Thursday, November 30, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson on Us

Victor Davis Hanson's column in yesterday's OpinionJournal is being referenced by fine blogs everywhere (I saw it first at La Shawn Barber's Corner). Not to be left out of such an outstanding group, I am compelled to reference it myself. He opens with this:

Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.

But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.

No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.

Notice that he says the foes of Reason are not the extremists of the Middle East. The culprits are us--our complacency and fear.

His judgment of Europe is sweeping.

Third, examine why all these incidents [Salman Rushdie,Theo Van Gogh, Pope Benedict, the Danish cartoons, and French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker] took place in Europe, where more and more the state guarantees the good life even into dotage, where the here and now has become a finite world for soulless bodies, where armies devolve into topics of caricature, and children distract from sterile adults' ever-increasing appetites. So, it was logical that Europe most readily of Westerners would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists who brilliantly threatened not destruction, but interruption of the good life, or the mere charge of illiberality. Never was the Enlightenment sold out so cheaply.

But here in America, we don't get off so lightly, because of our rush to be so much like Europe.

So we are on dangerous ground. History gives evidence of no civilization that survived long as purely secular and without a god, that put its trust in reason alone, and believed human nature was subject to radical improvement given enough capital and learning invested in the endeavor. The failure of our elites to amplify their traditions they received, and to believe them to be not merely different but far better than the alternatives, is also a symptom of crisis in all societies of the past, whether Demosthenes' Athens, late imperial Rome, 18th-century France, or Western Europe of the 1920s. Nothing is worse that an elite that demands egalitarianism for others but ensures privilege for itself. And rarely, we know, are civilization's suicides a result of the influence of too many of the poor rather than of the wealthy.

Our culture has many prophets, like Hanson and also Mark Steyn, who see the dangers as more sweeping than just the immediate threats or the body counts in another part of the world. But like Cassandra before them, they seem doomed to be ignored by the leaders who have the power to heed their warnings.

Arthritis

I have arthritis. I had no idea I have arthritis. My joints don't hurt. It's my shins that do, and that's what I brought up with my doctor when I had my physical.

Whenever I ride my exercise bike, and sometimes just for the heck of it, my shins start hurting like I have shin splints. But shin splints is primarily a pain caused by high-impact exercise, and an exercise bike is as low-impact as you can get this side of swimming.

When I was in my early twenties, I was a runner. I wasn't very fast, because God didn't build me for speed. He built me for endurance, and I endured. I joined a running group in Spokane whose purpose was training for the 7+ mile Bloomsday race. The first year, I ran it with a 14-minute per mile pace. The second year I was closer to a 10-minute pace, which was as good as I ever got.

During that second year, our running group ran a 10-mile race, and my knees hurt for a week afterward. When the knee pain happened again after 8 miles, I went to the doctor, who diagnosed chondromalasia patella, or "your knees hurt from the inside out." I got physical therapy, and it was the physical therapist who told me that chondromalasia usually occurs when the angle of the tendon that runs down the thigh, relative to the one that runs down the shin, isn't a straight line. In layman's terms, that means that people with narrow hips and legs that go straight up and down don't get chondromalasia patella. People with wide hip bones (making the thigh bone angled, not perpendicular to the ground) are more prone to having knee problems.

I come from a long line of pear shapes on my mom's side of the family. Both her parents were pear shapes, one of them from Hungarian peasants and the other from Polish peasants. Since I take after her side of the family, my knees were doomed.

Even with therapy, the knees kept hurting. And they hurt after less and less distance. When I couldn't even run three miles anymore, I quit running. I was twenty-four. I haven't done high-impact exercise since then. Instead, I did Bicycling. Walking. Boogie-boarding. Swimming (that gave me bursitis, but that's another story).

So my doctor sent me for x-rays to check for a hairline fracture in my shins, which could explain the pain. The x-rays didn't show any problems, so they sent me for a bone scan, and I had that a couple days ago. I got to ride the thrill-ride of the remote-controlled bed into the Nuclear Medical Camera, where they took pictures of my radioactive bones (but they left the lights on, so I couldn't see if I glowed in the dark or not). Set 1: Hips and thighs. Set 2: Centered on the knees. Set 3: Ankles and shins.

My doctor's office called today and said I have mild arthritis in my hips, knees, and ankles. But my shins look fine. I definitely don't have shin splints. Oh, good. So we still don't know why my shins hurt. Must be a muscle thing.

But it's a whole sea change for me. I looked up "arthritis" in google and finally ended up at the CDC's webpage on the disease. I've never looked up this disease with myself in mind. I don't think I've looked it up for anyone else, either.

The good news is that they have prevention and self-help tips:

Develop Your Skills - I think this is for people already in pain.
Be Active - Thirty minutes, three days a week.
Watch Your Weight - Lose 11 pounds (that's what they say, but they don't say from what weight).
See Your Doctor - That's what got me here in the first place.
Protect Your Joints - Don't take up anything dangerous.

If I do these things, I suppose I'll have a good chance of keeping the pain in my shins as the worst of my worries. Not too shabby.

O Holy Night

I just pulled out the two Christmas CDs that have been languishing at the bottom of my desk drawer at work. They (one especially) are not my favorites, but they sure suit another day of cold weather here post-Thanksgiving.

I'm listening to O Holy Night on Point of Grace's A Christmas Story CD. O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song. Even when I don't have a cold, my voice isn't quite up to the challenge. I can hit the high notes, but it's a stretch and it shows. Even so, I love to sing it, in English and in French (leftovers from junior high school French class). And I love to listen to it.

I wrote a Bread several years ago about this song. A woman in the singles group I attend sang it during our Christmas party. She had been a professional singer/actress on Broadway and had come back home. Earlier that year, she played Dulcinea in The Man of La Mancha locally, and she made me weep. Listening to her sing O Holy Night was one of those times for me that I could close my eyes and believe that I had touched heaven.

It's strange, with the way the world is--the way France is--these days, to know that O Holy Night was written by a Frenchman. Perhaps in the mid-1800s, the French weren't as passionately secular as they are today. Perhaps Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was a religious aberration, even in his time. Perhaps.

All I know is that Christmas is a special time that too easily gets lost in the whirlwind of decorating and shopping. It's a time for remembering that Holy Night when heaven descended to earth in the form of a baby boy who was the Hope of the World.

My prayer is that we (myself most of all) will take the time this year to remember and celebrate that oh-so-Holy Night.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sniffer Bees

Photo credit: Copyright © 2005 Chris Higgins

The AFP reported yesterday about a military announcement.

US military defense scientists have found a way to train the common honey bee to smell explosives used in bombs, a skill they say could help protect American troops abroad.

Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico said in an online statement published Monday they had developed a method to harness the bee's exceptional olfactory sense.

The scientists used Pavlovian techniques on the bees' natural response to nectar, a sticking out of their tongue, or proboscis extension reflex.

By rewarding them with sugar water, the scientists taught bees to give the same reflex action when they were exposed to vapors from explosives such as dynamite, C4 plastic and TATP (triacetone triperoxide), often used by suicide bombers.

I'm not quite sure I understand how they'll be able to watch the bees when they're flying near luggage. The bee handlers will need to be able to see when the bees stick out their tongues, and that seems a bit tough under normal airport conditions.

Maybe they should use wasps, described in this vunet article dated October 24, 2005. With the wasps, they use a computer to detect the pattern that five wasps make inside a PVC container.

The trained hymenoptera are held in a cup-sized device, called a 'Wasp Hound', developed by the University of Georgia and US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It is capable of sounding an alarm or triggering a visual signal, such as a flashing light, when the insects encounter a target odour.

Much easier than watching for a bee to stick out its tongue.

