Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blogging Odds and Ends

It's a hectic day here at the offices of The Scratching Post, so we don't have time to do some of the more detailed posts swirling around in our heads. In the meantime, here are some odds and ends.

Carnivals increase your link count, but don't do much for your traffic. I think that the number of people visiting a carnival like Carnival of the Cats or the Catholic Carnival is a very small multiple of the number of people submitting posts. Somewhere between two and four times that number. I had another big hit count day yesterday, but nearly all of it was from Google searches on the San Diego fires.

At work, we're trying to change our culture from email-centric to web-centric. I'll post more on that later, but we're discovering that the problem is cultural and not technical. We've had to form a Blogger Underground of subversive counterculture types to prosletyze about Web 2.0.

When trying to change an organization's culture, selling "more features" doesn't seem to work nearly as well as "easier work." That is, if the new technology allows you to do your existing job faster and/or easier, the general public will be interested in it. Most people don't understand the value of any new technical feature until they've played with it for a while. This seems to hold true even for the technically literate folks.

The reason that blogging gurus recommend that you keep focused on a single subject is to increase your recapture rates. When people come to read about the San Diego fires one time and then, on a whim, they visit again only to find Jacob happily crowing about Marques Colston's 3 touchdown receptions, they wander off, confused. If I focused on San Diego topics or natural disasters or fire preparedness, I might keep some of those readers coming back.

It doesn't bother me that they don't come back. This blog is what it is. It makes me happy and I really enjoy the regular readers that come by to leave comments. I'm not in it for the hits.

Still, an Instalanche now and again wouldn't hurt... :-)

World of Good, San Diego - Iraq Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post! This week's is short and sweet. As some of you know, I'm a San Diegan and we've just suffered through some very severe wildfires. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. My parents' home was nearly burned down as much of their surrounding landscape caught on fire.

After the fires, San Diego received some help from an unexpected source. Check this out.

Members of the Iraqi Army in Besmaya collected a donation for the San Diego, Calif., fire victims Thursday night at the Besmaya Range Complex in a moving ceremony to support Besmaya’s San Diego residents.

Iraqi Army Col. Abbass, the commander of the complex, presented a gift of $1,000 to U.S. Army Col. Darel Maxfield, Besmaya Range Complex officer in charge, Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, to send to the fire victims in California.

The money was collected from Iraqi officers and enlisted soldiers in Besmaya. In a speech given during the presentation, Col. Abbass stated that he and the Iraqi soldiers were connected with the American people in many ways, and they will not forget the help that the American government has given the Iraqi people. Abbass was honored to participate by sending a simple fund of $1,000 to the American people in San Diego, to lower the suffering felt by the tragedy.
Now that is a World of Good story if ever there was one.

Note: My regular readers have seen the links to this one before, but it is so extraordinary and probably totally unreported by the ghoulish mainstream media that I can't resist giving it wider play.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Feline Theocracy Hosts the Catholic Carnival

...and I sure hope you guys have a sense of humor otherwise I won't be invited back to do this.

Our Maximum Leader welcomes you to this week's Catholic Carnival with her typical zeal and energy.

The Feline Theocracy has hosted carnivals before, most notably the Carnival of the Cats, but this is the first Catholic Carnival we've ever done, so a short intro is in order. Just what is the Feline Theocracy? Well, if you must know, you can read about it here.

One last plug for the blog and then we'll get to your posts. Each week we post another in our World of Good (WOG) series of blog posts. We highlight acts of kindness and charity in a continuing effort to encourage and inspire you to do your own. We are always looking for bloggers who would like to join our WOG Squad and link to these posts. You can find all the details as well as a complete list of our WOG posts here.

And now, on with the show.

Steve Bainbridge presents Is There Such a Thing as a “Catholic Judge” posted at Professor Bainbridge's Business Associations Blog. This is quite a thought-provoking topic. Is a judge a Catholic first and a judge second, or is a judge's Catholicism just one part of his decision process or any part at all?

edithyeung presents God Creates No Garbage posted at Edith Yeung.Com: Dream. Think. Act.. Edith suggests that we need to slow down and take some time to pay attention to what's going on around us if we're going to make the most of our lives. Edith, would you be willing to come to my workplace and give this talk to our upper management? I promise to make them leave their blackberries at the door. :-)

Jane Marcoux presents Something About Mary posted at Building the Ark. First off, I love the theme of this blog. I'll be back to read more. In this post, Jane lays to rest some misconceptions about Catholics' relationship with Mary.

Heidi Saxton presents 40 Reasons We'd Do It Again ... Thoughts on Adoption posted at Mommy Monsters Inc.. You go, Heidi! As an adoptive parent myself, I can assure you my life is much richer because of my little Russian princess.

James DeLelys presents ChristianWriters.com - Mom is home! posted at ChristianWriters.com. This is a very touching post. Read it and see for yourself.

Organ-ic Chemist gives us a YouTube site for Catholics. In the interests of thoroughness, I spent some time clicking about and found some good videos. I think you will, too. There's at least one that I'll post on this blog.

If Kate Wicker's post, My Papa, doesn't move you, you're not alive. Enough said.

On a recent night, Hope baptized a book. Reading her description of the event and subsequent ones made me want to give her a big hug. Instead, I'll give her a link and suggest a comment or two from you readers might be nice.

Elena LaVictoire presents All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day - Celebration, Education and Fun! posted at My Domestic Church. Elena assures us that Halloween is OK. It better be! I'll be handing out cans of tuna and cat food to all the kids coming to my door. That way our Maximum Leader will really love what's left over afterwards.

Fasten your seat belts for this one, it's a bumpy ride into the future. Christine suggests that Hillary Clinton might lead to massive increases in abortion. Hard to argue with that. Hillary never met an abortion she didn't like.

Gen X Revert presents Pius XII and the Catholic Church during WWII posted at A Long Island Catholic. This is one I need to read more throughly. I've been ambivalent towards the Church's interactions with the Nazis. Gen X Revert has some solid information to check out.

Matthew S looks for The Better Portion in his life as father and husband. I think he found it.

Antonia presents Rosary Widget posted at Catholic+Linux+Monkey. OK, the geek in me and the Catholic in me have communed. This one is way cool. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.

Sarah finds a prayer she's going to use. I think I'll use it, too!

Catholic Fire has the story of St. Anthony Mary Claret. Talk about an active life! 14 assassination attempts against him?!? Wow!

Maria Fernandez presents Spanish bibles posted at Learn a foreign language - blog. Maria shows us where to buy Spanish language bibles.

That's it for this week's Catholic Carnival. I hope you enjoyed it. Return links are always appreciated and please consider joining the WOG Squad. Your life will never be the same once you're a part of the Feline Theocracy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

You Won't Believe This

San Diego is getting support from an unexpected and unbelievably generous source. Check it out here.

Our new friends over at U. S. Torture and Atrocities have the photo.

