Monday, September 27, 2004

My hero

Damn I miss riding a motorcycle.

Big Island Beach

Big Island Beach
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
A not very good pic of a beach just beneath the landing approach to the Kona/Kailua airport, which we figured out pretty quickly after the first plane went over at low altitude. It was too beautiful to leave, though, and we'd just walked 30 minutes over lava rock to get there because we were pretty sure our rental Neon wouldn't make it. Of course we get to the parking lot at the end and see three Neons.

My wife took some pics of the beach that featured a teenage girl's ass prominently, which she says was a mistake. Hmmm. Probably won't post them, though. Sorry.

Dissecting Leftism

Dr. John Ray, an Australian fellow who may be the most prolific blogger working now (five blogs and counting, if I'm not mistaken), uses this forum to examine leftism and deconstruct it. He believes leftism is a psychological disorder. You may or may not agree with him, but you'll appreciate that he is going about proving his theory in a scholarly fashion. Check his other blogs (PC Watch, Greenie Watch, Gun Watch, and Education Watch) as well.

I posit that ideological excess reduces one's ability to put forth ideas. In that sense, Ray is doing liberals a favor with his work.

Mike's insane theory #1

Read what the title links to, and think back to the number of similar stories you've heard in the last year or more. Always in Israel, or nearby. Always bombs, or bomb parts, just 'going off by accident." I submit it isn't an accident.

I think the Israelis have found some way of detonating explosives from a distance, some kind of death ray I suppose, and when they see someone acting weird they aim it at them. If they blow up, they were about to do something naughty.

There was a thriller novel published a few years ago in which scientists invent a way to detonate gunpowder, making guns unusable (actually hideously dangerous to be around) within the range of the device. Like SF, techno-thrillers often presage real tech advances. Seems possible, right?

More news from Iraq from people who should know

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who just stopped commanding the 101st Airborned Division in Iraq to take over the Multinational Security Transition Command, is a sharp dude with a serious attitude about the job ahead. This is required reading for Iraq news junkies, and frankly everyone.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What do you know, I am a Star Wars geek

I must be, because I found this fascinating.

From boingboing

Uh Oh

Mount St. Helens. Again. A Notice of Volcanic Unrest.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Fred on the Ford

Fred on the Ford
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
View down the river at Hunt, Texas. Fred goes nuts on this low-water bridge, tearing around and chasing fish. He and Oliver really love the country life, and so do I.

It's beautiful in the Texas Hill Country, The stars are indeed bright in the heart of TX. The moon can be so bright we used to get up and play tennis under it when I was a kid, and I have all kinds of bizarre dreamy memories of walking around outdoors in that light. Kind of blue.

I hope to take the dogs back soon. Maybe this week, if I am indeed fired. I won't post from there, but although it's been just a little while doing this, I need a break already.

Friday, September 24, 2004

ACL lung/sinus syndrome report

Timmy says he ran into a number of people in the airport leaving Austin after the festival who were hacking their lungs out and had all been to the festival. My wife is on antibiotics now, she got so sick. I'm still hackin' as well, and Tim was down for a couple of days he said. It rained a little last year right before and during, but this year it rained really hard Wednesday and the show started Friday midday. I guess the ground dries a lot in two days of Texas heat.

So next year I'm wearing a gas mask.

Yep, I'm probably fired

Not always a great idea to speak your mind frankly, but darn it I can't always help myself. I wouldn't do it differently, I guess, if I had the chance. Ah well.

What the deal is with all that cowbell

Frickin' hilarious, especially if you watch the original SNL sketch Ace has included in his post. I gotta have more cowbell!

Don't forget to listen to Paul Anka ripping his band's nuts off verbally, down below.

From Ace of Spades

Apropos of everything

I may have just fired myself. More later

Greg Boyington, Crazy SOB

Pappy Boyington
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Pappy Boyington of WWII Marine Fighter squadron VMF-214 was the first pilot to break WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker's record of 26 aerial kills, not to mention a Fying Tiger, hard drinker, barroom brawler, and inventor of the first Vought F4U Corsair autopilot. He was played by Robert Conrad in the '70s show Baa Baa Black Sheep, which I absolutely loved at the time but turns out to be a pretty slanderous depiction of some very principled and heroic men. From his autobiography, a description of how he managed the 5-hour flights from his field to enemy territory:

"I used to envy the bomber pilots, who had automatic pilots in their planes. So, for lack of an automatic, I would take along rubber bands and pieces of string, and I would rig these up on the instrument panel and on the brackets on the side of the cockpit, and I would have them all fixed up so that I could sleep most of the way going up to enemy territory. I would loosen my safety belt and half crawl out of my parachute straps, and then I would doze off.

