Friday, February 29, 2008

 

Mark's Thought Of The Day, 2/29/08

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

-Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

 

A Partial Answer

I look at the University of Illinois' website The Cryosphere Today almost every day to see how the global warming climate change is effecting the poles. I have noticed that one graph of temperature anomaly, in the North, does not match the other, and that the totals from the 14 areas in the North do not match either graph. I have twice brought this to the attention of the contact person with no response. So, today I noticed this notice on the site:

We are experiencing some data problems with the current timeseries data. Please
disregard the current timeseries data from mid-February 2008 to present until we
rectify the data issues. The spatial maps should be fine.

Good to see someone was noticing. I wish I knew what 'timeseries' meant.

UPDATE: I hate to pile on, but take a quick look at this graph of the ice cover of Hudson's bay. It shows a near 60% reduction (and recovery) in the bay ice cover over the past few weeks. However, if you look at the satellite photos over that period, no such catastrophic melting is visible. Come on, guys, level with us. You're having major data problems and you need to tell us what happened and what you've done to correct it. Good science is always transparent.

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The Rape Industry

As a prosecutor decades ago, I have brought rapists to justice. It was pretty rare, however, that we deputy DAs had the opportunity. I saw that as a good thing. I was hearing, however, statistics of a rape deluge. The wife of a loyal reader of this little site told me in all seriousness that half of all womens' first times were rape. That seemed a little high. I also heard that a quarter of all college co-eds would be victims of rape or attempted rape by the end of their years in college. I thought, from my limited experience in the criminal justice system, that the stats from campuses about the prevalence of rape there were phony. Good to see that I am right, as Heather Mac Donald clearly shows. Money quotes:

The campus rape industry’s central tenet is that one-quarter of all college girls will be raped or be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years (completed rapes outnumbering attempted rapes by a ratio of about three to two). The girls’ assailants are not terrifying strangers grabbing them in dark alleys but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria.

[...]

If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn't exist. During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing
results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.

You could only get to 25% if you redefined rape to include as a victim of it "the woman who had consensual sex but really regretted it the next day."

Here's more support of Heather Mac Donald.

Rapists are scum; women who make false reports of rape are scum too.

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Bill Buckley--RIP

Long time editor of the National Review and PBS conservative talking head on Firing Line, William F. Buckley, Jr., has died at age 82. He was an extraordinary man and no one, except perhaps Diomedes, did more to steer me from the dark side of socialism to the warm rosey light of a proper political weltanshauung.

The average American IQ just went down a measurable amount.

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This Day in the History of Kicking the Can Down the Road

On this day in 1991, President George Bush (senior) declared that "Kuwait is liberated, Iraq's army is defeated," and announced the allies would suspend combat operations at midnight. So Saddam stayed in power where he continued to slaughter his people, to ignore his cease fire promises, and to shoot at our planes, until another president, by chance George Bush's son, had to finish the job.

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Thought of the Day

Ἀνθρώπους μένει τελευτήσαντας ἅσσα οὐκ ἔλπονται οὐδὲ δοκέουσι.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

There awaits men after death what they neither hope nor think.

Ouch! This was of course before Jesus redeemed us. I hope I don't go to Hell, but think it will be a violet light and a buzzing noise forever. So I got that covered.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

 

Oscar Pick Results

I did OK. Of the majors, I got right Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplays, Best Song, Best Foreign Film and Best Long Cartoon. I missed the women actors (I did say that Tilda Swinton did the best work), Cinematography and Best Long Documentary (I picked the other anti-American current war documentary). For the wild ass guesses, random chance would have been more accurate than I was.

The show itself was fair to middling. One improvement would be more clips, less singing. At least they didn't have interpretative dance. One of Stewart's jokes was actually profound. He channeled President Bush to talk about staying the course with the complete failure of the anti-Iraq war films. He ended with: 'We cannot allow the audience to win.' Most industries try to please the audience. Hollywood is at war with them.

It shows.

Viewership was way down for the show and ever fewer people are going to the movies (and the ever rising yearly box office receipts is because tickets keep going way up in price--nearly $10 out here now).

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This Day in the History of Islamacist Attacks on America


On this day in 1993, in an attempt to knock down both of the Twin Towers, a bomb exploded in the parking garage of New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000. We prosecuted those who did this as if they were mere criminals and not the first attack on our shores of a war being waged against us. We're still, largely, making that mistake.

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Truth of the Day

People who share the New York Times' political views are treated as "innocent until proven guilty." People with different views are condemned for "the appearance of impropriety," even if there is no hard evidence that they did anything wrong.

Thomas Sowell

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Monday, February 25, 2008

 

Colorado State Symbols


I love this state, although Colorado is not the state of my birth, but the state seal has always bugged me. 'Nothing without a nod' is the literal translation of the Latin motto and there, as promised, is the symbol of fascism just under the mystic all-seeing eye. Just creepy. The state flag is nothing to write home about either.
CORRECTION: Diomedes has correctly pointed out that I confused 'numen' with 'nubes' which really aren't even close. 'Numen' is a command with an inclination of the head, a nod. It's really not that much better--'Nothing without a nod'. So I failed to learn the word at Stanford which I guess is better than failing to learn any Latin word anywhere, but maybe not.

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This Day in the History of Catholic Reversals


On this day in 1570, English Queen Elizabeth I, was excommunicated by Pope Pius V, because she had become, well, a Protestant. Her dad, Henry VIII, had been awarded the title, Defender of the Faith, for his well reasoned refutation of Luther's position. What a reversal. I had always believed that the reasons for the attempted Spanish invasion 18 years later were all secular, because the English were waging war against Spanish shipping, but there may well have been another reason for Catholic Spain to seek to punish the Protestant queen.
The portrait is from 1575. Not exactly Cate Blanchett in my book.

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Thought of the Day

Ποταμοῖσι τοῖσι αὐτοῖσι ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἶμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶμεν.


Heraclitus of Ephasus


Into the same river we both step and do not step. We both are and are not.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

 

Take Em' To the Bank Oscar Predictions

There appears to be a great unanimity regarding who will win the big Oscars tonight, so almost certainly there will be a series of inexplicable surprises. Still, here are the mainstream predictions, as I see it.

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men

Best Actress: Julie Christie

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Supporting Actress: (Difficult--Ruby Dee won the SAG, is black, has had a long career and her husband died; Cate Blanchett plays a man and is the most convincing of a series of Dylan impressionists; Tilda Swinton actually did the best work, so of course I go with Amy Ryan, just because she's on The Wire, which all the real cognoscenti like a lot).

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem

Best Director: Coen Brothers

Best Adapted Screenplay: Coen Brothers

Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody

Best Long Documentary: No End in Sight

Best Song: Falling Slowly

Best Foreign Film: The Counterfeiters

Best Animated Feature: Ratsomething

Best Cinematography: No Country for Old Men

The rest are wild ass guesses--

Best Short Documentary: Sari's Mother

Best Film Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Sound Mixing: No Country for Old Men

Best Sound Editing: No Country for Old Men

Best Original Score: Atonement

Best Makeup: Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Best Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Best Animated Short: I Met the Walrus

Best Live Action Short: Tanghi Argentini

Best Art Direction: Sweeney Todd

Best Costumes: Atonement

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Friday Movie Review (quite late)

Went with Kit, her youngest son and parents and their friends, finally, to There Will Be Blood and thoroughly disliked it. That's not much of a surprise; I thoroughly dislike all of the movies director Paul Thomas Anderson has made (and I've seen), from Hard Eight to Boogie Nights to Magnolia to Punch Drunk Love. All well made films, full of great directorial work, sometimes great acting, a sense of scope and importance and deep psychological meaning and all thoroughly dislikable. This one fits into slot A nicely. Oh, and it's a slow, really slow, 2 hour 38 minutes long. At times I thought it was stretching out to the crack of Doom.

Let's get the good stuff out of the way. Daniel Day-Lewis is just terrific and is a shoe-in for Best Actor tonight (see post on Oscar picks). The costumes are really good. The set, that is, everything not human the camera shows is about perfect. Uh... Oh, it didn't have Bill Macy in it. I like him but he's just a little overexposed lately.

