Monday, March 31, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

Theocratic Heroism

...can be found at our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings. Stop by and give the monks some appreciation.

A New Topic Series at the Post

I've posted in the past about my business analysis of single parenting. I've become interested in the sociology of the whole thing and am currently reading two books which contribute different views on the subject. One is Boys Adrift, which is about how more boys are failing to make the jump from adolescence into adulthood in a variety of ways. The other is The Marriage Problem, which is about how and why the breakdown in marriage is affecting our society. There are all kinds of ways these two books, as well as some others I'm going through right now, develop a pretty complete picture of the situation.

As I read and learn, I will share my path of discovery with you.

Yarr! There be a new course to set for blog post topics!

Quiz Question for the Day

OK, all you feline theocraticians and visitors to The Scratching Post, put on your thinking caps, because we've got a trivia question for you. No fair looking it up ahead of time, either. We'll post the answer and an intriguing reason for the result tomorrow.

What state was the first to give women the right to vote?
New York
New Hampshire
Free polls from

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chalk Up Another Win for the Good Guys

From the Long War Journal:
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began.

"Sadr has sent a message to his loyalists urging them to end all armed activities," the Al Iraqiya television channel reported. Sadr "disowned anyone attacking the state institutions or parties' offices and headquarters."
Read the whole thing.

Cheezburger of the Day

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 28 Sunset

Here's last night's sunset, sans music. It had drama, but not much color. I was in too much of a hurry to compensate for the uneven mounting of the camera, so the scene lists a bit to port. It's 30 minutes condensed into 40 seconds. Enjoy!

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming

From this weekend's Wall Street Journal, we have this article suggesting that opposition to Hillary is, in part, a backlash against the gains of feminism.

When Sen. Clinton started her presidential campaign more than a year ago, she said she wanted to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling. But many of her supporters see something troubling in the sometimes bitter resistance to her campaign and the looming possibility of her defeat: a seeming backlash against the opportunities women have gained.

Just as Barack Obama's campaign has been empowering for African-Americans, Sen. Clinton's run has inspired women across the country, drawing millions to the polls and putting her in a neck-and-neck battle for the nomination. She has already gone farther than any woman before her -- a source of great pride for her women supporters.

But her campaign has also prompted slurs and inflammatory language that many women thought had been banished from public discourse. Some women worry that regardless of how the election turns out, the resistance to Sen. Clinton may embolden some men to resist women's efforts to share power with them in business, politics and elsewhere.
This is just a continuance of the identity politics that are wrecking the Democratic party. Meanwhile, men have become a minority at Universities, the institutions which are the feed system for the vast majority of positions of power. You don't need statistical training to see that this kind of gender analysis is no longer valid. And yet it goes on.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On MySpace and Sexual Competition

A year or so ago, my son got a MySpace account. Being a dutiful father, I got one, too, just to see what it was like and to monitor what was going on. What I saw blew me away. A large portion of MySpace is a soft-core porn site. The stuff my son likes are the indie bands' music and videos, but almost universally, the girls' profiles are exercises in soft porn.

I tsk-tsked and tut-tutted and felt the whole country was going down the tubes. How could these girls do this? Then I picked up a copy of Boys Adrift. That book addresses how young men are doing progressively worse in terms of careers, education and marriage. I'll post more on that later, but in a partial nutshell, their time and energy is being spent on video games and porn. Those two industries are designed by sophisticated professionals to take as much time and money from boys as possible.

The porn part opened my eyes to what was going on with the girls on MySpace. It's no longer a case of competing with Judy down the street for a guy's attention, it's a matter of competing with Judy and with terabytes of porn. In order to compete, the girls have to sink lower and lower. In the book, the author quotes one girl he interviewed as saying something to the effect of "If I don't dress like this (she looked like a model out of Maxim) then no one is going to notice me at all."

Putting these two things together, along with the sexual revolution which removed all taboos from recreational sex, it's no wonder there's a marriage problem in the country. However, it's not all bad news.

If you turn the problem on it's head, I would argue that a boy that was reasonably athletic and ambitious and managed to stay out of the clutches of the porn industry would have an enormous competitive advantage in getting the right girl. In essence, most of his competition has taken themselves out of the picture by succumbing to the temptations around them.

That's not a bad lesson to teach your sons.

John McCain's First General Election Ad

Compare this to Hillary's "dodging sniper fire in Bosnia" or Barack's "I can't disown a racist maniac after all I suffered going to Columbia and Harvard."


Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Plan for the Democratic Superdelegates

Since the Democratic primary election will be determined by the superdelegates, what better way to make the choice than to emulate the leadership styles of the two remaining candidates? Following the decisive leadership of Barack Obama who voted "present" 130 times as a state senator in Illinois and the distinctive triangulation style of Hillary Clinton who can claim either side of any issue, the superdelegates should vote "abstain" over and over until the nominee is chosen.

Can't you just hear the report on CNN, some time in mid-September? "And on the 16,412th ballot, the Democrats have yet to select their nominee as all of the superdelegates once more voted to abstain."

Quesadilla Sera

I am eating a quesadilla. Whenever I eat one, I sing this song to the tune of Que Sera Sera.
Quesadilla sera
Whatever has cheese, has cheese
The dairy's not ours to sieze
Quesadilla sera
You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PC Users do Things, Mac Users Play With Things

From Inside Higher Ed:
At Bowdoin College, about half of the computers are Macs, and half are PCs. When Apple released the latest version of OS X in October, professors with Macs immediately swamped the IT department to ask about the long-awaited Leopard. But after Windows Vista, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, came out over a year ago, there were no such requests.
I use a Windows XP machine. It can do everything I want and need to do and much, much more. I recently got a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 3, Master Collection. It is about 1000x more powerful than anything I've used before. It will be quite a while before I have fully explored it.

I don't need Vista. I can't think of anything I want to do that is even remotely difficult on XP. Mac users for years have been saying how great Macs were and how much more they can do than PCs. If that's the case, then why the rush to Leopard? I consider myself to be a pretty sophisticated user and I'm still not topped out on XP and the software I can buy for it.

Could it be that Mac people just like shiny things?

Mac Addicts: Begin flaming me ... wait for it... NOW!

Calling Al Gore!

From Rasmussen:
Twenty-two percent (22%) of Democratic voters nationwide say that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that an identical number—22%--say that Barack Obama should drop out.
I think they should both drop out and make room (lots of room these days) for Al Gore to be coronated in Denver.

The US Needs iPod Independence!

I got this idea from listening to the author of Gusher of Lies on the Dennis Prager show just now. His argument is that the whole energy independence thing is a fraud, a position I totally agree with. (We're also not tungsten independent. Tungsten independence now!) The discussion they had over the US funding of terrorist groups through the importation of oil made me think that we need to be iPod independent now as well. Here's the reasoning.

iPods are manufactured in China. China oppresses its people, engages in industrial and military espionage against us and is in an arms race against us in the Pacific. By buying iPods, we are supporting a nation that is diametrically opposed to us!

iPod independence now!

