Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Frank J over at IMAO has the scoop.

Preying on Hate

Just another couple of thoughts on the Obama - Wright issue.

From Barack Obama's modified-updated-thistimeireallymeanit speech responding the Rev. Wright:
You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
Rev. Wright had been peddling racist lunacy for decades. We saw that in the video segments that Barack previously said were taken out of context. Rev. Wright and his congregation, the hundreds of people whooping it up every time he screamed another crazy, racist rant, are the ones filled with hate.

Why is this so hard for people to say? An entire community wallowed in racist filth for decades, relishing it, enjoying it, reinforcing it and still Obama tries to deflect the analysis of it and somehow infer that this fed hate. It did not feed hate, it was hate. Are the journalists going to ask anything about this? Was any of what you saw in Rev. Wright's NAACP speech and his press conference any different than what you saw in the YouTube videos? To me it looked like the exactly same thing, only spoken at a lower volume and with a little more of an intellectual foundation.

Will Barack get a free pass endlessly on this one?

So When's the Press Conference?

Now that Rev. Wright has explicitly described his lunatic theories and now that Obama has said he never heard of the man and 20 years isn't a long time and he wasn't really paying attention when the guy talked, when does the grilling by the press start?

We've already seen that Barack does not like difficult questions and runs away after only a few. We've seen that he doesn't like debates where he is asked about cavorting with bombers. What's the press conference going to be like when the reporters ask all the questions they need to ask? Even if they go soft on him, it's still going to be very difficult for him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where is the Secular St. Augustine?

As I’ve gone through my exercise of learning about the decline of marriage in America, its causes and results, what’s beginning to strike me is just how naïve and simplistic secularism is. As we have jettisoned organized religion, we’ve also jettisoned the intellectual foundations of morality.

Do you know how to build a jet engine? You don’t, do you? And yet, every time you fly, you rely on them and implicitly you rely on the people who have studied the design and construction of jet engines. You trust yourself to the collective experience of the jet engine industry.

When we abandon religion, we are discarding the collective experience and thought of centuries of theologians and replacing it with ... what? Catholic theology and morality is the result of generations of thinkers, both great and small, each building on each other and upon the observations of the secular world around them. St. Thomas Aquinas built his theological constructs on philosophers dating back to ancient Greece. St. Augustine’s contributions to theology are built primarily upon his desire to reconcile that which he observed in the world around him with religious and moral theory. His book Confessions is the story of his intellectual journey from hedonism to morality.

What is the secular corollary to this? Certainly secular philosophers like Rousseau produced great works, but where is the corresponding St. Augustine? St. Augustine turned from the Manichees to Catholicism because it became clear to him that the former did not fit the reality of the world around him. Now that it’s clear that hedonism and a self-focused lifestyle is detrimental to society, who in the secular world is leading the movement back to the success of traditional morality? Bill Cosby?

It might be possible to separate morality from theology, but I would suggest that it is impossible to separate morality from a deliberate construction of it from first principles. The secular world is paying the price, as we all are, for discarding the basis for morality.

Blog-induced Nausea

After reading through the Puppy Blender's round-up of links related the latest Rev. Wright spew, I don't feel like blogging. Take a trip through that particular hog fat rendering plant yourself if you'd like. I'm going to go enjoy my daisies instead.

Painted Daisies

It's Spring. The Painted Daisies who were contestants in my Seed Racing event are happy. So am I.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Sprint Coverage Quiz

Q: What's the only place that has worse Sprint coverage than where you are right now?

A: Everywhere else!

Don't Ask Any Questions

...just read this.

Jet Kayak

Yesterday I took a walk along Shelter Island here in San Diego and I saw something wild.

What on Earth is this?

It turns out that it's a Jet Kayak. I Googled for a bit and came across Mokai Manufacturing, a company that either made this one or makes something quite like it.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that another cultural icon had been tarnished. I had always associated kayaking with the rugged, outdoor life. You could load this thing up with donuts and pork rinds and motor hither and yon, munching away while claiming you were kayaking.

On Marriage and Individualism

This is another in a (sporadic) series of posts exploring how the decline of the traditional family occurred in America and what effect it has had on us. The previous post in this series can be found here.

I returned to reading James Q. Wilson’s book, The Marriage Problem and went through his analysis of how changes in our law reflected changes in our views on marriage and personal independence. Here’s a thumbnail sketch.

For centuries, marriage in the Western world has been a consensual affair. People have chosen their spouses. Personal freedom in this regard has always been central to marriage. In the past, marriage was considered more important than individual freedom. Over time, personal freedom has gained primacy to the detriment of marriage.
Leading figures in England and America at the end of the nineteenth century spoke of marriage as a “state of existence ordained by the Creator”…Each marriage, many said, affects not only the spouses, but all other persons. The Supreme Court described marriage as more than a “mere contract”; it was instead “a sacred obligation,” “a holy estate,” and “the foundation of family and society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.”
It is particularly striking to see the word “holy” come from the Supreme Court. If it was used in a decision today, members of the ACLU would spontaneously combust. I digress. Over the course of the 20th century, legal regard for marriage has declined.
A century later, virtually every one of these laws has been changed, some for the better, some for the worse, but everywhere in ways that denied that marriage and the family had any moral status…These changes are fully in accord with the rise of a modern, secular, individualistic state…

What is striking is not that there are so many divorces and so many cohabiting couples, but that there are any marriages at all…Simply living together provides the immediate benefits without any legal formalities…

(E)verywhere cultural expectations are vulnerable to the new individualistic ethos, as we can see from rising levels of cohabitation. Which leaves a desire for children and companionship (as the primary remaining reasons for marriage)…Some people can see far enough into the future to recognize that marriage offers long-term benefits. For them, marriage will be preferable. But many people do not see very far into the future…
And this, I think, hits the nail right on the head. Complicated undertakings such as building a car, designing an airplane or raising a family, are not things best done by an individual. Contrary to Hillary’s suggestions, it does not take a village, because villagers have only an indirect interest in the success of family members. Instead, it takes a team, in this case at least a two-person team, if not an extended family, to raise children with a high rate of success. Those who cannot see into the future, those who see single-parent families as equivalent to traditional families do not see the complex tasks involved in raising a family.

To a great extent, the simplistic, naïve pursuit of personal freedom has led to the breakdown of the teamwork required to perform what is in fact a very complicated task.

I would not want to construct this vehicle nor raise these children on my own.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

John McCain is Sandbagging Barack Obama

John McCain recently told the North Carolina Republican Party to pull a TV ad which highlighted Barack Obama's relationship with his racist, lunatic pastor, Rev. Wright. Barack has been touting himself as a new kind of politician and yet he has repeatedly, deliberately misquoted John McCain, first about the war and then about the economy.

I think this is a deliberate set up of Obama. A few months of this kind of demagoguery on the part of Barack and then John McCain, just as he did with Mitt Romney when he went incessantly negative, will unleash the hounds and tear Barack to shreds. Because of Rev. Wright and Barack's unrepentant terrorist buddy Bill Ayers, John McCain has a huge arsenal of weapons to use if he decides to go negative. I think he's going to go as long as he can without using them to demonstrate to everyone that he wants to run a clean and positive campaign. In the end, however, he'll launch all those weapons. He'll have to. Barack is too arrogant and too stupid to see that he's completely outgunned and won't have the brains to call off his own attacks until it's too late.

