Friday, March 31, 2006


Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Danni Alon, a member of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team who survived the terrorist attack in Munich. Radioblogger has the transcript of the interview.

The interview was fairly short, as Hugh's interviews go, and Alon was soft-spoken, telling his story of the night the terrorists took the Israeli athletes, and then describing the 33 years since, when he didn't speak about it much.

Although Danni Alon says he is not a political guy, he ended with this, after Hugh thanked him for telling his story (emphasis added):

Thank you. Thank you for you, and I appreciate you Americans, what you're doing all over the world to stop the terror. And please continue doing it.

This from a man who understands terror up close, both from the 1972 Olympics and from life in Israel under the intifada. His words take on more meaning and have more impact.

We must not stop. Not until the terror stops.


A couple years ago, I think, CortiSlim(TM) was being heavily advertised on the radio ("...something something something stress hormones something something weight loss..."). I thought, "Stress? Yep, that's me." So I bought some to try to lose some weight, but I only managed to remember to take it for about a week. During that week, though, I remarked to one of my co-workers that my handwriting had improved and I didn't seem as tight on the inside as usual. But then I forgot about taking it, and the bottle eventually ended up in the cupboard with the other forgotten supplements, like vegetables or fruits in pill form. Mm-hmm.

At work the past couple months, with Fiscal Year End coming up (today, in fact), we've been under a lot of pressure to do lots of work in as few days as possible, in order to bring as much income as possible into the company so everyone who is eligible can get a bonus. That meant lots of very late nights under high pressure (except for last week, which was inexplicably slow). It wasn't until last weekend that I remembered the CortiSlim(TM) languishing in the cupboard, so I brought it out and have been taking it this week for the stress.

I think it worked.

A few days ago, I was given a high-pressure, high-visibility project that should take a week to process, but it absolutely had to be finished no later than early afternoon today. And my other projects had to be finished today too. And even though things weren't happening quickly enough today, and in spite of the copious amounts of highly caffeinated tea I drank, I didn't feel the same tight sense of panic/dread/doom that I would usually feel under the circumstances. I juggled my projects, anticipated issues with them, and acted to head those problems off before they they could throw a wrench in the whole works. And I got everything done in each thing's nick of time.

And now that Fiscal Year End is over, I can breathe and look ahead to a future that stretches beyond the next deadline. It feels strange. It feels calm. It feels good.


I drove to work listening to Laura Ingraham talking about illegal immigration. I'm still upset about it since yesterday. But I got to work, found a good spot in the parking garage, and was getting my stuff together when a commercial came on that I've heard a hundred times before, about pre-arranging your funeral with the local funeral home.

This time an image flashed in my mind of the photo of my dad the church used at his memorial service, and I started to cry. Then I sobbed, right there in my parking spot, with a Carls Jr napkin clutched to my face to catch the tears. It's been ten months, and it hasn't hit me this hard in a long time.

My dad didn't like to smile for the camera, so it's hard to find a picture of him laughing. He'd just turn up the corners of his mouth a little, and that was the best you could hope for. We never knew why. It's just how he was. He was like his dad that way.

But, oh, did he enjoy life! The simplest things tickled him to no end, and when something really got to him, he'd fight to keep it to a chuckle, but he'd always lose and the laughter would win, and after a bit he'd have to pull out his hanky and dab at his eyes and say, "Oh my." He was like his mom that way.

And someone at my parents' church found a picture of my dad laughing, and that's the one they had on the screen through much of the memorial service. And that's the one that made me cry the most, because I miss seeing him laugh, and I miss making him laugh.

A couple years ago, after my friend's husband died while we were all on vacation together, she and I started a GriefShare group at our church. One of the things I learned from that, both from the GriefShare materials and from the other women's experiences, was that it's normal to be blindsided by grief just when you think you're doing fine. So I know my tears this morning aren't a sign of anything wrong. They're a sign that everything is OK.

Still, it was a surprise, and the tears keep wanting to come back again every time I think of Daddy laughing. I'm not going to fight them too much, though, because I'd rather remember him, even if it means my face isn't dry.

And down the road, on a day still to come, I'll laugh with my dad again. Forever.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Michael Ware and Media Bias

Hugh Hewitt has been all over in the press lately. Before his new book was released, he was talking about media bias in the aftermath of Laura Ingraham's forceful argument on the Today Show about bias.

Two days in a row, on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN (transcript of day 2 here), Hugh mixed it up with Michael Ware of Time Magazine's Baghdad bureau. Tuesday on his show, Hugh interviewed Michael Ware, and he replayed the interview tonight.

A lot was said (the interview lasted over an hour, including commercials), but one point Ware made during the interview was also what he said on CNN.


I'm in a fortunate position. I am an Australian, writing for an American magazine. I have no stake either way. I can -- I have no agenda to pursue. I just want to know, what is really going on here?

On Hugh Hewitt:

But I mean, what I can say is that I, for one, certainly have no investment in beating one administration, or favoring one party over the other. I'm an Australian who reports for an American magazine. I have no stake in your political process whatsoever. I just call it as I see it. I mean, there's nothing to be gained for someone like me.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

What Michael Ware, and any other left-leaning journalist, has to gain is: Respect among his peers. Continued employment at left-leaning publications. Self-congratulation over getting the hard story (such as Ware's having been embedded with the "insurgents"). Pride at not having done any flag-waving, pro-war propaganda articles. Possible journalism awards, which always seem to go for the hard-hitting lefty pieces.

So I mean, I can't speak for every journalist. All I can say is that I don't personally have a liberal, anti-administration bias. And I can't say that I see that many of my colleagues do.

Michael Ware suffers from a journalistic form of macular degeneration, where blindness to the central vision develops gradually enough it isn't noticed until it's too late. That he can't see his own bias is understandable--how many of us are realistically aware of our own flaws? But not to be able to see it in his colleagues is just proof of his own blindness.

Journalism, as represented by Michael Ware, cannot be fixed if nobody sees the problem. And they're too busy blindly patting themselves on the back for their grand vision.

Peggy Noonan Knows America

Peggy Noonan's column this week in OpinionJournal is excellent. She talks about heroes: Medal of Honor winners and what they did for our country and how they feel about America.

In a brief film on the recipients that was played at the [Medal of Honor] dinner, Leo Thorsness, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, said something that lingered. He was asked what, when he performed his great act, he was sacrificing for. He couldn't answer for a few seconds. You could tell he was searching for the right words, the right sentence. Then he said, "I get emotional about it. But we're a free country." He said it with a kind of wonder, and gratitude.

And of course, he said it all.

Then she talks about immigration:

There are a variety of things driving American anxiety about illegal immigration and we all know them--economic arguments, the danger of porous borders in the age of terrorism, with anyone able to come in.

But there's another thing. And it's not fear about "them." It's anxiety about us.
It's the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways--in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.

We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. "So I'm like 'no," and he's all 'yeah,' and I'm like, 'In your dreams.' " Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.

So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.

But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.

There's more. Peggy Noonan is always worth reading, and especially today.

If we lose sight of what's special about America and what makes people want to come here--and it's not just for jobs--then we lose who we are. Once we've lost that, we've lost it all.

Hugh Hewitt on Laura Ingraham's Radio Show

What a treat on my way to work. I got my two favorite radio hosts on the same show. Hugh Hewitt is out plugging his new book, Painting the Map Red, and today he stopped in at Laura Ingraham's studio to talk about it.

Hugh had some real meat in what he said, the bottom-line nuts and bolts about the coming mid-term election. Here are the two things he said that hit home for me.

"If the Democrats take back the House and the Senate, we will lose the war, and it will be worse than after Vietnam."

The Democrats have made no secret that they will pull out of Iraq. If they take Congress, they will do just that (and might impeach the President just for kicks). And for the next forty years, the Democrats and their media will teach our children and grandchildren that Republicans fought a war they couldn't win. In reality, it would be that Republicans fought a war the Democrats refused to win, but the Democrats' spin will be what posterity will hear.

Just like Vietnam.

"Build the fence first."

Laura and Hugh have both been hammering on this on their radio shows, and they hammered on it together this morning. The vast majority of the American public--both Republicans and Democrats--want border security first. Guest worker status/citizenship/amnesty/deportations, all of that can wait, must wait, until we know our borders are secure.

