Friday, February 29, 2008

SNL Fauxbama Uproar

Michelle Malkin reported today on the uproar going around about Saturday Night Live's choice of actor to play Sen. Barack Obama. (Watch the video on Michelle Malkin's site. It doesn't fit right on my blog.)

Just when you think identity politics can’t parody itself any better (or worse), along comes a new set of race-mongers with an even more absurd set of grievances.

The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Guardian (UK) all published pieces questioning the propriety of of having a multiracial (white/Asian) man play the multiracial (white/black) Obama. This is from the Washington Post:

When Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president last year, some observers questioned whether the senator from Illinois was "black enough" to embody the hopes and aspirations of African Americans.

Now a variation on that theme has emerged: Is Fred Armisen, who is not African American, "black enough" to embody Obama on "Saturday Night Live"?

You can't make this up.

Saturday Night Live, from its inception, has made a point of poking everyone in the eye sooner or later--conservatives more than liberals, but still... It's a comedy show. They make fun of people. They use the actors they have available. They used to use Garrett Morris to play all the black men and women.

So who should they have used to play Sen. Obama, who is half black and half white? The all-black guy, or the half-white guy? No doubt they used the guy who is better at capturing Obama's mannerisms and speech patterns.

If this is the worst that the race-conscious members of the black community have to worry about in American society today, then perhaps things aren't as bad as they say.

Besides, where are the feminists complaining that they used an attractive young woman to play Hillary?

Chemical Ali to be Executed

The AP reported today that "Chemical Ali" is to be executed within a month.

Iraq's presidential council has endorsed the execution within a month of Saddam Hussein's cousin, known as "Chemical Ali," for his role in the 1980s scorched-earth campaign against Kurds, officials said Friday. But it spared the life of two other officials amid Sunni protests that they were only following orders.

The approval by Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and two vice presidents was the final step clearing the way for Ali Hassan al-Majid's execution by hanging. It could now be carried out at any time, a government adviser and a prosecutor said.

This is good news. The rule of law is working in Iraq, and the worst of the monsters are, one by one, being sent to meet their Maker.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gas Prices Stink

When I came back home from Texas, I checked the gas prices at the Arco station near my house. That's where they're the lowest in my area. On February 12th, unleaded gas was $3.019. Not nearly as bad as in November.

Tonight I had to make an emergency run to the grocery store, because I ran out of creamer for my tea. On the way there, I passed the Arco station. Unleaded is $3.419. That's 40¢ in just over two weeks. I'm so discouraged.

I don't know what it's like out there in the rest of the country, but California's gasoline taxes on top of gasoline taxes is for the birds. I'm going to go pout for a while...

Britain's National Health Service Woes

A couple articles popped up in the news in the last day or two, showcasing some of the problems of Britain's socialized healthcare system--the kind of system that both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama want to bring to the Unites States.

Dr. Nick Edwards, an Accident & Emergency department (A&E) physician in England, described yesterday in the Daily Mail (UK) the difficulties of providing proper care within a government bureaucracy.

As a doctor working in A&E, my only concern used to be how best to care for my patients. But in a target-obsessed NHS, looking after patients properly is becoming more and more difficult.

I would like to have spoken to [a patient's husband] for longer, or even taken a few minutes to gather my own thoughts.

But the days of a cup of tea and quiet reflection for A&E staff have gone and as soon as I was out of the room, the senior nurse told me that we had a number of patients who might breach their four-hour target set by the Government for being admitted to a ward or discharged.

One was an elderly lady with a broken hip - pain-relieving medications given earlier while we waited for her X-rays were only partially helping.

She needed an injection of local anaesthetic into the joint to numb the pain.

That takes time to do, but before I could start, without my say so, she was whisked off to the ward so she didn't breach the target.

Great for our targets and government figures; not so great for the patient, who went to the ward still in pain but in under four hours.

There's more, and it should be an eye-opener for those who want America's health system to go that route.

The other article is less about socialized medicine and more about the effects of multiculturalism on the health system. The Daily Mail reported yesterday about three cities in Britain where Muslim female medical students object to hygiene rules.

Health officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.

Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed.

Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest.

Some students have said that they would prefer to quit the course rather than expose their arms, but hygiene experts said no exceptions should be made on religious grounds.

This is a preview of what could come here as well. So far, the three British cities haven't backed down on their hygiene requirements, although the University of Liverpool has accomodated the students' request for a separate room where they can change from their hijabs into scrubs. I presume they're scrubbing up to their elbows as they change.

As we look at out choices for the presidency, for some voters it can be tempting to have medical care provided "free" to everyone. But the example in the UK isn't the utopia that proponents of socialized medicine would have us believe. Let's not be fooled by a political whitewash, but instead look at the truth of what government-run medical care would give us.

Tristan Emmanuel on the Oscars

Did you watch the Oscars earlier this week?

I know. Neither did I. Well, I turned it on for the last two awards, Best Director and Best Picture, because I called my son about something and he mentioned it was almost over (being a fim studies major, he pays attention to the Oscars). The movie that took both awards was some blood-filled bash-America film that I didn't see and won't see when it comes out on DVD. Figures they'd choose a movie like that...

Tristan Emmanuel's WorldNetDaily column today discusses America's un-fascination with the Oscars.

So, the Oscars tanked. Are you surprised? The pundits are. They just can't believe it. And they're blaming the Europeans.

[M]ore than 75 percent of the news stories that I have perused since last Sunday's Awards show – and I've looked at hundreds of them – blame the Europeans for the poor ratings.

All four of the major acting awards went to relative unknowns from Europe. And the movies in which those Europeans played all tanked at the box office. Clearly, America isn't as enamoured with European talent as the critics are.

Of course, America didn't avoid the Oscars in droves (32 million viewers, dropping to 25 million by the end of the show, compared to 93 million who watched the Super Bowl from beginning to end) because of who won the acting awards. They wouldn't have known it would be a Euro-sweep. After Emmanuel toys with the critics and the Hollywood defenders, he nails the reason Hollywood is sliding into failure.

Very few American moviegoers are going to spend their money at the box office to be lectured and preached to by Eurocrats telling them that America is a greedy, unsavory, money-grubbing, oil-gluttonous and environmentally plundering capitalist globetrotting pig. It's bad enough when the coke-snorting Hollywood elite do it – which is why movies like "Rendition" and producers like Robert Redford all had failures this year. Americans just aren't going to pay $12.50 (and that doesn't even include a drink and popcorn) knowing that the European interlopers are going to pocket a portion of the box-office proceeds after they face-slap every American in the theater.

Hollywood and its media minions naturally reject this analysis.

That's it exactly. I don't care if they're "European interlopers" or born-and-raised Americans. I'm not about to give my money to anyone who's going to turn around and have his movie slap me in the face for who I am and what I believe.

Hollywood doesn't get it. And Emmanuel has a theory about why Hollywood doesn't get it.

Remember when God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that He could make an example of the Egyptians and rescue the children of Israel? The more Hollywood insists on proliferating its godless, anti-American, left-wing, conservative-mocking liberal propaganda, the more I'm convinced that God in His wisdom is hardening the hearts of liberal Hollywood elites so that they will eventually fall on the sword of their own making.

I've never looked at it that way before, but I'm starting to think he may be right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Top Ten Painful Bites or Stings

ABC News reported yesterday on the most painful bites and stings.

Certain members of the animal kingdom have a talent for torture, as those of us who have been unlucky enough to experience it can attest.

Maybe you're swimming at the beach, hiking in the wilderness, or just cleaning out your basement — suddenly you're on fire, dancing or doubled over, staring at an almost invisible wound and wondering how something so small could hurt so horribly.

We have compiled a Top 10 list (in no particular order) of some of the most excruciating stings and bites nature has on offer. Some are potentially deadly, some are not. All are absolutely worth avoiding.