Teasing the tiger gets you eaten. Barack will find that out before this is all over.

This will be the last thing Barack Obama sees after one too many lies about John McCain.

Sewer Diving with Barack Obama

I've been debating whether or not to post any more Rev. Wright videos on this blog and join in the further exposure of this hateful, racist lunatic. A few friends of mine who read this blog have not yet seen them and it makes me wonder how many others have yet to hear them. With that in mind, I'm going sewer diving with Barack one more time. It is Sunday today and I will be going to Mass. If you go today, did you hear anything like this?

Barack Obama and Rev. Wright are trying to spin their way out of the firestorm of criticism that has come from these, claiming that they were all taken out of context. Friday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show I heard large portions of the sermons these were taken from and they are most certainly not taken out of context. What you see in these video clips is the real deal, the church Barack attended for 20 years and to which he gave tens of thousands of dollars.

I think these sermons should be published far and wide. If Barack really wants to have a dialog, then this is a good starting point. As usual, Mark Steyn had a great analysis of this.

(W)hat’s clear is there’s a consistent worldview for twenty years from this guy. The fact is, the U.S. government did not invent AIDS for the purpose of killing its own black citizens. If you believe that, you’re a nut. And if you don’t believe that, and you’re just saying it because it happens to be good show biz in your Church, then you’re deeply wicked, because you’re misleading your congregation, which is an ungodly and an unchristian thing to do...

(B)asically, Obama did a sort of vainglorious thing where he said this isn’t about me and my judgment and my pastor and his hateful words. But we’ll generalize it to make it about race in America. And that’s deeply insulting to the hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t go to Churches led by vile neo-segregationist, racist pastors peddling nutball theories.
Update: Gateway Pundit has more.

I Guess We Voted for Crime

In a Herculean effort of overthinking the problem, David Skeel goes into some statistical depth to analyze how the prison populations grew under different political parties in different states. Here's a sample.
● Connecticut: From 1975 to 1991, Connecticut was governed by Democrats, and the state’s imprisonment rate rose a staggering 346%, compared to a national average of 174%. From 1991-95, Independent (and former Republican) Lowell Weicker held the governor’s chair; Republicans have held it since then. Since 1991, Connecticut’s imprisonment rate has risen 49%, compared to an average increase of 62% nationwide.

● Missouri: During Republican John Ashcroft’s governorship (1985-93), the state’s imprisonment rate rose 59%; nationwide, imprisonment rose 75% during those eight years. From 1993 to 2005, Democrats held Missouri’s governorship. During those twelve years, imprisonment rose 72%, compared to a national average increase of 40%.
Huh? Maybe Dave needs to get out more. He certainly needs to spend more time with criminals, particularly during the planning phases of their capers. Having known a criminal or two in my time, I assure you they never took into account the political leanings of the governor, the mayor, the aldermen or the family dog. They wanted things that did not belong to them or they wanted drugs or they wanted revenge or they were simply being jerks. There wasn't a whole lot of deep, intellectual thought beyond that.

Dave goes on to draw a conclusion about crime from his statistics.
Criminal justice works badly when the voters whose preferences govern the system are not the voters who feel the effects of crime and punishment most directly. Over the last thirty-five years, our justice system has been governed primarily by the votes of suburban and small-town whites. But crime and punishment alike are heavily concentrated in poor city neighborhoods, and especially in black neighborhoods. Democracy works best when those making the relevant choices bear the cost of those choices.
This one is just mind blowing. Is criminal justice working badly when criminals are put in jail after due process? What kind of idiot thinks that? And of course, race plays into this. You knew it would. No discussion of the destruction of the traditional family here, it's all politics and race.

This poor lad would have been bringing daisies to his grandmother if he hadn't been thrown in jail.

Dave, let me make a suggestion. How about if you go hang out in Oakland for a while? You can either do ride alongs with the cops or you can loiter on the street corners with the thugs. Either one is fine with me. After you do that for a month, come back and tell us what you found out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Difference Between Democrat and Republican Politicians

Our $400B deficit works out to about $5700 more debt for a family of four...

A Republican politician will take his family into a Wal-Mart, buy $5700 worth of stuff and then at the register point to his kids and tell the checker, "Bill them."

A Democrat will do the same thing and then add, "We'll be back tomorrow."

Update: Dig this comparison of Hillary and Obama when it comes to spending. Hundreds of billions more in spending.

OK, So Maybe I'll Think Twice About Linux

...after reading this.

Cheezburger of the Day

Beware: Head exploding cuteness on the way!

Catch and Release

This morning our Maximum Leader brought in a field mouse and left it clinging to a laundry hamper. After consulting the California Department of Fish and Game's Feline Hunting Regulations and measuring the mouse with a calibrated micrometer, we determined that the mouse had to be released back into the wild. Our Maximum Leader was appropriately praised and then breakfasted on a rare feast of gushifud.

Prior to releasing the little rodent, we took these photos.

Annotation from Jacob the Syrian Hamster: This was not one of my relatives, or if it was, the genealogical distance was so great that he was unrecgonizable to me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Favorite Monkees Romp

This YouTube gem is a clever remix of one of my favorite Monkees romps and songs. The song, "I'll Be Back Up On My feet" was not originally released on their early albums and I can't figure out why. It's a great little pop tune. The romp comes from the episode, Dance, Monkee, Dance where the boys are hoodwinked into signing lifetime contracts with a dance instructor. This video is a little mudddy, but it's so perfectly edited that I just had to share. Enjoy!

Invest in Yourself

...advance your career, do something good for your country and profit from it all at the same time!

Buy a semtext belt and use it.

Update: Man, was that a weird post for a while. The html tags for the link at the end had been misplaced and there was no link displayed at all. It looked like I was really advocating blowing yourself up. Wow.

Losing Before Winning - All That Matters is the Losing

Ace over at Ace of Spades points out that the MSM is having to confront the awful prospect of victory. Fortunately, they're able to do this by trying to paint previous efforts as failure.
One month on and Iraq’s leader can justifiably claim to have scored a stunning victory, probably the first of its kind by the post-Saddam Iraqi army. The most notorious areas of Basra are now under government control, the Mahdi Army of Moqtadr al-Sadr has been roundly defeated and the long suffering people of Basra are celebrating freedoms they did not enjoy during the four years of British military rule in the city.
The cool part here is that the British are portrayed as failures. That way the MSM can still focus on failure while claiming to report success. Imagine if they reported like this in the sports pages.
Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves beat the Florida Marlins, 7-4. Despite this victory, it's worth noting that after a half inning of play, the Braves were losing! Losing, losing, losing! Oh, sure, the Braves managed to stumble about later in the game and clumsily eke out a victory, but it's worth focusing on that first inning a bit more...
How pathetic.