Update: Welcome IMAO readers! Boy, is that link a pleasant surprise. Thanks, Frank J. I really appreciate it. I'd ask all of you to click around the blog, but to me, it's more important that you visit the link I gave above and see about spreading it far and wide. It's a great World of Good story if ever there was one.

Update 2: It's another boffo box office day here at the 'Post. Extreme Mortman linked to that post, too. Howling at the Moon tells us that Something ...and half of Something has joined the surge to this story as well. Yay!

Opfor has joined the team. Double yay!

Marques Colston Runs Wild!

As As Marques Colston's unofficial publicist, it gives me great pleasure to inform you of yet another stellar game by my man Marques as the Saints beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-10. First, he caught three touchdown passes. Whoa! That alone would have been enough to beat the 49ers. In all he had 8 catches for 85 yards.

The highlight reel for the game over at NFL.com, is full of Marques' great plays.

The AP noticed his fantastic play, too.
Colston, who had just eight catches in the last three games, caught a 3-yard touchdown pass 50 seconds before halftime. He made his prettiest play in the fourth quarter, leaping to get the ball and dragging his feet in the final inches of the end zone.

"With the talent we have at receiver, you never know whose day it's going to be," Colston said. "It was good to go out and score quick, and get our swagger back."
The swagger is back indeed!

With the Texans losing badly to the Chargers, I wonder if our Official Artist is reconsidering his bet...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Reason Why I Support Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson recently posted his position on the illegal immigration issue. A short excerpt shows another reason to support him.

End Sanctuary Cities by cutting off discretionary federal grant funds as appropriate to any community that, by law, ordinance, executive order, or other formal policy directs its public officials not to comply with the provisions of 8 USC 1373 and 8 USC 1644, which prohibit any state or local government from restricting in any way communications with the Department of Homeland Security regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of an alien in the United States.

Deny discretionary Federal education grants as appropriate to public universities that violate federal law by offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens without also offering identical benefits to United States citizens, regardless of whether or not they live in the state, as required by 8 USC 1623.

Deny discretionary Federal grants as appropriate to states and local governments that violate federal law by offering public benefits to illegal aliens, as prohibited by 8 USC 1621(a).
Sanctuary cities and states that grant in-state tuition to illegals just drive me nuts. If my son decides to go to the University of Maryland, he will have to pay out-of-state fees. If we were illegals, he would not.

That is insane. It's got to stop. That's another reason I'm with Fred.

A Close Call in the San Diego Fires

...in fact, the closest call you could have with your house. The fire came within single digit feet of my parents' house, but it did not even get singed. It was a miracle.

Their next door neighbor had been coming back into the evacuated zone every day to check on his house. He happened to come by on Wednesday and found a fire storm in my parents' yard. He jumped in his car and rushed off, finally finding a firefighting team, exhausted and resting in front of a local church. He rallied them and led them to the house where they managed to put out the fire before the house burned down.

How close did it get? Take a look at these photos. You can click on them for larger versions.


The lawns caught on fire. The lawns. Have you ever seen green grass burn? Imagine how hot it must have been to do that.


The shrubs bordering the back patio were totally obliterated.


Less than ten feet away, the house was untouched.


Meanwhile, not 50 feet away, my mom's prize rose bushes didn't burn at all.


This delicate beauty remained unharmed. Miraculous.


A neighbor just happens to come by at the right moment and just happens to find a fire crew at a local church and they just happen to make it back to the house in time to save it. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time for a Fiery Sermon?

Last night gave us another great sunset for photography.

It looks like we can expect a fiery sermon on Sunday.


Castor and Pollux basking in a soft evening sky.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Too Worn out to Blog

We live blogged fire maps in San Diego for most of the week and posted a variety of analyses of the quality of the operational picture available to the public. We had evacuees staying in our house and we did some charity work for the refugees. We're just beat right now.

Our Maximum Leader takes a well-deserved nap.

We've got three or so posts we really want to do about a variety of subjects, but we just lack the psychic energy to write them now. We'll put them up over the weekend.

In the meantime, why not visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats. And if you want to see more data about the San Diego fires, click around the blog for a bit. I think you'll find it informative and interesting.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Funniest Post of the Day

...can be found over at Howls at the Moon.

There's no one to Blame for the San Diego Fires, Only Lots and Lots of Praise

...now that the worst of the fire crisis is over.

The fires are the fault of global warming, the war in Iraq, President Bush, FEMA, Blackwater and on and on and on, right?

Wrong.

I've lived here since 1977. Fires happen. Bad fires happen. It's not anyone's fault. You look out for yourself and take care of your neighbor as best you can. That's what we did here this week. The local governments did a fairly good job and showed that they'd learned a lot from the last fires. There was a tremendous outpouring of generosity and kindness from all over the county for those affected by the fires.

There's no blame to go around. San Diegans can be proud of how we handled this situation. I'm so proud of all my neighbors. What a great city to live in.

San Diego Fire Maps October 25

This is from the SDSU site I linked to below. Red dots are fire reports less than 12 hours old, orange dots are fire reports 12-24 hours old and yellow ones are fire reports a day or more old. As you can see, there are no red dots at all today. I will not be updating this throughout the day like I did yesterday. I grabbed this map at about 5AM.

I hope and pray that all of you are safe and I hope your homes and businesses made it through this safely.

Click on the pictures for larger images.

The Witch Creek Fire:



The Harris Fire:



Once you're done enjoying these way cool satellite imagery-based fire maps from SDSU, hop on over to the KPBS map. It is the single best aggregator of information for the fires. I am totally against public funding of PBS and I can't stand most of what they broadcast, but in this case I'd like to say "THANKS!" to the folks at KPBS who did all this great work. Here's hoping you crawl out of your tiny PBS caves and join the rest of us in the real world real soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Burnt Reflection

Tonight brought us a marvellous sunset because of the smoke still hanging in the air. Click on the photo for a really stunning sight.


Just for Rose, one of our loyal commenters who runs the watchpaul blog, here's the same scene with Castor and Pollux included.

World of Good, San Diego Fires Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post. This week we'll focus on the volunteers that are helping out the fire victims all over San Diego. Well, we won't really focus on them, but instead show you about 0.001% of them. The open-hearted charity of this city has been absolutely fantastic.

All through my neighborhood, families have opened their homes to evacuees from the fire areas. There are at least three families who have taken shelter in homes on my block alone.

Yesterday, the kids and I went out to bring needed items to the one of the refugee centers at Qualcomm Stadium. We stopped at a local COSTCO and found the place full of people buying drinking water, toiletries, sleeping bags, paper goods and food for the evacuees. We talked to one couple as we shopped and they told us they were on their way down to San Diego High School where a senior citizens rest home had been evacuated. They said that Qualcomm was filled with donations, but these rest home residents needed help. We all coordinated what we were buying and headed out.