The first picture they have in the article is the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, a horrid creature I used to see when I was a kid and we walked through the canyon to get to our junior high school. Two inches long, black body (irridescent purple when the sun caught it right), with red-orange wings, the sight of them would throw me into paralyzing fear. Somebody said they were Tarantula Wasps and were called that because they eat tarantulas (which would have made me happy). I wasn't so sure, though, because when they landed and started walking, they walked like a tarantula.

The article tells the truth. It describes each of the Top Ten on a separate page, and after reading about the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, I am truly grateful that I never learned firsthand about their sting. Read them all and... well, I won't say "enjoy." Just be glad there's so much pain out there that you (hopefully) have not experienced.

I have not been stung or bitten by any of them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pelosi Pushing Amnesty Again

The Washington Times editorial yesterday is on the latest scheme by House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to get amnesty for illegals.

For months, leading Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief Rahm Emanuel have tried to talk tough on illegal immigration.... Last month, Mrs. Pelosi joined House Minority Leader John Boehner in announcing that the House-passed economic stimulus bill would "not allow any taxpayer funds to be distributed to illegals."

But unfortunately, the Democrats are putting together an elaborate con job: using tough-sounding rhetoric while working behind the scenes with open-borders advocates in the business community to win support from from firms that have become very dependent on cheap foreign labor. The goal of these Democrats — and possibly the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well — is to defeat a bipartisan bill that takes a no-amnesty, enforcement-oriented approach to illegal immigration.

The SAVE Act [Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, H.R. 4088] is an omnibus bill that would strengthen border security and require that employers verify that their workers are legally present in the United States. Forty-seven Democrats and 89 Republicans are cosponsoring the Shuler bill, which is currently bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee, where liberals like Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Immigration Subcommittee, will work to ensure that it stays there.

Republican supporters of the SAVE Act are working to get enough votes to pull the bill out of committee and onto the floor, but as the editorial writer points out, the Democrats have come up with a "Plan B."

The Baca Amendment would give illegal aliens who pass a background check a "five-year temporary worker permit" that expires on Dec. 31, 2012. It would also provide employers who hired illegal aliens "safe harbor" (apparently some measure of immunity from prosecution) for past hiring of illegal aliens. If Mr. Shuler gets enough signatures to force his bill to the floor to be debated, Democrats hope to neuter it by attaching the Baca Amendment. If Mr. Baca's proposal were to become law, open-borders advocates could come back later and pass legislation putting these illegals on a path to citizenship.

It's an election year, so of course the Democrats are talking tough on immigration, because they know they must. But they're ready with their usual Bait and Switch tactic.

This is a battle that bears watching. Those of us who favor employer verification of workers' immigration status would do well to keep after our Congressmen. Encourage them to put pressure on the Immigration Subcommittee to pass the bill as it stands and work to prevent passage of the Baca Amendment. We must remain watchful, because the supporters of amnesty will not stop trying to enact it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cockroach Gets 30 TV Workers Fired

The Telegraph (UK) reported tomorrow about a mishap at a television station.

Thirty workers at a Turkmenistan television network have been sacked after a cockroach was seen scuttling across the newsreader's desk during a live broadcast, it has been reported.

The large brown insect crawled a full lap of the newsdesk on the 9pm news programme, Vatan, before the blooper was aired again on the 11pm edition.

The national station was bombarded with calls from disgusted viewers, who said the cockroach's guest appearance had put them off their dinner.

Officials from Turkmenistan's ministry of culture discovered the insect's guest appearance the following morning, and swiftly informed the country's president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedo.

He was so horrified that he fired 30 workers from the station,
the Guardian reports.

The sacked workers included journalists, directors, camera operators, and technical staff. The country's minister for culture, Gulmurat Muradov, has also ordered an internal investigation.

I'd be horrified too.

But perhaps a thorough fumigation would be more effective than an internal investigation. Who's left to be investigated after all the workers have been fired?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Luckiest Mom in the World

That would be me.

My daughter is here tonight, playing the piano, and I get to listen.

This is Little Enzo, not my daughter, but this is what she's playing.

She plays it almost as well, pausing every now and then and whispering, "Oh, wait," and then continuing. But I like her timing and passion on some parts better than Enzo's. She is, after all, my daughter.

It doesn't get any better than this.

Boyfriend Trouble

No, I don't have a boyfriend.

My daughter's friend calls me now and then for advice when she's frustrated with her boyfriend, and I'm good at giving it. After an 18-year marriage, during which time all us wives at work would discuss the way men are, and after listening to pastors and Dennis Prager describing the differences between men and women, I have a better idea about men than my daughter's friend does. Plus, it helps that I'm not in the middle of the situation.

Today she called because her boyfriend won't just sit with her and "hang out." He told her he has to be doing something. His father raised him to be productive all the time. Slacking off was punished. She wanted me to agree that he was being unreasonable.

I told her to get used to it, because she won't win. Then I told her a story I heard on Dennis Prager's show.

A woman called in to say that she used to be frustrated by her husband. He was always out in the garage reloading ammunition, and she got resentful that he didn't spend more time with her. She thought she should be more important to him than making a bunch of bullets. Then one day she realized that she could go out there and spend time where he was. So she took a book and sat with him in the garage while he did his reloading.

As she spent more time with him, they talked about things, and he told her things about himself that had never come up before. He taught her about reloading, and she learned that he was saving them a lot of money by doing that, though she never really enjoyed doing it herself. But their marriage was better because she adapted to him instead of demanding that he adapt to her.

I also told my daughter's friend about the time our Singles group's pastor discussed the difference in needs between men and women. One of the things men need is companionship. He described it this way: When he was in the living room watching sports on TV, he liked for his wife to be in the living room with him, even if she wasn't watching the game and they weren't talking to each other but she was reading a book. Just having her in the room with him was enough to meet that need of his. (I wish I had known that when I was married, because I got that one wrong.)

So then I advised our friend to find a way to be with her boyfriend while he's "doing," and quit demanding that he had to stop and sit with her. She thanked me sincerely and let out a disgusted sigh as she hung up the phone.

Disaster averted once again.

I love being able to help her figure out how to cope properly with a man. It makes me feel very wise. But I'm afraid that feeling of wisdom is only an illusion...

Nader Enters the Race

Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster, AP

Hot dog!

The AP reported today that Ralph Nader has announced his candidacy for the presidency, which he hinted at earlier.

Ralph Nader said Sunday he will run for president as a third-party candidate, criticizing the top White House contenders as too close to big business and pledging to repeat a bid that will "shift the power from the few to the many."

Nader, 73, said most people are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties due to a prolonged Iraq war and a shaky economy. The consumer advocate also blamed tax and other corporate-friendly policies under the Bush administration that he said have left many lower- and middle-class people in debt.

"You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized and disrespected," he said. "You go from Iraq, to Palestine to Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bumbling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts."

"In that context, I have decided to run for president," Nader told NBC's "Meet the Press."

John McCain has to be thrilled. For one thing, Nader's entry in the race means that McCain isn't the oldest candidate anymore.

It just keeps getting more and more fun.

Hillary Clinton and the Superdelegates

Fox News reported February 16, 2008, on statements by longtime Clinton toady, Harold Ickes.

A top Hillary Clinton adviser on Saturday boldly predicted his candidate would lock down the nomination before the August convention by definitively winning over party insiders and officials known as superdelegates, claiming the number of state elections won by rival Barack Obama would be “irrelevant” to their decision.

Obama leads handily in the pledged delegate count and has won more states but trails Clinton in superdelegates, making them potential and controversial deadlock-breakers if the race ends up a dead heat come convention time.

Harold Ickes, a 40-year party operative charged with winning over superdelegates for the Clinton campaign, made no apologies on Saturday for the campaign’s convention strategy.
“We’re going to win this nomination,” Ickes said, adding that they would do so soon after the last contest on June 7 in Puerto Rico. “You’re not going to see this go to the convention floor.”

He also said Michigan and Florida, which voted for Clinton, should have delegates seated at the convention, even though he originally voted with the national party last year to strip the delegates because the states violated party rules by holding early primaries.

The title of the book Hugh Hewitt wrote for the 2004 election season is appropriate for any election the Clintons are involved in: If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat.

