Sunday, April 30, 2006


Dissent No Party, Dissent No Disco, Dissent No Fooling Around

Mark Steyn, again, takes leading members of the Democrat Party apart over an apocryphal Jefferson quote--"Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism"--quoted by John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and lesser light lefties. It's not Jefferson; it's probably Nadine Strosser, a luminary at the ACLU. Not really that close.

Here's what the Jefferson Library says: "There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "

Steyn uses sarcasm like a scalpel.

What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. When John F. Kennedy said, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" -- and, believe it or not, that's a real quote, though it's hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today -- I could have yelled out, "Hey, screw you, loser." It would have been "dissent," but it wouldn't have been patriotic, and it's certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory "F--- OFF!" and "WE WON'T FIGHT YOUR WARS!"

But don't say they're not patriotic.


This Sounds Too Good to be True

As a student of the Viet Nam War, I know that in the late 60s we dreamed of the Viet Cong abandoning its tactics of a hidden, guerilla war and coming out for a stand up fight. And they did at the end of January, 1968 in the Tet offensive; and we slaughtered them. They failed in every city but Hue and then we slaughtered them there. The rest of the war was fought by North Viet Nam regular army troops. There's an irony there still relevant today but that's not what this posting is about.

The London Times is reporting that "The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is attempting to set up his own mini-army and move away from individual suicide attacks to a more organised resistance movement..."

God, I hope he doesn't do that (said Br'er Rabbit). We could never survive a stand up fight against the vaunted al-Qaeda in Iraq (wink, wink). Oh, man, if Zarqawi gathers an army and attacks us in a conventional way, we'll probably get our asses kicked. (Enough sarcasm).

So, because it's our intelligence services saying this, it probably isn't true.

You have to like the reported reason for the shift in tactics:

Faced with a shortage of foreign fighters willing to undertake suicide missions, Zarqawi wants to turn his group into a more traditional force mounting co-ordinated guerrilla raids on coalition targets.

Shortage of foreign fighters willing to undertake suicide missions? I thought it was our troops who were supposed to be demoralized.


Final Sports Post for a Week

How about them Avs! Knocking off the vaunted Dallas Stars with a series of last minute goals and overtime winners. After Brunette roofed the series winner, the Stars looked like they had all been kicked in the stomach by a mule--Turco couldn't even stand up straight for a few minutes. Go Oilers! Let them knock off the hated Red Wings and then bring on the new meat.

UPDATE: And how about the Oilers, the least of the western teams to make the playoffs knocking off the best team in the West, the Red Wings, in 5 games! Dunt Dunt Dunt DA-Da, Red Wings Suck. And I mean it.


Sunday Movie Review

Went to see United 93 with Melinda at the Cherry Creek Theater. It nearly made me cry but unfortunately, they were not purely tears of pride (like with The Great Raid), but mainly tears of sadness. Near tears of near sadness. I think that might be a problem with me. The movie was very good (relatively popular--it's third with a $3.7 million opening day) and it delivered a good message (here's where I channel the extremely smart Dennis Prager).

Most of us remember 9/11/01 and where we were when we heard of or saw the second airplane strike the World Trade Center, which fairly clearly told us this was an attack, not an accident, but we don't know or recall the details. The security screeners didn't find the knives the jihadist murderers had inside their pants. The air traffic controllers barely knew what was going on and could not do a thing to stop the attacks. The FAA couldn't act in time to help, and the military comes off as the least competent and able of the rather inept government entities. They finally scramble F-16s and they head the wrong way. They get other jets in the sky and they're unarmed. They can't find the President to get the shoot down authorization in any event.

So the government failed pretty much at every level, but these guys on the plane (with the surviving stewardesses), mainly Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., under the most tense and harrowing of circumstances, solve the problem not only then but forever. (There will never be another such hijacking, the passengers will rise up and kill them). It was at no small cost to themselves, unfortunately, but their improvised plan is not a second suicide attack; they want to put an American pilot in the seat. So they put the big guys in front and they charge the young Muslim with the faux bomb, kill him and the other stabber and bash in the cockpit door but can't pull the pilot out of the seat in time, which we kind of knew from press accounts and earlier movies (made for TV Flight 93). Even the most dim about recent history know the plane crashed.

The British director, Paul Greengrass, who has done a political account of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Ireland in 1972 (recall the U2 song), uses a little too much hand held cameras for my taste, and spends too little time on the last messages of the passengers who know they're doomed (very effecting though--all the messages are of love) and too much on the pitching plane and struggle towards the cockpit. But this is a tiny criticism of a very good and moving movie. Well done, ya' Brit.

They say on the news that it's a no name cast, but you see faces you recognize here and there (Faye from the TV sitcom Wings is a passenger, for example). Yet the sum of the parts is near brilliance. I have to also admire the probably completely apocryphal account of the only European passenger trying to appease the Muslims by betraying the brewing plot. Sounds possible to me. I know I would never do what the German passenger did, but I wonder if I could have made myself run down the aisle towards an armed fanatic. Hope I never find out. It's 111 minutes long and takes a bit to get cooking but then doesn't look back. If you don't know we are at war with Muslim extremists who want to kill us, you must go see this movie. If you do know it, see it also if just for the recharge. Not exactly a date movie though.


A Particular Sunday Show

Ben Wattenburg is a sage and sane lefty who has a half hour single guest talking head show, on local PBS station 12, after Fox News Sunday (which was pretty good). This week he has Stanford (I'm sad to say) biology professor Paul Ehrlich on, defending his being spectacularly wrong about nearly everything he's ever written. I, like everyone, know that the most difficult thing to know is the future, but Ehrlich's first famous book, The Population Bomb, couldn't be more wrong if he had tried to make it 100% wrong. Ehrlich is pushing a new book he has written with his wife. We can only hope her ability to think rationally about the future is better than her husbands (but somehow I doubt it). Ehrlich seems to drift between denial of what he has said in the past and steadfastly standing by his dire predictions for the future (which are still uniformly bleak). Except for the seemingly intractable Muslim extremist problem, the future, for me, is so bright I have to wear a welding helmet. Professor Ehrlich is proof that it takes a lot of education to make someone this smart this stupid.

I can't peg his politics--I'm tempted to say lefty but it just could be apolitical loonyness. At least he recognized the idiocy of some environmental extremism.


We Could Learn a Lot From Israel

Newly elected (from the new Kadima Party) Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has ordered the completion of the West Bank security barrier (about half of which has been built) to prevent entry into Israel of those who would do them harm. Hmmm.

After breakfast with the boys, I went to the gun show (where nearly everyone was signing the no money to illegal aliens petition) with several members of the unaffiliated bloggers of the Denver metro area, heavy on the libertarian side. Before we wandered separately about the place (it's tough to stick together at the show--everyone's interests are different) we solved many of the pressing problems for our country. We all liked the "high fence, wide gate" proposal of Thomas Friedman. I'm firmly in the fence first camp Hugh Hewitt backs. We had a consensus that you needed a permit for carrying a concealed nuclear weapon and 16 year olds (and older) should be able to buy a belt fed, full auto weapon at the local hardware store with only the sales receipt as the paperwork surrounding that transaction (I'd let 14 year olds).

We decided to go shooting a few weekends away. Doug Sundseth suggested that Tony Sokolow could be the guy who goes down range to change the targets (just kidding--we all like Tony). David even bought a gun in preparation. Imagine that, buying a gun at the gun show. I haven't done that in years. I did buy a clip that didn't actually fit my gun. Oh well.

Oh yea, and the security fence at the southern border of our country would also help us to enforce our immigration laws. So it's a double win.

By the way, are those Mexican flags in the photo above? I can't see them clearly?


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 311 AD, the Edict of Nicomedia was made by the Emperor Galerius, who was dying of cancer at the time. The Edict, the first official recognition of Christians, guaranteed religious freedom and stopped, for a while, the persecution of the Christians which persecution had produced an untold number of martyrs and thousands of saints.


Thought of the Day

The easiest person to deceive is one’s own self.

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Friday Movie Review (late)

Went to see Hard Candy with Sheila. I didn't believe it after about 20 minutes but I had a good time. This review will contain some spoilers. The director, David Slade, has done some music videos and not much else. It's a psychological battle of wits always on the edge of becoming a slasher movie and for all intents and purposes it's a two person filmed play. But still not bad. Kind of disturbing, but in a very different way than how Audition was disturbing.