By buying an iPod, you are oppressing Tibet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Proposed New Phone Message for my Sprint Cell Phone

...would go something like this.
Hi, you've reached my cell phone. Chances are I heard your call, but I figured I didn't have time to grab the phone, race upstairs, hurl my body out the window, climb on to the roof, hoist a large piece of sheet metal over my head and adopt a flamingo stance pointing 38 degrees south southwest just to be able to talk to you. If you'll leave a message, I will return your call as soon as I can reach a land line because my Sprint coverage is so bad that no matter where I call you from (with the exception of the parking lot at the grocery store) it's only even money that our conversation will last more than 30 seconds.
What do you think?

Not Fighting Insomnia

So last night I had one of my worst attacks of insomnia of all time. I don't think I slept more than 2-3 hours. For the first time ever, I decided to roll with it. It was pretty clear that sleep wasn't coming, so I started thinking about all previous struggles. Fighting it didn't seem to make much of a difference. In the end, the next day drags, but life on the whole goes on, almost totally unaffected by one sleepless night. It's just not a big deal.

I spent some time last night watching my Best of Ernie Kovacs videos. Here's a little bit now.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

Barack Obama's non-Contribution to the National Dialog

Jennifer Rubin, writing over at the Commentary site, asks a good question that I haven't heard asked before.
What would it have taken for Obama to leave Wright’s church?
I have a few follow-ups.

To me, the biggest red flag is the belief, shared by something like 30% of all American blacks, that the government developed the AIDS virus to exterminate people of color. If that's not enough to make you get up and leave, what is? What would be the tipping point now that we've established that it wasn't that? There are very few things that can top germ warfare genocide. Writing this post right now, I can't think of any.

My follow up questions are these. If you can't stand up in your pivotal speech on race and say in plain English that whites are not carrying out biological mass murder, how can you expect to begin a conversation on race? Seriously, think about that. What kind of conversation are you going to have with someone who is convinced you are trying to kill each and every member of their race? That's not a difference of opinion or a minor fact that is still in question, it's a complete non-starter for the dialog. You can't go anywhere until that one is put to rest. Nothing else is even remotely significant.

Barack says his grandmother sometimes used racial epithets. His pastor is convinced that government labs created a monstrous virus so that an entire race could be obliterated. Barack tries to make the two equivalent. Words fail me. The juxtaposition of those two statements says all you need to know about the current state of the national conversation on race. Grandma is taken to task for using the N-word while Rev. Wright's AIDS conspiracies aren't even mentioned by name. That's not a conversation, that's one side screaming lunacies while the other side smiles and nods and has another muffin.

That's not a conversation, that's deliberately avoiding the subject.

Bamboo - a Relentless Force of Doom!

Years ago, when I owned a different house than the one I'm living in now, I decided to plant a small stand of bamboo in my front yard. Alerted to the fact that some species of bamboo are "runners" and will send roots and new bamboo children all over the place, I carefully chose a type of bamboo which I was assured was a "clumper" or one that spread slowly.

My bamboo was neither a runner nor a clumper. It was a sprinter. In no time at all there was bamboo coming up all over the place, tens of feet away from the original stand. It was like the plague, spread by forces of evil in the middle of the night. It took forever to rip it all out. When I saw this video on the Wall Street Journal site, all of those memories came back.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you. May you find redemption and renewal in your lives.

We'll be back again on Monday.

Best wishes,
K T Cat and Jacob the Syrian Hamster

An Easter sunrise moonset.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

Rejoice! Christ is Home Eating Peeps for Easter

...and has not, in fact, risen from the grave following His crucifixion. At least for preschoolers. Yes, a certain publisher of preschool materials has decided that Easter is just too graphic for kids.
The people who produce the Sunday School curriculum we use for our 1-5 year olds decided to not give the Easter story on Easter Sunday. Actually, they decided not to give the Easter story at all to this age group. Here is their reason, “because of the graphic nature of the Easter story and the crucifixion specifically, we need to be careful as we choose what we tell our preschoolers about Easter.” Further they say, “We have made this choice because the crucifixion is simply too violent for preschoolers.” They go on to justify their reason for this by suggesting that theories of cognitive development show that preschoolers are concrete thinkers and therefore “are simply unable to truly grasp what it means to die and then be raised again through the power of God.” So on Easter Sunday, the preschoolers at nearly 1400 churches will not hear the Easter story.
I guess Jesus changed his mind and summoned those twelve legions of angels.
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?"

And so the pharisees were blown into tiny bits.

After that, everyone went home and had Peeps.

Everything's groovy!

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Kelly the Little Black Dog, whose tags I shall not avoid, no matter what or puppies will die.

Meme Rules:

1. Tag one to many persons by doing the name game song on their Blogger name (their first name, if they have one).

2. Tell your tagged, name-gamed bloggers that they will have to continue the Name Game meme, or your bread will turn moldy overnight, even if it's in the fridge.

I'm only tagging one victim, Foxfier, to whom I owe a meme reply to as well.

Foxfier, Foxfier, Schnoxfier,
Banana-fana fo-fier

Whew! Now the puppies are safe!

Gratuitous Catblogging

I'm not even posting this on the Friday Ark or the Carnival of the Cats or nothing. I'm just posting a picture of our Maximum Leader because she's a friend.

It's Official, Macs are no Longer Cool

Are you tired of the Mac fanatics in your life spouting endlessly about how Macs are making them richer, happier, smarter, more attractive to the opposite sex and closer to God? I know I am. I'm also sick to death of those Mac-PC ads with the slacker dude making fun of Mr. Businessman.

Have you noticed that most Mac fanatics are liberal? Well we finally have the ultimate weapon in our arsenal to shut them down. Karl Rove. Rove is a Mac fanatic.

Game, set, match.

Now shut up about the Mac already and go read your email and surf the web like the rest of us. :-)

YouTube and Copyright Infringement

OK, so I've played around and used a few minutes of captured videos on my blog. I've uploaded a Gene Kelly scene from An American in Paris and a Kim Jung Il scene from Team America: World Police to YouTube. I've used a Swing Out Sister song on one of my sunset videos. I've had to take them all down. I don't know how many people are out there scouring the Internets Tubes for copyright infringement, but YouTube has its share.