Build the fence! Prove to us you can keep unwanted, illegal, possible-terrorist people out, and then we'll talk about the rest. But both parties in Congress are going soft about the fence and hard about guest workers. Put a cork in it and get serious!

Bottom line (mine) for Republicans:

The GOP doesn't deserve to win the mid-term elections, not if they keep up with their sucking up to business's desire for an endless supply of cheap (below minimum wage) labor. But the American people and the world as well CANNOT AFFORD to have the Democrats win. This is just too important. There will be time to punish the GOP later, when the stakes aren't so high.

(And I haven't even started talking about what happens to the courts, if the Democrats win, especially in 2008.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Married Man to Sue e-Harmony

A lawyer who is in the process of getting a divorce, but who is still married, has said he will sue the matchmaking service, e-Harmony. Reuters reported the story yesterday.

John Claassen, a 36-year-old lawyer, said he was ready to resume dating but maintains that Pasadena, California-based agency eHarmony is violating his civil rights by not letting him use its service before his divorce is official.

The Oakland, California-based lawyer said he is asking a state judge to end eHarmony's policy of only admitting unmarried people to its dating service. "There are a lot of people out there in my situation who would like to move on but under these policies can't," Claassen said.

The company, which advertises it is "dedicated to helping serious singles build lasting relationships," did not return calls for comment.

How many different ways are there to say "SELFISH"? Gee-whiz!

Is e-Harmony the only dating service in the entire world? What about match-dot-com? Huh? There's gotta be or or that this guy can go to. "...would like to move on but under these policies can't." Give me a break.

And how fair would it be to the single women at e-Harmony who are looking for a marriageable man, to have still-married men trying to hook up with them? The guy is so self-absorbed it's repulsive.

I betcha, if e-Harmony let this guy get in, that after he took the personality profile, it would tell him he's not emotionally healthy enough to be a good match to anyone.

I hope the court throws out the case and orders this still-married lawyer to pay e-Harmony's legal costs.

Solar Eclipse

They scheduled a total solar eclipse for today, but they decided to hold it in some other part of the world. I was so far out of the loop that I didn't know about it until it was too late to hop a plane for Istanbul. They've got another one scheduled for 2008, but so far the mainstream media is conspiring to keep me out of the loop yet again, because they're not telling where the next one will be. But I'm not pouting.

MSNBC has a great story about the eclipse. Be sure to look at the slide show, because the photography is phenomenal.

In 1979, I saw my first--and so far only--total eclipse. We were living in Spokane, Washington, at the time, and the narrow swath of totality didn't quite reach us there. So my husband and I took the day off work and drove down to the Tri-City area near the Oregon border to see the eclipse. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was nearly solid. We drove around, hunting for a break in the clouds, and with about a half hour to go before it started, we found some blue sky over a park, so we stopped there.

One other man was there, and he had prepared ahead, with a 3-foot wooden box that was open on one long side so you could look inside. He had a white piece of paper inside on one of the small ends and a small hole in the wood on the other end, so the outline of the sun showed up on the paper. He also had a pair of binoculars, but we couldn't use them until totality.

We alternated between watching the sun become a smaller and smaller crescent on the paper and observing the darkening of the world around us. It was bright but dim at the same time--not like a cloudy day, though, because our shadows lost their contrast with the unshadowed ground but still kept the sharp edge. I can understand why eclipses stirred fear and superstition in ancient people.

When the sun had shrunk to a tiny sliver, I looked around at the park, a wide, grassy valley with high hills on either side. Scientists talk about solar eclipses being caused by the moon's shadow falling on the earth, but it never sank in that it was a shadow. All of a sudden, a wide, sharp, black edge of shadow swept down the hillside and across the valley in a whoosh that engulfed us in darkness and took my breath away. I had no idea the earth spins so fast.

We took turns looking at the sun's corona through the binoculars, and when it was my turn, the edge of the blackened sun gave off a solitary spark of light that spread into a lighted rim, and I put the binoculars down. We watched the sun's crescent grow again on the piece of paper for a while, then we packed up and went home.

It was one of those spectacular experiences that I'll never forget--like watching the aurora borealis on the way home from a speech tournament in high school, or getting ashed-in by Mt. St. Helens. I don't want it to be my only total eclipse.

I bet my friend the astrophysics major can find out where the 2008 eclipse will be, and I can start saving my pennies.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rainy Day

Our group gets to wear jeans to work if it rains. Fridays are always Jeans Day, but the other weekdays become special treats when the clouds cooperate.

The last couple days brought heavy mist to my area, enough to wet the ground and make the eaves of the house drip occasionally, but certainly not enough to don jeans with a clear conscience. This morning, when I took Abby outside, the grass was wet, but there was plenty of blue sky to the west. I put on a dress and headed for work.

On the way, the radio told me about thundershowers and flood warnings that were expected today. Jeans Weather, and I didn't know! I felt like the V-8 commercial: just smack myself on the forehead and say, "Wow! I coulda worn jeans!"

The first person I saw when I got off the elevator on my floor was wearing jeans. She said, "It wasn't raining at your house?" I reined in my frustration and said, "No. I'm so disappointed."

But I was more than disappointed. I was jealous. Jealous of the people who lived in the rainy spots at getting-ready-for-work time. Jealous of the people who had the good sense to check the weather report in the morning. Green-green-green with envy at my co-workers who are comfortable in their jeans and sweaters, while I sit here with pantyhose and a belt around my waist (and a dress on too--wouldn't want to give the wrong impression).

And now, as I look out the window and up the freeway in the direction where the weather comes from, it's white clouds all the way down to the trees. Clouds full of rain. And those clouds are coming this way.

I'm not sure my umbrella is going to do me much good when it's time to go home.

Global Warming in the News

Three news items in the last several days on Global Warming.

First, Time Magazine's latest issue has Global Warming as its cover story. CNN published a summary of the cover story on Sunday. The Time cover story's title, "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," is a paraphrase of the "Be Afraid" speech from the movie, Air Force One.

Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us.

My friend's lefty friends would be so proud.

Second, the crisis has unexpectedly hit Palm Beach, Florida, where they posted a record low temperature Sunday morning. The Palm Beach Post reported the story.

Sunday morning's low of 47 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport, recorded at 6:36 a.m., was the coolest on record, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

The old record was set in 1979, when the overnight temperature dropped to 48 degrees.

Yep. Global warming.

Third, this story was published March 14, 2006, by ("Science, Technology, Physics, Space News").

A new theory to explain global warming was revealed at a meeting at the University of Leicester (UK) and is being considered for publication in the journal "Science First Hand". The controversial theory has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil.

Shaidurov has used a detailed analysis of the mean temperature change by year for the last 140 years and explains that there was a slight decrease in temperature until the early twentieth century. This flies in the face of current global warming theories that blame a rise in temperature on rising carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. Shaidurov, however, suggests that the rise, which began between 1906 and 1909, could have had a very different cause, which he believes was the massive Tunguska Event, which rocked a remote part of Siberia, northwest of Lake Baikal on the 30th June 1908.

A meteorite hits Siberia, sending tons of dust and debris into the atmosphere, changing the climate perceptibly. It's gotta be tough on all those environmental socialists to have a theory handed to them that says mankind isn't powerful enough to affect the climate.

If we weren't the ones to cause Global (outside of Palm Beach) Warming, then we probably can't fix it with our puny efforts. And if we can't fix it, then there's no need to hand over any of our sovereignty or property rights to the global environmentalists. I think I like Vladimir Shaidurov.

Girl Escapes Abductor

That's gotta hurt.

The Toledo Blade reported March 22, 2006 (HT: WorldNetDaily), that a 14-year-old Toledo girl was abducted at gunpoint "by a man seeking sex."

The junior high student later told police she had previously learned in school that, if something like this were to happen, to search for a weapon. So the teen told the abductor she had dropped her ring in the suspect's car and was searching for it. She felt the hammer under the front passenger seat, then put her ring back on, she told police.

A short time later, she grabbed the hammer and hit her abductor once in the groin area, Detective Harold Mosley said.

She was able to get away upset but unharmed.

Finally, we hear a story about the school system teaching something that actually helps the students deal with real life.

Monday, March 27, 2006

FEC Won't Regulate Internet Politics

This is very good news, courtesy of today's My Way News.

In a 6-0 vote, the commission decided to regulate only paid political ads placed on another person's Web site.