Since it's really just two, I'll concentrate on the actors. The older guy cruising the internet for too young girls is actor Patrick Wilson (not one of the Wilson brothers). He was born in Norfolk, VA in 1973, so he was about the stated age (32) of the pedophile at the time of the film's release. If you're a good movie fan, you saw him in nothing before this. If you'll watch anything you saw him in The Alamo or The Phantom of the Opera. He can sing (although he doesn't in this movie). His better half is a Polish born actress Dagmara Dominczyk. Lucky guy. He does pretty well in a very demanding role, because you never start to hate him or not care what happens to him, despite his, uh, flaws. I think he could make a bit of a breakout here into people thinking he's a serious actor willing to take a risk or two. He certainly has a lot of projects out there, although none of them were familiar to me.

The fourteen year old wunderkind was played by Ellen Page, who was 17 at the time and comes from Halifax, N.S. I see better things before her than the TV she's done apparently most of her life. Her next movie out will be X-Men where she will play Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat (whatever that means). She's pretty enough, in a skinny, waif-like way. If I had noticed her when I was, say, 16, I doubt I would have wanted to talk to her even.

The gun involved was a Beretta 92 F. Just thought I'd get that out of the way.

Here is a very partial list of the hard to swallow things: 14 year old skinny girl beating up a 32 year old, 6'1" man with a football scar on his chin; 14 year old possessing date rape drug; 14 year old talking two troubled men into suicide; 14 year old girl wanting to faux torture men so they would commit suicide. I think you can see the connection the hard to swallow parts share.

Here are some mysteries: The relationship of Hayley to the missing girl (the older sister she mentions?); why she's on the roof the first time; why she wants him to kill himself rather than she kill him; why he doesn't burn the porno and call the police when he gets free the FIRST time; whether she really did plan everything (except Sandra Oh). Some of these are difficult to answer, which is why I stopped believing it after a short time in.

I liked their acting and some of the little details were great, the video in the VCR while she's pretending to cut; the joy and wonder on her face as she cracks the safe--she's in a rotkaepchen, a little red riding hoodie, at the end. Nicely done there. It's 103 minutes long and well paced. I'd give it a look.


This Day in Renaissance History

On this day in 1429, Joan of Arc entered the French city Orleans, then controlled by the British under siege, and would soon end its months of siege by clearing the city of live Brits, and pretty much turning the tide of the 100 Years War which lasted 116 years, from 1337 to 1453. So, to review and boxscore the War, for the first 85 years the war went England's way with English soldiers roaming most of France pretty much at will and royal led forces slaughtering the French knights at almost every major engagement (The Channel, Crecy, Calais, Poitiers, and Agincourt). The last 30 years leaned to France whose forces slowly drove the English out, except from Calais.


Thought of the Day

Soul meets soul on lovers lips.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, April 28, 2006


Rush Takes the Deal

Rush Limbaugh was finally arrested for becoming addicted to pain pills and obtaining them in large numbers, but it's reported that he's reached a deal--a deferred prosecution. The sweetest of sweetheart deals. Don't do a new offense, stay off the pills (and other things you should do anyway) and the prosecutor dismisses charges you only pled not guilty to.

Of course, there's little doubt that his drug addiction made him go deaf so there is some punishment. Oh and he has to pay the State of Florida $30,000 for the costs of the investigation. A little painful to the pride that but Rush makes many million every year so it hardly dents his wallet.

I wonder if this turn of events will cut down on his calling other people "maggot infested, dope smoking..."? Maybe not.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 32 AD, the future Emperor of Rome, Marcus Salvius Otho, known as Otho, is born. Kind of a disappointment, he was. Not even two months as Emperor. Otho, by the way, is an Etruscan cognomen.


Thought of the Day

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.

Immanual Kant

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Cavuto Clobbers Durbin

I wish I knew more about economics--all I have read is Marx. But I like Neal Cavuto and I like him even more for this take down of short-on-logic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) on gas prices. You can watch the demolition here.

The main reason gasoline is approaching $3.00 per gallon, is that oil, before you refine it and deliver it, is over $70 a barrel and it's not a 55 gallon barrel either.

$.09 per gallon is the average oil company profit and $.50 is the average tax on a gallon. Who's gouging whom?

And I can answer Durbin's lamest question--the reason oil company profits are so high is that they're selling a lot of gasoline Du-uh.

Durbin said: "There is no correlation between the increase in the price of a barrel of oil and what we're paying at the pump." You know, there's common, ordinary idiocy and then there's Senate level idiocy.

UPDATE: The good sense of Thomas Sowell provides a wise second opinion.

UPDATE II: Charles Krauthammer is quite good on the subject as well.


Galloway Doth Protest Too Much Methinks

There's a scene in the good Crossroads where Joe Seneca gives Ralph Macchio, about to cut heads with Steve Vai, his mojo, the Mississippi Voodoo charm--the winning boy's magic--so he has the edge in the contest (turns out Macchio's hours of practice on difficult classical guitar pieces wins the day).

MP George Galloway (Looney Party) is showing that he might have the losing boy's magic. Up for a local election, Galloway seems to be preparing for the inevitable claim of vote fraud should his standing for office (Bethnal Green and Bow) fail.

Corruption and vote rigging ahead of next week's local elections are taking place on a "massive" scale, the Respect MP George Galloway has claimed.

Last seen in a red unitard on the British Big Brother before he was voted off the island (or is that a different TV show?), Galloway is an embarrassment and a buffoon. So, maybe he has a chance after all.

Listen, I can barely call who's going to win house races here and there in my own state--I got nothing for London MP election predictions.


This Seems Like Good News

Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is calling for the new government finally being formed in Iraq to dismantle the militias who have been murdering each other's members like rival Mafia crews gone to the mattresses (if that's not to lame a term). Al-Sistani is perhaps the most influential religious leader in Iraq, he seems to have a 'render unto Caesar what is Caesar's' pragmatism about him, and he did a lot to stop Iraq from descending into the chaos of a Lebanese type Civil War after the golden dome of the Askariya mosque was blown up more than two months ago.

I call this good news and a good idea.


Cool Photo

The nuclear aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in dark silhouette, looking very wide.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael D. Blackwell II, U.S. Navy, took the photo which I find compelling. Mike's probably on the guided missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) but I could be mistaken. It's in high definition so clicking on it fills the screen and more.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1913, Philip Hauge Abelson was born. Not exactly a household name, be became a physical chemist who proposed the gas diffusion process for separating uranium-235 from uranium-238 (essential to the development of the atomic bomb). The Iranians are now following in his footsteps. In collaboration with the U.S. physicist Edwin M. McMillan, he discovered a new element, Neptunium, produced by irradiating uranium with neutrons. At the end WW II, his report on the feasibility of building a nuclear-powered submarine helped give birth to the U.S. program in that field. In 1946, Abelson returned to the Carnegie Institution and pioneered work in utilizing radioactive isotopes. As director of the Geophysics Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution (1953-71), he found amino acids in fossils, and fatty acids in rocks more than 1,000,000,000 years old. He died two years ago.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Rare Sports Post (Becoming More Common)

One minute 8 seconds into overtime, the Avs put another past Turco to make the series 3-0, and you could hear the crack and shatter of the Star's spirit breaking all the way back to Dallas.


The New Zarqawi Video

It's long, and boring but with music--MTV Iraq, all Jihadi, all the time. Here are some comments about the weapons in it.

Zarqawi at first has an AKS 74U in 5.54mm (.223 Winchester) aka the Krinkov. It's the gun Osama Bin Laden always has--a Soviet weapon, short side folder of the improved AK, used by the SpetsNaz, helicopter pilots and tankers. He's carrying extra clips on his chest in fabric carriers and they curve (I don't know why). I always wondered if the shortened barrel of the Krinkov (210 mm) means that, at night, the incomplete combustion of the propellant in the cartridges blooms out about 6 feet.

Other times he has leaning on the wall behind him an M4 carbine with an M203 underslung grenade launcher and a night scope. When that's leaning behind him, the clips in his carrier are straighter, as they all should be.

So why the two weapons? Did he lose the Krinkov?

He's also shown firing, in a way that would almost certainly damage the barrel, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), which is not a weapon beloved by our troops in Iraq.

The missiles they show firing are home-made and unguided. But they also show some shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, which is scarier (even though they just show them, they don't fire them).

