Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday 13, Not Edition

Since Thursday 13s are all about learning about each other, I figured I should be honest. I slept in. I admit it. I blog in the mornings and this morning I'm short of time. I still want to do a Thursday 13, so I'm going to do one that's been brewing in my head for a while, about 15 minutes actually, and see if I can do it as a free writing exercise.

Type, magic fingers, type!

Each week, many Thursday 13 bloggers post about 13 things from a theme. 13 things I love about my kids, 13 places I want to go, 13 books I'd like to read and so forth. Today I will post 13 themes that you will not see at The Scratching Post. Ever.

1. My 13 favorite punctuation marks.

2. 13 reasons why I like to cliff dive.

3. 13 embarassing things I've said to transvestites in the morning.

4. 13 things I've said to transvestites at any time of the day.

5. 13 ways to cook haggis.

6. My 13 favorite numbers from 1 to 10 with no repeats. (That would take a long time to write.)

7. My 13 favorite Chipmunks songs.

8. My 13 favorite shades of pink.

9. 13 ways to knit your daughter's beanie babies into a full-length coat in the manner of Cruella deVille.

10. 13 reasons Chihuahuas are better than cats.

11. 13 reasons any dog is better than cats.

12. 13 ways to protect yourself from enraged dog lovers who religiously maintain that dogs are, in fact, better than cats.

and finally, this one.

13. 13 reasons why I should use an alarm clock.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Soccer Style

Welcome to another episode of the World of Good (WOG) here at The Scratching Post.

We've covered quite a bit since we've started these. Tsunamis, hurricanes, drug addiction, homelessness, almost every kind of pestilence and plague and disaster known to Man. I know what you've been thinking. "Lighten up, K T! You wanted to make us aware of the kindness and care all around us, but these stories are just scaring the bejeepers out of us! And we're not even sure what bejeepers are!"

This week we take a break from disasters and human suffering to focus on...little kids playing soccer! Whoohoo! Go team!

Haverford College is an undergraduate liberal arts college of 1100 students located in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1833 by the Quakers. Among their athletics is a women's soccer team. The team does more than score goals and throw elbows when the refs aren't looking. Er, I meant to say they most certainly do not throw elbows. Ever. Anyway, here's what else they do.

Community service plays an integral role in the education of Haverford College students. The women's soccer team participates in numerous service projects throughout the year and is committed to encouraging and fostering relationships between team members and a variety of local groups.
An example of this is an effort they run in conjunction with local college soccer coaches to help teach children how to be better soccer players. Here's what they had to say about it.

Hey! You just scored on our goalie! Want a scholarship?

We assisted college coaches in running soccer sessions for the children throughout the day, and near the end we each coached our own team in the final tournament. We had a wonderful time participating! It was fun playing, coaching, and meeting the children and coaches that we worked with.

Haverford star of the present, meet Haverford star of the future.

The most rewarding part of the day, though, was more than the fun we had and the workout we got from trying to keep up with the kids. It was extremely gratifying to see the kids' having a great time, and to observe their soccer skills and friendships progress throughout the day.

Better living through ball control.

The highlight of the experience for us was sharing our love of soccer with the children through playing and coaching, while having a great time with them. We enjoyed serving as role models for the kids on our teams, and helping them see what they can accomplish, whether it is with their soccer careers, studies, or future life, with hard work and dedication.

A portrait in kindness.

This particular WOG came to mind because I'm organizing a trip for my daughter's soccer team to see a local college women's soccer game. All throughout our league we're surrounded by people giving their time and effort to make a World of Good for the girls.

For more about the Haverford College women's soccer team, visit their website. Images used from their website without permission.

For a description of our WOG posts and full list of the many WOGs we've done, please visit this link. We also ask bloggers who would wish to link to our WOG posts to drop us an email and let us know.

Update: Welcome ladies of the Haverford soccer team! Your coach, Wendy Smith sent me a very nice email in response to this post. Thank you all so much for making the world a better place. Over on the right hand side, you'll see the WOG Squad bloggers who link to these posts weekly. Now you're famous! Drop us a comment if you'd like. You can leave them anonymously if you wish to protect your privacy.

Other visitors, the soccer team has been visiting this post and might like to see what you think of their work. Drop them a note in the comments if you'd like.

WOG Later, Catblogging Now

Our house has a central atrium and a balcony around it. I got this shot of our Maximum Leader looking down from the balcony.

Our regular World of Good post will come tonight after I get home form work.

People Unclear on the Concept, Marketing Division

Today's Wall Street Journal has an analysis of YouTube video creation and consumption habits. Buried in the article is this tidbit.

Marc Pearson, 24, who, as pearson101, records backyard wrestling matches: enthusiastic but low-budget versions of the fake-real matches you see on cable. Because his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, England, is short on wrestlers, Mr. Pearson uses YouTube to attract opponents. "We used to have a lot of wrestlers around here, but not anymore, on account of all the injuries," he explains.
Marc, you might attract more blokes if you weren't tearing their ligaments and rupturing their tendons. Just a suggestion.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Need Professional Help

I've been singing the theme song from The Partridge Family all day today.

"..something always happens whenever we're together..."

You can listen to it here.

Pray for me.

A Message to HP from the Army

Just thought I'd share...

The 15 Richest People That Don't Exist

While surfing around yesterday, I came across a gem that I wanted to share with you. It's the Forbes Magazine Fictional 15. It's their take on the 15 richest people from fiction.

My favorite? Thurston Howell III.

Eccentric Harvard grad fled U.S. on eve of indictment on accounting fraud charges. Rumored to be living on private island in Pacific with wife Lovey and skeletal staff of trusted associates. Known for his bare-knuckled boardroom style, despite socialite manners. Once said that anyone believing a businessman should refuse to resort to thievery is simply "naïve." Congressmen and prosecutors looking to drag him home to ask him what he meant. Member since 1964.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Blogging from Sutter's Mill

Yahoo! has a front page story today about how some bloggers make big bucks. The first thing I thought when I read it was "Thar's gold in them thar blogs!"

