Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Was Exhausting!

Our Maximum Leader is all worn out from a vigorous 2007. We're hoping she finds more time for napping in 2008.


Happy New Year, everyone. Stay safe tonight!

Another Great Blog Post

...can be found here.

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings hits another one out of the park!

On Keeping Your Granite Countertop Clean

...and surviving the event.

I've been researching how to clean my granite countertops without having to buy the expensive cleaning products like Granite Gold. Basically, you can just use mild dish soap, mixed with water. However, in my research, I came across this piece of advice.
If you are using some creams or powder don’t mix bleach and ammonia together, this combination creates a toxic and lethal gas. And this is really a very harmful for cleaning granite worktops.
You know, it's one thing to be killed by lethal fumes from mixing toxic chemicals, but it's another thing altogether to damage your granite!

"As you fall unconscious from the poisonous vapors that are boiling within your lungs, try to avoid striking your skull against the granite. That could lead to cracks or scratches on the surface of the stone."

More Good News From Iraq

Gateway Pundit has the full story, but here's the graph.

US fatalities are at their lowest level since the war began. Personally, I attribute it to our campaign of torture and atrocities.

YAMDP

...Yet Another Momma Daisy Photo.

She's at it again. Like Chris Berman of ESPN might say, "You can't stop her, you can only hope to slow her down!"

One of her daughters is blooming as well, but her photos didn't come out so well. I was finally home to catch the sunset last night, but it turned out pretty ordinary and not worth the photo or video.

On Clarity

Yesterday I finally put my thoughts down on just why Mitt Romney makes me so sick that I would leave the Republican party and become an independent should he win the nomination. A fellow named krim left a comment on that post saying, "I have not seen a more incoherent rand (sic) in a long time." Bothered by his dismissal of the post, I went back and read it.

He was pretty much right on target.

Before I go further, let me summarize what I was trying to say. Mitt Romney's dishonesty and pandering will destroy the party's credibility just when we need it most. The country is in financial trouble because we have borrowed and spent ourselves deep into debt. We need a party that will have the courage and credibility to speak hard truths to the public. The Republican party, by nominating Mr. "Say Anything To Get Elected" Romney, will have said, "Mitt Romney is more important than the truth." Having done that, they will badly damage their ability to change our financial course and will be almost the same as the Democrats. If they want to go in that direction, they can go without me.

There. Was that clearer?

Writing essays like that guide a reader to go from your premise to your conclusion, connecting the dots along the way to arrive at your opinion. My dots are often too far apart as they were in that post. I've heard that (valid) criticism before.

2007 was a Very Good Year

...financially. Yes, I know the stories are all about the bumpiness in the markets and the subprime mortgage mess, but all in all, 2007 was a great year.

Don't believe me? Read this.

The media thrives on conflict and fear. If you think everything is going well and the news is nothing but stories of success, you're probably going to go outside and weed your begonias instead of staying inside, glued to the boob tube. They show you what will make you watch, not what is representative of reality.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Should I Be Worried?

My son is reading The Catholic Youth Bible as part of his religion class at school. It's no ordinary Bible, though. It's revised. Revised?!? Just what did they change? Should I be worried?

Man, I sure hope there's something in it about the Feline Theocracy!

A Question for my Readers

Momma Daisy and one of her daughters are blooming again. The flowers are nearly perfect. The sunsets are starting to be spectacular again. Are you guys getting tired of those photos?

Why I Will Leave the Republican Party if Mitt Romney is Nominated

The Boston Herald summarizes it pretty well today in an editorial called "Mitt has a Dream."
He dreams that Americans will find him so dreamy they won’t even notice that he’ll say virtually anything - anything at all - to realize his dream of becoming president.
No way. I won't be a member of a party that has that creep at the top of the ticket. I wasn't a big fan of either of the Bushes and I wasn't enthusiastic about Bob Dole, but they had integrity. Mitt has none.

My primary candidates have always lost badly, so I guess I'm way out of step with the rest of the country. Before Fred Thompson, I was a big fan of Pete duPont and Steve Forbes. They were all strong on defense and firm against more government programs. They also went down to defeat clinging to their principles.

Romney has no such baggage. Abortion? Guns? Taxes? Iraq? Pick your subject and Mitt has a position to agree with you. Ask him a simple yes/no question and you get a 5-minute answer that can be interpreted any way you choose.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are completely clueless when it comes to economics. Take a look at California. With a bigger economy than most nations, California's budget has been run by a Democrat legislature for decades. We're now facing, what, a $10B budget deficit? What's their response? Health care for all! Rather than accuse them (and yet one more squishy Republican as our governor) of mendaciously buying votes while wrecking the economy like Hugo Chavez, I'd rather attribute it to sheer stupidity. They will never be the answer until they figure out this logic:

if (spending) > (income) then (big problems).

So that leaves us with the Republican party as the only hope for a country that's racing towards bankruptcy, just a decade or so behind the French and the Germans who are finding out that wild spending binges lead to massive financial hangovers. What will the Republican party have to trade upon when it all starts to go sour, just a few years from now?

Integrity. Did you stand for something? Did you foresee the problems and act to stop them? Did you put the nation's best interests ahead of your own?

Mitt Romney, frantically pandering to every special interest group except the atheists, can't answer yes to any of those questions. He's not alone. For the last Republican congress and George W. Bush, the answer is clearly "No." They spent like crazy with new entitlement programs and lavish increases in every area. When the money starts getting scarce because the government can no longer steal from Social Security, who will listen to a pack of spenders who helped shovel the cash out the door?

And who will listen to Mitt Romney? He helped create a health care plan in Massachusetts whose costs were back loaded, designed to crush the state after he left to go campaign for president. And who would listen to him anyway when his words are worth less than sand? As the political winds blow, so goes his rhetoric.

Integrity and consistency of message will mean everything when the financial problems begin to wash over us. Mitt Romney is the exact opposite of what we need.

Update: Other blogs with related posts:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's No Fair - They Have Godzilla On Their Team

Today's Strategy Page has a post telling about the Japanese preparing to fend off an alien invasion.

December 21, 2007: The Japanese Minister of Defense is calling for efforts to work out the military and legal issues that would result if Japanese were attacked by extraterrestrials. Two members of the Japanese cabinet have expressed personal beliefs in the existence of extraterrestrials out there, somewhere. Because of Japans 1947 constitution, there are restrictions on what actions the military can take. Basically, the Japanese military is, technically, a purely defensive force. But an extraterrestrial invasion might play out in ways that would find the Japanese military prevented, by lawyers, from moving against an extraterrestrial menace.
Some people will no doubt criticize the US for not moving to prepare to fight off Martian invaders or other otherworldly attackers, but I would suggest that this is an unfair complaint.