Costco was crowded and on our way out the door, I asked the woman checking receipts how many people were there buying items for donation. She said, "Everybody." It was enough to get you all choked up. My son donated all of his money to the cause as well. That was also enough to get me all choked up. :-)

When we arrived at SDHS, here's what we saw.

There was talk of moving the senior citizens to another facility, one with air conditioning. The owner of this truck offered to take our goods to the new site.


While we were there, cars with donations kept pulling up.


These folks had volunteered to guide donations and direct traffic. They were not city employees.


We were there only about ten minutes, but people just kept coming with more donations.


This couple had bought a brand new cot/sleeping bag and some Depends for the seniors. Fantastic!

I'm not sure how to close this post. It was a fantastic example of free citizens taking care of each other with only administrative support from the government. Things got done quickly and cheerfully. Others on the Internet have complained about FEMA and other agencies. That's silly. We're here to help each other and we can all act faster than any bureaucracy. We're here to do a World of Good.

For more WOG posts, a description of why we WOG and how to join the fashionable and chic WOG Squad, visit this post.

Update: I forgot to mention this little anecdote. A family from the Catholic school my daughter attends wrote an email out to everyone on the school mailing list offering room in their house for any family or relatives fleeing from the fire areas. It's been that kind of reaction here in San Diego.

KPBS San Diego Fire Map vs. SDSU Satellite Imagery Fire Map

Note: You can find the most recent fire maps here. This post is more analytical.

The search for valid and current fire map data presents us with the classic data fusion problem. Who do you trust when you have multiple, conflicting sources of information? All across the Internet, people are linking to the KPBS map. It is an outstanding collection of fire information, road closures and evacuation centers. It's easily the best combined map around.

However, its fire location information is out of date. Here's a comparison of the KPBS burn area estimation with the satellite imagery-based fire location information from SDSU. The dots are from the satellite images and the filled-in red polygon is the estimated burn areas from the KPBS map.


Click on the image for a larger version.

As you can see from the fire dots derived from satellite imagery, which, by the way, is not even close to real time, the fire was about 5 miles past where the KPBS map says it was as of the last update from the satellite images several hours ago. How do you take all of this information and fuse it into a single, trusted operational picture?

From what we see here, it's pretty obvious that there needs to be an analyst in the loop. I would bet that the KPBS information for road closures and evacuation points is pretty good. If I had the resources, I would pull out that data and merge it with the satellite imagery from SDSU. That would provide you with as good a operational picture as you could get.

By the way, if you're looking for good fire maps, go to the main page of this blog and scroll down. I've got several.

October 25 Update: The KPBS map now matches the SDSU map. Those two sources have been excellent this whole time.

Palomar Mountain Fire Smoke Satellite Images

Friends at SDSU have sent me these satellite images of smoke from the Palomar Mountain fire as of about 7AM today. This gives you the eastern boundaries of the fire. If you're familiar with the area, you can figure out where these boundaries are. Unfortunately, Google Earth is a pretty poor tool for drawing things on maps, so this will have to do for right now. I will come back and post more later after I've put some points of reference on the map.


Click on the image for a larger version.

As of the update on this map, the fire is about 2 miles from the Palomar Observatory.

Update: Here's a polygon overlay and the smoke removed from that Google Earth image. I closed in on the observatory and some friends of mine who live near Bailey Meadow Rd. As of the date of this image, roughly 7AM, the fire was 2 miles from the observatory and about half a mile from Bailey Meadow Rd.


Click on the image for a larger version.

Monster Google Hit Day

Yesterday was this blog's biggest day of hits ever. We had over 4,000 visitors. Almost all of them came from Google searches of people looking for maps of the San Diego fires. Other bloggers covering this have seen similar results. Below, I echoed some posts with different titles to catch as much of the Google search traffic as possible. The Google Earth-based SDSU maps a friend turned me on to are the best sources of information out there and I wanted to cast as wide a net for people looking for good data as I could.

San Diego Fire Maps

Update: You can find the October 25 maps here.

I will update these maps throughout today, October 24.

Current update: 5:15PM.

This is from the SDSU site I linked to below. Red dots are fire reports less than 12 hours old, orange dots are fire reports 12-24 hours old and yellow ones are fire reports a day or more old. The shaded parts are evacuation areas.

Harris Fire:

Click on the image for a larger view.

Witch Creek Fire:

Click on the image for a larger view.

Visit this post to see the source.

Bloggers: We've long since removed our ads from this site and we're not doing this for money. However, if any of you want to throw us a link or two, we'd really appreciate it.

Harris Fire Map - October 24, Updated Throughout the Day

Update: You can find the October 25 maps here.

Last update: 5:15PM

This is from the SDSU site I linked to below. Red dots are fire reports less than 12 hours old, orange dots are fire reports 12-24 hours old and yellow ones are fire reports a day or more old. The shaded parts are evacuation areas.


Click on the image for a larger view.

Visit this post to see the source. You can find the Witch Creek fire map here.

Bloggers: We've long since removed our ads from this site and we're not doing this for money. However, if any of you want to throw us a link or two, we'd really appreciate it.

Witch Creek Fire Map - October 24, Updated Throughout the Day

Update: You can find the October 25 maps here.

Last update: 5:15PM

This is from the SDSU site I linked to below. Red dots are fire reports less than 12 hours old, orange dots are fire reports 12-24 hours old and yellow ones are fire reports a day or more old. The shaded parts are evacuation areas.


Click on the image for a larger view.

Visit this post to see the source. You can find the Harris fire map here.

Bloggers: We've long since removed our ads from this site and we're not doing this for money. However, if any of you want to throw us a link or two, we'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diegans' Behavior During the Fire Emergency

...has been excellent. In the vast majority of cases, we've been told to evacuate and that's all we've needed to take care of our own property, pack what we needed, find shelter with friends or relatives and calmly get out of the evacuated areas.

If only there was a country like this, based upon personal responsibility and courteous behavior! Alas, it cannot be so. We need an ever-increasing government presence in our lives to make sure we drink all of our milk, take our afternoon naps and not say naughty words to each other. Come to think of it, I'm feeling kind of queasy about how higgledy-piggledy everything is right now. I've got neighbors and friends all around me who have taken in refugees from the fires and we've yet to receive instructions from the authorities.

Man, I can't wait until Hillary is elected and all of the uncertainty associated with individual free will is taken away from us.

Outstanding, Current Map of San Diego Fires

Update, October 24: If this solution is a bit to tech-geeky for you, I've captured the map images and posted them here for the Witch Creek fire and here for the Harris fire. I will be updating them throughout the day.

San Diego State University has posted a fantastic Google-Earth based map of the wildfires in San Diego. Here's how to see it.

Start Google Earth (GE). You can download and install Google Earth here if you don't have it already.

Right click on this link and copy the link to your clipboard.

In GE, do file->open and paste the URL into the file name box. Don't worry if GE looks like it wants a file name instead of a URL.