No more of that for me. I don't want any more reminders from them to take this or that video down. I've voluntarily removed everything that could be considered a copyright violation.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Charles Murray Defends Barack Obama

Writing at the National Review Corner, the controversial author of The Bell Curve, Charles Murray had this to say about Barack's speech.
But the problem generalizes to everyone who tries to be honest about race, and now it has happened to Barack Obama. Take, for example, the treatment of his reference to his white grandmother. Of course you can go after him in all the ways that people have gone after him—if what you want to do is go after him. But suppose you approach Obama’s text under the twin assumptions that (a) he is trying to communicate with you, and, (b) your obligation is to make a good-faith effort to understand his meaning. I read what he said about his grandmother, and his words left me in no doubt about two things: He really loves his grandmother, and he was saying something important about race that I recognized from my own experience. I bet many of the people who have slammed him recognize it from their own experience too. The guy was being honest, and he was being right. What the hell more do you want?
There's more at the link given above.

Charles Murray has been accused of being a racist as much as anyone on Earth, David Duke included. After reading his take on the speech, I am duly chastised for my interpretations of it. I should have been much more forgiving if for no other reason than Barack was being honest. I still don't like the speech, but Barack deserves a lot of credit for his candor and I gave him none.

The Perfect Family Station Wagon a Lamborghini.

Are the kiddies late for choir practice? No problems. This baby will get you to the church on time!

Addendum: A friend emailed me this tidbit.
You're missing the best part. Pretty much got to figure that the engine is between the two (rather narrow) back seats. So the kids have to reach over the engine doghouse to bother each other. And they probably can't hear each other either. That helps eliminate fighting in the back seat. So you get a great ride, and the kids are trapped in solitary confinement. Gotta love that.

Go Away

...for a while and let me sleep," says our Maximum Leader. "It's 9AM, for heaven's sake. This is not a decent hour for being awake."

Irresistable Force, Meet Immovable Object

Barack Obama:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Geraldine Ferraro:
Obama sought to place the inflammatory remarks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a broader context, in part by placing them on a continuum with Ferraro's recent remark to the Daily Breeze that Obama is "lucky" to be black.

"To equate what I said with what this racist bigot has said from the pulpit is unbelievable," Ferraro said today. "He gave a very good speech on race relations, but he did not address the fact that this man is up there spewing hatred."
Ferraro also said she could not understand why Obama had called out his own white grandmother for using racial stereotypes that had made him cringe.

"I could not believe that," she said. "That's my mother's generation."
Susan Estrich:
I’ve been accused of being a racist more times during this campaign than in all the rest of my political life, combined. I wrote a book supporting Hillary Clinton for President long before Obama got in the race, and count the Clintons as longtime friends.

I have tried, not always perfectly I am sure, to be fair and respectful towards Barack Obama. I have tried to keep my focus on issues and qualifications. You can say I’m wrong – I’m certainly used to saying that - but racist?
Identity politics at it's best. It's sort of like watching the Serbs, Croats and Muslims work things out in their own, peaceful way.

A map of the modern Democratic Party.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sleeping In

...leads to re-posts of images from someone else's site. Some place like Wanna Smile?

Yep, it's another Zen Moment of the Day.

More blogging later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blame in the Housing Crisis Knows no Party

Yesterday's Wal Street Journal has a great article on just how the housing credit crisis was accelerated by willing politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The Bush administration coupled cheerleading for homeownership with pressure on government-sponsored mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide funding for riskier mortgages. Both Democrats and Republicans stood by as Fannie and Freddie invested heavily in securities backed by subprime loans. Democratic congressmen pushed a federal law to restrain lending practices later discredited, but Republicans with some Democratic allies blocked or countered with weaker versions.

And at the Federal Reserve, Chairman Alan Greenspan, revered by both parties for his economic management, resisted using the Fed's authority to more aggressively regulate lender behavior.

The blame spreads beyond Washington, to state capitals. In California, home to most of the country's subprime lenders, Democratic state lawmakers didn't support laws that would have imposed tougher regulations on a prized local industry. Politicians of all stripes cheered on the lower interest rates that sparked the boom in housing and excesses in credit.
Live below your means, save money and stay out of debt as much as possible. That's the path to financial success.

Oh what am I saying? To heck with that! Dig this totally way cool ski boat we could buy on credit right now!

Party on, dudes!

Cheezburger of the Day

Turn in Child Porn User and Lose Your Job

...thanks to the American Library Association. Dig this:

The American Library Association does not teach librarians to report child pornography to the police. Instead, the association has vigorously opposed all congressional efforts to restrict pornography, obscenity and child pornography for more than a decade.
Hooray for the American Library Association!

H/T: Roman Catholic Blog and our Court Jester.

Some Excellent Analyses of the Obama Speech on Rev. Wright

I've been scouring the Internets Tubes, looking for a better rationale for my dislike of Obama's speech yesterday and I've come across a few that I thought I would share. Before I do that, though, let me put words to my thoughts as succinctly as possible.

Trent Lott watched a lifetime of public service go up in smoke after saying kind things about his friend, Strom Thurmond, who, decades previously, had been a staunch segregationist. Barack Obama spent the last 20 years in the pews of Rev. Wright's church, donated over $20,000 to him in 2006, listened to the man scream racist insanity, made a speech suggesting that it's all OK and now wants us to elect him president.

Trent Lott was punished for his actions in the most draconian way. Barack Obama should be rewarded with the highest office in the land. There's no combination of phonemes on the planet that can reconcile that dichotomy.

Anyway, on with the summary. As usual, Dick Morris has the most pragmatic analysis.
Wright's rantings are not reflective of Obama's views on anything. Why did he stay in the church? Because he's a black Chicago politician who comes from a mixed marriage and went to Columbia and Harvard. Suspected of not being black enough or sufficiently tied to the minority community, he needed the networking opportunities Wright afforded him in his church to get elected.
Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson elegantly eviscerates the speech.
The Obama apologia was a “conversation” about moral equivalence. So the Wright hatred must be contextualized and understood in several ways that only the unusually gifted Obama can instruct us about:...

2) We are all at times racists and the uniquely qualified Obama is our valuable mirror of that ugliness: Wright may say things like “God damn America” or “Dirty Word” Israel or “Clarence Colon,” but then it must be balanced by other truths like Obama’s own grandmother who also expresses fear of black males (his grandmother’s private angst is thus of the same magnitude as Wright’s outbursts broadcast to tens of thousands)...

The message? Some of us are never quite responsible for what we say. And Obama has no responsibility to explain the inexplicable of how he closely tied himself to someone of such repugnant and racist views.
This was the analysis closest to my own. The moral relativism that I find to be one of the greatest problems with the modern Democratic party was on full display here. Equating his grandmother's private racial epithets with a lunatic who sells videotapes of his incendiary sermons to all and sundry is symptomatic of a group who has lost the capacity for reasonable judgment. To Barack and his followers, then, a speck of evil is equal to a mountain of it. If you carry this logic to its end, Barack is placing himself above both of them, since it is only the pure who can pass judgment on anyone. As I listened to the speech, the arrogance and pride oozed out at me as Obama analyzed his pastor as you would a house pet.

