Sunday, October 31, 2004

I just thought Michael Buffer was weird, not crazy

This is weird. Let's get ready to sue people frivolously!

From Boingboing, via Fark

Thunderdome party on Lake Austin

Thunderdome collage
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
This was a party on Lake Austin I was lucky enough to get an invite to back in the late '90s. I rented a bad costume (if you view the collage as one big pic, I'm fifth from the right along the top edge), sort of a caveman. Basically a leather loincloth and two big scraps of leather to make into a prehistoric wifebeater. I got a bone necklace and tied little bones into my flattop, and off we went.

The theme was Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. Frankly I didn't remember the movie much but did recognize a number of characters throughout the evening. We were met at the front gate by some nutty sentrylike people, one of whom had a real MG42 (first picture on the left on second row, with Crazy Lew, and a guy shooting paintballs from the wall in the pic right just to the right of him), and they had a real Thunderdome, in which they'd strap people into a bungie rig and give them fake hammers and axes to whack each other with.

During all this there were a number of naked girls running around, and firebreathers, and people walking around with spears sticking through them. Booze everywhere, freaks everywhere, cops that didn't give a crap everywhere, a really great time had by all.

A half a cow and whole pig were roasted and brought under a huge canopy tent with a floor, and rugs and beanbag chairs everywhere. Plates made of bread were provided but no other utensils, so you just grabbed steaming chunks of roast flesh and ripped them off larger chunks and put them on your plate with roasted vegetables and more bread.

The host, who I believe is the top right person in the collage, is a video game designer and local madman about town. He came to the center of the feeding tent about 45 minutes after the initial rush and in the process of introducing himself, took a large piece of roast cow flesh in the sternum that had been launched from across the tent, from an overly boisterous partygoer, and stumbled back as if shot.

That precipitated the largest foodfight I have ever seen, which I enjoyed immensely until I took a corn cob in the side of the head from a guy who fastballed it from about 10 feet away. Had to catch my breath after that.

More, and another pic, later . . .

Give us a year, it'll get a lot weirder

This article from Drudge is an early example of the kind of stories that people will be talking furiously about in the future when the issues aren't so clear, ones where parents screen fetuses genetically for certain characteristics. From the London Times Online:

People with inherited forms of cancer have won the right to select embryos free from genes that might trigger the disease in future generations, The Times has learnt.

Four couples affected by a genetic form of bowel cancer will start the procedure by the end of the year, after the Government’s fertility watchdog allowed a London clinic to screen IVF embryos for the disorder.

One of the patients, a 35-year-old accountant from Bristol, said: “We are overjoyed to have been given this chance, not only to do as much as possible to make sure our children don’t have this gene, but to stop them from passing it on.”

The ruling by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority deepens the controversy over designer babies. It sets a precedent that will allow doctors to “cherry-pick” embryos for a much wider range of traits than at present. Applications to extend the procedure are expected within months.

"Selection" in this context seems perfectly decent and honorable, although I can't say the words "Government’s fertility watchdog" didn't put a chill down my spine. I do wonder how they test the fetus, and whether that in itself isn't a danger. Hmm.

Oh, but I DO have a hammer

Instapundit directs us to a Charles Krauthammer column in the WaPo, in which he takes Kerry to task on the topic of Afghanistan and Iraq. Here's a touch:

"Once again, the senator's position has evolved, to borrow the New York Times' delicate term for Kerry's many about-faces.

This election comes down to a choice between one man's evolution and the other man's resolution. With his endlessly repeated Tora Bora charges, Kerry has made Afghanistan a major campaign issue. So be it. Whom do you want as president? The man who conceived the Afghan campaign, carried it through without flinching when it was being called a "quagmire" during its second week and has seen it through to Afghanistan's transition to democracy? Or the retroactive genius, who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened -- who would have done "everything" differently in Iraq, yet in Afghanistan would have replicated Bush's every correct, courageous, radical and risky decision -- except one. Which, of course, he would have done differently. He says. Now."