This will bring up the overlays and map data. It's outstanding. SDSU is saying it will keep this updated. I don't know if this is a live map or if you'll have to restart GE or reload the kmz file from time to time. If someone can tell me in the comments, I'd appreciate it.

When I brought it up, the smoke overlay blotted out the street names. Over on the left hand side, deselect "MODIS." Apparently, MODIS is their smoke distribution model.

Rock on, SDSU.

Update: If you can't get GE to work for you, there is a Google Maps version here, but it's not as detailed. I didn't like it nearly as much as the GE version. Having said that, it's still a good place to go for current information.

Bloggers: We've long since removed our ads from this site and we're not doing this for money. However, if any of you want to throw us a link or two, we'd really appreciate it.

Good Sources of Maps and Data for the San Diego Fires Including the Witch Creek Fire

Update, October 24: If this solution is a bit to tech-geeky for you, I've captured the map images and posted them here for the Witch Creek fire and here for the Harris fire. I will be updating them throughout the day.

Update: San Diego State University (SDSU) has done a killer job on the map situation. Check it out here. I am using this to keep track of my parent's property which is in the fire area. I highly recommend it.

My parents had to be evacuated from the area affected by the Witch Creek fire. After we loaded up all of our cars and drove away, I spent a great deal of time yesterday struggling to find any worthwhile information at all about the fires. Most of the major news media sites are totally worthless. They're fixated on pretty pictures and videos. Here are some sites I've found that have good information.

PBS has a good Google map of the fire areas, evacuation areas and road closures.

Catdirt has been keeping up a great blog with liks to information, news conferences and maps.

The blog And Still I Persist has been doing consistently solid updates with links and maps for the last two days.

There are other local bloggers who are doing good work, but it looks like many of them are running their own servers and those are getting overwhelmed by site traffic. Signonsandiego has posted a map of the fire areas, but the thing is about 4MB and since everyone is trying to download it, almost no one can. I finally got through to it at about 0430 today and the stupid thing was worthless. No surface streets shown on it at all. Another !#%^&!@%#&^* map you could have made with crayons.

Some of the local bloggers with their own servers are posting hi-res photos on their blogs. That may look pretty, but it kills the server when a ton of people hit the site at the same time. The lesson learned here is that this is a bandwidth-constrained environment, sort of like infantry operations. You've got to distribute a common tactical picture over a very narrow pipe to as many people as possible. Make it clear, make it concise and make it current.

I'll update this throughout the day. I won't post any links to places to find photos, videos or school closures. That kind of stuff is all over the place and is of little value. School is closed. Fire is hot. It makes crackling noises when it burns. People cry when they lose their homes. There. I just saved you about five hours today.

My folks' house is right on the borderline of "estimated" burn areas. I'll say it again. This is pathetic. We've got private citizens using html push pins on Google maps and we have high-paid, smarmy, self-important news creeps giving us human interest stories and video interviews. I can't imagine what we'd be doing right now if we had to rely on the mainstream media.

Monday, October 22, 2007

American Soldiers Torturing Iraqi Children

We have the evidence for you on this video. It's disgusting and hideous, but I think you need to see it.


Oh, sure, it may look like they're building schools and administering medical attention to the kids, but we know what they're really doing. Extracting their blood to use for oil! Well, no blood for oil, pal!

You can find more evidence of these heartless soldiers tormenting innocent Iraqis here.

The San Diego Fire Map Coverage

Update: You can find the October 25 maps here.

Update, October 24: If this solution is a bit to tech-geeky for you, I've captured the map images and posted them here for the Witch Creek fire and here for the Harris fire. I will be updating them throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the map coverage in the news media for the first two days could have been drawn by a twelve-year-old. Here's the kind of information we're getting off of the web.

Update 6: San Diego State University (SDSU) has done a killer job on the map situation. Check it out here. I am using this to keep track of my parent's property which is in the fire area. I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile, here's the kind of crap we get from the mainstream media:

This map is valid as of 2230 Oct. 21. That was 15 hours ago as of right now.

There are helicopters in the sky, fire trucks on the ground and policemen all over the place. Each of these units has GPS. Each of these units have communications back to a central base. And the reason that the map up above (which hasn't been updated in hours and represents only one of eight fires and is THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE ON THE WEB) looks like it was drawn by my daughter is...what? What's the excuse?

Doing transparent overlays with active elements on Google Earth is a solved problem. It's not hard. Distributing such maps via a live website is a solved problem. That's not hard. Meanwhile, we get old, static pdf files because this technology has not been adopted by the insurance companies, the local government or the news media.

Of course, we shouldn't be too hard on the news media. Those marginally literate farm animals are mesmerized by pretty pictures. There were no maps on any of the news media sites I looked at, but lots and lots of pictures of fire.

Do you know fire looks like? If not, stop by KNSD's website. They'll show you.

Thanks, KNSD. Thanks, City and County of San Diego. Thanks a lot.

Update: You can find a decent map of the fires here. It looks like it's a group effort by bloggers and not affiliated with any of the ruminants in the media other than using them as sources.

Update2 : KGTV, our local ABC affiliate has these useful maps to offer.



Thanks guys. That was just great.

Update 3: The San Diego Union Tribune did give us a list of road closures. In text. With no accompanying map. No, that's fine. Really. Just go ahead and put your heads on your desks and take a nap.

Update 4: OK, this is a hall-of-fame entry for stupid information distribution design. The city of Poway has hidden some of its fire information behind a password-protected section of its website. On this page, the link for "Witch Fire Emergency Press Releases and News" leads to this.

Update 5: Finally, a good source of map data.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brushfire Sunset

Brushfires in San Diego County have led to lots of ash in the air and a sunset like this.

A Second Open Letter to our TiVo

Dear TiVo,

We have tried to tell you time and time again that we want to watch NFL football games. We have given it the "thumbs up" designation and repeatedly recorded games. Today, when we came home from church, we found you recording "The Planet's Funniest Animals" on Animal Planet and not recording the Giants-49ers game.

We would like to make this perfectly clear.

RECORD THE !%^!#&!#!^&@%^ NFL FOOTBALL GAMES, YOU @#&@^&*@&*( MORON!!!

Sincerely,
K T Cat and Jacob the Syrian Hamster

There's a Rodent in my Underwear

A few days ago I took a pair of skivvies out of the laundry and found them too worn out to continue wearing. Just for kicks, I got out some scissors and cut a piece of them out and threw it in Jacob's cage. That night, he dragged it into his house and used it as part of his nest.

Of course, this being Jacob, photography of the event was utterly impossible.

Painted Daisy

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time may remember our Seed Racing posts. I was growing a variety of flowering perennials from seeds and was taking bets on which ones would be ready for transplant first. All of the plants have since been planted in my front yard and the English Daisies and Painted Daisies have produced flowers. Yesterday, with winter approaching, one of my Painted Daisies produced a lovely little thank you note for me.