Over at Michelle Malkin's joint, Allahpundit provides one of the most brutal analyses of all.
If the last 20 years count for anything, the best estimates of his “fundamental beliefs” are that the United States is a racist hegemon begging to have jets flown into office towers to teach it a thing or two about imperialism. He’s a gutless, opportunistic coward who was afraid to say an unkind word to one of the power brokers in the black community on whom he counted for votes as an Illinois politician, and now that he’s a national figure he’s throwing the same guy under the bus to preserve the illusion that he’s a “post-racial” politician. And you’re sitting there cheering him on because you don’t care what sort of idiocy or anti-American vitriol you have to swallow to put a Democrat back into the White House. Does that about sum it up? Have I missed any “nuance” in the “U.S. government created the AIDS virus” rant that Obama never, ever heard anything about and that you’re now willing to wave away?
That just about does it. There were lots more, of course, but those seem to sum my thoughts up pretty well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Opening up the Back Door as Wide as I Can

I just installed a new wireless router at home. Before, my network was purely wired. I was able to get the new router configured to work with my wired PCs, but when I tried to use WEP encryption on the wireless side, the stupid thing wouldn't give my laptop an IP address. Argh!

I kept trying to repair the connection, but I finally gave up and went completely without security. My son needs the big PC for homework, so I can't go and try different settings. For the next few hours, the backdoor to our home network will be wide open. Come on by and grab an IP address. They're free to all!

Update: Ha! You waited too long. The door is shut - the encryption is turned on. No more free IPs for you. From now on I shall charge $801.11 per IP address.

2000 Hours about how much labor you lose by being a single parent over the course of a year. That is, a spouse contributes about 2000 hours of work / recreation to the family.

This morning I made sure to help my daughter correct her homework from last night. She's really starting to do well in school and the time we spend together is crucial to her success. She's just too tired by the time she's finished doing her homework at night for me to go back and help her correct her mistakes, so we do it together in the morning before school.

This morning as I drove in to work, I checked my PDA. It told me I had an 8 AM meeting. It was already 8:15. I cursed, but had to accept the trade off of helping my daughter in exchange for missing an important meeting. It's all a part of those 2000 hours.

Obama's Speech

I've only heard bits and pieces of it and read some reactions to it and I don't like it. I wasn't going to like it no matter what and it has very little to do with Obama himself.

Don Imus lost a multimillion dollar gig for exactly the kind of throwaway snark he was hired to do. He had to grovel like a whipped dog in front of the PC enforcers and the perpetually insulted crowd. In the end he was fired.

Obama goes to a church for 20 years where Imus' remarks would have been unnoticed amidst the eruptions of paranoid, racist rhetoric and all he has to do is give one cute speech and everyone is swooning over him again.

Like I said, I wasn't going to be convinced no matter what.

As for the content of the speech itself, I thought it was amazing how he threw Rev. Wright under the bus with such skill. Rev. Wright was described the way you would describe a wayward child. "I know he's a holy terror in the neighborhood, but I still love him." Rev. Wright wasn't treated like a man at all. Obama never seemed to demand any kind of apologies from him or insist that he reform. Instead, it was a pat on the head and a little swat on the butt and off he scampers to rage and scream some more. Meanwhile, Obama plays the role of the loving, but omniscient parent. I found it all a little creepy.

Update: I think that's the problem I have with this whole affair. Don Imus is treated like a man and demands are made upon him to apologize and make reparations. No such demands are made on Rev. Wright. Is demanding accountability from one, but not from the other fundamentally racist itself?

They Must be Learning in Their Sleep

My son is a sophomore in high school. My daughter is in fifth grade. Almost every day after school I've asked them, "So what did you learn in school today?" I've gotten the same answer every time. "Nothing."

Somehow they've managed to progress in all of their subjects. I've read their textbooks and I can see the difference between kindergarten and fifth or tenth grade.

So just where were they doing their learning? My guess is that all those video games they play are more educational than we think.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Case You Missed Palm Sunday's your chance to participate.

If that's not sufficient to overcome your guilt for having missed Mass, try this.

Beach Sunset

This was the view we saw as we drove back from Paso Robles last night. This shot was taken at the rest stop just north of Oceanside. It's quite clickable.

Debt is Dumb Dave Ramsey tells us so often.

The dollar continues to slide against all currencies. Maybe that's because we have about $9B ($9,000,000,000,000) in debt. Meanwhile, the porkers in the government continue to spend.
As Sen. John McCain said, things have gotten so bad in Congress that the porkaholics won’t even vote for a mere one-year pause. He was referring to the 71-29 vote against the DeMint-McCaskill budget amendment requiring a one-year moratorium on earmarks, which have been described by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., as the “gateway drug to federal spending addiction.”...From a partisan perspective, the Democrats oinked the loudest: 45 of 51 in the Senate voted against DeMint-McCaskill, while 26 of 49 Republicans cast nay votes.
For all the vitriol I hurl at the profligate Republicans, it's no secret that the Democrats are worse. Meanwhile, John McCain, the candidate shredded by the "true conservatives" in the right wing talk show world is one of the few try to stem the tide.

Over in the stock market, Bear Sterns is selling itself for 2% of it's recent stock price because it was devoured in the recent wild home loan borrowing spree. I guess loaning money to people who can't pay you back is a bad idea. Who knew?

I know this is a radical idea, but how about if we work hard, save our money and live beneath our means? We might want to try that some time.

Nahhhhhh. I think I'll go watch some MTV on the big screen TV I bought on credit last week....

Update: Our Apian Apostle has a great post on our future financial obligations. Wow.

California Central Coast

I got back late last night from a trip up to Paso Robles to do some wine tasting and take in the scenery. I had been up that way before, but never with the eye that I had this time, wondering what it would be like to live up there, perhaps after retirement. This is what I saw.

I had to crop the sky and ocean out of this picture because its gray haze saturated the image, but the view over the top of these hills is the Pacific Ocean. Paso Robles and the surrounding areas were spectacularly beautiful. Houses and land there are far less expensive than San Diego and there's plenty of room for a barn in which you can restore cars and do all manner of other interesting things.

I came away deeply impressed by the place. If you moved there after living in San Diego for a few decades, you'd definitely face some culture shock as the living is far more rural. The weather is colder and there was ice on the ground in some places left over from hail the night before. The coast was beautiful and unspoiled. That in itself was very unlike San Diego where you have to time your beach visits against the grain of the majority of the population unless you want to face massive crowds.

Amtrak has decent service between San Diego and Paso Robles, so coming back to San Diego to visit people would not be such a chore. The Pacific Surfliner is a very pleasant way to get up and down the coast so long as you don't have a tight schedule to meet.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sculpterra Wine

I'm up here in the California Central Coast doing some wine tasintg this weekend. I stopped by a winery called Sculpterra. The wine wasn't my personal favorite, but the sculptures in the garden out front were pretty wild. The image is quite worth the click - I like the way the fish stood out against the sky.