Why You Should Pay Your Mortgage Off Early #2

Please put on your helmets before reading this post because it's entirely possible that your heads might explode.

Are we strapped in and ready? OK, here it goes.

Yesterday I went fishing with my father. We didn't get a single bite in 4+ hours on the lake and we didn't consume a drop of alcohol, yet we had a wonderful time. There, that's it. Be sure to take a blood pressure reading and lie down if you have to. I know the thought of having fun fishing with no fish and no booze is against all the laws of God and Man, but there you have it.

In any case, I brought up the discussion we had earlier about paying off your mortgage early. My father, the man who has been my financial mentor and the savviest investor I have ever met, had one telling point to make.

He himself had split his resources between paying off his mortgages early and investing. In addition to the reasons discussed previously, he pointed out that paying your home off early frees you from the stress of having to time the sale of your investments.

The argument in favor of investing vs. paying down your mortgage boils down to this: on average, you can get a better rate of return investing in stocks than you can paying off your loan. Stocks, however, do not behave on average, they bounce all over the place. At any point in time, you may be in a bear market and your investments may be depressed. The timing of such things is not under your control. Your home mortgage has a known, constant rate of return and does not require you to exert any effort tracking or timing it.

If you are a parent or have a stressful career or just feel like devoting your time to interests other than watching your portfolio, the absence of such a demand on your time is a payoff that cannot be measured in dollars. If money were the goal of life, then yes, investing would be the answer. For most of us, money is one tool we use to achieve our goals. Other tools are our time and intellect.

While investing may generate more money, it costs more in time and effort. That cost needs to be factored in to the decision to invest or pay down the mortgage. Personally, I want to spend more time with Momma Daisy, sunsets and our Maximum Leader and less time worrying about my money. I may end up with less money, but I'll end up with more of the things I love.

Update: The outstanding blog, Secular Apostate, weighs in on the matter. He asks this crucial question (and answers it in his post):
If my mortgage were gone today, would I get another one to fund my investing activity?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

US Soldier Strangles an Iraqi Boy

Spc. Robert Hubbard poses for a picture with Iraqi children outside an Iraqi police station in West Mosul, Iraq.

Will the American torture of civilians never end?

Another Great Zen Moment

Wannasmile has it.

Why You Should Pay Off Your Home Early

A short while back, we posted a link to a mortgage calculator at Dave Ramsey's site that helped you determine how soon you could pay off your home loan with a extra payments. Alert member of the Theocracy that he is, our Missionary to the Frozen, Norther Wastelands pointed to an in-depth NPR report which showed that you would probably end up with more money if you invested those extra payments in mutual funds instead.

So why pay off your mortgage early? Well, at the risk of getting googly eyes, I Googled around for a bit and found this excellent comparison of the two srategies. Here's the graphic from that post the summarizes their points.

Their post has an excellent in-depth discussion of each of these points. I highly recommend a visit to read it. Each of the green arrows represents an advantage to paying your home off early and the red arrows represent a disadvantage. It's really a personal thing.

I'm very uncomfortable with gambling, uncertainty and complexity. I want things to be simple and predictable. Paying my home off early makes sense for me because it makes me feel good. In the end, money is not the goal, it's the ends to achieving a goal and it seems to me that peace of mind is a worthy goal. Someday I want to be completely out of debt and have the freedom to live a simple life with very few financial demands. I want to pursue the things I love without regards for how much they will pay. That's why I want to pay off my home early. It works for me.

So perhaps this post was mis-titled. It should read Why I Should Pay Off My House Early. :-)

Update: I have a follow-up post with a very different argument in favor of paying your mortgage off early.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Savers of Asia Financed the Subprime Loans

In keeping with the general feeling of dread voiced by our Apian Apostle and our Cantor of Chemistry comes this bit from the Asia Times about how thrifty Asians financed the housing credit crunch.
Everyone is talking about collapse of the US home-price bubble and the danger of recession, but no one is talking about the suckers who financed the bubble, namely the savers of Asia...One exceptional fact accounts for the instability in financial markets during recent weeks: the Chinese and many other Asians save about half their income, while Americans save none of their income at all. Foreigners, mainly Asians, invest US$1 trillion a year in the United States...
Since they were not allowed to buy US companies like Ford or duPont, they bought whatever they could. In this case, it was mortgage-backed securities. Securities backed by people who were unable to repay them. The thrifty Asians loaned money to the profligate Americans.

Do you think they'll repeat that mistake? Now that the money has all evaporated, do you suppose those investors are taking a look at what happened?
Outside the US, it seems incomprehensible that the average family would save nothing for retirement or against a rainy day. But God takes care of drunks, small children and the United States of America. In other words, the typical American family expected the value of its house to keep appreciating at nearly 10% a year indefinitely, eventually turning into a retirement fund.
The problem is that the West is not willing to put their companies up for sale, for obvious reasons.
Of course, one feels sorry for autoworkers in the US state of Michigan, who earn $30 per hour and expected to do so in perpetuity. Sadly for them, workers earning a tenth of that amount can assemble cars just as well. If I were a sovereign investment fund, I would buy Ford Motor Co, shut down all of its production facilities in the US, and keep the nameplate as an emerging-markets and European brand.
That means that the easy credit in the US, much of which came from Asia, will dry up as those investors become more choosy about their investments. Without that source of cash to borrow, Americans will have to finance more and more of their own debt. Here comes the hard part.
Americans will have to work harder and save more.
And just who is going to tell the public that?

Busy Today

I might blog later or I might not. No crises, just no time to blog.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sharing the Couch

This is one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever taken of our Maximum Leader. This is the way she looks laying next to me on the back of the couch.

Update: This is now my background on my laptop.

Louis Jordan

Our local jazz station has a feature on the weekend mornings called "Rugcutter Swing" that's a real treat for the ears. I was listening a few weeks back in the garage, working on my MGB, when they played some Louis Jordan. I was hooked. This cat has got the rhythm, make no mistake. I went out and bought I Believe in Music and loved every bit of it. There's a website devoted to him and it's got a discography that I'm bound to work my way through. Here's a little bit of Louis now.

Mrs. Putin may Give Mr. Putin a Cardiac

Secular Apostate has the details. The video there is one of the most awesome gymnastics acts I've ever seen. I don't know the connection between the gymnast and Mr. Putin, but perhaps Secular Apostate can enlighten us. Even if no connection exists at all, the video is worth the visit.

My Cuss-O-Meter Rating is


The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

This is just another cool find by our Official Artist. Of course if it were a Snark-O-Meter, I'd be in big trouble.

Global Warming is Causing an Increase in Murders

...or maybe not.

First, there are the statistics from Chicago this weekend.
CHICAGO (CBS) ― A violent and deadly weekend continues in Chicago. At least 12 people have been shot, two of them killed, since Saturday morning. Two others were stabbed in a home invasion. This comes after at least 20 people were shot, four of them killed, from Friday night through early Saturday.
Then there is the example: two boys shot to death in front of a church after midnight.
Also, Friday night, two teens were gunned down in front of a church in the 7500 block of South Phillips.