Weather Hits Southern California

We don't get much weather here. Earlier this week we got what weather.com called "scattered showers," which meant the sky dripped just enough to dampen the streets and require the windshield wipers to be set on "intermittent." Today, though, is another story altogether.

At work, one of the people my group works closely with is here from the Chicago area, where she lives. I asked her if our weather is better than at home, and she thought for a moment and said no. At the end of November, Chicago has nicer weather than Southern California.

We have wind. Cold wind.

This morning, because it was really cold last night when I took my little dog Abby out for her bedtime sprinkle, I checked the weather. It said it was 40° (feels like 36°), but I took a chance and didn't wear my heavy coat, since it's supposed to get up to the mid-60s today. I didn't look at the wind speed, which has kicked up here at work. Officially we have winds at 17mph, gusting to 24mph, but when the wind blows between the buildings it tends to pick up speed.

I walked over to Quiznos to get a salad from the cranky people who run the place (no use complaining to the owners--they are the owners). The decorative fountain between all the buildings was shut off (several months ago, they didn't notice when the wind started, and the fountain soaked quite a few people who were walking beside it, so now they're extra-careful). I had to hold my jacket closed under my chin to try to protect myself while I'm recovering from the last of a chest cold that hit me the morning I left for Indianapolis. The wind was blowing from the northeast. That usually means it's a Santa Ana, and that usually means the wind is warm--a hot, dry blast of air from the desert. But there's no heat today.

After I got my salad I headed back to work, the wind at my back this time. The gusts shoved me so I had to catch myself. Then they filled up my Quiznos bag like a parachute that threatened to tow me away. It was invigorating! Adventure in the parking lot...

But it doesn't make for a good hair day, unless you're a Marine or you shave your head. They've already issued strong wind warnings:

A HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM PST THURSDAY. A FROST ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 8 AM PST THURSDAY.

But they should have included the extreme hazard to men with combovers.

Update:

It's Thursday afternoon, and the cold wind has died down to a cool breeze. There's tree shrapnel everywhere. Leaves. Twigs. Branch chunks, and even some small whole branches ripped off the trees by the winds.

The pansies have keeled over and wilted, and only a few of the hardiest are still able to show a semblance of their happy faces. It's sad, but the destruction won't last long. No doubt tomorrow will bring a clean-up crew and maybe even a new batch of flowers for the planter-triangles.

Such is life. Destruction is followed by rebuilding. And that's followed by dread of more destruction. Or maybe by ignorant bliss.

Frist Won't Run for President

MSNBC reported today that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has announced he will not be seeking the presidency in 2008.

In a written statement released today, Frist says, "In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008."

In his written statment, Frist says, "I will take a sabbatical from public life. At this point a return to private life will allow me to return to my professional roots as a healer and to refocus my creative energies on innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges Americans face."

In the short term, Frist says he will resume "regular medical mission trips as a doctor around the world to serve those in poverty, in famine, and in civil war" and "continue to be a strong voice to fix what is broken in our health care system and to address the issues of clean water and public health globally. We will stay actively engaged in policy issues affecting the lives of Americans."

I particularly like the medical mission trips he plans to make. There are plenty of places around the world that need medical care, and Frist will be more able to help make the world a better place doing his missions than he would as a presidential candidate. Especially since he would lose the election.

Think of the money he's going to save by dropping out of public life. And the humiliation. As Majority Leader, the guy has been a softball. As President? Well, Nerf products come to mind.

Frist is a smart man. Much smarter than most of the other people seeking the high office in 2008.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Swan Love


Ananova reported in an undated article that Peter the black swan is in love. With a swan-shaped plastic boat. He's so much in love, in fact, that he refused to fly south for the winter without his best girl.

Biologists in Muenster, north-western Germany, say the rare Black Australian Swan has been showing all the typical signs of love for its species, circling its plastic lover, staring endlessly at it and making crooning noises.

Boat-owner Peter Overschmidt has agreed not to lock his boat away for the winter.

He said: "When you see how Peter circles the swan boat you know there could be no other option, it's the centre of his life."

Hearing about Peter's plight Allwetter Zoo then agreed that both Peter and the boat could spend the winter on their pond near the elephant enclosure, which is more protected from the elements than the lake.

Ain't love grand?

Sports Heroes and Inaccuracy

Charlie, at Another Think, has a beautiful post about childhood sports heroes. His was Johnny Unitas.

Reading it stirred again the memories of my devotion to Bob Gibson and his St Louis Cardinals. And those memories brought back a more recent memory, one I must have repressed for a short time, of having been traumatized at the Champions Sports Bar during my recent trip to the National Missionary Convention in Indianapolis.

A group of us crossed the street from the Convention Center to eat lunch at Champions. While we were waiting to be seated, I glanced at all the official plaques on the wall. To the left of where the hostess stood were all the Super Bowl winners' plaques. To the right were the World Series winners. These said "World Champions" and had the year and the winning team listed, with the team logo.

Naturally, and because I couldn't help myself, I looked down to find the 1967 World Series winner. I saw '68 first: Detroit Tigers. Just to the left of it, I read "1967." But it said, "Boston Red Sox," and it had a red logo that was definitely not a cardinal.

I told the girl their 1967 plaque was wrong, that the Cardinals won that year (as if she even cared). She said those were the official plaques from the official World Series people. "Well, they're wrong. The Red Sox did not win in 1967."

But I started to wonder if my memory was failing. After all, it's been almost forty years since then. But I had a baseball card when I was a kid with all of Bob Gibson's 1967 stats, including the World Series. He won the World Series MVP, for cryin' out loud! Losers don't win the MVP.

When I got back to my hotel room that night, I checked Wikipedia, and they confirmed that my memory was correct and the World Series plaque-making people are either sloppy in their research, or they have it in for the Cardinals. Either way, it's a disgrace the way they're misinforming the world about Bob Gibson's greatness.

If you ever eat at Champions in Indianapolis (they're attached to the Downtown Marriott), the food is good, but don't believe what the walls tell you. It's a lie.

Supreme Court Takes Global Warming Case

The AP reported yesterday that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 05-1120. This case deals with carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles and could influence the global warming fight. It is being brought by more than just the Bay State. All of the plaintiffs are: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by cities such as Baltimore, New York and the District of Columbia; the Pacific island of America Samoa; the Sierra Club; the Union of Concerned Scientists; Greenpeace; and Friends of the Earth.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are burned. It is the principal "greenhouse" gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes. One way to reduce those emissions is to have cleaner-burning cars.

The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.

The states, led by Massachusetts, and more than a dozen environmental groups insist the 1970 law makes clear that carbon dioxide is a pollutant _ much like lead and smog-causing chemicals _ that is subject to regulation because its poses a threat to public health.

That's all well and good to blame global warming (I'm sure it was warm snow that fell on Florida) on carbon dioxide emissions from cars. But what about all those people who are living and breathing AND EXHALING CARBON DIOXIDE?!?!?

We have estimates of twelve million people who are here in the United States illegally breathing carbon dioxide into American air, and the environmental groups want to go after the EPA? What about the immigration people? What are they going to do about all the people crossing the border to bring their greenhouse gases into our country? When will enough be enough?

I have no idea what the Supreme Court will do about this case. We won't hear the results until sometime next year. In the meantime, try not to breathe too much.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction Movie Review

My friend and I went to the movies tonight. She wanted to see Deja Vu, and so do I. In spite of what People Magazine says, George Clooney is not the sexiest man alive. Denzel Washington is.

But our movie-going is often done using a form of triage. When a movie has been in the theaters for a while, we'll see that one first and wait to see the newer one later. That's what happened this time. We're saving Deja Vu for next week, and we went to see Stranger Than Fiction tonight. It turned out not to be the best choice.

My friend didn't like it. She dozed off sometimes, out of boredom not tiredness. But I thought it was cute. Not the "this is a really cute movie and you should see it" kind of cute. Just cute.