After all, the Japanese have Godzilla on their side.

Talk about a ringer on your team!

A Winter Video for Scribbit

Scribbit, a momblogger in Alaska has long been a friend of the Feline Theocracy and is, in fact, our Nun of the Above. Yesterday my daughter and I were riding our bikes along the boardwalk in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach and I had brought along my video camera. As I played around with it, I got the idea for this short video.

I hope you like it, Scribbit. Thanks for all the information and fun you've shared with us this last year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Clean Water in Iraq

Here's a picture from US Torture and Atrocities, which is a great daily read to bring good cheer into your life.


The story that goes with the photo is about a clean water project in Al Takadoom village in Wassit province. One of the reasons I'm very optimistic about Iraq is projects like this. With the security sitation under control and the infrastructure which was allowed to decay under Saddam being repaired, big improvements in the quality of life for the Iraqis are occurring. It's pretty tough for the enemy to fight against things like that when all they have to offer is violence and oppression.

Clean water, more electricity and security sell. What does Al Qaeda or Iran have to offer to compete with that?

Blogburst for Fred Thompson

Rick Moran over at Right Wing Nuthouse has organized a blogburst to help raise funds for Fred Thompson's Iowa campaign. Fred is trying to raise money to get a new ad on TV in time to make a difference in the caucuses. As I debated whether or not to join the blogburst and ask you to contribute (as I have), I came to the conclusion that I had to do this. Here's why.

To me, there are three huge problems facing America today and Fred is right on all of them. Islamofascist terror is one. Just about everyone has blogged about that and several of the other candidates are on the right track there.

The disintegration of the family is another big issue. Only Fred shows the courage to bluntly talk about it. He doesn't pander and talk about more spending for education or pre-K programs which won't do anything to help the situation. He's got the guts and the honesty to put the problem right back where it belongs, with the parents.

The last is the debt and the deficit. Everyone in the country, every man, woman and child currently owes $30,000 because the government is spending more than it takes in. That means a family of four owes $120,000. As the baby boomers retire, the effects of this debt will hit home. Right now, our government spends every penny it gets in taxes, borrows everything available from Social Security and then runs up more debts to spend, spend, spend. Fred has made this one of the central themes of his candidacy. No one else has on either side of the aisle.

Unless we reduce benefits and significantly cut spending, my children will grow up in recurring economic crises because we have not controlled our spending. That's why I'm supporting Fred, why I've donated to Fred and why I'm asking you to donate, too.

Fred08 - Contribute Now

The Dutch Attack the Islamofascists

...using probably the only weapon they actually have - comedy.

The Dutch government has had some public service ads made to warn against the dangers of fireworks. In these ads, they show a mythical and incompetent Islamic terrorist group creating a video threatening the West with a "Rain of Fire". The results are pretty funny, but for me, strangely disquieting. Dig this one.


This is all well and good until you realize that the real war in Europe is being lost. The Moslems are a growing and confident culture while the effete Europeans watch their populations shrink. Having eliminated themselves as a force in world affairs, they're reduced to making fun of everyone else.

If you think I'm being too harsh, try this thought experiment. What reaction would you have to this ad if the Dutch had one or two aircraft carrier battlegroups in the Persian Gulf? Not that they ever could have such power, but Europe as a whole could. Without an ability to project power, they're reduced to being stand up comedians. After we enjoy their act, someone still has to go out and actually get something done.

H/T: Hot Air.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Segovia Sunset

Last night was another great sunset and I managed to capture it on film. I used the manual focus setting, but I'm not sure I did it right. I still need to play with this some more, but I think it still came out pretty nicely. I threw a short segment of Andres Segovia playing classical guitar on it for background music.


It's pretty clear that the camera was working overtime on the light settings. I need to figure out how to set that manually as well. I framed the shot this way to keep the telephone poles out. That's why the sunset is off on the right hand side.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Toying With Some Post Ideas

I've been getting bored of my current selection of topics recently and have been wondering what direction to go in next. I thoroughly enjoyed researching the Iroquois and Gregor Mendel and I've been thinking about looking into why the Chinese came to America to work on the railroads in the 1800s.

In the comments of my Gregor Mendel-Iroquois post, someone left a snark suggesting I read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel (GGS). I claimed that I had read it, but in retrospect, I realize that I had not, I had only been lectured on its fantastic analysis by a friend. After looking through various websites and blogs which discuss it, I've decided to give it a quick read and post about it here.

What little research I've done on the Chinese interactions with the West prior to the 1900s has shown a parallel with the modern Islamic world. That is, both the Chinese and the Moslems believed that they were the center of the world and had nothing to learn from the Europeans. Meanwhile, the Europeans learned as much as possible from them. I wonder if the American Indians were the same way? How about the current sub-Saharan African nations?

What do you do when confronted with a civlization that is way ahead of you technologically? If I recall correctly, the Japanese took a different path and tried to learn as much as they could and as fast as they could and apply it to their own society.

Enough guessing. I need to do some reading and thinking.

Update: Thanks to a review on Amazon, I've discovered Victor Davis Hanson's book reply to GGS, Carnage and Culture. There was also a debate between the two on PBS where Victor Davis Hanson just kicks Jared Diamond's ass all over the radio dial. You can listen to the massacre here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Very K T Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's our Maximum Leader's video Christmas card to all of you out there in the Feline Theocracy and those who just come by to visit.


In this season when we celebrate God's love for us through the birth of Christ, may all of you experience the joy of a tummy full of tuna and a bed full of sunbeams.

For more festive felines, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Leaving Facebook

After trying Facebook for about 6 weeks, I've decided to drop out of it. I'm not sure what to do with it and it just absorbs my time. Unlike LinkedIn, whose purpose as a professional connection mechanism is immediately obvious, FaceBook just seems to be a set of random mini-apps glued together. With LinkedIn I can find people in my industry, from my college and from my company. I can make connections. With Facebook, I've got people writing odd things on my wall, blasting out universal messages and just generally filling my email with things I don't read for weeks.

I must be missing something. In any case, my Facebook experiment is over and I'm deleting my profiles and eliminating the link on my sidebar. Thanks to all of you who added me as a friend and sent me things. I'm sorry I didn't have time for this.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mitt Romney's Team Kicks Off Operation: Rat Filth

Patrick Ruffini, one of Mitt Romney's goons over at Hugh Hewitt's blog on the execrable townhall site, has launched what I've decided to call "Operation: Rat Filth." He is trying to lay out a plan for Mitt Romney to defeat John McCain in New Hampshire. Here's the gist of it.