Police say gunmen jumped out of a car and opened fire in front of the Free Salvation Methodist Baptist Church. One of the teens suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and back, the other was shot in the neck, police said.

Melvin Thomas, of 14922 Washington Ave. in Harvey was pronounced dead at the Stein Institute at 1:20 a.m. Rhonell Savala, of 9750 S. Hoxie Ave. in Chicago, was pronounced dead at 12:50 a.m. Saturday at the Stein Institute.
The reason? The weather is warm.
Chicago police are now stepping up patrols in areas that they call "hot zones." Police blame the warmer temperatures for the spike in violence.

"We know that we're approaching warmer weather, the summer season. We know that this is going to be a very busy season for the Chicago Police Department. There's no doubt about that," Bond said.
Well, that tears it. Global warming is to blame for thugs leaping out of cars, shooting each other at one in the morning. What more proof do you need? Of course, it could have something to do with the complete breakdown of the family, but then any such claims would lead to suggestions that personal responsibility might play a part in this and that's something we avoid at all costs.

Here in balmy San Diego, we have riot police on every street corner, 24/7.
It's the only way we can keep from killing each other.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trapped in a Vacuum

Don't blame me for this silly quiz, it's all our Official Artist's fault. I always do whatever he does. :-)

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Created by OnePlusYou

The site tells you just how death in the vacuum of space works.
In the first 30 seconds any fluid on the surface of your body would begin to boil due to lack of ambient pressure, this includes the saliva on your tongue and the moisture in your eyes...
Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Dave Ramsey's Mortgage Calculator

My man Dave has a way cool mortgage caluclator. It shows you how much you save by paying your home loan off early. Check it out.

Has Maureen Down Always Been Such an Imbecile?

I'll admit I don't read her columns on purpose and today I stumbled on to it by accident from a link on Real Clear Politics. Here column is all about how Obama is cool.
There’s no doubt the cat is cool. It’s easy to imagine the wild reception many parts of the world would give a President Obama as he loped down the stairs of Air Force One in his aviator glasses, the chic and chiseled Michelle on his arm.

The imagery of the 2008 race is all about cool and hot.

Obama is cool in a good way. He continues to look to the stars as the Clintons drag him down to the gutter, even when Hillary suggests he should scamper out of the kitchen since he’s so obviously sensitive to heat.
The article goes on to quote some hip-hop artist to further illustrate how Obama is cool. Is this what passes for intellectual discourse at the NYT?

Yes. Yes it is.

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

One of our favorite readers sent us a link to this post on Cute Overload where we found the following YouTube movie. Not only is the movie clever and very enjoyable, but the production values are outstanding. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Where do the Children of Public School Teachers go to School?

...the outstanding blog, Carpe Diem has the answer.

What would you conclude about the quality of product or service X under the following circumstances?

1. The employees of Airline X and their families are offered free airline tickets as an employee benefit. The employees refuse to travel with their families on Airline X and instead pay full fare on Airline Y when flying.

2. The employees of Automaker X are offered a company car at a substantial discount and they instead buy a car at full price from Automaker Y.

3. Employees at Health Clinic X and their families are offered medical care at no additional cost as a benefit and yet most employees of Clinic X pay out-of-pocket for medical services at Clinic Y.

In each case, the employees' willingness to pay full price for a competitor's product or service and forgo their employer's product or service at a reduced price (or no cost) makes a strong statement about the low quality of X. What makes the inferior quality of X even more obvious is that the employees at Firm X, since they work in the industry, would have better information about product (service) X and product (service) Y than the average person.

What then should we conclude about the quality of public education in the United States given the following facts? Public school teachers send their own children to private schools at a rate more than twice the national average--22 percent of public educators' children are in private schools compared to the national average of 10 percent.

In large cities across the United States, more that a quarter of public school teachers' children are attending private schools--50 percent in Milwaukee, 46 percent in Chicago, 44 percent in New Orleans, 36 percent in Memphis, and 30 percent in Baltimore and San Francisco.

In New York City, as of 1988, no member of the Board of Education and no citywide elected official had children enrolled in a public school.
I did not know this.

Richard Quest as Peter Pan

CNN news personality Richard Quest was picked up in Central Park recently with methamphetamines in his pocket, a rope tied around his genitals and a sex toy in his boot.

Film at 11!

Just kidding.

Anyway, little Ricky has a blog over at CNN and they allow comments. How thrilling! Unfortunately, they heavily moderate them so I don't think mine will be published. In view of that, I will go ahead and publish it here.
Good luck in your continuing adventures in crystal meth and ropes around your genitals. Sounds jolly! I wish I could do that stuff, too, but I'm afraid that my time is taken up being a responsible father of two children. Joining you in your endless childhood would be a bit much for me. Peter Pan wasn't much of a family man, you know.
Ricky Q: I'm off to get some lubricants and handcuffs. Need anything while I'm out?

Now that I think about it, I don't know for sure it was crystal, I'm not up to speed on my meth. Maybe I need Mr. Quest to help me out here.

Update: Mark Steyn is typically acerbic and witty about this as our College of Cardinals suggests a music video.

What Gives About the Economy?

I don't have time for a longer post so I will come back to this later, but what gives with all this carping and whining about the economy? Everyone is acting like it's terrible. It's not. Historically, it's terrific. The stock market has gone up significantly in the last five years and I can't remember the last time unemployment was over 6%. 5% is considered full employment and we've been hovering around that for a long time.

A 5 year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average

What we've discovered in the last several years is what wise people knew all along. If you borrow money and can't pay it back or lend money to such people, you're in trouble. If you spend more than you earn, you're in trouble.

The current discussion of the economy in the media and by the politicians has an underlying assumption that everyone's life should be stable and pleasant all the time no matter what stupid things they do to themselves. That kind of attitude is what brings on the problems. Pandering to voters through the coddling of failure has always been around, but it seems much more pronounced now than ever before. If that keeps getting worse, it won't matter who is elected because those expectations will drive us right into bankruptcy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shutdown Day

May 3 is Shutdown Day.
Shutdown Day is a Global Internet Experiment whose purpose is to get people to think about how their lives have changed with the increasing use of the home computer, and whether or not any good things are being lost because of this.

The idea of Shutdown Day project is simple - just shutdown your computer for one whole day of the year and involve yourself in some other activities: outdoors, nature, sports, fun stuff with friends and family - whatever, just to remind yourself that there still exists a world outside your monitor screen.
Can you do it? I can and I will. Of course, I will have to go online from time to time to make sure you're doing it, but other than that, I'll be complying.

Catching up on my Carnival Links

I've been a bad blogger lately, forgetting to throw out some linky love to my favorite carnivals.

Last week's Friday Ark was it's usual stellar self. From that list of posts, I found a great octopus phot at Pharyngula.

The Carnival of the Cats from two weeks ago was done very well over at Catsynth. Check it out. Over at This is Cyprus, human and cat share a good book.

Dealing with the Raccoon Problem

Our good friend and Missionary to the Frozen, Norther Wastelands has posted a hilarious video showing how dreadful a raccoon problem can be. Check it out.