Will Ferrell is a tax man who starts hearing narration in his head, and the narration comes from Emma Thompson, who is an author writing a book about a fictional man who happens to be Will Ferrell's character, and at one point he hears her say he's going to die. The movie takes a more leisurely pace than, say, an action movie, because IRS agents tend not to be frantic people, but it held my interest.

The part I found most objectionable was how quickly a couple of the characters ended up in bed together. This violates morality and the notion of Romance, although it has become de rigeur in Hollywood. The same point can be made without bed, but I know I'm talking to a wall about this.

I liked the movie, because it had a fresh storyline. This hasn't been done a million times before. The plot had twists, and Will Ferrell was properly cast for his lost look. If you like Will Ferrell, or if you're looking for a diversion that won't be too taxing, this is a decent choice. Otherwise, save your money for something else.

Hubble's Top Ten Photos

The Daily Mail (UK) reported yesterday (HT: WorldNetDaily) that astronomers have chosen the top ten photographs taken by the Hubble Telescope since its launch.

For a while it looked as if the whole mission would end in embarrassing failure.

After it was launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope, a $1.5 billion orbiting observatory, was found to have a glitch in its giant lens - rendering Earth's first orbital observatory short-sighted.

Gallery: The most amazing space photographs in the universe

But after an audacious Shuttle repair mission, when Hubble was fixed with what is effectively a pair of eyeglasses to correct its sight, the telescope has returned some of the most stunning images ever captured by science.

And now astronomers have voted for the best pictures taken by Hubble in its 16 years in orbit.

Hubble's Top Ten are shown here, and they illustrate that our universe is not only deeply strange, but also almost impossibly beautiful.


The heavens declare the glory of God. Take a look at the Gallery link and see the declarations Hubble has discovered so far.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A WKRP Thanksgiving

I listened to Hugh Hewitt's radio show yesterday as I drove home from work, and I caught the third hour with special Wednesday guest, Emmett of the Unblinking Eye, doing his Friday movie review hour. The Top Ten List was movies about, or having something to do with, Thanksgiving.

In the course of the call-in debate over which movies should or should not have been on the List, Hugh and Emmett expressed surprise that nobody had called in to violate The Rule (thou shalt not mention TV movies or TV shows) by mentioning the classic WKRP Thanksgiving episode.

Hugh asked the interns at the show--Austin the Occasional Intern and Moses My (Hugh's) Servant--if they'd ever heard of the old sitcom, WKRP In Cincinnati. They hadn't. So Hugh and Emmett described the Hindenburg-like story line and declared that episode as the best moment in sitcom history. I have to agree with them.

This morning, I woke up earlier than I expected, so I checked the news and looked at some blogs to see if there were any good Thanksgiving messages. At Hugh's blog, he had this post:

The Joy of YouTube

Begin your T-Day with a little WKRP.

Click on the link, and enjoy the show. I'll show it to my kids later, when they're up.

Now, it's time to get started on the stuffing... Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving thanks.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lebanese Cabinet Minister Assassinated

Aren't we glad we pressured Israel into a cease-fire with Hezbollah?

Yesterday, one of Lebanon's Cabinet Ministers was assassinated, reported by the AP yesterday.

WorldNetDaily reported today that at least one Lebanese leader is blaming Syria.

The Syrian government was responsible for the assassination yesterday of Lebanon's Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel and will likely attempt more killings with the goal of destabilizing Lebanon, the country's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt [head of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party] told WND in an interview today.

"The Syrian regime through some of its local allies carried out this assassination," said Jumblatt. "They (the Syrians) are capable of anything. They will probably try more killings. We still have a majority in the parliament unless ministers resign or Syria kills more ministers off."


Jumblatt said Syria is "emboldened by the fact that the Americans are searching for an exit strategy from Iraq. This is encouraging all kinds of people to kill and create chaos in the region."

Lebanon today cancelled celebrations that were to mark 63 years of its independence, instead calling for three days of mourning for Gemayel, the son of former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel. Pierre Gemayel was the sixth anti-Syrian politician to be killed in nearly two years.

The Hedgehog Blog's post yesterday on the assassination and its implications has a map (I love maps) that's worth a thousand words.

It seems clear that the Syria-Iran axis is applying a full-court press to achieve its strategic objective--the creation of a solid line of confrontation states ranging from Lebanon on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, through Syria and Iraq, to Iran on the Persian Gulf. This alliance would create a continuous hostile front aimed at America's allies in the region: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States. The real target is America's influence in the region.

Finally, Hugh Hewitt weighs in on the story today, including some sharp analysis from his interview yesterday with historian and warfare scholar, Victor Davis Hanson.

VDH: ...I think this should be a wake up call for everybody in the United States who wants to bring in the 1990's realist team, that anybody who thinks that they can have some sort of reconciliation with Syria and Iran are missing the entire problem in the Middle East. The problem is those two countries, and those two governments.

HH: Victor Davis Hanson, if you had a chance to visit with the President tonight, what would you be telling him?

VDH: Don't give up. Don't weaken. Don't hesitate. Don't pause. Do not cut a deal with those two governments. They're killing American soldiers through surrogates in Iraq. They're trying to destabilize Lebanon like they did in the 1980's. They're the source of most of the evil that's now causing us problems from Afghanistan to Iraq. And this idea that you're going to bring James Baker back, and that team back who gave us everything from Iran-Contra to jobs, jobs, jobs as the only reason we're going to go into the Middle East, to flank the Jews. I could go on, but it's a very sensitive point with me. I think a lot of us, Hugh, stood by this administration through thick and thin when the paleocons turned on them, when the liberal hawks turned on them, when the neocons are starting to bail. But my God, if you're going to go into the Middle East, and put 130,000 Americans in harm's way, fighting for democracy, and then you turn around and you appease those two governments who are killing people, I don't think a lot of us are going to stand for that.

HH: Is this an Archduke Ferdinand moment with the assassination of Gemayel?

VDH: I think it may be. I really do. I think that Syria realizes that as soon as they saw that the United States was going to cease pressure on them, it was time to go in and start killing non-Shia politicians, reporters especially. They've killed journalists, they've killed T.V...it's not just this Gemayel. It's not just a Christian politician. They've been doing this for two years, killing, systematically, any critics. And they sense that they get a green light from us when we pull back. And I think it should be a wake up call for the United States, that when you go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, you don't go to war in a half measure. You either go to war or you don't go to war. And we're in a war in Iraq, and we're in war with, as the President said, Islamic-facism, and autocracy and dictatorship, and there's no better examples than Iran and Syria.

I hope the President listens. I hope he lets our military take the gloves off instead of putting more gloves on in Iraq. But I'm not holding my breath. The more time that has gone by, the weaker our response has been to the terrorists. The message the terrorists and rogue states receive when we're compassionate, diplomatic, and careful is a message of weakness. And rogues exploit every weakness they see.

We need to fight for real and fight to win, or we might as well hand over the world to the jihadists now.

God help us all.

Thankful Journalists

Michelle Malkin's column in today's WorldNetDaily is for journalists. The Hate-America-First type of journalists. The type of journalists who don't want to hear what she has to say. The type of journalists who don't know how thankful they should be that they live and work in the good ol' U. S. of A.

Give thanks we don't live in Bangladesh, where you can be put on trial for writing columns supporting Israel and condemning Muslim violence. Just ask Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of Blitz, the largest tabloid English-language weekly in Bangladesh. He is currently facing a sedition trial for speaking out about the threats radical Islam poses in Bangladesh. He has been imprisoned, harassed, beaten and condemned. In court last week, his persecutors read these charges against him: "By praising the Jews and Christians, by attempting to travel to Israel and by predicting the so-called rise of Islamist militancy in the country and expressing such through writings inside the country and abroad, you have tried to damage the image and relations of Bangladesh with the outside world." For expressing these dissident opinions, he faces the possibility of execution.