Barak Obama is blowing out Hillary Clinton in the primary elections and caucuses, but with the superdelegates in the mix, the count is close. And that means cheating, somehow, someway. Like seating the Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention when it was already decided to strip them. Because--like the primaries--rules are "irrelevant."

Michigan and Florida's delegates were stripped back when Hillary thought she was a shoe-in. Now even her tears can't get enough states to win for her fair and square.

If the Obama-tsunami continues and it comes down to the superdelegates (provided Hillary can hang onto enough of them) throwing the nomination to Hillary, what then? What kind of reaction will there be from a party base that feeds off anger and resentment of "the other"? What kind of cataclysmic explosion will there be against those in the Democratic Party Machine who have thwarted the overwhelming will of their people? It will be ugly.

The Clintons are determined to win. No. Matter. What.

And if they compromise and give Obama the top slot on the ticket and put Hillary in as VP, I still say Obama will need his Secret Service working overtime to keep him safe from Hill & Bill.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nader Considers Presidency Again

The AP reported yesterday on the latest with Ralph Nader.

Ralph Nader could be poised for another third party presidential campaign.

The consumer advocate will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to announce whether he will launch another White House bid. Nader kicked off his 2004 presidential run on the show.

Kevin Zeese, who was Nader's spokesman during the 2004 presidential race, but is no longer working for him, said Friday that Nader has been actively talking to "lots of people on all sorts of levels" about the possibility of making another run.

Zeese said he could only guess what Nader might do, but added: "Obviously, I don't think ("Meet the Press" host) Tim Russert would have him on for no reason."

This will be fun. Ralph Nader is the Ron Paul of the Left. The guy can't win, but the people who support him are fanatics, and there are just enough of them to affect the outcome of the election.

If he runs, though, will he siphon off enough of the moonbats from (presumably) Obama to secure the election for (presumably) McCain? We can hope so, but Barak Obama is already way off to the Left, so his followers may not jump into Nader's camp.

And there's still the chance that Ron Paul will run as an Independent and take his Republican voters with him too. I don't remember a Presidential election with a double-spoiler effect.

Still, I've gotta say, "Run, Ralph, run!"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Healing With Crab Shells

The Manchester Evening News (UK) reported tomorrow on a new discovery.

Scientists have invented a fast-healing dressing made out of crab shell which could dramatically increase a patient's recovery. Crabs are renowned as nature's healers because of a mineral in their shells, called chitosan.

The ingredient, harvested from crabs, prawns and other crustaceans, can rapidly clot blood.

It also has strong anti-bacterial properties.

Experts at the university have now managed to create a textile which they say could cut days or even weeks off normal recovery times.

They have created a prototype 4-inch square dressing which could be applied for cuts, grazes or surgical wounds but further testing and safety trials must take place.

This is really great. Anything that speeds up healing is good, but to get it from seafood restaurant trash is even better.

I just wish they were quicker about getting these things out to the market. I could have used this after I cut my thumb when we were snorkeling in St. Maarten. It took forever to heal.

More Trouble in Zimbabwe

The Press Association (UK?) reported yesterday that the inflation rate in Zimbabwe is over 100,000% annually.

The official rate of annual inflation in Zimbabwe has rocketed past the 100,000% barrier - by far the highest in the world.

The government statistics office said inflation rose to 100,580% in January, up from 66,212% in December.

The new official figure was still well below the rate calculated by independent analysts who estimate the real rate is closer to 150,000%.

Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket, is facing acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline and most basic goods in an economic meltdown blamed on disruptions in the agriculture-based economy after the often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000 accompanied by political violence and turmoil.

And what is Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe doing? Why, he's throwing himself a birthday party, reported by the AP today.

As many as 10,000 people were converging on a town in southern Zimbabwe for President Robert Mugabe's 84th birthday celebrations, state radio reported Friday.

Many were traveling free on commandeered buses and trains, it said.

Organizers of Saturday's ceremonies said they raised about 3 trillion Zimbabwe dollars (or the equivalent of about $250,000 at the dominant black market exchange rate) for the bash amid chronic shortages of hard currency, gasoline, food and most basic goods.

In Africa's fastest shrinking economy, per capita gross domestic product in Zimbabwe fell from about $200 in 1996 to about $9 a head last year.

Yes, there are priorities, after all.

It's hard to imagine what the people of Zimbabwe are suffering, and even harder to imagine that the government doesn't seem to care. The only bright spot I've seen (since Robert Mugabe hasn't seen fit to die of old age yet) is in the Spring 2008 edition of World Vision's magazine. The cover story is about Zimbabwe.

"Ten, 15 years ago, this country was as developed as say, Louisiana," says World Vision's Edward Brown. Edward runs the USAID-funded Consortium for Southern African Famine Emergency program dedicated to feeding hungry families. "It's like we've been hit by a macroeconomic hurricane.... My grandparents lived through the Great Depression. It is a very similar comparison."

Zimbabwe's own depression, compounded by AIDS, has left 4.1 million people--30 percent of the population--at risk of hunger and malnutrition. "There is no bread. There is no [corn] meal," says Daniel Muchena, who directs World Vision's relief efforts in southern Zimbabwe. "With the drought, the grass is drying up. There are wildfires all over that kill the cattle. People have no money or savings. And even if they do have money, there is no food to buy."

[World Vision staff] recognize that food aid is necessary to save children and their parents from starvation, but that a turnaround in Zimbabwe can only come by focusing on the future. World Vision's Food for Assets program seeks to accomplish both.

The program provides food for families that agree to work together on farming or income-generating projects.

It's good to see rays of hope for some of Zimbabwe's people. Too bad that hope doesn't come from the people who should be the ones who care.

Michelle Malkin on Barbara Jordan

Michelle Malkin's post today on Barbara Jordan had this to say:

Last night, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton invoked the late Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan as a hero and mentor (transcript).

Jordan, a black Democrat who was a staunch advocate of immigration enforcement and border control, was a true maverick.

She didn’t just pay lip service to border security as all of today’s presidential candidates do. She meant what she said. If Clinton and Obama bothered to pay attention to what Jordan stood for, I highly doubt they would be so eager to wrap themselves in her legacy.

This is gratifying to see. The first presidential election I could vote in was in 1976, the year Jimmy Carter won. I wrote in "Barbara Jordan (D-TX)."

I didn't really know what she stood for, just that I was a Democrat and she was a Democrat and very well respected, and she wasn't Jimmy Carter. It's good to see that the values I hold today about immigration are the ones she held back in 1995, when she testified before the House immigration committee. Malkin quotes Jordan's summary of her position:

Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.

That's exactly right. Read the full transcript of her testimony here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

California Exodus Stampede

A realtor showed my house this morning. They came without calling, and I was still in my pajamas, so I asked them to come back in ten minutes. When they did, I grabbed my mailbox key and set off for the mailboxes to give them a chance to look at the house without me there. As I was walking out the door, I heard the realtor say, "Oh wow." It's a good sign, but I'm leaving it all in God's hands.

After they left, I checked the news. WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that California's exodus has turned into a stampede. Silly me. I thought I was a trend-setter in my plans to sell the house and get out of Dodge.

California, which once lured Americans from near and far, is now driving out millions of the most productive residents – including high percentages of the most affluent.

"When California faced a Mount Everest-sized $14 billion deficit in 2003, one of the major causes for the red ink was the stampede of millionaire households from the state," says a report called "Rich States, Poor States" by economists Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore. "Out of the 25,000 or so seven-figure-income families, more than 5,000 left in the early 2000s, and the loss of their tax payments accounted for about half the budget hole."

And it's not just the rich leaving.

Based on data from moving companies, California had the second-highest domestic population out-flow of any state in 2005, according to the report, "despite the beautiful weather, beaches, and mountains."

The bad news for California is that it faces $14 billion deficit this year, despite boasting one of the highest tax burdens in the nation

I find that tax statistic astounding, though I suppose I shouldn't. The loss of 5,000 millionaires from California resulted in about a $7 billion deficit. That's an average of $1.4 million in state taxes paid by each millionaire. And Democrats get mad at the rich for not paying their "fair share."