I think the answer here is to attack his strength. Muddy the waters and contaminate his message.
Muddy things up and contaminate stuff. Doesn't that just scream rat filth to you?

Here, a Romney supporter emerges from the sewer system to contaminate things.

This course of action is necessitated by the fact that Mitt is just so gosh darn unlikeable. A recent Rasmussen poll found that he has the absolute worst positive-negative spread of any candidate running on either side. Add to that the fact that he's up against a war hero who spent years in a POW camp in Vietnam, being tortured for our freedom while Mitt was prancing about hectoring Europeans about the Nephites and Lamanites on a draft deferment and you're pretty much reduced to something like Operation: Rat Filth.

Go Mitt! I can't wait to see Operation: Rat Filth unfold!

You Know You've Lost Too Many Offensive Playmakers When You Have Plays Like This

From today's Saints-Eagles game:

2-10-NO 28 (1:48) (Shotgun) 9-D.Brees pass short right to 9-D.Brees to NO 36 for 8 yards.
Actually, the ball was batted up in the air and caught by Brees, but the Saints have lost Aaron Stecker (RB), Mike McKenzie (CB) and Marques Colston (WR) today in addition to Reggie Bush (RB) and Deuce McAllister (RB) earlier in the year. Like Saints broadcaster Jim Henderson said during the game, it's down to the Drew Brees show now.

Update: Aaron Stecker has returned to the game and just reeled off a 26 yard run down to the Eagle 7. Geaux Saints!

Update 2: The Saints just stalled out on the Eagles 1 yard line. With 2nd and goal on the 1, they couldn't punch the ball in. That's a spot where Deuce McAllister would have gotten in, but injured Aaron Stecker could not. It's time to start looking at possible draft choices for next year, I'm afaid.

Wanna Smile?

Yes, you do.

What to Tell a Barber

...when he's finished cutting your hair.

Well, it's too late to do anything about it now!

Yes, I had one of those haircuts recently.

Photo courtesy of Comstock images.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tagged with a Christmas Meme

We've been tagged with a Christmas meme by our Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls. Let's get right to it.

The rules: Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog. Share Christmas facts about yourself. Tag random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. Wrapping or gift bags? Both. If I have the time, I prefer to wrap. It's more fun for the person to open a present than a bag.

2. Real or artificial tree? Real. Always real.

3. When do you put up the tree? When I realize we're late getting the tree up.

4. When do you take the tree down? When the interesting football games are over the needles are getting everywhere.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but not so much any more. The rum is what makes the thing worthwhile and I don't do much rum these days.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Hot Wheels set I got when I was about 7. It was great! It started a collection that went on for about a decade and gave my friends and I thousands of hours of pleasure.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I have one, but I didn't put it up this year. We did our first Advent wreath ever.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Honestly, I can't think of one.

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Neither. Like the tree, by the time I realize I need to do it, it's too late.

10. Favorite Christmas movie? Love Actually with Hugh Grant.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Just a few days before it's too late.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Crawfish etouffe, jambalaya, seafood gumbo...

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? White this year. Whatever we get around to putting on the darn thing.

14. Favorite Christmas song? Dean Martin's I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.

Now it's time to tag someone. Let's see...how about our Pater of Prowling and our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands.

Trying to Wrap Christmas Presents

I just put my scotch tape down and now I can't find it. Do any of you know where it is? Leave your searching suggestions in the comments.

Another Reason to Love the Blogosphere

Thanks to this week's Friday Ark, I just found The Backyard Arthropod Project. Here's a tidbit about that blog.
This started out as a typical ranting blog over on Livejournal, but it turns out that, overall, I’m a happy sort of guy and don’t really have that many things to rant about. As of February 2007, it has instead turned into a project to document every arthropod that I can find on our property (about 9 acres on the north slope of Old Mill Hill in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan). This includes insects, spiders, other arachnids, crustaceans, and pretty much anything I find with an exoskeleton. There should be at least one new arthropod every week, for as long as the variety holds out (which could be years).
The knowledge shared with the rest of us is pretty amazing. There are posts about the bugs, of course, but there are also tremendous posts about techniques and equipment that are nothing short of brilliant. Here's my favorite one and a photo (borrowed with permission).

I think you can see right away the basics of how this was done, but the post linked above has the full details along with lighting suggestions and ways to photograph subjects that insist on squirming.

To borrow from the bible, this is the blogosphere the Lord hath made possible, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Interesting Sunset, Poor Video

I set up the video camera tonight to capture the sunset. The result was pretty striking, but the camera's auto focus feature kept losing track of what it was looking at and the end result was a video that would have made you nauseous if I had posted it as it went wildly in and out of focus.

Back to the drawing board! I'll try and get a good one some time this weekend.

Update: My little Canon ZR800 has a manual setting for focus and I can tell it to focus permanently on infinity for the video. Problem solved! Sunset videos are in our future.

Christmas has Been Banned

...and none too soon if you ask me. I still need to finish shopping, wrap presents and decorate a bit more. Now I won't have to do that, thanks to the information posted by Captain Ed. Here's the news from Oklahoma, of all places!

John Misak, the Director of Human Resources, recently visited various university departments and employee groups and informed everyone that any decorations featuring the word 'Christmas' in any work or public areas of the university must be immediately removed. He also instructed everyone to discontinue the use of the term 'Christmas' in their speech while on the job.
Read the whole thing over at Captain's Quarters.

Ingraham Bridge Sunset

Last night's sunset looked disappointing at first, but finally gave me this beautiful scene. Click on the pictures for larger versions.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Furball

Another thrilling action photo of our Maximum Leader:


For more spine-tingling tabbies, stop by this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Chef Jacob Reviews - Dixie Fry

Welcome to the start of a new series here at The Scratching Post! In these posts, I, Chef Jacob, your Rodent of Rapturous Repasts shall highlight some of the triumphs and, alas, tragedies from our kitchen.

Here at The Scratching Post, we are lovers of all things Southern. Whether that be food or football, we love our Southern culture! We also love healthy eating, so we've recently begun to explore oven frying foods. Unlike deep-fat frying, oven frying adds no fat or grease to the food you cook. You dip the item in batter or dust it with a breading or flour mixture and then bake it in the oven. For foods like chicken, particularly legs and thighs, the natural juices from the meat serve the same purpose as the fat in the fryer.

While shopping for last-minute items one day, we came across boxes of Dixie Fry. Immediately taken by the name, we decided to give it a try. Dixie Fry is essentially a seasoned flour mixture. You take the meat, dip it in some beaten eggs and then roll it in the Dixie Fry to coat it. You then bake the meat in the oven.

