Monday, July 31, 2006

Eel Tossing Contest Canceled

Inconceivable! It's the shrieking eels!

No, wait. That was the Princess Bride. This is different.

The AP reported Sunday that a long-held contest was canceled this year.

For more than 30 years, crowds have flocked to the small English fishing village of Lyme Regis to watch an annual tradition — two teams of fishermen standing on wooden platforms as human bowling pins, hurling a dead giant eel at each other. But the ritual was abruptly abandoned after an animal rights activist threatened to draw negative publicity to the latest tournament, organizers said Saturday.

The practice, known as conger cuddling, is the annual highlight in the small coastal town about 155 miles southwest of London. The object of the game is to knock the opposing team off the platform by swinging a 25-pound eel at them.

This has been held since 1974 without incident. But notice the number of animal rights activists who complained this time. One. Anonymously.

Andrew Kaye, a resident and spokesman for the Lyme Regis lifeboat crews who raise money through the tournament, said an anonymous e-mailer had called the practice disrespectful to the dead eel.

The lone activist threatened to film the contest to attract adverse media attention, Kaye said.

It's a shame when people cave in to pressure from fringe groups. I would think that if this activist had filmed the conger cuddle, the video would have made it to the internet, where it might have built up a cult following. I know I would have loved to watch something this strange. But alas, no such luck.

"We decided that it really wasn't worth upsetting anybody by going ahead with using a dead conger," Kaye said. "But it's a dead conger, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't think the conger could care one way or another."

Mel Gibson and Abe Foxman

Mel Gibson got drunk, drove recklessly, was caught by police, and screamed anti-Semitic epithets at the police. Later, upon sober reflection, he issued a statement of apology confessing his ongoing battle with alcoholism and expressing his shame for his disgraceful behavior.

When idiots get themselves in a drunken stupid, the results are disgusting, as Mel Gibson proved.

When other idiots get themselves in a sober stupid, the results are just as disgusting.

In reaction to the Mel Gibson anti-Semitic bender, Abe Foxman didn't confine himself to merely denouncing what Gibson said (article here):

Calling for a criminal investigation into the Oscar-winning actor and director's remarks, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the US Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said: "We believe there should be consequences to bigots and bigotry."

There are consequences. His future in Hollywood (already slim) is quickly drying up even further because of this incident. But that isn't enough for some.

The ADL and possibly other Jewish groups called for Gibson to be investigated for hate crimes.

Since when were racist remarks criminal? If they were, half the country would be locked up and half of the rest would be under investigation to see if their remarks fell into a safe "gray area" or fell over the line into racist. The last I heard, remarks are only criminal when they specifically call for violence against the object of hatred, as in, "Let's all grab our pitchforks and go kill all those hated people."

Mel Gibson said, "F*****g Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

There's no incitement to violence. He was talking to the arresting police officers.

Abe Foxman has gone too far in his call for a hate crime investigation. Hollywood will deal with Gibson from the inside, and offended fans will deal with him at the box office. There's no need for more.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Photography as Abuse

Michelle Malkin and others are in an uproar over a left-leaning photographer, Jill Greenberg, who made toddlers cry and took their picture. Greenberg then used the photos in an exhibit that pretends the children were upset about what the world is coming to with Bush in the White House.

I have to say I'm stunned at the level of emotion in people's reactions to the photographs (see them here) and the photographer. It can break your heart to see little kids crying, but Malkin, Thomas Hawk, and commenters on his post used words that included these: abuse, horrible, emotional blackmail, traumatizing, bordering on pornography, cruelty. And that's just for starters. Here's one comment:

[T]he very idea of this woman tormenting young children in the name of "art" makes me sick to my stomach.

And how did Greenberg abuse these children? She gave them lollipops and then took them away after a few minutes. That's when she started taking pictures.

Some of the people who are appalled by Greenberg's methods seem to be having nothing more than a visceral reaction: Babies are crying, so it must be abuse. Others make stronger points, like this one: "[T]o intentionally inflict emotional pain on a child for no valid reason is wrong." Yep. That's right. I'm not arguing with that one.

Greenberg's husband (their daughter is one of the children photographed) responded to Hawk's post. Here's an excerpt:

jill did not "abuse" the children, nor abuse them. they were given lollipops, and then those were removed from the kids. jill didn't speak to them--the parents were there monitoring the whole time. this is the EXACT technique used in ads and movies and TV. i'm a producer in two of those mediums and have been through this before, so i know whereof i speak.

So all those crying babies in diaper ads go through the same thing, and nobody's screaming "abuse." Yet. Of course, now that the advertising cat's out of the bag, the screaming may start.

But this raises a question. Would the uproar be the same if Jill Greenberg wanted pictures of happy babies to illustrate their joy over the thought of Democrats gaining the White House in 2008?

Right now we have: (a) Babies are given a lollipop, (b) Lollipop is taken away, (c) Photos are taken.

Suppose we had: (a) Babies are given a lollipop, (b) Photos are taken, (c) Lollipop is taken away. Would anybody be screaming, "abuse" or, "emotional blackmail"? No. The pictures would have been of smiling babies.

It's hard to know for sure which way to come down on this. I'm swaying back and forth somewhere in the middle. It's not nice to make babies cry on purpose. Then again, this is accepted practice in the movie and advertising world, and the babies suffer no lingering effects (any more than they suffer for having been told it's time for bed).

But I definitely believe that the people screaming "abuse" have gone over a cliff and need to get a grip.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Science News

Another hectic day at work, and that means a shortish lunch hour, and that means Science News. Two items today.

Synthetic Gecko Material

The Scotsman reported yesterday (HT: WorldNetDaily) that British scientists have come up with a new material.

SOLDIERS and spies of the future could be given special "Spider-Man" suits, enabling them to climb up sheer surfaces and even stick to the ceiling, according to a leading British engineering firm.

BAE Systems has developed a material that closely mimics the feet of a gecko lizard, which can scale vertical glass and other slippery surfaces with ease.

The firm admitted it was "still a long way off achieving the performance of a gecko - for example sticking to dirty, wet or rough surfaces is a major issue, along with durability".

"We have demonstrated we can do multiple attachments with this material - you can stick it down once and stick it down again. Having a Spider-Man glove is a long way down the road, but in principle, you might have something like that."

It never occurred to me when I was watching the Spiderman movies, but how are they going to make gloves that stay on a person's hands when they've got 200 - 250 lbs of gravity (including gear) trying to pull them to the ground? If they can figure out how to keep the suit on the "gecko," then this sounds great.

Toxin-Detecting Fish

The Telegraph reported Tuesday (HT: WorldNetDaily) that Japan is planning on going low-tech in its fight against terror.

Japan is to use tiny fish in the battle against terrorism.

Ricefish, measuring less than two inches and commonly kept as pets, react rapidly to contaminated water.

The fish, which is pale orange, pushes its face close to the surface when it experiences breathing difficulties or simply dies in the manner of canaries in gas-filled mines.

Whereas sophisticated and expensive filters may take up to 15 hours to detect a problem, ricefish typically react to contamination within a couple of hours.

They plan to expand their deployment of the ricefish soon. Expect pandemonium from PETA even sooner.