"Rarely would I have to glance at the altimeter, for I was able to tell by the sound of my engine whether I was going up- or downhill. So, without opening my eyes, I would just reach out and tap the rear string, and everything would sound right and I could doze off again.

"If one wing dropped, I would lurch over to that side, gently tap the rubber band, and when the adjustment was made and I was sitting on an even keel, I would doze off once more."

You might well ask if this is a particularly good idea while flying combat in the Pacific (the sleeping, not the autopilot), and Pappy says when you have a bunch of eagle-eyed youngsters around who can see planes twice as far away as you, who cares. Get your snooze on. From what I have read there was a fair amount of sleeping during combat ops as far back as WWI, and in the Battle of Britain pilots got so exhausted they dozed off in the cockpit with dangerous frequency. Seven or eight missions a day will do that to you.

Pappy was apparently an enthusiastic smoker, and his pilots knew it was go time when they saw him pull back his canopy and toss a butt out.

Letter to my friend the faux liberal

I call him faux because he's to the right of everyone who has ever lived on the war issue. I have to give credit where it's due, and at least he has an actual answer to what he'd have done differently than George Bush, which is attack Iran and Syria instead of Iraq. Kind of seductively nuts. Anyway, I say we're going to end up there, but we did this first. Hope it was the right way to go about it.

The letter:

So you seem like a single-issue guy to me right now. How's the Democratic party better than Bush, any of it, and especially Kerry, on the war? (OK, Lieberman I can live with, and would have voted for) You know Kerry's going to cut and run even though that's only the last opinion he's voiced on the matter. It's always been what he'll do if he wins. How does that make him worth a vote from you? It's one thing to say W went about terrorism in the wrong way, but to be promoting failure in Iraq with that treasonous piece of shit Joe Lockhart and scaremongering about a draft bill sponsored by goddamned Democrats is just despicable. He's not credible on the war and just wants terrorism to go away by virtue of the moral power of the global community, or something equally vapid. He's a ninny with a history of rooting for the other side in times of war.

I understand you have problems with W. We all do. Why is Kerry better?

Misty Afghan Hills

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
This is a really fantastic photo set from a Marine fighter jock in Afghanistan. He just put out a new one which I will post later. Click the title to link to the entire set.

From, long ago

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Come to Berkeley CA, where we hate everybody

Interesting breakdown of incidents classified as hate crimes in and around the UC-Berkeley campus by what appears to be a UC student. My favorite is from exactly a year ago:

"September 23, 2003, from Berkeley Daily Planet police blotter: 'Police were called to the 2600 block of Dana Street Tuesday when a resident spotted a stuffed gorilla wearing a red and white San Francisco 49ers jacket with the words "I’m Gay" written on the back. Police have not determined if the incident will be classified as a hate crime.'"

I lived in Berserkely for more than two years, and hung about the Cal campus a bit, so I've seen lots of protests and protesters, and been harrassed by any number of earnest young kids about heavy issues around the globe, and even had candid political discussion with what must have been avowed liberals there, but I don't remember experiencing hatefulness even in the most spirited debate, or seeing the kind of overly defiant (and to my mind counterproductive) protest that surrounded the Republican Convention in NYC. Frankly I was amazed how thoughtful and reasonable the most flaming of liberals usually was, even when I poked them a little. Then again, Clinton was elected right when I got there, so maybe that explains some of it.

Poached from Res Ipsa Loquitur (blogspotting, like me)

Debunking Afghan Myths

Greg Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch, an extraordinarily well-informed and smart dude, links to an article in which Peter Bergen, apparently pretty smart and informed in his own right, has done a masterful job of obliterating the myth that we've abandoned ship in Afghanistan. Read it and love it, and them, and me for showing it/them to you.

As far as I can tell, we've never stopped running ops in Afghanistan, and I'll believe Osama Bin Laden's still alive when anyone can produce better evidence than a years-old bad audiotape. Frankly I could fake better evidence than has been found of his existence. Even if he were still alive, "we let the real bad guy get away" is Michael Moore nonsense. Read all of it, especially Greg's analysis.

There is no blog but Allah

Read this guy every day if you can, somewhat for the commentary, but mostly for the great photoshops he produces when he's not shaming Dan Rather into abdicating his throne. Allah is the MAN!

God I love Mark Steyn is one of my favorite web stops, and this is the kind of column that makes him such a joy to read. A friend of mine once said that he and Paul Krugman were equally distant from the center of American politics, and as much as I love that friend, and respect his intellect deeply, he just hasn't read nearly enough Mark Steyn. Krugman is a paranoid little twit who would find something to bitch about in heaven, while Steyn is someone who has really lived, in both a literary and earthly sense, and has something interesting (not to mention positive) to say about life.