And what is California's Democrat-controlled government proposing?

UPI reported yesterday that they want to increase taxes.

California's chief budget analyst says the gap between revenue and spending may be too big to close by cutting spending and urged closing tax loopholes.

They've proposed $2 billion in spending cuts and plan on plugging the rest of the deficit with increased taxes. But if that's what they end up doing, they're going to need a word that means mega-stampede. I'm not sure even the thesaurus has a big enough word to handle what's going to happen to California.

Now, if those people want to buy my house, I'm outta here...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Have A Cold


Normally I wouldn't be so thrilled, but my throat has been sore all day, and I was afraid I had caught some pestilent strep bug that was going to make me feverish and send me to the doctor's office. And I don't want to do that because it costs money and also because my doctor (who I really liked) has moved his practice down to Encinitas or Solana Beach or somewhere away from here. And the medical group up here hasn't replaced him, so they keep shuffling his patients wherever, and I just don't want to go through all that shuffling when I have a fever and feel miserably sorry for myself.

But I just noticed that my nose is getting stuffy, and that means that my sore throat was the usual precursor of a cold and not Strep Throat after all. So I popped a 24-hour Sudafed (legally acquired from the pharmacy with appropriate signatures and gun-purchase-like background checks), and the peppermint tea is steeping even as we speak.

I've got at least one more box of Kleenex ready and some cough syrup on hand in case my cold goes into my chest as well. I feel armed and dangerous and ready for the virus.

And I've got my daughter to thank for sharing her cold with me. Isn't she sweet...?

Oscar-Inspired Fashions for Dogs

Lily models the J-Lo Oscar inspired gown at Little Lily in Los Angeles, California February 18, 2008. Pet fashion label Little Lily has designed a range of dog clothes inspired by the actual gowns worn by A-listers on the Oscar red carpet.

REUTERS/Phil Mccarten

This story reminded of the dress I bought for my little dog Abby. She was so cute!

Yahoo News has a series of 15 photos, most of them of Lily wearing her Oscar dresses. Take a look. She's a cutie too.

Someday I've got to get another dog...

Satellite Plans Worry China and Russia

There's a concept in psychology (I don't know what it's called) that says, "What you say about others reveals more about you than about them." For example, if you complain that someone is "always late," it shows that you value punctuality.

Another concept is Projection: attributing "to others one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or/and emotions."

Both of those concepts came to mind as I read about China's and Russia's "concerns" about America's plans to destroy the errant, toxic satellite with a missile.

The AP reported Sunday about China's concerns.

China said Sunday it was concerned about U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite that is hurtling toward Earth with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel.

The U.S. military has said it hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week—just before it enters Earth's atmosphere—with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao as saying the Chinese government was monitoring the situation and has urged the U.S. to avoid causing damages to security in outer space and in other countries.

"Relevant departments of China are closely watching the situation and working out preventive measures," Liu said. Xinhua did not elaborate.

Russia also has voiced worries about the U.S. plan to shoot down the damaged satellite, saying it may be a veiled test of America's missile defense system.

The U.S. has insisted the plan to shoot down the satellite is not a test of a program to kill other nations' orbiting communications and intelligence capabilities.

Both countries have been doing a lot of saber-rattling lately, with Russia becoming an endless mouthpiece of defensiveness and muted threats over our proposed missile shield system in Eastern Europe.

I don't trust either country, and what I've seen from the Bush Administration doesn't make me feel any better. Their response to Russian and Chinese belligerence has been simply to reassure those countries that we mean no harm. And then to reassure the American people that Russia and China mean no harm either.

I'm not buying it.

Coldest Winter in Decades

The Daily Express (UK) reported yesterday on the latest in global non-warming.

NEW evidence has cast doubt on claims that the world’s ice-caps are melting, it emerged last night.

Satellite data shows that concerns over the levels of sea ice may have been premature.

It was feared that the polar caps were vanishing because of the effects of global warming.

But figures from the respected US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that almost all the “lost” ice has come back.

Ice levels which had shrunk from 13million sq km in January 2007 to just four million in October, are almost back to their original levels.

Figures show that there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than is usual for the time of year.

This story doesn't seem to have hit the more mainstream media much. Oh, they've reported about the cold winter, but not about the polar ice coming back. Because we all know we're suffering from global warming, the cold winter is news--a freakish occurence in the otherwise relentless melting of life as we know it.

It's really cold in Afganistan. 900 dead.

It's really cold in China. "Scores" dead.

It's been really cold in South America too.

But don't be concerned. "All" scientists agree that global warming is real and is the true cause for alarm. Somehow, though, I think the families of the dead would have prefered just a little more warmth this winter.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bottled Water Is "Immoral"

The Telegraph (UK) reported yesterday that bottled water harms the environment.

Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a [British] government adviser.

"We have to make people think that it's unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong," said Tim Lang, the Government's naural resources commissioner.

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water "borders on being morally unacceptable".

A BBC Panorama documentary, "Bottled Water: Who Needs It?", to be broadcast tomorrow says that in terms of production, a litre bottle of Evian or Volvic generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a litre of tap water.

This is such a good vindication of my lifestyle. I drink tap water. At work (when I've had a job), I always drank the tap water even though they provided bottled, which horrified most of the other people there. You'd have thought I was drinking a glass of toxic waste. But as I explained, the tap water was safe, and if I got to like bottled water, I'd have to start spending money on it.

Now I have an even better reason to keep drinking tap water. I'm saving the planet from global warming. Al Gore would be so proud!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Obama Proposes $845 Billion for African Poverty

Photo credit: Barak Obama's Senate website

WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that Sen. Barak Obama is a co-sponsor of an expensive aid bill for Africa.

Sen. Barack Obama, perhaps giving America a preview of priorities he would pursue if elected president, is rejoicing over the Senate committee passage of a plan that could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars in an attempt to reduce poverty in other nations.

The bill, called the
Global Poverty Act, is the type of legislation, "We can – and must – make … a priority," said Obama, a co-sponsor.

It would demand that the president develop "and implement" a policy to "cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015 through aid, trade, debt relief" and other programs.

[Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media] said the legislation, if approved, dedicates 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product to foreign aid, which over 13 years he said would amount to $845 billion "over and above what the U.S. already spends."

The strength of Obama's words give a hint at the priorities he would have if he were to win the presidency. His office released a statement that said in part:

"With billions of people living on just dollars a day around the world, global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges and tragedies the international community faces," Obama said. "It must be a priority of American foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water. As we strive to rebuild America's standing in the world, this important bill will demonstrate our promise and commitment to those in the developing world.

"Our commitment to the global economy must extend beyond trade agreements that are more about increasing profits than about helping workers and small farmers everywhere," he continued.

It's hard to believe that these are the very same people who shout that it's not our job to spread liberty to other countries or to perform nation-building, but that we should allow murderous, genocidal regimes to continue unchecked. Yet they believe it's our job to go to those genocidal countries and lift every man, woman, child out of poverty. It boggles the mind.

Especially in light of Michael Knox Beran's commentary in the Winter 2008 edition of the City Journal, called, "Hearts of Darkness," subtitled, "Trendy paternalism is keeping Africa in chains." A key paragraph:

Yet in one area, foreign aid, the paternalist spirit is far from dead. A new generation of economists and activists is calling for a “big push” in Africa to expand programs that in practice institutionalize poverty rather than end it. The Africrats’ enthusiasm for the failed policies of the past threatens to turn a struggling continent into a permanent ghetto—and to block the progress of ideas that really can liberate Africa’s oppressed populations.

Looks like Obama and his co-sponsors have fallen prey to that virulent brand of paternalism.

I expect a veto from President Bush, but next year, when they bring it up again, will there be someone in office willing to stop it?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Copper Thieves Get Shocked

Reuters reported Tuesday on some would-be copper thieves.