I've got others to share, but they'll have to wait for me to get home to post.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

Barack Obama Leads Us Slouching Towards Europe

Just a brief continuation on the Obama - Rev. Wright issue. Some people have defended Rev. Wright's sermons by saying, "that's just the rhetoric you hear in black churches." Well, that's what they're saying all across Europe as sharia is instituted in majority Muslim communities. "That's just the way they are so we have to live with it." Heinous acts such as honor killings of women are ignored as the majority of the population has lost all confidence in their way of life.

Either you have a culture worth defending or you don't. If Don Imus can lose his job over a throwaway snark, but Obama isn't taken out to the woodshed for 20 years of patronizing a racist lunatic, then you've surrendered in the culture war. If they have more confidence in their culture than you do, then yours is already gone.

No, it's not OK to scream "God damn America" and hurl venomous racial accusations from the pulpit. It just isn't. No excuses, no parsing, no understanding, no exceptions. If my priest said that in the church basement to the inner circle of the Knights of Columbus, I'd never go to that church again and I'd tell everyone I knew. Rev. Wright isn't mumbling this to his closest friends, he's selling videos of his crazed sermons on the Internet.

If the cultural rules apply to me, then they apply to you, too. Rev. Wright has the freedom to say these kinds of things, but his followers need to pay a very, very steep price for it.

Update: Over at Just One Minute, they're suggesting that Claude Rains should go close Rev. Wright's church. Hilarious! The rest of the Just One Minute post is a must read.

Barack Obama on Rev. Wright's church: "Close it down? But everyone's having such a good time!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama's Excuse Doesn't Fly

Senator Obama has finally come out with a statement about Rev. Wright's insane and venomous sermons.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
Give me a break. Like if John McCain had attended a white supremacist church for 20 years he'd be able to get away with this one. Right.

The truth of the matter is Barack had choices and he chose to keep his family at Rev. Wright's church for 20 years. I've left churches for far less. The rest of the defense is just as bad. Apparently, churches that claim that Americal created AIDS and call the US the greatest murderer in the world are a "pillar of the community." Right. And dingbat preachers who claim that Jesus was black are "respected biblical scholars." Please.

Obama has forgotten the first rule of holes which is this: When you're in a hole, stop digging. Barack goes on to claim that he never heard Rev. Wright say any of these things in person. That's probably a mistake right there since his church has videos of these sermons for sale and it won't take much for someone to place Barack at the church at the time of one of these rants.

His next press conference ought to be a great one. If he could only handle eight Rezko questions, how is he going to do with an hour or so of Rezko plus Wright?

Girls Gone Wild

...or is that Momma's Gone Wild? Momma Daisy, that is. She's got more than 10 flowers going right now. I got some good photos of her strutting her stuff. Both are quite clickable. Enjoy!

The Oil Pump is In

...and it's new and shiny. My little MGB is getting ever closer to running!

Why the Obama - Rev. Wright Connection Matters

I am Catholic and I go to church. I do not belong to my nearest Catholic parish. I belong to one about five miles away because I like the priest. I feel the local one gives sermons that are too intellectual, particularly for my children. I have chosen my parish consciously and in the past I have stopped going to others because I just didn't connect with the priest.

Senator Obama went to Rev. Wright's church for 20 years. Rev. Wright married him, baptized his children and has been a spiritual mentor for him. Rev. Wright is also a raging, racist loon.
In a sermon delivered at Howard University, Barack Obama's longtime minister, friend and adviser blamed America for starting the AIDS virus, training professional killers, importing drugs and creating a racist society that would never elect a black candidate president.
Senator Obama is finally being questioned on this topic and his answers are what they would have to be - evasive and shallow.

No one would go to a church for 20 years led by a pastor who is as completely deranged as Rev. Wright unless they agreed with him. There's no reason to sit in the pews week after week listening to some madman scream about damning America if you didn't want to hear it. Churches are plentiful - in an economic sense, the Christian religion is a nearly perfect free market.

What you're seeing is the mask slipping off of Barack Obama. Whether it's his opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act which was supported by such staunch liberals as Barbara Boxer or his opposition to the bipartisan compromises engineered by John McCain, Barack Obama has consistently been a far left extremist. His claims of being a healer of our divisions are based on nothing at all.

The recent publicity given to his pastor of 20 years is crucial because it shows us just who Barack Obama is and there's nothing he can say to contradict it. That's why this whole controversy matters.

Update: In a comment thread somewhere it was noted that the wife typically picks the family's church. That seems to be a decent generalization and the coincidences here are too great to be ignored. Rev. Wright's sermons would certainly lead a believer to say that Barack's presidential campaign was the first time they've been proud of America as Michele Obama said recently. If that's the case, then there must be significant tension building up between the true believer Michele and the straddling politician Barack.

Update 2: There's another aspect to this that isn't getting any attention as far as I can see. What kind of people go to this church? Wouldn't you expect racist, hateful people to be attending these services? Unless Barack has been getting in and out of the church as fast as possible for the last twenty years, unless he's just been going to this church to "check off the box" every Sunday, if you will, he's been voluntarily socializing with this kind of person for two decades. It's not the pastor that's the biggest problem, it's the entire environment of the church.

That leads to the issue of Sunday School for his kids. Were his children going to Sunday School here? If so, he can no longer distance himself from Rev. Wright's lunacy. How can you distance yourself from the church that you rely on to give your children moral teaching? It just doesn't make any sense at all to claim that Barack disagreed with some of the sermons, but kept going anyway. Rev. Wright is clearly a toxic nut. You wouldn't put your children anywhere near him unless you didn't mind what he was saying.

A Few Links for the Morning

For those of you who are dog lovers, have you visited I Has A Hotdog yet? It's the canine version of I Can Has Cheezburger?

Last week's Friday Ark can be found here. Among many good posts was this one over at the Daily Kos. Yes, you heard me right, the Daily Kos. They have a weekly series on Marine Life that is really quite good. This one is all about hermit crabs. Check it ouy.

Last week's Carnival of the Cats was hosted by Artsy-Catsy. From a link therein we discover whether or not cats are ticklish. Dolphin's Dock has a very funny Feline Friday post as well.

That's enough links for now. So many great blogs, so little time...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Photographing Tuxedo Cats

I got this shot of our Maximum Leader about a week ago as I took a bunch of macro pictures at very close range. Out of 15 or so photos, this was the only one that came out well.

Her fur has such enormous contrast that the camera doesn't know how to adjust it's lighting levels. If it focuses on the black, her white fur becomes saturated in the image. If it focuses on the white, the black fur comes out as indistinct blackness. I really need to learn how to use the manual settings on the camera if I want to do these kinds of close ups.