I was underwhelmed.

Dixie Fry is a mass-market product and as such, it lacks any bold or distinctive flavors. It has to appeal to as broad an audience as possible so they take no risks with the ingredients. Sadly, you must accept risk if you are took with inspiration. When I make my flour mixture, I use no recipe! I put flour in a bowl and then go through my spice cabinet, open the ones that seem interesting at the moment and smell them. If they excite me right then, in they go! If not, it's back to the shelf! We have no time for ingredients that do not sing and dance and beg to be eaten. Cooking is for the bold, not the timid!

Dixie Fry only marginally reduced the time required to cook while removing risk and excitement from the experience of cooking and eating. I can recommend it if you are just starting out as a chef, but if you are looking for the creativity and self-expression a true artist demands, then make your own.

That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed our first official culinary journey together. And remember, dear readers...

It's all about the taste!

World of Good, Gratitude Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post! This week is a really short one and it's all about saying "Thanks!" to certain people. Check this out.

Working with these guys and knowing them as I do, just hearing someone say, "Thanks" means a lot. You can do a world of good with a simple gesture or a few words.

For more WOGs, a description of why we WOG and an opportunity to join the WOG Squad, see this post.

H/T: Our Grand Inquisitor.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For Terrie

Yes, I know I posted this before, but I felt like doing it again.

Soccer Coaching Report - Doing Shots

At yesterday's practice, a couple of the girls who want to be our goalies asked me if they could practice blocking penalty shots. "That sounds great!" I replied. I turned to the team and called out, "Come on, girls, let's do shots!"

As the words left my mouth I realized what I had said. They, being 11 years old, did not.

Go team!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Teaching Kids About Money

The Wall Street Journal has a great article today about 12 ways to teach your kids how to handle their money. I read the first three and decided to post the link here.

Geek Squad and the Ramen Eaters

On a link from the Endless Innovation blog, I ended up at the Fast Company blog where I read tidbits of questionable wisdom from Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad. Mr. Stephens had spoken at Advertising Age's "Idea Conference." Amidst the general emoting about what a groovy guy he was were these two quotes:
Ramen Noodles. This is why startups are so innovative. Large companies want to be nimble, that's why they go to "idea" conferences. I suggest starve departments of money.
and
I believe advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.
Wow. That's pretty counter-intuitive stuff. In fact, it's counter-intuitive because it's wrong.

Startups are innovative because innovation is a prerequisite of starting up. No one builds a startup around doing something already being done in the production phase. Well, maybe if they've got an innovation that significantly cuts production costs. But again, innovation is a requirement for a startup. The Ramen is there because the startup is, well, a startup. This is all circular logic that only comes across as an epiphany if you don't think about it.

In my business, we do research. Research is by its very nature highly risky. Only 1 in 10 or so ideas really go anywhere. Without money, we would financially collapse 90% of the time. We don't want Ramen, we want a steady stream of investment funds, hopefully from our cash reserves. Take a look at the success rates for big pharma. Big pharma is big because the high-risk nature of drug development requires a big bankroll to keep looking for the next smash-hit drug.

In the startup world, you get this same result through corporate attrition as most of the Ramen-eaters starve after their idea fizzles.

As for advertising, I can't even imagine what Mr. Stephens was thinking when he said that. He must have had too many espressos and was simply floating on a cloud of caffeine. Geek Squad advertises like crazy. My company advertises, but in a different way. We work on the basis of personal relationships and those personal relationships have to be constantly nurtured. We could produce all kinds of wildly innovative things, but without that marketing, nothing would ever be noticed and we'd go under pretty quickly.

I think these "idea conferences" have to be taken with a grain of salt.

It was a Great Weekend Until

...I realized that I had no plan for this week's soccer practices. I figured that out late last night as I sat there, satisfied with the weekend's accomplishments.

Time to crack the coaching book.

Update: Got it! It's the day for the Hank Stram coaching clinic in soccer. To alter one of his more famous phrases, "Keep matriculating the ball down the field, girls!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Boy, Am I Ever Glad I Didn't Write This Article

...given the reaction I got to my previous comments about the destruction of certain civilizations under certain circumstances.

Dig this.

After you read the article, ask yourself this question. What happens when the "third-generation relative, an elderly grandmother or aunt, who also opens her home to several other wayward relatives" dies and is not replaced because there is no one in the next generation with the ethics and morality to replace her?

Update: This brings me back to a conversation I had in person and by blog with Captain Ed who wished that Republicans would just stop talking about sex. Find me any realistic solution to this problem that does not have traditional sexual morality as its cornerstone. While most of us are yukking it up watching Charlie Sheen bed one bimbo after another on Two and a Half Men and sneering at the squares who created The Dick Van Dyke Show, whole neighborhoods in America are turning into small versions of Mogadishu from doing just that.

Why I'm such a prude.

H/T: The Return of Scipio

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Best Response Ever

Dig Fred's response to the question, "What is your favorite keepsake?"

Also, if you liked Fred smacking down the moderator in the last Iowa debate, here's a way to show it.

Get Well Cards for the Troops

When I was a wee lad I went through some major surgery at Walter Reed hospital. Walter Reed is one of the largest military hospitals in the world. My surgery happened near the peak of the Vietnam War. For those of you who don't know, the farther you get from the front, the worse the injuries. That is, the field hospitals don't have the facilities to do more than stabilize the severely injured. Walter Reed, being as far from the front as possible, was filled with the soldiers who had been hurt badly. I still remember some of the injured I saw way back then.

Most of the injured young soldiers are athletes who've sacrificed their ability to do things like this so we could remain safe and free.

While the Iraq war has been nothing like Vietnam in terms of casualties, there's still plenty of them in hospital right now having given their bodies for your safety. Can you help? You bet.

"With the support of the Department of Defense, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and with help from Pitney Bowes Government Solutions, the American Red Cross will collect, review and disseminate holiday greeting cards to wounded military personnel. For security reasons, the Red Cross will only be able to accept holiday cards, not packages. Red Cross volunteers will receive and bundle the cards to be shipped by Pitney Bowes Government Solutions. Then, Red Cross volunteers at military medical facilities will distribute the cards to patients and their families in time for the holidays."

Address your Cards or Letters to:

We Support You During Your Recovery! c/o American Red Cross PO Box 419 Savage, MD 20763-0419
Our family will be doing this today.

H/T: Our Prater of Prowling.

Could Gregor Mendel Have Been an Iroquois?