OK now to the stuff that either disappointed or made me just not enjoy my time in the dark. I didn't get the point of the picture. That's a pretty big problem from the start. OK it's a saga, a family history (with no family) of a self described oil man in the early 20th Century (the 1898 part showed him a silver miner). That's about all it is. There are other characters of course and some sort of psychological story arc but rather than be engaging and mysterious it was just a mess. Here are some plot spoilers for the rest of the paragraph. Why not let Eli give the blessing of the well? Is there anything in Day-Lewis' character which accounts for that gratuitous piece of meanness? None shown. Why send the injured 'son' away and in such a terrible manner? Why kill Eli? He's humiliated him by then, he could say no money for what you did to me in the Church of the 3rd Revelation and that would be sufficient punishment. Why? Not answered, no psychological resonance shown, off-putting non-linear connection there not to challenge you or to woo you into caring for the characters. Just there by artistic fiat. And director Anderson shows that he can show a psychologically profound turn of events with the faux brother Henry. As an aside, Henry is played by Kevin O'Connor, a funny looking actor who gives another good performance as a craven side kick (as he did in most of his movies, eg., Beni in The Mummy, Tooch in Deep Rising and Igor in Van Helsing). Henry is only pretending to be Day-Lewis' brother but Day-Lewis buys into it (and confides his misanthropy and anger control problems) and makes Henry his second (since the 'son' is away) but when Henry doesn't recognize the Peachtree Dance reference, you actually watch a cold fury build in Day-Lewis and his subsequent murder of Henry makes perfect sense. Show us you can do a thing, then refuse to do it again, and you disappoint the audience, or at least a portion of them.

It just hit me that Day-Lewis is a Londoner, yet his Wisconsin/Great Plains/California accent sounds pretty good to me. They showed a preview of The Other Boleyn Girl before the film, with Americans Scarlett Johansson as Mary and usually good Natalie Portman as Anne, and I had to ask if it was set in England after all, as neither actress had any perceptible English accent. Just an observation.

There Will Be Blood is a dark, nihilistic, downer of a movie without catharsis. (It's much like No Country for Old Men in spirit). It doesn't leave you as despairing and proto-suicidal as Before the Devil Knows You're Dead or even The Savages, but it is in no way fun. It's box office has been no day at the beach either (less than $33 million--Alvin and the freakin' Chipmonks made 7 times that, for Pete's sake). Show us nothing but depressing movies with no moral or psychological pay off and we'll stop coming to the movies and stop watching the Oscars showering these bleak Weltanshauungs with extravagant and undeserved praise. It doesn't have to be all comedy and Hollywood ending, but enough of the dark nihilistic downers already. Sheesh.

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This Day in the History of Democrats Doing the Right Thing

On this day in 1961, President Kennedy accepted "sole responsibility" for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. It wasn't all his fault, our normally incompetent CIA deserves a lot of the blame, but this is what mature commanders in chief do. Compare this to any acceptance of blame by Johnson, Carter or Clinton and it's pretty clear it's been nearly half a century since a Democrat president stood this tall in the face of utter failure.

UPDATE: Carter did accept the blame for the failed hostage rescue attempt but that one was all his fault. However, I judge his acceptance of responsibility more mealymouthed than Kennedy's, so the original post stands.

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Thought of the Day

If I was more complacent and I let things slide, my life would be easier, but you all wouldn't be as entertained. My misery is your pleasure.

Kanye West

Not all that much pleasure, Kanye. You have my permission to end your misery.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

 

Short TV Post

There's little doubt in my mind that HBO's The Wire is about the best TV series ever to hit cable. Although The Sopranos had better moments from time to time, The Wire is much more substantial and the quality (and freshness) remained much higher as the series matured. That being said, SPOILER ALERT, they killed Omar. I don't know how I can go on living now.

Two more episodes left. Little late in the game to start watching now, sweet pea. You feel me?

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Republican Sex Scandals With No Sex

It's not so much a double standard (although that certainly exists) as a run of bad luck. Where the Democrat scandals have plenty of sex (Clinton and Monica; Barney Frank's lover running a brothel from his Boston apartment, Gerry Studds' gay sex with a page; and, Mel Reynolds' conviction of 12 counts of statutory rape), the Republicans have had the sex scandal which threatened or ruined careers, but no sex.

Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) resigned after being accused by female members of his staff that he came on to them ham-handedly, but didn't get any.

The reason Hillary Clinton seem to be going down and the empty suit Barack emerging as the nominee is because the Borg babe, actress Jeri Ryan, said no to a threesome with her husband. No sex there but the stink of asking his wife for a three way caused Jack Ryan to withdraw from the Illinois senatorial race late and Barack won almost by default.

The notorious Mark Foley, wooer of male pages, who did more to secure widespread Republican defeat in 2006 than any other single person, had to resign for inappropriate letters or email. No sex there.

Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) apparently knew the code for soliciting gay sex in a Minnesota airport bathroom but didn't get any sex.

And now John McCain is accused, kinda, of an affair, or at least an inappropriate closeness 8 years ago by the New York Times (All the really old innuendo that's fit to print). But there's no pictures, no stained dress, no eyewitness account, only straightforward denials of any affair. Again a sex scandal with no sex.

This is getting depressing. I thought there were studies that Republicans had more or better sex than the Democrats, or was it that we're more happy? Same thing.

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This Day in the History of the Creation of More Dangerous Leftist Ideaologies



On this day in 1919, Benito Mussolini, an ardent Italian socialist philosopher, who had broken with his party regarding Italy's entry into WWI, created his own political entity, still socialist, called the Fascist Party. It was named for the bundle of rods and a war ax which the Roman soldiers protecting consuls and others of high rank had carried, 2000 years before, to signify their charge's importance. It was an historically rich, collectivist symbol. There's one on Colorado's state seal.

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Thought of the Day

Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.

H. L. Mencken

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Friday, February 22, 2008

 

Global Warming Measures the Measurers

For a long time I trusted the NOAA when it talked about average temperatures in the contiguous 48 states and regarding world wide temperatures. They relied on temperature records from stations around the nation and the world. The instruments were reliable and they had absolutely no incentive to lie. Then I discovered that: 1) After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1980, they abandoned many of the hard to reach weather stations in Siberia (bu-bye really cold temperature records); and 2) Around our nation, many of the weather stations were sited in places they should not be--in parking lots, under air conditioning exhausts, etc. As more and more of these stations with unreliable siting were discovered, I decided that I would rely on remote sensing from space. Unfortunately, we have only had a record of satellite temperature since about the time of the break up of the Soviet Union. I was willing to trade the short record for reliability. More fool I

Then I found out that there are four different such records (RSS, GISS, HadCRUT, and UAH) and THEY DON'T ALWAYS AGREE. Now what to do? I decided to pick one. I chose RSS in part because it was the most 'conservative,' like me. I was tempted to go with the Goddard Institute's but then I remembered that the scientists there (mainly chief Warmie James Hanson) had screwed up and called 1998 the warmest year in American modern history when, without the error, it was really 1934. Here is a site with the fascinating story which has not received any press, or hardly any. Indeed NOAA is continuing to use 1998 as the gold standard for the warmest years ever.

Four of the ten hottest years ever here were in the 1930s--1934 was the hottest but it was followed by 1931, 1938 and 1939. How is that possible? The atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower then than now. It don't add up. At least in the Warmie world view.

One has to compare apples to apples and not confuse the world record with the 48 states record. Sometimes I can't tell which one the scientist is relating or relying on. That doesn't fill me with respect for their opinions when their methodology or writing up the conclusions is so sloppy.

It would be intellectually dishonest to switch among the various measurements just to support one's world view, which I suspect some Warmies do. I'm sticking with RSS come hell or high water (whatever that means) and if the climate actually starts the long anticipated (and predicted) acceleration of warming, then I have a lot of apologizing and crow eating to do. However, if it continues to go down, or merely stays flat over the next 12 years, in 2020, as I reach retirement age, I'm going to visit every Warmie I know and see if they will admit that each has been a completely gullible, utter fool. That includes you, Andy Rush.

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This Day in the History of Near Miracles on Ice

On this day in 1980, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, in a surprising upset, the United States Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets 4-3. The U.S. went on to win the gold medal.

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Thought of the Day

Ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή.

Heraclitus of Ephasus

The way upward and downward are one and the same.