Delicious. One of my favorite scenes in American cinema is the part in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" where Steve Martin finally loses it and tears a new one in John Candy for being such an aggravating bore. Although I absolutely love it, my wife hates that scene because it's "terribly cruel," and I understand why she says that. But it's also the one scene in which Steve Martin finally expresses what's inside him honestly and without reservation. Not always a bad thing, I say, and think Charles Krauthammer would agree. He can just barely contain his utter contempt for John Kerry, and I think it's about time we all started being honest with ourselves about him. He's not going to magically fix anything for America at home and abroad, and he may just be the worst presidential candidate in our history. Stop him before it's too late.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A damn good question

From Dissecting Leftism, a fine column in the London Times Online, which invites us to ask ourselves if we really want W's enemies to win this one.

Why I like the song I'm listening to right now

Texas, by Chris Rea. "Warm winds blowin, . . . deep blue sky . . . and a road that goes on forever . . . "

When I worked briefly in the music production business, the guy I worked for did some raves, of which I worked a few. Staying up all night with a bunch of drug-addled kids is one thing, but the light and laser shows, bass-heavy music and fake fog really kick your ass after about seven hours. The sound guys who worked all the raves would put "Texas" on at the end, around 7 or 8 a.m., and the kids would run out of there like vampires at sunrise. It meant the end of aural and ocular suffering, and the promise that breakfast and sleep were not far behind, and a pretty good song too. I think I'm always going to feel that way when I hear it, and that's all right with me.

Deep and heavy, my brother

A really fascinating column in the UK Spectator about some of the response to Kenneth Bigley's death at the hands of Islamic terrorists in Iraq. Read:

The extreme reaction to Mr Bigley’s murder is fed by the fact that he was a Liverpudlian. Liverpool is a handsome city with a tribal sense of community. A combination of economic misfortune — its docks were, fundamentally, on the wrong side of England when Britain entered what is now the European Union — and an excessive predilection for welfarism have created a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche among many Liverpudlians. They see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it. Part of this flawed psychological state is that they cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their misfortunes, but seek rather to blame someone else for it, thereby deepening their sense of shared tribal grievance against the rest of society. The deaths of more than 50 Liverpool football supporters at Hillsborough in 1989 was undeniably a greater tragedy than the single death, however horrible, of Mr Bigley; but that is no excuse for Liverpool’s failure to acknowledge, even to this day, the part played in the disaster by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground that Saturday afternoon. The police became a convenient scapegoat, and the Sun newspaper a whipping-boy for daring, albeit in a tasteless fashion, to hint at the wider causes of the incident.

Now, part of the disproportionate convulsion of grief for Mr Bigley is prompted by the assertion that the Prime Minister has the hostage’s ‘blood on his hands’. That is nonsense. None of us can say with perfect confidence how we would behave in such circumstances, and facing such psychological pressures, but in so far as Mr Bigley chose to blame Tony Blair or the British government, he was wrong. Only those who killed him have blood on their hands. The truth is that Ken Bigley sought to make a living by undertaking work in one of the most dangerous areas on the planet. He went there against the express advice of the Foreign Office. He chose to live with a pair of Americans and seemed unconcerned about his personal security. His motives and misjudgments do not lessen the horror and injustice of his death; but they should, without lessening our sympathy for him and his family, temper the outpouring of sentimentality in which many have engaged for him. It is a form of behaviour that was kick-started in this country after the death of an even more ambiguous figure, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. As a manifestation of our apparently depleted intelligence and sense of rationality, it bodes extremely badly for this country.

Mr Bigley might not have read the last entries in Captain Scott’s journals, but they have a resonance for him: ‘We took risks. We knew that we took them. Things have turned out against us. Therefore, we have no cause for complaint.’ Captain Scott’s mentality used to be the norm for chancers and adventurers. Now, after generations of peace and welfarism, and in a society where the blame and compensation cultures go hand in hand, our modern-day buccaneers seem determined to go about their activities not merely unprepared for the likely consequences, but indignant about them. It is time we recognised that, in such a situation, it is not a breach of natural justice that the Lone Ranger does not come galloping over the horizon; it is exactly how life is.

Harsh, to the point, and exactly right in the UK and many other places. Freedom is the exception, not the rule. Wealth and relative safety are the exception, not the rule. Too many people think the status quo has always been, and don't understand that it's something that must be shepherded carefully or lost. Hope we don't need any more "wake-up calls."