Please click on the image.

No, little Painted Daisy. Thank you.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Don't Make it too Complicated, it was Just Greed

I've been reading the Wall Street Journal as it thoroughly dissects the subprime loan mess. I've discovered how the loans were made, who took them, where they were concentrated geographically, which banks are suffering the most, how it's affecting the housing market and so on. Earlier this week there was an article describing how a pair of British bankers developed a technique for reselling bundled mortgages as securities. Their technique became a widely-used, multi-hundred billion dollar investment spread across many institutions. The article went on to describe how some of the major banks are unwinding these bundled mortgages.

This is all very interesting in a technical sense, but I'm afraid that it obscures the basic picture. It's not the technologies or processes or loan instruments or mortgage securities that caused the problem. It was just greed on all sides. The borrowers wanted real estate they hadn't earned and the lenders wanted more and more interest payments from more and more loans.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Halloween Costumes for Girls

We stopped by Party City tonight to get a couple of things for my son's Halloween costume. While there, I perused their selection of costumes for girls like my daughter. They had the full selection! There was the medieval prostitute, the gangster prostitute, the pirate prostitute, the Arab prostitute, the nurse prostitute, the space prostitute, the prehistoric prostitute, and for those who don't want their children to dress in such a slutty fashion, the nun prostitute.

Hooray for modern, American culture!

Eat Only Dried Foods From Now On

...foods like rice, pinto beans and things you grow yourselves. I just got a hit on some of my Lean Six Sigma posts from someone at usda.gov.

God help us all.

She's a Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

...and she's been knocking on the door, ripping at papers, biting my arm and plucking the carpet since 3AM!

I expect my followers to be psychic.

She's got food, water and her cat door is open. She can come into bed and snooze with me. All the things she loves are available to her, but she wanted something else. When I finally got up this morning, she had no idea what she wanted, she just wanted something other than what she had.

Some days are harder than others when living with a Maximum Leader. Perhaps the folks from this week's Friday Ark or Carnival of the Cats can figure it out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More American Torture of Iraqis

redvand has posted another sickening video of Americans torturing Iraqis. It's too graphic to post now. I'm sick to my stomach from seeing it. I'll probably be able to summon the courage to post it on Monday. Until then, you can just go to YouTube and see it there.

Be forewarned. The images are very real.

US Torture: The Iraqi Kids

redvand, a YouTube videographer, has posted a brilliant series of videos, all entitled "US Torture: The Iraqi Kids." Here's one of them.


This is ingenious because it will come up as a hit on searches for things like "us torture," "torture kids" and "iraqi kids torture." The videos themselves speak the truth of what America is doing and has done in Iraq. It's positively inspired.

If you've got a blog, you might want to surf on over to that link above and find a few to post. I found the pace of the photo transitions a bit frantic and I left that as a comment on a couple of his videos, but other than that, they're all great. His music choices are terrific, too.

Update: Dude has two blogs as well. U.S. Torture and Atrocities has posts all about our villainy in Iraq, and it's filled with criminal acts like this one. US Military Doing Good Deeds is his other blog. Here's a sample from that one.

Update 2: The music from that video is New Orleans' own Al Hirt playing one of his biggest hits, Java. Here's a good collection of Al Hirt songs.

Odds and Ends

YouTube takes about three days to start counting video hits from your blog. I posted the wonderful Bucket of Fish video on Monday and only this morning have my hits been recorded on YouTube. If you haven't watched the video, I highly recommend it. If you've seen it before, watch it again. The music is fun and fun is good!

I've got two more daughters from my Momma Daisy coming up. They've really started to grow and have about 6 leaves each. One of Momma's daughters gives me red flowers, but I haven't been able to harvest any decent seeds from her. I moved Momma and her kids out into the front yard where the bees are plentiful, suspecting a lack of fertilization in the seeds, but Red hasn't given me anything yet. Now that Winter is approaching, they've all shut down the flower production.

I've got another sunset video done and posted on YouTube, but I'm not sure if it's worth posting here. Should I just post it and not worry about whether or not it's perfect?

I kind of miss doing Thursday 13s. Last time I did it, though, I didn't recognize any of my old friends. It had gotten too big and everyone was practically anonymous, the exact antithesis of the point of the TTs.

I missed doing my Wednesday World of Good post again. I had one ready to go, but Blogger kept fighting me with photo uploads and life got in the way after that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Should We Stop Visiting Townhall?

The Feline Theocracy's Patriarch of the Airwaves, Hugh Hewitt, posts at townhall.com. Here's his blog.

Townhall is absolutely hostile to other blogs. For one, it won't accept trackbacks coming from haloscan, which is my trackback provider. Everyone else seems to be able to work with halsocan, but townhall can't. You can't put html tags in the comments. You can't put links in the comments. You can put the URL, but it won't come out as a link.

The question before the panel is this. Since townhall breaks all the rules of polite blogging and sneers at the rest of us, should we boycott it? It's not like there aren't plenty of other blogs to visit, all of which allow html, links and trackbacks. For example, has anyone noticed our new friend, beerswithdemo? Check them out. They're a very nice blog. They would never treat us so rudely.

Here's your chance to be heard. After we vote, if we decide to boycott them, I will put one last comment over at townhall with the URL of this post to let them know that being blogging party poopers isn't OK.

Update: I forgot to mention the biggest issue of all. Before you can comment, you have to register. And give them your mailing address. Booooo!


Should we boycott townhall.com?
Yes
No
Look, I told you before, I don't do polls!
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

YAPS

...Yet Another Pacific Sunset.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
I think this is my all time favorite. Please click on the image to see one of the glories of God. You won't be disappointed. And stop by this week's Catholic Carnival. You won't be disappointed there, either.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Fed is not Your Mother

...so you'll have to clean up your financial messes yourself.

Today's WSJ has a brief article discussing whether or not the Fed can prevent bubbles in the economy like the recent subprime mortgage one.

Short answer: "No."
The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to set interest rates and implement monetary policy. It’s the central bank’s primary tool, and not a very good one for preventing bubbles that may be developing in the economy, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says...

Mr. Bernanke said it’s “very, very difficult” to spot a bubble early enough to address it effectively using the primary tool of monetary policy –- interest rates -– and attack only that bubble, but not other asset prices, to bring it “down to ‘the appropriate level,’ whatever that might be.”
The real, underlying question here is, "Can the Fed protect you from yourself?" Of course not. Like almost everything else in life, the dominant feature in your life is you. For example, you can read all the books on parenting you want, but in the end, if you don't dedicate a lot of time to it (you, not your day care provider) you'll end up with problems in your family. If you invest in things like Amazon.com at $105 per share, you're going to be in trouble. If you make $43,750 a year and take out a $715,000 adjustable rate loan to buy a house, things are going to get ugly pretty quick.