Check him out regularly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

They said it couldn't be done

Read this. Michael J. Totten has broken down and analyzed how Israel did what most people said couldn't be done, which is to stop violence with violence. The IDF got serious and the results speak for themselves.

I'll say it again: with modern technology, you really can kill terrorists faster than they can make them.

From Instapundit

Happy Birthday

Erik at no-pasaran reminds us that it's English scientist Michael Faraday's birthday. Check his blog regularly for anti-French sentiment. Can you really every have enough?

Licky Poo

What is with this guy? Is no one in charge of kicking him under the table? They could just put a buzzer on his leg and press the button every time he does something disastrously dumb. Which is invariably.

Helo Shot of the Austin City Limits Festival

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I really need to master the zoom function on my camera. If you click on the picture, it'll take you to a large copy wherein you can see a lot of people.

Frost flyby

Frost flyby
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
The new Frost Tower from a helicopter. CSE hired a helo and pilot to give VIPs and staff rides over the park and city. Towards the end he gave a couple of hard turns to freak us out. Fun!

The Punch Heard 'Round the World

A soldier who almost lost his leg in Iraq comes home, goes to a concert with an "Iraqi Freedom" shirt, and is punched in the back of the head, knocked to the ground, and then punched and kicked by an unidentified (ha - I'm sure SOMEBODY saw him but nobody is talking) assailant, who ran into the crowd and got away.

The soldier is pretty badly injured and can't rejoin his unit in time to return to Iraq as scheduled. Buck up, private. You're a man in a way that SOB will never be. And frankly this is probably good for a number of Bush votes.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What a surprise

The Israeli Defense Force has turned up documents that "confirm that the family of the suicide bomber who attacked the beach front Dolphinarium dance club in Tel Aviv was awarded $2000 by Yasser Arafat."

Everyone knows Arafat runs terrorists, except we're supposed to pretend he's actually interested in making things better. The UN loves Arafat, and so does the Nobel Committee aparently, since they gave him the Peace Prize in 1994. I guess they hoped that would make him stop killing Jewish civilians. It didn't work. Let's kill him and be done with him, and dare the next guy to be worse: we'll kill his sorry ass too.

We were told that killing Sheik Yassin, the leader of Hamas, would bring about a 'volcano of death.' In reality, it took from March to September to make a retaliatory strike against Israel. We killed Yassin's successor not long after him, and suddenly Hamas leader doesn't look like such a great job. I guess you really can kill them faster than they can make them. It's time the bad guys knew that.

(Article hijacked from Michelle Malkin's site)

Crap Mountain

Native Tear
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
As usual, my pictures fail to convey the scale. You can imagine the amount of garbage made by 75,000 people in 13 acres. Tim does his best Iron Eyes Cody impression here, shedding a tear for what has been lost. Oh the humanity.

Sea of Bikes

Sea of Bikes
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
There were an enormous number of bikes at the Austin City Limits Festival, and this is about half of them.

Cake Singer Guy

Cake guy
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Here's a pic of the Cake lead singer, whose name I'd know if I were young and hip. There was an absolute sea of people on the gentle hill running away from the stage at the far end of the park, a sea Tim and I had to plow throught the middle of when we came to the wrong side and couldn't get backstage from there. The kids today don't wear much clothing, that's for sure.

Stuart Buck Homers from the DH Spot

Stuart Buck is one of my favorite bloggers, and definitely my favorite kind of blogger. He's not terribly prolific, but each post is intellectually dense, impeccably researched, and devastatingly delivered. He's an attorney, and that he and others like him use their power for good by blogging improves my opinion of all those who practice law.

Here he picks a myth and dismantles it so thoroughly there is not even a mark where it once stood. Read it all and check his blog when you can.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Sparring yappy dogs

Sparring Pups
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Fred attempts to enlist Oliver in his kind of play, which is to say gentle, high-energy and more show than go. Oliver is awkward and inappropriately rough, which with a lot of other dogs would be fine. Fred has been kind of reluctant to play with Ollie lately so it's nice to see they still hang.

ACL Syndrome

ACL Dust Cloud
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
A lot of the people who attended the Austin City Limits Festival in Zilker Park over the weekend (75K Fri., Sat. and Sun.), including me, sound like Brenda Vaccaro (sp?) today. At night you could actually see the cloud of dust (I'm guessing five parts dirt, three parts vegetable matter, two parts human skin, and one part powdered dog shit) that hung over the crowd, and I saw it reflecting the flash from my camera a couple of times and thought there was dirt on my lens. I had no idea it looked like this.

My friend Skinny Bean from Denver observed that there was a stampede after the end of each set as people streamed from one end of the park to another in groups of 5-10,000 and that the haze from all the trampling got larger and higher each time. When I got home I blew my nose and was not particularly startled to see black stuff in the kleenex.