This is a continuation of my posts about my daughter's social studies textbooks which endlessly trash the Europeans for being oppressive pig-dogs, but never mention just how they achieved so much more than their contemporaries. The American Indians are the current victims being studied.

Just how was it that technological advancement escaped them? Why did Gregor Mendel, the father of modern biology, live as an Augustinian priest and not an Iroquois? What follows is supposition based on some small research. I'm open to correction in the comments.

First off, the Iroquois were essentially communists. That's not a perjorative statement at all. In fact, their communal support of each other was the envy of the European settlers during times of famine. The Iroquois shared what they had much better than the settlers. However, being collective in nature, they expected each person to fill their role. Men did all things related to the forest and women did all things related to the field and family. Mendel would never have gotten off the ground.

Gregor Mendel, heap big researcher. Many moons pass while pea plants grow. Mendel find that pea colors inherited. Mendel waste much time while Iroquois braves wonder when he's going leave pea plants with squaw and join hunt in forest.

Gregor Mendel fiddling around with his pea plants would have been pressured to get out there and hunt with the rest. His work was independent and unusual. It required a society that valued individuality and could not have been done in a collective environment. Mendel had an infrastructure around him in the form of the Catholic church that gave him the freedom to research and study and valued his acquisition of knowledge. By the same token, that infrastructure was willing to support the alchemists of the time who were looking to transmute lead into gold. Research, being by it's very nature filled with the risk of failure, would not have been suffered by the Iroquois.

There are other, obvious reasons for Mendel not being an Iroquois. The lack of a written language makes scientific research impossible. That lack of a written language comes from a lack of a need for one. I would suggest that comes from their societal structure. If the guys all get together in the morning and go out to whack deer and the women all head for the fields with their kids in tow, what do you need with writing? As far as I recall, math and writing came from commerce. What need is there for commerce when everyone is working together on the same projects?

I suppose the Iroquois could have developed Gantt charts to track their progress, but even the Iroquois knew enough to avoid Microsoft Project. The next thing you know, they would have all been going to Lean Six Sigma training. I think we're all glad that didn't happen. We would have missed out on all the good things the Iroquois accomplished.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Because a Day Without Nudibranchs is Like a Day Without Sunshine

Don't ask. Just go look at this.

Way cool, no?

Time for the Morning Nap

Our Maximum Leader is fading out as she begins her morning nap on my son's bed.

"Thanks for not using the flash."

It's Friday and that's the traditional day for catblogging. For more posts like this, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Giving in to Temptation

Politics blogging is like eating Cheetos. It's easy and it tastes good in the moment, but it's pretty unsatisfying in the end.

Let's snark at everyone else. Yum yum!

There are a lot of posts I'd like to write that have much more substance, but these political ones just write themselves. They give you an opportunity to get all your snarks out and feel superior. It's nastiness and laziness all rolled into one. Doesn't that seem like some kind of sin? It kind of aggregates sloth, wrath and envy. Hmm. That doesn't sound very good.

While photographers for lurid magazines can make a living photographing gore-filled accidents, doesn't reading and participating in it warp your soul in the end?

Update: My own comments and some of the writing on this post were unpleasant. I've edited this and deleted the offensive remarks, most of which were my own. Wow. It really is a cause to sin.

Update 2: I just deleted the link in the Feline Theocracy that was tempting me to think and write such unpleasantness. To borrow from St. Mark, And if thine Feline Theocracy link lead ye to sin, delete it: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one less Feline Theocratician, than to be cast into hell fire.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Your US Navy at Work

The Navy's response to Tropical Cyclone Sidr in November was going to be a topic of a World of Good post, but I just haven't gotten my act together to write it. In the meantime, here's a great picture from there.

DOBLARCHAR, Bangladesh (Dec. 4, 2007) An 11-year-old boy is treated by Lt. Cmdr. Lu Le, a translator, and other members of a U.S. Navy Fleet Surgical Team from the amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1). Tarawa and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts in response to the government of Bangladesh's request for assistance after Tropical Cyclone Sidr struck their southern coast Nov. 15. The Department of Defense effort is part of a larger U.S. response coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for international Development.

H/T: Navy News Stand

Wispy Sunset

Every evening I watch for a good sunset to share on this blog. This being San Diego, our sunsets are most often either cloudless or obscured by overcast skies. Last night's looked like this.


That's about the best we've had lately, other than the one I missed a few days ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fred Thompson Knocks Out the Des Moines Moderator

Fred wouldn't play the schoolyard "raise your hands" game with the moderator in the debate today. Dig this.


And the reason you'd vote for any of the other babbling dingledorks on that statge would be...what?

Go Fred!

The National Review Boards Mitt Romney's Titanic

Well, yesterday the National Review decided to endorse Mitt Romney for president. Aside from Mitt having the same chance of winning the general election as George McGovern, this was a smart move on their part. Who else would be so crafty as to board the Titanic while it was sinking?

Here, the editorial staff of the National Review rows towards Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters to join the effort.

I have voted for every politician with an (R) beside their name in every race of every election for the past 27 years. If the party nominates that pandering, Clintonesque, white-bread, fantasist dorkwad Romney for the presidency I will quit the party for good.

I heard the editor of the National Review interviewed on a few shows and not once did he mention why they didn't endorse Fred. Pathetic.

Update: Don't think Mitt's campaign is the Titanic? Check out the comment thread on this post over at Hugh Hewitt's blog. The conservatives are viciously cannibalizing each other over theology. That comment thread shows exactly why Mitt can never win.

Nyquil Last Night Means No Blogging This Morning

Following President Bush's strategery of preemption, I decided to take Nyquil last night as I felt a cold coming on. I experienced victoriousness over the cold, but got up too late and too tired to blog.

I avoided sickness, but failed to blog because of the Nyquil hangover. Was the victory worth the cost? I'm sure the debate will rage on for years to come.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

C'mon Get Happy!

So yesterday I'm sitting in my office at work, trying to set up a pretty sophisticated Movable Type 4 blog for our Public Affairs. I've got my office door open and thanks to our Apian Apostle, I'm listening to my new Layered Vocals Pandora radio station.

And what does Pandora decide to play for me? Why, the Partridge Family's I Think I Love You, of course! It took me a minute to figure out what it was and I quickly reached for the volume to turn it down. I was almost the right age to watch the Partridge Family when it was first on, but Jiminy Christmas, it's not the sort of thing I want blaring out of my speakers at work. OK, maybe just a little. Just enough so I can hear it, but no one else can.

After all, who doesn't want to get happy? :-)

Update: I had originally embedded the YouTube video of the Partridge Family opening credits with their theme song, but it seems to have been yanked from YouTube. How distressing!