The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the Internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits.

Look out!

Hostages Were Dupes

So says Iraq's embassy to Canada. The Edmonton Journal reported the story Saturday.

Iraq's embassy to Canada lashed out at the Christian Peacemaker Teams Friday, calling them "phoney pacifists" and "dupes" after the antiwar group responded to the rescue of three of its kidnapped activists by condemning the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq.

The Iraqi embassy called CPT "willfully ignorant" and "outrageous," and accused the Chicago-based group of being on the side of anti-democratic forces in Iraq.

"The Christian Peacemaker Teams practises the kind of politics that automatically nominate them as dupes for jihadism and fascism," the embassy's statement said.

The embassy is right. Pacifism and anti-war activism are pointless when there's peace reigning in the world and counterproductive when evil people and nations attack the innocent.

A long time ago, I read Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain's beautiful, heartbreaking autobiography of World War I and its aftermath. Following WWI, she and many others of her acquaintance became pacifists in an attempt to prevent a recurrence of the kind of devastation the Great War brought to her life and to the world. But Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin and so many others have shown since then that pacifism has no effect on people determined to wage war. And these beligerents must be met with force--not because force is desirable, but because evil people make it necessary.

Today, the people who are determined to wage or support war (al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, etc.) will not be swayed by pacifist rhetoric any more than Hitler was. The best the pacifists can hope to accomplish is to prevent the defenders of liberty from doing their duty, and that places the pacifists squarely in the camp of the "dupes" being used by jihadists and fascists.

Mark Steyn on the Culture Conflict

Mark Steyn hits another one home about our clash of civilizations.

Fate conspires to remind us what this war is really about: civilizational confidence.

The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were deeply offensive to Muslims, and so thousands protested around the world in the usual restrained manner: rioting, torching, killing, etc.

The impending execution of Abdul Rahman for embracing Christianity is, of course, offensive to Westerners, and so around the world we reacted equally violently by issuing blood-curdling threats like that made by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack: "Freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy," he said. "And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly."

"We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," says Abdul Raoulf of [Afghanistan's] principal Muslim body, the Afghan Ulama Council. "Cut off his head! We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left." Needless to say, Imam Raoulf is one of Afghanistan's leading "moderate" clerics.

In contrast to the Muslim world's confidence in their own culture (there's nothing wishy-washy about "Cut off his head!"), America and the West are so multiculturally sensitive that they can't even muster up strong rhetoric. And if they did manage to speak forcefully, there's no real evidence that the West would be willing back up their words with action.

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

''You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

May our leaders find such clarity today, and may they find the will to act.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Eight Below

I finally went to see "Eight Below" this afternoon, during what will probably be its last week in the theaters. On the way there, I passed two newish motor homes parked along the road with For Sale signs in the windows.

I wasn't really tempted to buy one, but I wished I could retire and buy one and drive around America--even if it meant I'd have to pay a small fortune for gas.

And then when I watched the movie, there was something about the characters that touched me. These people knew what they were made for--a pilot, a cartographer, a guide with his sled dogs, a researcher looking for celestial treasure--and they lived it.

Friday I left work early to meet a friend at Starbuck's and talk about life. She's the kind of person who loves helping other people find their purpose in life and then go after it. I told her about my job, which had better hours this past week (which is bad, because it means we might not make plan, which means no bonuses), and then I told her about my travel writing and my ideas for a tour company that caters not just to Christians but to Christian-meaningful destinations. And she stopped me at one point and said, "Look at you! You're all lit up." But I didn't light up when I talked about doing computer work.

It's hard to know the steps to take to get from here to there--and even harder to have the patience for it.

As I watched Eight Below, I was awed by the scenery of Antarctica (more artistically done in March of the Penguins). And I was drawn to the character Jerry's travel trailer that he lived in because he was gone from home so much of the year. There's a certain appeal to living that simply, especially because of the reason.

The movie was good. I enjoyed it (no, Daughter-of-mine, I didn't cry), but my enjoyment was on two levels. First, it told a good story that wasn't Disney-schmaltzy. And second, it was one more avenue of reinforcing my dreams.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Optimism About Iraq

Omar, at Iraq the Model, has an excellent post on his optimism about "Iran's destructive game in Iraq."

One and actually the most important is that we have an American ambassador who recognizes Iran's role in supporting both ends of violence in Iraq; that's the Shia militias, namely the notorious Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr and the extreme terror groups like al-Qaeda's Ansar al-Sunna. Knowing that ambassador Khalil Zad will be the one leading the talks with Iran makes me feel that the talks are in good hands that are aware of the scope of the conflict.

I really wonder how those politicians forget (or give a blind eye to) the fact that Iran and Syria are the strongest allies to each other to the degree that Iran's president described Syria as "Our first front in the confrontation with our mutual enemies…" and both countries do not want Iraq to be stable and would do literally anything to stop Iraq from becoming a peaceful democracy because they think that keeping America pinned in a troubled Iraq can deplete America's determination and resources and discourage her from confronting the regimes in Damascus and Tehran.

There's been so much in the news lately about coverage of the war, starting with Laura Ingraham's appearance on the Today Show this past week, where she accused the mainstream media of overemphasizing the negative news from Iraq. CNN reacted by having a segment on the issue two days in a row, and other news outlets have discussed the question of media bias as well.

It's a pity the MSM doesn't take Laura's advice and start talking to the real people on the ground in Iraq. Omar and Mohammed at Iraq the Model would be the perfect place to start.

Jet Trails

I stopped at Costco on my way home from getting the oil changed. The sky was blue there, and a couple planes had left jet trails in an elongated 'X', with another jet trail in the making. And I got to thinking about jet trails and the time I was flying somewhere, in a window seat, and there was a fresh jet trail right outside the window.

For a long time on that flight, I got to watch the dynamics of jet trail behavior as it broke apart and faded--and yes, it has a behavior that's different from clouds.

It had an elasticity that surprised me. From a solid-looking stripe, it pulled together at regular intervals into twists or balls, and as these shapes formed, the part of the trail that connected them grew thinner and more stretched-out, until it snapped apart and the broken ends became part of the shape they had been attached to. I watched as the shapes separated and pulled apart one by one, and slowly dissipated into blue sky. And I don't understand how tiny droplets of water can possibly act like elastic or chewing gum, when there's nothing to hold the drops together or give them shape. It baffles me. It fascinates me.

I've only seen jet trails up close the one time.

But today's jet trail display didn't last long. By the time I got out of Costco, the jet trails were gone. Some clouds had moved in and did a fair job of filling the sky. At home, I grabbed my camera and got a picture of clouds (above), not jet trails. I may have to start watching the sky more closely again, to marvel from a distance at the seemingly impossible.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Attacking The Easter Bunny

I saw this story first at Bryan Alexander's Right Thinking, but it wasn't enough to stir me up. I mean, an isolated incident in left-leaning Minnesota, where they can't handle "Happy Easter." OK, fine.

But right after that, I saw this report at WorldNetDaily, where they told the same St Paul, Minnesota, anti-Happy-Easter story. But they included more. Easter-phobia is spreading faster than the H5N1 Bird flu.

Already, many stores and malls across the U.S. are preparing for seasonal events, with some refraining from usage of terms like "the Easter Bunny," opting instead for more generic terms like "Spring Bunny," or other names avoiding the name "Easter."

One such location is the Somerset Collection, an upscale mall in Troy, Mich., serving 14 million shoppers per year. It's now publicizing an event with its "Spring Bunny" and Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

As WorldNetDaily previously reported, other malls have chosen alternate names to the Easter Bunny, including Baxter the Bunny, Peter Rabbit, and Garden Bunny.

Mall officials at Town Center in Boca Raton, Fla., admitted last year to caving in to concern over what could be perceived as religious promotion, and therefore made no reference to Easter.

The Spring Bunny? Give me a break!

It's like I said at Christmas, I'll be shopping for Easter candy, not Spring candy. If the store isn't celebrating Easter, I'll find one that is.

Fun New Toy

You can make your own church signs, now that there is the Church Sign Generator website (HT: Mary Katharine Ham at Hugh Hewitt's blog).

Here is a great example of just what can be done when you have the Church Sign Generator and way too much time on your hands.