And yes, here at the offices of the 'Post, we have a raccoon problem.

Clinging to Guns and Religion at the Same Time

Barack Obama has been unfairly taken to task for claiming that small-town yokels cling to guns and religion because they're bitter about economicatricals or renuberation of the currency or some high fallutin' stuff like that. Well, boy howdy, is he right! At our church we actually show up for Mass packin' our shootin' irons. Our chalices are now extra large so after we take the sacramental wine, we've got a good buzz on. Naturally, this leads to drunken gunfights in the pews.

Transubstantiate this, ya yellow-bellied apostate!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Greatest Pie Fight of all Time

...comes from the movie The Great Race. I love everything about this. The music, in particular is terrific. Tony Curtis walking around unscathed was brilliant. Watch for the part where Peter Falk comes into the scene. Hilarious!

I Guess This Makes Both Hillary and Obama "True Conservatives"

Apparently, in last night's Democratic debate, both Hillary and Obama pledged not to raise taxes on people either making $97,000 or less or $200,000 or less. I can't quite tell which. In any case, in the eyes of the Rush Limbaugh - Sean Hannity crowd, this should make them "true conservatives" because as we all know, "true conservatives" never pay for what they buy.

Budget deficit: $400B and rising.

Is it possible for the Democrats to be any less serious? Their only serious aspect was their willingness to raise taxes to cover some tiny portion of their crazed spending sprees. Now they're not even going to do that. It's all spend, spend, spend and no new taxes for anyone. I've got the perfect candidate for the Democrats. He's tried this all before and he keeps getting re-elected.

Draft Mugabe now! He can do for us what he did for Zimbabwe!

Update: I guess the numbers were $200,000 or $250,000.
Both promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs. Returning the rich to their Clinton-era tax rates will yield, at best, $40 billion a year in revenue. It’s impossible to fund a health care plan, let alone anything else, with that kind of money.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Six Word Memoir

I have been tagged by Wollf (our Pater of Prowling) who was tagged by Rambling Rose who was tagged by Something...and Half of Something who was tagged by Chrissie who was tagged by Delftsman who was tagged by Yeah, Right, Whatever who was tagged by Kat (our Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses) who was tagged by Cao who was tagged by William Teach who was tagged by Beth who was tagged by Robbie who was tagged by Big Bad Wolf (again with the wolves!) who was tagged by Curtis who was tagged by Earl who was tagged by Breda who was tagged by Christina LMT who was tagged by Trashman who was tagged by Nightmare who doesn't seem to have done it at all, but he's getting married soon or was recently married, so in a fit of felicitous feline friendliness, we will forgive him.

Here are the rules of the meme.

1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

Here's my memoir:

You matter more than I do.

By way of explanation: This may seem like an egotistical memoir, but I assure you it is not. Like all human traits, it brings with it success and failure alike.

And now, who to tag? Well, this can't be allowed to die after that excellent pedigree of bloggers. Let's try something really wild and go with some blogs that are right near me in the TTLB Ecosystem. How about:

1. Holy Mama
2. I'm a Drama Mama
Hmm. That's a lot of mamas. Let's go in a different direction now.
3. Practicing Theology
4. The Green Greek
5. Jodi's Ramblings

There. Mission accomplished, Oh Pater of Prowling!

The AP Channels Red State Update reverse.

Remember that horrid YouTube debate? Well, the guys over at Red State Update recorded their own questions for each of the Republican candidates. Here's the one for Jackie's favorite candidate (and mine!), Fred Thompson.

Recently, Barack Obama attended the AP's annual meeting. Powerline covered their hard-hitting questions for the Obamamessiah. Here's a good one.
MODERATOR: Senator Obama, today's event is sold out. Thank you. You have been drawing large crowds wherever you travel. What's your take on the sense of excitement around your candidacy?
Red State Update is a comedy site. I guess the AP is, too.

Healthcare is a Booming Business

...and that's why it's getting more expensive.

Politicians and pundits want to point to political causes and solutions for rising health care costs. They're all wrong. Health care costs have risen because it costs more for the providers to do business. As medical technology advances, hospitals need more employees to manage the equipment, not less. The cost of both capital investment and labor has been rising, leading to higher costs over all. It's pretty basic stuff.

In today's Wall Street Journal, they have a great article and interactive graph that shows how health care employment has overtaken factory employment in many cities across the country. This is no surprise, even in the absence of lower labor costs overseas. Advances in factory technologies have led to the need for fewer employees which is the exact opposite of the health care industry. In most of the cities that I scanned, health care employment is over 10% of all jobs. As the population ages and technology continues to advance, that number probably won't be declining.

Public Education is Worse than Big Oil terms of being a villain because of rising prices. Mark Perry has an outstanding post showing that while gas prices have risen 36.6% in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1986, the price of public education has gone up 53.6%. He's also got performance vs. cost graphics. Check it out.

Of course, it's not just public education that's worse than Big Oil. Apple is, too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

If You're Omnitasking, You Must be Doing Something Simple

Where I used to work, we had a saying. "If it was easy, stupid people would be doing it." I worked from home for most of today when I found that some technical manuals I needed were still here. I was doing Flash coding on my big desktop machine while I had chat and email open on my laptop. I should have just kept the laptop turned off. The distractions were too frequent and, well, too distracting to really concentrate on what I needed. In the end, I discovered the key to what I was trying to do in Flash, but it took longer than it should have.

By the way, here's the definition of omnitasking. I like the first comment the best.

"Here's an idea: Solotasking. Doing one thing at a time, doing it right, and enjoying it."

Telecommuting Today

...but I'm not unsupervised.

Our Maximum Leader keeps a watchful eye over me as she ponders the kzxxkzzzzzzzzzz.

Starvation is Good for the Environment

Starvation is a cornucopia of blessings for the environment! Just think about it. By reducing the number of people on the planet, we're reducing our ecological footprint. As people starve, they become less active, using fewer resources. Starving people don't buy gasoline and so they drive less, reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. It's all good.

That's why, in the spirit of Mr. Al "There are too many people in the world and I think one of them is you" Gore, we rejoiced at the news that setting fire to food via ethanol production has caused a massive increase in food prices and sparked food riots.
Surging commodity prices have pushed up global food prices 83% in the past three years, according to the World Bank -- putting huge stress on some of the world's poorest nations. Even as the ministers met, Haiti's Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was resigning after a week in which that tiny country's capital was racked by rioting over higher prices for staples like rice and beans.

Rioting in response to soaring food prices recently has broken out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to deter food theft from fields and warehouses. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in a recent speech that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices. Those could include Indonesia, Yemen, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. In countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters of a poor person's income, "there is no margin for survival," he said.
That margin for survival belongs to Gaia, baby.

If Mother Earth could talk, she would ask you to starve.

No Explanation Necessary

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Democrats' Problem

...this year is that they have one candidate who everyone hates and another who hates everyone.

You all hate me! I will smack you with my hand!

I hate you and you and you and especially you, you gun-waving bible nut!