Soccer Coaching, Day One

Short version: The girls were great, the parents bailed.

My vision of Heaven includes coaching a Little League team. The three years I managed were some of the best times of my life. After this year, I might just include coaching soccer.

Yes, I know it's only one practice, but we had fun! Not knowing any better, I decided to eschew the endless warm up drills and we had only enough of those to make sure the girls were loose and ready to go. We went right to teaching simple concepts and running game-simulations to drive the points home. After that, a couple of the girls taugh us how to play World Cup and we all had a great time.

Since my daughter showed herself to be a natural defender (read: Team Goon), I decided to focus on defense for the first practice. When I watched her games in the rec league she just finished, I saw her teammates do silly things on defense, like center the ball perfectly for opposing forwards. One little girl even managed to stop the ball in front of our goal and then abandon it there as her momentum carried her past it. It ended up the equivalent of a penalty kick as an opposing forward swooped in and just blasted it past our goalie.

I've decided that this season, I want the girls to know why we ask them to do things and to understand some basic tactical concepts. Yesterday I taught them about pushing the opposing forwards to the sidelines and delaying them so their teammates had a chance to swarm in on the ball. We also taught them about communicating with each other. We ran lots of very short game simulations where we rotated everyone through the positions and then we had the girls who were experienced forwards tell everyone what it felt like to be forced to the side and then double teamed once defensive help arrived. Having them discuss it among themselves got everyone involved in teaching.

The other thing I did was to lay out the goal for the team. I did not say the plan for the season was to "have fun." I said it was to be the best soccer team we could be. The girls loved that. Nobody asked about having fun, because they all know it's more fun to win.

Finally, the parents totally disappointed me. I had told everyone there would be a parent meeting at the end of practice, but the parents just showed up, grabbed their daughters and bailed, calling out some scheduling excuse or another over their shoulders as they ran off. I had to laugh, because it reminded me what a waste of time the parent meetings usually are.

Coach: And the goal this year (Susie, stop that!) is to have fun. We will try to (can you girls keep it quiet over there?) play everyone in the positions they like, but (OK, now go get that ball you kicked) we won't put girls in positions to be embarassed (yes, go ahead, but just take this flyer as you leave) because we don't (no, that's OK, I'll pick up the cones later, dear) want to...where was I?

It's gonna be a great year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yes, But Do We Get A Tax Break For Suicide?

Don Surber has this little tidbit about taxing babies for existing.

Now comes Professor Barry Walters of Australia who wants to impose a $5,000 childbirth tax and an annual baby tax of $800 to pay for the carbon footprint of children.
This seems a bit one-sided, doesn't it? I mean, if bringing a life into the world is bad for the environment, it seems as though taking one out of the world is good. I'm all for it. How about a $1500 rebate for every suicide?

You first, Professor!

US Marines are Torturing Iraqi Children

The photographic evidence is incontrovertible.

1st Lt. Melvin Burch reads to Iraqi children during a Books for Baghdad charity event in a Baghdad school.

This is all part of the hideous, almost-secret Bush-Cheney-Neocon plot called Hearts for Baghdad.

US Torture and Atrocities has more stories like this. Get the word out! This kind of imperialism has to be dealt with properly!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Apologies

It was a beautiful sunset tonight, the first really good one we've had in a while and I missed it because I was away from home doing something fun. I'm very sorry. It would have been great for both photo and video.

I promise I won't miss one ever again. Instead, I will sit at home every night waiting for a good sunset to photoblog. Really. I'll just sit in my chair looking out the window waiting for a sunset.

Mitt Romney's High Dive Into An Empty Pool

Mitt's big religion speech last week was supposed to put an end to the religious issue in his campaign. It was a nice speech and well-delivered.

It was also a catastrophe for Mitt.

Instead of throwing water on the flames of religious debate, it poured gasoline all over them. The first wave of blog posts about the speech all dealt with the mood and the delivery. Now, more serious analyses of the speech and Mormonism in general are coming out and the results are not pretty.

Over at our Patriarch of the Airwaves' blog, the discussions have gone from political smack talk to religious smack talk. That can't be good. My favorite Catholic blogs are starting to list the theological differences between Mormons and Catholics and some even list past slanders of the church by Mormons. Bloggers with a historical bent are posting archaeological questions for Mitt and his coreligionists, like the ones found here.

To me, the speech was a beautifully executed Olympic dive...into a pool with no water. Ouch! It's gonna leave a mark.

When You Don't Actually Make Anything

...you end up popped with the bubble.


And yes, I do see the irony in posting this on my blog.

Mr. Boffo

If you haven't discovered him, you're missing out.


I wish he had an RSS feed for his comics so I could post them here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Crafts to Lacerate the Whole Family!

...or something like that. I'm surfing around, looking for some craft ideas for next week's family Christmas party when I came across this one from HGTV which calls for boiling water and borax.

Excuse me? Boiling water and borax?!? What, did we run out of broken glass and used motor oil?

Come on, everyone, let's make napkin rings out of rusty fish hooks and razor wire!

Is Bug Labs Brilliant or Mistaken?

I surfed over to one of my favorite blogs, Endless Innovation, and found this post about a new company called Bug Labs. Bug Labs is building a modular device with which you can construct all kinds of web-enabled hardware systems. I can't figure out if this is a great idea or a bad one.

As far as I can tell, the Bugbase takes the place of your PC (or Mac). Right now, if you want to create a web-enabled camera, thermometer, robot controller or such, you go to the store and buy USB or Ethernet-controlled peripherals and control them through your PC. Your PC is the device's interface to the rest of the world. Ease of integration is obtained through the device using standard ports and loading its driver software. If you're clever, you can do novel things with these devices by hacking into them. For example, I found that I can turn my Olympus digital camera into a stop-motion image generator by hooking it to my PC and using some third party software.

Bug takes the place of the PC and gives you a small, easily programmed interface so you don't have to lug around a big machine and find hacks into the peripherals. That sounds like a lot of fun for the geek community. Some of them might come up with some great applications. There's one question I have about the Bug business model, though.

Why do we buy corkscrews, screwdriver sets, knives, saws and magnifying glasses and not just a single, monster Swiss Army Knife?

I don't own one of these. Why not?

I suppose the counter to my question would be, "Why don't you bring your tool chest camping with you?"

Bug Labs also has a blog where you can follow their development process. There are some informative discussions in the comments of some of their posts.

Grocers Unclear on the Concept

The Modulator has the story. I'm still laughing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Footage too Graphic for NBC

Warning. If you press play on this video, you will see some footage that NBC refused to run on any of their stations.