The comparison to the gold rush days after the first nuggets were found at Sutter's Mill is apt. First of all, it's a total money loser for almost everyone. The overwhelming majority of bloggers are working for cents per hour if anything. My own experience has been that advertising is nearly worthless. Despite a couple of Instalanches and some very appreciated support from the members of the Feline Theocracy, my blog has yet to make any money. I've got links and traffic, but no coin.

During the gold rush, the people who made money were the ones who supported the prospectors, not the prospectors themselves. In this case, it's Google and the other service providers who are making the money from blogging. Adsense only pays you when you hit $100 in ad revenue. Until then, they keep the money. I have worked very hard to drive links and hits and have had more than 36,000 hits and 62,000 page views on my blog. I've got 480 sites linking to The Scratching Post. I haven't seen a dime.

The companies who are advertising are paying, they're just paying Google. If I ever manage to get to that magic $100, I'll get my payout. Until then, I'm a free content provider to Google. Sort of like the prospector who paid all of his money to the laundry, the general store, the bootmaker and so on. One or two of them found the big nuggets, but the rest of us just keep panning, hoping for the big strike.

For more financial fun, be sure to visit this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

Saints Look Better in Game 3

There's all kinds of wailing and gnashing of teeth going on over at SaintsReport over last night's preseason loss to Indianapolis. The message boards are getting posts saying "Brees sucks" and the regional newspapers are fussing about the defense getting carved up by Drew Bledsoe last week and Peyton Manning this week. I was actually heartened by this game.

Unless there's some kind of huge turnaround, the Saints aren't going to be a good football team this year. They could be an adequate one. My bet is that they will win 6-7 games. They need some major improvement on defense before they will be consistently competitive. That being said, the offense is starting to look pretty good, notwithstanding the comments on the message boards.

The Saints had several long drives against the Colts' first string defense. Two of them were ended by interceptions thrown by the obviously rusty Drew Brees. The improvement from last week, though, is huge. Last week they went three and out on their first three drives. This time, Drew went 19-29 for 189 yards. Not a bad outing. The offensive line looked better and both Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush ran well. If Drew connected for touchdowns instead of interceptions and if John Carney hadn't shanked a 41-yard field goal, the first half score would have been 17-17 and the discussion would be entirely different.

Last week, the offense never got close to the end zone until the end of the first half. This time they almost got there, but couldn't score. Both games were against possible Super Bowl teams. I'm optimistic that the season will at least be interesting.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Scratching Post's First Reader Poll

I've just joined and I have yet to use it. I've also posted every day since the inception of this blog. With that in mind, I give you the following poll.

Should I post today?
What's a post?
What day is it?
Free polls from

Friday, August 25, 2006


A little tuxedo cat doing her best panther imitation.

For more feline fun, please visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday 13, Port of Honolulu Edition

Last week I took a business trip to Hawaii. While there I had time to take some photos. My hotel looked out over the Port of Honolulu and inspired by this, I walked around the docks for my photos. When I go, I usually take pictures of the botanical gardens or beaches, but I guess the 8 year old boy in me was attracted to the harbor tugs and fishing ships.

Click on the photos for higher resolution images.

1. This is what I could see from the hospitality suite on the 40th floor where they put out a modest continental breakfast.

2. This was the view from my room.

3. Going into the harbor, I found that new security regulations were in place and most piers were off-limits to the general public. I didn't have a ID badge to get in, so the only ships I could get near were these.

10. This fellow was grinding the rust off of the mast. I wasn't around long enough to see him paint with one hand and cling to the mast with the other.

13. Check out the size of this ship engine relative to the car next to it. (Insert Tim Allen ape noises here.)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Bridges to Life Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) blogburst here at The Scratching Post. Today we highlight a group in Texas that works to help ex-cons go straight.

A common feature among criminals is a lack of empathy. Most of them have an inability to feel for the plight of their victims. To the criminal, they harm people because they want to and they can. All that matters is them and everyone else is insignificant.

A common feature among victims is a feeling of rage and helplessness. Usually without warning, someone has come and taken property or damaged lives. The victims can't turn back the clock and recover what's been lost, they just have to move on and live with the damage done.

Bridges to Life is a non-profit organization primarily made of volunteers that brings victims and convicts together. They help convicts have a change of heart by showing them the damage that is done to a crime victim. The criminals are forced to confront the pain caused by crime and see just what they have wrought. Without empathy, the only thing preventing a criminal from commiting another crime is the fear of returning to prison. The victims who volunteer gain a measure of peace and forgiveness through this process.

The message left by prison is "don't get caught." The message left by Bridges to Life is "respect the lives of others."

Victims of violent crime come into the prison to “tell their story” and show the inmates the effect crime has had on their lives. Often for the first time, inmates see victims as real people rather than objectifying them as they have in the past. This allows inmates to deal with their past in a rehabilitative and redemptive manner, often avowing never to hurt someone again. Victims can also experience significant healing through the process of this program. One of the things victims want most is acknowledgment that what was done to them was wrong. Acknowledgment by incarcerated offenders is part of the healing process for the victims.
How effective is it? The photos interspersed throughout this post are the graduates of Bridges' 12 week process. Their recidivism rate is less than 15% compared to a general prison population rate of about 50%. Bridges to Life has won several awards from the government of Texas for their outstanding work. What impressed me the most were the comments from the inmates themselves.

"After 21 years of prison, I got my compassion back for human beings and respect for family. You find truth within yourself. I never knew the hurt and pain I caused until I sat in front of a victim."

"I never realized how much a stranger could love me. You all looked beyond the bad and the ugly. This changes people. Bridges To Life put a face on forgiveness."