But it was lots of fun, and not nearly as hot as we thought it would be. And the music was amazing.

The Coolest thing Ever

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
From Gerard at American Digest, the ultimate in fake overkill - the paintball minigun. A modest 48 balls per second per barrel, of which there seem to be six. Damn that's a lot of paint. And pain.

On the topic of violence, a friend of mine is an exotic metals machinist who is currently working on gears for a military remote control helicopter, which sounds pretty scary. Thank God the assault weapons ban has gone away, it's time to arm ourselves against the robots. And when you do, make sure you get some AP (armor piercing) ammo. Robots are tough.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

John Kerry, pathological liar

I've been at a loss to understand why people are so willing to buy Kerry's version of himself. This guy isn't buying it, and neither am I. I think a lot of people object to Bush on the basis of a visceral reaction to memories of other people in their past who they imagine are like Bush. Which is silly, because there are any number of legitimate reasons to object to Bush without making it personal or emotional, and frankly it's inexcusable to choose an elected official on the basis of your emotional reaction to their appearance. But I should confess I have a visceral reaction to the person I understand Kerry to be, but for a different reason.

I tend to distrust people who aren't candid about their feelings. I've always maintained that as repellent a person as Howard Stern is, at least you know unequivocally where he stands. He is the same person no matter what. You could say that about Bush. John Kerry, on the other hand, has made a lifetime study of seeming presidential. He attempts to put on what can't be put on, and fails, but knows very well that in a free society, you are who you say you are. Ar at least, people tend to take you at your word, even if your word changes frequently. Kerry is trying too hard to be someone he is not. Bush isn't. That's meaningful in my book. You can trust Bush to be himself, but not Kerry. I don't want a president who's so wrapped up in what I think about him that it changes what he does and says.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Spent all of today and most of yesterday at the Austin City Limits Festival. We've seen Solomon Burke (fantastic), Particle (pretty good), G. Love and Special Sauce (very good), Trey Anastasio (awesome), the Wailers (damn good), Gomez (crappy), a little Los Lonely Boys (jolly and good), a little Sheryl Crow, something called Amigos Invisibles that was excellent, Joe Ely (decent). Some interesting food in the VIP lounge but each new dish lasts about 15 minutes and then there's nothing for another 45. Ate one of those chicken cones everyone's been talking about from last year and it was very nice.

Took some pics and have other things to say about all this but am tired. Tomorrow maybe.

Iraq news from someone who's actually there

Captain Ed Morissey brings us a Marine Corps Major's version of recent events in Iraq, the most recent National Intelligence Estimate, and generally how he thinks we're doing. Even if I hadn't found Captain Ed to be not just one of the best but most accurate bloggers in the English-speaking world, I would recommend this as a reality check with respect to Iraq. Bailing is the absolute worst of the available options now.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The best plant I've ever bought

Night Blooming Jasmine
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
My wife and I love jasmine flowers, and we have four different kinds growing around our house. This is my favorite, called night-blooming jessamine or Cestrum Notcurnum. It's by far the strongest flower smell I've ever experienced, and the first time it bloomed it overpowered the smell of steak grilling from the other side of the house.

This is a picture of the largest explosion of flowers we've ever gotten. They open after dark but don't smell hardly at all for an hour or so, and they last for between 4-7 days before the fragrance fades.

It blooms from Spring until late Fall, and they say it gets to be 8' tall, so we're going to plant a bunch more of them between us and the neighbors.

Yellow Hibiscus

Yellow Hibiscus
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Impossibly large for such a small plant, and so vibrant and voluptuous that you forget how fragile it is, and how soon it will die. One day is so little time for such an extravagantly beautiful thing, and I get excited about each new bud on the four hibiscus plants in the back yard.

Victims of insufficiently modified dirt, not enough sun for their liking, and Texas' potential for weather irregularities would seem to put such tropical plants at a disadvantage, and we keep expecting them to not come back after the winter, but they always do. And we love them.

I told you so

Do PCs really cost less than Macs?

No. And they suck. Read it and weep, MicroSuckers. You've been had and now you've managed to convince yourself you're happy about it.

Money quote:

"Whereas the Dell has a faster processor, the Mac has a far faster graphics card, takes up way less room on the desk, has two firewire ports while the Dell has none, far better software package, has speakers, and better quality keyboard and mouse. The Dell's processor advantage is annulled by the lack of a graphics card- the Mac will do almost as well as the Dell in video/photo editting, due to the design of the processor, and the presence of a graphics card means the Mac will spank the Dell in gaming. So the Dell's processor will be of an advantage in...oh, word processing?"