Here's some of the translation of his diatribe on the tape. These things sound like they're Daily Kos comments, except saner and less profane:

To the American administration, and at its head the Crusader Bush, and those who surround him from the Jews, the Crusaders, the rejectionists, the apostates and others, we say you will not lead a life of ease in the land of Islam.

Not a single time were you truthful to yourself or your people; even though truthfulness, which you lack, is found in some of your forefathers. Why do not you tell the truth about your soldiers and that their fighting will is rather weak, so that your people will know the truth about this war? Why do not you tell them that your soldiers are continuously committing suicide? Why do not you tell them that your soldiers cannot sleep without taking drugs and hallucination pills and that those pills make them lose their mind to allow your evangelical-Zionist war generals to drag them into the slaughter house? Why do not you tell them about the mass desertion and revolt [which] is growing among the ranks of your soldiers?

O, you arrogant liar! Know that we will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse, by God's help. This rotten play of democracy that you brought with you to the Land of the Two Rivers after you have seduced people by the claims of freedom, happiness and financial and spiritual easiness is gone with the wing and left forever, God willing.

Meanwhile, they forgot or chose to forget that all through modern history, every occupier of a country or colonial power finds those natives who are willing to represent them in order to make it possible for the occupier to secure its stay, to steal the resources of the land and the people, and to safeguard its cunning goals and interests.

Oh what a loss it is for the nation! Who is going to comfort the bereaved mothers, who [is]going to answer the call of the free woman in the prisons of the Crusaders, who is going to free the chaste from the detentions of the hateful rejectionists?

We inform you, our noble Shaykh, about what happened recently in Al-Ramadi, a special and huge operation where God granted victory to the brothers of the Mujahidin Shura Council. They killed all the infidels they could kill, and were able to control the [center] of the city, including the Administration and Directorates, and handed the infidels a great defeat. With God's blessings, they were able to kill a large number of the soldiers as they tightened control of the city for four days and prevented the Americans from even reaching their dead. Praise be to God. This operation was a clear and direct answer to the visits of the infidel ambassadors Condoleezza Rice [U.S. Secretary of State] and Jack Straw [British Foreign Secretary].

In general, the spirits of our troops in Al-Anbar and other areas are good and moral is increasing, in contrast to the infidel armies and their soldiers, who are suffering lower moral and decreasing spirits as they go from one defeat to another.

A little projection going on there, especially at the end.


Two Questions About CIA Leaking

Dana Priest, at the Washington Post, won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting that we were holding terrorist in secret prisons in Europe. She was using information (or confirmation of such information) from recently fired CIA worker Mary McCarthy. The Europeans can't find the prisons. If they never existed, will the Washington Post have to return the Prize, as they did when one was awarded to Janet Cooke, who made up her story about an 8 year old heroin addict who never existed?

If anti-Bush Democrats at the CIA continue to leak classified information willy nilly with no punishment, will the other countries stop sharing secret spy stuff information with us for fear that we'll tell the enemy?

(h/t Irish Pennants)


Ritter Energy Plan

Back in March, Democrat candidate for Governor, and fellow ex-DA, Bill Ritter, unfolded an energy plan. It received some coverage today in the Rocky Mountain News because Ritter was more specific on Tuesday. Here are some comments thereon.

Bill noticed that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was located in Jefferson County west of Denver. He thinks we should use some of the ideas coming out of there. I say good call.

Mr. Ritter wants 25% of the energy used to be renewable by 2025. How long does Ritter plan to be governor?

He also thinks we should set up wind turbines on the windy flat part of the state. Except for the bird and bat deaths those spinning blades cause, again good call.

Ritter also says we should replace traditional light bulbs in all state facilities with long-lasting, energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. OK. Certainly it is a plan strong on detail.

He's for ethanol production and something called bio diesel. Except that ethanol is a horrible gas additive and it costs more energy to produce than it gives burning in a car or truck, that's an OK use of the corn and soybeans Colorado farmers grow, except for the really tasty Olathe corn. We should eat that.

He's strong on coal gasification (turning coal into a liquid fuel--my memory is shaky here but I seem to remember the Nazi troops complaining bitterly about the coal derived fuel they had to use during the last 18 months of the war--oh well, I'm sure we can iron out the kinks).

Finally, Bill Ritter wants future coal fired plants to scrub the CO2 out of the smokestack and bury the shell like product from the scrubbers in what is called integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) with carbon sequestration. Good idea. Wonder what the kilowatt price of that electricity will be? Oh that's right, Ritter is in the price to the consumer be damned crowd.

Oh well, at least he has a program that's not just a wish list supported by platitudes.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 121 AD, one of the best Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius, is born with the name Marcus Annius Verus, the rest of his name came as he was adopted, by Hadrian's order, by Antoninus Pius. He ruled well from 161 to 180 AD, the last of the good five.


Thought of the Day

If a man is talking in the forest, and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?

Jenny Weber

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Lisl Auman is Out

Complicit in the murder of Denver Officer Bruce VanderJagt (she was the kick starter to the Harley Hog of Matthaus Jaehnig, who shot the police officer and then executed himself), Lisl Auman was rescued by the Colorado Supreme Court from her bad decision to refuse the 10-15 year deal offered by Denver Deputy DAs (at least they were ready to offer that) and take it to trial, which bad decision resulted in her conviction of first degree murder which put her in jail for life without the possibility of parole. That's the only sentence available for felony murder in the first degree in this state.

She took a sweeter deal the second time and just completed her halfway house sentence and now has about a decade of semi-monitored parole to complete. I'm not saying it's not justice; she did the prison time of the original deal.

More background here.


Society of Sedition

"We don't have the resources to do it" (sic) because of the ongoing war in Iraq," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said regarding U.S. military options against Iran, now rapidly gaining nuclear weapons. Who needs spies in Washington when you have the Democrats?

Blogger Flopping Aces has a banner regarding the Culture of Treason vis a vis the Democrat Party, but I'm not ready to go that far. Seditious is all they are, and it alliterates with society.

Now, why is telling the world that we can't take military action in Iran sedition? Sedition is defined as "the stirring up of disorder in the state, tending toward treason, but lacking an overt act." STROMBERG v. CALIFORNIA, 283 U.S. 359 (1931) Reid isn't stirring up disorder in the state as much as he is giving our enemies aid (intelligence about our military capabilities). Except he's not telling the truth (no big surprise there). We could take out the majority of Iran's ability to wage nuclear war and clear them from the coast without too much effort or sacrifice.

So why is Reid lying to the World about our military capabilities in Iran? Because he's a flip-flopping faux Iran Hawk, who will say anything as long as it contains a criticism of the Bush Administration.

There are several investigations going on regarding seditious and treasonous illegal acts of leaking classified information (regarding rendition, NSA signal intelligence, etc.) and if the investigators are diligent, some Democrat leaders will be indicted as will several reporters and editors of big name papers. Or so I hope.


Is Tony Snow too Nice for the Job?

Rumor has it that Fox news guy and right wing radio host Tony Snow will replace Scott McClellan as White House spokesperson. OK with me, but don't we want someone with acerbic wit who is not afraid to use it (and will not call on David Gregory until he gets a civil tongue in his head). Tony is a good guy; we'll see.


Rare Sports Post

Few people ever went broke betting on Denver sports teams to choke in the playoffs (and the Nuggets sure look true to form), but I'm beginning to let my desire overwhelm my reason. The Avs, which I wrote off as they mailed in their last few games of the season and lost, have beaten the vaunted Dallas Stars (#2 in the West), in Dallas, TWICE, and have the next two games here in Denver. You can come back from blowing the first two games, but the team has to have a lot of heart and I'm not sure Dallas does (there's no doubt they have a lot of talent). Go Avalanche! What a pleasant surprise.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 1451 BC, Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down (See Joshua 6). I'm reminded of something connected to the Denver Metro Area--Dean Reed, the Red Elvis. I saw him in 1985 when he returned from East Germany to a showing of a documentary about him American Rebel and he sang Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho and it was the worst, most embarrassing, self-parodying performance I had ever seen (even worse than Shatner rapping Rocket Man). How, I thought, was this guy a star in the non-English speaking world? Tom Hanks is rumored to be making a film of the life of Reed. I have a working title--American Loser. He committed suicide in June, 1986. Funny how a word or two can cause a cascade of memories.