Police in central England are hunting for a badly scorched would-be copper power cable thief after finding a hacksaw embedded in an 11,000 volt power cable Saturday night.

The thief, who also left a lit blow torch at the scene, is expected to be badly charred, spiky haired and not exactly the brightest bulb in the socket.

I just love that British penchant for understatement!

Copper prices have more than doubled in the last four years as China has gobbled up huge quantities of it, sparking a wave of copper thefts across the globe from South Africa and the United States to Italy and Britain.

Even my mom's former church in Montana had all the copper wiring stolen from their new sanctuary under construction.

If a copper thief has even half a brain, he won't try to steal wire that has 11,000 volts coursing through it. Here's hoping this guy's electro-shock" therapy" will turn him away from his life of crime.

Microfiber Fabric Makes Electricity

Reuters reported yesterday on a new scientific development.

U.S. scientists have developed a microfiber fabric that generates its own electricity, making enough current to recharge a cell phone or ensure that a small MP3 music player never runs out of power.

If made into a shirt, the fabric could harness power from its wearer simply walking around or even from a slight breeze, they reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

My daughter would like this, because sometimes her iPod loses its charge when she's nowhere near a computer to recharge it.

[The team of Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology] made the nanogenerator by first coating fibers with a polymer, and then a layer of zinc oxide. They dunked this into a warm bath of reactive solution for 12 hours. This encouraged the wires to multiply, coating the fibers.

"They automatically grow on the surface of the fiber," Wang said. "In principal, you could use any fiber that is conductive."

I don't understand how wires can multiply. It sounds too much like a sci-fi disaster movie plot, but I'll trust that they've figured out how to prevent the wires from taking over the world.

The scientists have already verified that their fabric isn't creating static electricity but useful electricity.

One major hurdle remains: zinc oxide degrades when wet. Wang's team is working on a process that would coat the fibers to protect the fabric in the laundry.

Yep. That's a major hurdle. I hope they get it solved.

Rainy Valentine's Day

It's 43° outside at 1:00 in the afternoon, it's raining, and I couldn't be happier.

The rain kept people away from the post office, where I went to collect all my mail and take it off vacation hold. There was only one person ahead of me, so my wait was short and was accompanied by music from a dancing, fuzzy heart on the counter that played a passable rendition of Herman's Hermits' "Baby, Baby, Can't You Feel My Heartbeat." The toddler daughter of the customer by that clerk was mesmerized.

At the grocery store, they were sold out of the 4-packs of chocolate-dipped strawberries that I wanted, so I had to settle for the 7-pack, nicely presented in a plastic container designed for a single rose. I have some tea brewing now for the occasion.

While I waited in line, which was almost as short as the one at the post office, a man came behind me and placed his goods on the belt: a bouquet of roses and a 9- or 12-pack of white-chocolate-dipped strawberries. His choices reminded me of a comment Dennis Prager made on his radio show today. First a little background:

Dennis had John Gray (of the Mars & Venus books) as his guest for the second hour of his show, and Gray said as a throwaway line (Dennis later called it a "grenade" of a throwaway) that men appreciate their woman more than women appreciate their man. From that, Dennis went on to devote the third hour to asking listeners if Gray was right. His listeners, men and women alike, were unanimous that Gray's statement is true.

At the end of the hour, Dennis was summarizing the calls he didn't get a chance to take on air. One man had called to say that he was at a Hallmark store looking at cards, and the man next to him, who was holding two different cards, turned to him and said, "No matter which one I pick, it'll be the wrong one."

So I talked to the guy behind me in line (he didn't get that wild-eyed look of fear that you can sometimes get when strange people talk to you in line) and told him about Prager's show and this story about the cards, and I said that it looked like he must have picked something right, with both the flowers and the strawberries. And he said his wife is really great that way, that it's all good, which was nice to hear.

And then I checked out. Twice, because the checker somehow didn't think my package of strawberries were mine (Do I look like a man-hating, lonely spinster who couldn't get a man even if she clubbed him over the head? No, don't answer that).

Then I went outside, where the air was cold and the rain was colder, and I had on my heavy jacket (which I had left at home when we went off to our trip through the South) to keep me warm, and my fingers got cold and my cheeks felt cold and my nose started to run a little, and it was pure bliss. Man! I miss the seasons...

May your Valentine's Day--whether you have someone special or not--be wonderful. And you attached ladies, be sure you let your man know how much you appreciate him. He needs to hear it from you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HEMA Stores Website

Oh, this is too cool!

I've been catching up on my email and stuff this morning, and a former co-worker sent this (one of those perpetual Forwards).

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on Nov. 4, 1926, in Amsterdam. Now, there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands, and there are stores in Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany.

In June of last year, HEMA was sold to the British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA's product page. It's in Dutch and you can't order anything (unless you understand Dutch), but just wait a couple of seconds and watch what happens...the company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer:

HEMA - online winkelen

And if that's not enough, I loved reading some of the Dutch words for their products:

Damespanty by a mannequin leg with a stocking on it.
Rugbybal by what looks to me like an American-style football
Handzeep by some hand soap
Bekers by some drinking cups
Fluitketel by a tea kettle (it whistled nicely--is a non-whistling kettle just a ketel?)

And those words that need no translation:


Go back and watch the website, if you skipped that part.

Nobel Laureate Predicts Obama Assassination

The Daily Mail (UK)--and most other news outlets--reported Sunday on an interview with Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.

British Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing caused uproar last night by predicting the assassination of Barack Obama if he becomes the first black U.S. president.

Miss Lessing said: "He would probably not last long, a black man in the position of president. They would kill him.

She said it would be better if Mrs Clinton, 60, became America's first woman president with Obama as her running mate.

"Hillary is a very sharp lady. It might be calmer if she wins," she told a Swedish newspaper.

I can't find a link to the article I read a few days ago (It was from a Canadian news source), which had comments that were hard to believe. Many of them agreed with Lessing, pointing out the rabid racism that infects the hearts and souls of all Americans except for the Enlightened Few.

One commenter even recommended going to the American South and having a gigantic beer bash. Then when all the rednecks were there, drunk out of their minds, we could just drop an atomic bomb on them and rid America of its racism in one fell swoop.

It's disheartening how many people, both outside and within the USA, have such a wretched view of our country. It's as though they just finished watching The Great Debaters and thought it took place in 2005, not 1935. As a nation weve changed since then. We're not where we once were.

Another commenter in the Canadian piece pointed out, "If Barak Obama is elected, it will be because White America elected him." Exactly.

Every American President risks being shot at. Even the innocuous Gerald Ford was shot at, so the risk to a President Obama would be nothing new.

Still, I think Miss Lessing has a point about Obama being safe if he's Hillary's Vice President. The biggest threat to his life would be if he were elected President... with Hillary as his Vice President.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

I'm back in my house. Four states, three time zones, one agricultural inspection, three Border Patrol inspections (two in California), fourteen hours, and 880 miles after I left my hotel in Van Horn, Texas, this morning. My hands hurt from holding the steering wheel.

One of the rest areas I stopped at had this warning sign, and without thinking, I started walking across the dirt, because the sidewalk went out of the way.

But then I inspected my path and found it clear, so I kept going.

While I'm on the topic of rest areas, I'm putting in my vote for the Worst Rest Area Along the Interstate System. It's near Glamis, California, between the Gordons Well and Grays Well exits. It's in the median between the two directions of traffic on I-8, so both directions can go there. But all it has is lots of dirt, a few shade trees, a few Porta-Potties, a few dumpsters, and nothing else. Not even parking spots. Use it only in case of dire emergency. I gave it a miss this time.

I hadn't planned on driving all the way home today. I was going to stay somewhere in Arizona and finish up tomorrow. But I got to Yuma at 6:30pm, and I knew that the minute I crossed the Colorado River on the other side of town, it would only be 5:30pm, and that's much too early to stop for the night.

Granted, I could have stopped in El Centro, but Yuck! So I kept on going. Gina told me that I should get home around 8:30pm, but the Border Patrol stops slowed that down, and I didn't get home until just after 9:00 (after a stop at the grocery store for some creamer and breakfast food).