Just follow the instructions and have a good time.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Stupid Criminal Tricks

Way back when I was married, my husband used to watch the TV show, "Cops." The thing that struck me about that show was how incredibly stupid the criminals were. It's been ten years since I saw it, and it looks like nothing has changed.

The Tampa Tribune reported yesterday that a drug user wasn't sure that his drug dealers were really selling him the crack he was paying for, so he asked a couple of cops to test his crack pipe for him.

[Officers] Easley and Filippone were investigating a burglary at 1304 E. 15th Ave. They had arrested someone and were trying to corral the dogs when Williams walked up, crack pipe in hand, the affidavit states.

He showed them a yellow house where he said people were doing drugs, and he kept asking the officers to test his glass pipe. He told them he didn't think he was getting real crack, according to the affidavit.

The officers tested the pipe, which, sure enough, had cocaine residue. Williams, who is listed on jail records as a security worker at MacDill Air Force Base, was arrested.

Rethinking Things

I decided last week that "I'm so outta here." All that's left is to wait out the crunch time, update my resumes (both the IT-related and the travel-related ones), and start looking for real. But driving home the past several weeks, long after Hugh Hewitt's radio show ended for the night, I've had some quiet time to think and pray in the car.

It occurred to me last night that I haven't been asking the right question. I've been thinking about what I could do and not really about why.

I could fly to Louisville or Charleston or Indianapolis or (not) Detroit, where mainframe programming jobs seem to be. I could apply for a job as a flight attendant or as a full-time tour director, either of which could require me to relocate. But that wouldn't answer the question:

What purpose is there in the change I'm making?

So far, my main purpose is to make the pain stop. And that's not enough of a reason to uproot myself and my little dog, Abby, and make my daughter have to decide whether to move in with her dad or try to get a job that will let her move in with some roommates.

Running away is never the right answer. There has to be something to run to, or you find that you've jumped from the frying pan and now you're burning in some other fire.

It looks like I've still got some thinking to do.

Hugh Hewitt on CNN

I watched CNN on purpose last night (I had to hunt for the channel), because Hugh Hewitt said he'd be on as part of a panel discussing the MSM's coverage of the war. It was Anderson Cooper's show (transcript here), and he gave plenty of time to Hugh and to Michael Yon, a reporter who was embedded with Deuce Four in Mosul last year. Also on were a British reporter, Nic Robertson, and Michael Ware, an Australian writing for Time, who was embedded some of the time with the terrorists and wrote articles about their perspective.

Michael Yon's satellite feed was lost midway through what he was saying, but they showed his photos of Deuce Four, and they were stunning. Without Michael Yon, though, Hugh became the star (here's his post about the show). He praised the writing of the two MSM reporters and said his issue isn't with their writing, but with the MSM's attitude toward the American people.

He pointed out that the media's reporting is sending the message to the terrorists that all they have to do is hang on a little longer, and America will give up and leave Iraq to them. And America does not like seeing that message every day in the news. Here's what Hugh said at one point:

That's what I've heard echoed time and time again, is that the American media is getting Americans killed. [The American people] don't care to understand the insurgent point of view. They're terrorists. They don't care to understand what the Baathist or rejectionists believe. They are people who kill civilians and innocent. They certainly don't give a damn about what Zarqawi thinks because he's a cold-blooded killer.

I think this is the message that the media does not get out or is missing.

The American people have contempt for the mainstream media that shows such contempt for the American people. And the mainstream media doesn't understand this simple point.

Hugh, you ruled the show.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Christians Under Attack

Chris Malott has a thought-provoking post on Christians being persecuted in India. The mainstream media is conspicuosly silent on the subject.

The story he highlights centers on the arrest of a Christian man from the US, Dr. Samuel Thomas, who run Hopegivers International, a children's charity. Hopegivers runs orphanages and schools in India and Africa that minister to 20,000 children. In Kota, Rajasthan, India, officials have been taking illegal actions against Hopegivers' Emmanuel Hope Home there for the past month , jeopardizing the 2,500 orphans and abandoned children. The officials arrested Dr. Thomas on March 16. The people going after Hopegivers are Hindu militants, not Muslims.

Chris says:

While President Bush promotes new ties and a closer relationship to India, maybe he should encourage the government to stand up to the religious radicals and protect the lives of American missionaries. And if the mainstream media weren't so preoccupied counting the American dead in Iraq, maybe they could cover this story.

At the same time, in Afghanistan, a Christian is on trial for his life because he converted from Islam to Christianity and won't renounce his adopted religion. Michelle Malkin's latest commentary addresses Abdul Rahman's story. She is equally critical of those who are ignoring this issue.

If we sit on the sidelines and watch this man "cut into little pieces" for his love of Christ, we do not deserve the legacy of liberty our Founding Fathers left us. How about offering Rahman asylum in the United States? Perhaps Yale University, proud sponsor of former Taliban official Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, can offer Rahman a scholarship. Where's the Catholic Church, so quick to offer sanctuary to every last illegal alien streaming across the borders? And how about Hollywood, so quick to take up the cause of every last Death Row inmate?

Hello, anyone, hello?

It raises the question: What are we fighting for, when our new and existing allies still believe in persecuting and even executing Christians?

Fashion Fix-Up

As a follow-up to my post on fashion crime, this one will help with those annoying fashion calamities. The Tampa Bay Times reported yesterday on what to keep in your fashion-first-aid kit. Here is a small selection. Be sure to read the whole article to get every bit of help possible.

Stains: This common problem usually leads to scrambling for soap and water (or trying to spit discreetly on a napkin), and hoping for the best. The people who make Tide detergent changed that last year with the introduction of the Tide to Go instant stain removal stick. It's one of those inventions that sounds too good to be true - rub the tip of the stick on the stain and it's gone instantly! But it does work; it just takes a few minutes. (Tide to Go stick three-pack, $6.99 at Target.)

Two things not to try on stains: antibacterial soap and premoistened towelettes. The soap doesn't work, and the towelettes include ingredients that just make things worse.

Lint, crumbs, stray hairs: Make your own lint catcher with the sticky side of cellophane tape (Scotch tape, 3/4 inch wide, 23.6 yards, $2.39, Target).

This reporter (Sharon Fink) is my kind of woman: a Target shopper, not a Wal-Mart shopper.

Fashion Faux Pas

Fishnet stockings are always a fashion mistake in the daytime. And they're usually a mistake in the evening as well.

But a 26-year-old man from Salinas, California, obviously never grew up learning about women's stocking rules. The Bay City News reported Monday that Michael Leslie Clouse allegedly dressed up in "a black wig, black evening dress, fishnet stockings, calf-high boots and a black purse" to rob a gas station.

Gas stations are completely inappropriate places for evening wear with fishnets.

Monterey Police Officer Chad Ventimiglia arrested Clouse about 35 minutes later when he spotted a pair of women's pantyhose sticking out of the driver's door of a black Saab fitting the description of a car seen in the area before the robbery.

At the time of his arrest, Clouse was wearing a black evening dress under his pants and shirt, according to Monterey police.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Which SciFi Character Are You?

I love quiz-taking, when it isn't for a grade. I love Lord of the Rings. I love that I came out as Galadriel, because I absolutely love her dress.

It looks like HedgeHog came out as Elrond (scroll down on the left). And it doesn't look like Hugh Hewitt has tried this quiz yet--he's usually a sucker for this sort of thing.

Which one are you?

Pride and Prejudice Again

When I got home from work last night, my daughter had a friend over, and they were watching Pride and Prejudice. This friend had come over last week to see the movie for the first time, and yesterday she just had to see it again.

I got home just as Mr. Bingley and his sister and Mr. Darcy were pulling away from Netherfield in their carriage. I sat down and watched to the end. I've said it before: There's something about this movie that makes a woman long for a man to look at her that way.

And now I'm half in love with Mr. Darcy, and so is my daughter, and so is her friend. The poor man has way too many women half in love with him, besides Miss Elizabeth, who is completely in love with him.

I don't know how long this will last, but I can't stop watching that movie.


My co-worker, who saw other versions of this movie and actually read the book, has told me that the newest one--the one I can't stop watching--was changed from the book to be more palatable to modern audiences (I think she may have told me this before, but it came in as a glancing blow and didn't stick long enough to sink in). In the book, it seems, Mr. Darcy really is rude, and Elizabeth doesn't dish it back at him the way she does in the movie.