Cheezburger of the Day

Six More Weeks of This

I can't wait. Here's Barack's pastor weighing in on the election.

Note to this nitwit: Asians are now the highest earning racial group in the country. He needs to change his rhetoric to talk about the country being controlled by rich, Asian people. Doesn't that sound great?

You know, this kind of internecine warfare couldn't happen to a better group of people. For years, they've used these weapons against the rest of us and now they're using them on each other. If you get the sodas, I'll make the popcorn. This is getting fun.

Update: Jesus was black?!?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In the end, we did a lot of Good

A friend emailed me a link to a short article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune where a returning National Guardsman talks about his service in Iraq.
It was very rewarding for me. We spent a lot of money to good effect. We built schools. We built roads. We built water treatment plants. We helped some people with vehicles to get their crops to where they needed to go.

I feel really good about what we are able to accomplish in our little area.
Read the whole thing.

Nordstroms Recalling Chinese Jackets

The highest quality retailer in the US is being bitten by the lowest quality manufacturer in the world. Nordstroms sold children's jackets made in China that turned out to contain choking hazards.

I heard this on the radio on my way home from work yesterday and I practically crashed the car in amazement. The story on the news didn't indicate just why the jackets were being recalled and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out just what could possibly go wrong with a jacket that would make it subject for a recall. Did the thing spontaneously combust? Did it have a rope around the collar that gradually choked you? It boggled the mind. You can find the full story at the link above. Here's a picture of the deadly jacket.

This jacket contains unsafe amounts of industrial solvents and will explode in temperatures above 78F as well as attract swarms of poisonous, flying insects.

Pacific Sunset

This was the sunset from a few nights ago. Both are quite clickable.

World of Good, Tijuana Style

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings posted a great story a while back about how B-Daddy went with a group from hs church to build homes for the poor in Tijuana. Good on ya, B-Daddy!

Michele Obama for President!

So I have to admit that I'm confused. Just which hypersensitive, perpetualy aggrieved team are we supposed to be rooting for? Is it the team of Orlando Patterson who saw racism in Hillary's 3 A.M. ad against Barack Obama? Or is it the team of Geraldine Ferraro who is sick of the whole racism schtick and wants everyone to concentrate on the real problem, which is just how lousy it is to be a woman?

Can't we all just get along?

I suggest we nominate Michele Obama for president. That way we'll have someone who can find racism under every rock and shrub during those times she's not berating her husband in front of thousands of people for being such a dingledork.

Michele Obama: Everyone agrees, it sucks to be me!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

By way of Explanation

The posting on this blog has become very sparse in recent days. That's not due to my lack of enthusiasm, but my lack of time. I'm getting my house ready for sale, rebuilding my MGB, my daughter's soccer playoffs were this weekend and I've been helping my son with his amateur film making. At the same time, major (and wonderful!) developments in my life and career are under way.

In short, it's one of those times in life when independent events coincide and you're forced to jump in the hamster wheel and run as fast as you can.

Regular blogging will resume shortly.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This is Humiliating

I'm a Google Disappointment

I'm getting plenty of hits from people Googling "Aftermath: Population Zero" and things like that on that tiny post I put up just to guide all y'all to the cool website for that show. I'm wasting all of the Googlers' time. If economic output declines this month, blame me.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Our Weekend

...was pretty much like this.

Wild, busy and fun. All of us here at the 'Post hope yours was just as enjoyable.

Fighting with Blogger

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm really wrestling with Blogger today. I've got some good sunset photos I've been trying to upload with no success. It looks like it was down for a while yesterday, too.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Is it Racism and Sexism, or is it just Rooting for the Home Team?

Our Cantor of Chemistry has posted his disappointment in the demographics of the recent primary voting on the Democratic side. Blacks voted for blacks and women voted for women and so on.

How do you know the voters were voting against the other candidate and not for their own? Maybe this is just rooting for the home team. Think about this one. Blacks have had the vote for over a century and they have voted for whites almost all the time. Women have similarly voted for men. This time they've got someone they share a bond with runnning in the election. Why wouldn't they vote for them, particularly when the candidates' positions are nearly identical?

All other things being equal, I have to admit I would vote for a Catholic over a non-Catholic. Does that make me a Papist bigot?

Thank Goodness for Counting Cats

The folks over at samizdata posted this video on their blog. It shows a Dutch Apache helicopter taking out some Taliban thugs.

On that thread, commenter Counting Cats had this to say:
I am sorry, killing people may be an existential necessity, but watching it as entertainment is barbaric.

How is this any different to the snuff flick of Daniel Pearl?
Counting Cats (CC) was taken to task by several other commenters for being too squeamish and perhaps even morally neutral about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys here. While I don't share CC's reaction to the video, I rejoice in his (her?) existence. What kind of a world would it be if people like CC didn't exist or if they had to hide their views? Who knows, we might all be living in something akin to Somalia.

This is what can happen when the rough men with guns totally dominate a nation.

CC's civilized response is precisely why our military is a force for good in the world.

Ingraham Bridge Sunset

We've been having lots of good sunsets lately. I took these photos two days ago and I like them more than my previous Ingraham Bridge sunsets.

This one looks like the sky is in flames over the Pacific.

I love the drama of this shot. Click on it for a much better version, it's worth it.

I took some video of last night's sunset and used the manual settings for exposure and focus. The results were dreadful. The thing did not focus on infinity and I could not really tell from the video window the camera provided. I set the exposure as the sun was going down so that the camera would not be saturated. After the sun went down, all you could see was black. The majesty of the sky in all it's purples and oranges was totally lost. Clearly, I need to keep working on this.

Update: The marvellous Cascade Exposures blog has more sunsets for you to enjoy.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hillary Smells Blood in the Water

This is the most natural I've seen Hillary look this entire campaign. Disemboweling people becomes her.

The Pistons Are In

My son and I just installed the pistons on our little MGB's motor. They're not quite finished as I need to tighten the nuts on their connecting halves to 25 ft-lbs and the nuts are these strange, octagonal things. I can get them to about 14 ft-lbs before the socket starts to slip. I'll be doing some research on this tonight and will attack it tomorrow.

My gaskets won't be in until Monday, which means I won't be continuing until next Friday. Even so, the crankshaft and the pistons are the hardest parts. The rest should be smooth sailing.

Mechanic Cat

...helps out in the garage.

Yesterday's fun and games with the MGB went a lot smoother, but I still had to stop before I wanted to. I had the pistons ready to insert into the block and I couldn't find my ring compressor. Two moves have taken their toll on my tools. I have no idea where the thing is any more. It was late and the car parts stores were closed, so I decided to install the oil pump instead. That's when I opened all my boxes from Moss Motors and found that my gasket sets were back ordered.


Having said that, I've got the crankshaft installed and it turns very smoothly now. The only delicate thing left to do is the pistons and I've learned from my last engine rebuild how to be careful with those. If I had the parts I needed, I'd be on my way. Oh well. They'll come in their own good time.

