Thursday, July 30, 2009

US Consulate in Jerusalem

Holy crap!

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line linked today to the home page of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.

It is almost entirely about the Palestinians. The only exception is the upper right corner, called, "Spotlight USA," which has a story about the Anatomy of a Jury Trial and a 40th anniversary commemoration of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Every single news item, every single notification of available grants, every single aid and educational program is geared toward the Palestinians.

There. Is. No. Mention. Of. Israel. Or. Jews.

What does this tell you about Obama's Middle East policy?

It tells me that if Israel is depending on America for anything at all during the Obama administration, they're screwed!

(Pardon the language.)

Draft Beer Diplomacy

Tonight is the night of the Beer Summit at the White House. The AP today describes it this way:

Offering cold beer and careful words, President Barack Obama is trying to bury a political distraction and show the nation how conversation can help ease racial conflict. Just don't expect to hear much Thursday evening: The moment billed as teachable won't be that reachable for the masses.

Obama is going to a have a beer — that all-American bonding gesture — with the two men he joined last week at the center of an uproar over race in America: Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard professor who is black, and James Crowley, a Cambridge, Mass. police sergeant who is white.

It was Obama himself who said the episode could be a "teachable moment" on improving relations between police and minority communities.

For now, his stated agenda is simply to allow for a good, productive conversation among the three men. The hope, in turn, is that people in communities across the nation will see the meeting as a model for how to solve differences — more listening, less shooting from the lip.

The hoped-for outcome of this beer fest is what bothers me. Helping communities see this "as a model for how to solve differences" implies that there are "differences" in the Gates Affair that need solving. As Larry Elder said today when he was a guest on Dennis Prager's radio show, Obama is treating Prof. Gates and Sgt. Crowley as though they were both in the wrong and needed to come to a mutually agreed-upon solution.

But that's not the case at all. Prof. Gates was in the wrong. And Sgt. Crowley was insulted by both Gates and President Obama, both of whom owe Sgt. Crowley an apology. A real one. Not some dribble that puts the fault back on the victim like, "I'm sorry you had to go and get your feelings hurt when I said what I meant." So the first order of business in tonight's meeting--either before or immediately after pouring the beers--needs to be heartfelt apologies to Crowley from both Obama and Gates. Without that start to the meeting, there's no point in continuing. It's just a waste of time disguised as a teachable moment in an attempt to accomplish the very dubious purpose of burying the political liability caused by Obama's having "stupidly" run at the mouth.

Frankly, I don't believe there will be any apologies, except maybe for one coerced from Crowley for the insult to Gates and Obama by his having been born white.

All that said, I probably wouldn't have posted about the Suds Summit at all, if it weren't for the broader application: This is Obama's modus operandi, and he applies it to all situations from the two-man conflict to the world stage. It will prove ineffective with Gates-gate, and it will prove deadly when used as foreign policy.

Obama, when making his first remarks about Gates' arrest, followed these general steps:

1. Subscribe to popularized group stereotypes (cops = bad, blacks = poor, abused victims)

2. State these stereotypes as facts, without doing any genuine fact-checking ("[T]here is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that's just a fact." But facts show, as in this mapping of crime statistics by race, that crimes are disproportionately committed by minorities, so minorities will and should be stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. A crime report's description of a suspect as a six-foot tall black man should prompt police officers to stop black (not white) men).

3. Declare, either explicitly or implicitly, that both sides are at fault (despite the evidence) and call for what will be pointless conversation, because the real issues won't be addressed. Beer is just a bonus.

4. With Obama, of course, as the Great Mediator, able to make all things new.

This appears to be the formula President Obama is following in the Middle East as well. He has swallowed the much-publicized slur of Israel as the oppressor/occupier that must be stopped from victimizing the unfortunate Palestinians or bombing peace-loving Iran--completely ignoring the disagreeable fact that Iran, the PA, and Hamas have all called for the total destruction of Israel.

Then he insults Israel, telling them what internal decisions of theirs he will or will not approve. And his great desire is to sit down and talk with all the parties and help them resolve their differences, when he has no clue what those differences really are because he's bought into the stereotypes. And those sit-down meetings will accomplish nothing but giving Israel's enemies more propaganda to paint themselves as good-hearted souls who just couldn't convince wicked Israel to play nice, all the while buying more time to prepare for wiping Israel off the map.