"This program has given me a view of people that I have never had before. No longer is a store just a store; it's a place where a real person is, someone who would become a victim."

From a crime victim Bridges volunteer: "I cannot adequately describe what it is like to come out to our meetings. I nervously walk through the prison yard. I start the small group meeting and see the welcome faces of the inmates and experience the presence of God."
Here's more about Bridges to Life from their website.

The process requires many volunteers who are at the heart of this work. Over 250 volunteers have been involved in Bridges To Life thus far. The primary motive of crime victims who come into prison is to help prevent others from experiencing the devastation and pain that their families have been forced to endure due to the horrible actions of offenders. All volunteers experience the blessing of “making a difference” in the lives of others. Many of the volunteers participate in multiple projects each year. Once experienced, our work becomes a “program of attraction.” It represents a true model of the Gospel of Jesus and encompasses His primary teachings of mercy, compassion, love and forgiveness.
Wow. Talk about a World of Good. For a description of why we WOG, a list of previous WOGs and how you can help the WOG process, please visit this post.

Photos from the Bridges to Life website used without permission. Please visit their website to find out more and learn how you can help.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

High-tech Only Goes So Far

I've been optimistic about the results of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, but here's something to be concerned about and it applies to our own military as well. The Wall Street Journal has an article today about Israeli reservists' anger at the conditions under which they had to fight.

Apologies in advance to those who cannot reach that article - it is most likely for subscribers only. Here are some of the key paragraphs.

Reservists' gripes filtered out even before the fighting ended. They complained of inadequate training and a shortage of basic equipment, and said on some days they were forced to fight without food and water. Troops were kept idle for weeks and then sent into Lebanon only two days before the United Nations-brokered cease-fire went into effect. Intelligence, especially on Hezbollah's elaborate system of tunnels and bunkers, was inadequate or out of date. Some soldiers complained they were exposed to unnecessary danger by being sent on daytime missions that should only have been carried out under cover of darkness.
Sounds like a very sloppy campaign. Here's the more worrisome part for me.

...the focus of military strategy began to shift away from traditional ground forces toward fighting high-tech wars...

In southern Lebanon, the new approach was exposed as flawed. Instead of launching a ground offensive at the start, Israel waged a high-tech air war that failed to destroy Hezbollah's short-range rockets. Meanwhile, its infantry came under fierce attack on the ground from Hezbollah fighters armed with state-of-the-art antitank guided missiles.

Lt. Adam Kima, a reservist who fought this month in Lebanon, blames the technological advances reshaping the army for some of the failures of the war. "The generals sit in a room surrounded by plasma screens and move troops around on a map," he said. "That's why the orders were often so unclear."
Technology only goes so far. In the end, your orders are still carried out by soldiers at the front. It's not a video game.

Monday, August 21, 2006


The Saints stank playing Dallas on preseason Monday Night Football. Horrible, truly horrible.

Justin has every reason to gloat.

All I can say is at least we don't still have that bonehead Aaron Brooks.

This Week in the Theocracy

Welcome, travellers on the path to Feline Enlightenment! It is I, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, faithful beadle of the Feline Theocracy. Today we shall publish our bi-weekly round up hilighting our favorite posts of the Theocraticians. Just not right yet. Our human, the one to whom we dictate our posts, is still running a bit slow, recovering from a less than restful red-eye flight back from Hawaii.

As a preview of what is to come, I shall leave you with our favorite post from our newest converts, the College of Cardinals. Joe Noory, holder of the prestigious Cardinal Richelieu Chair for Advanced European Studies, posted this gem about Dr. Jack Kevorkian. It turns out that Jack is a member of the school of "you go ahead; I'd love to join you, but I've got this library book to return" school of death cult leaders like Zarqawi was and Nasrallah is.


Now that our human has recovered, I was able to dictate this post to him. Here's the rest of our favorites for the week.

Eric Scheske has some good Woody Allen quotes.

Our Holy Scholar Georgette lives in India. She has this really cool post about traffic conditions where she lives. A great photo, too!

Mark Shea sees a conspiracy. And it involves him!

The Theocracy's Vicar of Victory is interviewed!

Our Prelate to the Primates has a post you have to see to believe.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring has another good post on the border situation.

The Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses has a post that is too funny to be read while holding or drinking liquids.

The Patriarch of the Airwaves is adamant about the effects of the election on the war.

Mars is extraordinarily close to the Earth right now. Our Court Jester has a post about the Vatican's Observatory.

Happy Julie has a clever parable about the worth of a person.

Our Poet Laureate has a fluffy tail. Really.

I'm sorry, I try to read a whole bunch of posts before picking my favorite, but this one near the top of his blog from the Archibishop of Texas has me laughing out loud.

The Theocracy's Holy Scribe reminisces.

Official Artist, meet Britney Spears. Urgh.

Our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media talks about Joementum.

Our Monsignor of the Breweries has an interesting take on the Barry Bonds steroid case.

Our Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has caught an impostor!

The Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish has an outstanding Thursday 13 wherein she tells us where various famous cats are today.

Our Anchoress goes after Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod? Who'd have expected this?

Living near the border, our member who is on the protected list, Heidi's post about guarding our borders is really interesting.

Best wishes to all of you and we'll see you in two weeks with another "This Week in the Theocracy."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why Judge Taylor is Defended

There are have been some enlightening posts over at Spencer Overton, who knows Judge Taylor personally, posted about his respect for her. The conversation that follows in the comments as well as this follow-up post by Marc Lamont Hill are quite enlightening.

I would argue that Judge Hill's ruling on the NSA surveillance program and the subsequent cheering of this ruling is a testament to how well this country is protected. The war is still distant. Using children to blow up airlines or pizza parlors is something you read about in the newspaper. It has no more reality to us than the latest episode of Lost.