Update: Whoa, Nellie! Moss Motors just told me that my gasket sets on back order wouldn't be here until the end of March or even later. I had chosen the high quality brand. I told them to send me the regular gasket set instead and will get those on Monday. I wish I'd called earlier!

Michelle Obama: Men Stink

Jim Geraghty, writing at the National Review, highlights some passages from a Michelle Obama speech to a Women for Obama luncheon. It's saturated with modern, politically correct, anti-male complaining.
I wake up every morning wondering how on earth I am going to pull off that next minor miracle to get through the day...That is the dilemma women face today. Every woman that I struggling to keep her head above water...More often than not, we as women, are the primary caretakers in our households, scheduling babysitters, planning play dates, keeping up with regular doctor’s appointments; this was my week last week, supervising homework, handing our discipline. Usually we are the ones in charge of keeping the household together.
God only knows what the men are doing all this time. Whatever it is, it's only barely adequate.
I know you men, I know that you guys try to do your part, but the reality is that we’re doing it, right? (laughter and applause) Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, home repairs.
Barack is doing something or other, but it's pretty much negligible and she's really doing all the work. She's probably happy is Barack remembers to take his muddy shoes off when he walks in the door. Poor thing. It's not like she expects anything else out of him. After all, he's a man. More humiliating stories about Barack follow.
And, for those of us who work outside of the home as well, we have the additional challenge of coordinating these things with our job responsibilities. How many of us have had to be the ones, when a child gets sick, who is the one who stays home? Or, when a toilet overflows? This was a couple of months ago. I was scrambling around to reschedule being at a 9 o’clock meeting and Barack, love him to death, put on his clothes and he left!
Just so you know, if my wife or girlfriend ever gets up and tells stories like this in front of crowds, we're going to have a long talk and she's not going to like it.

There's more, but I just don't feel like reading or quoting it. It's tiresome. Ms. Obama with her law degree, mansion, high-profile job and enormous piles of cash keeps carping about how her life is so lousy and men don't carry their weight. My response is pretty simple.

Michelle, just shove it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fritz is a Fatty

Once they overran French lines and wore the laurels of victory. Now they overrun buffet lines and wear suspenders to keep their pants from falling down around their ankles. The mighty Wehrmacht is now made up of fat tubs of lard.
German soldiers are too fat, don't take enough exercise and smoke too much, according to an annual parliamentary report on the state of the country's armed services.

The report, due to be presented later on Tuesday, said that 40 percent of all army personnel are overweight, compared with 35 percent among civilians.

Some 8.5 percent of soldiers were even grossly overweight, the report said.
This is not an image we'll be seeing again soon unless those machine guns are replaced by buckets of KFC.

They're even fatter than the German civilians? That's pretty sad. No wonder we don't get much help from them when there's trouble around the world. The Luftwaffe probably lacks adequate heavy lift cargo aircraft.

Five Totally Cool Web Apps

This is a repost of a link from the Puppy Blender, but I had to do it because his posts scroll past too fast as he updates constantly throughout the day and I wanted to keep this one around for my own evil purposes.

With that unnecessarily long introduction, check this out.

Aftermath: Population Zero

I don't get the National Geographic Channel, so I won't be able to watch their special this weekend about a post-human world. Their site, however, is way cool.

It's All a Game to the Politicians

The more I think about the tortured primary process on the Democratic side and the gerrymandering of districts done by both parties to make sure that incumbent congresscreatures have safe seats, the more I come to the conclusion that it's all a game. In a previous post I suggested that Markos Moulitsas and Rush Limbaugh be incarcerated during the election because of their attempts to game the system, but I don't think that's the problem any more.

The problem is the amount of power and money given to the government.

First off, why would you give any more money than absolutely necessary to the dingbats who thought that this was a reasonable congressional district?

A single congressional district in Texas. Image from

Why hand over any more control over the economy to people who can't even come close to balancing a budget? Would you give control of your investments to the most profligate member of your family?

How about giving control of our health care system to the people who created the tax code? Have you seen this year's various income tax schedules? Are they the way you would have designed them? Taxes are just how you pay for the services your government provides. Is this the way you pay your electric bill? Why do you expect clarity from your utility company, but not from the government? And why do you want to give them still more power over your life?

Dean from our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings was right in his comments on this blog. You can't blame Rush and Markos for trying to game the system. The whole thing is a game to the politicians. The logical extension of this thought is this:

Why on Earth would you let these people game any more of your life than you had to?

Update: Our Cantor of Chemistry has a very reasonable approach to the primaries. Ha! Let's just see that get enacted.

Update 2: Froma Harrop, writing for the Providence Journal, points out obvious problems with caucuses.

We can thank the Texas Two-Step for clearly showing how the caucus method of allotting delegates is cracked. The caucuses favored one candidate (Obama) mere moments after the wider electorate chose the other (Clinton).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Step Sideways on the MGB Today


This morning as I was tightening down the caps on the crankshaft, I noticed that it was binding up. It took about 3 hours to figure out that I had unwittingly allowed the two top thrust washers on the middle cap to get jammed and as I tightened down the bolts. In doing so, I bent them and bound up the crankshaft. A local British car repair place found the problem and I'll be getting replacement thrust washers tomorrow, but a whole morning was wasted. With my free time in the afternoon, I took care of chores I would have needed to do this weekend, hopefully freeing up some of the time I need to finish this project. Luckily, I didn't damage the crankshaft and in talking to the folks at the British car place I picked up some more tips.

Everything should go smoothly tomorrow, right?

Update: As I recall, the last time I did this, I managed to screw up one step farther along. The next thing to do after the crankshaft is secured is to install the pistons. When I installed the pistons last time, I managed to drop one too hard onto the crankshaft and scratch it. I had to pull the whole darn thing apart and get the crankshaft machined again. I don't think I'll be making that mistake again.

Will We Finally Get Some Sane Primary Rules Now?

Between the childish antics on the Democratic side, discounting the Michigan and Florida votes, Rush Limbaugh's dimwitted urging Republicans to pollute the Democratic primaries yesterday, the chaos over the superdelegates and the rest of the nonsense we've seen this year, do you suppose we'll finally get a set of sane primary rules?

How about each person votes in their party's primary and the votes get counted with no superdelegates thrown in? Is that too much to ask? Why is this so hard?

It looks like the Democrats are going to go all the way to their convention fighting it out. Rush has provided them the perfect scapegoat if Obama doesn't get the nomination by flapping his fat gums and telling his listeners to crossover and vote for Hillary. Kos did that, too, by urging Michigan Democrats to vote for Mitt Romney. Can we please put a stop to that?