This one needs a bit of an explanation due to the 25 centuries which have passed since he said this. The cynics believed in four elements in every object--earth, water, air, and fire--and that list went from lowest to highest, and further that things changed as the mixture of the four was changed. Heraclitus is saying that change up, from more earthy to more airy, for example, was the same as the change down, from more firey to more watery. They were both change. At least that's what I think he means.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

 

New Argument That the 'Surge' Change in Tactics Has Failed

First the left said that the change of tactics in Iraq (called the surge because troop escalation evoked too many bad memories from Viet Nam) was a failure because American casualties had not fallen. They've fallen--not to zero, more's the pity, but a lot. They the left said the surge had failed because violence against and among Iraqis had not been reduced. Violence between Iraqis has been reduced by 80% in Baghdad and to near zero in other places, like Fallujah and the rest of Al Anbar. Then the left said that the surge had failed because the Iraqi legislature had not passed enough legislation to 'reconcile' the nation and share the wealth. The Iraqi legislature recently passed a lot of needed legislation and made even more progress just short of actual agreement regarding the sharing of their ever increasing oil revenues. With all that progress, it was very difficult to see how the left could continue to say the surge had failed. I underestimated them. Michael Kinsley, who only thinks he's a bright bulb in the Democrat sign, has found a way. Here's his argument in a sentence: The surge has failed because 7 months after full deployment of the 30,000 extra troops, they're still there.

You probably think I'm kidding. No, really. Enjoy his column which would fit right in with the parodies in the Onion.

My favorite part:


It is now widely considered beyond dispute that Bush has won his gamble.
The surge is a terrific success. Choose your metric: attacks on American soldiers, car bombs, civilian deaths, potholes. They're all down, down, down. Lattes sold by street vendors are up. Performances of Shakespeare by local repertory companies have tripled. Skepticism seems like sour grapes. If you opposed the surge, you have two choices. One is to admit that you were wrong, wrong, wrong. The other is to sound as if you resent all the good news and remain eager for disaster. Too many opponents of the war have chosen option No.2.
Potholes, lattes and Shakespeare, Michael? Bitter any? Clearly Mr. Kinsley has himself chosen option No. 2.

Here's a telling metric for Kinsley and his ilk:


The proper comparison isn't to the situation a year ago. It's to the situation before we got there. Imagine that you had been told in 2003 that when George W. Bush finished his second term, dozens of American soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis would be dying violently every month ...

I hate to break this to you, Mike, but hundreds of Iraqis were dying violently every month before we got there, in fact, many more than that. It was not the kite flying paradise under Saddam you lefties seem to think it was. It is difficult to get accurate figures on how many people Saddam Hussein murdered or even on the number of dead Iraqi soldiers his great military leadership caused. Some Iraqis claim that a million were murdered over the quarter century he ruled. Most 'human rights' groups put it between 500,000 and 600,000--it's certainly 600,000 if you include the Kurds and Shia who treated him as ousted after Gulf War I. The butcher's bill for the 8 year war he started against Iran was probably 700,000. Some say a full million. The Iraqis admit to only a few hundred thousand. I'll stick with the probable. And his invasion of Kuwait ultimately cost his people 100,000 dead once the senior George Bush's coalition got busy. Let's see: 500,000 plus 700,000 plus 100,000 equals 1 million 300,000. Divide that by the number of months (285) he was 'in office' and the average violent deaths were about 4,500 per month. Not the hundreds per month now (which is still much less than our murder rate here in the states) but thousands per month--month after month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Is it possible that Mr. Kinsley doesn't know this? Could he be that ignorant? Nah, I don't think he's that ignorant, he's just that intellectually dishonest.

I liked Michael Kinsley on Crossfire a few decades ago and I hope he recovers from his Parkinsons and he has a long and happy life and better success than he had during his short, troubled tenure at the dying LA Times. But I'm not sure I'm ever going to read him again. Well, maybe for a laugh.

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This Day in the History of Chickens Coming Home to Roost


On this day in 1965, black nationalist leader Malcolm X, nee Malcolm Little, is shot to death while speaking to his own group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights way uptown in New York City. He was a former member of the Nation of Islam who advocated, as opposed to Martin Luther King's non-violent, civil disobedience, liberation of African Americans "by any means necessary."

Certainly this firebrand was assassinated by white racists. Nope, he was killed by members of the Nation of Islam, the Black Muslims. It is an ironic connection. Many historians believe that leader of the Black Muslims, Elijah Muhammad, was jealous of Malcolm X's growing popularity and influence, and used a statement Malcolm X regarding the assassination of John Kennedy (that it was a case of the "chickens coming home to roost") to suspend him from the Black Muslims; and the relationship continued to deteriorate from there to the point where other members killed Mr. X. Just as slightly lefty Kennedy was killed by a full blown communist, so too was violent overthrow embracing Malcolm X killed by fellow African American Muslims he had failed to please sufficiently. Chickens returning to the roost indeed.
That's Malcolm X with the paratrooper version of the M1 carbine, as wimpy a weapon as America has ever fielded.

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Thought of the Day

At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

 

Global Temperatures Are Falling Like a Rock


I thought the warming of the globe was supposed to accelerate right about now. I guess the consensus scientists forgot to tell the Earth about that which cannot be disputed. In the past year, the global temperature has dropped by a consensus .6405°C. That C at the end means centigrade, so the temperature drop is over a full degree fahrenheit. In a year.
I think it's going to continue to go down for reasons I have stated in previous posts. Of course a single year's fall, even of this magnitude, is merely ephemeral weather. No one could extrapolate climate information from just a few years or even a few decades of information (even though that's just what the Warmies have done). However, they have these computer programs which show nothing but a steady rise in average global temperature and they want us to believe, as they do, that their computer models are infallible. So deviation from the computer models' predictions is right next door to refutation.
What's that phrase my son uses when he's being insufferable? Oh, yeah.

In your face, Warmies!

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What Really Happened in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005?

Notorious anti-military, world citizen PBS program Frontline aired a program, watchable here, last night offering what it called 'the untold story' of what really happened in Haditha, Iraq. It did tell an interesting story. A lot of people came out looking very bad and only a few of them were marines or former marines.

The Haditha incident in which one marine and 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, were killed, has transformed before our eyes from a massacre not unlike My Lai in Viet Nam, with marines, mad with revenge lust, executing women and children, to a careful murder investigation, to a much reduced prosecution, to now merely a 'confrontation' of our rules of engagement in anti-insurgent warfare.

Two marine officers face charges for not properly informing superiors of the details of the fight and for failing to investigate it. Not exactly world class war crimes in my book. Their defense appears to be somewhat strong, but they may become scapegoats.

Only two of the several marines who cleared three houses (that means they killed everyone inside) and shot guys near a white car face any charges at all, Sgt. Frank Wuterich and LCpl. Stephen Tatum. They face counts of varying degrees of manslaughter. Not murder. No marine committed murder that day. Their conviction for manslaughter is not at all assured. This turn of events means that Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), who declared all the marines who participated cold blooded killers, is a giant asshole, but we knew that already.

The next giant asshole is reporter for Time magazine Tim McGirk, who appears to be truth challenged, anti-military, anti-American, gullible and continuing in the finest traditions of journalism as practiced by Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. The good blogsite Sweetness and Light has done the heavy lifting showing how this jerk was duped by Iraqi propagandists and jumped to the wrong conclusions.

The last asshole is marine Sanick Dela Cruz. His photo as a marine in battle dress is as menacing as it gets, but it appears he wasn't made of stern enough stuff to stick with the truth. He took the deal offered by the prosecutors as their case collapsed and got immunity and all charges dropped in return for a change in his story and not an accurate change at that if the forensic analysis is to be believed. Others disagree about any deal. He did change his story, though

There is no doubt that illegal combatants triggered the IED which started the whole thing and little doubt they shot at the marines before driving away (we have 'eye in the sky' tape showing them). And they, I submit, are the only ones at fault here. They don't wear uniforms so they put every male Iraqi at a little higher risk just for that. When they fire from a home and then leave, they thereby often condemn the occupants to death by marine house clearing. They're extreme indifference murderers when the soldiers return fire and then clear the house. But there's nothing inherently wrong with the way we're fighting this war. The blame is all on the terrorists.