Post-9/11, we've managed to keep the battle outside of America. Judge Taylor and the ACLU lawyers are safe in their homes and drive to work in the morning to debate the finer points of civil liberties in a clean, well-lit, comfortable court room. They don't know anyone who has been killed or injured in a domestic terrorist attack since 9/11. The war is on and while they may acknowledge it, they don't viscerally know it.

What the commenters and writers at blackprof don't grasp is that we could very well lose the war. An entire continent of allies is so culturally exhausted that they will strike their colors rather than risk antogonizing the Islamofascist enemies in their midst. The consequences of Europe's slow-motion surrender is too far away for them to realize its significance.

In 1940, as the Wehrmacht was breaking through Allied lines in France and streaking for the sea, Churchill visited Paris to consult with the French government on that crisis. What he found shocked and terrified him. The French were defeated. An entire generation of Frenchmen had been slaughtered in the First World War and this new German onslaught was simply too much to take. While they had yet to surrender, they had, for all intents and purposes, given up.

What followed for Enlgand was the Blitz. This is what it looked like.

The money quote:"We haven't had a quiet night now for more than five weeks. They'll be over tonight and they'll destroy a few buildings and kill a few people. Probably some of the people you are watching now."

Our cities don't look like this yet. The war is still theoretical for many and a neocon fantasy for others. The gravity of the French capitulation was obvious to Churchill, but the effects of the current emasculation of Europe is still invisible to most. And thus we arrive at Judge Taylor's ruling and the reaction to it.

Throughout the Winter of 1939-40, the many of the British derided the Nazis and their "Sitzkrieg". It took the fall of France and the Blitz to wake them from their complacency. That's where we are now. We're at war, but it looks nothing like any of the wars from our past that we all took seriously. 2500 dead was a single island in the Pacific in WW II and a comparitively easy victory at that. In Iraq, our media counts each death individually and has a spasm when it passes 2500.

The war isn't going badly enough yet for Judge Taylor and her supporters to understand that it really is a war. This one is slower in developing than the six months it took to go from Sitzkrieg to Blitz, but it is coming. When the bombs hit our cities, they won't fall from the the air, but will ride the taxi beside us and walk in the vest of the fellow on our elevator. The result will be the same. Until then, some can pretend it's not coming, just like they did in the Winter of 1939-40.

The Feline Theocracy's College of Cardinals has a good take on this, too.

Square Rigger in Honolulu

I promised photos from the Honolulu harbor, bur I've decided to save most of them for my next Thursday 13. Here's a couple to share until I publish that post.

Arrr! 'Tis a square-rigged sailing ship. Ye must be of great courage if ye be going to sea aboard her...

...because her rudder is so rusted out that she can only go straight. Fairly warned be ye, says I."

Hawaiian Red Crested Cardinal

I saw this handsome fellow while bopping around the windward side of Oahu. You can read more about him at this site. It turns out he's an import from South America. Next time, I'll be sure to try my (limited) Spanish on him.

Click on the photos for a higher resolution image.

Spanish: Hola, amigo. ¿Como estas?

Hawaiian: Howzit, bra? Sit down, we talk story.

Another paparazzi from the Mainland. Will they ever leave me alone?

This ain't free bub. I get 20 seeds per shot as a model.

As an aside, it took me about 5 minutes to find that wonderful website on Hawaiian birds. Prior to the Internet, it would have taken a minimum of two hours to go to and from the San Diego Central Library and find the book with his photo and information, assuming it was there. That's a great example of productivity improvement in the Information Age. I love it.

Request for favor. How do you get the computer to type an upside-down question mark? I wanted to do it on the Spanish caption, but I've never learned how.

Request answered. Thunder Pig comes to the rescue! For more information, see his comment below.

For more birds and other critters, please visit this week's Friday Ark.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

ESPN is Backing the Saints

Justin needs to check this out. Then he needs to start writing his apology post. The Saints are ranked 3 slots ahead of the Texans. That's a lot of ground to make up, amigo. I'm just not sure there's enough time left to pull out of this tailspin. Maybe you should just concede now.

Update. Justin replies. It's sad, really, to see him cling to a hopeless cause.

Hawaii Business Trip After Action Report

I just flew in from Honolulu and boy, are my arms tired!

The trip started out well, but ended with a bit of a wimper. I was there Tuesday afternoon to Friday night. The business portion went exceptionally well, with plenty of great contacts made and my proposals very well received, thanks to my Hawaiian colleague. The weather was predictably wonderful and the hotel was great. I'll post some photos later. (Here's a tease.)

The obligatory Hawaiian beach photo.

Not knowing how things would turn out, I had reservations on the Friday red-eye back to San Diego. It turned out that I had almost all of Friday free, so I decided to scoot over to Kaneohe and then to the North Shore to do some hiking in the botanical gardens on that side of the island and scope out a good snorkeling spot for my next trip.

I drove the H3 from Honolulu to Kaneohe. The H3 cuts through the mountain range on Oahu and there's a part where the highway comes over the crest of a big hill and slopes down the other side. It was a great place for a speed trap.

I was last in a line of cars all doing 70 coming down the hill on a freeway with a speed limit of 55. Since I was the last one, I was the one singled out by the cop with the radar gun positioned at the base of the hill aiming at cars who had come over the crest and were picking up speed coming down the hill.

One $142 ticket later, I was free to go, thank you very much officer. I tried to stop by the courthouse to see what my options were, but it was closed. Oh well.

I ended up wandering around on that side of the island for the rest of the day, but got to the airport way too early and then didn't sleep more than 15 minutes on the red-eye back to the mainland. I did manage to find some good snorkeling spots and did a little beach walking and wandered around one of the gardens. I've got a great plan for my next business trip over there.