Vast and not terribly powerful left-wing conspiracy

From what I can gather, this guy is saying liberals are big, rich, powerful, ineffectual pussies when it comes to promoting their views. And they're whiny and suspicious when it becomes obvious that conservatives are whipping their asses with less money and power, which is invariably. What a surprise. An excerpt:

"Stein and Lapham would have you believe that conservative foundations both outweigh liberal foundations and suppress the liberal message with their big spending. But that's not the case. Stein estimates assets of $2 billion for the eight major conservative family foundations in 2001, which sounds gargantuan. But that's chump change compared to the holdings of liberal foundations. Writing in the American Prospect in 1998, Karen Paget notes that none of these conservative foundations rank in the top 10 American foundations measured by assets, and most don't even break into the top 50. . . .

"Paget argues persuasively that conservative foundations are more effective than liberal foundations because they're better at giving money away, not because they give more of it away. Conservatives tend to 1) give general support, letting the grantee decide how to spend the money; and 2) they tend to renew those gifts year after year, letting the grantee take root as an institution and freeing it from running in circles on the fund-raising wheel. Conservative magazines such as Commentary, the American Spectator, the National Interest, the Public Interest, the New Criterion, and Policy Review have flourished because of steady funding by benefactors.

"Liberal foundations, on the other hand, tend to limit their donations to specific projects and don't make multiple deposits over the years. In other words, a liberal propaganda mill exists; it just operates under different philanthropic principles than the conservative one."

Fascinating. Read it all.

(Hijacked from Pejmanesque)

That's what they call trenchant analysis

The title says it all: it is indeed a Stark Message for the Legacy Media, by Jay Rosen. Read it and find out why the mainstream press has been so clueless during this election season - they're weirder than Masons, more crooked than developers, and more shameless than strip club owners. Read the whole thing - it's fascinating.

I take no pleasure in this

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Or maybe it's that it hurts me more than it hurts you. But I believe it as strongly as I believe the sun will rise tomorrow: John Kerry is a step down from George W. Bush. All those democrats and this is the one who gets picked. Disgusting. Anyone but Kerry.

"Every inch of your skin hurts. ... I cry to sleep."

That's what Roy Horn says about his recovery. Interesting section on sewing the section of Roy's skull they removed to relieve pressure into his abdomen until it was time to put it back weeks later.

"I saw a bank of white light, and then I saw all my beloved animals,'' Horn pronounced oddly, even for him. "For a moment I stepped out of my body.''

Flummery Digest dead, not resting

Well that's a shame. I really enjoyed the Flummery Digest last year and assumed it would continue. Alas it did not, although it would take quite a while to read through all the flummery that they've gathered. Check it out.

\Flum"mer*y\, n. [W. llumru, or llumruwd, a kind of food made of oatmeal steeped in water until it has turned sour, fr. llumrig harsh, raw, crude, fr. llum sharp, severe.] 1. A light kind of food, formerly made of flour or meal; a sort of pap.

Milk and flummery are very fit for children. --Locke.

2. Something insipid, or not worth having; empty compliment; trash; unsubstantial talk of writing.

The flummery of modern criticism. --J. Morley.
[Free Trial - Merriam-Webster Unabridged.]

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.


n 1: a bland custard or pudding especially of oatmeal 2: meaningless ceremonies and flattery [syn: mummery]

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Isn't that interesting

From Rantburg, in the comments about the CBS forgery story, a theory on how these mysterious documents came to be, and why CBS aired them:

"FWIW (probably not much since you don't know who I am and my Iraqi source is wobbly), I just heard from a Dem insider friend in Austin. This is someone close to the Texans for Truth. She indicates the following:
1. Burkett is not the source (wouldn't say who is but says she is positive).
2. Dan's daughter Robin is involved but only as a conduit and is not culpable for the fraud.
3. The source does indeed have major dirt ("Leavenworth prison type dirt") on CBS, but it has nothing to do with Latin American revolutionaries as I had speculated earlier.

This story is going to get a lot bigger."

Scroll down for some interesting unsubstantiated rumor.

Brought low by the Hand of Dixie

A little more Zellfire:

"But for David Gergen and this newspaper's Al Hunt, among others, to call me a racist was especially hurtful. For they know better. They know I worked for three governors in a row, not just one: Carl Sanders, Lester Maddox and Jimmy Carter. They knew I was the first governor to try to remove the Confederate emblem from the Georgia flag. And by the way, when I called each of Georgia's former governors to tell them what I was about to attempt, Jimmy Carter's first question to me was, "What are you doing that for?" Mr. Gergen and Mr. Hunt also know I appointed the only African-American attorney general in the country in the 1990s and more African Americans to the state judiciary than all the other governors of Georgia combined, including that one from Plains."