That last paragraph is all my opinion, Frontline blamed the insurgents not at all, nor the lying propagandists who duped McGirk. Frontline, like most of PBS, is apparently not only blame America first, but blame America only. Again, however, we already knew that. Indeed, the press coverage of this non-massacre has been poor to abysmal; and now that the truth is out and the marines don't look so bad, the coverage is largely over.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden is much more charitable than I. This review is based on a broader knowledge of the matter than I have. At least one Iraqi, with a lot of American intelligence support, is saying that the whole operation was designed by al Qaeda in Iraq to manufacture a massacre whether one occured or not. Anyone heard of that before? Funny how the media shy away from their mistakes.

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This Day in the Short History of American Defeats by Nazis


On this day in 1943, German troops of the Afrika Korps, who had broken through our lines at Kasserine Pass, in Tunisia, the day before, continued to defeat, for a while, the U.S., Free French and British forces inexorably closing in on them. Rommel bloodied our nose but didn't have the men and material to exploit his initial advantage and withdrew three days later. We didn't immediately follow.

An MG 34 is pictured above, ready for long range fire.

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Thought of the Day

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.

Thomas Carlyle

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

 

Growing Antarctic Ice Sheet


Not only did the seas around Antarctica have more sea ice, this past Southern winter, than has ever been observed before, but on the continent itself, the ice is growing. There is one place where it is a little warmer, along the Antarctic Peninsula, where the Larson Ice shelf and a few others melted some a few years ago. The 60 odd other ice shelves, including the big ones, the Ronne and the Ross, away from the Antarctic Peninsula, are not melting away. Most of the ice in the center is growing, that is, getting thicker from the top down. Here is the proof of that statement.
In the 1960s, a company, ITT, put power transmission lines on Antarctica. God knows why. These power transmission poles were 115 feet tall. In the 1980s, when these photos were taken, the transmission towers were almost buried (about 30 feet still stuck up out of the ice) and the crane used in construction is almost completely buried. Now, 20 years after these photos were taken, it would be difficult to find any of these reminders of a warmer time. Not only these, but the earlier camps and stations of the explorers are deep under the ice now. The old Byrd station, the Siple station, the old South Pole station are being crushed by many feet of ice above them. Even the modern South Pole station is below the ice now and a new one is being constructed on top of the ice and is designed to ride on top of the rising ice.

The Warmies tell us that the whole World is warming. They tell us that the poles are the canaries in the coal mine as they will see the warming first. But in the South, at least, except for one distinct, small area, the seas around the continent are colder, most of the continent itself is colder and there is ever more ice. Any Warmie reader care to venture an explanation?

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Thought of the Day

Νέος ἐφ' ἡμέρῃ ἥλιος.

Heraclitus of Ephasus

The sun is new every day.

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This Day in the History of Regrettable Actions Made Necessary by War


On this day in 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the U.S. military the power to relocate and intern "any and all persons." The order was mainly used to detain around 120,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them U.S.-born citizens. This action is often criticized as unnecessary, wrong or racist, but it was absolutely necessary and right, as the cracked Japanese codes revealed an effort by the Japanese to recruit would-be saboteurs and spies from the community. Any time the Japanese complain about racism, I have to laugh, in my gaijin way, which laugh sounds, no doubt, like monkey calls to most Japanese ears.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

 

Crab Nebula by Hubble


The Crab Nebula is a supernova explosion first seen on Earth in 1054 by Chinese and Arab astronomers. Since it's 65,000 light years away, the explosion was actually 65,954 years ago. It has the NGC number 1952 and Messier number 1. Who says there's no beauty in violence?
The complexity of the structure of the filaments also is amazing. Scientist call them Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. The pulsar wind nebula/supernova remnant is 11 light years across. At its center is the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star rotating at a very fast 30.2 times per second.

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Sunspot Predictions Versus Reality


Here is a chart of the number of sunspots for the last cycle. I know this is boring, but bear with me. Look at the right border. See the three dotted lines? Those are the high, low and median estimates of sun spots for most of the rest of 2007, including November and December, 2007, during which there were supposed to be between 10 and 35 sunspots. Here is the actual number of sunspots for that 61 day period: 5. There was a sunspot, No. 10982, in early January, 2008. What number are they on now, here, well past the middle of February, 2008? Well, there was sunspot 10983 at the end of January but no new one in February, yet. Let's put the predictions on the chart, from April, 2007, next to the predictions in December, 2006. Stunningly wrong, at least so far. It's not over of course and the sun could go all spotty tomorrow for all I know, but predictions, even about things that go in regular cycles, have ways of making the predictors look stupid.

It's the same with climate predictors too.

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Though of the Day, Part Deux, February 18,2008

Via Boortz...

I THINK THIS REALLY DRIVES THE POINT HOME. WISH I HAD WRITTEN IT!

This alert came from a listeners. He was reading "The Bad Boy of Baltimore" a biography of H.L. Mencken by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. On page 409 of that book he finds the following"
"By the mid-1930's, thanks to the New Deal, all that self-reliance had changed, prompting Mencken to declare: 'There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them.' Despite the billions spent on an individual, 'he can be lifted transiently but always slips back again.' Thus, the New Deal had been 'the most stupendous digenetic enterprise ever undertaken by man.... We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time. The effects of that doctrine are bound to be disastrous soon or late.'When someone asked, "And what, Mr. Mencken, would you do about the unemployed?" He looked up with a bland expression. "We could start by taking away their vote," he said, deadpan. Mencken was not surprised when the majority disagreed. "There can be nothing even remotely approaching a rational solution of the fundamental national problems until we face them in a realistic spirit," he later reflected, and that was impossible so long as educated Americans remained responsive "to the Roosevelt buncombe."



"Buncombe," by the way, means either a county in North Carolina, a city in Illinois or another word for "nonsense."
Please ... cut and paste the Mencken quote. It is so very much more relevant to what's going on today than it was in Mencken's time. Send it to your friends ... send it far and wide. Post it on your blogs. Get it out there. Wonderful stuff.

 

This Day in the Discovery of Dwarf Planets

On this day in 1930, the former 9th planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, an American astronomer, after three decades of work at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Other astronomers knew it was there, from the changes it caused in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, but none went through the tedius process of photographing through a telescope small areas of the sky at night and looking for tiny changes among the unchanging field of stars in the photos during the day, until Tombaugh undertook the grunt work successfully.

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Thought of the Day

μηδὲν ἄγαν.

unknown, inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi

Nothing too much.

(The key is to replace the 'thing' in 'nothing' with gerunds and sometimes nouns--for example, no drinking too much, no eating too much, no relaxing too much--but one ought to say from time to time 'no moderating too much' as well. Moderation in all things is boring).

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

 

This Day in the History of Federal Victories

On this day in 1862, during the Civil War, about 14,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered at Fort Donelson, TN to forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. On a personal note, my great great etc. uncle, Harvey D. Fraley, fought there but escaped capture, at least until 1865. I continually say that the only genius Grant showed was to recognize the bleeding obvious that he had more men and as long as he continued to attack, he would win merely through attrition.

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Thought of the Day

Perhaps if Al Qaeda was on steroids, then the House would want to do something about it..."

Senator Kit Bond (R-MO)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

 

This Day in the Long History of British Disasters


On this day in 1942, when the British forces and their allies in Singapore surrendered, the Japanese completed a major offensive against the British Empire forces arrayed in Malaya, which offensive had begun on December 8, 1941. Nearly 130,000 soldiers and sailors of the British Empire were taken prisoners in Malaya and Singapore and suffered terribly as prisoners of war until the end of the war three and a half years later. Complete disaster doesn't begin to cover the magnitude of this defeat. The British had lost to a numerically inferior force which moved and fought better than the Brits, et al. apparently could.

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Thought of the Day

γνωθι σεαυτόν

unknown, inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and sometimes attributed to the God

Know yourself.

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Pay Attention...

Israel is getting to open up the proverbial can.

The timing of all this is more than conspicuous, and in some aspects long overdue. What is getting ready to go down, is going to make the 6 day war look like a vacation to WallyWorld with Chevy Chase.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

 

Photos From the Front

U.S. Navy Petty Officers Joshua Olaiz (left) Kyle Blevins (center) and Joshua Smith watch as the British destroyer HMS Manchester (D 95) sails in the wake of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 24, 2008. DoD photo by Seaman Justin Losack, U.S. Navy.

Man, the Brit destroyer looks like a rowboat in relation to the Truman. If memory serves me, the guys pictured arm the planes, etc., because they have red shirts on.