This time, instead of the normal photos of beaches and jungles, I decided to get some shots of the port of Honolulu. I got some pretty cool shots of fishing boats and the harbor tugs. I'll post them later, once I get some sleep.

Friday, August 18, 2006

People Unclear on the Concept, Hall of Fame Inductee

Andrew Young, former UN Ambassador, mayor of Atlanta, pal of Jimmy Carter and all-around Important Voice for Civil Rights was hired by Walmart to help them with their image in minority communities. Here's what he had to say as described in a Wall Street Journal article.

"Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Mr. Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."
At a Walmart board meeting later that day:

Andrew Young: "Yay! The civil rights movement is off and running again! Darn those kikes, gooks and ragheads! We'll teach them to mess with us! Aren't you glad you hired me?"

Shocked Walmart board members: "You're fired."

Who'd have guessed this would happen? I mean, the guy's credentials were perfect, right? Didn't he have a history of couching everything in life in an "us-versus-them" terminology? So he got carried away. So what? He just forgot who was "them". I think someone forgot to give Mr. Young the manual instructing him just who you could point fingers at and who you couldn't. Oh well. I'm sure he'll land on his feet. I hear the UN will be needing a new Secretary-General soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Great Moment in my Life

In 1979 The Muppet Movie came out. In that movie, there is a running gag. I've waited 27 years for the chance to use it. That chance came today.

I was with a colleague on our way to a meeting with a VIP. We were late and my friend was having a hard time finding the fellow's office. We tried one floor and then another and finally, my chance came.

George: I think I'm lost.

Me: Have you tried Hare Krishna?
YESSSSSS! JACKPOT! It was glorious! Best of all, my friend is a retired Navy captain, used to command a nuclear submarine and is a very serious man. It took him a few moments to figure out just what this nut he was with was saying. Finally he said with a smile, "I don't think that would help."

I can now claim I've lived a fulfilled and happy life.

A Portrait in Contemplation

Our Maximum Leader, K T Cat, deep in thought.

Be sure to visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday 13, Books I Want to Read Edition

I've skipped the Thursday 13s for a while because I've been too busy to do these. In planning today's, I thought I'd go through my Amazon wish list and give 13 books I'd like to read. The results were surprising. My wish list has been growing for a long time. I didn't remember some of the things on it until I saw them.

1. The Great War and Modern Memory. I've always been fascinated by the cultural changes in Europe that occured after World War I. It was so horrific and so devastating that it altered the way they saw life. In bookstores, the old books prior to 1914 are full of hope and adventure. After 1918, not so much.

2. Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A FAQ for Catholics.

3. Richest Man in Babylon. Short and to the point, or so I hear. Save and invest.

4. Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses. Every so often I like to read a good "we're all going down the tubes" book.

5. Life with Jeeves. To lighten things up, how about some P. G. Wodehouse?

6. Fresh Lies. I love James Lileks' writing style. I'm so grateful he shares it with us on his blog.

7. Falling up the Stairs. More Lileks.

8. Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography. The title refers to Robert Graves' saying a bitter farewell to all of the institutions that led to World War I, in which he fought. That includes just about everything in his life. It would be the perfect companion piece to selection #1.

9. An Army of Davids. I'm a blogger. This Glenn Reynolds guy knows some stuff about blogging, right? This might be a good book to read. :-)

10. Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the Files of a Cat Shrink. As a catblogger, this one is a gimme.

11. Your Cat's Just Not That Into You: "What Part of Meow Don't You Understand?" More grist for the catblogger mill.

12. Taste Of The South. Terry Thompson is a culinary genius. Everything I have made out of her Cajun cookbook has been a smash hit. This one has to be outstanding.

13. Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in BabylonThe Case Against Celebrity. Is there anything more fun (or catty) than trashing arrogant Hollywood celebrities?

There, that's the list. Hopefully I will join the TT gang next week, too. Thanks for visiting!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Now We Can't Have Crosses on Private Land?

This one is simply amazing to me. StoptheACLU brings to our attention an attempt by the ACLU to prevent a memorial to the people killed by Hurricane Katrina which is being built by volunteers on private property because it will contain a cross.

They're nuts!

StoptheACLU also has great news about Mt. Soledad. I can see Mt. Soledad from my house. I love the fact that the cross will stay.

France in Retreat (Again)

The French are chickening out before they even show up in Lebanon. Our College of Cardinals over at No-Pasaran tipped us off to this NY Sun story. Essentially, the French would really rather not go over and sit next to those crazy Hezbollah fellows, thank you very much. Maybe there is someone else you could send, no?

Here's my favorite part of the Sun article.

While the United Nations is pushing for French troops to form the "backbone" of an international force in Lebanon, Paris is "cautious"about sending its military to help Lebanon's army take control of the south and disarm Hezbollah, Turtle Bay and French officials said yesterday.
This is simply fabulous. Only the UN would look to the French to provide a backbone.

A garden creature with more of a backbone than the French army.

Poetry. Pure poetry.

Update: Ha! We beat our Prelate to the Primates by one whole day on this post. You are sooo yesterday, Gaius!
Lawhawk was fast, but a little tuxedo cat was faster. Booyah! Wait. I might have spoke too soon. Depends on the time zones.

World of Good Blogburst, Vetcharity Style

Since I haven't catblogged in a while I thought I would do a post on some charity work done by veterinarians. It took about 10 seconds to find a whole host of worthy groups. There's one right near where I live in San Diego that will be the subject of a future post. Today, however, we focus on an Australian group called Vetcharity that unites volunteer veterinarians to provide expert animal care to the disadvantaged. They have an outstanding website. It's worth a visit.

Becoming a vet requires significant effort. The amount of schoolwork and hours spent as an intern is on the order of that to become a doctor. At the end of this education and training lies what could be a very profitable career. When the people of vetcharity donate their time it's a very serious donation indeed. They're not just donating the time they spend in surgery with the animals, they're donating all of the long nights studying and sacrifices they made to get to that point.