So the people who didn't like this version because it didn't follow the book enough must be the sort of people who believe that rudeness should be rewarded with the guy getting the girl. Hmm.

Anyway, I love the way the movie has the interplay between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. I love everything about it, except the very end. In the last scene, director Joe Wright reveals the fact that he is, indeed, a man. I read somewhere that he knew he needed to have a kiss in the movie, so that's why he added that scene.

But, Joe, let me tell you (my daughter and her friend agree with me): We needed their first kiss, not their fiftieth.

Sharon Stone on Peace

How can I highlight Carlos Santana and not feature Sharon Stone? Impossible.

Breitbart reported yesterday that Sharon Stone had something to say about peace in the Middle East.

"It feels to me that we have an opportunity ... to choose understanding in a new way," she told a press conference in Paris when asked about her trip.

"And it really is just a breath. It's just an agreement that's just a breath. We are not far apart. We can choose to have this alternative kind of growth that is a collective nuance of understanding.

"We are just that breath away from a peaceful co-existence," she added after her visit to Israel as a guest of the Peres Center for Peace, a foundation run by Nobel laureate and former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres.

Ah, that collective nuance of understanding. How could I forget?

Keep breathing, Sharon. Just don't forget which Middle East country you felt safe enough to take those breaths in.

Carlos Santana and the War

I love entertainers. They make my job so easy.

The AP reported today that Carlos Santana said a few choice words today while he's in Peru.

"I have wisdom. I feel love. I live in the present and I try to present a dimension that brings harmony and healing," the 58-year-old rock icon said. "My concept is the opposite of George W. Bush."

"There is more value in placing a flower in a rifle barrel than making war," he said. "As Jimi Hendrix used to say, musical notes have more importance than bullets."

Carlos, you're so right. And why not prove it by taking your guitar and a rifle with a flower in the barrel to Iraq. You can sing to the insurgents and show them the importance of musical notes and the value of a flower. I'm sure they'll understand and be harmoniously healed.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The UN and Extinction

No, it's not the UN that's headed for extinction. Not yet, anyway. Instead, the UN is using species extinction as an excuse to grab more cash.

Reuters reported today on a UN report released today by the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday.

According to a "Red List" compiled by the World Conservation Union, 844 animals and plants are known to have gone extinct in the last 500 years, ranging from the dodo to the Golden Toad in Costa Rica. It says the figures are probably a big underestimate.

And of course, humans are responsible: Too many people --> Too little habitat --> Too many extinctions.

I've heard of the dodo. It died off in 1681 as a result of Portuguese traders eating most of them, followed by the establishment of a Dutch penal colony, with its accompanying pigs, monkeys and stowaway rats killing off the rest (see Bagheera for details).

The Golden Toad in Costa Rica was news to me, so I looked it up (see Bagheera for details and see BBC Sci/Tech for other details). The Reuters article seems to imply that the presumed extinction of this toad was caused by humans. The BBC article says it was climate change driving temperatures up, which caused the cloud cover of the toad's habitat to move to higher elevations, depriving the toad of its habitat. But Bagheera's explanation says that in 1987 a researcher saw hundreds of golden toads mating. In 1988, when she went back to study them some more, there were only 10 toads--not mating. In 1989, they could only find one golden toad, and nobody has seen one since.

Since when did climate change happen in one year? How could humans cause this drastic a population drop? Unless it was the researcher herself who messed with the toad's environment somehow, maybe by stepping on some of the eggs or on the mud, compressing it too much for egg-laying purposes.

Back to the UN report (emphasis added):

It urged better efforts to safeguard habitats ranging from deserts to jungles and better management of resources from fresh water to timber. About 12 percent of the earth's land surface is in protected areas, against just 0.6 percent of the oceans.

It said there was "reasonable progress" toward global cooperation but "limited" advances in ensuring enough cash and research. It estimated that annual aid to help slow biodiversity losses sank to $750 million from $1 billion since 1998.

With the UN, the bottom line is always twofold: "Give us more control, and give us more cash." But their record is one of out-of-control bureaucracy coupled with corrupt and/or unaccountable cash handlers.

If they want more money, let them start by asking Portugal and the Netherlands, since they were the ones who killed off the dodo. Then they can ask that researcher what she did to the golden toad.

But leave us out of it.

Patrolling the Border

In WorldNetDaily's E-mail to the Editor section, one letter caught my eye. Mary Yates has a brilliant suggestion for keeping people on the right side of our southern border:

I find it laughable that Congress talks of a fence that will cost billions along the Mexico-U.S. border, or maybe millions of dollars worth of cameras. The simplest and most cost effective measure would be patrolling the border. Not with outposts that watch these people, and can do nothing lest they create an international incident. How about some live-fire training from Black Hawk helicopters?

If the military were to make training runs along the U.S. side of the border, strafing the banks "where no one is supposed to be," I think word would get out pretty fast.

Mary Yates is a master strategist. Get her over to the Homeland Security Department right away.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

College Students Clean New Orleans

Contrast the French college students, who are rioting over new youth-employment laws, to this group of American college students giving up their Spring Break to help rebuild New Orleans. The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday about the work groups.

The perhaps 10,000 college students here this month are part of a persistent wave of able-bodied volunteers who are as determined as New Orleansians to raise the city from the lingering muck and malaise of hurricane Katrina. They come to fulfill Christian duty, to understand the devastation firsthand, and to give what they can, which for many is time more than money.

"Everybody talks about all these billions [of dollars] coming down, but on a one-to-one basis they're not seeing anything," says New Orleans City Councilor Cynthia Morrell. "It's an opportunity to go into a depression, and all of a sudden here come these kids, and even adults that come to help, and it's almost as if someone's reaching out a hand and saying, 'It's OK, we'll help you get on your feet.' "

What an encouragement it is to see the kind of kids our country has raised--kids who will sacrifice their own pleasure in order to do something good for other people. They may not be the majority of today's youth (and I hope they are), but they are the best of who we are as Americans, and I'm proud of them.

In a related story, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that some of the clean-up volunteers found over $30,o00 stashed in the walls of a house they were working on.

"I thought it was Monopoly money," said Trista Wright, 19, who attends Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., and has spent her spring break gutting homes.

She and fellow students notified the organizers of their church mission, who, in turn told the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office about it.

After officials verified who was the owner of the home, the money was turned over to her. She suspected the money was placed in the walls by her father, who didn't trust banks after having lived through the Depression.

"To see that woman's face when we told her about the money, that's the kind of positive story that makes all the hard work worthwhile," [Warren Jones Jr., pastor at New Salem Baptist Church,] said. "She said it was a miracle. And when you think about it, it was."

Springtime In Paris

When I took French in school, one of my teachers explained that every spring, as the weather started to warm, college students would take to the streets in protest. It didn't really matter what the reason for the protest was; they'd find one. The whole point was to escape the monotony of the class-and-study routine and get back out in the fresh air.

This year is no exception, as Parisian college students' protests have turned to rioting over a recent policy designed to help the youth of France. Friday's report from the London Telegraph (HT: Hugh Hewitt) included this explanation of the reason for the riots:

The French interior ministry said an operation had begun to round up 300 trouble-makers considered to be at the heart of the violence. Student leaders claimed that more than 120,000 protesters took to the streets of Paris. They were showing their resistance to the centre-Right government's new law allowing employers to hire young workers on special contracts and giving them the right to fire them without reason.

French youths want guarantees. French employers don't want to give guarantees to the young, who may not prove to be good workers. These special contracts would allow employers to give young workers a chance to prove themselves, so the employers don't have to get shackled to poor workers.

It's the tiniest opening of free market concepts in a nation that long ago opted for controlled economic principles. And the youths don't like it. They want to keep the nanny state in a status quo that's on track to bankrupt the nation.

Meanwhile, today's AP reported (HT: WorldNetDaily) that Paris police are still working on subduing the protesters. And "Springtime in Paris" has spread across the country. I don't know if the French government has the either the stomach or the spine to stand up to the rioters and continue the policies it believes are best for France as a whole.

Friday, March 17, 2006

On Feminism

Charlie at Another Think has a wonderful post that explores the latest technology in abortions and the emotional effect this technology could have. It's beautifully written and well worth reading. A couple key paragraphs (emphasis in the original):

But Saletan and others who celebrate the abortion pill may have put too much faith in technology. We are not wise creators. All technologies have unintended consequences. We already know that the abortion pill has severe risks, including bleeding and the possibility of death. But that's not the worst of it.