Blogger Troubles

I'm starting to wonder if my laptop at home hates me.

I got home from work last night at around 10:30pm, drained and wanting to check a few friendly blogs. But I couldn't get to any blogspot blogs. I couldn't get to Blogger to post anything, either.

Google was up. WorldNetDaily was up. Townhall was up. La Shawn Barber's Corner was up.

So I gave up, took my little dog Abby outside one last time, and went to bed.

This morning I checked again. Blogger blogs were down. The whole rest of the internet world was up. I felt cut off from my blogofriends and adversaries (screaming, "Lost! My Precious lost!!!"). I gave up again and came to work.

Where it seems nobody else had trouble. Malott's Blog posted his latest in a series of Gardening Tips without mentioning anything amiss. And he did it at about the same time I kept getting that white screen that tells you "You can't get there from here."

I dunno. I think my laptop is out to get me. And I liked it so well until now...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Olmert Still Plans to Evacuate from West Bank

Sometimes I just can't believe how dense people can be. Especially the leaders of countries. I guess I should be used to it by now, but good grief!

WorldNetDaily reported today, "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday Israel will forge ahead with his plan to pull out of Judea and Samaria."

This is stupidity on top of myopia on top of misjudgment. This is one more case of politicians who implement a program and never stop to evaluate its effectiveness. They just keep on doing more of the same reckless thing.

Since Olmert obviously doesn't understand the principles of cause and effect, here's what happens, in this order:

1. Israel withdraws unilaterally from territory.

2. Israel's enemies are sucked into the territory to fill the void.

3. Israel's enemies bring in weapons and fortifications.

4. Israel's enemies attack Israel.

It's that simple, but Olmert doesn't get it.

If Israel really withdraws from the West Bank, after their examples in Gaza and Lebanon, I'm ready to qoute to Olmert from that great philosopher, Jimminy Cricket: "You buttered your bread, now sleep in it!"

Second Code Found in DNA

This is cool. Researchers have discovered a suspected second code within DNA.

DNA – the long, thin molecule that carries our hereditary material – is compressed around protein scaffolding in the cell nucleus into tiny spheres called nucleosomes. The bead-like nucleosomes are strung along the entire chromosome, which is itself folded and packaged to fit into the nucleus. What determines how, when and where a nucleosome will be positioned along the DNA sequence? Dr. Eran Segal and research student Yair Field of the Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Department at the Weizmann Institute of Science have succeeded, together with colleagues from Northwestern University in Chicago, in cracking the genetic code that sets the rules for where on the DNA strand the nucleosomes will be situated. Their findings appeared today [07/19/2006] in Nature.

The precise location of the nucleosomes along the DNA is known to play an important role in the cell's day to day function, since access to DNA wrapped in a nucleosome is blocked for many proteins, including those responsible for some of life's most basic processes. Among these barred proteins are factors that initiate DNA replication, transcription (the transfer of genetic information from DNA to RNA) and DNA repair. Thus, the positioning of nucleosomes defines the segments in which these processes can and can't take place. These limitations are considerable: Most of the DNA is packaged into nucleosomes. A single nucleosome contains about 150 genetic bases (the "letters" that make up a genetic sequence), while the free area between neighboring nucleosomes is only about 20 bases long. It is in these nucleosome-free regions that processes such as transcription can be initiated.

Right. Transcription is good.

Several diseases, such as cancer, are typically accompanied or caused by mutations in the DNA and the way it organizes into chromosomes. Such mutational processes may be influenced by the relative accessibility of the DNA to various proteins and by the organization of the DNA in the cell nucleus. Therefore, the scientists believe that the nucleosome positioning code they discovered may aid scientists in the future in understanding the mechanisms underlying many diseases. (emphasis added)

Now they'll have to rewrite the biology texts. Again.

Monopoly Has a Debit Card Version

Sky News reported yesterday that the Monopoly game has a new debit-card version available. The article shows a picture and talks about "Mayfair." I believe this is the British version, because Mayfair is where Boardwalk belongs--right next to GO.

I went to the official Monopoly website to see how much this one costs in the US, and I couldn't find it. I think. The article calls it, "Monopoly Here and Now Electronic Banking." The Monopoly site has "Monopoly Here and Now Edition," but it doesn't mention a debit card. So the debit card may only be available in the UK.

That's OK, though. I don't really like playing Monopoly.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Global Warming's Good News

I'll start by declaring myself a skeptic about Global Warming. The facts leave much of the theory in doubt.

But let's throw all that aside for now and assume that all the "respectable" scientists are right and Global Warming is real (scientists who don't believe GW is real are not considered "respectable" by those who do). In that case, there's good news on the Environment/Nature front.

Reindeer and salmon in Finland are doing much better, now that Finland is warming up. The Times Online (UK) reported the story yesterday.

SHORTER winters, longer summers and a slight rise in temperature in northernmost Europe are proving a boon for arctic wildlife, agriculture and tourism.

In spite of dire warnings about climate change, the most northerly reaches of Scandinavia are basking in good news: reindeer are growing stronger and the salmon larger. New possibilities are opening up for tourism trade and even for wine-makers.

In Rovaniemi, Father Christmas’s Lapland home in northern Finland, reindeer are putting on weight. Jan-Eric Paadar, a herdsman’s son in the northerly Inari region, said recent shorter winters meant Finland’s 200,000 reindeer had longer to graze on grass and lichen. “It’s easier to find food when the winter comes later and later all the time,” he said.

Salmon farmers are also benefiting. At Volden, a family-run salmon and trout producer in the coastal town of Alta, an employee said higher water temperatures made fish eat more and grow faster.

I've noticed that higher-temperature effect too. We've had high temperatures the past week, and I've been eating more Healthy Choice fudgecicles to keep cool (they're way better than the real brand).

So now the environmental-extremist, global-warming-alarmist left-wingers are facing a conundrum: Should they encourage Global Warming, so the animals can eat better? Or should they sacrifice the well-being of Finland's reindeer and salmon, in order to save everyone else from the perils of Global Warming?

We'll have to keep watching to see what they choose.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Protest in Orange County

After work I drove past one of the major malls in Orange County and saw this group of about six protesters. This is all of them--nobody else was on the other side of the man with the white beard.

I was disappointed to be in a lane too far away to roll down my window and let them know I disagreed with them. I'm not sure what I would have said, though.

There's Kool-Aid here. You can see it in the Bush-Cheney "Liars" poster. A duplicate poster is hidden behind it.

California may be a blue state, but Orange County (and to a lesser degree San Diego County) is a red island in that blueness. And this mall is in one of the upscale parts of Orange County, which is why I was surprised to see a left-leaning protest here. But that's probably why there weren't more than half a dozen protesters.

I like the sign, "Work for Peace." That's what Israel is doing by trying to decimate Hezbollah. I hope they continue until they succeed.

Ann Coulter on Democrats and the Middle East

I love Ann Coulter's column in Wednesday's WorldNetDaily. She responds to some statements by Democratic Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says that "what's going on in the Middle East today" wouldn't be happening if the Democrats were in power. Yes, if the Democrats were running things, our cities would be ash heaps and the state of Israel would have been wiped off the map by now.