It's an embarrassment of riches! Err, actually it's an embarrassment of poverty. But given the Democrats love of poverty, that's an embarrassment of riches. Which would be bad. Because the rich need to be poor. Err, I seem to have lost my way.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Barack Obama: Elitist Snob

The blogosphere is all a-twitter with commentary on Barack's latest piece of ersatz-intelligentsia piffle wherein he attributed faith and cultural conservatism to some kind of temporary economic downturn. I read through most of the takes and decided not to post about it until I came across this. For me, it's the best summary of the subject. Here's a tidbit.

Yep, that’s us: Just a bunch of uniformed racists who hate everyone who isn’t just like us and cling to our God and our guns because we didn’t get to go to Princeton or Harvard Law School.
Read the whole thing.

Another Reason to Take Pride in America

...comes from an Australian soldier. Read about it here. All I can say is, "Wow."

She is a Cat

This is her tummy.

Any questions?

Our Financial Bailout Culture

Just an excerpt and a link to a WSJ article about the consequences of bailing out people and firms that make bad financial decisions. Excerpt:
Consequences not suffered from bad decisions lead to lessons not learned, which leads to bigger failings down the road. And so we have the insidious modern trend to shirk responsibility and blame others for our missteps. This trend, this "victim mentality," is a path toward personal disaster.

What I'm Listening to Now

Thanks to the Monks of Miscellaneous Musings, it's mostly George Harrison.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A George Harrison Video for Dean

We had no idea that our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings were George Harrison fans like we are. After this post, however, we spent some time looking for a good video just for them. This gem is just perfect. Pardon the first 20 seconds, we're not quite sure why it's there. Sloppy editing, we suppose. In any case, enjoy.

Budget Cuts Strike Education Again

Recently, the State of California discovered that the money it thought it had in it's other pair of pants had been stolen by George Bush and spent. At least they think it was George Bush. Lord knows he's responsible for everything else that's going wrong. Now they're faced with a $2B $6B $12B $14B deficit and they need to cut spending. Where are they going to cut? Why education, of course.
The Governor’s proposed 2008-2009 budget contains disastrous cuts to education and children’s program*...The proposed budget would make across-the-board cuts to education, health care and other programs that have a direct impact on the safety and well being of California’s children.
Here in San Diego, the student-public education employee ratio is dangerously high. There are 135,000 public school students and only 14,555 public school employees. That's a 9.3 - 1 ratio. There's no way anyone can expect to get things done with that kind of overcrowding. The 2006-7 budget was a paltry $2.2B. That works out to only $16,296 per student. In a class of 20, that's only $325,925. Now I ask you, what can be done with only $326,000? Not much.

After buying a Lotus Exige for each classroom, there's only $226,000 left.

Won't anyone think of the children?

* - Where the heck else are they going to cut other than the social programs? It's a state, for cryin' out loud. Social programs are the only things they spend money on, other than basic services. Maybe the Teachers Union thinks California is building it's own aircraft carrier or something.

Olympic Torch Transferred to a Bus

...with disastrous results.

It was later discovered that buses and torches don't mix well. (Image credit.)

Just kidding.

Make Your Own Shoes

Why not? After all, trade is bad. Today's Washington Post has an editorial whacking Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for nixing the trade agreement with Colombia. Like that was a surprise. For them, all trade is bad. All jobs in the US should be protected. Well, why stop there?

I think we should all make our own shoes. After all, that's work that could be done by your family. By buying shoes from a shoe store, you are exporting jobs from your children. Don't you care about your children? As a matter of fact, if you have your children make your shoes, you're exporting a job you could do yourself! The wretched little brutes, their low wages are taking work away from you! So make your own shoes. And everything else, too. After all, you wouldn't want to engage in trade, would you?

My dress shoes. I made them myself. (Image credit)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Snark Removal

I just removed a post from my active list on this blog, the one that whacked Charles Karelis. Charles wrote things that set me off and I went completely non-linear on him. Since this blog has been around for a while and has lots of incoming links, I was one of the top five hits when googling his name. That's just not right.

I can't, in good conscience, have my vitriol be the first thing people see when finding out more about him. As much fun as it is to see 1-5 hits a day on this post, it's also 1-5 people each day who probably get the wrong idea about a person who was made in God's image just like me.

She's Got the Right Idea

I woke up feeling blargh today. Our Maximum Leader, leader that she is, led by example.

Good idea. Don't mind if I do.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

We Need to Spend More on Education!

Those dastardly fiscal conservatives are always trying to cut spending on edumacation. It's a tragedy how we aren't able to spend more on it. Just look at this graph of education spending per pupil in constant 2005 dollars and tell me if your eyes don't well up with tears at the sight of those endless budget cuts.

Think of the children!


USA MapStats

In dorking around looking for some data today, I stumbled across a cool website with all kinds of population statistics broken down by metropolitan area. It's called USA MapStats. I was looking for total government spending per capita by metropolitan area and I still haven't found it, but this was still an interesting find.

Libertines - Yay!, Workers - Boo!

As I was driving in to work this morning, for whatever reason, I was thinking more about Mandi Hamlin, the skank that was forced to remove her nipple rings by a TSA airport employee as she went through the security line. Most people seem to be supporting her and not the TSA guy.

Here's this TSA guy, on his feet 8-9 hours a day, doing his best, when along comes Mandi the Libertine with metal rings in her boobs. I doubt this was covered in the guy's training manual and even if it was, he was probably trying to figure out how to avoid getting written up by his supervisor. He took the safe route and made her remove them. Now he's the butt of jokes and blog posts all over the place. All he was trying to do was his job.

Meanwhile, Mandi, whose sole contribution seems to have been puncturing her body in a fit of exhibitionism, is held up as some kind of civil liberties queen. The guy doing an honest day's work gets trashed and the airheaded skank gets praised. That tells you a lot about the cultural state of the nation.

What are you Doing to Help?

The story of this photo is linked through the image.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Too Much Text

I don't like what the last few posts have done to the aesthetics of my blog, so I'm posting an image, one that I'm borrowing from a member of the Feline Theocracy, Heather, our Holy Canadian Scholar, Eh?

Heather is also using this way cool widget on her blog called Feedjit. It tracks the most recent visitors and posts where they came in and how they got there. Check it out over on her site and then bop over to Feedjit and see how to install it on yours. I'm going to try it here at the 'Post in the near future.


Not Enthused About the NFL Draft

Last year, following the Saints magical season where they got all the way to the NFC Championship game, I was all over the NFL draft for weeks before it happened. I read the message boards, I scoped out the draft analyses, I took it all in. This year, following the Saints dreadful performance in the 2007 draft, I just can't get up for it. Even in those terrible years with Mike Ditka, I was excited about the draft. Last year's disappointment must have really gotten to me.