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Global Warming Causes Everything

One way to insure that there is no further scientific debate about Global Warming Climate Change is to blame it for everything. Global Warming causes very hot temperatures, and Global Warming causes very cold temperatures. Really. I guess the debate is over.

Now it's more akin to a religious belief.

Oh, but there is this. Money quote:

Baliunas asserts that increases and decreases in solar output led to historically warmer and cooler periods.

No, duh!

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Thought of the Day

Our patience will achieve more than our force.

Edmund Burke

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Grudging Admissions From the New York Times

Good guy lefty reader, T, continues to out-gloom Nancy Pelosi telling me that Iraq is an unmitigated disaster and that's all it will ever be. Whoa, not so fast there, kitty cat. We now have proof of the liberal ideal of progress in Iraq (and it's not destruction of al Qaeda there)--legislation. Our source was the New York Times. Money quote:

We are, of course, cheered by the news that representatives from Iraq’s three main ethnic groups — Shiite, Sunni and Kurd — finally saw some benefit in compromise.


For the New York Times regarding Iraq, that's nearly giddy.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

 

Arctic Ice Ad Infinitem

When things looked bad last Summer, and a full third of the 'permanent' sea ice in the Arctic had melted away, you couldn't swing a dead cat and not hit some sort of coverage of that fact. Now, as we approach the maximum sea ice period of the new year, no one is talking about the near complete recovery in the Arctic Ocean. According to the University of Illinois' website called The Cryosphere Today, now nine of the 14 areas have more ice than normal and only three are down from where they were at this time last year. Indeed, measured against that time, the Arctic sea ice has increased in a year nearly 840,000 square kilometers. What's that? just over half a million square miles? Two Texases worth? The sky may indeed not be falling, after all.

In the Antarctic, coming off a record year for sea ice this past Southern Hemisphere Winter, as the minimum sea ice period approaches down there, the amount of sea ice is still above normal*.

*Normal is the mean established by satellite measurement for the period 1979 to 2000. Whether that period was actually representative of the amount of sea ice at the poles over the last 10,000 years or so is absolutely unknown.

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Paul Campos' Shaggy Dog Story

In today's Rocky Mountain News, property professor Paul Campos wastes a lot of space and ink before he actually makes his point, reiterating the lefty talking point (taken wholly out of context from the original speech) regarding Ike's farewell address and the 'dangers' of the Military-Industrial Complex. Indeed, it is the only thing Ike said which today's democrats quote.

Yeah, Paul, danger noted. What dangers in today's world are you noting? I nominate 'none.'

More to the point, if you can find one in the piece, is this:

Indeed, what would Washington say to his countrymen today, if he were to be
informed of the following?

The United States accounts for more than half of the world's total military spending. America spends nearly 10 times as much on its armed forces as the second-highest military budget in the world.

He would say, what's wrong with the rest of the world (who have hid under our defense umbrella for several decades now)? How have they grown so slack and craven that they have virtually no standing army and therefore no real means of self defense? How could the Germans, for example, not be able actually to fight as part of the NATO contingent in Afghanistan? How can the non-English speaking European nations have become so weak that they are now to the point they could barely fight off a phalanx of well armed American high school students?

Here's more enlightened discussion from Campos:

Would Washington be happy to discover that, 220 years after he became our first
president, the sun never sets on the American empire? I suspect he would be
appalled.

I suspect that Washington would be appalled that a learned man, a law professor like Campos doesn't know what the word 'empire' means.


It wasn't Washington who was demonstrably scared of standing armies, it was George Mason (who is responsible for the Militia mention in the 2nd Amendment). There's a much more extensive discussion of Militias, beyond a passing reference in a dependant clause, in the Constitution at Article 1, Section 8, in the list of powers of Congress, to wit: (To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;) I wonder why Campos mentioned the 2nd Amendment and not that part of the more specific article?

The founding fathers who were against a standing army were painfully aware of the numerous times in history where members of the standing army took over rule of the country. It is indeed an inescapable danger, but not so bad a danger as to make a standing army an 'evil' (whether necessary or not). Washington would no doubt be very proud, and justifiably so, of the fact that our armed forces have rarely lost a battle in two centuries of warfare, while the officers thereof have never seriously contemplated a coup.


The real problem with American defense policy is not that we have too much military might (which appears to be the essential complaint from Campos), but that we have too little. As we always do after a big win, like after WWI, WWII and The Cold War, we have drawn down our forces to the point where we can barely protect our interests overseas. It is a lesson from history that in the vacuum of that weakness, foreign dangers will often grow and our lack of sufficient preparation will make conflict more likely, and will cost us lives in the short run, if such conflict comes. That most nations of the world have virtually foregone any ability to protect themselves makes our army, etc. seem gigantic only by comparison.


Here's an example of our shrinking armed forces. James Webb resigned from President Reagan's administration in protest that we were not going to build up to a 600 ship navy (we were then well above 500). Now we have far fewer than 300 ships afloat in our Navy. Webb, back in our government as the new Senator from Virginia, is saying what about the size of our navy? Nothing, because he, like Campos, is a democrat and it is a democratic talking point to decry any spending on the military as a waste and a shame.

Just as Campos did in this empty little op-ed.

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Thought of the Day

We confide in our strength, without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it.

Thomas Jefferson (sounding a little like Obama--but with some actual meaning)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

 

This Day in American History

On this day in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded. Its major successes came in the late 40s through the early 60s; and the organization now is indeed a victim of those successes. One has to wonder what color people the NAACP has wished to advance. They think black; I say it's more likely red.

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Thought of the Day

The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore.



Mick Jagger from Mother's Little Helper (1967)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

 

Arctic Sea Ice, Again

I had dinner with old friends on Saturday and talked a bit about Flux Density Values until someone fell asleep face down in the dessert. There was talk about the loss of ice at the North Pole. No, I said. All fixed now. The Arctic Ocean is now almost completely covered by sea ice. Indeed, 8 of the 14 areas up there have more ice than normal. Five have less and one area is a push. Except for the approach to Murmansk and the White Sea, in the Barents Sea northeast of Norway, which has visibly less ice than normal, everything is fine.

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Canadian Flux Density Values

The number is 72. Low. The 24th solar sunspot cycle began over a month ago so no need to panic. Yet. But it bears watching, which I will do.

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War Crime Tribunals

The Pentagon today has announced that 6 Guantanamo detainees will be tried for war crimes, and will face the death penalty. This makes some sense. The 6 are all associated with the 9/11 attacks. The are:

Here's what bugs me, the rights afforded to the accused, which are:

In the military commissions process, every defendant has the following rights: The right to remain silent and to have no adverse inference drawn from it; the right to be represented by detailed military counsel, as well as civilian counsel of his own selection and at no expense to the government; the right to examine all evidence used against him by the prosecution; the right to obtain evidence and to call witnesses on his own behalf including expert witnesses; the right to cross-examine every witness called by the prosecution; the right to be present during the presentation of evidence; the right to have a military commission panel of at least five military members determine his guilt by a 2/3 majority, or in the case of a capital offense, a unanimous decision of a military commission composed of at least 12 members; and the right to an appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review, then through the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to the United States Supreme Court. (Emphasis added).

What? We're giving them the ability to understand and assess our counter-terrorism abilities? We're burning our spy sources? Other than the trier of fact, how is this different from the rights of a defendant in federal court? (Which hasn't worked out that well). I'm at a loss here.

And why is attacking the Pentagon a war crime, other than the fact that the guys doing it were not in military uniforms? This is a question which stumped me regarding the earlier batch of detainees facing war crime tribunals.

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This Day in the History of Holy Visions

On this day in 1858, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, a 14-year-old French peasant girl, first saw and spoke with the Virgin Mary in a natural grotto at Lourdes in southern France. Marie-Bernarde spoke with the Mother of Jesus for 17 more times during that year. Although not well treated thereafter by the religious authorities, or the public, she was allowed finally to enter holy orders where she died young at 35. Later she was cannonized as Saint Bernadette. So she's got that going for her.

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Thought of the Day

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

William Hazlitt

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

 

The Left's True Measure of Progress

Here is what Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said today about what's happening now in Iraq:

Pelosi’s comment came during a discussion of her call for “the redeployment
of our troops out of Iraq.”

Anchor Wolf Blitzer asked: “Are you not worried, though, that all the gains that have been achieved over the past year might be lost?”

