of a handful of them

Nobu of Iron Chef fame.

French Laundry synonomous with Napa Valley.

Gordon Ramsey from Hell's Kitchen.

I enjoy a good meal as much as the next guy but the point of diminishing returns curves rather steeply. Most fine dining restaurants have entrees around the $20-$30 mark. Take one of my local favorite restaurnts: Moro. I consider it fine dining. It's not anywhere near the same realms as Alain Ducasse or even Le Bec Fin. However, if you look a the menu, most entrees are between $20 and $25. That isn't cheap.



House Made Mozzarella w/ wood roasted peppers, marinated olives and balsamic $10


Grilled Filet Mignon w/ fennel whipped potatoes, chile broccoli rabe and tamarind jus $28

Plank roasted maple glazed Salmon w/ whipped sweet potatoes, grilled pineapple and macadamia nut vinaigrette $23

For Dessert:
Banana-Chocolate Ti…
Worst tech of 2006 (so far)

A good to list check before buying. It's interesting (and rare) that the readers pick something awful. It makes me wonder if that isn't the result of some sort of astroturfing campaign.
The Opinionated Bastard has a post entitled It's that Time of the Month. He breaks down the Brookings Institute's number on the Iraq war. He presents the case that things in Iraq are demonstrably better than the previous month. Troop deaths down to lowest level, fewer civilians killed in acts of war, and more Iraqi troops available.

I don't agree with his conclusion that an uptick in woundings indicates taking the fight to the enemy more. I don't know if injuries (non-combat) are kept distinct from commbat wounds. I assume they are but the increase in wounds could be the result of fatigue. Increase the fatigue level of troops and people get careless and sloppy. It could also be that the bad guys are avoiding the body armor in favor of leg shots in hopes of getting some sort of wound rather than just plinking into the guy's armor.
No DNA Match in Duke Gang Rape Case says a lawyer for one of the players. According to this story there was no forensic evidence at all. No DNA, no lubricant (which would be present if the accused used a condom), and not epithelials. Additionally, there are pictures from two different cameras and a short video. They all recorded the woman's arrival. She appears to be intoxicated and has scrapes and bruises on arrival that she says were received at the hands of her attackers.

It smells of Tawana Brawley to me.

No matter what happens, these guys are toast. Nobody is going to want them on their team and this is going to follow them for the rest of their lives. Even if they are innocent, there will always be a stain. If they're guilty, I hope they get the maximum. If not, no amount of apology will clear their names. Nobody wins in this story.
Charleston Daily Mail reminds us that corruption is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Nor is it confined to national politics. Corruption is a function of how long someone is in government. The longer you're in the more you know how to maneuver around the system. I'll say it again; term limits. Two terms at most. If it's good to limit the President to two terms, there's no case for keeping anyone else any longer. We are not supposed to have a permenant political/governing class. Sadly, we will never see term limits made into law. It would either be repealed or over turned with new legislation. I do think it would pass judicial scrutiny. The best option would be a consitutional amendment. I'm very leery of amending the Consitution but in this case, it makes sense. This is not related to the fad of the day (See; ERA and Prohibition).
Wowie Zahawie By Christopher Hitchens





Hitchens is no fan of Bush and certainly not anything even remotely approaching a Neocon.


"In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed …
This Democratic Party flyer is very telling. What could that white line possibly mean? Perhaps it's just an artifical line drawn by occupiers? Nah, couldn't be that.
Beyond Tomorrow is an interesting show. It showcases new and usually interesting things. Some are science oriented like the end of rotting teeth.

Others are more fun like Vino Venue and Turbo Tap.

Others are outrageous like this boat for $33 million. Seriously, who has that kind of cash? What the hell does your house look like when you have a $33 million dollar boat.

Fogscreen looks really cool. If I had a business I'd look into buying one of these things.

I was going to recommend you watch it but it now occurs to me, I don't know what station it's on. I TiVo everything so I don't know what channel it's on!

Anyway, if you get a chance, check it out. It's worth a look.
My 4 year old has good tase in music. We were running some errands and I had a mixed CD in the player. I fade the speakers to the front so I can listen and he doesn't have to. "Trip Like I Do" by Crystal Method and Filter came on.

"I like this song."


"Yeah. What's it called."

"Trip like I do"


"Trip like I do."

"Oh. I like this song. Play it again."

Later, we're in the store and "Thriller is floating down from the ether.

Him: "I don't like this song"


"Nope. I like the other song. The one in the car."

Thats. My. Boy!