But according to Dean, the Democrats would have the "moral authority that Bill Clinton had" – no wait! keep reading – "when he brought together the Israelis and Palestinians." Clinton really brokered a Peace in Our Time with that deal – "our time" being a reference to that five-minute span during which he announced it. Yasser Arafat immediately backed out on all his promises and launched the second intifada.

The fact that Israel is able to launch an attack on Hezbollah today without instantly inciting a multination conflagration in the Middle East is proof of what Bush has accomplished. He has begun to create a moderate block of Arab leaders who are apparently not interested in becoming the next Saddam Hussein.

Unlike in 1973, when multiple Arab countries took advantage of Israel's preoccupation--then with Yom Kippur--to launch an attack, this time the Arab countries are waiting it out. One of Saudi Arabia's top sheiks has taken waiting even a step further:

One of Saudi Arabia's leading Wahhabi sheiks, Abdullah bin Jabreen has issued a strongly worded religious edict, or fatwa, declaring it unlawful to support, join or pray for Hezbollah, the Shiite militias lobbing missiles into northern Israel.

The surprising move demonstrates that Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East are deeply divided over whether Moslems should support Hezbollah, Iran's Shiite proxies in the war raging in Lebanon.

I take every piece of good news I see, no matter how small, and this is one of them. The big piece of good news--where I agree wholeheartedly with Ann Coulter--is that the Democrats aren't the people in charge right now.

There are only two choices with savages [like Islamic terrorists]: fight or run. Democrats always want to run, but they dress it up in meaningless catchphrases like "diplomacy," "detente," "engagement," "multilateral engagement," "multilateral diplomacy," "containment" and "going to the U.N."

Democrats won't acknowledge the existence of "an imminent threat" anyplace in the world until a nuclear missile is 12 minutes from New York. And then we'll never have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so" because we'll all be dead.

More on Israel's War

I'm falling behind on my blogging. I left work early yesterday (3 pm), went home, turned on the news, and kept watching. Oh, and I argued with some of the commentators, and they were so intimidated, they had no answer for me.

So many good (and bad) things have been written about the war Israel is fighting against Hezbollah over the past week, I don't have time to address them all in depth. Here are some of the articles and commentaries that have stood out for me:


Victor Davis Hanson discusses some history--why they hate Israel:

You’d expect these terrorist attacks on Israel to be viewed by responsible nations as similar to the jihadist violence we read about daily around the world.... But that isn’t the case at all. Israel is always seen as a special exception that somehow deserves what it gets.

Other states can retaliate with impunity, brutally killing thousands of Muslim terrorists, while Israel is condemned when it takes out a few dozen.


As if to prove his point, a group of San Francisco's Jews protested against Israel this past Monday.

Oakland-based Jewish Voice for Peace helped organize the rally, along with Jews for a Free Palestine and the Break the Silence Mural and Arts Project. JVP director Mitchell Plitnick said "Israel bears an enormous amount of responsibility for escalation in Gaza and Lebanon."

Dennis Prager has commented many times, both on his radio show and in some of his commentaries, about how some Jews become anti-Israel.


Jerome Corsi, a regular commentator at WorldNetDaily and author of Atomic Iran, has two columns that look at Iran's involvement with Hezbollah and the world of terror.

The first, from July 14, 2006, starts with this bold declaration:

Iran's war to remove Israel from the Middle East has begun.

Where his first column looks at the likely vs. needed diplomacy and international action, the second, from July 17, 2006, details Iran's fingerprints all over Hezbollah's actions.

Hezbollah's use of what amounts to ''signature'' Iranian weapons provides additional evidence that Iranian Revolutionary Guard members remain on-site in Lebanon to provide Hezbollah technical weapons assistance.


On Sunday, July 16, 2006, Iraq the Model had this post fingering Iran as the puppet-master behind the Middle East turmoil.

In both cases [Lebanon and Iraq] we see a weak government suffering to control a powerful militia that is challenging the will of the rest of the country and engaging in a proxy war making the people suffer the results of regional conflicts that in no way can benefit their country.

The other reason why I'm closely following this ongoing crisis is that the powers involved in this conflict between Lebanon and Israel are closely connected to the powers fighting in Iraq and we here believe that the battle over there will have an impact on the situation here in one way or another.


The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that Arab countries are finally getting fed up with Hezbollah.

The Saudis were the first to openly criticize Hizbullah, paving the way for other Arab countries to follow suit. The message coming out of these countries is that the Arabs and Muslims can't afford to allow an irresponsible and adventurous organization like Hizbullah to drag the region to war.

This was one of the most positive signs I've seen in this conflict.


Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WorldNetDaily, in his column today, blasts Pat Buchanan and Kofi Annan for their recent statements putting most of the blame on Israel.

Buchanan calls Israel's measured, restrained act of self-defense a "rampage against a defenseless Lebanon." He claims Israel's action in Lebanon was a "pre-planned attack to make the Lebanese people suffer."

Annan threatens to pull out his United Nations peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon if Israel does not declare a unilateral and immediate cease-fire.

Can I ask an obvious question? What good have the U.N. peacekeepers done? Have they kept the peace? Have they prevented Hezbollah terrorists from raining thousands of rockets down on the civilian population of northern Israel? Have they prevented the transport of arms to the Lebanese-Israeli border?

I would love it if the media asked Kofi Annan these questions and kept after him until he gave a real answer. In my dreams, I know...


Finally, WorldNetDaily's Email-to-the-Editor of the Week today was from a woman whose family emigrated to Israel last year from Canada. She describes what life is like there in northern Israel, living under the katyusha rockets. At one point, she expresses her hope for this war, which is my hope as well:

I can only hope that two things are achieved by this war: 1) Hezbollah is utterly decimated, and 2) Israel learns that unilateral withdrawals from territory controlled by our enemies do not lead to peace.


Pray for real peace in Israel--peace that doesn't come from truce and withdrawal, but from demolishing the enemy's ability and will to fight.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

President Bush Finally Vetoes Something

I'm thrilled he made his stand on the embryonic-stem-cell-funding bill. And I'm thrilled the House couldn't override the veto.

Proponents of embryonic stem cell research are either badly misinformed about stem cells, or they're ghouls.

Embryonic stem cells come from human embryos. Human. They're what you were and I was as we developed into tiny babies who could breathe on our own. Human. And you kill those human embryos when you take their stem cells. I won't even get into the whole ethical question of exploiting young women to get their eggs to make the embryos that get killed to get their stem cells. To research procedures that don't work very well and are full of harmful side-effects, when adult and cord-blood stem cells work very well and are treating diseases right now without side-effects. Here's one of my posts that goes into some detail on the effectiveness of adult stem cell treatments (the first part is about a woman who woke up from a coma).

We certainly don't need to spend federal tax money to fund research that involves killing human embryos. If the procedure is so promising, let its proponents invest their own money in the research. Privately funded stem cell research is perfectly legal (though I wish it weren't).

The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research, it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them," said White House spokesman Tony Snow.

Bush argued that the bill would have crossed a line and "once crossed, we would find it impossible to turn back."