“There haven't been gains, Wolf,” the speaker replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure."


Here's what's really happening in Iraq: Although a real war is still going on there, all measures of violence are down and nearly all measures of actual progress (power, water, sanitation, oil pumped and sold, etc.) are up; oh, and Al Qaeda in Iraq is being destroyed.

Extracts from two captured al Qaeda letters--

Abu-Tariq, al-Qaeda leader
“There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the tribes changed course 360 degrees . . . Many of our fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters . . . As a result of that the number of fighters dropped down to 20 or less.”

“We were mistreated, cheated and betrayed by some of our brothers who used to be part of the Jihadi movement, therefore we must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side or get eliminated completely.”


Unnamed emir, Anbar province
“The Islamic State of Iraq [al-Qaeda] is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar province. Al-Qaeda’s expulsion from Anbar created weakness and psychological defeat. This also created panic, fear and the unwillingness to fight. "

“The morale of the fighters went down and they wanted to be transferred to administrative positions rather than be fighters. There was a total collapse in the security structure of the organisation.” (Emphasis added)


The single remaining complaint the left has now is that the Iraqi legislature hasn't passed enough legislation to please the liberals here. We constantly hear that from the Democrats. As if legislation is the way to win the war in Iraq. Words on paper don't get it done--it's reducing the will and/or the ability of the enemy to continue fighting. We're accomplishing the latter, in a big way. I know the Democrats are desperate to paint the war in Iraq as a failure and the drowning man clutches at straw, but this is not just their usual pathetic, alternative reality, it is the emblem of the left's easy but false solution to everything--with mere words. It doesn't matter if the words are not coupled with actual effect; all that matters to the left are the words.

For example, President Bill Clinton and most of the Democrats talked the big talk about taking action against Saddam for not keeping up his end of the cease fire agreement. They even passed legislation in 1998 calling for regime change in Iraq. Clinton and most of the senior Democratic Senators (including his wife) said exactly the same things about WMD in Iraq that the current administration said in 2003. But here's the difference, George Bush actually did something. He redeemed the words through action, the actual overthrow of the socialistic, totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein. He did what the Democrats said they wanted to do and suddenly all the Democrats' words are forgotten and Bush is the idiot chimp who lied and created the worst foreign policy mistake ever, by successfully finishing Gulf War I.

I see. I get the picture. (To quote John Cleese). But the picture is not a favorable one of the left here in America.

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Punishing War Criminals

I'm not sure why they are doing this. Apparently they will charge only about 80 of the 275 still left in Guantanamo. They've charged about 13 so far. They are not seeking the death penalty so the punishment will differ from the demi-war prisoner detention how? Also, if none of the Guantanamo detainees being charged recently fought in uniform, wouldn't they all be war criminals--illegal combatants who may be summarily executed? Wussification continues its mincing advance.

In the past few weeks, Guantanamo detainees Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, aka “Abu Khobaib al Sudani,” and Mohammed Jawad are facing charges. The first two are charged with general 'being a terrorist' or terrorism support charges and the like, but the last is a bit of a mystery. He's charged with attempted murder for throwing a grenade into a passing army vehicle. Since when is fighting with hand grenades a war crime? If it's a crime only because he wasn't in uniform, then we're back to the question above, why only 80 and not each and every one?

The accused will get free lawyers, don't have to testify, are presumed innocent and must be found guilty by the highest standard, beyond a reasonable doubt, in an open trial. They are in front of military tribunals, as is appropriate, and most importantly don't get to see the evidence against them (although their lawyers do--not exactly iron clad protection of sources there considering the general type of person who will be eager to defend these detainees--recall the horrible traitor, Lynn Stewart, and the wrist slap she received for helping her client communicate with the terrorists back home). Still, if it makes sense to do this at all, this seems an appropriate way to do it, if way too sensitive to the terrorists' 'human' rights. No one will be too happy with the results, I believe. The left will probably, collectively, have the vapors over each conviction.

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Report on the American War Dead in Iraq and Afghanistan

Here it is over a third of the way into February and I haven't posted on the service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in January. I'm kind of like the mainstream media regarding bad news--out of sight, out of mind, not in print. And there is a little bit of bad news

For January, as announced by the Department of Defense, 49 service mermbers died--41 from service in Iraq and 8 from service in Afghanistan. Here's a further breakdown: In Iraq, 17 were killed by IEDs. That's up from last month. Indeed about twice as many died in Iraq in January as died in December 2007. Only three were killed by small arms, one was killed in an accident, three from non-combat causes and one from a non-combat illness. One marine died from a non hostile incident and one sailor fell overboard in the Arabian sea and is missing, presumed dead. One marine died in combat operations in al Anbar. It's been months since that's happened. Three with the 101st were killed in combat operations elsewhere. They had an appointment in Samarra. In Afghanistan, a full 6 died from IEDs and two from small arms. Perhaps the nature of combat is changing there. IEDs were a very minor part of Afghan duty even 6 months ago.

Only one woman died, Tracy Birkman, 41, of New Castle, VA. It was a hard month for the brass though. The first officer casualty, almost the first of the year, was local good guy, Major Andrew Olmsted, who blogged from the Springs before he rotated over. But with him (in an IED attack) went Captain Thomas Casey. Also killed were Major Michaed Green, Lt. Colonel Richard Berrettini and Major Alan Rogers.

Only months from the Dreaded (but not very much) Spring Taliban Offensive and probably some more operations against al Qaeda goons perhaps this time in Mosul. The American death toll will probably rise through September a little before it falls again as Winter sets in. It is unclear to me if Marines transfered from Iraq to Afghanistan will effect the numbers one way or the other. Our hopes and prayers go out for all our brave warriors.

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This Day in the Long History of American Heroism

On this day in 1942, the first Medal of Honor for World War II was awarded, posthumously, to 2nd Lt. Alexander Ramsey Nininger, Jr. for his heroism during the Battle of Bataan, a humiliating defeat for us. Nininger had taken the fight to the Japanese, who were in trees and foxholes near Abucay and Nininger continued to fight with rifle and hand grenades, killing Japanese soldiers, despite being wounded three times. He pushed too far ahead and was lost. When the position was retaken, Nininger's body was found near the bodies of two Japanese soldiers and an officer all, presumably, taken out by Nininger just before he was killed.

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Thought of the Day

Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad.

Diogenes the Cynic

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

 

Friday Movie Review (one day late)

Went to Rambo alone. It was an OK action film with politics about as subtle as a .50 BMG to the head. There was a sense of the circle closing in the final scene. In First Blood, what, about 30 years ago? John Rambo is seen walking along the road to visit old friends somewhere in the Great Northwest, now he's walking home in Arizona. Man, you'd think he could aford a rental at least.

This is the longest 90 minute movie ever. The action is riviting but before and between the action it moves the opposite way a cobra does. Stallone is looking kind of freaky at 61--like he's taken steps to hide his age and it hasn't worked out at all.

Anyway, this one takes place in Burma, mostly, the new country we enlightened types love to hate. At least it's a lefty totalitarian one this time. (Burma is the poorest nation in South East Asia after 4 decades of socialist, junta rule where, under British rule and under capitalism after independence, in the 50s, it was the richest country there and the world's chief exporter of rice. Socialism fails, ever single time it's tried). In the movie, there is a genocide of Christian farmers going on (and, to a lesser degree, in reality as well) and Colorado doctors, preachers etc. come to help out. Of course they are killed or captured and Rambo has to come rescue them. The mercenaries hired by Ron Howard's older brother are competent and noble in their own way. The best of them is the Barrett Model 82A1/M107 .50 sniper called school boy. The worst of the Christians is the guy who played the food/lust priest on The Sopranos. What a sniveler. They are stopped on the river by Burmese pirates; and Rambo, when he can't buy them off, takes them all out with a .45 1911. Sniveler says that he's going to have to report Rambo (to whom? and for what, for saving all their lives?) "It's never right to kill." So of course sniveler let's all his friends get killed and then he actually starts to fight and kills a Burmese soldier with a rock. I guess that broad brush sniveling pacifist statement is refuted thus.

There's a lot of .50 rounds going around in the movie and they somewhat realistically make body parts fly off. The combat is intensified by this bloody body chopping, but they show the little AK round doing almost as much damage. Yeah, right.