Thought of the Day

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, April 24, 2006


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Starfest 2006

My son used to go to the annual Starfest, lately at the DTC Marriott, and I used to kid him a lot for going. One time he asked, how can you criticize me for doing something you know nothing about? Fair enough. So I went last year, and it was pretty fun, but not so fun that I wanted to go the next year; but when next year arrived, a few days ago, I only remembered the fun (including ridiculing some of the people there) and not the tedium or the fact that I was paying nearly $50 for movies I had already seen several times in much more comfortable seats. So I went again. And it was OK.
We recognize the Star Wars clone storm trooper, but who is the woman supposed to be?

Worst news about the future: The 80 minutes of previews (trailers) for movies over the next 6 months. Oh my God. They're nothing but American cartoons, movies made from comic books and remakes. Adam Sandler's movie looked the best of the lot. Bleak, bleak, bleak!

Best thing about Starfest-- girls who dress up like Xena and her 'friend' Gabrielle.

The bad news about this guy's costume was that he's about 5'7".

The action comic book-like movie of A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, which they tried to show the first 27 minutes of, is the new movie by Richard Linkletter (who made Dazed and Confused). It is a rotoscope (filmed then animated) about drug addiction--doesn't look a complete success.

Truest Words Spoken: Joe Flanigan, a CU grad, who plays himself on Stargate Atlantis said. "My character is not exactly a stretch on the show."

Weirdest inclusion at a Science Fiction festival: Pirates. What the frack?

Worst Misuse of the Podium: Sulu (George Takei) talking about his gayness for the bulk of his time on the stage. They guy has to be 70 .

Fellow Blogger Alex stops to smell the rose.

The best thing about the female Klingons on the TV shows and in the Star Trek movies is that they are very well endowed--to use the French vernacular, their balcony is full--and so the women who dress like Klingons at the Starfest have to have the same attributes or use bustiers and wonderbras to achieve the look. Alex here, who blogs at ScifiPundit with the lovely Cheryl, is getting a close up look to the costuming method with his friend from High School. His wife is very understanding.

Not the Brightest Bulb in the Sign award: Tricia Helfer, who plays Cylon style 6 on Battlestar Galactica is a pretty woman who is very nice and personable but probably doesn't read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in her spare time, if you know what I mean.
This woman seemed the sanest of the fan club fanatics seeking new members--no idea what the subject matter of the club was.

Most trepidation for a movie award: Pathfinder. It's set in 892 in Labrador with Skraelings and pre Leif (Lafe) the Lucky Vikings (all good); so they film it in a British Columbia rainforest--two places which could not look less alike. It stars Karl Urban and Moon Bloodstone, who were both there for an hour or two. I don't know. It has Clancy Brown as Gunnar and the Vikings speak Icelandic. We'll see.

More than meets the eye award: Gary Jones, who plays the guy who runs the stargate. He was pretty funny, much more than his constantly repeating "Chevron 6--Encoded" on the show would lead you to believe.

Star Wars trooper and fighter pilot.
Dean Haglund from the X-Files "Lone Gunman" trio (left) and some poseur.

Haglund was there last time and is not afraid to make fun of himself (which I assume is a talent he picked up early in life). He is deep into improvisation--the death of comedy.

Dirk Benedict of the Original Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team and a smirking fan.

I was going to write sarcastically about this guy as he seems bitter about the fact that the new Starbuck (a woman) is a more manly character than he ever was and because he would not shut up up on the stage but I'm going to leave the dismissal to the more talented Cheryl. The other reason is that he's a cancer survivor and that fact just takes all the wind out of my sails.

Six guys with absolutely nothing going on in their lives. I mean sand people. Come on.
Hey guys, lets dress up in coarse burlap costumes with hot heavy headpieces. It will be fun.
Denise Crosby, who was cracking herself up on stage, looking not quite as good as her spread in Playboy a few decades ago.
I never liked her character on the show but that she made fun of herself in the pretty good documentaries Trekkies and Trekkies II makes me like her more. And the Playboy layout. That helped too.

Once you have the helmet, the costume just seems to fall in place. Guy assigned to the death ray on the Death Star.

What caused the Star Wars art director to make that design is anyone's guess.

The other thing I noticed is that there seems to be a connection between sitting on couches watching TV for long periods of time and the body types of the fans. At one point we were looking for thin, good looking people in normal dress. There were none (including, alas, me).

Saw Serenity again and was laughing my ass off. In fact, the Browncoats were a repeated motif. There was a documentary Done the Impossible about reviving the canceled TV show Firefly into a big studio movie, which failed. Oh well.

The short Darth Vader and his even shorter enemy.
More Troopers and what appears to be a Boba Fett in winter camo.
What's with the dirt? When have we ever seen a storm trooper get dirty on Star Wars? When have you seen anyone get dirty in a Star Wars movie?

A different Fett and the same non-mobile R2-D2. If you want to make a Boba Fett costume, I have the link. I also have the name of a good psychiatrist, which actually might be more important in the long run.

The funny thing is that some guys had real (empty) guns as part of their costumes and some guys had toy guns, but they had to inspect even the toy guns and tag them before they would let you walk around holding one (I guess that was for safety).

I kept saying I was going to try to talk to one of the guys or girls in costume but for the second year all I wanted to ask was: "What are you dressing up for?"

Bloody Pirates and some guys in skirts. At the Bar. What are the odds?

Sheila took all the good photos, of men that is, like this one just above.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 1184 BC, Trojan soldiers drag into their city a huge statue of a horse, in which Greek soldiers are hidden. Really. It's in the Aeneid.


Thought of the Day

It was like answering the call from another world. It was more than being good or being bad. Perhaps it was love.

Yuchiro Miura on sking down part of Everest.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Notables at Starfest 2006

I'm writing a full account of the Starfest 2006 but I just wanted to tease it with the news that I finally talked Diomedes* into coming and, like a trooper, he came in an original Star Trek costume--as he put it "Kirk--the Retirement Years."

* Just kidding, Diomedes is older than this gentleman.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1858 Max (Karl Ernst Ludwig) Planck, a German theoretical physicist was born. He studied at Munich and Berlin, under Helmholz, Clausius and Kirchoff and subsequently joined the faculty. He became professor of theoretical physics (1889-1926). His work on the law of thermodynamics and the distribution of radiation from a black body led him to abandon classical Newtonian principles and introduce the quantum theory (1900), for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918. This theory assumes that energy is not infinitely subdivisible, but ultimately exists as discrete amounts he called quanta (Latin, "how much"). Further, the energy carried by a quantum depends in direct proportion to the frequency of its source radiation. In other words, Planck is directly responsible for the paradigm shift in physics away from Newtonian and into what we now call quantum physics.

(h/t Today in Science History)


Thought of the Day

Anyone who fought in Vietnam, if he is honest about himself, will have to admit he enjoyed the compelling attractiveness of combat. It was a peculiar enjoyment because it was mixed with a commensurate pain, Under fire, a man's power of life heightened in proportion to the proximity of death so that he felt an elation as extreme as his dread. His senses quickened, he attained an acuity of consciousness at once pleasurable and excruciating. It was something like the elevated state of awareness induced by drugs. And it could be just as addictive, for it made whatever else life offered in the way of delights or torments seem pedestrian.

Philip Caputo in A Rumor of War

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Weak Light Posting Excuse

I'm letting my geek flag fly.


Free Speech in High School

A Ninth Circuit split panel decision this past week, Harper v. Poway Unified School District has a lot of people up in arms with actually quite good criticism of the decision--mainly Eugene Volokh and his crew--but they are, I believe, nipping at the edges and the core of the outcome, if not the decision, is sound.

Briefest of statements of fact: High Schooler wears shirt on Day of Silence (Honoring? gay students) saying, on the front: BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL HAS EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED, and on the back: HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL Romans 1:27. Young Master Harper was told to take the shirt off, he refused--punishment followed by lawsuit.

Outside a school, the majority ruled, no one could make Harper take the shirt off but in a school it was OK.

What's wrong with that? If a student wanted to wear a Swastika shirt (like the guy in The Believer) I think the school could make him take it off--or if he wore shirt with the same message Bruce Willis wore on his signboard in Die Hard with a Vengeance, I think the school could make him take it off. Aren't we conservatives usually worried that the schools are not doing enough to enforce the 'peace' in school? Except about the moronic zero tolerance about pen knives and toy soldiers.

What troubles Volokh and his ilk is found starting on page 29 of the opinion and the pay off comes on page 31 where the court OKs banning free speech in "instances of derogatory and injurious remarks at student's minority status such as race, religion and sexual orientation." Many see that as creating a right not to be offended, which is anathema to free speech (of course the pleasant speech doesn't need any protection). Others are concerned that race and religion (mentioned in the Constitution and amendments specifically) are now joined by and are equal to sexual orientation (not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution).