However strong, some gigantic, government institution thousands of miles away isn't going to be able to keep you from doing stupid things. Bubbles are nothing more than mass stupidity in action. Asking them to use monetary policies to keep you from lying on your loan application or keep you from loaning $450,000 to the town drunk seems kind of silly.

Of course, the boys on the Fed don't actually come out and say this, but in this day and age, who does?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bucket of Fish - My Town

Some local ska/punk, performed live.

And the reason you weren't there was...what? You better have a good reason. The joint was rockin'.

Subprime Mortgages Surrounded by Greed

I meant to post on this a few days ago when the WSJ ran another marvellous expose on the subprime mortgage mess, but for whatever reason, I didn't. Their article focused on just where the subprime mortgages had been made. From their interactive map, it looked like the mortgage lenders had targeted minority borrowers for these loans. It turned out that the actual data showed otherwise. The lenders had been targeting people with little cash, poor credit ratings and jobs that paid less than what was necessary to service the debt once the rates began to adjust.

That sounds like a classic anti-capitalist scenario, doesn't it? The evil bankers preying on the poor and making profits off of those that can't fight back. That interpretation is a load of manure.

The poor in this case were trying to get what they had not earned. Whatever the reason, be it bad credit ratings, low income or intermittant employment, they were more than willing to lie on their loan applications and claim income that didn't exist so they could buy houses they couldn't afford. If you read the interviews, you can see a theme of greed throughout. They wanted the goodies, but didn't want to have to work for them.

How does that fit the narrative you're seeing in the media? I have to confess that outside of the WSJ, I haven't been following this. It must be being treated as a class warfare issue since the debate questions I'm reading are all about how we can bail out the borrowers.

Why? They were just as greedy as the bankers. A pox on both their houses. I feel a little more sympathy for the investors who bought securities backed by these mortgages as it seems that many of the securities brokers selling them were lying about them. A pox on them, too.

Today's WSJ has yet another article on the subject, this one detailing a poor, little Japanese bank that got sucker-punched by it's own greed and a related story about the government working with the lenders to bail out all and sundry.
Japanese banking leader Nomura Holdings today became the latest financial giant to reveal the scars left by the collapsing value of subprime loans and other residential mortgages. And it has decided to get out of the U.S. home-loan business altogether.

Nomura now expects a pretax loss of 40 billion yen to 60 billion yen ($340 million-$510 million) for the quarter that ended last month, in part because of a $621-million loss from operations related to mortgage-backed securities. Nomura has already written off $620 million in residential mortgages...

Nomura's bad news comes the same day some of its U.S. counterparts are expected to announce a joint effort, orchestrated in part by the Treasury Department, to shore up the damage to credit markets wrought by mortgage meltdown by creating a $100 billion fund to buy troubled assets, as The Wall Street Journal reports. The banks, led by Citigroup and including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, would use new short-term debt to buy the problematic assets of structured investment vehicles affiliated with the banks.
Was any of this accompanied by any kind of education process to associate borrowers' actions with consequences? Of course not. All we get are big, salty tears for everyone involved, mostly from the staggeringly ignorant mainstream media (MSM).

The rest of us pay our mortgages, buy only what we can afford and work to earn what we have. Meanwhile, we are all going to have to pay taxes and higher interest rates for lenders and borrowers that won't be held accountable for what they did wrong.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

So on Saturday, I gave you my stone cold locks for the NFL for the week, picking the Titans to upset the Bucs and the Chiefs to upset the Bengals. I got one right and one wrong.

How was I supposed to know that Vince Young would get injured in the first half? If I'd known that Kerry Collins was going to be the QB, I never would have picked Tennessee.

January, 2009 Can't Come Fast Enough

The deficit is down to it's lowest level in 5 years.

Casualties in Iraq, both military and civilian, have fallen drastically.

Will this nightmare never end?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Don't Think I Own any Books by Jerry Pournelle

...but after taking this quiz, it's clear I need to get some.

I am:
Jerry Pournelle
This old-fashioned writer may be the most unapologetic capitalist in the field. He has also been influential in many other fields, from space policy to the computer industry.


Which science fiction writer are you?

You Don't Have to Enjoy Opera to Like This

Seriously. Our Holy Scribe posted a beautiful story involving a man with a terrific voice and an audition.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

One of the Greatest Days of my Life

I don't usually post about my children, but today I have to. This is one of the greatest days of my life and I wanted to put it down on the blog so that I will always have it.

My daughter became a soccer player today.

My son has had his share of sports successes. I remember so many of them and they all fill me with joy. I remember when he was announced on a Little Leauge field loudspeaker as he hit leadoff and started at second base in a championship playoff game. He was the starting pitcher in an all star game. He was always my closer when I managed, not because he threw hard, but because he had ice water in his veins and always kept his cool. I remember one game he saved with a 9 pitch, 3-up, 3-down last inning. I've worked a lot with him to help him be a success.

My daughter has never tasted such success. She has played soccer for years, but has always been one of the worst players on the team. She was the only one on her team this year that was still afraid of the ball. She was frequently out of position, gave up on plays that were right near her, and would frequently kick and miss easy balls right in front of her. My son and I never gave up on her and have worked with her every day we could. Today it all paid off.

I can't tell you why, but she played like a mad woman today. She played left defense the whole game and nothing got by her. When she couldn't kick the ball, she used her body to shove the other girl towards the sideline. No one got a clean shot on her goalie from any spot she could reach. She never gave up on any ball, no matter how far away and she never flinched once.

As she played, I watched her confidence grow, like a flower blooming right before my eyes. Looking back, it was the same thing I saw on the flight from Astrakahn to Moscow when I adopted her at 15 months old, years ago. A timid creature bloomed into a beautiful, self-confident girl.

There were so many glorious moments today. At one point, she shoved a girl from the other team into the dirt as she drove on our goal. It wasn't dirty, it was just good, hard soccer. As the game went on, she dogged the opposing forwards more and more. She even got warned by the ref for throwing elbows. I was practically in tears, it was so great to see.

Don't read this the wrong way. She's not a mean girl in any way. She's just never had success like this. She's never experienced the joy of being good at something and the admiring words and looks that come with the fruits of hard work.

Today my daughter learned that pleasure comes from success and success comes from hard work. She saw the payoff for all the hours my son and I have spent with her at the park working on her soccer skills. She'll never again go back to being the timid, unconfident little girl who isn't sure she belongs on the team. Now she knows she belongs there and she knows that she earned it.

Update: After re-reading this, it looks like she just became the team goon. Not quite. In yesterday's game, she kicked and/or controlled the ball more than she had in the previous one and a half seasons combined.

This is the start of something big and I spent a bit of time last night praying thanks to God for having lived to see it.

Dave Ramsey Goes off on the Socialist MSM

I've never heard Dave go bananas like this. He takes a minute or so to warm up to the topic, but give it a little time. It's a beautiful thing.