How about if we lock up Rush Limbaugh and Markos Moulitsas for the entire political season? If we put them in the same cell, it would provide the entertainment lost as we enacted some straightforward primary rules. While all of this is great political theater, it's hardly good democracy.

Carnival Round Up

If you haven't stopped by the Friday Ark, Carnival of the Cats or Carnival of Family Life this week, click on over and see what's shaking.

Ths week's Friday Ark links to a post on Hidden Creatures over at Pet Monologues. Can you find all four? I had problems with the second one, but I finally found it. I think.

The Carnival of the Cats has lots of great posts, including this one featuring Parker posing in ways that simply demand skritches. I love the expression on his face.

The Carnival of Family Life is a long one with many terrific contributions. My favorite was this one from The Human Imprint about working from home.

So many blogs, so little time! I'll post another carnival round up next week.

Thanks, Gary

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons back in 1976. Thanks to Gary Gygax's orignal three rule books, my friends and I had a game system that allowed us ultimate creativity and socialization and thousands of hours of fun and memories. I haven't played in at least ten years, but the memories still make me smile.

Gary Gygax Memorial Cat
Thanks, Gary.

One of my old gaming companions and best friends for nearly 30 years has posted a bit more. Our young Precentor of Measurements weighs in as well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Progress on the MGB

Much of the last two days has been spent getting ready to assemble the engine. Today I used a sandblaster for the first time as I cleaned the corrosion off of various engine parts. That was loads of fun!

Today I finally got the engine mounted on the engine stand and began the reassembly process.

The empty engine block mounted on the engine stand.

I just finished installing the crankshaft which went in pretty smoothly. Here's what it looks like now.

I've got to run off to soccer practice now, but tomorrow I should make big progress as I won't have to leave to run errands and pick up parts.

I hope. :-)

The Road to Soccer Success

Yesterday my daughter tried out for a soccer club. As I sat there and watched, I could hardly believe my eyes. Last summer, when she was starting her most recent rec league team, she had no idea what position was what or where to play, she spaced out during the games, she was afraid of the ball and she only wanted to go to practice so she could hang out with her friends. Now she's trying to join a soccer club and has worked hard to get there.

Our Maximum Leader has played a role in this, too, by drawing attention to soccer ball-emblazoned bedspreads.

I had a small hand in all of this. I kept trying to get her to go down to the park with me and practice, but she would frequently be distracted by the dogs that were brought to the park. Something finally clicked about halfway through her rec league season and she became the perfect little defensegirl goon. She was hip checking other players, shoving the forwards off the ball, and finally understanding her job as a defender.

From there we went on to practicing as often as possible at a local outdoor handball court. Kicking the ball against the walls of the handball court made for fun games, a much faster paced practice and about ten times as many touches of the ball as playing out on a grass field. Her skills improved dramatically. Finally, I hired a varsity soccer player from a nearby Catholic girls' high school to give her private lessons. That's one of the best decisions yet. The tutor is a wonderful girl and my daughter absolutely adores her. She's been a great teacher and has encouraged my daughter and even come to some of her games to watch.

About 5 months ago my daughter was utterly lost on the soccer field. Yesterday she went out for a club soccer team. After the try outs she told me how much fun it was and how she really wanted to be a part of the club.

I love it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Experience Matters

...especially when it comes to talking on the Telephone Tubes.

And yes, that is a photoshop. Here's the original.

Abandoned, Frozen Ships

English Russia has an incredible photo essay about Russian ships that have been frozen in icy waters and abandoned. I've always loved pictures of derelicts and these did not disappoint. Here's one, borrowed for now without permission.

I Can't Wait to Leave Sprint

My Sprint cell service is terrible. I've got about a 60% call drop rate. I can't get reception at my house in suburban San Diego and I can barely get it at work. It drops all the time as I drive around. I've learned the few places around me where the signal stays strong long enough to communicate and I sometimes have to park there to finish phone calls. The instant my agreement is up, I'm sprinting away from Sprint. I'm thinking of moving to Verizon and getting an Envy.

Mmmmmm. Envy.


Our Court Jester has a post that left my jaw on the floor. Read Margaret's comment on that post, too. It's the fourth in the list.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

V for Victory

Our friends over at US Torture and Atrocities think that this young man is flashing the peace sign, but we think it's a "V for Victory" instead. Either way, right on little dude.

A young Iraqi boy holds up a peace sign to a passing American convoy near the Karama hospital in the Karkh District of Baghdad.

No Wonder Rock Band Drummers...

...have had so much time to spend getting drunk. Our Monsignor of the Breweries, appropriately enough, has the full story.

Obama's Curious Strategy

Barack Obama has been attacking John McCain's relationships with lobbyists, trying to paint him as a Washington insider and beholden to special interests. Soccer Dad has a great post that indirectly summarizes why Obama's assertions are exactly counter to reality.

As the general campaign is unfolding, I have to say I do not understand Obama's strategy. Between claiming the McCain is in the clutches of lobbyists and floundering on al-Qaeda in Iraq, Obama is making charges that aren't even remotely backed up by fact. There's only so long that those can work before they are torn down. If you're going to attack a candidate, I would think that you'd want some meat behind your assertions. Attacking someone's strengths seems to be a pretty poor idea.

There have been several articles linked at Real Clear Politics that describe how McCain needs to learn from Hillary's failed strategy to beat Obama, but I can't recall any going in the opposite direction. It's like everyone thinks Obama has it all together and he doesn't need to change a thing to compete. I would venture to say that the Republican primaries have been a lot more difficult than the Democratic ones because the Republicans had significant policy differences. The Democratic primaries have been mostly about style since all of the major candidates agreed on almost everything. The general is going to be very different for Obama and no one seems to notice this.

Update: Soccer Dad wrote to recommend this link discussing St. Obama's Ascension in politics.

At each of the two major steps forward in Obama's political career -- becoming an Illinois state senator and a United States senator -- he has advanced not by winning a vote against a tough opponent, but by default, after those tough opponents were forced off the ballot.
Update 2: A commenter has left this link to a George Will article questioning John McCain for similar reasons. It's more McCain-Feingold mumbo jumbo. I'm still not sure I see the problem. Money will get into politics one way or another. And as I noted in a previous post about Ralph Nader, in most cases, money doesn't even need to get into the election in order for the incumbent to win.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

China's Competitive Advantage

What is it? Our Apian Apostle has the story. It's a short, but excellent read.

The Teachers Union and Public School Administration Unmasked

Dig this video.

The shocker to me was how violently the teacher's union and school board defended their turf of laziness and incompetence. They're the #1 political action group in California and probably most other states as well. They're also the reason my kids don't go to public schools.

H/T: The Puppy Blender.

And the Reason You're not Reading Wanna Smile? is...

...what, exactly?

Skip the politics and get-rich-quick sites. Stop by Wanna Smile? from time to time and enjoy things like her Zen Moment of the Day.

Thanks, Tina.