At the same time, Bush announced he had signed another bill, passed unanimously in the House and Senate, that would pre-emptively ban "fetal farming," the prospect of raising and aborting fetuses for scientific research.

Here's the full text of President Bush's letter to the House after he vetoed the bill.

We don't kill people so we can use their body parts to help someone else. Embryos and fetuses become people to, and it's wrong to kill them for their body parts or for research. Especially when we already have a better source of stem cells that don't require the death of anyone.

Proportional Responses

The Hedgehog Blog has a great post by a guest writer, Paul Kujawsky, on Israel's response to the Hezbollah attacks.

He argues that Israel's response is not "disproportionate," as all her critics contend. If "proportionate" means equal, he says, then the US should have only knocked down Afghanistan's two biggest buildings and called us even. Here's how Kujawsky defines "proportionate:"

First, "proportionate" does not mean "tit-for-tat." If you hit me without justification, my goal in hitting back is not to establish an equilibrium of ongoing violence. My goal is to hit you hard enough to make you stop. No more rockets in the Negev and the Galilee.

Second, a proportionate defense must include deterrence. Not only do I want you to stop hitting me; I want to make you never want to do it again. And I want to make those supporting you (Syria and Iran) nervous.

Third, in war, even a proportionate response can involve the suffering of innocents. Unfortunately, no one has yet devised a way of waging war without unintended civilian casualties. Here, note that while Israel drops leaflets warning Palestinian and Lebanese civilians to stay away from likely targets, Hamas and Hizbolla do their best to kill Israeli civilians. Note too the opinion polls showing that a solid majority of Palestinians favor the kidnaping of Israeli soldiers and the rocketing of Israeli cities. Hamas and Hizbolla have both won electoral victories, despite (or because of) their Islamist programs. Thus, the civilian populations in Palestine and Lebanon can be considered not entirely "innocent."

Israel's critics will find anything to criticize about Israel. Their goal is to characterize Israel as in the wrong. Always. If Hezbollah attacks Israel, it's Israel's fault. If Israel strikes back, it's Israel's fault. Instead of Bush Derangement Syndrome (HT: Michelle Malkin), it's Israel Derangement Syndrome. And IDS is a permanent condition, short of a miracle.

So Israel needs to ignore the critics, ignore the cries of disproportionality, and ignore America's approved timetable for bombing Hezbollah. They need to get the job done in truly proportional fashion.

I Hate Shopping

Last week two of my essential pairs of shoes broke. Since I'm not the Imelda Marcos type, I don't have backups, and that meant I had to go shoe-shopping.

The thing I've noticed about shopping (shoe and clothing), which is why I hate it, is that when you're looking for a specific thing, it can't be found. Or it can be found but not in your size or in the right color.

If you have lots of money for shopping, you can't find anything you like. And if you only have a little money to get something unspecific, you see a million things you like that look wonderful on you, but you can't afford to buy them. So I just don't do it until I must.

Last week at work on a Jeans Day, I noticed that the side of my right sneaker had blown out, and the upper was separated from the sole, leaving an inch-and-half-long hole. That relegated those shoes to being the ones I wear when I have to do icky things like weed-eatering in the yard. But sneakers are fairly easy to replace.

The next day, my trusty old white sandals that I can wear with pantyhose (gotta hide that pasty-white skin) broke right down the middle of the soles (there's a little bit of a platform/wedge/whatever they call it these days), so they're in the trash now.

Yesterday I left work after eight workhours (!) and went to the mall to replace my white shoes. I wanted something similar to the old ones: semi-casual, white straps, no strap between the toes, comfortable, not ugly. This shouldn't be difficult. It's July.

I went to all the shoe stores on the upper level of the mall where they don't specialize in workboots, stilettos, or teenager fashions. Then I went to three of the department stores. I found lots of ugly shoes that looked like they were made to be worn with polyester pantsuits by eighty-year-old women. I found lots of cute shoes that had the big-toe strap that made pantyhose impossible. And I found too many styles that had wood soles with no padding, and all I could imagine when I looked at them was the stories I'd heard as a kid about Chinese torture where they hit you over and over on the bottom of your heels with a piece of wood until you go insane. No, wood soles would not work.

With closing time approaching, I had to settle for comfortable-enough, cute-enough sandals that don't have any ankle straps (which means I could fall out and kill myself at any time). I'll wear them to work tomorrow (today is a special Jeans Day), and if I stop blogging all of a sudden, you'll know what happened.


I'm wearing my new shoes at work. I chickened out and wore my frumpy clogs from my car to my desk, because I was afraid of blisters from un-broken-in new shoes.

No blisters so far. My coworkers think my shoes are cute. And I haven't fallen off yet, though I've noticed I'm walking more like someone from Charm School trying to balance a book on her head. If I can keep my balance, I think these shoes will work out OK.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Last month I linked to an article about a community in Sydney, Australia, having trouble with "hoons" in one of their parks. Their solution? Play Barry Manilow songs on loudspeakers during the park's heavy-hoon-usage times.

Now it's time for a follow-up.

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Barry's music is working on the hoons. But the "Residents can't Copa" with it.

As a hoon-reduction strategy it appears to be working but the nightly weekend performances are causing sleep depravation among the neighbours.

"I don't know how I will cope," Moya Dunn said .

"I just can't sleep when it's on and to think there is going to be another six months of this."

Mrs Dunn and her husband John said the same music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9pm to midnight has invaded their house.

The city has turned the volume down a little, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

You'd think there'd be enough variety of "daggy" music to scare away the hoons, but give the residents a little more variety. Say, bring in some Frank Sinatra (not the cool songs, but the dreary ones like "My Way") and Andy Williams and Rosemary Clooney and Steve Lawrence and Edie Gormet.

I realize Barry Manilow tops the Annoyance Charts, but there's got to be a way to save the sanity of the residents. Rockdale Deputy Mayor Bill Saravinovski said they're reviewing the music selection, so there might be hope. Still, it's hard to argue with success.

"Barry's our secret weapon. It seems to be working," [Saravinovski] said.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Feeling Small

I got this in an email today. I'd list the photo credits if I had them. The email said the photos came from JPL, but I don't know if that's true. Snopes didn't have any hits on the searches I tried. So here are the photos:

Sirius, by the way (white star in the fourth picture), is that bright star in the sky at the shoulder of Orion's dog, Ursa Major.

And all the ruckus in the news right now is happening on a little dot on the left side of the earth in the top picture.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Next World War

I was sitting in church with my friend this morning, and she wrote me a question on her bulletin. Did I think Israel's war was the beginning of The End? I wrote, "Possibly."

She added that a friend of hers, who is heavy into End Times prophecy, said that if Russia gets involved militarily, then we're probably looking at an approaching Armageddon.

I've tried not to think about it, as I've watched the news, but it's been in the back of my mind this time in a way that it hasn't been as we've fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel's war could escalate. It hasn't yet, but it could. As long as the world lets Israel destroy Hezbollah's war-making capabilities, then we're fine. But if Iran and Syria get directly involved, look out.

Iran's President Ahminneedofastraightjacket has been supplying and supporting Hezbollah. Israel has identified the missile that hit their ship as Iranian. But the Iranian missiles are modified Chinese weapons. And I've read or heard lately that China has been negotiating with Iran to be China's primary supplier of oil. In exchange for what, I wonder?