The Best Post Yet on Iraqi Reconstruction Problems

The blog Dumb Still Looks Free has an outstanding post on the technical hurdles faced in the reconstruction of Iraq. This is the best analyticial blogging I've seen since Steven den Beste stopped his.

Jacob's Stone Cold Lock Upset Picks for the Week*

For week 6 in the NFL, I, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, your Swami of Seeds, am here to give you my upset picks for your office pools. These picks are made without the point spread.

Ohhhmmmmm. Ohhhhhmmmmm. I feel a calm coming over me. Ohhhhmmmm. Don't touch the remote, I'm watching the game. Ohhhhmmmmm.

Take Tennessee over Tampa Bay. Are you kidding me? Vince Young's team are dogs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I don't think so. Vince will run wild and lead the Titans to victory.

Take Kansas City over Cincinnatti. The Bungles couldn't stop my son's high school JV team, much less the Chiefs. Plus, they're playing in KC. Take the Chiefs and head for the bank.

And there you have it. My stone cold locks for the week. I'll take my usual finder's fee when they win you the big bucks. 10 sunflower seeds each.

* - These picks were made by a hamster. They are not stone cold locks for anything.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Debate Response We'd Like to See

All of the presidential debates have been filled with questions about how the government should intervene in this issue or that. Since it has become obvious that we can't expect the moderators, poor, ignorant creatures of the MSM that they are, to comprehend the concept that we all are the government, I'd like to see the following response to one of these government intervention questions.

Moderator: Chrysler is going through some tough times right now. Should the government step in an bail them out?

Candidate: Only after you personally walk around your neighborhood with a coffee can collecting money for Chrysler. In fact, forget the government doing it, why don't all of you just do that? Collect money in a tin can and bring it down to your local Chrysler dealer. You'd save the cost of the government middle man and get the money to Chrysler that much faster.

Now that would be fun to watch, wouldn't it?

I Don't Feel Like Being Heavy Handed Today

From time to time I get days of big hits on this blog. The last few days have seen my traffic about double what it normally is. Most of it was going to my analysis of the Republican debate and my polemics against Kate Mulvey. Following those days of big hits, I get leftover hits from people who liked what I wrote and come back to the blog to see if they can find any more posts just like that.

They're almost always disappointed.

Today's WSJ had a page one article on income distribution and how it's more lopsided than ever. I spent about half an hour going through the data at census.gov and had created an excel table showing it was behavior-related more than anything else. I decided not to post it. Instead, I posted close-up pictures of Jacob the Syrian Hamster.

I don't like it when this blog is filled with angry or political posts. It just doesn't feel right. That's not the way I see the world and not the theme I want to embrace. The world is a beautiful place. Civilization and the wonders we have all worked together to create come from cooperation and kindness. My raging or mocking prose may be cathartic, but it ads very little to the world.

So I'm sorry if some of you have come by to see if I've shredded another feminist or analyzed income data to point out how the person to blame for your lack of cash is looking back at you in the mirror every day. I just don't feel like it right now.

Instead, I feel like posting some clouds. Enjoy.

Macro Hamster

With my camera set on macro mode, I let little Jacob out of his cage and did my best to get some good photos. Talk about futile! The little ninny never stopped running. As usual, I took about 30 shots and got two mediocre ones.

In macro mode, it seems that the center of the viewing window is biased high, making all of the shots low. This happened with my photos of our Maximum Leader, too.


The scrurrying furry one finally posed for a split second while I took this shot.

I can't imagine how long the professional photographers who do those shots used in hamster books take. The photo shoots must last for hours. Next time I'm going to try filming him with our video camera and then pulling some stills off of that.

Stop by this week's Friday Ark for more critter pix.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Profile in Courage

...or maybe just fur.


I've been playing around with the macro setting on my camera. It took a lot of shots to get this one. Tonight I'll see if I can get a good one of Jacob.

Legal disclaimer: This image may not be reused or transmitted in any way unless you have first visited this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

The Funniest Thing on the Internet This Week

...can be found here. Read through the comments. They're all great!

Our Knight-Protector is Headed to Iraq

Lawman, the Feline Theocracy's most noble Knight Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls, is headed to Iraq. If you have a moment, stop by and wish him well. He's been a true friend for some time.

Ole Buttermilk Sky

Another sunset video, this one set to a Hoagy Carmichael tune.

I can't figure out why every video I shoot from the tripod ends up tilted. They don't look that way through the view screen. Clearly I need to work on this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Political Strategy in a Nutshell

Hillary's entire political strategy is based on this chart.

The Federal tax burden by earning quintiles, i.e. the top 20% of earners pay 79% of all taxes.

The top 40% of earners in the country pay 95% of the taxes. When Hillary promises free health care or $5000 per child or whatever other goodies she wants, chances are good that you're not going to have to pay for them. Only the top 20% pay their share. Most people don't contribute much of anything at all.

With this logic, why stop at $5000 per child? Why not $15,000? $40,000? A million bajillion? It's all free, so just go for it!

Update: Scipio has weighed in on this concept as well.

An Analysis of Last Night's Republican Presidential Game Show

...I think Sam Brownback went home with a complete living room set, but Fred Thompson won the Dodge convertible.

Have they all been that bad? That was one of the least informative, most uncomfortable things I've watched in a long time. I finally tuned in because my man Fred was in. He did fine and had a couple of genuinely good responses, but the format was simply dreadful.

There was a lighting round?!? Who thought of that? Could anyone imagine General Eisenhower being put through a lightning round in a presidential debate? How degrading. They looked like poodles being forced through flaming hoops. The moderators were invasive during the answers. Maybe the best line of the night was when Fred told Chris Matthews, "No one asked you for your opinion, Christopher." Right on, Fred!

Does anyone else think that Rudy Giuliani looks like a lobster? What's with that tiny mouth? I expect to see cilia on either side of it fanning plankton towards it.

Mitt Romney was great last night. His programming was executed perfectly except for that time when his face jammed and froze up in a rictus of a grin while his simulant software routines had to go through a couple of CPU clock cycles to dislodge it.

Seriously, though, has Chris Matthews always been such a total moron? Every question asked had some underlying statist assumption about government intervention. The presidential candidates had to answer how they and their administration were going to have to solve everything from Chrysler losing its checkbook under the couch to kids not flossing at night. Fred had the best serious line of the night when asked about Chrysler.

Maria Bartiromo: Senator Thompson, should the government bail out Chrysler?

Senator Thompson: No.

Rock on! Someone who gets it! I thought Maria was going to have a stroke. A presidential candidate who thinks that the government shouldn't intervene in every element of life? How could this be? She kept modifying the question and adding clauses to it until he finally gave the answer she wanted to hear which was "Yes."

As a sign of just how totally ignorant the moderators were, one of the debate's last questions was to Sam Brownback about the biggest threat to the economy. Sam replied, correctly, "the destruction of the two-parent family." I almost fell out of bed when I heard it. The moderator repeated the question like Sam had answered the wrong one. "No, really, the biggest threat to the economy, Sam!" Sam hit all the right points about education, crime, earning power, tax base and so forth. He was spot on. The moderators looked at him like he had two heads.