I'm a little troubled that the statements on the shirt were deemed derogatory and injurious. The Church speaks for God here on Earth and it condemns homosexuality as a sin. Harper even had a supporting cite for his statement to Paul's letter to the Romans. When did truth become derogatory and injurious?

As an optimist, I hope that our wise Supreme Court will take the time to sort this out in the near future.


This Day in History

Although it was really the last (and biggest) of several, on this day in 1889, starting at noon, was the Oklahoma Land Rush, where 20,000 homesteaders raced from a starting line to claim free government land in the new territory. The good news was that you got free land; the bad news was that it was in Oklahoma.


Thought of the Day

It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.

Robert Anton Wilson

Friday, April 21, 2006


Friday Movie Review

Went to see Brick at the Esquire. Alex has now seen it 3 times. It was pretty good for a low budget indy film and I liked that it was neo noir, but I can't say I recognized the world it portrayed and that was definitely not the High School I attended.

Here's what a film fan wrote about film noir:

Film noir films (mostly shot in gloomy grays, blacks and whites) showed the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism and doomed love, and they emphasized the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience. An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion that anything can go wrong, dingy realism, futility, fatalism, defeat and entrapment were stylized characteristics of film noir. The protagonists in film noir were normally driven by their past or by human weakness to repeat former mistakes.

Film noir was marked by expressionistic lighting, deep-focus camera work, disorienting visual schemes, jarring editing or juxtaposition of elements, skewed camera angles (usually vertical or diagonal rather than horizontal), circling cigarette smoke, existential sensibilities, and unbalanced compositions. Settings were often interiors with low-key lighting, venetian-blinded windows and rooms, and dark, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances. Exteriors were often urban night scenes with deep shadows, wet asphalt, dark alleyways, rain-slicked or mean streets, flashing neon lights, and low key lighting. Story locations were often in murky and dark streets, dimly-lit apartments and hotel rooms of big cities, or abandoned warehouses. [Often-times, war-time scarcities were the reason for the reduced budgets and shadowy, stark sets of B-pictures and film noirs.]

Narratives were frequently complex, maze-like and convoluted, and typically told with foreboding background music, flashbacks (or a series of flashbacks), witty, razor-sharp and acerbic dialogue, and/or reflective and confessional, first-person voice-over narration. Amnesia suffered by the protagonist was a common plot device, as was the downfall of an innocent Everyman who fell victim to temptation or was framed. Revelations regarding the hero were made to explain/justify the hero's own cynical perspective on life.

I have a shorter definition: Film noir movies show that life is a very dangerous place and the good and bad are equally likely to get screwed by a lying woman.

My favorites are: Out of the Past and The Maltese Falcon. Neo noir films include Chinatown, Miller's Crossing (the movie most directly referred to by Brick), Body Heat and LA Confidential.

He was hard to recognize but the lead guy, Brendan, was played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who was the child actor on the TV show 3rd Rock From the Sun. He's all grown up now but is still playing a teenager. The other child star grown up but still stuck in child like roles was Lukas Haas, the little kid in Witness. I can't see him becoming a major star and he is 30, but he is working a lot. He plays the supposedly crippled Pin, as in Kingpin. It was good to see Richard Roundtree, the original John Shaft, still getting work.

There was a problem with appending the hard as diamond tough talk of noir films onto modern High School slang--it became incomprehensible. There was the same problem setting a complicated drug/murder private investigation in a High School. I mean, could you stop the investigation of tough guys by tougher guys to get to 3rd period language lab? It came off a little silly.

I have one question (I know what Laura whispered to Brendan)--was the Brain an imaginary friend of Brendan?

Despite the stretches of plot and dialogue, I had a good time, and with the near complete lack of Hollywood movies worth watching lately, you could do a lot worse than Brick.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 323 BC, Diogenes of Sinope, a cynical philosopher, dies. Here is a shorthand way to keep some of the ancient philosophies straight. Epicures would take delight in having their wives in their arms and the pleasure of that moment would be complete. Stoics with their wives in their arms would take pleasure, but would keep in mind that one day their wives would be dead and decaying and that thought would temper their pleasure. Cynics with their wives in their arms would try to imagine right then their wives dead and decaying and thus would take no pleasure at all in holding them alive. I tend toward Epicurean philosophy myself and reject all things cynical.


Thought of the Day

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.

George S. Patton, Jr.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Joe Wilson--the Politics of Lies

Here are excerpts from a Daily Kossak's account (by thl lib) of a Joe Wilson speech late last month:

The neocons need to be forced back into the dark holes from which they crawled. They are nothing but parasites who serve nobody and nothing but themselves who are using the Republican Party as a serving host

It still amazes me when I still see that drunk Bill Kristol on tv every week still spewing the same nonsense he was spewing 3 years ago

You know when they first started trying to come up with a way to discredit me, which we now know started in March of 2003, they went through the old standbys. 'He's had 3 wives, he's a womanizer, he's done drugs.' But then they realized they couldn't' use those because I've never actually denied them. I mean I'm the first to admit that, unlike Ken Mehlman and David Dreier, I really like women.

Ann Coulter and others came up with the crap that Joe couldn't get a job on his own, he needed his wife to find one for him because "he's a wussy man". Well, when I thought about it, I wasn't really all that surprised hearing it from Ann. Afterall, she is a rather manly woman.

(since I had handwritten notes from George's dad thanking me for my brave service in saving American lives in Baghdad)

Here's a reaction from lefty Mark Kleinman at The Reality-Based Community:

I've mostly laid off Joseph Wilson, not wanting to let the issue of his (execrable) character interfere with the question of who outed his wife as a covert CIA officer. But this from Daily Kos ... I mean I'm the first to admit that, unlike Ken Mehlman and David Dreier, I really like women.
is simply intolerable. The whole entry makes it sound likely that Wilson is now completely drunk on the sound of his own voice...Given Wilson's history, he could have been an effective anti-Bush spokesman, if he weren't such a toad.

Lefty Jason Zengerle at the New Republic jumps in with this headline (EXPERTS AGREE, WILSON'S A PIG) and link to Mark Kleinman.

When the main thrust of your argument is ad hominem invective, you're a bad person. And the guys on the left who early on lionized Joe Wilson and awarded the Ridenhour Award for Truth-Telling to him, are slowly waking up to that fact, or so it would seem.

Finally, all of the real heroes I know rarely talk about their heroism and never call themselves brave. Wilson, who did a fantastic job in Baghdad during Gulf War I, wrenches his arm out patting himself on his back.



One of the things the trial deputy District Attorneys have to do is decide what the proper plea bargain is. Based on the criminal history of the accused, the nature of the crime and the strength (or lack thereof) of the evidence, the prosecutor will offer anything from a harsh to a sweet deal to the criminally accused. The harshest is GorT (Guilty or Trial) and it's the same as no deal. You're either mad at the defendant or have a slam dunk case, or both, if you GorT someone.

The defense attorneys have a similar harsh demand, DorT (Dismiss or Trial). It's their signal to the prosecutor that they think his or her case sucks.

In Durham yesterday, attorney Bill Cotter, who represents accused Duke lacrosse player Collin Finnerty said: "I can't tell you about (everybody), but my client's case is either going to be dismissed by the D.A. or go to trial." That's a DorT.


This Day in History

On this day in 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris went to Columbine High School armed. Klebold carried a cheap TEC-DC-9 in 9mm, a sawed off doublebarrel 12 gauge Stevens shotgun and two knives. Harris carried a cheap HiPoint carbine in 9mm, a sawed off pump 12 gauge Savage Springfield shotgun, and two knives. They also carried lots of homemade bombs, mainly pipe bombs. They blew and shot up the place and students, killing 12 and fatally wounding a teacher (who should have been saved) and wounding 24 non-fatally before they executed each other (or committed suicide). A bleak day, just down the road from here.


Thought of the Day

We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.

Samuel Smiles

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Men With No Country

Although they are not enemy combatants, the two ethnic Uighurs look to be in Guantanamo Bay detention for a long time. Let me explain.

Uighurs are Chinese Muslims. These two, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim, were picked up in Pakistan because they were thought to be Taliban fighters; but they were not, and Americans admitted that fact over a year ago. So why are they still in Guantanamo Bay detention?