Let's talk just for a second about the Tallboy bomb. They existed and were effective (sinking, for example the Bismark's sister ship Tirpitz) but were only used in the European Theater. They had inside over 2 and 1/2 tons of Torpex (50% more destructive than TNT) and would have exploded somewhat as was shown in the film. But to think these specialized, hand crafted bombs would be dropped on a Burmese jungle, not penetrate deep inside the loam, and wouldn't have exploded, is just silly.

In fact it was all pretty silly, but in a bloody, full of suffering, sort of way.

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Incorporating Sharia into English Common Law


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says that incorporating Sharia law into the English legal system is not only invevitable but would be great. He's shocked at the reaction his words have engendered. Clueless old fool.

I don't know if the three hanging from mobile cranes in Iran in the photo were blasphemers, homosexuals or women who were found in the company of men not their husbands or who couldn't prevent themselves from being raped (it's probably not women from just the clothes and the fact that women are more commonly stoned to death under Sharia than hanged), but I do know that execution for just these sort of things is commonly sanctioned by Sharia law. Who wouldn't want to live under that system?
I'm also waiting for NOW to speak up against the stoning of two women found in the company of men not their husbands in Iran.

So far it's crickets.
Although NOW did have an old posting about the Duke Lacrosse Non Rape Case in which they decried the coverage which questioned the veracity of the 'victim.' So they have that going for them. Also they recently featured the ever relevant and important 2008 Feminist Super Bowl AdWatch. I mean there are priorities, and then there are priorities.

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This Day in the History of Unpopular Truth Telling

On this day in 1950, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) told the public the inconvenient fact, already fairly well known among Washington insiders, that the American state department was riddled with Communists and Communist sympathizers. He was absolutely right, as the Venona intercepts, FBI files and Soviet archives clearly verify.

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Thought of the Day

Quoniam aemulari non licet, nunc invides.


Plautus


Because you can't copy our diversions, now you look down on them.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

 

The True Harbinger of Spring


This pseudo pagan mumbo jumbo with the Pennsylvanian marmot on the first cross quarter day of the year is bunk (even though it made a pretty good movie). How can the weather on a single day, February 2, in a single location, be evidence of what the weather will be over the next 40 or so days, nation, or even world, wide? The real way to tell if Spring is on the way is color change in the wands of weeping willow trees. If they're going yellow, Spring is nigh.

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What's Wrong With This Picture?



Click here for a larger version of the temperature graph shown smaller above. These are space measured mean temperatures by month. You can see that after the big spike in 1998, it's been pretty stable, but now it's in a nose dive. Were there any computer programs which predicted stability through the first decade of the 21st Century and then a full degree (fahrenheit) drop? Let me rephrase that, the computer models on which the Warmies base all of their alarmism, and for which they want us to hobble our economy forever, did one of those predict the past 10 years of reality?

Crickets.
Correction: The graph does not show the temperatures but is an anomaly graph, showing the difference from the 'normal' mean as measured betewen 1979 amd 2000. When it dips below the zero line, it's colder than usual. Sorry for not reading that closely. There are several systems of satellite remote sensing. SST is measurement of sea surface temperature. RSS is one of the satellite measurements, remote sensing system, which are the only reliable ones now (at least more reliable than surface stations but not without some controversy as the raw data needs to be adjusted for many factors, including the ever downward drift of satellites as a result of gravitational attraction). The other one generally referred to is called the UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) which has further fine tuned the raw data (and come to different numbers). There's also a measurement called GISS but I don't know what that stands for. It is much different recently from the RSS. Here's a good discussion of the reliabilty of each system. I'm an RSS man.

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This Day in the History of Real Nazi Decimation

On this day in 1940, Nazis shot every tenth person in two Polish villages near Warsaw in reprisal for the deaths of two German soldiers. We all recoil in horror at the brutality of the Nazis, for whom this was merely a light warm-up, but I want to know if the executions were effective in stopping the Poles from killing German soldiers. I guess I'm just built differently.

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Thought of the Day

At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosphy of sniveling brats.

P.J. O'Rourke

Little harsh that.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

This Day in the Long History of American Successes in Viet Nam


On this day in 1971, American forces (mainly from the 5th Division) finished 'clearing the road,' (in Operation Dewey Canyon II) in the northwest corner of South Viet Nam, in preparation for ARVN troops invading Laos, in order to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail and destroy the NVA munitions dump at Tchepone, (in Operation Lam Son 719) the second phase of which began the next day. Lam Son 719, unfortunately, was not a success.
The ARVN wasn't great on offense, but proved much better on defense during the 1972 Easter Offensive by the NVA, when they, with American air cover, just slaughtered the invading NVA.

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Thought of the Day

Facile remedium est ubertati; sterilia nullo labore vincuntur.

Quintilian

Exuberance is easily remedied; dullness has no cure.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

 

True Fascism

Three days ago I accused the Symbionese Liberation Army of being fascist. An anonymous reader asked for support. OK. We should start with a general definition of fascism.

From Jonah Goldberg--Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve that common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy.

Here are Paxton's nine "mobilizing passions" of fascism:

Here's another definition from Emilio Gentile: Fascism is--

--A mass movement that combines different classes but is prevalently of the middle classes, which sees itself as having a mission of national regeneration, is in a state of war with its adversaries and seeks a monopoly of power by using terror, parliamentary tactics and compromise to create a new regime, destroying democracy.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (IV-R) lists each and every neuroses and psychoses humans suffer from. It also lists the generally recognized (essential) signs and symptoms of each disorder. In order for a mental health professional to diagnose a disorder, the patient must suffer from a majority of the symptoms (for example, five out of nine). That's the model we should utilize here. The SLA was, after all, a tiny movement not a nation state. Nations and their history differ from each other at least as much as individual humans do. For example, one of the dominant features of NAZI Germany was a fanatical hatred of Jews. Such Jew hatred was almost completely absent in Fascist Italy (indeed Jews were well represented in the Fascist government there). No sane person could doubt, based on this difference, or even on others, that both nations were fascistic 70 years ago. Let's look at the SLA and see if it had the bulk of fascist markers.

Here is the SLA manifesto, I think, (it's not the model of clarity): Basically they declare war against the murderous oppressors of the capitalist class of (a little projection going on here) The Fascist United States of America. They are seeking to create, through violence, a new world of justice and equality. All oppressed people of color were encouraged to join in the struggle.

Here are some SLA facts:

  1. Most, but not all, of its members were middle class white women.
  2. They adopted the seven part principles of Kwanzaa (I'm not kidding) which are socialistic.
  3. Their first actions were assassination of school administrators Marcus Foster and Robert Blackburn, then the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst and then a bank robbery.
  4. The 'ransom' for Hearst was a free food program for the poor starving in the Bay Area. Hearst paid it.
  5. Donald DeFreeze (aka 'Cinque') was the charismatic leader, the self styled Field Marshall.

Unless one is too blinded by partisanship to see, the SLA clearly has the bulk of the essential features, described above, of historical fascist movements, but it was mainly an adherent of self-righteous, murderous socialism, which is the clearest marking feature of fascism.

QED

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The Respondent's Brief

Here, in PDF form, is the 80 plus page brief of the Respondent, that is, the pro gun rights brief in the Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller. I can't imagine an issue here not well covered by the brief. It appears, however, that the authors of the brief have strategically decided to abandon full auto weapons and cannons, etc. (all useful to a well regulated militia) and only ask that the 2nd Amendment apply to militia useful weapons which are "in comon use at the time". This is also a reaction to the last case the Supreme Court decided regarding the 2nd Amendment, United States v. Miller, which is looking ever less wise over the years. This 'in common use at the time' requirement is not anywhere in the language, or in the umbras and penumbras, of the 2nd Amendment and appears to be made up out of whole cloth to defang the "You want anyone to have a machine gun? What about an atom bomb?" idiocy. Pity, really. It is a disappointment for gun purists, for sure.

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More Tet Offensive Truth

Historian Arthur Herman has a fine, short piece today in the Wall Street Journal on the effect our media had in 1968 on the history of Southeast Asia. Money quote:

Yet thanks to the success of Tet, the numbers of Americans dying in Vietnam steadily declined -- from almost 15,000 in 1968 to 9,414 in 1969 and 4,221 in 1970 -- by which time the Viet Cong had ceased to exist as a viable fighting force. One Vietnamese province after another witnessed new peace and stability. By the end of 1969 over 70% of South Vietnam's population was under government control, compared to 42% at the beginning of 1968. In 1970 and 1971, American ambassador Ellsworth Bunker estimated that 90% of Vietnamese lived in zones under government control.