Add to the mix Vladimir Putin, whose desire appears to be getting Russia set back up as a superpower. And that goal would be helped by reducing America's effectiveness on the world stage. He's been thwarting us in a passive-aggressive manner, helping the nations who oppose us and who spread instability.

Russia and China look to me like the kind of threats that the White House doesn't seem to see. The last thing we need a war that threatens the national interest of either of them, and a threat to Iran could be seen by them as that kind of threat. If the war in Israel escalates beyond the Middle East, I think we're in big trouble.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Iraq The Model on Reactions to Gaza

This post from Omar at Iraq The Model is from July 8, before Hezbollah attacked Israel from Lebanon. Omar and Mohammed were reading a forum on BBC's Arabic-language website, and they noticed a striking difference in the reactions to the Hamas attacks on Israel and Israel's retaliation in Gaza.

About three dozens of comments were made by Iraqis both inside Iraq and in exile and all these comments were supportive of Israel or at least against Hamas as far as the topic is concerned except for only three comments; that's a 10:1 ratio while as you probably have guesses, the opposite ratio is true about the comments by the rest of Arabs.

Omar speculates about those differences:

Perhaps our problem is that we in Iraq are evolving politically faster than we are doing when it comes to economy, security, etc. that we are even ahead of countries like Egypt or Kuwait in holding real elections and having a permanent constitution and fair representation of all the segments of the people.

He notes the challenges Iraq still faces with their infrastructure, then offers this:

But what really makes me feel optimistic about this new Iraqi way of thinking is that it shows how Iraqis are beginning to distinguish between terrorism and rightful acts of resistance not only in Iraq but also on a global level and are showing decreasing tolerance for extremism and this in my opinion is what builds peace in the region or any given region of this world. (emphasis added)

If Omar and Mohammed are optimistic, then I am too. Here are a few of the comments they posted. I encourage you to read them all.

"Our hearts go out to the family of the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by some Palestinian group. We share your suffering and we fully support anything you do to free your missing soldier"
Hassan al-Shami: Baghdad/Iraq.

"I wonder how much time and blood it will take until Arabs and Muslims realize that the world is not the property of their ancestors and that God is not a trademark of their minds and that terror is a dead-end that leads only to more destruction.

Israel is a civilized country defending herself from barbaric savages whose minds are made of stone…minds that do not want to believe they are living in the 21st century.

What's happening to the Palestinians despite its cruelty is going to be a good lesson for them to learn they must clear their community off the hateful fundamentalist terror mentality…[Quranic verse] "God will not change people until they change what's within themselves"…but, will you change?!!"
Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi.

And from some non-Iraqis:

"…I don't know what's wrong with some of the posters from Iraq whom I question their Arabism. That Americanized Iraqi says Israel is a civilized country!! And says Israel is defending herself from barbarians!!

Abu Ayoub: As a Muslim woman I ask you; who desecrated your honor in Abu Ghraib and who raped that 15 year old girl?Your speech will not find ears among anyone with dignity"
Um Ammar: San'aa/Yemen.

But we will not kneel down and we shall not despair….we may disagree with Hamas but we will not accept to see America and Israel bring Hamas down and we're proud of our position"
Laith: Ramallah.

The Israelis will see the consequences of what they did and still are doing when the scales of power change and Arabs and Muslims unite to defend their honor and dignity. Our rights will not be lost as long as we persist to demand them; that's what history taught us and that's what the struggle against colonial Britain and France taught us"
Abdah: Cairo.

When Arabs--Muslims--understand Israel's right not only to exist but to defend herself, we're seeing progress. And Iraqis are beginning to understand.

They've been the victims of Islamist extremists in Iraq for two to three years now, so they know what it's like. The average Iraqi citizen has more in common these days with the average Israeli than they do with the average Palestinian.

I wish the world's leaders knew how (and were willing) to bring the Iraqi mindset to the rest of the Middle East.

Police Dog in Truck Runs Over Woman

Florida's Sun-Sentinel reported yesterday that a police dog left inside a truck knocked it into gear and ran over a woman, leaving her hospitalized with a fractured pelvis and tailbone.

The dog, a German shepherd named Ranger, had been left in the truck while its handler responded to a domestic disturbance call Tuesday, police Lt. Loring Draper said. The truck's engine was on so Ranger would have air conditioning.

Draper said Ranger must have hit the shift on the steering column, putting the automatic transmission into gear. As the truck slowly rolled forward, police officers yelled to Stone, but she couldn't get out of the way in time, he said.

Draper said police were trying to determine if there might have been some malfunction that would have allowed the gear shift to be moved easily.

There's probably no malfunction. This is a big dog capable of bumping into things rather forcefully.

But there is a piece of equipment that comes standard on all cars and trucks. Maybe I'm the only person who knows about it. Maybe I'm the only person who uses it.

Two words: Parking Brake!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I like jigsaw puzzles, but not all the time. I'll do some puzzles for a while, then I'll be done and won't do them again for a long time. It's been several years since the last time my daughter and I worked on a puzzle. She's like me about jigsaw puzzles. My son doesn't do them at all.

I'm the type of jigsaw-doer who takes them apart when I'm done, so I can do them again later. I'm not the type who puts them together then glues them to something and hangs them on the wall. I don't care how great the picture is, gluing puzzles and hanging them is just wrong.

One year my son gave me this puzzle, above, for Christmas. When I read all the fine print on the box ("World's most difficult puzzle" and "Double-sided"), I turned to him and told him he was an evil child. He appreciated the compliment.

So when the kids were with their dad over New Year's, I worked on the puzzle. The box didn't lie. It was difficult. The same picture is on both sides, but the "back" is turned 90 degrees from the "front" and it's all dalmations. And some of the dalmations are really the same dog but with slight variations in the spots. Only an evil child would do this to his mom.

I figured out a couple tricks that helped a little. Since the pictures front and back were turned, that meant that all the pieces on a diagonal line from the upper right corner to the lower left corner had the same part of the puzzle on both sides, so I went piece-by-piece until I got all the center diagonal pieces. Then I got as many matched pairs (same dog front and back) as I could find and set the twins with each other. That way, when I knew I needed a particular piece, I could see which of the two pieces was the one that fit. Then I also knew to turn the other piece over and use the front side.

I mention the puzzles because I'm going to unload them. Once I decided to tour the country with my mom in her motorhome (we decided that would be better than towing a fifth-wheel), I got practical. I've gone from wondering what I need to make the house more pleasant to live in to wondering what I need to do to get the house ready to sell.

I'll need to put my stuff in a storage unit while we drive around the country (and Canada--we need to visit New Brunswick at least and drive across the world's longest covered bridge), and the less stuff I have, the cheaper the storage unit will be.

Jigsaw puzzles take up a lot of space. I won't need them, and I can get new ones the next time I get the hankering to start on them again. So they're outta here. I have a friend who likes puzzles more than I do, so I'll give her first dibs. For the ones she doesn't want, I might even venture into Ebay and see if I can figure out how to sell them.

I'll probably keep the dalmations, though, to remind me of the vast potential for wickedness in the heart of very own child.