Because we can't return them to China when we know China might persecute them, and we don't want to let them in out country (I've guess we've filled the quota of Chinese Muslims this year), and no other country will take them, they're pretty much stuck where they are.

So they sit in captivity in Cuba in a sort of protective custody. The Supreme Court turned down an appeal of their non-release on procedural reasons. This is part of the reason War is bad.


Kind of a Reverse Typhoid Mary

Salome Simon, a prostitute in Nairobi, Kenya, has had unprotected sex with probably 50,000 men over the last 20 years in a nation with perhaps a 25 percent AIDS infection rate. She is not infected.

Despite a near total lack of progress, scientists believe her apparent natural immunity will lead to a vaccine, eventually.

Here's the weird part:

It also seems, bizarrely, that the immunity fades if sexual activity ceases. Blood tests have shown that women who take a break from their work, as the Nairobi prostitutes often do on their annual return to their villages, suffer a sharp fall in their immune responses. Several have contracted the virus on resuming business. "The conclusion is that they are best protected when their systems are being constantly challenged," says Dr Plummer. "When there is nothing to fight, the defences come down."

Nor is the women's immunity absolute. When HIV is introduced into samples of their blood, it takes hold as it would normally. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the Nairobi prostitutes is, therefore, that they seem to be protected only against contracting HIV through sex. "This makes us think," says Dr Richard Lester, an infectious disease specialist attached to the team, "that the key to the immunity may lie in their genital tracts. The virus is entering their bodies, but before it gets into their bloodstream it is being identified and killed.


This Day in Late Renaissance History

On this day in 1529, those Christians who no longer followed the Catholic dogma were first called Protestants. In this year, the Diet of Speyer met to decide the Turkish question and what to do with the new form of Christians (not all were Lutherans). Charles V vowed that he would wipe out the Lutheran heresy, but several princes and even more cities made a formal written appeal of such a decision and as a result of the appeal began to call themselves Protestants.


Thought of the Day

The Public is an old woman. Let her maunder and mumble.

Thomas Carlyle

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Free the Duke Deux

I have no idea if the two recently indicted and arrested Duke lacross players are guilty or not, but in case the case goes the way of the Kobe Bryant prosecution, I wanted to get the alliterative headline out first.

Rapists are scum; women who make false rape charges are scum too.


This is Difficult to Believe

A lot of companies make Winchester .223 rounds, only two make 5.56mm (which is the same round) in sufficient numbers with sufficient indicia of reliability that the U.S. will buy them for use by our soldiers. These two companies are: Winchester Ammunition in East Alton, Illinois (although the actual bullet factory is the Lake City plant in Independence, Missouri) and Israel Military Industries Ltd. in, well, Israel. Uh ho. That would mean Jews. We bought $70 million worth of cartridges from each of these companies just to make sure we have enough. But here's where the story takes a strange twist (to the left), Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), ranking member of an Armed Forces sub-committee on land forces has said that, "by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized [against Muslims]."


Let me get this straight, we can kill them, put a round in their brain, but we can't INSULT them by using an Israeli made cartridge--because, of course, we wouldn't want, under any circumstances, to offend the jihadists we're trying to kill. Only a PhD in American Studies from UH could be this monumentally stupid.

Wait, there's more. Chairman of the sub-committee, Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), thinks Abercrombie has a good point--we don't want to fall into a propaganda pitfall by using Israeli made rounds; it's a matter of sensitivity. So the stupidity is not this time all on the left. I'm sorry, I still don't see the downside to using Jewish rounds. Sensitivity, my ass.

Jeff Goldstein thinks along similar lines over at Protein Wisdom. Great minds and all.

Finally, this is a story from 2004--long shelf life stupidity, I guess.


Recycling or Rip-Off?

I really liked Galaxy Quest (starring my best friend from second grade, Timmy Dick aka Tim Allen) because it was clever and made such gentle but accurate fun of Shatner and Star Trek fandom (apropos with the local Starfest hard upon us) but I had no idea that it allowed the costumes of its slightly reptilian aliens to be re-used in a more recent (and lesser) film--the made for TV Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which I watched on SciFi last night. The lead alien even used the exact same voice. Oh well, why reinvent the wheel?


This Day in Ancient History

A Day of Tragedy. On this day in 73 AD, the zealots of Masada, knowing the Romans will breach the wall, overwhelm and capture them the next day, all kill themselves rather than be enslaved. 960 perish. Was it victory or defeat?


Thought of the Day

uri, vinciri, verberari, feroque necari.

oath of submission of Roman Gladiators

burned, shackled, whipped and killed by iron.

Monday, April 17, 2006


This Day in Ancient History (Redux)

On this day in 69 AD, Emperor Otho commits suicide at age 36 after only three months as Emperor. His death leaves his rival Vitelius as unquestioned Emperor of Rome, at least for a while.


Hitchens on Joe Wilson

Old lefty, but clear eyed on our current anti-Jihad war, Christopher Hitchens calls former ambassador Joe Wilson both clueless and a liar. I agree. I've said so even recently.

Hitchens, who can speak for 30 minutes on why Mother Theresa (or the current Dalai Lama) were bad people, had pegged Joe Wilson as a liar 20 months ago.

Here are the current money quotes: February 1999, Saddam Hussein dispatched his former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and former delegate to non-proliferation conferences at the United Nations, to Niger.


Wilson...first denied that the CIA had anything to do with selecting him for the Niger mission and later claimed that he had exposed a forgery that wasn't disclosed until after he returned—that the mind reels at having to reread his conceited book. However, dear reader, on your behalf I was prepared to do it. The closest Wilson ever comes to a notional Iraq-Niger contact is at second hand, when one of his government sources tells of an approach, through a Niger businessman, to meet an Iraqi official at a conference of the Organization of African Unity in Algiers in 1999. Looking back on this event, his source now thinks that he recognizes the Iraqi as Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. Wilson likes this story enough to tell it twice (on Pages 28 and 424 of his book). And it's a jolly good story, too, since Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf is more widely known as "Baghdad Bob," the information minister who furnished some low comic relief during the last days of the regime in 2003. Relieved laughter all around. Nothing to worry about after all. As Wilson asks with triumphant sarcasm: "Was that the smoking gun that could supposedly have become a mushroom cloud?"
Take that permanent smirk off your face, Ambassador (and the look of martyrdom as well, while you are at it). It seems that your contacts in the Niger Ministry of Mines—the ones that your wife told the CIA made you such a good choice for the trip—didn't rate you highly enough to tell you about the Zahawie visit.


Sami Takes the Deal

Here's the story's lead paragraph:

Former university professor Sami al-Arian has pleaded guilty to aiding the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad and agreed to be deported, according to documents made public on Monday by a U.S. court in Florida.

I guess Bill O'Reilly can start gloating a little, although the hung jury on several counts, while acquitting al-Arian on most of the charges, shut up O'Reilly for a while about this. I took it as more evidence that war fighting doesn't belong in Federal District Court.

Al-Arian and crazy old Moussaoui have both saved our Justice Department from humiliation with guilty pleas.


You Read It Here First

And perhaps only here. I'm not ready to call this story in the Telegraph a turning point, but it's not bad news. Money quotes:

But Sheikh Osama Jadaan's dislike of foreign occupation is nothing compared to his contempt for Iraq's other intruders - the foreign jihadists who have indiscriminately killed thousands of his countrymen. Now, in what coalition commanders hope will mark a turning of the tide against al-Qaeda in Iraq, he has become the first of the Sunni tribal leaders to declare war on the terrorists to whom, until now, they have given safe haven.
He is well-placed to do so - his al-Karabla tribe lives around the desert city of Al Qaim, near the Syrian border in Anbar province, the Sunni insurgents' stronghold.
Sheikh Jadaan's armed followers claim to have arrested and killed 300 would-be jihadis entering from Syria, many bound for service as suicide bombers with Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

I had to read the last paragraph twice before it sank in--"arrested and killed," not arrested, tried and executed. The Sheikh's primary reason is that the foreign jihadists target and kill civilians, which gives jihad a bad name (the secondary reason is that they don't attack the Americans often enough, so there is a little rough with the smooth here).

See if this is covered by the rapidly becoming irrelevant mainstream media in the US. I say it won't be widely covered and may only be mentioned on Brit Hume's grapevine segment.