However, all this went unnoticed because misreporting about Tet had left the image of Vietnam as a botched counterinsurgency -- an image nearly half a decade out of date. The failure of the North's next massive invasion over Easter 1972, which cost the North Vietnamese army another 100,000 men and half their tanks and artillery, finally forced it to sign the peace accords in Paris and formally to recognize the Republic of South Vietnam. By August 1972 there were no U.S. combat forces left in Vietnam, precisely because, contrary to the overwhelming mass of press reports, American policy there had been a success.

To Congress and the public, however, the war had been nothing but a debacle. And by withdrawing American troops, President Nixon gave up any U.S. political or military leverage on Vietnam's future. With U.S. military might out of the equation, the North quickly cheated on the Paris accords. When its re-equipped army launched a massive attack in 1975, Congress refused to redeem Nixon's pledges of military support for the South. Instead, President Gerald Ford bowed to what the media had convinced the American public was inevitable: the fall of Vietnam.

Yeah, what he said.

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Here Comes the Sun, And I Say...


The flux density numbers from Canada regarding the magnetic activity on the sun remain low, in the upper 60s this past few days, and just barely into the low 70s yesterday. The numbers have been in the 60s and 70s for years and years, now and again, in the last century, just as it has in this trough in the sunspot numbers, in the normal 11-year cycle. So the time really to begin to worry will actually be in July, or even later. However, since the solar scientists have announced the start of a new cycle (and sure enough the first sunpot in a while was in January--pictured above), the numbers should be climbing towards triple digits and they are not.

Quiet sun, cold Earth.

Low flux density values generally mean a quiet sun.

You do the math from there.
UPDATE: The scientists had estimated that the new sun spot cycle would start last March and were divided over whether it would be an active one or a quite one. Many agreed that the later the start, the more likely the cycle would be quiet. So, here we are 10 months late with the first sunspot. Don't get me wrong, I don't want it to get colder (well, maybe a little, just to shove falling for the Global Warming Scam down certain people's throats) because getting colder will cause a lot more death and destruction than getting warmer. All of Canada, for example, under a mile of ice is not a good thing. Where would our hockey players come from?

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The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow...

The idea that it will be McCain as the Republican nominee is getting harder to shake. We can only hope that it won't be McCain/Huckabee. It's tough to tell over on the Democratic side. Hillary seems to be ahead and I can't tell about the strength of Obama's momentum. It's possible even Texas won't decide it. What's more disturbing than a bad Republican nominee is that the Democrats are turning out in greater numbers, sometimes more than two to one, in their primaries. I still believe McCain could beat Hillary but I believe he will be Dole II against Obama, even though Obama is merely an empty suit who looks good and speaks well. Couple that to a bleak Senate picture and nearly 25 Republican retirements in the House and we are in for some bleak, bleak times. Not the end of the world, mind you, but some damage from poor leadership, whoever wins the presidency.

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Report on the Republican Caucus in South Denver

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill

The best argument against the caucus system is attending one for five minutes. I'm sure it was the three times normal attending crowd, but it was barely organized chaos where I was last night; and although my precinct voted 5-3-1 for Romney, McCain and Huckabee in the initial straw poll, we sent the two who volunteered up to the next meeting and they were for McCain and Huckabee. Oh well, at least it's cheaper than a primary.

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This Day in the History of Empty Rhetoric

On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair redoubled their pledge to use military force against Iraq, if necessary. The Clinton administration was apparently arguing what the meaning of 'if' was. So 5 years later President Bush continues the Clinton position and he's a lying idiot who has created the worst foreign policy mistake ever. I see.

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Thought of the Day

Taciturnitas stulto homini pro sapientia est.

Syrus

Silence in a stupid man looks like wisdom.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

 

This Day in the History of American Fascist Movements' Actions

On this day in 1974, newspaper empire heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California by a small fascist group, The Symbionese Liberation Army.

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Thought of the Day

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.

Sam Ewing

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Monday, February 04, 2008

 

This Day in American History

On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton said: "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.” What a freakin' liar. He knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. No, wait, that's the democratic line on President Bush. He knew he wasn't going to do a thing to stop the WMD programs in Iraq.

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Thought of the Day

The question is [will] what the government is going to do about global warming be worse than global warming itself?

Ronald Bailey

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

 

Rock Concert Review

Went with Kit to Van Halen, as close to the original Van Halen as is, apparently, currently possible, on Friday at the Pepsi Center and had a blast. I'm there just for Eddie Van Halen's guitar work but, surprisingly, David Lee Roth actually adds a lot to the band. There was so much energy in the crowd (sold out show--about 13,000 people) that we stood for the entire concert. First time I ever did that. Here's some background.

Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen (on drums) were born of a Dutch father and a Javanese mother in Amsterdam and Nijmagen, Holland respectively in 1955 and '53 (Eddie's the younger). Nijmagen is where members of the 82nd Airborne (including my cousin Ross) rowed across the lower Rhine in canvas and plywood boats and simultaneously took both ends of the big highway bridge there, preventing its destruction by Nazi forces (but enough ancient history). They came to America young, started a band in 1972 in Pasadena, were pretty good, and started recording albums around 1978 when my students turned me onto them and let me record Van Halen (I) during our poetry-in-rock lessons. I kind of liked the guitar work back then, mainly for its enthusiasm, but never was a true fan, although I heard the hits on the radio, until Valerie Bertonelli, hosting on SNL, introduce her new husband Eddie who did a 2 plus minute guitar solo that blew me away. I still didn't buy any albums and I think about that time Sammy Hagar replaced Roth as singer. I thought Hagar was the worst thing about Montrose so I wrote off Van Halen until last Friday and the joy-to-attend concert. Here's more background on Eddie.

He's divorced from now slightly chubby Valerie (although appeared to wear a wedding band on Friday) having filed in 2005. He appears to be the custodial parent for his only child, lummoxy, spotty 17 year old Wolfgang, who is now the competent base player for Van Halen. He also appears to have had a big problem with alcohol, but maybe that's under control. He had a hip replacement a few years ago and lost about a third of his tongue to cancer more recently. He still smokes (and indeed had a cigarette on Friday). He can still really play. He wore cargo like painter pants and red tennis shoes and no shirt. He has 5150 tatooed large on his lower back. I imagined 49 and 48 on his butt cheeks but 5150, it turns out, was an album a decade plus ago. He has relatively short brown hair, a cut but with no bulk body looking much younger than his face and hands. He brought out the signature custom Stratocaster only once and played a copycat Telecaster a few songs but did most of his excellent work on a guitar of his own label, a
Charvel EVH or something like that.

53 year old David Lee Roth grinned at times like an idiot Cheshire cat. St. Theresa in the ecstasy of her death could not have looked more pleased to be there than Roth. He started in an elaborately brocaded coat but soon stripped down. He can still do the flying roundhouse kick of his earlier days, but some of the other signature dance moves (like splits) seem to have gone the way of his long blonde locks. Still, his enthusiasm was infectious as the band worked through their hits and then did some solo shots. Roth's was to tell a long tale about smoking dope with Kenny in 1972 before he started Ice Cream Man on acoustic gutar. He's clearly going bald and has had some help up there but his body is an inspiration for us over 50--well cut with some bulk--he looked really good. His voice is still powerful but he glottal-wavers too much now and again. Van Halen without David Lee Roth is decidedly less of the whole, I would imagine, but I don't think they miss their old bassist, Michael Anthony. Wolfgang did a little solo sounding like he listened some to 10 years dead Jaco Pastorious. There's nothing intellectually stimulating (like with Dylan or early Little Feat) in the songs, but many are fun. I'm a sucker for Hot for Teacher and always have been.

At the end of the encore (Jump, if you had any doubt) Alex and Eddie embraced in what seemed a heartfelt brotherly display of affection and congratulations. I know if I were Eddie, I'd be thankful for each and every day (his form or throat/mouth cancer is generally but not, of course, universally, fatal). Did I mention that he really can play guitar? I mean really well.

I have to call Van Halen 2007-2008, however, merely a nostalgia tour, because they are no longer the force they were once in music (more's the pity), but what nostalgia!

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