I called my mom and left a message for my daughter, letting them know I got home safely. Now it's time to get in my jammies and go to bed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reuters Favors Palestinians

I love photography, so when I read an article on the Reuters news site, I can't resist scrolling through their Editor's Choice photos of the past 24 hours. But almost everytime I do, I find their photos to be biased in favor of the Palestinans and against Israelis. Today is one example. The following are the only two pictures from the Middle East:

A Palestinian woman inspects her destroyed bedroom following an Israeli air strike in Gaza February 10, 2008. An Israeli air strike killed a Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian medical workers and Hamas said.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinian children hold candles during a protest calling for the end of Israeli sanctions on Gaza February 10, 2008. Israel said on Friday it cut by less than 1 percent the amount of electrical power it supplies to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as part of a campaign against militants who fire cross-border rockets.

REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Where are the photos of the Israeli victims of the Palestinian-fired rockets? I've never seen one. Most of the time, when they manage to show an Israeli, Reuters makes sure that it's an IDF soldier heartlessly passing by some poor, unfortunate Palestinian.

But the world and its press are objective...

Update (02/12/2008):

Just in case someone might believe there aren't any Israelis whose homes are damaged and this could be why Reuters doesn't show any, let Reuters send some photographers into the Israeli town of Sderot. WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on the protests over the rocket attacks on that city.

Palestinians in Gaza reportedly fired 153 rockets over the last seven days, many aimed at Sderot, an Israeli town of nearly 26,000 residents located about three miles from the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, two brothers, ages 8 and 19, were seriously wounded when a Palestinian Qassam rocket exploded there. The eight-year-old, Osher Twito, lost a leg.

Palestinians have fired thousands of rockets from Gaza following Israel's evacuation of the territory in August 2005.

"We will keep firing until all of Sderot becomes a ghost town and then on to Ashkelon," Muhammad Abdel-Al, spokesman and a senior leader of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees terrorist group, told WND.

Maybe Reuters can spare a photo of Osher Twito. But that may be too much to ask.

Scooter Update

When my mom and I got back from our trip and saw that Scooter had porked up some while we were gone, I suspected my brother-in-law, who has a soft spot for Scooter and slips him treats. My suspicions were based on family history. My maternal grandparents always made their dogs obese, because they couldn't resist giving them treats and leftovers.

But my sister said that Scooter kept eating Smokey's (their cat) food. She did her best to keep him away--as much for Smokey's sake as Scooter's--but little Scooter is a sneaky guy...

So, I'm correcting the record and clearing my brother-in-law's good name.

Scooter, it seems, eats like a dog.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Illegals Leaving Arizona

Fox News reported Friday that illegal aliens are leaving Arizona all on their own.

For the first time, Mexican officials in Arizona admit there is hard evidence illegal immigrants are preparing to leave the state because a new employer sanctions law is making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to keep a job.

Illegal immigrants are flooding the Mexican consulate in Phoenix for documents that will allow them to return to Mexico to enroll their children in school, the consul to Arizona, Carlos Flores Vizcarra, told FOX News. They are also requesting a document called "menaje de casa," which allows illegal immigrant families living in the U.S. to cross into Mexico without paying a tax on their furniture and personal belongings.

Vizcarra said 94 families asked the embassy for students transfer documents last month, compared to only three last year. He said several thousand immigrants asked for the tax document.

In a separate interview, Edmundo Hidalgo of the non-profit immigrant support group Chicanos Por La Causa, said 30,000 illegal immigrants said in a survey last week that they planned to leave Arizona sometime before March 1, when the state’s tough new employer sanctions law goes into effect. Under the law, employers can lose their business licenses if they hire undocumented workers.

When Congress and President Bush tried so hard last year to shove their Shamnesty legislation down our throats, one of their arguments was the ubiquitous straw man, "We can't deport 12 million people."

Yes, we could if we really wanted to. But that was never what opponents of amnesty were calling for. We wanted sanctions on employers that would make it hard for illegals to find work here. And when the sanctions would take effect, we expected the illegal aliens would self-deport.

Looks like we were right.

In the last month, for every five immigrants trying to enter the U.S., four were crossing back in the other direction, said Rosa Soto Moreno, who runs a Catholic shelter that provides food and lodging for illegal immigrants.

Soto said illegal immigrants crossing back into Mexico is a new phenomenon, and she attributes it to the new law.

Now that we've got Arizona headed in the right direction, let's try for California, New Mexico, and Texas next...

Toledo Mayor Kicks Out Marines

NBC24 News reported yesterday that the Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, canceled a Marine urban-warfare training exercise in his town.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Friday ordered some 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan, out of Toledo just before the unit was supposed to start a weekend of urban warfare training downtown.

The mayor’s spokesperson, Brian Schwartz said, “The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people. He did not want them practicing and drilling in a highly visible area."

Toledo police said they knew about the training and had approved the unit’s use of the Madison Building and the Promenade Park area. The training was scheduled to start Friday afternoon and last until Sunday. Police said the unit’s presence would have a minimal impact on the city. Police issued a press release earlier in the week saying the Marines would be wearing green camouflage uniforms, operate military vehicles, carry rifles, perform foot patrols, and fire blank ammunition during the exercise.

It sounds like a case of lack of clear communication between an anti-military mayor and the police department, who had a change of leadership since the previous time the Marines trained in Toledo.

The comments are what interested me, beyond the story itself. Of course, there were the usual suspects commenting, from "The mayor is stupid!" on one side, to "This is all just a case of getting the citizens ready for the coming martial law by the oppressive government!" on the other (my paraphrases). Two comments made excellent points.

Why Marines Needed Toledo

Several posts (sadly, even from former military) questioned why the Marines could not have trained on a military post. As a former Marine and retired Army Reserve officer, I can explain. First, the Marine Corps Reserve has battalions with companies or even detachments spread across a number of states, so there is a lot of travel involved just to get the entire battalion to train as a unit. In this case, although most of the soldiers came from units in Michigan, Weapons Company of 1/24 is from Toledo, so at least part of the battalion called Toledo home. Second, the Marine Corps has only two major combat unit bases in the USA (Camp Pendleton, CA and Camp Lejeune, NC), three air stations (Cherry Point/New River, Beaufort, and Miramar) and one major training ground training area (Twentynine Palms, CA) and a bombing range in Yuma, AZ, which are all a long ways from Michigan and Ohio. They might be able to use Army facilities, but needless to say, the Army has "first dibs" on those, and even if they were available they're still not within a day's convoy from Michigan. As it is, when units conduct three-day "weekends," the first day is a load-up and travel day, and the final day is travel and put gear away day; this leaves only one full day of training, so it's important to find somewhere close. Finally, urban training is not just about clearing a single building. It's that plus patrolling streets with an eye out for IEDs at ground level and snipers from windows and rooftops of buildings on both sides--see "Black Hawk Down" for an idea of what urban combat is (a senior medic in my unit in Iraq cut his teeth in Somalia in 1993 and was portrayed in the movie). An old school or an old mall is NOT urban warfare training. This whole affair brings to mind a slogan some Marine scrawled on a wall in Iraq: "America is not at war. The Marine Corps* is at war. America is at the mall." Not to mention, the current mayor of Toledo is out to lunch. Can America not make even such a small sacrifice to allow the Marines use of a part of town for a day+ if it saves even one Marine's life? (*along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and even the Coast Guard.)

— Joseph Maguire, Sarnia, Ontario

In the reporting of the battle between mayor and police/military, sometimes the practical military-readiness needs are neglected. It's good that Mr. Maguire provided that background.

Thank the Marines - Don't insult them

It is interesting to note that the two left-wing paranoids who defended the mayor's actions are both from California. No surprise there.

I was told a story today by a major who served a tour of heavy combat in Iraq. In one engagment his armored patrol entered a town, right into a well planned trap. The insurgents opened up on them from the front, sides, windows, doors and rooftops, with automatic weapons fire and RPGs. They immediately blocked the street the patrol entered, thus preventing a withdrawal and reinforcements. So much antiaircraft was set up that resupply was impossible.