But don't worry. Obama will be sure to bring the beer...

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Was He Thinking?

I was leaving Wal-Mart (which I've heard will become the first Super Wal-Mart in San Diego County this Wednesday) yesterday, walking out to my car, and there was a man headed toward the entrance. What caught my eye was his hair. Sorry (very sorry), but I don't have a picture, because that would have been rude.

He had male-pattern baldness, the kind that makes a man's hair recede until his forehead stretches all the way across the top of his head and starts down the back, leaving a fringe of hair around the back and sides like an ancient Olympian's laurel wreath.

OK, but that's not the whole picture.

The sides were pretty thick with nicely groomed, silvered-brown hair, and he had a pony tail in back that fell to the lower edge of his shoulder blades. Like maybe he was compensating...

OK, but that's not the whole picture.

He had a comb-over. A serious one, about four inches wide, across the top of his head that left a large semi-circle of baldness showing behind it. And the comb-over was plastered down with what must have been some industrial-strength axle grease or maybe some hard-core lacquer that would require a hammer and chisel to make it budge, because it was darker than the rest of his hair the way wetness or greasiness will make it.

Fortunately I was a distance away when I spotted him, because I stared. And thought about my camera.

He can't possibly believe he looks good that way, can he?

It just seems as though there must come a time in life when a person (and I'm including myself in this lesson too) has to face the fact that his or her looks are not quite the ideal. The struggle to hang onto that bare thread of former glory isn't worth the grotesque mockery a person can make of himself in the process.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


They're big in the fiction world these days. The Twilight series (Oops! That's vampires, not zombies). The Zombie Survival Guide. World War Z. And now, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

My interest in zombies began several years ago, when my son and some of his online friends developed a Wikipedia alternative, called AwesomeWiki, that details the history and facts of an alternate world. This is a world in which Switzerland has conquered and assimilated most of Europe, we live in the Federated American Union, the English language still uses "æ" instead of "e", and they've developed the process of zombification - particularly for bringing back dead præsidents to rule the country.

During this past Christmastime, I spotted the Zombie Survival Guide and, thinking of my son, flipped through it. The book had such useful information as which weapons are effective at killing zombies, with the caveat that if you decapitate a zombie, you should be careful because they can still bite. Since I didn't know if my son still had a thing about zombies, I decided not to buy the book for him.

I noticed World War Z, by the same author as the Zombie Survival Guide, about a month ago and talked to a guy who was going to buy it. He'd already read the Survival Guide and had a buddy who loved WWZ. Good to know that it's recommended.

Then last week, as I was at B&N perusing the display table with the sign that said, "School Required Reading," I notice that World War Z was one of the selections. I asked an employee what school required its students to read that book, and she said that it was on a list of books the students could choose from. She said it was too many words to make a sign that said, "School Required Reading and Books on the Recommended Reading List." That made sense, and it's good to know that schools are letting kids read fun books.

A few days ago, when I was hanging out at Barnes and Noble with my daughter, we saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on a rack as a "Recommended by our Staff" book. My daughter, who read Pride and Prejudice (without zombies) during her senior year of high school, decided to buy it, and she read the first page to me over the phone last night.

It takes Jane Austen's story and weaves in the zombies, using the language of Regency-period England. The recent spate of zombie attacks are properly referred to as a scourge or other euphemistic language that suits the time. Just the first page sounded delightful, and I get to borrow it after her roommate friend finishes it after my daughter finishes it.

But in an act of kindness (mercy?), last night my daughter Facebooked me a link to an article entitled, "A Harvard Psychiatrist Explains Zombie Neurobiology." Here is how Dr. Steven C. Scholzman describes the function of the frontal lobe and its effect (or lack thereof) on zombies:

This part of the brain is involved with "executive functioning" - enabling us to think carefully and solve problems in an abstract way. Clearly, there's not much going on there if you have the misfortune of being afflicted with living deadness. But we do know that zombies can see us and sense us. Schlozman concludes that zombies possess just enough frontal lobe activity to "listen" to the thalamus, through which sensory input is processed.