Give thanks we don't live in Sudan, where editors can lose their heads for not kowtowing to the government line. Ask the family of Mohammed Taha, editor in chief of the Sudanese private daily Al-Wifaq, who was found decapitated on a Khartoum street in September. He had been kidnapped by masked jihadi gunmen. What did Taha do that cost him his life? He insulted Islam and dared to question Muslim history, the roots of Mohammed and other Muslims. Before his murder, his paper was shuttered for three months and he was hauled into court for "blasphemy."

She tells journalists they should also be thankful they don't live in Egypt, in China, in Lebanon, in Russia, in Denmark, or in Italy.

Give thanks we live in America, land of the free, home of the brave, where the media's elite journalists can leak top-secret information with impunity, win Pulitzer Prizes, cash in on lucrative book deals, routinely insult their readership and viewership, broadcast enemy propaganda, turn a blind eye to the victims of jihad, and cast themselves as oppressed victims on six-figure salaries.

God bless the U.S.A.

She's absolutely right. May the MSM journalists be as thankful to live here as are the regular Americans they disparage so freely.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just For Fun

I got this from Skye, who got it from Eric.

If you want to do it too, just copy and paste, and put the ones you've done in bold.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Some of these I've done because #72 is in bold. Some of them I can't quite remember (#13, #35), and some of them I attempted but didn't get it right (#55, #61, #113).

Feel free to try it yourself. Feel free to ask for more details, if you'd like.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Leaving Indiana

I cried a little leaving Indiana. In a lot of ways it reminds me of home, a home that doesn’t really exist anymore. Grandma and Grandpa’s house just outside of town in Northwest Montana was sold to the business next door over ten years ago, after Grandma passed away and Grandpa moved in with my parents. And the city where I went to high school has grown and changed so much since I was in school, that only parts of it are still familiar.

As I drove from Indianapolis to Kokomo yesterday, I could have been driving through the rural parts of the Flathead Valley. The farmland stretched out to a horizon capped by low, gray clouds that could just as easily have been hiding a range of mountains as more corn fields cut down to stubble. If the corn had been wheat, it would have looked just like Montana.

The houses, too, were like the ones up North. Wood and especially brick siding declared there is no danger of earthquakes there. Visible foundations hint at basements, and still-green grass tells the story of rain that doesn’t make itself a stranger for half the year.

I’ve never felt at home in California, where cement slabs form the foundations, most of the yards are too small for gardens, and a garage--not the house--is the main fa├žade you see from the road. Even though I’ve been here since 1981, it still feels temporary. California is where I live, where my kids and my friends are, but it’s not where my heart is. I’m not sure my heart knows where it belongs anymore.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

National Missionary Convention

The National Missionary Convention has ended. This was the first time I've attended, and I'm so glad I came. I've been fascinated by missionaries and foreign places and foreign people since I was a little girl and a missionary from Africa visited our tiny church. I remember two of the stories he told:

The primitive tribe he lived with would eat python meat. The pythons there got huge, so one snake would feed them for a while. But the special bonus was when they killed a python that had just eaten a gazelle, because they'd have two-for-one meat.

The other story was about an old, old man in the tribe who always asked the missionary how his propane refrigerator could have a fire but make the food cold. The missionary would explain how the refrigerator worked, the old man would say he understood, but the next time the old man saw the missionary, he asked the very same question again. Every single time. The missionary said he hated to admit it, but even though he was sad when the old man died, he was a little relieved.

I've been drawn to Europe and Africa as long as I can remember. Asia is interesting, but not fascinating, and I have no desire to go to Latin America. I don't really like saying that, though, because quite a few of the missionaries (or missionaries-to-be) have said they had prayed, "Lord, send me where you want to, but not this one place." And of course, the Lord sent them to that one place.

One man said that when the head of a particular Bible College in Ghana asked him to come and replace him at the college, he said to find someone else. The other man asked him if he'd prayed about it, and he said, "Well, no." After he prayed about it, he realized he needed to go, so he and his wife will be leaving for Ghana in a few weeks.

As much as I got out of the workshops, the best part for me was the conversations I had. The exhibitors filled up the exhibit halls and spilled into the hallways. One was for a medical clinic in a remote part of Zimbabwe. The woman I talked to isn't medical, but she's gone there to help several times. She does whatever they need, like making cotton balls, writing down vital signs as the nurses read them to her, and helping mothers get their babies in the slings for weighing them at the well-baby clinics. Her husband does maintenance work when it's needed.

We talked about living conditions there in Zimbabwe. Inflation is now over 1200% a year, and over 25% of the country is infected with HIV. When mothers come to deliver their babies, they're asked if they'll consent to an HIV test, and if they're positive, the baby is also at risk. She said the sooner HIV-positive babies get the drugs, the better their chances are of avoiding AIDS. But the clinic doesn't give out medications for free. In that culture, free items aren't valued, so the clinic charges a nominal amount, or the patients would discard the drugs.

Another woman working in Zimbabwe said, during her workshop on hard times, that she and her husband don't know if their property will still be theirs when they return in January. When they first arrived in Zimbabwe, the government gave them some barren land--nothing grew on it, just dirt--and they drilled a well, built buildings, planted a garden, and started to work helping the people of that area. But recently, with President Mugabe's "Land Reform," a regional government leader has decided he wants their property and has put in a claim on it. They've hired an attorney to fight his claim, but she has no idea if their attorney is good enough to win. Whether or not they have any property to return to, she and her husband are determined to continue helping the people there, who desperately need it.

A similar "Land Reform" problem has hit a missionary couple in South Africa. Property her husband's father bought for the mission back in the 1950s was put in the father's name, rather than in the mission's name. Since he's White, the land is subject to confiscation, while the property adjoining it (which was purchased at the same time by a Black co-worker of the father) is not at risk. This couple also has an attorney working to save their property. The main difference at this point between Zimbabwe's and South Africa's Land Reform programs is that South Africa will pay for the property they confiscate, provided the title was recorded in a certain way.

There are so many other people helping in so many different places, and even though the needs are overwhelming, the help the missionaries are able to give will change the lives of the relatively few they can reach. Educating tribal groups in Thailand who otherwise have no schools at all. Raising discarded and orphaned children in Romania, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and so many other places. Rescuing Thai girls from the sex trade and educating them, so they have the chance for a better future. Training preachers in Ghana, Ukraine, and India. Giving physical, practical relief when disaster strikes around the world.

And yet, as much as I learned and as thrilled as I was talking with the different people there, I don't feel compelled to go out on the mission field. I may be at loose ends trying to figure out what career change to make after my mom and I drive around the country in her RV, but foreign service isn't it. Have I prayed about it? "Well, no..."

What missionaries do reminds me of that story I've read in emails and heard my minister tell during a sermon:

A man is walking on the beach, and he sees hundreds and hundreds of starfish that have been washed onto the sand. The tide is going out, leaving the starfish to bake in the sun. Down the beach he sees a little boy picking up a starfish and throwing it into the water, and then another one. The man walks up to the boy and says, "Why are you doing that? There are too many of them. They'll all die before you can get to them, so throwing a few in the water won't make a difference."

The boy looks at the man, then reaches down and picks up another starfish. "It makes a difference to this one," he says and throws it in the ocean.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kokomo

Sunday, 2:00pm

Cracker Barrel in Kokomo, Indiana

US 31 & Kentucky Drive
404 Kentucky Drive
Kokomo, IN 46902

Pull up a chair and join the conversation.

***
Update:

Christina from The Right Perspective was there, and also the entire staff of Malott's Blog. What a crowd! There were party favors for all the guests, and probably because we had double the usual security, no fistfights broke out over the dog v. cat debate.