I've blasted the MSM before for being out of touch and uneducated, but this was stunning to me. Neither Chris Matthews nor Maria Bartiromo seem to be able to conceive of a nation founded in liberty or personal responsibility. Maybe they should go and moderate a French debate next time. American ones are quite beyond them.

Update: Extreme Mortman saw the same thing I did. He took the time to extract Maria's questions. It's very depressing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Kate Mulvey Apologetic

My scathing and somewhat vicious attack on Kate Mulvey is getting lots of hits from people who are Googling her name. I’m not entirely comfortable with first-time readers being introduced to this blog by way of such a nasty post, hence this apologetic.

Kate is a feminist writer for the London Times who writes about her relationships and a variety of social issues. I find her writings to be deeply insulting to my choices in life and those of my friends. I think she’s gotten a free ride on the backs of all the people out there who chose the self-denial required to raise a family over hedonism and self-gratification.

I’ve read several of her articles now and the recurring theme throughout is her search for new and subtle intoxicants, orgasms with a wide variety of men and trips to exotic locales while pursuing her career. Her work is filled with praise for the feminist, me-first lifestyle. Unfortunately for her, civilization was not built on the pursuit of exotic, drunken orgasms. It was built on self-sacrifice and cooperation. All of the art she appreciates, the fine wines she samples and the Armani suits of her various sex partners are products of a civilization built on the married, two-parent family.

This is a small cement mixer. Dirty men who don't wear Armani and have never been to college operate it. It's used to build things. Things like spas and night clubs and art museums. It is not the product of exotic, drunken orgasms.

She and her peers at the London Times (and, as a good friend pointed out, the New York Times as well) look down on the women who have chosen to be housewives. Poor dears, they have sagging breasts and stretch marks. Their hair is poorly styled and they wear cotton of all things. Don’t they care how they look?

Meanwhile, for Kate and her 40-year-old playgirl friends, it’s an endless stream of doctors and bankers and lawyers flowing through their beds. It’s champagne and Paris and professional conferences and art museums. It’s an ever-increasing mental library filled with memories of exotic, drunken orgasms. Really now, what are the rest of you thinking? You really need to get with the feminist side of things. Dump that old chauvinistic slavery and join in the Bacchanalia!

Well, Kate and all the rest of you, the cars you drive and the buildings you inhabit and the food you eat was made for you by those ghastly proletarians who enslaved themselves in matrimony and chose to deny themselves cocaine or cognac or whatever your chemical of the month might be. They didn’t take that trip to Monaco so they could send their kids to a better school. They stuck with one partner and learned to live with his snoring and beer belly rather than coupling with the supple, toned body of an equally shallow business executive who is your mirror image. You are consuming the benefits of the self-denial of those dreadful, gray, ordinary people.

You’re welcome.

If you haven’t seen those posts, here’s my rant about Kate’s attack on men and here’s my post on her alleged sophistication. Enjoy.

An Open Letter to our TiVo

Dear TiVo,

We've all known each other for quite some time now. We've had some good times together, watching NFL games, the History Channel and old movies. We've done our best to show you the kinds of programs we like to see by giving them the thumbs up signs and the kinds of programs we don't want to see by giving them the thumbs down.

I'm sure you've noticed recently how we've been recording many NFL games. Sometimes we record them by scheduling them in advance, sometimes we record them manually as the game is going on. At no time have we ever shown you any interest in any of the pre-game, post-game or mid-week analysis shows. Nor have we shown you any interest in highlight and summary shows. All we've asked for is to see the NFL games themselves. Despite this, you continually record the ancillary NFL shows, but ignore the games themselves.

We would truly appreciate it in the future if you could find it in your little, electronic heart to record these for us when you have spare time and we have not asked for them specifically. We would appreciate that much more than, say, you recording another horror movie for us (which we loathe) or perhaps something on Lifetime (which bores us to tears).

Please consider recording NFL games for us from now on. We would be ever so grateful.

Sincerely,
K T Cat and Jacob the Syrian Hamster

Monday, October 08, 2007

Is Kate Mulvey Sophisticated?

An article in the London Times yesterday by Kate Mulvey set me off. After going nonlinear for about ten paragraphs, I kept thinking about her assertions throughout the day. I went back and read some more of her writings and found those assertions are a theme with her. To give you the short version, they are these.

1. Men make dating decisions almost exclusively based on looks. She, as an intelligent woman, can't get a break when it comes to romance.

2. As a single, professional woman of about 40 years of age, she is well-travelled, knows lots of languages and is professionally accomplished. In short, she is sophisticated.

The first one is easy to deal with. I'm her contemporary. She's wrong. See my previous ravings for the details.

It took me a while, but it's the second assertion that really got to me. What does it mean to be sophisticated and why does that fit her better than, say, any of the moms at my kids' school? Here's a good definition of the term from Merriam-Webster.
Sophisticated - having a refined knowledge of the ways of the world cultivated especially through wide experience
Let's do a quick comparison of Kate with a generic mom at my daughter's school. First, we go to Kate's strengths.

Kate: Has had martinis in a Paris nightclub.
Mom: Is similarly capable of consuming mildly toxic liquids in dim light.
Advantage: Even

Sophisticated?

Kate: Can speak 5 languages.
Mom: Can speak two at most.
Advantage: Kate

Kate: Has a college degree.
Mom: Has a college degree or an equal amount of real world learning.
Advantage: Even

Kate: Has experienced lots and lots of men.
Mom: Knows how to keep one man for a long time.
Advantage: Mom

Kate: Is at the top of her profession, writing for the London Times.
Mom: Is at the top of her profession, raising a decent human being.
Advantage: Even

Now let's go to the mom's strengths.

Kate: Has managed to go into work with a hangover.
Mom: Has managed to function with no sleep after caring for a sick child all night.
Advantage: Mom

Kate: Can get pate de foie gras stains out of a silk dress.
Mom: Can get mustard stains off a shag carpet.
Advantage: Even

Not sophisticated?

Kate: Sneers at her date when he can't keep up with her shift from one language to another.
Mom: Can negotiate a truce between 11-year-old girls having a cat fight at a birthday party.
Advantage: Mom

Kate: Earns lots of money for herself which she can spend on travel, clothes and partying with various men.
Mom: Knows how to stretch a budget to cover the needs of a family.
Advantage: Mom

The final score is...
Mom: 4
Kate: 1

Seriously, though, when did we decide that the single, 40-year-old playgirl was sophisticated and the mom was not? If you go back and read through Kate's writings and those of her peers on the London Times' lifestyle pages, their prose is suffused with that concept. One author even suggested that an affair was a good way to regain her youth. Such suggestions go on forever. They're so sophisticated, you see.

Hardly.