I wish I had the photos so I could superimpose pictures of this lady studying, taking tests and going to classes to give a feeling for the stream of her life that led to giving her time to others like this.

Vetcharity works across Southeast Asia and India. One of their major efforts is to control the populations of street dogs. Many of these dogs have rabies, a disease which is often fatal to humans. The volunteers from vetcharity capture, examine and desex these animals. It's a humane way to prevent the spread of disease and control the population of feral dogs.

Mr. Fido? The doctor will see you now.

From their website, here's a description of their Bali Street Dog Field Clinic.

The field clinic is a mobile field hospital that travels out to pre-arranged locations in the areas surrounding Denpasar. They work with the local banjar (community) and catch neuter and release both owned village dogs and captured true strays. Dogs are also treated for skin parasites and other problems.

Two lads in Sri Lanka bring a patient to the clinic.

The vets from Vetcharity treat more than dogs. Here, they are providing care for a goat.

They manage clinics in India as well.
Run in conjunction with Tibet Charity Denmark, this will be the first Animal Welfare project in this large state of North India. While starting this year with a small house based clinic, expansion over the next couple of years to a dedicated hospital, rescue facility and wildilfe centre is predicted. Dharamsala is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, along with many Tibetan refugees and a large Indian community. The clinic will service outlying villages and Tibetan communities throughout this area of the Himalayas.

Man's best friend.

Does this really need a caption?

In addition to treating the animals, the vets are providing strong examples of Australian kindness and goodwill to the people they visit. They're helping spread a world of good across Southeast Asia.

Somehow, I'm not surprised.

As an aside, their website is an absolute joy to surf around. ScreenSaviour is a company that provides website design services and did an absolutely outstanding job on that site.

Photos from the website reused without permission.

For a description of our World of Good posts and list of previous ones, please visit this post.

Be sure to visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Dogs.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Big Losers in the Israeli-Hezbollah War

As Israel and Hezbollah mumble their agreement to a (temporary) cease fire like children being forced to apologize by their parents, the blogosphere and talk radio is rich with assessments of who won and who lost. Our Patriarch of the Airwaves, Hugh Hewitt, is on vacation and his stand in, Jed Babbin, is convinced that Israel suffered a strategic defeat. I disagree. Strategically, there are several losers here and Israel is not one of them. By a strategic loss, I mean who will be in a worse position 5 years or so down the road. Here's my take on the situation.


Israeli forces now control Lebanon all the way to the Litani River. That's all Hezbollah land. The Israeli infantry will stay there until the peacekeeping forces show up. Between now and then, the Israelis will have a chance to comb the area for weapons caches and Hezbollah fighters. There is no comparable occupation of Israel and the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey blindfolded missile attacks on Israel are drying up.

Economically, this war was a total disaster for Hezbollah. Lots of weapons expended and very few serious hits against Israel. More to the point, the Hezbollah farmland currently occupied by Israel is a major source of revenue for Hezbollah supporters. List three things that make farming easier. I'll bet that having Israeli tanks drive across your fields was not one of them. Where is the livestock? How much was lost? How long will it take to recover from the war? Put yourself in the farmers' position. If 50% of my cattle/goats/chickens have died or wandered off, how long will it take to rebuild my herd? Answer: years.

John Deere's latest line of farming equipment? No.

Israel's per capita income is $24,500. Lebanon's is $6,200. Israel has to repair damage from rocket attacks. Lebanon was heavily bombed and has an occupying army still on it's land. Who will recover faster?


Syria has a deadline. In 2008 or thereabouts, it's oil reserves start to run dry. When that happens it faces economic contraction because it uses oil revenues to prop up its inefficient Stalinist industrial base. The time frame to rebuild and rearm Hezbollah is significantly longer than that. This will most likely be the last major Hezbollah attack before Syria suffers a major recession. All politics are local and when the economy in Syria turns south, pouring money and material into Hezbollah won't be popular at home.

Additionally, as I noted before, the Arab world has split into two camps, the Iranian and the non-Iranian camp. The Iranian camp is down to two members, Iran and Syria plus terrorist auxiliaries. All those fatwas and press conferences condemning Hezbollah from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest weren't a joke. Syria did more to isolate itself from its neighbors than it got out of this one.


When Syria begins its economic decline, who will support it? Iran pays $250M a year to maintain Hezbollah. This is unpopular at home. When it starts having to pay, say, $2B a year to maintain Syria, how much more popular will that be? President Ahmadinejead recently visited Indonesia to rail against the Israelis. Indonesia? Why not Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Kuwait? Probably because he's angered all of his neighbors.

Yes, Iran is going to go nuclear soon. Nuclear weapons are wonderful for bringing on the apocalypse, but useless for just about anything else. They can keep you from being invaded, but they don't do much to project power outside of your borders. Once you use one, or your proxies use one, you're dead. In that sense, nuclear weapons don't enter into the analysis at all. If they're used, they dominate all else. If not, they're irrelevant.

The Mainstream Media (MSM)

Now we get to the biggest losers of all. Glenn Reynolds points out why this war was an unmitigated disaster for the AP, Reuters, the networks and the rest of the traditional newsmedia. Using fake photos, staging photos, using actors and props, out and out lies, all of these were caught and publicized. Yes, the MSM did some temporary political damage to Israel and America. Four weeks from now, everyone's attention will be on a hurricane or earthquake or some such event and Hezbollah and Israel will slide off the front page. The damage to their credibility of the MSM will be permanent.

If I were the CEO of any MSM company, I would throw up every time I saw this photo.