The key question that is not asked by the general public. We tend to believe that which we see. Changing the context and making the story somewhere else is entirely possible. Would you know the difference between a street scene in Afghanistan or Pakistan? I wouldn't.

The news is a business like any other. They have pressure to be first, not pressure to be right. There's an old movie called "Absence of Malice" which is as poignant today as it was when it debuted.

In it, they are in danger of being scooped by a rival paper. The editor is reluctant to run the story because it's too shakey. The report vows to shore up the sourcing after the story has run so long as they don't get scooped. The editor asks, "What if it's wrong?" The reporter gives a shrug and says, they run a retraction. The retraction absolves all. It washes away the sin of erroneous reporting. Never mind the damage done and the lives rui…
All is lost! This illegal war is creating more terrorists than it's killing! The insurgents are winning! Our soldiers hide behind protective barriers while lawlessness runs rampant throughout the land!

Or not.

Seems the Iraqis (Kurds, Shia and Sunni) have had enough with Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. This story doesn't involve any explosions, flames or dead bodies so it wasn't newsworthy. It also made the situation in Iraq look less than dire so it was immediately censored from our airwaves. The media has a template for Iraq. Anything that doesn't fit that template is discarded. No positive news on Iraq is permitted. The only exception is if it makes someone other than the US look good. Like the UN or some hapless bureaucrat.
Some people are casting doom and gloom vis a vis the troop re-enlistment rates. For every article like that, there's one like this: Army surpassing year's retention goal by 15%

Everything is horrible, right? It must be if we're exceeding our goals.

The bottom line: There are inevitable flows in and out. Young officers are all well and good but the backbone of the Army (or any branch for that matter) are the non-comms. They're the institutional memory and the ones who built the next generation of both officer and enlisted. I'm far more concerned about losing a 20 year veteran First Sargeant than some lowly Captain with 5 years in.
There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998.

Please read the whole thing. One of the talking points that has hardened into Bibical Truth for the Left is global warming. Cast any doubts on global warming and you will be met with sputtering disbelief, ad hominem attacks and, in some cases, rage. I've been told that the science doesn't matter or is partisan and all I have to do is look around me to see global warming is evident. References to how cold it used to get and how much more snow there was etc. Throw in a shrinking glacier reference or two and you there's your "proof". Kyotos biggest proponents have never read it. They drone on endlessly about how the world is going to come crashing down about our ears because we didn't sign it. We did. We didn't implement it. Democrats controlled Congress at the time and made no attempt to ratify the treaty.

In related news, Canada is dropping out of Kyoto. I blame Bush [/sarcasm]
And I thought my phone bill was too high.
I don't know how I missed this one. I can think of fewer jobs I'd like to do. Really. How does this guy draw a paycheck in good conscience?
President Bush lied to get us into this illegal war.

Or not.

Declassified Excerpts from the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: "High Confidence Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions. We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs. Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles. Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material."

Let's recap: The collective opinion of America's intelligence community expressed high confidence that Iraq had, or was expanding it's chemical, biological and nuclear programs

The dissention comes in a footnote from an analyst at State who didn't think the confidence was as high. Now, I ask you; which is more scandalous, that the President believed the collective opinion of the intelligence community or that he disregarded it in favo…
Guantanamo Better Than Belgian Jails. Remind me to stay out of prison while in Belgium.

How is this possible? I keep hearing from some people how Gitmo is a stygian hell replete with horror that would make Torquemada weep. Things like this and this and this and this.

Which is it? Can both be true? How do you reconile the above with this article?

I'm certain their age gave them an advantage they didn't have otherwise as Sully noted. However, that doesn't mean you can treat irredentist jihadis with kid gloves and expect to win them over. Adopting any single approach to every detainee is a recipe for failure. People respond to differnt things. Some people will cave when pressured, others will steel their resolve. Where is the vaunted "nuance" I'm always hearing about?
Previously, I talked a bit about energy production and speculated on the prospects for the future and where I think we should be headed as a nation.

Following my lead, the NYT has this article about nuclear power generation as a windfall for poor areas.

The article points out a 50% increase in energy demand in the next decade. Quite frankly, I find that number alarming. We are, in no way, going to be able to meet anything approximating that kind of demand in a decade. Even if we had a Manhattan Project for energy research. We simply won't be able to get anything to market that fast.

The article also states that the negative feelings associated with nuclear power are largely gone. I think people know things are serious and if we want to be independant in our energy supply, nuclear is our best option.

Also noted is the mulitbillion dollar cost of the reactors. Between $4 and $6 billion each. A staggering sum but not when compared to our expenditure in Iraq.

Imagine we were o…