But the frontal lobe function most relevant to understanding zombie behavior is the control of "impulsivity"-the general term for when you do something and, if you had two more seconds, you might not have done it. For instance, if in a fit of rage you have the sudden urge to punch your boss in the face, the frontal lobe intervenes and allows you to consider why that might be a bad idea.

He goes into more of the parts of the brain, including explaining why "the infected" creatures in 28 Days Later are actually NOT zombies, all of it extremely useful information, much like the Zombie Survival Guide.

Because you never know when you'll need it...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bay of Pigs

Here's a little something to brighten your day.

Photo credit: Eric Cheng / Barcroft Media

The Telegraph (UK) has an adorable photo essay on the feral pigs who live at the beaches of Big Major Spot Island in the Bahamas. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Ordeal is Over for Now

I posted on this topic about a year ago. Everything was fine for a while, and then some time ago I noticed a silhouette at the corner of the house when I'd pull into the driveway at night. It was small and light brown but shaped like a black widow. But since it wasn't black or big enough, I left it alone.

Several months later, that small, brown spider had grown and turned black. It really was a black widow, after all. I went in the house, got one of my sneakers with a smooth-ish sole, and whacked the shoe against the spider and the house so hard, the sound probably woke the dead.

Life was much better after that (once my heart palpitations settled down).

But then I started noticing a familiar shape hanging under the electric meter at night when I'd come home. Unfortunately, this black widow couldn't be obliterated against any hard surface. I sprayed the heck out of it with Raid, but it just crawled up into the nether regions of the meter.

I didn't see it for a while, and then it must have recovered, because it came back again. Understand, my can of Raid only promises to kill ants and roaches (which I don't have), but not spiders.

I mentioned it to some friends, and one of them brought me a can of Ortho Ant, Roach, and Spider Killer, complete with a picture of a black widow on the front.

So, Saturday night I grabbed the flashlight and the deadly toxin and went out to the electric meter. I sprayed at the spider, but a lot of the spray stayed on the web. The spider ran up under the meter again, so I sprayed under there (getting more on another part of the web), then went back into the house, the adrenalin still running through me.

Sunday night I had my daughter over to share my diet plan's dessert with me (Peanut Butter-Banana Dream, makes 2 servings), and when she was leaving, she saw the black widow hanging on its web but to the side and back of the meter. I must have only winged it on Saturday.

I grabbed the can and doused it good this time, until I saw it fall and DIE!!!


Monday morning (Garbage Day), I took a dustpan out to get the carcass in the trash, because I didn't want it lingering a moment longer than necessary in my driveway. It was still dead, and I got rid of it without having it touch me or my clothes, then I took the garbage can out to the curb. I also grabbed (with a paper towel - this can has more spiderwebs) the garbage can I keep my recyclable paper in, and when I pulled it away from the house, there was another black widow hanging on the wall of the house with three of what must be egg sacs. Eeeeeewwwww!!!

Again, I grabbed the can and sprayed until the spider fell and died. Then I sprayed the egg sacs and smashed one of them. Then I got the jet-spray nozzle on the hose and hosed down the garbage can and the side of the house, and I washed all the debris back toward the part of the yard where I never go. I was almost late for work because of that stinkin' spider.

Last night, when I came home from work, there was the same black shape under the electric meter again. But when I looked more closely, I could see that it was dead and hanging from a web. So I really had killed it the first time, and that spider on the side was another one.

Today I had to go into the shed to get another one of those stupid twisty light bulbs (I got them before the powers-that-be announced that they're deadly), and I was afraid to open the doors for fear of what evil black menaces I'd find lurking in the dark. That can of Killer was at the ready by my side. But other than a few non-black-widow-looking webs (BW webs are "disorganized" in a particular way (there are one or two benefits to having been married to a guy who liked spiders)), the path between the doors and the bag that held the bulbs was clear.

By then, the dead, dangly one had fallen on the cement, so I scooped it up into some recycling papers and dumped it into the garbage can, where it made a thump when it landed. It'll be gone Monday afternoon.

I think I'm ready to return the spray can to its rightful owner now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Left's Fascination with Islamists

Janice at You Heard it Here has a great post today on how CAIR is claiming victory for pressuring the American Library Association to cancel a panel discussion. The reason for CAIR's distress over the panel, "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping"? Robert Spencer was one of the four panelists.