Thank goodness for their discretion. Instead, tonight NBC will air another episode of Friday Night Lights where beautiful teens engage in violence and sleep with each other.

H/T: Powerline.

Classic Profile

It's raining today, but a few days ago I caught our Maximum Leader as she sat on the fence in our front yard. It was great scene, a cat in classic profile against my neighbors' beautiful landscaping.


For more pastoral pussy cats, stop by this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

We Need a Bailout for Big Pharma!

...some time around the year 2012.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a great page one story about the coming storm faced by the large pharmaceutical companies. Developing new drugs is a very risky business with most of their projects ending up with nothing. The few new drugs that actually make it to the market are sold with a very high profit margin to fund continuing research. These drugs are protected by patent law and can only be produced and sold by the company that produced them until the patent period ends and they can be produced by generic manufacturers. When that happens, the price of the drug drops quickly and the original manufacturer stops making much money on them.

The problem for big pharma companies like Merk, Pfizer and others is that their current pipeline of new drugs is very sparse and many of their cash cow drugs are about to fall out of patent protection. When that happens, these companies will suffer big drops in income and profits. They are already cutting R&D budgets and curtailing research in new drugs.

Hillary, these come from profits. How icky!

When that happens, what will be the response from the politicians? A bailout! We must guide medical research through tax credits and investments! Won't that be deliciously ironic? Right now, big pharma is the villain for the politicians because of their high profit margin on new drugs, a profit they use to make the next generation of new drugs. Not comprehending such complicated economics, people like Hillary paint them as greedy pigs just like they did to the big auto manufacturers years ago, manufacturers they now demand we bail out in order to save jobs.

The big pharma bailout. It's coming to a Congress near you.

Pandora Music

Yesterday I linked to this blog post from our Apian Apostle, but I just had to come back and reiterate it. It introduced me to Pandora Radio and I just love it! You give Pandora a band and it creates an Internet radio station for you built around that band its musical style. I made one for the Monkees and I love it! I've heard music from other bands like them that I haven't heard in years. It's too cool for words. If you want to tune in, click on the image for my Monkees station.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great Posts From Around the Theocracy

As the faithful beadle of the Feline Theocracy, it's my job to link to the great work of our Theocraticians from time to time. Here's a bunch of great posts I found today.

I've got a basket full of links just for you!

The Theocracy's Knight-Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls writes a short update from Iraq. It would be great if you stopped by and wrote him a little message.

Our Monsignor of the Breweries goes after North Carolina's huge pay raises for public school teachers.

The Theocracy's Official Artist thinks the Patriots are going to run the table. Yuck!

Binary or virtual cats? Our Holy Scholar Mog has the details.

Our Poet Laureate has a great post tracing the history of lolcats.

Joe Noory, ensconced in the Feline Theocracy's prestigious Cardinal Richelieu Chair for Advanced European Studies posts this bit about Iran's timing in (allegedly) stopping their nuclear program.

Our Chancellor of the Exchequer has difficulties with comments on his blog, but it's always worth a read. He's a big proponent of WalMart and has this to say about a recent store opening.

The Theocracy's Precentor of Measurements has done a great job keeping on top of the controversy surrounding the movie, The Golden Compass, and has convinced me that the thing is pretty evil.

Our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands has evidence that chimps may soon take over the world. Unless they break into the keg of beer first.

Leave it to our Nun of the Above to rescue us as we struggled to think of a craft to do for our annual family Christmas party.

The Pater of Prowling has named it the Mayonnaise War. Now you just need to see what "it" is!

If there is a more relentless pursuer of corruption than our Grand Inquisitor, I'd like to meet them.

The monks over at the Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings have a great take on school prayer - one that might just surprise you.

Our Court Jester points out some interesting marketing for The Golden Compass.

Leave it to our Apian Apostle to find something cool on the Internet Tubes.

Thanks to our Holy Scholar Christine, I now know the Pope is coming to the US.

Lastly, our Holy Canadian Scholar, Eh, has a new blog and some great snow photos from Vancouver.

I'm not a Lockstep Republican, I'm for Fred Thompson

Last night, someone asked me if I was a Republican or a Democrat. I'm a registered Republican, but after that last few years I'm not sure what I am any more. I don't see either party standing up for traditional Republican economic values. It all looks like Socialism or Socialism-Lite.

President Bush has unveiled a plan to cap interest rates for distressed borrowers threatened with foreclosure. Hillary has upped the ante, calling for a halt to all foreclosures, period. This represents a distortion of a large part of the American free market and like others before it, will do far more harm than good.

What planet are these people from? I can understand Hillary's position, since she has never shown even the tiniest comprehension of economics, but President Bush has an MBA from Harvard. I've never bought into the canard that President Bush is a dummy. Despite his principled and, in the long run, visionary success in Iraq, when it comes to the US, he's just another gravy-ladling politician like most of the other Republicans.

One party is completely incompetent at economics and the other is utterly mendacious. Thank goodness for Fred.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Congress Fails Another Economics Exam

In today's Wall Street Journal, there's an article about some energy bill or another. In typical Washington fashion, it's filled with tax code changes designed to poke and prod American companies into doing something the government wants them to do.
House Democrats appear ready to pass a bill that would raise $21 billion in taxes, mainly from oil companies, and impose a new mandate for utilities to use renewable fuels
Out come the carrots and sticks to beat and tempt American energy firms into doing something the market has yet to reward. Like that's going to work. $21B is exactly what percentage of the gross income of, say, Exxon? Let's see here, according to Exxon's annual earnings statement, they had a gross income of about $366B last year. The $21B is spread over 10 years, so if applied only to Exxon, it amounts to about a 0.6% charge on them.

Boo! Tax hikes!

But wait, there's more! There's also "a mandate that utilities get 15% of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar power." And the reason the market hasn't yet led us to that state of affairs is...what? Maybe something like it doesn't pay to do it?

So what will we do with the tax money?
The money would be shifted to extend investment-tax credits for solar energy and fuel cells. It also would be used to finance renewable energy bonds, to help new companies market new forms of cleaner energy.
So let me see if I get this right. We're going to pay companies to tell us that they've got electricity for sale and it comes from clean sources? Why does anyone think that marketing such a product is so difficult it needs government intervention?

Yay! Tax credits!

If you ever wonder why your income tax forms are so complicated, look at news stories like this one. The government is constantly trying to poke and prod the market into doing things it doesn't want to do with only the tiniest of sticks and carrots. We've been doing this kind of thing for decades and we still use oil and gas because it makes economic sense. All we've managed to do is make our tax code bloated and annoying.