Good food. Great conversation. A few surprises and secrets which I'm not at liberty to divulge--because what happens in Kokomo stays in Kokomo.

If you missed it, you missed out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Indianapolis II


I did some sightseeing today. My first stop was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. It was pretty cool, and this is from someone who isn't into cars much, though I love the really old cars. They have one section of Indy cars and another section of cars in general, including a 1927 Deusenberg, a 1932 V-16 Cadillac (how come they don't make V-16s anymore?), and the Stottard Dayton that was the pace car for the first Indy 500 race in 1911.

I took the track tour, where they drive you around the track itself, and there's a pre-recorded narration. My pictures from that tour all had raindrops on the windows, but I like the way they look.


Next I headed downtown and decided to walk from my hotel to the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial (more pictures here). It would have been ambitious, if I had known it was farther than it looked on the map. A cold, drizzly wind was blowing, and by the time I got there, I decided a taxi ride would be a good way to get back.

This memorial has every single one of the 3,410 Medal of Honor recipients (19 of them received the Medal twice) etched in glass, with their rank and the location of their heroic action. They start in 1861 and continue through the Iraq war, with one name listed in Baghdad. Some of the places are familiar (James H. Doolittle, Lieutenant Colonel, Air Mission, Japan), and others surprised me because I didn't associate them with war (Little Big Horn, Apache Creek, Mogadishu, Peking).

There's a touch screen, so you can learn about the recipients, and every now and then, it starts telling the story of someone. It was finishing up the story about one recipient when I got there, and later it told about the "Buffalo Soldiers," a unit of Black soldiers who were posted to the Old West and are credited with capturing Geronimo, Pancho Villa, and (if my memory serves me) Billy the Kid.

I walked back to the hotel, cutting through the two-block-long state government building for some warmth on the way and then getting disoriented in the Circle Centre Mall when I tried to get warm a second time. Warning: Circle Centre Mall may be a square on the outside, but once you get inside, they turn you in circles and then send you out the wrong door so you can't find your way. It's a plot against out-of-staters, who are silly enough to believe everything in Indiana runs in straight lines. But I'm wise now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Indianapolis

I've arrived in Indianapolis, and it's raining. I like weather, because we don't get much of it in California, so the rain is refreshing.

The National Missionary Convention starts tomorrow night. I'm all signed up, and I have my meal tickets, which someone at my church recommended. She said they have speakers during the meals who tell stories about their experiences on the mission field, which is different from the speakers in the workshops. Workshops have more focused, formal messages to convey. I'm looking forward to it, though I still haven't decided which workshops I want to attend.

During the rainy day tomorrow, I plan on seeing some of the town. I still haven't decided what I want to see in town either. I'm not usually this indecisive, but I can go with the flow when I need to. The man I sat next to on the plane from Atlanta recommended Conner Prairie, a Living History Museum, but their website says they don't have much going on in November. Bummer.

Kokomo Update:

Sunday, after the Missionary Convention ends, I'll be driving up to Kokomo, hoping to meet with readers and fellow bloggers from the Greater Kokomo Area and beyond. We'll meet at:

Cracker Barrel, Kokomo, 2:00pm (ish)

So you know who to look for, here's a picture of me with some friends. Here's a picture of me dressed up nicely. Here's a picture of me with a gun. I won't have a gun. I may be browsing in the gift shop.

I hope to see you there. Until then, I may not be doing a lot of blogging...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell on Terrorists

WorldNetDaily reported yesterday about Rosie O'Donnell's comments on The View.

TV host Rosie O'Donnell says there's no reason for Americans to fear terrorists because they are just moms and dads like us.

"Faith or fear, that's your choice," she told co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck and panelists including Barbara Walters and Beverly Sills.

"You can walk through life believing in the goodness of the world, or walk through life afraid of anyone who thinks different than you and trying to convert them to your way of thinking. And I think that this country ... ."

To which Hasselbeck interjected: "Well, I'm a person of faith, so I, but I also believe ... ."

"Well then, get away from the fear," interrupted O'Donnell. "Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers."


O'Donnell also said few were willing to speak out against the Iraq war in the beginning because, "people were blacklisted. We were close to the McCarthy era, where if you said that you were against the policies of the administration, you were called unpatriotic."

What I don't understand is how Rosie (or any of the other Lefties) can "walk through life believing in the goodness" of the men who would fly passenger jets into two World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and--they were hoping--the Capitol, but she can't believe in the goodness of President Bush. I really don't get that. Because President Bush is a father too.

And Ahmadinejad is probably a father. Here's what his goodness drove him to say, reported in today's YNet News:

According to the Iranian media Monday, Iranian President Mahoud Ahmadinejad declared that Israel was destined to ‘disappearance and destruction’ at a council meeting with Iranian ministers.

“The western powers created the Zionist regime in order to expand their control of the area. This regime massacres Palestinians everyday, but since this regime is against nature, we will soon witness its disappearance and destruction,” Ahmadinejad said.

I believe in that goodness. I believe he wants to be good to his word.

And the rest of the terrorists do too. WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that the terrorists have announced renewed attacks on the US.

Four terror groups here, including militants from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, which the U.S. considers moderate, warned today America is now officially a target for attacks both in the region and abroad.

The terror groups blamed the U.S. for "attacking Muslim land" in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan, and for providing support to the Israeli Defense Forces, which last week accidentally hit a residential area with artillery fire while trying to stop rockets from being launched from the northern Gaza Strip into nearby Jewish communities.

Several Palestinian terror leaders in Gaza told WND their organizations will soon lead attacks against U.S. interests.

"We call upon all mujahedeen in Palestine and around the world to start hitting Americans without mercy. The Americans are destroying Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and are bombarding our Muslim land," read a statement signed by Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Fatah-affiliated Abu Rish Brigades, and a new group calling itself the Brigades of the Believers.

"The Americans seem not to understand any language but that of blood and violence. We say the Americans have an artificial culture. It is a country that doesn't respect the blood of innocents. Americans only take into consideration the blood of the Jews," read the statement obtained by WND.

Good thing the Democrats won the mid-term elections, because their win sure made the jihadists want to sit right down and talk to us--now that we're kinder and more understanding of the jihadists' plight.

Yes indeed. Rosie sure knows her terrorists.

TV Time

My daughter was watching TV last night, and when I went by, she said, "I didn't know Christopher Lloyd was the uncle in The Addams Family!"

I asked her what she was talking about, and I looked, and it was the movie version. Aahh. Reality restored. Then she started asking me questions about the TV show, and I said, "I don't know. We watched The Munsters."

But even though I didn't watch the Addams Family, I knew enough about it to know that the movie was all wrong. Angelica Houston was too... (unable to find the right word). She just wasn't Morticia.

The 1960s broadcast schedule offered us choices. For creepy viewing, we had the Addams Family and the Munsters. For westerns, we had many options. Here's some of what my family (not always the parents) did and didn't watch:

The Twilight Zone, not The Outer Limits.

The Wonderful World of Disney, not The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., not I Spy

The Virginian, not Bonanza. Forget Little Joe--I had a crush on Trampas.

Have Gun Will Travel

The Wild Wild West

Daktari

Mission Impossible

Batman

And yes, it's shameful, but we watched My Mother the Car.

So much culture that my kids missed out on...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Standing Up To CAIR

Janice over at You Heard It Here... has an excellent post today about a Congresswoman who wouldn't be cowed by CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. Janice has subscribed to CAIR's daily Whine-O-Gram (her term, certainly not theirs) for some time and keeps us informed on all their latest shrieks of "hate-speech!" and worse.

Ginny Brown-Waite is more courageous than most companies, school districts and city councils. Ms. Brown-Waite stood up to CAIR. The controversy came after she refused to condemn a prominent Hernando County Republican, Mary Ann Hogan, who called Islam a "hateful, frightening religion."