Spencer, on his site Jihad Watch yesterday, explained more fully the events surrounding the panel and its cancellation. Here's how he opens:

The American Library Association invited me to speak on a panel tomorrow, which led the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case, along with some complicit, bemused, and Leftist academics, to kick up a controversy -- previous posts about this here and here.

However, now the other three panelists, caving to pressure from this terror-linked group, have withdrawn from the panel, and the ALA has canceled the panel. The panel was stacked three against one against my point of view, but even three-to-one wasn't safe enough for CAIR or these evidently very insecure academics.

Keep in mind, the American Library Association (ALA) is not what its name might imply. It's a hard-left group that, among other things, fights tooth-and-nail against protecting children in libraries. The ALA refuses to block access to child-porn websites on library computers, siding with the obscenity-viewing "rights" of predators over the safety of children visiting the library. The ALA has also been ignoring the librarians in Cuba who have been jailed for actively supporting Cubans' right to choose what to read.

Ever since 9/11, I've been trying to figure out why the Left (including Academia), which has so much disagreement with Islam, would side with groups like CAIR and against American culture. In the comments to Spencer's explanation of events, Gozan303 describes it this way:

Academia today is like an adolescent schoolgirl with a huge crush on what she perceives as the fascinating badboy in the class. If a stinky old teacher or parent comes around and tries to point out the obvious problems with the guy, like he has a police record a mile long, or he doesn't have a steady income or education, that just gets the girls prepubescent interest piqued further, since everything cool is what the stinky old establishment rails against. Right?

The .edu crowd has a huge crush on Islam, because it ruffles the feathers of that old dinosaur, Judeo-Christian western culture. Robert, bringing the irrefutable truth, is unwelcome in the same sense as the stinky old parent, because he would interrupt their swooning adoration session directed at the school badboy. Your [Robert Spencer's] credibility and reputation are strengthened by each such inanity as this. Who knows, maybe good old logic and non-contradiction will be the new fashionable outlaw one day. I've always thought truth should ride a Harley.

Gozan303 is absolutely right. And just like the schoolgirl, who doesn't realize that if the badboy ever took an interest in her he'd hurt her, the Left doesn't want to know that they're just as big (maybe more so) a target of the Islamists. So they'll keep fawning after their badboy every time he goes after that stinky old Robert Spencer, but sooner or later they're going to wake up to the fact that badboy is just plain bad, even to them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where I've Been

The short answer is: studying.

In my online Medical Coding class, we had three weeks since our previous meeting to do the last six chapters. Our final meeting/final test was scheduled for yesterday.

I was pacing myself for two a week, but the second week I slipped because I worked a lot at the shoe store (good for the bank account, bad for studying). By a week ago Friday, I still had three chapters to go.

That seemed fine. I finished the next one on Monday and then discovered that the following chapter was not the usual 25 - 40 pages long. It was 100 pages, with 40 exercises (not the usual 10-ish) to complete throughout the chapter! I almost cried.

So I started the Killer Chapter 15 (diagnostic coding in the ICD-9-CM manual) late on Monday night, got through about 10 pages, when I started falling asleep. I had Tuesday off, so I spent the whole day studying, studied before and after work on Wednesday, studied all day Thursday (another day off). Thursday night I finally finished going through the chapter, then did my post-chapter exercises, did a few of the 208 questions in the workbook, and considering the late hour (about 3 am by then), decided it was time to tackle the online quiz. I finished that at 4:03 am, went to bed for about 4 hours, then got up again to try to do the final chapter Friday.

My test results came back in the morning: 79. Not passing (80 is the cutoff). My heart sank, until I noticed the teacher's note saying that I got the multiple answers correct (they were marked wrong, because I had them in a different order than the answer code), and I had passed. So I worked on Chapter 16 Friday and finished it just before it was time to leave for work after dinner.

In class yesterday, our final test was easy, with answers straight out of the CPT (procedures, not diagnoses). Since I'd finished all the work assignments (she didn't care that I hadn't done all the workbook exercises--those are for our own benefit), I passed the class, and I should be able to find a beginner coding job. If only I could find an opening somewhere.