I have to wonder if women will have the stomach for self-induced abortion? I have to wonder what the emotional toll will be for women who no longer have an abortion done to them, but take the entire procedure into their own hands?

Those who "who celebrate the abortion pill" are, by and large, feminists. If you look at feminist policies and rhetoric and boil it all down, their core belief is this: Men are vile, and women need to become just like them.


Feminists are passionate. They're driven to achieve their agenda in a way that baffles non-feminists. But behind the passion, there has to be an explanation that makes sense of their core belief. Women who hate men, motherhood, marriage, and who promote uncommitted sexuality and abortion have something more going on than simply a desire for equality in men's and women's paychecks.

I remember hearing a long time ago that a high number of the women who founded the feminist movement and its groups had grown up in abusive homes. And I believe it, because it goes a long way toward explaining the attitudes they hold. Whether the father-figures in their homes were abusive toward their mothers or to the girls themselves, these men formed the image the girls would hold of men throughout their lives.

Men are vile. There's no better way to describe a man who beats his wife or his children. There are worse words to describe the ones who sexually abuse their daughters. And a woman who grew up in a home like this would look for ways to keep this from happening to her as an adult--and to keep it from happening to other women. She would take some pointed lessons with her to adulthood.

Women need to avoid the powerlessness that marriage brings. Marriage ties a woman to a man and gives him power over her. And each child she has ties her even more tightly to that man, reducing her ability to survive on her own without him.

Even a single woman has her options severely limited by the children she has, so childbearing is to be avoided.

Instead, women need power and autonomy, and in our society power is found in the workplace--never in the home. So women need to do what it takes to gain that kind of power, and that means becoming more like men. Focus on career. Avoid attachments that could end in marriage and home. Keep the sex recreational, and if pregnancy happens, get rid of it, because a child is an anchor that will drag you down and keep you down.

So now we have feminists who promote abortion and the workplace as joint saviors of women. And even though the feminists say they want women to have a choice over their lives, they are distressed when women choose to marry, have children, and stay at home to raise those children. In the eyes of the feminists, those women are oppressed and probably being abused.

I don't believe that feminist anger springs out of hatred. The hatred of men is a by-product of the feminists' desire to save women from the pain that they see as coming from men.

Theirs is a desire for good that has gone very, very bad. And our society is paying the price.

Saddam and al-Qaida

WorldNetDaily reported today that we may be getting closer to documenting the link between Saddam Hussein's government and al-Qaida before 9/11.

Among the pre-war documents posted online yesterday by the Pentagon is a letter from a member of Saddam's intelligence apparatus indicating al-Qaida and the Taliban had a relationship with the regime prior to the 9-11 attacks.

The article has the complete English translation of the letter, dated September 15, 2001.

There is a disclaimer which, no doubt, the Left will sieze upon:

Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes, whose reporting has helped move members of Congress to call for release of the documents, nevertheless, has cautioned that they are published with a caveat. The Pentagon website says: "The U.S. Government has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available."

Still, the more we learn, the more we find documentation that supports the President's pre-Iraq-War justification. It's about time the Left and it's media mouthpieces wake up and smell the smoking gun.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sniffer Dog

Reuters is on top of the sports world with this beauty (emphasis added):

A San Diego arena was evacuated for about two hours on Thursday, delaying a first-round game in the hugely popular national college basketball championship, after a hot dog cart attracted the attention of a bomb-sniffing dog.

"They had a robot go in and disassemble the hot dog cart and look for suspicious substances and at this point we have determined that there is no threat and it's safe to enter the arena," Beresford said.

The suspicious substances would dogs.

Air Attack In Iraq

MSNBC reported today (HT: WorldNetDaily) that US and coalition forces launched the biggest air attack since the start of the war in Iraq. While informative, MSNBC's coverage of the story is peppered with biased word choices. First the story, then the bias.

The U.S. military said the air- and ground-offensive dubbed Operation Swarmer was aimed at clearing “a suspected insurgent operating area” northeast of Samarra and was expected to continue over several days.

Iraq’s interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the attack had been necessary to prevent insurgents from forming a new stronghold such as they had established in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

“After Fallujah and some of the operations carried out successfully in the Euphrates and Syrian border many of the insurgents moved to areas nearer to Baghdad,” Zebari said on CNN. “They have to be pulled out by the roots.”

Waqas al-Juwanya, a spokesman for Iraq’s joint coordination center in nearby Dowr, said “unknown gunmen exist in this area, killing and kidnapping policemen, soldiers and civilians.”

What I take from Zebari's comments is that this operation wasn't just the US military deciding they wanted to go shoot some Iraqis (as the Left might interpret an escalation of the fighting), but it was something that Iraq's leadership saw as necessary to their country's continued stability. They had a need, and we (the coalition) responded.

Now for the bias (but I'll admit it could be my own anti-media-bias bias that I'm seeing). The first thing that struck me was that four times in the article, our initial war effort in Iraq is called an "invasion." Now, it's possible that's the proper military term for what happens at the beginning of a war, but the only references to the word "war" were as part of the word "warplane" and in one reference to a possible civil war in Iraq. If you went by this article alone, you wouldn't know we're fighting a war. You'd only know we invaded Iraq three years ago.

There was no immediate word on whether any fighter jets or other fixed-wing warplanes had dropped bombs or fired missiles as part of the assault. Also left unsaid was how many of the 1,500 total troops involved were Iraqis. (emphasis added)

This statement bothered me. It's as though reporter is implying that the military is holding back (read: "covering up") the number of Iraqi troops. They seem to be saying that the military doesn't want us to know, because it would either be too few ("See? Bush can't deliver on his promise to have lots of Iraqi troops up and running.") or too many ("See? The US military wants to hog all the glory for themselves.").

The assault came as Iraq’s new parliament was sworn in Thursday, with parties still deadlocked over the next government, vehicles banned from Baghdad’s streets to prevent car bombings and the country under the shadow of a feared civil war.

This is the most blatant of the biased statements. They chose the most pessimistic outlook on what's happening--or feared might happen--in Iraq and set that as the backdrop to Operation Swarmer. "Deadlock!" "Vehicles banned!!" "The country under the shadow of a feared civil war!!!"


Here are some excerpts from Omar's post at Iraq The Model describing the swearing-in of parliament:

The new Iraqi parliament met for the first time a few hours ago marking the birth of the constitutional state in Iraq. An incomplete birth and a stumbling child but it is a step that hopefully will become a bridge over the current political and security mess.

Almost all the statements given by various prominent politicians to the press after the session ended were optimistic and they all spoke about consensus on forming a government of national unity yet some of them admitted that there's a serious trust issue between the major blocs.

[The presence of unqualified politicians is] in my personal opinion the people's mistake for they have elected those unqualified politicians and now the people must accept the fact that they will have to live with a government below their expectations for four years but I have hope that the people will learn from this experience and make better choices when the next time comes…that's if Iraq survives these four years and I believe it will.

Over and over, the mainstream media proves it can get some facts straight, but still get the story all wrong.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Nebula Discovered

This is cool (HT: WorldNetDaily). It's the kind of article I usually send to my astrophysics-major friend, who usually already knows about it.

Cosmic nebulae usually look like blobs in space, but astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope reported on Wednesday they have found a nebula twisted like the double helix of DNA.

Click on the picture in the article for a better look. Of course, the article doesn't tell you what a Spitzer Space Telescope is until the last paragraph.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope detects the infrared energy emitted by objects in space with high sensitivity and resolution, enabling it to clearly see the nebula's distinctive shape.

And even that isn't enough information. Where is this telescope anyway? CalTech had the answer:

The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) was launched into space by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 25 August 2003. During its 2.5-year mission, Spitzer will obtain images and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns (1 micron is one-millionth of a meter). Most of this infrared radiation is blocked by the Earth's atmosphere and cannot be observed from the ground.

OK. That works for me. Back to the nebula.

The strands of the nebula may be torqued by twisted magnetic fields at the Milky Way's center, Morris said by telephone.

These magnetic fields are indirectly spawned by the gaping black hole at the galactic heart, he said. Black holes are massive matter-sucking drains in space, pulling in everything around them so powerfully that not even light can escape.