DAMN I like Zell Miller.

Poor Sweet Little Fred

Sweet Fred
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I can't tell you how wonderful and sweet Fred is, and how gleefully vicious he gets when we're playing bite the hand.

He knows just how hard to bite, and that's a skill that most dogs don't acknowledge, much less master. He comes at me like a wildcat, snarling and snapping and wagging his whole rear end with delight. We stop every once in a while and I nuzzle up to him while I rub his both sides rapidly, and he does a little growly howling thing that ends in a bark. Then he does that we're-not-done-playing little hop backwards.

Special animals have that human light in their eyes, and that's true of Fred's little peepers. He has such a strong personality that I will always think of him as our first child. D and I were heartbroken when he hurt his back chasing a cat six weeks ago, since at first his back legs didn't work very well and he was in a lot of pain. My fantasy of being a pillar of strength for my loved ones was pretty much vaporized as I was reduced to a blubbering mess on the way to the vet, driving a stick without power steering and holding Fred so as to keep him as comfortable as possible. While bawling on the phone to Deirdre, who I completely freaked out.

I guess there's a good reason they don't let you operate on your family. And I'll have to hope that in a real emergency, I can trick myself into not giving a shit about any injured parties. And hopefully I'll remember that as bad as Fred was hurt, he's doing much better now.

Down with violence!

Down with violence!
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
The British do so love their fox hunting. Well, not all of them do, and those britishers are so mad about the gratuitous violence that they stormed Parliament and beat some people up.

England has gone nuts since they took everyone's guns away.

Inherit the wind

I really think Ebay is finally realizing its potential here.

Austin City Limits Festival

Did I mention that my wife works for ACL, and that she is very cranky and should be breathing fire for the next week or so? Pray for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Bus Plunge of the week

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
When I worked at the Daily Texan, the University of Texas newspaper, I was the Wire Editor. Basically I read all the stories coming from the wire services and looked at most of the pictures they'd send over on the fax-y thing that had a fancy name. Back in the day I guess you had to read the stories as they came across on the teletype. tearing them off and having someone type it into your system, but by 1983 it was all done on computers. And many of us smoked at our desks, indoors on university property. Try that nowadays.

Anyways, when you look at every story that comes over the wire every day for a few months, you really get a sense for how many people die in sad and ridiculous ways. I remember in particular a guy getting stabbed to death with a frozen wedge of cheese, and I can also remember about fifty bus plunges. Just about every day, it seemed, some old rickety bus would lose its brakes at a hairpin and rocket off a cliff at the next one, killing everyone. I don't know how the liability thing works in other countries, but I think most victims' families were happy to get a decent burial out of the bus company, much less restitution.

So next time you get invonvenienced by a bus on your way to work, or have to wait for a late bus, just remember that in a distant place, some poor souls are sharing their last seconds on earth with a screaming busload of strangers, and probably wishing they lived here instead of there. I will blog any bus plunges I see, so keep your eyes peeled.

Blogging in pajamas? I'm blogging in a penis gourd

'Mr. Klein dismissed the bloggers who are raising questions about the authenticity of the memos: "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing."'

Well, he's not just writing, Mr. Pompous Newsman. He's checking facts and attribution, for one, which you people don't seem to do much of. And he's cross-referencing with other bloggers, many of whom are experts in particular fields, attorneys, and otherwise highly educated and trained people, which acts as a pretty good organism to ferret out truth and falsehood. And finally, he's not part of a club that only includes other frustrated liberal activists posing as news professionals.

Writing the news used to be a trade. Now it's a completely unregulated profession. That's not a good thing. The US mainstream press is the most powerful entity in the world with no constraints other than the market. For all its joys and benefits, the market is a poor mechanism with which to moderate such a vast and subtle power.

So we are what's left. You and I give the press its power. And we can take it away.

Vile Therpentth

I like Wallace Shawn, I really do. Especially the movie where he's a creepy little priest in the catholic school and he splatters the microphone during a sermon about the dangers of onanism. But he's really lost it lately, and has decided to drop a little old-school civilizational guilt on us:

""We all know how enjoyable it is to see a film about the nineteenth century in which sadistic and greedy slave-owners, dressed in comical costumes, sit on the porch of a mansion and breezily philosophize, justifying their vile way of life with ludicrous and insincere rationalizations. And there's even something somewhat gratifying, one has to admit, about seeing Hitler in a newsreel, with his silly mustache and silly haircut, screaming hysterically and shaking his fist. And one of the reasons we like to see such films or such newsreels is that they give us the reassuring feeling, as we watch them, that we're the sort of people who can recognize evil when it presents itself — the sort of people who will recognize it and immediately reject it if it ever should approach us. The people in the film about the nineteenth century may be fooling each other, but they don'รข fool us. We can easily see that their arguments are false. And even when we watch the newsreel, although Hitler is trying his best to impress us, he fails completely. We see right through him, and we utterly despise him.