Meanwhile, a week ago my friend the cardiac nurse called to tell me that a friend of hers from her widows growth group at another church (I've met this friend) had to fire the medical receptionist at her nursing care facility for saying horrible things out loud about some of the patients on multiple occasions. The friend was interested in hiring me. The job would only pay $11 an hour and would be four 10-hour workdays a week, Sunday - Wednesday. The friend would call me about it.

Only, she didn't call.

Yesterday, my friend told me that the other lady had been in class all last week, and she'll be back at work this coming week (except for Wednesday, when she'll be at Disneyland). Just as well, since I needed every waking moment last week for homework.

So tomorrow I'll give her a call, and we'll see what happens. It'll be a foot in the door to the medical world, and there are a LOT of jobs that want the crucial 1 year of medical experience.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Woman of My Word

Sometimes it's the little things that reveal important things.

I've gotten to know my postal carrier. She's a she and not a he, like I thought a couple years ago when I got in trouble for not getting my mail very often. I finally got the courage about a month ago to ask her if she was the one who wrote "BOX FULL REPEATERS" on the salmon-colored paper that was in my mailbox, and she said, "No, that must have been my T-6." Whatever a T-6 is--probably her weekend replacement.

I explained to her that, since I pay my bills online now (ever since I started getting ready for the trip with my mom), I don't have much to get excited about in the mail, so I don't have the incentive to pick it up every day.

Well, after my doggie-sitting adventure, I don't think I've emptied my mailbox at all. Today, as I was studying my medical coding textbook by the window that looks out the front of the house, I spotted the mail truck drive by and park next door, so she could deliver a package for them. So I went outside and asked her if she had taken all my mail back to the post office, or if she was still shoving it in there.

She said it was still there, so I told her I'd empty it today, and she thanked me.

This evening I took a break from studying to put gas in the car, get groceries, and pick up a salad at Jack in the Box for dinner. On my way back home, I thought about stopping at the mailbox, but my front seat was filled with grocery bags, so I just came home, telling myself I'd get the mail in the morning before I left for work (she delivers the mail in the afternoon).

But sometime after 11:30 pm, it occurred to me that if I waited until morning, I would have lied to the postal carrier. Not that she would even know, of course. But I would know.

It's a bad habit to fall into, letting yourself do "good enough," or get "close enough" to what you've said you'd do. And I haven't really done the introspection yet to see if that's become a habit for me. All I knew was that, even if it was just this once, if I didn't do what I said I would do, I would make myself a liar. Just between you and me and God, that's not what I want to be.

I left the house and got the mail and kept my word.

It feels good.

"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
-- Matthew 5:37

Friday, July 03, 2009

Unemployment Chart

A manager in the department I worked in when I was in my early twenties had a sign on the outside of his cubicle: "There's Theory, Then There's Reality."

That's the perfect sign for the times we're in, as we're led by theory-relying Democrats determined to pursue policies that have no foundation in reality.

Geoff at Innocent Bystanders (HT: Power Line) has this chart showing Obama's theory vs. reality as it applies to unemployment and the stimulus program (click to enlarge):

The stimulus may be providing temporary improvements for people in the construction-related industry, but the net job loss is way beyond what was expected if we did nothing. Granted, what was expected by doing nothing was theory too, but economists were pretty good at predicting an untampered-with economy.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

GOP on the Hunt for the New Jobs

House Minority Leader John Boehner's office put this together:

I hope they let me know when they find those jobs. I could use one!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July Calendar Photos

It's July already. Where did the time go?

The family calendar photo is from Gettysburg. Without the squirrel, the picture would be nice but boring. Gotta love those squirrels.

My patterns calendar photo for July is my favorite. I was at a photography workshop in Washington DC, and we had just finished up an outing to Foggy Bottom and were going to the Metro station. Some workers had one of the escalators dismantled for maintenance, and they had placed the wheels to the side in nice rows, surrounded by bright orange strappy fencing. As I walked by, I spotted the wheels, stopped for just a second to snap a picture, asked a worker what they were, and then joined our group down a working escalator and back to the hotel.

When it was time to review our pictures, I was the only person who had a shot of the wheels. Not even the instructors had noticed them. And the art-photography instructor especially loved the photo.