CAIR sent a fax to Ms. Brown-Waite asking her to join her fellow republican "dhimmis" and condemn the Hogans. Using congressional letterhead, she wrote a 3 page response that will most certainly touch off more whining by the terrorist front group. It is worth reading.

I'll go Janice one farther. It is very much worth reading. Congresswoman Brown-Waite has some real... backbone.

I've just started reading Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (available autographed at full price here at Steyn's website, or for less but un-autographed at Amazon). I've only gone through the Prologue, and I'm into Chapter 1 now, but the message I'm taking from it so far is that we must fight. And we need to start that fight yesterday.

I'm not talking about the War in Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm talking about the cultural war here at home. Dhimmitude is on its way, if we do nothing. It's already more than halfway there in the Netherlands and Denmark, and France and Spain are heading there at a full gallop. An example from the book (p. 38):

In Seville, King Ferdinand III is no longer patron saint of the annual fiesta because his splendid record in fighting for Spanish independence from the Moors was felt to be insensitive to Muslims.

We need more, not fewer, leaders like Rep. Brown-Waite; more, not fewer, bloggers like Janice giving us the low-down on what CAIR is up to. We need to become once more a nation that is confident in its own culture and its special place as leader of the dwindling Free World, even if we stand alone. If we become like Europe, we will die like Europe.

With the Socialists...er... Democrats in control of Congress, our fight has become more difficult, but we must fight nonetheless.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hugh Hewitt Analyzes the Election

My co-worker told me that Rush Limbaugh (who I never listen to) read Hugh Hewitt's Townhall column from yesterday assessing the election. So I read Hugh's column, and he nails down the issues pretty well: The Democrats didn't win. The Republicans lost.

The post-mortems are accumulating, but I think the obvious has to be stated: John McCain and his colleagues in the Gang of 14 cost the GOP its Senate majority while the conduct of a handful of corrupt House members gave that body's leadership the Democrats.

As cooler heads sort through the returns, they will see not a Democratic wave but a long series of bitter fights most of which were lost by very thin margins, the sort of margin that could have been overcome had there been greater purpose and energy arrayed on the GOP's side. The country did not fundamentally change from 2004, but the Republicans had to defend very difficult terrain in very adverse circumstances. Step by step over the past two years the GOP painted themselves into a corner from which there was no escape. Congressional leadership time and time again took the easy way out and declared truces with Democrats over issues, which ought not to have been compromised. The easy way led to Tuesday's result.

Hugh goes over three events that he says contributed to the conservatives' disgust with the GOP leadership, though I'm not sure one of them (the lack of naming the New York Times in the House resolution condemning the NSA surveillance leaks) really even reached the general population.

The Republican Party raised the money and staffed the campaigns that had yielded a 55-45 seat majority, and the Republican Party expected the 55 to act like a majority. Confronted with obstruction, the Republicans first fretted and then caved on issue after issue. Had the 55 at least been seen to be trying --hard, and not in a senatorial kind of way-- Tuesday would have had a much different result. Independents, especially, might have seen why the majority mattered.

But the majority is not going to return unless the new minority leadership --however it is composed-- resolves to persuade the public, and to be firm in its convictions, not concerned for the praise of the Beltway-Manhattan media machine.

He's exactly right. But given this explanation, especially his criticism of John McCain, I'm not optimistic that the new Republican leadership will step up. After all, John McCain is still in the Senate, and he's not going to give up his media-favorite "Maverick" role without a fight.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bumper Stickers

Proteus at Eject! Eject! Eject posted an essay Monday (HT: The Hedgehog Blog) on some of the bumper stickers he sees during his commute in L.A. It's excellent--and long--but very much worth the time to read it all. It's even got pictures!

This is from his introduction:

Today, it seems that legions of people – growing legions – are falling victims to ideas and beliefs that on the face of it are patently false…things that are so clearly and obviously nuts that you really have to wonder what deep, mighty engine of emotional need could possibly drive a brain so deep into a hole. Seriously now, there are millions and millions of people on this planet who will torture logic and reason to mind-bending extremes in order to believe monumentally ridiculous “theories”… theories drawn from an emotional need so warped and debased that you are catapulted beyond anger and disbelief directly into pathos and the desire to call 911 before these people hurt themselves.

So perhaps we could take a walk through Fantasy Island armed only with a shotgun of logic and a few fact-filled shells and see what intellectual tumors we may safely blow into atoms. Time is short! So let’s start with the easy stuff and work our way up to the Lord God King Mack-Daddy falsehood of our age.

And that falsehood is... Nah. I'll let you read it for yourself.

Jet Lag Kills

La Shawn Barber asked for advice on beating jet lag, just before she flew out to California from the East Coast for GodBlogCon. The advice varied, from setting your watch to the new time zone ASAP, to avoiding sugar on the flight, to keeping hydrated, and much much more. When I looked at the various comments, one pattern emerged: Jet lag hits hardest when you return home.

But in a Reuters article, published yesterday in the International Herald Tribune, the effects of jet lag are proving not just hard, but deadly. In mice, anyway.

They didn't fly the mice anywhere. They left them at home in their cozy laboratory, separated them into three groups, and exposed them to varying light and dark cycles. The young did just fine, but the old mice had the problems.

To see if there was a correlation, the researchers tested three groups of mice, with about 30 old mice and 9 young mice in each group.

One group had its light and dark cycle shifted forward by six hours - the equivalent of waking people up six hours early - every week for eight weeks.

A second group had its schedule shifted back by six hours, and the third group's schedule was unaltered.

They found that 83 percent of old mice survived under the normal schedule, 68 percent lived after eight weeks of shifting steadily backward, but fewer than half - 47 percent - survived when the lights regularly came on six hours earlier.

When they speeded the schedule up, changing the light schedule every four days, even more mice died.

I'm not a mouse, and I'm not old, but it certainly gives a person pause. Jet-setting is obviously designed for the young. Old folks start to move more slowly as a general rule, and their travel plans should probably reflect that slowing. More sitting on the porch traveling back and forth in the rocking chair and less jetting around the world for the next Arts Festival or UN confab.

Still, this study makes me wonder how so many of the Rolling Stones can still be alive.

Democrats Take the House

Hugh Hewitt likes to play a song on his radio show whenever the Democrats suffer a resounding defeat. It's John Hiatt's version of The Tiki Bar Is Open:

Thank God the tiki bar is open
Thank God the tiki torch still shines
Thank God the tiki bar is open
Come on in and open up your mind

Even though I'm not really a drinker, I could use that song today.

Fox News has a graphic at the top of their site (as of this moment), showing the split between Republicans and Democrats (and Independents) in the House and Senate. The Democrats have the House. Republicans have 49 seats in the Senate, Democrats have 47 seats, and the 2 Independents are expected to vote with the Democrats. So the Senate races in Montana and Virginia will determine control of the Senate.

If Democrats take control of the Senate, judicial nominees will not be confirmed. If another Supreme Court justice retires or dies, that seat may well remain vacant for the next two years. The President's comprehensive immigration plan (including a path to citizenship to illegals) will pass, and the border fence and border enforcement will be dropped or curtailed.

If Democrats take control of the Senate, expect impeachment to be more likely. Expect the tax cuts to be rolled back. Expect our economy to slow down as a result. Expect the war effort to be hampered by "supporters" of our troops.

I'm not happy. And I'm not optimistic that either the Republicans or the Democrats will learn the real lesson from this election.

The lesson is NOT that America has had a sudden groundswell of joyous approval for Democrats and their policies, although the Democrats will try to spin it that way. History teaches us that the mid-term elections during a president's second term have always seen a shift to the opposing party. That's a tough hurdle for Republicans to overcome. This year had October and November Surprises like crazy--another hurdle to overcome, but that's politics.