The Sadr Scoreboard has one Number

Austin Bay and others are lamenting the MSM's poor reporting from the recent conflict in Basra between the Iraqi Army and Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs.
So what about last week’s instant narrative of doom? Is anyone besides me tired of it? The quick damnation of PM Maliki and the Iraqi Army’s efforts last week reveals an immense ignorance of warfare, one still rampant despite six-plus years of alleged experience; it displays not simply hasty, herd-mentality judgmentalism, but demonstrates in trump cards the sensationalist, fear-leveraging slant of most media coverage. Scare’em into reading the screed seems to be the herd-media’s order of business, and if that doesn’t work, affect deep moral outrage.
As much as I like Austin Bay, I have to disagree. This is not indicative of dishonesty on the part of the MSM. Instead, it's indicative of their value system. From the AP reporting on the combat in Basra, we have this.
Street battles that broke out Tuesday in Basra and Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City spread to several other neighborhoods and southern cities, leaving nearly 140 dead, including civilians, Iraqi security forces and militants.
The dominant MSM narrative here and in other battles reminds me of Evan Sayet's claim that some liberals cannot differentiate between two imperfect causes. That's why casualties are all lumped together and they run with stories about "140 people died in fighting today" as if you could give a baseball score by saying that in the Padres-Giants game, 12 runs were scored. Because the Americans and Iraqis are imperfect, they are no different than the Mahdi Army, so casualties are just casualties no matter who got whacked. It's the old bumper sticker come to life, "War doesn't decide who's right, only who's left."

Commit a Crime, go ... Home?

Today's WSJ has a page one article that is amazing. In Italy, apparently, almost no one goes to jail.

Less than two years ago, Italy's prison system faced a crisis: Built to hold 43,000 inmates, it was straining to contain more than 60,000.

So the government crafted an emergency plan. It swung open the prison doors and let more than a third of the inmates go free.

Within months, bank robberies jumped by 20%. Kidnappings and fraud also rose, as did computer crime, arson and purse-snatchings.
Who would have expected this? There's more.
The death penalty is considered abhorrent, and life sentences are rare. Defendants have the right to two appeals, and even traffic tickets can be appealed to the nation's highest court. Italy's courts are so clogged that the statute of limitations on most felonies expires before a final verdict can be reached.

Claudio Urciuoli, a criminal defense lawyer in Rome, says he often reassures his clients: "Don't worry, you'll never go to prison."
Here's the best story of all. Fat criminals don't do time.
Prosecutors have charged Salvatore Ferranti for being a henchman of one of Sicily's fiercest crime families. But last month he was released from the slammer and given house arrest. The reason: He was too fat. The prison system didn't have beds big enough to accommodate his 462-pound frame.

"The fact of the matter is that obesity is not compatible with prison," says Lino Buscemi, secretary of the Sicily region's Department of Prisoners' Rights in Palermo.
Fat people shouldn't do jail time? Marvellous. As soon as the ACLU gets finished persecuting the Boy Scouts, they should look into this.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Death to Leaf Miners!

...and all who support them!

This is what those pigs have done to one of Momma Daisy's granddaughters.

Here's how they work.
Leafminers are usually the larvae of flies, moths, or beetles that feed or "mine" between the upper and lower epidermal leaf surfaces. The larvae tunnel through the leaf creating a narrow, whitish colored serpentine (winding) mine (Figure 1 ) or blotch (blister) ( Figure 2 ) type mine. The tunnel is clear, except for the trail of black fecal material left behind as larvae feed. Female flies puncture or "stipple" leaves with their ovipositors to lay eggs in the leaf tissue or to feed on sap.
Here's how to kill them.
Systemic insecticides may provide the greatest control of leafminers. A systemic insecticide is absorbed into the leaf tissue, killing the insects inside. Non-systemic insecticides stay on the leaf surface and do not affect insects inside of them. Thorough spray coverage of the upper and lower leaf surfaces is especially important. Apply the pesticide according to directions outlined on the container label.
I'm going to put this little daisy outside and give her a systemic. My concern is that the bug that laid the leaf miner eggs might have infected some of the others or when these larvae hatch, they might attack my other indoor plants.

We Need a Bailout Package for Dealers in Talismans!

Quick, notify Congress! Get the press all wound up! Summon the Secretary of the Treasury! It's a 3 AM phone call!

"Mr. President, the bottom has just fallen out of the lucky sir, there's no spillage of milk, we don't need the EPA, it's a different kind of lucky charms. It's the kind you buy and keep in your pocket to give you good luck."

Today's WSJ has a page one article about the Great Lucky Charm Crash of 2008. Apparently, the people of Thailand had gone on a spending spree, trying to buy luck. As luck would have it, their luck ran out.
Last year, prices for the small discs inscribed with an ancient mythological figure soared as ordinary Thais -- some hoping for good luck, others looking to make a fast baht -- forked over big-time...In a pattern now painfully familiar to investors the world over, the boom was so great -- some amulets sold for as much as $75,000 -- that the bust could only be close behind. A glut, combined with growing suspicions that many amulets hadn't been properly blessed by Buddhist monks, has blown the bottom out of the market in the past few weeks. Most of the little clay objects, part of a billion-dollar-plus industry just a few months ago, are now practically worthless.
Thank goodness this didn't happen in the US. The dingledorks in Congress would be demanding a multibillion dollar bailout of the lucky charm industry.

A Cure for Insomnia?

This morning, like every morning, our Maximum Leader wanted to be fed and let outside around 3AM. I didn't want to stay awake, so I tried something a friend had recommended. Food.

A bowl of Cheerios later, I was ready to go back to sleep.

I also avoided anything interesting and ended up turning on the Weather Channel. The combination of food and boredom did the trick. Those extra two hours of sleep were very welcome indeed.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It Feels Good to be an American

US Marines with happy Iraqi kids and Sadr's thugs getting clobbered in Basra by the Iraqi Army. It's good to be an American.

H/T: US Torture and Atrocities, linked through this image.

From Basra:
It is rare in the annals of war for the side which is winning to seek a cease fire. And though Mr. al Sadr has said he wants one, Mr. Maliki hasn't said he'll grant one. "Security operations in Basra will continue," he said Monday.

"The Iraq army has cordoned off the city and is methodically advancing to allow residents to leave the city amidst the fighting, militants to turn over arms, while gradually isolating the factions they intend to uproot," a Marine liaison officer to the Iraqi security forces said in an email Tuesday to radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Why might Mr. al Sadr have sought a cease fire? "Sources in Basra tell TIME that there has been a large scale retreat in the oil-rich port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," TIME reported Sunday.

"They were running short of ammunition, food and water," a U.S. military officer told Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal. "In short, (the Mahdi army) had no ability to sustain the effort."

That sure doesn't sound like al Sadr's forces were winning. It is easier to maintain the illusion that they were when friendly, enemy and noncombatant casualties are lumped together.

His sources in the U.S. military tell him the Mahdi army was getting pounded, Bill Roggio said. "According to an unofficial tally... 571 Mahdi army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting."

Web 2.0 Trailblazing at Work

Where I work, I've been given the task of exploring the use of Web 2.0 technologies like wikis, blogs, forums and other such things to improve internal communications. I started this job after more than a year of blogging here at the 'Post. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I've discovered that it's much more complicated that I had suspected. It's not the tools or technologies that are the big change, it's the culture.