UPDATE: No mention on the grapevine so far. 470 hits for the Sheikh's name on Google, almost all of which are links to the same story I linked to. So don't try to tell me that the buggy whip media goes out of its way to report the good news in Iraq, because good news like this just doesn't get reported widely. QED. 4/18/06 at 17:37


Like a One Legged Man...

The Taliban continues to have a vital body part handed to them in what turns out to be the dreaded Spring Offensive (called Operation Mountain Lion) by the British and native troops in Afghanistan. I hate to fall into the body count as milestones of victory program we did to our detriment in Viet Nam, but that's about all the media are reporting.


This Day in History

On this day in 1961, U.S. trained Cuban exiles launched an ultimately unsuccessful military invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. This event is a Rorschach test of history. Many, including me, see it as incipient Democrat treachery; Kennedy gave the CIA the green light, then refused to supply the necessary air support. Others will continue to see the failure at Bay of Pigs as the result of the stubborn power of Fidel Castro, and our deserved come-uppance.


Thought of the Day

Of course, it is very important to be sober when you take an exam. Many worthwile careers in the street-cleansing, fruit-picking and subway-guitar-playing industries have been founded on a lack of understanding of this simple fact.

Terry Pratchett in Moving Pictures

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Hitler Was Not This Crazy

This article is scary as hell. I know it's wrong to compare anyone to Hitler, but just in terms of Jew hatred Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compares unfavorably with Hitler. That is to say, Ahmadinejad is worse. I'm not the only one who is making the comparison. Others have said that Hitler told us what he was going to do. I have to disagree (although I quit reading Mein Kampf in disgust just a hundred pages in). There was talk before and at the beginning of the war about the Endlösung of the Jewish question, but the answer was not death on an industrial scale until Reinhard Heydrich decided on death at the Wannsee Conference in early 1942, which decision was kept imperfectly secret. Unlike Hitler, isn't Ahmadinejad making his intentions clear, by saying there was no Holocaust, but there will be if Iran develops nuclear weapons. Is there any reason to disbelieve him about the latter?

Money quotes from the article by Amir Taheri:

According to this analysis, spelled out in commentaries by Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". Iran's current strategy, therefore, is to wait Bush out. And that, by "divine coincidence", corresponds to the time Iran needs to develop its nuclear arsenal, thus matching the only advantage that the infidel enjoys.


Ahmadinejad has also reactivated Iran's network of Shia organisations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen, while resuming contact with Sunni fundamentalist groups in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. From childhood, Shia boys are told to cultivate two qualities. The first is entezar, the capacity patiently to wait for the Imam to return. The second is taajil, the actions needed to hasten the return. For the Imam's return will coincide with an apocalyptic battle between the forces of evil and righteousness, with evil ultimately routed. If the infidel loses its nuclear advantage, it could be worn down in a long, low-intensity war at the end of which surrender to Islam would appear the least bad of options. And that could be a signal for the Imam to reappear.

At the same time, not to forget the task of hastening the Mahdi's second coming, Ahamdinejad will pursue his provocations. On Monday, he was as candid as ever: "To those who are angry with us, we have one thing to say: be angry until you die of anger!"

If Ahmadinejad will continue to waste the West's time with duplicitous decisions and faux negotiations which are designed only to wait out the rest of President Bush"s term in office, isn't the pressure on to do something decisive right about now?

The article also mentions the return of the Mahdi. I'm confused. Didn't the Mahdi take Khartoum and kill Chinese Gordon in 1885? Or is the distinction between a person calling himself the Mahdi and the real Mahdi? At least Ahmadinejad is not yet calling himself that.

(h/t Hugh Hewitt)


Thought of the Day

Age does not protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from age.

Jeanne Moreau


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in early 1st Century AD (33?) Jesus resurrected and appeared to Mary Magdelene, Cleopas and the 11 Apostles left, showing some of them his fatal wounds. See Luke 24.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


The Start of the Dreaded Spring Offensive in Afghanistan

What was it that John Kerry used to say during his spectacularly unsuccessful campaign for President? Oh yea--Bring. It. On. What a panty waist poseur.

But apparently our troops and allies are deep into that sort of thinking for real against the Taliban resurgent in southern Afghanistan. We killed 41 Taliban redux types for the loss of no Americans and 6 Afghani policemen. We can keep up that sort of fight for a long time.

In addition, US-led forces killed six Taliban fighters in an air strike in eastern Afghanistan on Friday.

I keep hearing Robert De Niro in Cape Fear--"Come out, come out, where ever you are!" Yea, come out and fight, Taliban. You're doing well.


But What's in it For Us?

This story is a little weird--Israel may propose freeing convicted Palestinian killer Marwan Barghouti in trade for us freeing jailed American spy (for Israel) Jonathan Pollard (and two first round draft picks). Weird because what in the World would cause Americans to want to have Barghouti freed? For that matter what in the World would cause the Israelis to want to have Barghouti freed?

I can see Israel wanting to get Pollard out; he at least helped them out. I went to school with Pollard--he was a year behind me at Stanford, and I recall his staged, silly entrance at a party once where two of his friends went through the milling-about partygoers shouting "make way for the Mossad agent," then Pollard, in dark glasses at midnight, came in. What a weird fantasy life he was leading, but he continued to lead it directly into federal prison for life. Even President Clinton wouldn't free this guy when he went pardon crazy at the end of his second term.

OK Israelis, propose the mutual freeing. Our answer should be swift and to the point. Go ahead and free Barghouti, if somehow that helps you out, but Pollard stays where he is.

This can't be a real story.

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post is carrying the same story. Isn't this kind of a win/win for Israel (assuming Barghouti would somehow help the Israelis with the continuing problem of Hamas in charge) and lose/push for us?


Johnny Weissmuller is Long Dead but...

His chimpanzee co-star is alive and well in Palm Springs retirement. Cheetah, the mis-named chimpanzee, who was the companion of Tarzan in films in the 30s and 40s, just celebrated his 74th birthday this past Tuesday.

Starting with Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932, Cheetah was in at least 2 films through 1967 (Tarzan Escapes and Dr. Doolittle, where he played Che Che). I remember Cheetah in most of the Weissmuller Tarzan films, but perhaps my memory is faulty; still, it's good to know he's doing fine all these long years later.

Johnny Sheffield (whose entire film career was in a loincloth as either Boy or Bamba) is also alive but his survival is not as surprising as the graying Cheetah, who has his diabetes under control, I just learned.

(h/t Stephen Green)


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1907 Nicholaas Tinbergen was born in the Netherlands. He later moved to England where he became an ethologist, a zoologist who studied the behavior of animals in their natural habitats. He later shared (with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1973, for their discoveries concerning "organization and elicitation of individual and social behavior patterns." He is known for his long-term field observations of the social patterns, courtship and mating behavior of seagulls in their natural habitat. Though gulls were his primary interest, his diverse studies also encompassed sand wasps and stickleback fish. He discovered super optimum triggers to animal behavior (red knitting needles, for example, with two white stripes caused juvenile gulls to peck at them far more often than perfect replicas of the adult gull heads, with just the one red spot on the beak).

His most elegant experiment came after watching a sand wasp bury stung prey with her larvae (and then, every time, buzz around the location before flying off for more prey). He wanted to know if the wasp was memorizing the location of the hidden nest from viewing the surroundings. Tinbergen placed several pine cones equidistant around the entrance of the nest. After the wasp left the nest, covered it with sand, and buzzed the area around the nest, Tinbergen moved the pine cones to surround just virgin sand. The wasp returned and began digging in the center of the pine cone circle, thus proving that she had indeed memorized the location of the nest from observation of surrounding landmarks.


The Harrowing of Hell

Although the Protestants leave it out of the Creed, we Catholics are often reminded that after Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Hell. The monks in Britain a thousand years ago were fascinated by popular accounts of what Jesus did in Hell both between his death and resurrection and on Judgment day. My favorite account, which I have totally lost, tells of Jesus descending into Hell and winnowing out the few souls who deserved better. Then He locked up the gates of Hell forever using a tremendously heavy 4 foot long key. After the gates were locked, He withdrew the key and, like a hammer toss at the Olympic games, He then threw the key up and over the gates of Hell so that it fell on the Hell side, useless to those inside as the lock only has an outside keyhole. And the clanging sound as the key hit the rocky ground on the other side of the gates rang in the ears of the Damned forever.


Thought of the Day

Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock.