From The Edge of England's Sword, via Ace's blogroll.

Jabba the Filmmaker hits the big time

jabba moore and carters
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Instapundit points to a Jim Geraghty piece in NRO's Kerry Spot that notices, and notices other people noticing, that Osama bin Laden seems to have seen "Fahrehneit 9/11," which must be all kinds of thrilling for that FLSOS Michael Moore. I mean, the Palme D'Or is great, but OBL giving you a thumbs up? Priceless. Then again:

But this tape probably ought to trigger some serious soul-searching on the left. Let me give you a sense of what I mean:

Last night, I heard secondhand that a left-of-center friend said, during a discussion about the tape, "Well, now I actually agree with bin Laden, I mean, the stuff he said about Bush."

It was probably meant as a joke, or as a statement of irony. I wasn't there, so I don't want to draw conclusions about the statement's meaning, and apparently the topic of conversation shifted so that no one could really analyze what that speaker meant.

But I have little doubt that in some other corners of our country, a statement like that was probably said and wasn't a joke, or wasn't ironic.

There was an old saying about politics stopping at the water's edge. There was a reason for this, and for the concept of the "loyal opposition." Suppose the U.S. and another country were in a trade dispute. The other country would want different policies, and thus would want the incumbent party out of power. So they would seize on any criticism from the challenging party, and use it for rhetorical purposes to strengthen their case both with their own population and in other countries. "Even the American challenging party says the incumbent leader's policies are unfair and a failure." No party wants to be seen as putting foreign interests ahead of their own citizens' interests, so they have to be on guard that their arguments aren't providing fodder for foreign powers with different interests than America.

Over the last three years or so, we have seen that concept obliterated. We've seen a truly unparalleled deluge of criticism of the president that well beyond policy differences. He is tarred as a war criminal, a fool, an idiot, a warmonger, a man who trades blood for oil, a mass murderer of innocent civilians, a stooge of sinister corporate interests, a puppet of Cheney, a terrorist himself, the anti-Christ, the second coming of Hitler, a slave to Ariel Sharon, an anti-Muslim hatemonger, and I'm sure I've left out plenty.

This rhetoric has been picked up by the British left, the European left, the Arab press, and anti-American interests around the globe. And to my knowledge not one Democrat, not one voice on the left has said, "Hey, we know you hate Bush, but stay out of it. He's our president, leave the criticism of him to us."

Instead of reacting to the London Guardian's silly letter-writing campaign with laughter or dismissive criticism, the left embraced it. Why would anyone welcome a foreign power's advice on how to vote? Next Spring, the British people will hold their election. Why should they listen to my advice or opinion on the choice between Tony Blair and Michael Howard?

The far left hates George W. Bush with a raging fury. So does al-Qaeda. Was it really so shocking that the rhetoric of the former would eventually be taken up by the latter?

It's been a long time since the opposition, or the press, or even most entertainers have been "loyal." And there's going to be a backlash no matter who wins the presidential election. Might be fun to watch.

Picture hijacked from Llama Butchers

Tammy Bruce goes, girl

From a post on Beautiful Atrocities, the incomparable Tammy Bruce, who famously asked, "Isn't it ironic that there's nothing more radically individual today than a liberal who doesn't conform?"

She has some answers for liberals who wonder why they want to vote for Bush:

I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve received from other Democrats either condemning me for not toeing the line, while others write who are genuinely curious,  after all the hate-mongering and demonizing of Republicans and the president specifically, they hope I can ease their fears about what their inclination to vote for the president means about them.

The simple answer? It means you’re a confident liberal, a thoughtful person who realizes that game of party loyalty takes a back seat to the safety of your family and this nation. It also means you take the slogans of “choice” and “radical individualism”seriously. Isn’t it ironic that there’s nothing more radically individual these days than a liberal who doesn’t conform?

For me, Authentic Feminism is rooted in making it possible for people to make the choices that best suit them. If you have recognized the weakness of John Kerry, and know in your heart a vote for the president is the right thing to do, join me and do it! It can be done with a clear conscience as you embrace the radical individual inside you that attracted you to liberal causes in the first place.