Where I work, we communicate by emailing PowerPoint and Word documents to each other. There are shared drives, but their connectivity is not to be trusted - not everyone can access any of them. I'm trying to simultaneously get us out of using Microsoft Office products and move to a web-based information system. It's a totaly new environment for us, one that has to be explored and tested and played with before we really understand how to use the tools. It's a lot like this.

At the end of this trail, is it something useful or a dead end? Who knows? The only way to find out is to hack your way through the technical and cultural jungle and find out yourself.

We had thought a wiki would be a great thing, but they are so primitive in their interface that they are almost completely unusable for anything other than the simplest of entries. Blogs are gaining in popularity, but they don't work well for storing documents. Many questions remain, such as how to host files and galleries of images. One thing we've discovered is that it's not enough to get a list of requirements from users. You really need to get copies of the various web server tools and play with them on real tasks before you know which ones you want.

How to Avoid Blogger Exhaustion

The Puppy Blender points out this New York Times story about bloggers blogging themselves to death.
They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.
Blah blah blah. It goes on to list some bloggers who have died of heart attacks in the classic MSM way of confusing individual incidents with trends. Whatever. Here at the 'Post, our Maximum Leader shows the way to avoid blogging exhaustion.

Spend a lot of time laying in sunbeams.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gold Dust Alyssum

More than a year ago, I started my seed racing contest. Among the contestants were some Gold Dust Alyssums. I have since planted them in my yard and this Spring, they've been blooming like mad. They've been a big success and I'm sure to do them again. I might even harvest some seeds from these for future Alyssums.

Copping an Attitude While Wetting Your Panties

Update: Some of you are reaching this post based on Google searches involving the term "panties." Please break yourself of your Internet porn habits. You will be a better person and the world a better place if you do. And now, on with the original post.

A week or so ago, Mandi Hamlin was stopped in an airport security line and was forced to remove her metal nipple rings.
A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.
She got all hot and bothered because of it and everyone was thrown into a tizzy. Give me a break. This is exactly the kind of reaction she wanted in the first place. Nobody gets nipple rings because they want to blend in - it's an act of exhibitionism. "Look at me, everyone! I have nipple rings! I've got attitude and rules don't apply to me!"

Geeze, Mandi, if you want your boobs to be the center of attention, you need to take the good with the bad. It reminds me of the old Onion story about the woman who got breast implants who wanted men to stop staring at her chest. So Mandi got pulled over by the TSA and they made her remove the rings. Thanks a lot, Mandi. All the people in line are really happy with you. I'm sure the TSA agents who were trying to figure out what to do were glad to see you as well. You must have really made their day. Now their actions are being examined by everyone just so you can run around with nipple piercings.

No, Mandi, that's not an immature act of self-promotion, not at all. And believe you me, none of us think you're a dimwitted, narcissistic skank. Nope. No way.

So now a bunch of low-paid TSA employees have to answer a lot of questions and a bunch of travellers had to wait in line a while longer, all so Mandi could cop an attitude and show the world she wasn't some 1950s June Cleaver. She lives by her own rules, baby. She's a rebel. Until that childish act of rebellion has a price and then she's running off to the authorities to complain. Yep, Mandi, you're a real voice for personal freedom. Thanks.

Barbara Billingsley would have gladly worn a spiked dog collar and a 3/4" hexheaded bolt as a tongue piercing, only she was oppressed by The Man.

Jeanne Bliss (perhaps wearing an MGB cylinder head stud through the back of her neck, perhaps not) uses this as a customer service lesson for TSA and takes those folks to task. Apparently, copping an attitude has now become subject to bureaucratic review.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Last Night's Sunset

...was pretty good. I got a video and set it to the B-52s' Topaz. It's about 80 minutes squeezed into 1:10. I framed the picture to keep the wiggly palm trees to a minimum - that's why the sun sets just barely off camera.

Let me know what you think of it.

Oakland and Marriage

In yesterday's post on the decay of the American culture of marriage, I quoted from Marriage and Caste in America and the author's proposition that marriage is a goal that gives meaning and structure to your life long before you marry. Comparing that to Rev. Wright's lunatic rants that Barack Obama is now having to defend, it was obvious that the intellectual underpinnings of people like Barack and Rev. Wright are inimical to a culture of marriage. Today I want to look at a similar intellectual foundation that has contributed to the destruction of American families - that of multiculturalism.

In short, there is no consistently successful substitute for the traditional, nuclear family despite decades of academics and intellectuals telling us that there is.

In 1965, Daniel Moynihan's Department of Labor under President Johnson published a report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. It was a thorough examination of the state of the black family in 1965 by an organization deeply committed to overcoming the nation's racism. Here's a tidbit.
The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated.
Moynihan's report was assailed as racist and an entire academic school of thought was created to combat the notion that nuclear families were crucial to society's success. To believe in the value of the nuclear family was to be a racist and a sexist. From Marriage and Caste in America:
Other black-pride-inspired scholars looked at female-headed families and declared them authentically African and therefore a good thing. In a related vein, Carol Stack published All Our Kin, a 1974 HEW-funded study of families in a Midwestern ghetto with many multigenerational female households. In an implicit criticism of American individualism, Stack depicted "The Flats," as she dubbed her setting, as a vibrant and cooperative urban village, where mutual aid - including from sons, brothers, and uncles, who provided financial support and strong role models for children - created "a tenacious, active, lifelong network."
You can get a whiff of Hillary and Barack in the "village" notion and the "authentically African" one as well. Rather than suggest that the nuclear family was the successful model to follow, academics and intellectuals suggested that there were any number of possible choices for success. Unfortunately, Oakland, the murder capital of the US, has proven them wrong.
Many of the convicted killers were quasi-homeless in grade school, moving every 90 days on eviction cycles, or bouncing between friends' and relatives' homes, where they slept on recliners and couches and floors.

Inside the home is pure chaos. Typically, they live with a third-generation relative, an elderly grandmother or aunt, who also opens her home to several other wayward relatives. They all pile into one home, bringing their boyfriends and girlfriends and their children. There's no particular person in charge, no house rules, and people come and go.

Often it's in these houses where young boys first learn how to hold a gun, how to break a rock of cocaine into dime and nickel bags for sale.

Without parents to help them mature, the mental world of these young killers stays stuck in an infantile, egotistic state, said forensic psychologist Shawn Johnston, who has conducted more than 15,000 court evaluations of adult and juvenile criminals in 15 Northern California counties.

"What keeps us from killing each other is empathy, and we learn it from bonding with parents who pick us back up when we get hurt or teased as children," Johnston said. "Without it, you get guys who live in a constant state of protecting the fantasy that they are the most important thing this side of the Milky Way. And because they don't have empathy, they will shoot or stab to protect their illusion."
Across the country, we are currently grappling with the results of the destruction of the American culture of marriage. Like a train in the first stages of derailment, the national debate is still about family structures that have proven to be failures. Gay marriage and single parent homes are legitimized by people who continue to use intellectual foundations that have long since been proven false.

All aboard for Social Pathologyville!

As the current presidential campaign moves on, a question I would like to hear asked of all the candidates is this. "What's the long-term solution for Oakland?" The answers would be illuminating.