As the battle raged the major noticed that one of the two 50-caliber machine guns mounted on vehicles behind him was not firing, so he yelled to a sergeant to go back and check out the gunner, find out if he was dead or wounded and needed a medic, then man the gun himself. What the sergeant found stunned him. The gunner had climbed down off his gun emplacement because he spotted a naked girl of about seven years old standing up against the building next to him, shaking with fright. The gunner took off his protective armor, then his T-shirt, which he put on the little girl like a dress. Then he took his belt and put it around her to pull it in at the waist. Finally he put her in a place of safety and only then put his armor back on and once more manned his machine gun.

That is the type of people we have serving in our military, the best America has to offer...and the mayor of Toledo has shown us that those brave people of character are too good to serve in Toledo. If the people of Toledo want that guy for a mayor, they deserve him. Not a nickel of my money will ever be spent again in Fifth Third Stadium, any bar or restaurant, and if possible, any Ohio gas station. The despicable action by that mayor should not be left to fade away.

— Gary Lillie, Ann Arbor, MI

Mr. Lillie is right. That is the type of people we have serving in our military. Even though many of the commenters suggested that the Marines (or any branch of the military or National Guard) should tell Toledo to take a hike if they were ever in need of protection (eg, after a terrorist attack), the quality of the character of our military is greater than that kind of pettiness. The Marines would still defend Toledo (and Berkeley) if the need ever arose.

I pity small-minded people like Mayor Finkbeiner.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Trip Is Officially Over

Yes, we have completed our travels together.

We arrived at my mom's house late this afternoon, and Scooter was waiting for us. My sister, who had been taking care of him, dropped him off so he'd be here when we got home. A fatter Scooter than when we left (I suspect my brother-in-law, who can't resist giving Scooter treats from the table) greeted us with great enthusiasm and then proceded to shake his sock. He's a chubby, happy boy, and we're glad to be reunited with him.

This is our final map with all the states we visited on our trip. We put the state on the map if we even so much as set foot there (the way we did with Rhode Island). This doesn't mean we did genuine sightseeing in every one of these states, just that we were there.

In the West, we only missed Colorado, which I believe I've seen but can't for the life of me remember when that might have been.

In the Northeast, we missed Delaware and Washington DC (which doesn't have a sticker for the map). We missed Kentucky and the Great Plains states altogether, plus the northern Midwest, doncha know. Oh, we didn't drive to Alaska or Hawaii either.

We've been asked on occasion what our favorite places were that we've seen on our trip, and for both of us the most fascinating was Mt. St. Helens for the Ranger talk on the regrowth since the eruption.

Niagara Falls was the most exhilarating. Lubec, Maine, had Monica's Chocolates. And always for me, Glacier National Park and Yellowstone (Part I and Part II).

Last night at the RV Park we stayed at in Kilgore, Texas (home of the Kilgore Rangerettes), I overheard a conversation between our next-door neighbor and the manager of the RV Park. They were talking about full-time RVing. The manager and his wife are full-timers, and they find a job managing a park in the South during the winter and in the West during the summer. This summer they've got a job lined up in Wyoming.

I don't think I have the disposition for full-timing. It seems like a rudderless existence, best suited for people who don't have roots anywhere and whose marriage is all the relationship they need. RV people are friendly, really an enjoyable group, but they come and go--or you come and go--so it seems as though the ties would always remain weak.

And yet thousands of people do it and love it. They visit their kids who are strewn around the country, and they stay put in one place for weeks or months at a time. And they wouldn't go back to a stick house for anything.

Maybe it's because I'm on my own, but it sounds like it would be a lonely way for me to live. Traveling around the country with my mom was wonderful, but I'd be miserable alone. So I'll be going back to my stick house, which I hope will sell someday.

All that remains now for my mom and me is unloading and cleaning the motorhome, and then packing my car for the trip home. My sister gets my mom's company back with her again, and I get to drive: I-20 to I-10 to I-8 to I-805 to I-5 to Hwy 76 and then to my house. I hope not to be driving nearly as much for quite some time.

The Trip - Signs Along the Way

With all the driving we've done around the country, we've seen some pretty strange signs, as well as some noticeable names of streets and bodies of water. I've blogged about some of the signs, like the one that says, "Unloading livestock in rest area prohibited," and the "Beware of alligators" sign in Champaign, Illinois.

But there's more, most of it in plain-talking Texas.

In Midland Big Spring, Texas, you'll find Refinery Road right in front of... you guessed it... a gigantic refinery. And Wild Horse Road (Texas) explains itself pretty well too, though it's probably a historic rather than a current reason for the name.

Other self-explanatory names that had a ring to them were:

Hellroaring Street (West Yellowstone, Montana)
Muddy Boggy River (Oklahoma)
Burnt Mill Road (Maine)

And my favorite: Stink Creek Road (Texas). How would you like that for your address?

Then there are the perplexing names, or the ones that must have a story.

Horsethief Creek (Montana): Did the horsethief steal horses from there? Or was he caught there? Or did they hang him there?
Two Rod Road (Maine): Two guys named Rod? Two really big rods of metal?
Tank Farm Road (Texas): I picture a farmer planting seeds, watering his fields, and then selling the Sherman tanks at harvest time to the Army.

And finally, Noodle Dome Road (Texas): Huh?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Trip - Remnants of Katrina

As we've driven through the southern parts of Mississippi and Louisiana, we've seen the traces of Hurricane Katrina that still linger. In Biloxi, Mississippi, we looked up an RV Park in our directory and called to make reservations, but they had a recording that said they were wiped out by Katrina and were no longer in business.

All of Louisiana's rest areas along the I-10, from the Mississippi border to Lafayette, are closed. The former Rest Area/Tourist Information center is being rebuilt, but the others are blocked off by cones or barriers, and there's no sign of any buildings, just parking lots.

On the long bridge across Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin, many of the larger trees had branches snapped off, but the smaller trees and branches were intact. It seemed as though Katrina was stronger than the stiff branches that tried to resist, while the branches that could bend with the winds did just that.

And growing beneath the winter-bare trees were small palms. Trees that don't belong.

We knew they weren't supposed to be there, that their seeds had been blown there by Katrina's winds, because all the palms were the same size. There were no mature palm trees to have dropped their seeds. And so, Nature takes her course, reshaping environments, changing habitats, without so much as asking permission from Congress or the eco-extremists.

The man-made changes were more evident in Louisiana than Mississippi. Or maybe we just didn't have as much time to notice the changes around the Biloxi area, since that stretch of Mississippi is under 100 miles wide. But in Louisiana, we saw brand-new and under-construction homes in the middle of old, rural neighborhoods, new homes where the yards were still torn raw from the construction. We guessed that these were the ones that had been beyond repair, and that the neighboring homes had been fixed and reinhabited.

It seemed late--over two years have gone since Katrina brought her destruction--for Louisiana to be still in the midst of rebuilding. I don't remember noticing that much newness in Mississippi. But I suppose that difference could be attributed to the differing attitudes of each state's government in Katrina's aftermath. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour didn't wait for (or waste time blaming) FEMA before he got busy, but Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin seemed to rely on the federal government to fix everything.

Maybe I'm just reading too much into what I've seen along the road, with so much time on my hands and not a lot right now to think about, but the mark Hurricane Katrina left in her wake still speaks volumes.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Trip - Swamp Land

A trip to the Deep South doesn't seem right without pictures of cypress trees in swamp land. We've seen views like that just off the side of the road when we were driving the interstate at 60 mph. There's no way to stop there for pictures.

But tonight we stopped in Carencro, Louisiana, outside of Lafayette, at the Bayou Wilderness RV Resort. And they have a couple small lakes with cypress trees in them, just waiting for a photographer. So I obliged.

Now our trip to the South is complete.