GodBlogCon Starts August 3

If you're a blogger who is a Christian, be sure to come.

If you're a Christian who is interested in blogging, be sure to come.

Meet some of your favorite bloggers. Make new friends (and new favorite bloggers). Watch Hugh Hewitt's live radio show broadcast.

Learn from the experts on a wide range of topics--including legal issues related to blogging.

Eat food! Meals are included in the registration fee.

Click on the logo above for more information about the conference. I hope to see you there.

Killer Kangaroos and Demon Ducks

MSNBC News reported yesterday (HT: WorldNetDaily) on a cool archaeological find in Australia.

Forget cute, cuddly marsupials. Paleontologists say they have found the fossilized remains of a fanged killer kangaroo and what they describe as a "demon duck of doom."

The fossils, part of a group of twenty new species, were found in Queensland by a team from the University of New South Wales.

Professor Michael Archer said Wednesday that the remains of a meat-eating kangaroo with wolflike fangs were found, as well as a galloping kangaroo with long forearms that could not hop like a modern kangaroo.

The species found at the dig had "well muscled-in teeth, not for grazing. These things had slicing crests that could have crunched through bone and sliced off flesh," [vertebrate paleontologist Sue] Hand said.

Sounds like some of the bosses I've had...

The team also found prehistoric lungfish and large ducklike birds.

"Very big birds ... more like ducks, earned the name 'demon duck of doom', some at least may have been carnivorous as well," Hand told ABC radio.

Archer said the team was studying the fossils to better understand how they were affected by changing climates in the Miocene epoch between 5 million and 24 million years ago.

What's to study? I can already tell the team how these animals were affected: They became extinct.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Israel At War

Hugh Hewitt has an excellent post today on Israel at war.

Hezbollah crossed the border into Israel, attacked Israeli Defense Forces, killed three soldiers and kidnapped two others. They are asking for Hezbollah prisoners to be released in exchange for the two soldiers. Israel considers this an act of war.

Here's how Hugh describes it:

Hamas wants a war with Israel. Hezbollah wants a war with Israel.

When that war comes in full force, the West should make a stand in the U.N. and everywhere else and be very clear about the fact that the war was one of choice for the Islamist militias, and that Israel was obliged to accept war, but did not chose it.

There are lessons to be learned from every action or inaction by a nation. Friends and enemies alike learn what a nation will ignore and what will provoke a response. Osama bin Laden admitted that he learned the US was weak when we didn't respond to the various bombings in the 1990s and the USS Cole in 2000.

And now Israel's willingness to negotiate with Hamas for a prisoner exchange has taught Hezbollah that Israel will negotiate. That's the lesson that gave rise to their incursion into Israel. Now that's the lesson that Israel must fight to un-teach its enemies.

Indeed Israel is at war now, with both Hamas and Hezbollah. They didn't openly invite it, but they're in it nonetheless. Their attempts at negotiation were counterproductive, because their enemies see negotiation as weakness, and they see weakness as something to be exploited.

There's no reasoning with unreasonable terrorists. They only understand force, so force is all that's left for Israel to use. May they use it effectively to crush both Hamas and Hezbollah.

Injured Ibis Eludes Capture

Florida Today reported yesterday about an injured white ibis that doesn't seem to know what's good for it.

An injured bird has confounded rescue workers for days by staying on the move despite a two-foot arrow stuck through its body.

The young white ibis was first seen Thursday night. It was shot with a dull arrow, which appears to have missed vital organs and muscles but remains lodged in the bird.

They have a photo of the bird with the arrow through its chest, and it's impressive.

[Bob Hunt, a volunteer with the Bird Rescue Center,] and partner Marilyn Camp spent hours Monday chasing the bird from tree to tree. They threw fish on the ground to lure it down, and twigs to rattle it off a perch. But the bird would simply climb to a higher branch or flutter away as they advanced.

"We thought we would wear the little bird out," Camp said. "Instead, he has worn us out."

The ibis is still at large, but it's hard to know who to root for. Ultimately, the ibis needs to get the arrow removed, but it's fun to watch critters elude their human would-be captors.

Nose-Blowing Lessons in Scotland

This is real. The Herald (UK) reported yesterday that Scotland will be giving lessons in preparation for the next flu pandemic, whenever it comes.

It's not to be sneezed at. Parents of nursery and primary pupils across Scotland are to be advised how to teach their children how to blow their nose properly as part of measures to combat a predicted flu pandemic.

A new leaflet jointly published on the websites of NHS Scotland and the Scottish Executive includes advice on the use of tissues and washing hands, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted a major outbreak of influenza, which occurs every few decades.

What will the pupils learn?

The leaflet tells parents to encourage their children to wash their hands using soap and water and to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. Families are also advised to teach children to use a paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and to throw it away quickly into bins.

The leaflet does acknowledge that these instructions are useful anytime.

Still, we can only hope that Scotland's aggressive push for prevention will spread to our shores as well--before the pandemic strikes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Debunking 9/11 Kool-Aid

Michelle Malkin had a link to this Popular Mechanics article from the March 2005 issue. It's a point-by-point debunking of the favorite myths about 9/11. It opens this way:

FROM THE MOMENT the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple and compelling question: How could it happen?

Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the truth. Go to, type in the search phrase "World Trade Center conspiracy" and you'll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites. More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject the official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks.

Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

The article is nine pages long, though the ninth page is a list of all the experts who helped Popular Mechanics determine the facts. It's a goldmine for people who keep being challenged by kooks who believe it was an inside job. Here's a sample, from page 6:

Flight 77 Debris

CLAIM: Conspiracy theorists insist there was no plane wreckage at the Pentagon. "In reality, a Boeing 757 was never found," claims, which asks the question, "What hit the Pentagon on 9/11?"

FACT: Blast expert Allyn E. Kilsheimer was the first structural engineer to arrive at the Pentagon after the crash and helped coordinate the emergency response. "It was absolutely a plane, and I'll tell you why," says Kilsheimer, CEO of KCE Structural Engineers PC, Washington, D.C. "I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box." Kilsheimer's eyewitness account is backed up by photos of plane wreckage inside and outside the building. Kilsheimer adds: "I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts. Okay?"

The photos that accompany the article are spectacular, including the one next to this Page 6 excerpt. That one shows a clear piece of a commercial airliner on the lawn in front of the smoking Pentagon.

So the next time your Lefty friends tell you the building came down in a controlled demolition, send them to Popular Mechanics. They won't believe it, of course, but it might save you some time and pointless debate.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Conspiracy Theory?

I like to read WorldNetDaily for my news. I like the layout. I like being able to scroll down the list of headlines to see what catches my eye. No photos getting in the way. No having to hunt for unusual news. It's all there, either on Page 1 or Page 2. I read what interests me and ignore the rest.

WND appears to subscribe to some conspiracy theories on occasion, and most of the time I ignore those articles. Yesterday, though, they had a story that might be conspiracy-mongering, but then again it might not, and I'm not sure if I should ignore it. Here's how the article opens:

Are secret meetings being held between the corporate and political elites of the U.S., Mexico and Canada to push North America into a European Union-style merger?