"Unfortunately, it does little good to those who were murdered by Hitler in the 1940s that we look at newsreels of Hitler today and see him as a hideous monstrosity. What doomed those people to a horrifying death was the fact that the audience that was listening to Hitler's speeches at the time he was actually making them found him very compelling. Hitler's mustache style, unfashionable today, was seen by the people of the time as quite attractive. The passion in his speeches seemed heart-felt and honest. The accusations he made about the injustices committed against the German nation by the Treaty of Versailles were very persuasive. And the people who listened to Hitler's speeches had often heard that he was fond of his children, and fond of his dog.

"Watching too many newsreels from the distant past, too many films about the nineteenth century, can give us a feeling of over-confidence. It would be flattering to believe that we are superior in some way to the audiences who cheered for Hitler — more insightful and perceptive, let's say or less bloodthirsty — but I think it would be more prudent to make the assumption that perhaps we are not. At least we should allow ourselves to imagine that possibility for just a moment. After all, if we do turn out to be superior — if we are, in fact, a uniquely benign and harmless group of people, blessed with unusual clarity of vision — then our moment of over-cautiousness will have cost us nothing. Whereas if it should happen to turn out that we're not superior, our self-examination might save a lot of people — possible all people — from being harmed by us."

In conclusion, Bush is Hitler, we're the Nazis, and he's an englightened soul trying to stop the new holocaust.

Hey, Wallace? Go fuck yourself, you self-righteous little cocksucker. If you had your way, a real Hitler would still be having his way. And that wouldn't bother you a bit. Spare me the ethical perspective lesson.

Mike at the beach

Mike at the beach
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
My wife took this one in early June of this year on Kauai. Rich red Kauai sand, emerald ocean, and crystal blue sky. It was like humanity ended at this beach and we were forced to look upon wild nature here.

And look upon it we did. It seemed like the whole beach was focused on the medium swells. Some people had paperbacks but no one read. I felt like the surf needed watching like a loose jungle cat, and even more so when I went swimming. It had been exactly 30 years since I had felt Hawaiian surf, and I had forgotten how much I loved it. Needed it. I felt like a goldfish back in his bowl, like part of an organism.

So this is a picture of my first real swim since I was 9 years old. The sea ended up getting us really good, stealing up just enough to trash our entire bamboo mats/towels/clothing/purses/cameras/magazines/shoes collection, with the exception of my camera bag, which I was able to snatch and run off with right as the rogue wave hit us. Should have taken a picture of the carnage, but no one but me thought it was funny.

Failure to communicate

Political discrimination. You live in it. So do I. I've always held my tongue to some degree or other. And I'm ashamed of that, because I hold sacred what I believe about the nature of people and politics, and I really actually do think people died to give me the opportunity to have those thoughts. It seems shabby and inadequate that I choose to exercise my hard-won freedom in such a fashion, even in hopes of sparing the world another opinionated loudmouth. Being a loud jerk about what you believe helps the other side, and I regret any damage I have done to causes I support, but I know there are times that I have kept quiet simply because I didn't want to deal with the resulting verbal brawl. And that's lame.

My adolescent fantasy about adult life was about the grand debates we'd all have, Lincoln/Douglas every day everywhere you went, just for the exhilaration of thinking and speaking on such a scale. So pure and unequivocal, uncluttered by the dreary realities of the human struggle and yet so deeply rooted in what is real and solid about humanity. Basic Truths, expounded upon by the wise and the otherwise.

And like all adolescent fantasies, this one seems quaint and vaguely ridiculous in the light of reality. There are no rules of discourse, and if there ever were, they were for suckers. Sometimes I even doubt that Lincoln and Douglas had ever had such a debate as I imagined, where two strong intellects enthusiastically subjugate themselves to the dictates of logic and reason to wrestle with some great question. No ego, just pure thought.

I'm sure I don't need to mention our current campaign in this context. Today we've gone from analyzing one set of 30-year-old records to trying to figure out if another was forged for political gain. At this rate, we'll be hearing testimony from Oliver North any day now. Considering the stakes, I think that's a real shame. And it's far less the fault of the candidates than it is the press, which is being revealed as the insular, deeply biased, criminally underinformed pack of losers it's been for decades now. I can't say enough bad things about the press; they've been fucking dirtbags of the worst kind for years, and starting around the 2000 election they went completely off the deep end.