When the reporters and MSM pundits come on the talk shows, anyone who wants to will have a huge arsenal of unassailable facts to throw at them. They've had to admit their guilt in public and their self-doubt must be increasing. There was an excellent Rand Simberg column suggesting that the MSM will soon need to employ chains of custody for data such as photographs to keep from being spoofed again. Having worked with Information Assurance in the past, I can tell you that this is very, very expensive. This is huge. They took a body blow to their credibility and thus their source of revenue and they are likely to incur huge future costs to re-equip and train their personnel.


As you can see, I'm much less pessimistic than most of my colleagues. Some suggest that Israel and America lost in this war because Hezbollah was not disarmed and Lebanon has clearly become a failed state. Well, Olmerts come and Olmerts go, but the economic realities persist. When the fighting stops, the work resumes. Take a look at the bills that need to be paid and the funds available to pay them. Which side would you rather be on?

Differing Viewpoints

The Real Ugly American
Betsy's Page
Blue Crab Boulevard
Big Lizards (long)

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Moral Equivalence Goes Only One Way

The People's Cube has an outstanding satirical piece on a recent Kevin Sites interview with a Hezbollah fighter. They compare his interview with the terrorist with a fictional interview with an SS soldier in World War II.

What jumps out at me from the Kevin Sites piece is that the moral equivalence only goes in one direction. That is, we are expected to try and see the world through the eyes of the Hezbollah fighter, but not him through ours. For him, it's perfectly natural to have automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades in his house. Of course he has used them. Why not?

Put this fellow in your own neighborhood. He isn't in the army and his house has weapons designed for professional soldiers. If this guy lived on your block, you'd think he was completely insane. Does Kevin make this point? Of course not. Kevin's not there to help the Hezbollah nutjob see the world through our eyes, he's there to try and show us that terrorists have children, too.

That's the crux of the matter and why it is self-evident that journalists like Kevin are working for the enemy although he's probably too stupid to recognize it. The two sides are not morally equivalent. Kevin himself is the evidence. Hezbollah has no equivalent to him because they've squandered all their resources attacking Israel and getting blasted as a result. They are a very poor investment.

A while back I posted some questions that CNN should be asking during their Hezbollah interviews. It's worth a mention here.

Full disclosure: I can't stand Kevin Sites and I've never met the guy. His practiced, cultivated appearance of the hip, young loner screams at me, "I don't follow the rules, man. I'm edgy, hip and in your face. I speak truth to power, dude." He's all rough and tumble until he goes to the hair salon and gets his $85 cut and blow dry and then uses the special attachment on his razor to make sure his beard always has that day or two-old look. My friends who are and were in SpecOps don't look anything like this.

He's all peacock and no eagle.

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An Open Letter to Justin

Dear Justin,

In New Orleans' first preseason game, Drew Brees threw well and showed a command presence totally missing during the Aaron Brooks era. Reggie Bush broke off a 44-yard run on his second carry. The Saints' defense held the mighty Vince Young in check. The Saints beat the Titans, 19-16.

You are so doomed.

K T Cat

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Well, I Do like Espresso...

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Thanks to WOG Squad member Georgette for turning me on to this one.

Joe Noory Made Me Smile Today

Joe Noory over at one of my favorite blogs, No-Pasaran, wrote a short post today recommending our blog to his readers. That was incredibly thoughtful of him and K T Cat and I are very grateful.

For those of you visiting for the first time, the purpose of this blog is to put forth the idea that acts of kindness are what drives the advance of humanity at all levels, from human civilization to individual lives. Since I blog only when inspired, the posts tend to be eclectic so lots of other topics are thrown in as well, but that's the main theme.

Every Wednesday we do a World of Good post that highlights the acts of kindness that are going on all around you all the time. The newsmedia is driven by economic forces to bring you bad news. It is much cheaper to read the police blotter and write generic articles about the rapings and killings than it is to send a reporter and a photographer to a Special Olympics event.

The newsmedia give you an entirely false view of the world. Most of the world is kind and productive. If it weren't we would all still be living in caves. Rather than keep blathering on, let me just throw out a few of my favorite posts and see if you like them.

The current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah can be analyzed with a few direct questions that no one is asking. It is a terrific example of how violence and hatred don't pay.

I did some photojournalism at a local Special Olympics event. I will treasure the memories all my life.

Most of this blog is written by our Maximum Leader, K T Cat. How does a Maximum Leader compare to a Supreme Leader like Ali Khameini of Iran? Read this post and find out.

I had a little fun at the expense of the Lebanese woman Reuters used in several photos.

Some catblogging about our Maximum Leader. And a little more.

Here's a Thursday 13 post with my favorite photos from the World of Good posts we've done. There are links to the stories as well.

Lastly, we have two recurring events here and we have built descriptive posts about each. One is the Feline Theocracy. The other is the World of Good.

Thanks for the link, Joe. That was very kind of you. You forced me to do something I've needed to do for a while - sort through the blog and put together a list of favorites for new visitors. See? Kindness really does lead to productive pursuits!


An International Day of Rejoicing in the Feline Theocracy

Oh rapturous moment! Oh fabulous day! Today we welcome into the flock of the Feline Theocracy three outstanding bloggers from Europe. Erik Svane, Ufois2 and Joe Noory of No Pasaran are hearby named the Feline Theocracy's College of Cardinals. Additionally, Joe Noori is named to the prestigious Cardinal Richelieu Chair of our Department of European Studies.

Long have we read their blog and many times have we linked to its enlightening posts. All three have been very generous with their links to The Scratching Post. It is an honor and a privelege to name them our College.

Ah, college days! Drinking cheap beer until you passed out or became ill or both, dating impossibly beautiful girls and falling in love every week, wild parties following exciting sporting events; this must be what the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals is like, only lasting much longer.