Is President Bush's reluctance to control the border and enforce laws requiring deportation of foreigners who enter the country illegally part of a master plan to all but eliminate borders between the U.S., Canada and Mexico?

Does the agenda of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America include a common currency that would scrap the dollar in favor of what some are calling the "amero"?

It may be the biggest story of the 21st century, but few press outlets are telling it. In fact, until very recently, few in the U.S. were aware of the plans and even fewer denouncing what appears to be the implementation of an effort some have characterized as "NAFTA on steroids."

CNN's Lou Dobbs is against it. Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist is against it. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is against it. But it's hard to know exactly what "it" is, and that's a big part of why they're against it.

Responding to a WorldNetDaily report, Tancredo is demanding the Bush administration fully disclose the activities of the government office implementing the trilateral agreement that has no authorization from Congress.

Tancredo wants to know the membership of the Security and Prosperity Partnership groups along with their various trilateral memoranda of understanding and other agreements reached with counterparts in Mexico and Canada.

The article includes a lot of criticism of the plan and/or its secrecy by people from the famous (Phyllis Schlafly) to the obscure (freelance political writer Alan Burkhart). It references a report that came from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), usually a red flag signalling conspiracy nuts. I'm not sure what to think.

There have been reports lately about establishing a Mexican customs port in Kansas City, Missouri, which may need to be considered Mexican soil. It would be part of a North American SuperCorridor.

There are enough questions raised in this article to cause me alarm, but there are enough red flags to cause me to want to dismiss this as mere fever-swamp gas.

Is President Bush saying the minimum on immigration that he must in order to get the American people to go along with a plan that could destroy American sovereignty? Or are the conspiracy nuts getting good enough at telling their tales to fool even a skeptic like me?

Say it ain't so, Geo. Say it ain't so.

Friday, July 07, 2006

India Is Aborting Its Girls

WorldNetDaily reported today on India's high abortion rates when the unborn baby is a girl.

By conservative estimates, sex-selective abortion in India accounts for the termination of about 10 million females over the past 20 years.

"This is the world's biggest genocide ever," Chetan Sharma, a campaigner against female feticide, told the Daily Mail of London.

India's 2001 census shows a drop in the number of girls 6-years-old and under per 1,000 boys, to 927, compared to 962 in 1981.

Even the 1981 figure is disturbing. In normal populations, there are usually slightly more girls born each year than boys. For the "starting" number to be 962 girls for 1,000 boys, it indicates that the killing of girls was already a problem.

The problem of undervaluing women is an old one. In the 19th century, British leaders tried to eradicate female infanticide. Female feticide, however, is a new phenomenon brought about by advances in technology along with liberal attitudes toward abortion, which was legalized in India in 1971.

It doesn't really matter to me whether these families kill their girls before or after they're born. It matters that they do it at all.

Generally, in Indian society, woman who produce only daughters are pitied, in some cases abused and in many cases regarded as betrayers.

A woman who had nine abortions of females said it's important to have a son because of the family's big business.

It's not just the assets of having a son that motivate feticide – carrying on the family name or business and taking care of elderly parents. The practice of providing a dowry to the grooms' family creates an enormous financial burden on parents who have a daughter.

Most of the focus on infanticide and abortions of girls has been on China, whose one-child policy has led to so many abortions, it's expected an estimated one million Chinese men won't be able to find a wife.

Now we need to add India to the list. The problems caused by large numbers of bachelors are bigger than just the lack of grandchildren. Anger and resentment can fuel violence. And once it does, it's hard to know where (or if) the violence will stop.

But how do you change the customs and expectations of centuries? Even communist China hasn't managed that one.

India was better off before they accepted abortion. Not completely, but enough to notice. And yet the American Left, along with the UN, is pushing abortion to the world as a solution. The Final Solution, perhaps.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ann Coulter's Interview

I look forward every week to Ann Coulter's column in WorldNetDaily's commentary section. It's that day again today. I like her columns because sometimes she says the kind of things I'm thinking but would never have the nerve to say out loud (my parents raised me to be nice, and outside of a lapse during my teen years, it's a lesson I've tried to follow). Other times she says the kind of things I wish I could think of.

This week she is publishing Part 1 of the interview the New York Post (not the Times) conducted with her but never published. Before starting the interview, though, she offers her opinion of the Post:

How crappy a newspaper is the Post? Let me put it this way: It's New York's second-crappiest paper.

The interview strikes me as a little strange, because there's not much follow-up. The Post's reporter asks questions, Ann gives a provocative answer, and then the reporter is on to the next question. In light of RightWingNews's interview of Coulter via email, I suspect the Post may also have interviewed her by email. Here are a couple examples of what I mean:

NY POST: Your characterization of liberals paints them as extremists. But with people like Pat Robertson telling us how God keeps telling him who He's angry at, isn't it fair to say that there are extremists on both sides?

A: Pat Robertson opposes capital punishment, opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton and supports trade with China, just for starters. Seems like a pretty mixed bag to me. So what makes you call him extreme? That he believes he has dialogue with the Lord? Do liberals now call anyone who thinks this an "extremist"?

NY POST: Do you believe there is a political middle? If so, how would you define it?


NY POST: You speak in the book of "Muslims' predilection for violence," accepting it as a given. But many would argue that many Muslims, in this country and others, lead average, everyday lives, and denounce violence. How is painting all Muslims as violent any different than looking at the Crusades, or at any of the Christian extremist groups around today, and saying, "All Christians are murderers"?

A: Quite obviously, referring to "Muslims' predilection for violence" is not the same as saying, "All Christians are murderers." It would be the same if I had said, "All Muslims are murderers." You didn't do too well on the analogies section of the SATs, did you?

NY POST: You say that "without a fundamental understanding of man's place in the world" (by which you mean God), we risk being lured into, among other things, slavery. But weren't the American slaveholders devout Christians?

For the reporter's sake, I hope this was an email interview. Because if it wasn't, then this reporter belongs at the second crappiest newspaper in New York. Are reporters afraid to interview Ann Coulter in person? Is that what this is about? I dunno, but it's starting to look that way.

I'll finish with the beginning question and answer, because I really like it:

NY POST: Vitriol aside for a moment, how would you define a liberal, politically speaking?

A: Naive, misinformed fanatical Mother Earth-worshipers and fervent America-haters – and those are their good traits.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hamas Attack "An Act of War"

WorldNetDaily reported today that top Israeli leaders see the rocket attack on an Israeli high school in Ashkelon as an act of war.

Critics of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's evacuation last summer of the Gaza Strip had warned the retreat eventually would place Ashkelon under Palestinian rocket fire. Sharon then had stated rockets fired at the strategic town would result in an "unprecedented Israeli military response."

Terrorist leaders in Gaza told WND today their groups have the ability to regularly bombard Ashkelon. They warned longer-range Qassam missiles will be fired at Israeli towns near Gaza in the near future.

Notice that it's "...missiles will be fired..." not "might be" or "can be." "Will be."

Here's the timeline as I remember it: Israel withdrew its citizens from Gaza, leaving it mostly intact for the Palestinians to take over. Israel did this unilaterally, giving the PA a chance to prove themselves worthy of leading their own people without interference from Israel.