I'm not much of a Bush fan, I just can't vote for Kerry. I, and many conservatives, would have voted for a number of other dems happily, and with confidence we weren't taking a step backward at a terrible time to do so. He's just an empty guy, I can't think of another word for it. I know the myth is that these hundreds of Swift Boat vets are being pimped by Karl Rove and the forces of evil, but the truth is you can't force old war vets to do anything they don't want to do. Kerry, for example, can't even get a double-digit number of Swifties to shill for him.

I can't personally countenance engaging in attacks on a guy's war record, but this guy is squirrelly about his service, and accused every single Viet Nam vet of committing hideous atrocities he may well have himself committed but could not possibly have seen. My father couldn't wear his uniform in the states for fear of being assaulted and/or spit on (my mother speaks especially angrily about this; it really broke his heart), and many former POWs say Kerry's speeches were played to them as justification for their torture, even during torture.

Most war vets don't seem to want to talk about their service, ever, with people who haven't experienced the same. So when John Edwards says, "If you want to know what kind of man John Kerry would be as our president, ask the men who served with him in war," well, 250+ of those guys want to answer that question, and the mainstream press treats them like they have Ebola, calls them tools of the vast right wing conspiracy, and basically punts on what should be a huge and heavily documented story, which the Kerry campaign has already conceded much of. And yet this 60 Minutes forged memo story still is being reported as if it were true despite being thoroughly debunked days ago. Crazy, isn't it?

Well, not really. Evan Thomas, the editor of Newsweek, said most journalists are for Kerry, and that it should be worth 15 points by election time. Daniel Okrent, the public editor for the NYT, wrote a column the other day, the first two sentences of which were: "Is the NYT a liberal newspaper? Of course." At the UNITY Journalists of Color conference last month, a poll of attendees came up 12-1 for Kerry. People are starting to realize what I knew my first day in Journalism school: journalists are usually liberals, and they use their platform to advance the liberal cause. Or at least that's what they think.

Meanwhile, the big three network news divisions are dying of loneliness, every newspaper but USA Today is losing circulation fast, and there are major circulation-exaggeration cases in court right now. A poll from two months ago ranked the media as the biggest reason we are having trouble in Iraq. Bloggers are scooping and fact-checking traditional media sources a lot in the last year, and it's going to get worse.

Then again, look how long it took. Dan Rather has been at the heart of multiple fake-news scandals, from the Westmoreland case in the '70s (a disaster for CBS financially and otherwise) to the explosives-under-the-SUV from the '90s. Criminal charges should be brought against this son of a bitch. He deserves a sjamboking. On the nuts.

I had a fantastic conversation with an old friend the other day, the first in maybe five years. We had so much fun arguing about politics that at different times both our wives came out to see if we were OK. Damn it was fantastic. At the end I said, "Thanks, I never get to have this much fun." He said, "Me either." Why is that? We are two educated, informed, opinionated people. We haven't lived together in more than a decade, and hadn't talked in at least five years. And the last time we had had a rousing political discussion, one totally about the topics we discussed and not at all about personalities, feelings, or any of that nonsense, was the last time we had done so together. How the hell does that happen?

Monday, September 13, 2004

The pain of animal slavery

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Me and puffy here usually work like this: He sits on my lap while I work, and I try not to wake him up when I answer the phone, type or otherwise make an effort.

When I do disturb him, he looks at me accusingly, then moans loudly and snuggles down a little more into the pillows I have on my lap. Bastard.

Cocoa is the shit

This has to be true, it's so godawful and weird.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

This thing would really be useful, and interesting

If, that is, I ever learn how to format any of this stuff. Other blogs have pics, links, all kinds of interesting stuff. It's kind of the reason anyone ever reads them.

So I'm going to figure it out this coming week while my job shuts down for the Austin City Limits Festival. They're renting all of our crap so I'll have nothing to do but answer the phone and learn how to be competent. Let the shames begin!

Pants down, eyes burning, the hot taste of shame in your mouth

Dan Rather, a despicable son of a bitch if ever there was one, is gone. His ghost remains but soon even it will disappear, and we'll never know he was here. He has cheapened our common experience a little, just a mosquito-like vampire. Good riddance.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

And now . . .

Bush 54, Kerry 43. Except everybody know W is 43, bitch!

Prepare for at least four years of moaning, whining, and otherwise obstructing progress by the sore losers on the left. Ugh.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Driving is a God-given right

If God hadn't wanted us to drive as fast as possible on awesome roads in awesome rides, he wouldn't have created dinosaurs. That's why it behooves all of us to go to driving school, get kicked out for wearing the wrong shoes, and then unleash the Kraken.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"Yeah, but they were all bad."

Why couldn't Arnold Schwarzenegger say it last night? Just once, just for me, "George Dabayou Bush, let me tell you about de Riddle of Steel: To crush your enemies, to drive dem before you, and to heah de lamentations of de women!"