Wynn Catlin, also attributed to Will Rogers

Friday, April 14, 2006


Selling Out (Round 3)

It appears that advertising executives listen to all sorts of music. More rock sellouts (this time with samples):

Jane's Addiction -- True Nature -- Cooper Tires Listen

Paul Oakenfold -- Starry-Eyed Surprise -- Diet Coke Listen

Screamin' Jay Hawkins -- I Put a Spell on You -- Levis Listen

Dirty Vegas -- Days Go By -- Mitsubishi Listen

Franz Ferdinand -- Take Me Out -- Sony Listen

ELO -- Mr. Blue Sky -- Volkswagen Listen

Caesars -- Jerk It Out -- Apple (Ipod) Listen

The Turtles -- Happy Together -- Heineken Listen

Dave Brubeck -- Blue Rondo A La Turk -- United States Postal Service Listen

Godsmack -- Sick Of Life -- United States Navy Listen

Bay City Rollers -- Saturday Night -- Planters Peanuts Listen


Justice in the War Against Islamacist Extremism

One of the masterminds for the African Embassy bombings in 1998, Egyptian-born explosives expert Mohsin Musa Mutawalli Atwah, was believed to have been killed by Pakistani troops on Wednesday.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day (or perhaps it was in March) early in the first century AD (33?) Jesus was betrayed by Judas, given by the Sanhedrin to Pilate, tried, scourged and executed by crucifixion. (See Mark 15).


Thought of the Day

Nil magis amat cupiditas, quam quod non licet.


Lust wants whatever it can't have.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Continued Success in Iraq

The still working General, spokesman for the US Military in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, announced that our forces killed Rafid Ibrahim Fattah, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Umar al-Kurdi, near Baquba, Iraq, last month. We also captured Mohammed Hilal Hammad Ubaydi, also known as Abu Ayman, a close aide of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and former aide to the Iraqi intelligence chief. Rafid was called the ambassador from al Qaeda and was a liaison between various terrorist outfits. Mohammed Hilal is a top suspect in the kidnapping of Italian communist Guiliana Sgrena.

On the other hand, it looks like the ever decreasing US troop war deaths in Iraq over the past months is going to end big time this month.


What? The UN Fails?

Although he's popular among the appeasement crowd and One Worlders of the Scandinavian Peninsula, UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei has failed to convince Iran to freeze its nuclear program during a brief visit to Tehran.

Isn't it apparent that no amount of talking will stop the Iranians from pursuing nuclear weapons? I would have thought that would have been completely self evident, but of course, I thought it was clear that ElBaradei was as useful to non-proliferation as teats on a boar and he won the Nobel Peace Prize (for failing to disarm Iran's nuclear weapons program). So, what do I know?


Critical of Secretary Rumsfeld

Another retired General, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Big Red One last year, has joined with Generals Eaton, Zinni and Newbold in criticizing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I'm a fan of the current SecDef. I'm wondering now if retired generals are like dismissed alternate jurors--knowledgeable, but irrelevant and almost always wrong.


Is George Santayana Right?

On March 7, 1936, the first German troops crossed the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne as Hitler was addressing the Reichstag, and began reoccupation of Rhineland, the area of Germany between the Rhine and the borders with France, Belgium, etc. (the former Palatinate). There were never more than a single Division of German troops, ill equipped for a fight and under orders to run away as soon as French troops showed up. Although there were as many as 10 French Divisions just across the border (nearly 100 in all of France), the French merely declared this violation of the Locarno Pact and Versailles Treaty unacceptable and did nothing. A few weeks later, on March 29, a nationwide referendum was held in which 99 percent of the registered voters in Germany went to the polls and gave a 98.8 percent "Ja" vote approving Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland and Hitler could do, after that, virtually anything he wanted.

Iran has violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by pursuing a course which will inevitably result in Uranium (and Plutonium) of sufficient isotope purity so it could be used in a nuclear weapon. We have declared that unacceptable. What happens next will effect history more than we can imagine.

Had French troops entered the Palatinate to expel the German troops, there would probably have been some casualties, harsh letters back and forth between Paris and Berlin and those who signed the Oxford Student Union peace resolution would have been critical of France's government. But Hitler would have been almost surely finished politically and WWII would have occurred, if at all, in a much different and less virulently evil form, at a much later time.

So, are we going to act like Americans of the 20th Century or like the French, who cannot stand up to tiny mobs of rock throwing youths? The answer will clearly depend upon our leadership.

UPDATE: It appears this comparison is self evident. Even Bill Kristol saw it.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 193 AD, Didius Julianus, who bought the title from the Praetorian Guards, becomes Emperor of Rome. He is killed by the Praetorian Guards two months later. Sic transit stultum pecuniamque.


Thought of the Day

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.

Ralph Sockman

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Short TV Post

I was watching Constantine on HBO, a movie I quite like (although my elder daughter says the comic books it's based on are much better) and the guy who plays the devil in it is the same guy in the extremely funny German faux rap commercials regarding VW GTIs (which are off the air now for the new safety ones--where the Jetta gets T-boned and everyone is OK). He's Peter Stormare, a 52 year old Swede who started in films at 29 in Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. He's now on Prison Break but here are the roles in movies where he was good, in his incredibly weird way: Nhilist #1 in The Big Lebowski; Dino Velvet in 8MM; Dr. Solomon Eddie in Minority Report. He was also in the Frogger episode on Seinfeld, but I don't remember him.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 65 AD, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, orator, author, stoic philosopher and tutor of the Emperor Nero, dies by his own hand on the order of Nero.


Thought of the Day

Qui totum vult, totum perdit.

Attributed to Seneca

He who wants it all, loses it all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Testing, Testing 1-2-4,500

The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System--CIWS (Sea Whiz) practicing earlier this month off Florida on the USS John Kennedy (CVN-67). It's in 20mm and uses armor piercing discarding sabot (APDS) bullets and the 6 barrels spinning put out 4,500 rounds per minute or 75 per second. Discarding sabots means that the bullet is slightly smaller than the 20mm width inside the barrel, but has a jacket that takes the lands and grooves of the barrel, spins down the length of the barrel and then flies off when the bullet clears the end. The skinny bullet (sub caliber penatrator) goes very fast. The bullets were in depleted uranium but are now in tungsten. Click on the photo and it will expand--then look at the business end of the barrels--you can almost see the displacement in the air caused by the passage of the rounds. This weapon is for the Exocet missile (or similar) that gets past the picket ships surrounding the carrier. The white dome contains the radar which directs the bullets down range to the target. When these things fire it sounds like the World's largest zipper working.


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 238 AD, Marcus Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus Romanus Africanus, known to us as Emperor Gordian I, commited suicide (hanging himself with his belt) after learning that his son was killed in battle in North Africa. It's slightly more complicated. His son was Gordian II who was also named co-Emperor for the brief time father and son were Emperors. Gordian I, who was nearly 80 at the time, took over after the lingering downfall of Diomedes' favorite Maximinus Thrax. He was succeeded by joint Emperors and former senators with near comic names to our ears, Pupienus and Balbinus, but they would not last long and, by the end of 238, the boy Emperor Gordian III (Gordian I's grandson) was acknowledged the sole ruler of the whole Roman Empire.


Thought of the Day

I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.

Doug MacLeod

Monday, April 10, 2006


Short and to the Point Book Review Versus the 5 Word Movie Review

Thank You for Smoking is the funniest book I have read in a long time, a while ago. It's by Christopher Buckley, Bill Buckley's son. Funny characters, snappy dialogue, cut to the quick satire; it skewers a lot of Washington types, but good. They made it into a pale, truncated copy of a movie. Here's my 5 word review*: Don't bother; read book instead.

* Jeff Goldstein, who else?


Solution to Illegal Immigration

Here is the 4 part plan for ending illegal immigration (the short version is: high wall, wide gate, enforce the law).

1) Wherever practical and necessary, build an Israeli type fence/wall along the southern border and triple the border guards there and along the longer but less crossed Canadian border.

That's really it. If they can get that done, I'm happy.

2) Issue an extremely difficult to counterfeit national ID/SSN card only to citizens, and require it in order to be hired for any work.

That's really all you need to send most of the illegal immigrants home, as they would not have work here.

3) Enforce the laws passed in 1986 which promised to end illegal immigration after the first amnesty.

That's just to make sure no one works without the new card.

4) Deport every illegal immigrant convicted of a felony and any misdemeanor which indicates a bad character.

This, probably unnecessary, weeds out the bad ones as they kill their number and come out of the joint, to use the parlance, so that they don't return to crime, at least here in America.

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