In addition, Republicans were being hammered in the mainstream media's "news" articles. The Washington Times reported November 1, 2006, that the Big 3 broadcast news outlets leaned left in their election coverage.

The Big Three television networks have used unprecedented midterm election coverage to bash the Republican Party with negative stories, and plenty of them, a study says.

Only 12 percent of election stories that aired on NBC, ABC or CBS were favorable toward Republican candidates, according to a study released yesterday by the District-based Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).

In contrast, Democrats basked in glory. The study found that 77 percent of the news accounts between Sept. 5 and Oct. 22 offered favorable evaluations of Democratic candidates and lawmakers.

With all this working against the Republicans, it's no wonder they lost control of the House. But to take that as a repudiation of Bush policies on the part of Regular America is to overreach the meaning of the election.

The stakes are still as high as they ever were, but with a new reality in Washington, the fight will have to change.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Exit Polling

I'm skeptical. The AP is reporting on some exit polling showing the Democrats surging ahead. Way ahead.

In surveys at polling places, about six in 10 voters said they disapproved of the way President Bush is handling his job, and roughly the same percentage opposed the war in Iraq. They were more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates than for Republicans.

In even larger numbers, about three-quarters of voters said scandals mattered to them in deciding how to vote, and they, too, were more likely to side with Democrats. The surveys were taken by The Associated Press and the networks.

I remember the early exit polling in the 2004 presidential election, and it showed the Democrats surging ahead. Way ahead. The only problem was that it wasn't accurate, not by a long shot. A couple factors came into play, which the AP article quoted above doesn't address.

First, the exit polls over-sampled women, who tend to vote for Democrats more than men do and who tend to vote in fewer numbers (as I recall) than men do. Today's AP report doesn't give that kind of detail. They'd like us to take their word for it that the sample was representative of the voting population.

Second, exit polling by definition doesn't take into account the absentee ballots, which have been used in greater numbers this year than ever before. And rumor has it that the absentee ballots are heavily Republican.

So don't get your knickers in a twist, good or bad, over the exit polls. The Democrats may be "winning" now, but that's only until the real votes are counted.

Some other bloggers on the exit polls: Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt (here too), Power Line, Captain's Quarters.

Voting Day

Laura Ingraham was having fun on her radio show over Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's announcement of the helpful new phone number 1-888-DEM-VOTE. He urged anyone with "irregularities" in voting to call the number to report the problems. So Laura's listeners tried calling the number, and most of them were transferred to somewhere that disconnected their call.

Well, I had irregularities at my polling place this morning, but I didn't bother to call the Dems to come investigate.

For starters, I vote in the sanctuary of the Methodist or Lutheran church down the street. It's nice to come in the doors and see a banner hanging on the wall declaring, "Christ is King!" I'm sure the Dems would find that very irregular, but I find comfort in it, along with a perverse pleasure that all the voters in my precinct--even the atheists--will be seeing that message as well.

I got there about ten minutes after they opened. The head precinct worker was new since last time. The voting machines were new since last time. They were having "challenges" with some of the machines.

Normally, there's one person who finds my name in the spiral-bound book and has me sign the book beside my name. Then there's a second person who looks me up in another book by address and makes a check-mark to show I've been there. Then I'm handed my ballot or voting gizmo and sent off to vote, with instructions on what to do when I've finished.

Not this time. This time the guy in charge seemed frazzled. He only had one book, in which he found my name and had me sign. Most of the voting booths were being used, and two of the precinct workers each had a machine with a gray plastic cover open while they tried doing something to make it workable. It looked like a long wait, and I saw some paper ballots on the table, the kind where you fill in the bubbles with black ink. I figured I knew how to operate a paper ballot, so I asked for one of them, because there was no telling how long it would take me to vote using the machine.

While I was voting, using an unoccupied voting machine as a hard surface for filling in my bubbles, the worker at the machine next to me was asking another worker if it was OK to power the machine down and back up, because the machine was stuck somewhere and wouldn't let her do anything, and their training on the machines hadn't said what to do in that case. I never heard what they decided, because I finished with my bubbles, folded my ballot in half as instructed, and got my "I Voted" sticker. There were five or six people waiting for a machine as I walked out.

At work, my office-mate said it took her 45 minutes to finish voting on the new machine, that has a knob you turn until you see your preferred candidate or Yes/No option highlighted, and then you push a button. She said she had to select "Cast Ballot" three times before she was finished--once when she finished, then again after it showed her two pages of what her votes would be, then one more time after it printed two pages of hardcopy with her votes. After all that, it let her be done voting. But the woman who went to vote at the machine next to her said, "The man who was here before me didn't finish voting." He must not have realized that "Cast Ballot" didn't really mean "Cast Ballot." Silly man.

So when you see the results from California, don't expect them to be final. The Democratic leadership will probably insult their base by declaring them too stupid to know how to vote properly with the new machines (which were prompted by the stupidity of Democrats over the butterfly ballot in Florida in 2000). Then they'll file a lawsuit, claiming the machines were designed for smart people (Republicans) and ask that the voting be thrown out or that butterfly ballots be used instead, or that the military vote should be suppressed, or something.

May the best people win.

Update:

Check out the post at Malott's Blog on Voting in a Tiny Town.

Monday, November 06, 2006

UK OB-GYNs Push for Killing of Disabled Babies

The Independent (UK) reported yesterday on new calls for the euthanasia of disabled newborns.

Doctors are urging health regulators to consider allowing the "active euthanasia" of severely disabled newborn babies.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology has put forward the option of permitting mercy killings of the sickest infants to a review of medical ethics.

It says "active euthanasia" should be considered for the overall benefit of families who would otherwise suffer years of emotional and financial suffering.

Deliberate action to end infants' lives may also reduce the number of late abortions, since it would allow women the chance to decide whether their disabled child should live.

Of course, we must do all we can to reduce the number of late abortions, even if that means actively killing babies after they're born. That would sure solve the moral dilemma of late abortions!

These people disgust me. They're following in the lines of the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands. From the Independent:

Dr Pieter Sauer, co-author of the Groningen Protocol, the guidelines governing infant euthanasia in the Netherlands, said British medics already carry out mercy killings and should be allowed to do so in the open. "English neonatologists gave me the indication that this is happening."

It's one thing to remove life support. It's another thing entirely to kill someone, as a British physician points out:

But the paper quoted John Wyatt, consultant neonatologist at University College Hospital, as saying: "Intentional killing is not part of medical care... once you introduce the possibility of intentional killing you change the fundamental nature of medicine. It becomes a subjective decision of whose life is worthwhile."

Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People said: "Euthanasia for disabled newborns tells society that being born disabled is a bad thing. If we introduced euthanasia for certain conditions, it would tell adults with those conditions that they are worth less than other members of society."

Both Wyatt and Aspis are right. The power this would give and the message it would tell are the wrong ones.

John Harris, a member of the official Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University, welcomed the college's submission. "We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term, but cannot kill a newborn," he told The Sunday Times. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not the other?" (emphasis added)

Although Harris is making the case for euthanasia, he could just as easily be making the case against late-term abortion. But that's not the direction "bioethicists" tend to go. They seem to prefer finding "ethical" reasons to kill.

At least there are still a few people in Great Britain who are sane. Let's hope it's their voices that prevail.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam to Hang

The AP reported today on the verdict in Saddam Hussein's trial in Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted "God is great!"

Yes, God is great, and He is bringing justice to Iraq. Justice will be complete in this case when Saddam is finally dead.

As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!" Later, his lawyer said the former dictator had called on Iraqis to reject sectarian violence and refrain from revenge against U.S. forces.

It's been a bit hard to believe at times that he would be convicted, after the way his trial had become a mixture between farce and anarchy. In fact, Sky News reported today that Saddam's attorney Ramsey Clark was thrown out of the court before the reading of the verdict.