What a waste of time.

Update: Leslie Carbone has a different angle on the story with the same result.

Local Warming has a different take, with which I agree partially. I have no problems repealing subsidies, but the tax credits for renewables don't work for me.

When a Good Father Turns Evil

Yesterday, my daughter's school had one of those inexplicable in-service training days for the teachers so the kids had the day off. Why don't they do those during the Summer? In any case, I took my daughter and one of her friends down to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

At first I was Good Dad and let them run around, pressing buttons and looking at lights. A bit before we had to go, however, I turned into Evil Dad and asked them to explain what they were seeing. You should have heard the terrified wailing of those two! "Why, Father," my daughter cried out, "what you ask is impossible! No human has yet uncovered the keys to the mysteries held inside these blinking lights and spinning wheels!" And then I did something most hideous of all.

I had them read the words on the posters around the exhibits where they were playing. It was horrible. I'm surprised Child Protective Services didn't swoop down upon me and carry me off. Perhaps, more justly, I should have been handed over to the curators at the Museum of Man to be stuffed and exhibited as "A Curious Species of Diabolical Father."

The Science Center in Balboa Park. A place of joy or a tomb of terror?

Since I was not apprehended, rest assured that I shall strike again, bringing despair into the hearts of these young ladies in other museums!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mitt Romney Gives his Religion Speech

...and I'm not going to bother listening. I think the whole Mitt-is-a-Mormon thing is way overblown. I doubt that there's that big of a voting bloc in the primaries where this really matters. I know it doesn't to me. I'm for Fred Thompson because he is specific and clear on the issues and I agree with him, not because Mitt is a Mormon. What turns me off about Mitt is his pandering, Clintonesque demeanor. As one pundit put it, he comes across like a yacht salesman.

Yuck!

All the religion speeches in the world aren't going to change that image.

Harry Reid is Just a Total Loser

Surfing around the Internet Tubes this morning, I came across this article where Harry Reid claims the surge in Iraq isn't working.

Reid, in a Monday press conference, ceded no ground. "The surge hasn't accomplished its goals," Reid said. "... We're involved, still, in an intractable civil war."
Geeze, man, give it up. You were wrong. The war wasn't lost and the score is getting more lopsided in our favor every day. Harry Reid is just pathetic. It would be one thing if he were a junior senator and could afford to cling to fruitcake positions because no one ever heard what he said, but to be the head of the Senate and continue to stand around spouting total nonsense is another.

What a loser.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Patriots are Guilty of Witchcraft

...there's just no other explanation for it. The Ravens had the game won four different times tonight and each time some dark, supernatural force intervened.

And then, milord, I saw Tom Brady speak to an imp on a toadstool and that imp did promise to smite the Ravens if Tom Brady would but bring him a schnauzer smoothie!

My Excuse for Today

I slept in. I slept in because I was worn out after my son and I spent the weekend getting the engine and transmission out of my MGB. While I was ultimately successful, it was a lot harder than it had to be because my auto mechanic skills were so rusty.


The effort was everything I hoped it would be. My son stuck with the project cheerfully and learned that real life isn't as neat and easy as a video game, a book's ending or a homework problem in math where the answers all magically come out to something as simple as x=4.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

An Early Christmas Present from the Redhead

Momma Daisy's redheaded daughter has given us an early Christmas present. In fact, the whole family has been showering us with similar gifts. I just find the redhead's flowers to be particularly unusual and beautiful. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

RedState is Suggesting a Do-Over Debate

...and I love the idea. The full story is here. Here's an excerpt:

Dear Duncan, Fred, John, Mike, Mitt, Ron, Rudy, and Tom:

The CNN-YouTube Debate was a disgrace. The blame lies largely with CNN, which wanted Republican voters to meet their Republican candidates but only on Democrats’ terms. They did so by portraying the GOP as women-arresting, gun toting, confederate flag-waving simpletons.

You – and we - need a do over as soon as possible.
Personally, I'm going to email the Fred08 team and suggest they do this.

A Few Notes About the Iroquois

Following up on my previous post about shocking economic facts here are a few tidbits I've found as I've researched the Iroquois Nation.

  • In the 17th Century, the Iroquois nation numbered about 12,000 people. That's equivalent to 3 brigades of Napoleon's army which numbered around 250,000 in the 1780s before peaking at 1,100,000 at its height.

  • The Iroquois Nation fought with the Huron (another Iroquois tribe).

  • The Iroquois practiced what would be considered slave raids if done by the Europeans.
    League traditions allowed for the dead to be symbolically replaced through the "Mourning War", raids intended to seize captives to replace lost compatriots and take vengeance on non-members. This tradition was common to native people of the northeast and was quite different from European settlers' notions of combat.
  • The Iroquois had no written language. Good luck with scientific discovery under those conditions. Imagine trying to practice the scientific method without writing.

  • The Iroquois' government was based on a fairly sophisticated democratic system. There is some debate about whether or not this influenced the American Constitution and other writings, but there is no debate that the Iroquois were a democracy.

  • They had limited metalworking technology.
    In North America, in the upper Midwest, copper had been beaten into knives, awls, and other tools in the Late Archaic period (around 2000 BC), and since that time it had been used for small tools and ornaments. The use of copper in this region, however, was not true metallurgy, because the metal was hammered from pure deposits rather than smelted from ore.
That's enough for now. I'm not sure where the rest of this will lead, but it's interesting to do a quick and shallow comparison between the Iroquois and the Europeans. Already this is far more comparative information than either of my kids received. The population bit alone is telling.

The Aztecs would be an equally interesting comparative study, although in terms of modern moral sensibilities, they would probably come out as tyrannical beasts. Of course, since my kids' social studies books judge the Europeans of the era using those sensibilities, it only seems fair to sit there with slack-jawed, judgmental horror at the Aztecs.

Update: What I'm thinking I'll look at here is the question, "Could Gregor Mendel have discovered genetics in Iroquois society?" I know it's a strange mix, but it combines several things my daughter is learning and as I research it, I think it provides a revealing thought exercise.

Update 2: Here's the post about Gregor Mendel as an Iroquis.

Shocking Economics

Redstate posted this video and I can't wait to share it with my kids.

This will go a long way towards balancing their social studies education with its endless stream of stories about how Europeans and Americans oppressed everyone.

As I think about it, I'm considering a post or three examining the correlation between oppression and economic success. After all, the Aztecs oppressed the living tar out of everyone around them and then got their butts kicked by a handful of diseased Spaniards. If exploiting others was the reason for the Europeans' success, why didn't it work for the Aztecs, the Azhanti or the Iroquois?