But before the matter falls into the black hole, it swirls around its edges. This rotation twists the magnetic fields, which in turn twist the nebula's strands, Morris said.

The nebula is relatively close to the black hole, just 300 light-years away. Earth is more than 25,000 light-years away.

I love this stuff. The universe is an amazing place, and it's at its best when it surprises the experts. I'm just happy to go along for the ride.


A few of us at work went out to lunch today for Russian food. It's surprisingly like normal food.

The occasion was a going-away lunch for someone at work. The rumor reached us that this person, who is not in our group but who we need to work with quite a bit and who makes our lives...challenging, may be leaving. So we didn't invite the person to lunch. We just went out to celebrate.

The food was great. I had a galumka (that's the Hungarian name--I don't know the Russian name) and a potato pancake with mushrooms and some mushroom soup (I didn't have borsht, because I don't do beets). Wonderful! And the person, who hasn't gone away yet, wasn't there but was celebrated.

Fresh air. Sunshine. Sour cream. It doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Trouble Talking

My office-mate and I got in trouble today at work. We've been talking too much or too loudly or too something, and people (plural) have complained. Nobody says we're not getting our work done, just that our talking is bothering them.

It's so frustrating. What we do is high-pressure, tedious, exacting, draining work, and talking to each other (and the laughter that comes with it) helps keep us sane. Neither one of us wants to give it up.

So we found a solution: We shut our door, with a sign hung on it that says, "Please Come In." If we have a conference call, we can hang a sign that says, "Meeting In Progress," and that should keep people out. We won't bother people out there, and they won't bother us.

But last year sometime, when I was reading a career-change-helping book, they asked a question: What qualities are you looking for in a new job/career? My first response was, "I want a job where I won't get in trouble for talking." (I may have blogged on this. It seems vaguely familiar.)

Today, on my way to work, which was later than usual (I forgot to set my alarm last night, and my dog's cough woke me up at almost time to leave for work), I kept seeing tour buses on the road. They looked beautiful. They looked like they need me in them, telling people about Southern California and the rogues and kooks who fill our history.

But I'm not quite ready for that yet. Even though I've had tour director training and done some local work, I think I'm going to need to go on an actual tour and study the tour director to see how much of the time he or she devotes to the narration and when (on the road or in town) it's done. That's the main open question I still have about it.

And then I can start actively looking.

When we got in trouble today, it made me feel like crying. But it also made me happy. My dad told me a year ago that when the Lord is ready for me to leave, He's going to make it clear. It hasn't been clear until now.

I'm so outta here. I just don't know when yet.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Question of Evolution

My daughter asked me this. "If evolution is true and we descended from apes, then why do researchers tell us that our anatomy is closest to pigs?"

Really, how can we be like pigs and apes at the same time? And did the pre-humans have hooves before or after our toes were opposable thumb-like digits? How exactly did all that happen?

I mean, I can see how the nose evolved over time from the two nostrils in a pushed-up snout (which still lingers in some haughty people who look down their pushed-up noses at other people) that gradually narrowed and turned down, since we didn't need such powerful noses anymore for sniffing out truffles. And the freedom from having to find truffles also allowed us to walk upright, since we no longer needed our noses so close to the ground.

The ability to put on excess fat and the difficulty in losing the fat again is a pig-like feature that still remains with us in our evolved state. And we kept the mostly hairless skin from our pig ancestry too. But the hooves just had to go. Our uprightness forced evolution to give us fingers and toes.

I have to wonder, though, why evolutionists talk up the ape-link rather than the pig-link, when it's so obvious to researchers (and anybody else with any sense) that we're so much like pigs. What's in it for them, anyway?

Mark Steyn on the M-Word

Mark Steyn's Chicago Sun-Times column Sunday has the left-leaning media nailed on its coverage of terrorism.

This week's Voldemort Award goes to the New York Times for their account of a curious case of road rage in North Carolina:

"The man charged with nine counts of attempted murder for driving a Jeep through a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last Friday told the police that he deliberately rented a four-wheel-drive vehicle so he could 'run over things and keep going.' "

The driver in question was Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar.

Taheri-azar is admirably upfront about his actions. As he told police, he wanted to "avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world."

And yet the M-word appears nowhere in the Times report.

Each time I read or write about the Left's take on the Islamofascists or the War on Terror, I'm baffled. What on earth can they be thinking? How can they keep protecting the very people who would kill them in a heartbeat? I have yet to come up with any rational or understandable reason for the Left to be so biased against America in favor of would-be (and actual) assassins of Taheri-azar's mindset. But it's obvious the Left is biased, because time and again the MSM refuses to label terrorism by its real name (that would be "terrorism").

If Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar is not a free-lance terrorist, then what is he? Who is he? What's he thinking? In the absence of any explanatory voices from the Muslim community, all we have are the bare bones of his resume: He's a 22-year old UNC psychology major who graduated in December. And what's revealing is the link between Taheri-azar's grievance and his action.

Take him at his word: He's upset about "the treatment of Muslims around the world" -- presumably at the hands of Israelis on the West Bank, of the Russians in Chechnya, the Indians in Kashmir, the Americans in the Sunni Triangle and the Danes in the funny pages. So what does he do to avenge Islam? He goes to the rental agency, takes out the biggest car on the lot, drives it to UNC and rams it into the men and women he's spent the last few years studying with and socializing with -- the one group of infidels he knows really well.

There's more than I can excerpt (there always is with Mark Steyn). I recommend reading it all. We are not safe--none of us--because people like Taheri-azar could be anywhere. Meanwhile, the New York Times and its ilk seem determined to protect those who would kill us, and to thwart those who would protect us.


Chris Malott has a great post, called "The Enemy Within," on the division within our country over the War on Terror.

When the so-called loyal opposition places politics above the war effort and national security, and when they have an excellent chance of gaining control of Congress this fall... our nation faces extraordinary danger.

Too right!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Space Weather

I'm on the email distribution list for NASA's news updates, as well as their SpaceWeather updates. You can subscribe for SpaceWeather by clicking on the "Subscribe to SpaceWeather News" link at the top of their main page here. NASA's Science news is here. You can subscribe in the blue box at the bottom of the links along the left-hand side of the main page.

The emails that SpaceWeather sends are especially useful for people who live in the northern latitudes, because they tell you, among other things, when to expect the Northern Lights and how far south the lights should be visible. They also have galleries of photos people have taken of the auroras and other space phenomena.

Today's email brought news of the coming penumbral lunar eclipse on Tuesday, March 14. Unfortunately, it won't do me any good, because this eclipse won't be visible in California. For those of you in the east, take a peek at the moon between 6:18pm and 7:18pm EST, when the eclipse will be at its fullest. Here's a visiblilty map that will give a better look at what a penumbral eclipse is and where it will be visible.

Very cool, if you get to see it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Grandmas With Guns

This great-grandmother, Eleanor Lynn in Akron, Ohio, has been robbed before and didn't want it to happen again.

"I already had the gun out," she said. "Somebody was breaking into my house so I took the gun out and went to the door. They flew."

This one happened back in February, when an 87-year-old woman shot an intruder.

Police said they found the man, Larry D. Tillman, 49, of East St. Louis on the enclosed front porch of the woman’s house in the 2100 block of Gaty Avenue. He had pulled the telephone wires from the side of the house, then removed security bars from a porch window.

As the man was breaking through a storm door that leads into the house itself, the woman fired several shots through her front door, striking Tillman once in the chest.

Police said the shots were fired from a pistol, most likely a gun that her daughter had given her after a man broke into the elderly woman’s house in December, battered her and stole some items.

Finally, a 56-year-old Tucson, AZ, woman scared off a robber with her gun.

The robber implied he had a gun, so the woman complied with his order and gave him $1.50, hoping he would leave, Wilson said. Then, thinking her life was in danger, she drew a Smith & Wesson revolver and pointed it at the robber, who ran away.

The woman — whose name was not released by police — had a concealed-weapon permit, Wilson said.

What especially interested me about the last one is the way the Arizona Daily Star ended the article:

For more information on concealed-weapon permits, visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Web site at

That's no left-wing, gun-control newspaper!

For all the anti-gun propaganda spewed by the usual suspects in the media, these stories only emphasize how much guns can be equalizers for people who otherwise would be defenseless against crime. Instead, these three women are alive and well, and their attackers are either thinking twice about their crimes, or they aren't thinking about anything at all. Good for them.