The PA started amassing weapons and has been firing on nearby targets within Israel on a daily basis. They blame Israel.

Now the PA has escalated to longer-range missiles, and is developing guidance systems for their missiles for more attacks on Israel. Hamas has claimed credit for the Ashkelon attack.

Israel's military leaders interpreted the attacks as a declaration of war and will be retaliating. The PA (and the UN) will blame Israel.

It's a sick world out there. God help us, and may He preserve Israel.

Man Recovers From Permanent Vegetative State

WorldNetDaily reported today about a man who suffered a brain injury that left him in a "permanent vegetative state" for nineteen years and then recovered.

In a new medical study sure to remind the world of the debate surrounding the forced dehydration death of Terri Schiavo, researchers found the injured brain of a man in a "vegetative state" for 19 years rewired itself, permitting him to renew communication with his loved ones.

The findings by Nicholas Schiff and his colleagues at Weill Medical College at Cornell University suggest the human brain shows far greater potential for recovery and regeneration then ever before suspected.

In 1984, 19-year-old Terry Wallis was thrown from his pick-up truck in an accident near his Massachusetts home. He was not found until 24 hours later, in a coma with massive brain injuries.

Within a few weeks he had stabilized in what was alternately characterized as a "minimally conscious state" or a "permanent vegetative state." Most doctors saw little hope he would ever improve.

And he didn't – for 19 years. Then, in 2003, he started to speak.

Over a three-day period, Wallis regained the ability to move and communicate, and started getting to know his 20-year-old daughter, only 1 year old at the time of the accident.

The researchers are using new brain imaging technologies, combined with PET scans, to study the way Wallis's brain has rewired itself around the injured areas.

They found that new axons – the branches that connect neurons together – seemed to have grown, establishing new working brain circuits. In short, his brain had rewired itself.

Wallis's dad says his son has even regained his old sense of humor.

This is why I want to be kept on life support, if it comes to that. Do not pull the plug! I want this chance.

Airbus vs. Boeing

France vs. USA

I don't normally read the financial news, though I admit I read it more than I read sports news (isn't "sports news" an oxymoron?). But this one caught my eye.

The London Times Online business section reported today that Airbus has lost the lead in aircraft orders to Boeing. Randy Baseler, Boeing's VP of Marketing, saw it coming in January of last year, and wrote about it in his second blog post. Here's a key statement from that post of January 18, 2005:

Along with the A380 being an engineering marvel it also represents a very large misjudgment about how most passengers want to travel and how most airlines operate.

I agreed with him at the time, this way:

When I first read about the unveiling of the new Airbus A380 monster jet, my first thought was, "What a stupid idea."

Jumbo jets can be logistical nightmares. You need long flights with hordes of people to make the effort of loading those behemoths worthwhile.

Baseler described airline trends as contrary to the monster-jet model.

Airbus is calling for a significant shift in recent trends. It believes we will all fly from hub to hub, with one or more connecting flights to complete our journey. Boeing believes airlines will continue to give passengers what they want — more frequency choices and more non-stop, point-to-point flights.

Considering the fact that Airbus has no (Zero. Zip.) orders on the books for more A380s, while Boeing has orders for 19 of its largest jumbo jet, the 747-8, it looks like Boeing is better at forecasting airline trends than the Europeans are.

Current Score: USA 19, France 0

Blue Screen of Death

There's a lot to blog on today. But as lunchtime started and I got ready, my computer choked. After clicking on things in futility, I tried Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up Task Manager so I could kill the offending task. But all I got was the Blue Screen and no little option box asking me if I wanted Task Manager or to lock the computer or to shut down. All Blue. All the time.

Ctrl-Alt-Del as a frantic multi-hit option didn't work either. So I unplugged the laptop from the docking station and tried finding the Reset button or a recessed place you poke with an unfolded paper clip to shut the thing down improperly but thoroughly. Nothing. And no time to let the battery die on its own.

I called the Help Desk, and explained the situation (feeling silly for not knowing how to turn off my computer). She asked if I'd tried holding down the power button for ten seconds. No, I hadn't, so I did, and it worked great. How come they don't tell you this stuff when you get the computer?

By the time the thing had re-booted, my boss had brought me a pile of work to do. Looks like last week's slow pace is OVER.

No time to blog now. Just a little time to sneak in an explanation and express my frustration with that certain shade of blue. Aaarrrggghhh!!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


We've finished!

This is what my daughter's room looks like now. This is what the walls looked like before. Two bedrooms. Three days.

We did my daughter's friend's room first, since there wasn't any heavy furniture to mess with. Scrub the walls with Mr. Clean. Vacuum the top of the closet and wipe it down too. Put blue tape on all the trim and on the edges of the carpet (I never noticed before there weren't any baseboards in the bedrooms). Apply spackle where needed. Sand down the spackle and wipe with a damp cloth. Apply two coats of Kilz. Then finally apply the paint.

We did my daughter's room the same way, leaving the walls behind the bed for the second day, when we had some male muscle available to move the captain's bed. We keep going back to stare at their rooms and bask in the beauty of green or blue walls and a job well done.

I'm hoping to finish getting all the paint out of my hair and off my arms before I go back to work tomorrow.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Iraq's Most Wanted

I have a deck of the Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards from when the war in Iraq started.

Actually I have more than one deck, but that's only because I was the one who placed the group order for everybody at work when there was a special price, and they sent me twice as many as I ordered. I called the company and they said to keep the extras, because it wasn't worth their trouble to get them back.

I loved the idea of the cards, because it was a great way to keep the names and faces of the bad guys in front of our military men and women who were hunting them. And it gave people a sense of just how important each wanted person was.

But now Iraq's National security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie has announced their list of the top 41 most wanted people (Yesterday's AP report at Breitbart here). You'd think they could add eleven more bad people and make their own deck of cards. Instead of camouflage on the back of the cards, they could put the Iraqi flag or some other picture that says, "These are Iraq's Most Wanted."

I felt optimistic when I read about Iraq's new list. Our deck of cards contained the names of the people most wanted by the American military for the purpose of deposing Saddam Hussein and eliminating the threat of a Baathist return to power. As important as that list of 52 names was at the time, it was still an American list.

This is an Iraqi list. The people of Iraq elected leaders to form a government, and now that the government is in place, that group of leaders has come up with their own list of people who are a threat to the new Iraqi way of life.

Saddam Hussein's wife and eldest daughter are among 41 people on the Iraqi government's most wanted list, along with the new leader of al- Qaida in Iraq, a top official announced Sunday.

National security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie also said the former al- Qaida boss, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been buried secretly in Baghdad despite his family's demand that the body be returned to Jordan. Al- Zarqawi died June 7 from a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad.

Al-Rubaie told reporters the government was releasing the most wanted list "so that our people can know their enemies."

"We have contacted all the neighboring countries and they know what we want. Some of these countries are cooperating with us," al-Rubaie said. "We will chase them inside and outside Iraq. We will chase them one after the other."

I like this attitude. The more Iraq does for itself, especially without looking like it's consulting with the US (and it doesn't look like they consulted with us on this), the more credibility their government will have with its own people and with the rest of the world.