A former US attorney general representing Saddam Hussein was thrown out of court before his client's verdict was read out.

Ramsey Clark was ordered out of the courtroom in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Mr Clark had handed the judge a memorandum calling the trial a travesty. Judge Rauf Abdul Rahman pointed to Mr Clark and said in English: "Get out."


Beautiful!

Here is the text of President Bush's response to the verdict. An excerpt:

Iraq has a lot of work ahead as it builds its society that delivers equal justice and protects all its citizens. Yet history will record today's judgment as an important achievement on the path to a free and just and unified society.

The United States is proud to stand with the Iraqi people. We will continue to support Iraq's unity government as it works to bring peace to its great country.

We appreciate the determination and bravery of the Iraqi security forces, who are stepping forward to defend their free nation. And we give our thanks to the men and women of America's Armed Forces, who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom in Iraq – and they've sacrificed for the security of the United States. Without their courage and skill, today's verdict would not have happened.

On behalf of the American people, I thank every American who wears the uniform, I thank their families – and I thank them for their service and continued sacrifice.

I thank them as well.

There is one group, though, that is not surprised at all by the verdict, and that is those on the Left who saw the verdict date as a scheme hatched by the evil genius Karl Rove. They saw this coming and knew it would bode well for the GOP come election day. I hope they're right.

Update:

Iraq The Model's Mohammed has a post over at Pajamas Media with his first reaction to the verdict. It ends this way:

[T]oday that the truth is out there for the whole world to see, the criminals stand small and shaking while the families of the victims stand proud seeing justice served.

Right now volleys of bullets ring not far from where I sit, some are fired to express joy while others are fired in a desperate expression of denial but I have no doubt who is going to prevail. Although the road is long but we are walking forward and will not look back.

I salute the honorable special tribunal that challenged threats and risks and insisted on keeping up the work until the end, and today it brought back the pride of the land that wrote the world’s first laws.

I salute the witnesses who risked their lives to reveal the truth and expose the crimes of the dictator.

I salute the brave men and women of the coalition who came to this land and made this day possible.

Congratulations to all my Iraqi brothers and sisters on this glorious day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tankball


This ABC News report from Tuesday looks like too much fun.

It looks like a typical battle scene — tanks charging, overhead artillery fire, missiles exploding; so why, suddenly, are soldiers coming out of the tanks smiling and laughing as if they are having the time of their lives?

Well, it's not exactly Iraq or Afghanistan. It's Leicestershire, England, and the battlefield is Southfields Farm, the new Mecca for war games.

Southfields is the birthplace of tankball — paintball taken to a whole new level. People come from all around the world to race around in tanks, launch paint-filled missiles and, in turn, avoid a tank round of green or red splattering ammunition.

Too bad it's in England.

The Tankball inventor, farmer Stuart Garner, found an engineer to adapt the former-military equipment he had, so it can fire paint, and he helps teams re-enact battles like D-Day or fight in jungles like Vietnam.

Joe Harris had the time of his life. His uncle took him there for his 21st birthday. "It was sometimes overwhelming because it's very dark inside the tank and you can clearly hear the hits," Harris says.

Harris and his uncle managed to win the battle. "It was fantastic!" Harris says.

The first task teams undergo is to learn how to drive a tank with the hatch open and then with the hatch closed. Next, is firing practice. The gunner does the aiming with two handles, one for raising or lowering the barrel, the other for spinning the turret. Meanwhile, the loader has to stuff a ping pong ball (of paint, of course) into the breach, seal it, charge the air and press the fire button.

During the battle, the driver must maneuver the tank to a set of different positions, while using the periscope with the hatch closed, past the cattle and sheep that still roam the farm, apparently unperturbed by the enactments going on around them. "They're used to it now," says Garner.

Here's another write-up over at Retro-Thing, where the photo above came from.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More on Kerry

The troops in the photo holding up the "Stuck Hear N Irak" banner have been identified and will apparently not be getting into trouble. The Star-Tribune reported today on the unit's identity.

Members of a unit under the command of the Minnesota National Guard turn out to be the creators of an intentionally misspelled sign that takes a mocking shot at Sen. John Kerry.

Over at Sparks from the Anvil, Wordsmith From Nantucket has posted a slew of political cartoons taking aim at Kerry's "botched joke." This one is my favorite:



What a jokester that Kerry is! Be sure to check out the rest of the cartoons.

Finally, we knew it had to happen, but we just didn't know who would say it first. The It's All Just Politics Award goes to John Edwards, Kerry's running mate in 2004, reported by NBC17.com yesterday.

He also expressed sympathy toward his former running mate, John Kerry, who was criticized by the president for suggesting unsuccessful students end up stuck in Iraq.

"This is all politics," Edwards said. "What's happening is the president and the Republicans and they know they're in trouble in this election and they're trying to find anything they can to distract the voter's attention. It's not going to be successful."

Of course it's politics. Politics usually is politics. But Edwards uses the "distract the voter's attention" ploy as though the Democrats would never engage in attention distracting.

Let's just say, "Mark Foley," call both the pot and kettle black, and leave it at that.

Be sure to look at all those cartoons. And go back and look at the Irak banner again. And again. It just doesn't get old.

November

It's November already and has been for over a day now. How did that happen? I've been marking the time by my travel plans (September was Poland, October was GodBlogCon, and November (which was "next month" until yesterday) is Indianapolis), but now those plans are rushing up at me.

In less than two weeks, I'll go to Indianapolis for my non-denominational denomination's National Missionary Convention. I'm not ready yet. I haven't been thinking about it much, beyond getting my plane ticket and making hotel reservations. And now time is short.

I'll be getting there the day before it starts and leaving the day after it ends, so I can get in a little sight-seeing. I don't think I've ever been to Indiana, and the last time I was in the Midwest was 1976, when my family visited relatives in Cleveland and Dearborn.

When I was at GodBlogCon, I learned that John Schroeder of Blogotional was from Indiana, so I grilled him on what I could see while I'm there. He said there's the Indianapolis Zoo, which I'll probably skip in the interest of time and because I was spoiled growing up with the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. He mentioned the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, the Museum of Art and Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art, with both art museums downtown. And he said I should definitely consider having some steak at St. Elmo's Steak House, which is deliciously close to the Convention Center, where I'll be spending most of my time. It all sounds great. I'll even bet that looking at western art, with all those cows, will stir up an appetite for for a nice thick steak. Mmmm...

Since some of my readers are in the Greater Kokomo area, I asked John what there is to see in Kokomo. He said there's some manufacturing. The staff at Malott's Blog has indicated in the past that the area also has corn. Okaaayyy...

Obviously, John is an Indy-phile, and Malott's Blog is a humble blog (in this regard, anyway), because the Kokomo Indiana Visitors Bureau says, "Kokomo is Loaded With Options! " It Probably Is! They list the Elwood Haynes Museum (inventor of the first horseless carriage in America), the Automotive Heritage Museum, and the Seiberling Mansion. Plus dining out (though I see that a Texas establishment has become lost and has settled there in Kokomo).

I'd like to see Kokomo. The name has a ring to it, and I'd like to be able to say I've been there. More than that, I'd like to meet some of my readers and/or fellow bloggers who live within driving distance of Kokomo. What I enjoyed most about GodBlogCon was meeting other bloggers. The rest of it--the panel discussions, the breakout sessions, and even Hugh Hewitt's radio show broadcast--was just the icing on the cake for me. I'd like to have some more of that cake again.

If you can come to Kokomo Sunday afternoon, November 19, email me (skyepuppy at cox dot net). Bring the family too. We can meet where? Cracker Barrel (we don't have those in California)? Someplace else where we can drag some tables together if we need to? A park?

Please let me know. I need to start making some plans.