Uh, Maximum Leader?
Yes, Jacob, our Syrian Hamster and faithful beadle?
Uh, I don't think the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals is quite like that.
It isn't?
What's it like then?
It's an administrative and philosophical post for the maintenance of the Church and the proteciton of the faith. It's really a very serious position. A lot of praying and meditating and working to see that the Church keeps to its principles.
Oh, come on. That's what my parents tried to tell me about college. It wasn't like that at all!
This one is.
Hmm. Well, here's hoping that these three can liven things up a bit. No keggers, huh?
Nope. Not one.
Wow. Wait until our Monsignor of the Breweries hears about that!


The Official Artist of the Theocracy, Justin, produced this handsome graphic. Feel free to use it on your blog if you'd like.

Best wishes from The Scratching Post, guys. Thanks for the links and kind words. We'll be including your blog in our upcoming This Week in the Theocracy posts.

If you're curious, the nature and purpose of the Feline Theocracy is given here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's Not Just Mike Wallace

60 Minutes this Sunday will air a Mike Wallace interview of Iranian Maniac-in-Chief, Mahmoud Ahmadinejead. Mr. Wallace appeared on Sean Hannity's show and said some breathtaking things. Here's my favorite.

Sean Hannity: Mike, but his statements are such that he wants to go beyond that. His statements are annihilate, wipe off the Earth.

MW: No, no, no.

SH: The world.

MW: Hold it, hold it.

SH: Wipe off the map.

MW: Yes, he says wipe off the map, and of course I asked him over and over about that. He says in effect, hey, it's perfectly sensible to do.
Clearly, Mike Wallace is in this world, but not of it. Thermonuclear war is of trifling importance to him when compared to journalistic neutrality.

He's gone mad.

The list of horrors from the Sean Hannity interview and the whole concept of airing an apologetic for Ahmadinejead on a popular TV show is nearly endless.

People are taking Mike Wallace to task over this. They are missing the point. Mike is one guy. He's an airhead with a microphone. Who held the camera for him? Who held the boom mike? Who did his make up? Booked his flight, edited the film, got the coffee, took notes on the trip and on and on and on. It's insanity at the corporate level.

Mike Wallace gets out of his wheelchair at the final 60 Minutes staff meeting. Thermonuclear annihilation then rains down on the planet, a gift from the rational leader of Iran. The staff is vaporized, but they die happy knowing their final act was to show America that the Iranian government was no better or worse than ours.

Update: GOP and College has a good post showing Mike Wallace and Mahmoud together. It's chilling.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Free Satellite TV to Every Seat on the Plane!

That's where we're heading. How did I reach this conclusion? The Feline Theocracy's very own Prelate to the Primates has an excellent post on what he anticipates will be a ban on carry on luggage. I bet that's right.

As a frequent traveller, that doesn't bother me because I always check my luggage. I haven't had it lost and I rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes for it at the luggage carousel when I arrive. As long as I have my SuDoKu book and my music on my MP3 player on the flight, I'm OK. That's about to change.

It might not be enough to take the luggage away, you might need to take the electronics away as well. These days, terrorists set off explosives through triggering mechanisms like cell phones, pagers, garage door openers and things like that. The trigger signal is received from the cell phone and BOOM! I'm not sure just how effective the walls of the luggage compartments inside the planes are at blocking radio signals. Just to be on the safe side, the FAA may just ban electronics altogether.

Where does that leave the passengers? Not everyone wants to watch one more ghastly episode of "Two and a Half Men." Reading is an anathema to some. If personal electronics are banned, then I would expect competition to arise between the airlines to provide the best in-flight entertainment. To me, the winner would be the airline who provided the most choices to me. Satellite TV and radio would be the best. Jet Blue already does this.

If they offered the NFL package, I'd see about making my cross-country flights on Sundays during football season.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Marine Archaeology Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) here at The Scratching Post. This week we focus on people who use their skills to advance our knowledge of the past and share their discoveries with the rest of us.

The waters surrounding Florida abound with shipwrecks. Prior to the Spanish exploration of the New World, the Indians used the waterways around Florida for transportation. After the colonization of the area by the Europeans, ships were used as the primary means to move goods and passengers until the advent of the railroads. Rich in coral reefs and subject to frequent, large storms, many ships sank in these waters, taking with them all manner of historical artifacts.

These wrecks preserve moments in time and can teach us a great deal about our past. While the state and Federal governments fund research institutions to identify and map these wrecks and recover and preserve their contents, the number of wrecks is far greater than what the paid staff can adequately catalog. This is where volunteer divers come in. Here's what Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History has to say about them.

A good example of the way in which volunteers make a difference in underwater archeology is the SS Copenhagen. previously missing its entire bow section. More than a year after designation as a Florida Shipwreck Preserve in 1994 local divers found a bow that they suspected might be that of the Copenhagen. Working with the state, a nonprofit group, Marine Archaeological Research and Conservation, Inc., (MARC), identified the bow as matching the rest of the ship. MARC continues to be one of the most active volunteer organizations working in the field of shipwreck preservation and archeology.

The opportunities to volunteer are endless, as are the benefits. Individuals with interest and expertise in diving, history, archeology and shipwrecks have made a great contribution to the recreational and educational opportunities and historic preservation of Florida and its rich legacy.

In previous WOGs we have seen how volunteers help the poor, educate children and bring comfort to the sick. This story appealed to me because it shows how others are taking time and making an effort to share these experiences with the rest of us. Acts of kindness are all around us and extend far beyond what we do for the disadvantaged and the infirm.

There are many sites that describe these efforts. Here are just a few.

National Park Service Southeast Archaeoligical Center
NPS Submerged Resources Center
University of West Florida
Florida State University Research in Maritime Archaeology

For more information on why we WOG and a list of previous WOGs visit this post. We recommend reading at least two WOGs a week as an antidote to the endless torrent of gloom, unpleasantness and conflict that comes from the newsmedia and "entertainment" industry. Hopefully they will provide an inspiration for you to be a part of the World of Good.