The Trip - Cruise Wrap-Up

Just in case you missed them, I'm including links here to all my cruise-related posts, some of which have already dropped of the main page and into the archives. It's good to be finally caught up.

The thing I noticed is that I've posted more pictures of myself in the course of about a week than I did in the rest of my three years of blogging. This has got to stop. What happens on the cruise stays on the cruise... OK.

When my friend got into Sarasota before the cruise, she told me about a bet she and another friend (who cruises a LOT) had. My friend expected that after this cruise (my first), I would be madly in love with cruising. Our other friend said I would be able to take or leave it. A few times on the cruise, my friend asked me which of them was winning the bet.

I loved the cruise! But I have no burning desire to go on more. My friend lost the bet. I'm ready to stop traveling, catch my breath, and get on with life.

Here are the posts about the cruise:

Getting to the ship
Day 1 - Sea Day
Day 2 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Day 3 - St. Thomas and St. John, US Virgin Islands
Day 4 - Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Days 5 & 6 - Sea Days
Departure and Siesta Key

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hugh Hewitt on McCain

Crap! I hate it when Hugh Hewitt is right about voting for McCain if he gets the nomination.

There are seven reasons for anyone to support the eventual nominee no matter who it is: The war and six Supreme Court justices over the age of 68.

If Democrats control the White House and gain even one of the five seats held by the center-right majority of current justices, this and many other crucial issues are up for legal grabs. When activist judges are more than willing to rewrite rules of long-standing, periods of exile should never be self-imposed "for the good of the party." Exiles can go on a very long time indeed. Ask the Whigs.

They can go on indefinitely when enforced by courts.

The GOP as well is the party committed to victory in Iraq and the wider war. A four year time-out would be a disaster, a period of time in which al Qaeda and its jihadist off-shoots would regroup in some places and continue to spread in others. Iran, even if punished in the months before November, would certainly continue and accelerate its plans under the soft pleadings of a President Obama or Clinton 2.0.

These aren't the years to wish a pox on your primary opponents' heads beyond June.

I don't expect the principals to let up on each other in the two months ahead, and I am especially looking forward to the Ohio and Texas votes.

But it is very possible to play full contact politics without the threat of going home if your team loses. The stakes in the fall are far too high for that.

OK. OK. If the Republican voters in this country indeed do what it looks like they're going to do--nominate McCain--then I'm going to have to hold my nose and vote for him in November. And if he wins, I'll need a steady supply of anti-nausea medication every time he speaks to the American public.

But in the meantime, if you're a praying person, pray like crazy that McCain crashes and burns his campaign the way Howard Dean did. And that he does it soon.

Tagged Again

Jan at The View from Her got me back after I tagged her. This time it's Six Non-important Things/Habits/Quirks. The rules:
  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
  • Tag six people and at the end of your post, link to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I've already shared more useless information about myself on my blog over the past few years than I can shake a stick at. But here goes:

  1. I put on my left sock (and shoe) before the right.
  2. I have hazel eyes that were brown most of the time when I was a kid, but they're always green now.
  3. I did some basket-making about 5 or 6 years ago. One incomplete basket, and one completed: an 18-inch diameter potato basket that I gave to a gardening friend for his birthday.
  4. My arms are still long enough for me to read a book without my reading glasses. Barely.
  5. I had the chickenpox on my 5th birthday.
  6. I have never, in my entire life, been able to do a cartwheel.

Now for tagging.... No, that wouldn't be fair so close after the book tagging. Play if you want to.

The Trip - Still Catching Up

I'm still working on my cruise posts. Keep checking below for new ones, until all the days are filled in.

Right now, we're in Florida trying to get back to Texas in time for my mom's next doctor appointment. This morning's first order of business is to get to the tire shop a couple miles down the road by 8:00. My mom noticed yesterday that the tow dolly's tires are wearing down on the outside again. So it's time to get the tires flipped around so the brand new inside tread is on the outside, and the almost-flattened outside tread is on the inside. We double our pathetic tire wear that way.

When the tires are fixed, we'll head west and try to get out of Florida today.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Battlefield Band Coming to Town!

My son called me last night around midnight, Eastern time, to give me the news. A flyer he picked up yesterday said Battlefield Band will be performing at the San Marcos library in March. We're both excited.

In 1983, when my then-husband and I were on our big bicycle trip to Europe, we got to the Isle of Skye in Scotland (that's where I got half of my SkyePuppy name from) just in time for their Scottish Folk Music Festival. Battlefield Band was playing the night we were there, and we went, and I fell in love with their music. I even bought their audio cassette. The song, "Lord Haddo's Favourite" was my favorite too. It's the saddest, sweetest song, played with the higher Irish pipes. But the CD also had lots of rolicking, stirring songs with Scottish pipes and fiddles, sung with happy accents and quaint lyrics.

When my kids were little, I played Battlefield Band enough that they liked the band too. I eventually had to replace the cassette with a CD and then heard from soemone that the band had broken up. I was crushed, but grew resigned to the idea.

And now, they're reconstituted with new faces, but hopefully the same joyous music. I'm telling my friends, so as many as we can get will join me and my kids at the Battlefield Band concert March 6th (according to BB's schedule on their website) at the San Marcos branch of the San Diego County Library. Come if you can!

Remote-Controlled Vasectomies

When I drove through West Texas, I think around El Paso, I saw billboards (plural) advertising vasectomy reversal surgery.

In Florida, there are billboards (also plural) advertising vasectomies. Microsurgery. No surgical instruments of torture...

What I get from all of that is that Texans want to have children, and Floridians don't. This last point is driven home by all the billboards in Florida advertising the latest housing developments. They all show older, retired couples who are smiling in their childless state.

But the Daily Mail (UK) reported today that soon both Texans and Floridians can have it their way--even if they move from Texas to Florida and then decide they want to go back to Texas again.

Vasectomies could be a thing of the past thanks to a remotecontrolled implant that can stop the flow of sperm.

The valve-like device can be opened and shut at the press of a button, using the same technology that locks a car using a key fob.

Men who change their minds about having children would then simply point the remote handset at their testicles and press a button to open up the valve.

The more indelicate details are in the article.

I hope there's a button on the fob that men can press to tell them if the thing is open or closed. I mean, what if they thought they hit the Off button, but they didn't push it hard enough? Wouldn't their wife's plans for medical school get derailed if they accidentally left the gate open? Trust but verify, right?

What will they think of next...?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Book Meme

I see that I've been tagged by Charlie at Another Think with a book meme, the kind of thing I can't resist. So, when I should be looking through cruise photos, instead I've grabbed a book and looked inside.

First, the rules:
  • Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  • Open the book to page 123.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the next three sentences.
  • Tag five people.
Now, for my book. The nearest book is A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God, but it only has 119 pages. Right under that is Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I started with great joy back in November and continue with great joy at most mealtimes. I try not to read when I'm driving...

On page 123 is one of my favorite 3-line passages from the book. Unfortunately, they are complete sentences 3, 4, and 5. So, in order to not cheat, I'll give them here first, and then I'll fulfill the requirements of the meme with sentences 6, 7, and 8. Both sets of sentences are from the chapter, "Einstein's Universe."

When the poet Paul Valéry once asked Einstein if he kept a notebook to record his ideas, Einstein looked at him with mild but genuine surprise. "Oh, that's not necessary," he replied. "It's so seldom I have one."

I love it! But those aren't the right sentences. Here are the ones that follow:

I need hardly point out that when he did get one it tended to be good. Einstein's next idea was one of the greatest that anyone has ever had--indeed, the very greatest, according to Boorse, Motz, and Weaver in their thoughtful history of atomic science. "As the creation of a single mind," they write, "it is undoubtedly the highest intellectual achievement of humanity," which is of course as good as a compliment can get.

You'll have to read the book to find out which idea that was, as well as which idea preceded it.

Now for tagging, though I must thank Charlie for not tagging my top choices before I got the chance.

Jan at The View from Her
Malott at Malott's Blog
Bryan Alexander at Right Thinking
Bekah at Bekah's Bits
Janice at You Heard it Here...