Iraq Executes 13 Insurgents



I watched Pride and Prejudice again last night while I was paying bills. I bought the DVD last week when it came out, and I also bought Walk the Line and Lady and the Tramp.

But it's Pride and Prejudice I'm compelled to watch, and every time the movie ends, my daughter says, "I want to get married." I asked her, and she agreed that's not what she really wants. She wants what all the women who watch that movie want: She wants a man to look at her the way Mr. Darcy looks at Elizabeth.

In the scene where Mr. Darcy proposes to her the first time with the rain forming a curtain around them, even though she rejected him he still moves toward her. He looks at her mouth and you know he wants to kiss her, but then he remembers he's a gentleman, and he takes his leave of her. And she's left standing there bereft of something she didn't even know she wanted. And I feel bereft of that same thing just by watching.

When I watch this movie and then I look at our culture, I can see what the Sexual Revolution has stolen from us. It's stolen Romance.

The stereotypical relationship today begins when two people see each other. He thinks she's hot. She thinks he's hot. They hook up and end up in bed, if not tonight then soon. And they miss out on so much by speeding up the process. They miss the exquisite torment of anticipation that comes with taking things slowly. And once you've passed or skipped any given point, you can't go back later and capture it.

You miss the wondering if he's going to call, and he won't. Not until after you've given up and decided that you must have misinterpreted the way he looked at you and the low timbre of his voice that you've never heard him use when he talks to his friends.

You miss wondering if he'll kiss you at the door when he brings you home, and when he finally does, and he's gone, you'll lean back against the door or the wall, unable to stand on your own, and relive the moment, until you realize you don't know when he'll call again.

You miss the butterflies and the secret smiles and the wondrous torture of blossoming romance when you do things the way today's culture dictates. You miss so much.

I have got to stop watching that movie.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stubborn Things

Don't forget to name the three things you've always wanted to do but haven't tried yet.

Today is the last day I will actively try getting people to name their as-yet-untried dreams (see link above). I had thought an open exchange of hopes and dreams might be fun. Actually, I still do. But apparently only my daughter agrees with me.

(A point of clarification, because the question has been raised: Yes, my daughter did indeed get "married" at the age of five-ish. All seven of the cousins (counting my kids) were at our house for Thanksgiving. Three are the same age--my daughter and 2 boys--three are older of varying ages, and the seventh is younger. So they held a wedding, with my daughter and one of the boys her age as the bride and groom, the youngest as the flower girl, the oldest as the preacher, and the others as the witnesses. It was a lovely ceremony, held in the back yard under the trees. My son was going to be part of the next wedding, but it was time to eat, and they never got back to holding weddings.)

Anyway, on the Name Three Things thing, I figured three was a much easier number than five, and that it wouldn't be hard to come up with something you've always wanted to do. I mean, the dancing-lid-on-the-plume-of-water-after-you-shoot-the-paint-can idea is always right there whenever people mention or write about guns. And then, just to make it as unstressful as possible, I said you didn't have to come up with three. One or two was fine.

But facts are stubborn things, and answering questions looks like it's more frightening than just commenting that I'm all wrong about something. Hmm.

I suppose if I asked what creeps people out the most, I might get a lot of responses (see the comments about ladybugs). But I don't really want to know that, because I might get bad dreams about crawling, flying, stinking stuff.

Or maybe it's too embarrassing to think, "I've been wanting to do that for thirty years, and I haven't done it yet?!?" Who wants to come face-to-face with that?

Or maybe dreams are too personal, too closely held, like a birthday wish that won't come true if it's told. Maybe other people aren't like me, the way I spill so much of myself onto a public forum that I risk ridicule.

Facts may be stubborn things, but obviously dreams are too. I guess I'll stick to politics and pulling weeds and silly stories about animals for a while. But I haven't given up just yet. I'm stubborn that way.

Squirrels Gone Bad

Don't forget to name the three things you've always wanted to do but haven't tried yet.

There are so many things going on in the news that it's hard to keep up with it all. Some of it upsets me. Some of it interests me. And some of it, well, what can I say...?

This story takes place in suburban Chicago. I've been to Chicago many times, but I've never left O'Hare, so my mental image of the city itself is left over from the 1920s and '30s gangster movies. To me, Chicago equals organized crime, and Mayor Daley (the first one--I don't know about the newest one) had a reputation that suited that image.

So then I read about the attack squirrel in the February 28, 2006 Courier News (HT: probably WorldNetDaily).

Two Crete women are in good condition after being attacked by a squirrel earlier this month.

The squirrel was caught in a trap and is being tested by the Will County Animal Control office, Police Chief Paul VanDeraa said.

A woman was scratched in the leg and bitten by a squirrel Feb. 16 as she walked from her porch to her car, VanDeraa said.

Three days later, another woman was scratched while she was in an area several blocks away from the first attack, VanDeraa said.

Both women sought medical attention and are fine, VanDeraa said.

You have to wonder, since the squirrel went right for the legs. Was this a mob-related hit? Who's to say? And how do they know they caught the right squirrel?

Then the authorities went into a sort of blame-the-victim mode.

VanDeraa said he believes the incidents occurred because someone has been feeding the squirrel.

"I recommend people do not feed squirrels," he said.

Even if this isn't a mob hit and it's really about feeding the animals, still these are squirrels in trouble, attempting to shake down the locals. "Feed me or I'll hurt you."

When will it stop? And how far will it spread?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gay Stuff

Don't forget to name the three things you've always wanted to do but haven't tried yet.

Two items in the news today are so frustrating, especially the first one:

A Democrat candidate for Senator in Ohio, who also happens to be a Christian, has discovered the earth is flat, and he's fallen off the edge. So to speak. This is from today's WorldNetDaily.

A Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio wants to make homosexual behavior a capital crime punishable by the death penalty.

Merrill Keiser Jr. is a trucker with no political experience, but he hopes to beat fellow Democrat Rep. Sherrod Brown in the May primary. The winner will try to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine, assuming he wins the GOP primary.

"Just like we have laws against murder, we have laws against stealing, we have laws against taking drugs – we should have laws against immoral conduct," Keiser told WTOL-TV in Toledo.

It's fine if a community or a state or even the country wants to pass laws against immoral conduct. But capital punishment for homosexual behavior? Give me a big fat stinking break!

I'll support capital punishment for homosexual behavior just as soon as adultery and any other kind of sex outside of marriage is subject to capital punishment. And not a minute before.

It's guys like this who make Christians the pariahs/laughingstocks of the secular world.

And he's got more things on his platform for the Senate, but I'm not going there.


Second, there's this column by Deb Price in yesterday's Detroit News. Price generally writes on gay issues.

March 9, Jake [Reitan] and 34 other gay and gay-friendly young men and women will begin a six-week bus tour to 19 of the 200 religious colleges and military academies that ban openly gay students.

Traveling on a bus displaying the message, "Learn From History: End Religion-Based Oppression," Jake and other riders will encourage students at the conservative institutions to think about the similarities between how the Bible is used as a weapon today against gay people and how it was long used to hold back women, African Americans, Jews and the disabled.

"We're going into the heart of the evangelical community and talking to the next generation of leaders," says rider Chad Grandy, 20, of Mount Pleasant. "As a gay Christian, I'm going on this ride to say it's wrong to use God's name to try to defend horrible crimes against gay people and justify discrimination." (emphasis added)

I'm all for people driving around the country, meeting other people, and engaging in conversation. But I wish they'd get a little more detailed about what "horrible crimes against gay people" are being committed, especially by Christians, especially at Christian colleges, and especially using God's name. I haven't heard of any actual crimes, and if there have been any, I'd like to know so I can openly condemn them.

But if the "crimes" are name-calling, Scripture-quoting, and college policies against students openly practicing homosexuality, then spare me the histrionics. Students--straight or gay, Christian or non-Christian--are not forced against their will to attend Christian colleges that have policies they disagree with.


Already, positive things are happening. Bob Andringa, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, helped equality riders work with several schools to schedule campus events. "Our campuses are educational institutions, and we hope that Equality Ride participants will experience good dialogue, even on areas of disagreement," Andringa says.

It's good to see the openness of Andringa and the CCCU to good dialogue. Resistance is counter-productive, while openness will hopefully go a long way toward lessening the animosity that permeates this issue.