Because some things simply transcend party lines, when in front of that Early Voting touch screen, I stood there as an American first, and voted for George W. Bush. This nation, our lives, and the lives our children require nothing less.

I explain to detractors and supporters alike that President Bush is the man who will keep this nation safest. The president and I  hold dramatically divergent views on a number of social issues of importance to me, and yet for the 3,000 people who died on September 11th, abortion rights and same-sex civil unions mean absolutely nothing to them now. These issues, while important to me and ones on which I will continue to speak out about, are luxuries in the face of a world war where the enemy is a stateless savage who hunts children and cuts off people’s heads.

Amen, Tammy. Liberalism is supposed to be about being free to believe in and say exactly what you think, and not having to conform to the herd. What happened to it?

Who's phoning it in, exactly?

Jay Tea at Wizbang addresses a popular liberal meme, the one about how W is always on vacation. Since we're dumping Bush because he's such a terrible president, surely any viable Dem candidate would score better than him on oft-repeated pseudoscandals like this one, right?


But while we're on the subject, let's look at his rivals. Senators Kerry and Edwards have been on extended "vacations" since the start of their campaigns. And the main duties of senators are to attend meetings and cast votes. Kerry has missed about 90% of all votes in the Senate in the current term, and Edwards is right up there. And it's on record that Kerry has missed nearly all the public meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 9/11.

This really goes to show the character of these two men. They've not bothered to fulfill their sworn duties as Senators, yet still maintain the title and collect the pay. The citizens of Massachusetts and North Carolina are paying for two Senators, but only getting any service from one each.

When Bob Dole ran for president in 1996, he resigned his Senate seat (which he probably could have held safely for life) so as to not short-change his constituents in Kansas. It's a pity Kerry and Edwards don't have one smidgen of his sense of responsibility.

Like Jay says, the office of POTUS is not like other jobs. You're never alone, you're always on the spot, and you must be ready for absolutely anything. Apparently being a Senator is the exact opposite: you don't even have to show up.

The faces of terrorism

bin lade and evil bert return
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Hijacked from Llama Butchers.

Good work, gentlemen

Beldar and Wretchard propose an interesting theory set about Osama bin Laden's videotape. Read Beldar's post and thereby Wretchard's on Belmont Club, and think about what Beldar is saying:

"But I don't think that bin Laden's tape is primarily an attempt to influence the course of the American election next Tuesday. Rather, I think it's a very clear attempt to begin negotiations with a Kerry administration for a 'cease-fire' in the Global War on Terror.

"Of course, I don't believe for an instant that bin Laden's sincere. Only a blithering fool would trust him." (emphasis Beldar's)

And then he explains why John Kerry is just that kind of fool, and how we know. "Peace in our time," anyone? God, I hope not.

Read it all, this is THE issue of this election. We can't afford to get it wrong. Even the comments are good; under Wretchard's, a commenter named Jason answers OBL as Gen. McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne answered the Germans at Bastogne: "Nuts!" I'm with you, Jason.

He's a champion, I guess

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Can't remember where I found this link to the World Mustache and Beard Championship site, but trying to find out led me here and here. Now I'm frightened and must hide under my afghan.

Funniest post I've ever seen on a blog

Althouse on Instapundit, again. Seriously the best blog post ever. Read it now, and laugh your arse off.

The depth of Walter Cronkite's madness

If you've been reading it lately, you'll notice that Instapundit has been a group blog lately, staffed by Ann Althouse, Michael J. Totten, and Megan McArdle of Jane Galt. Glenn Reynolds has been of somewhere, and returned recently.

Althouse is still posting interesting things like this, from a Larry King interview of Walter Cronkite, in which these things are said:

KING: Now, bin Laden, of course, could help Bush in that it reminds people of a terror issue in which he runs strong. It also could hurt Bush in that reminds people he's still alive. So this could be a double edged sword, right?

CRONKITE: Indeed. Indeed. And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that he dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get. It seemed almost, to me, that he wanted to enter into negotiations, that he was really up -- he wants to move into a leadership role in international affairs instead of the role of a brigand. And he spoke calmly about this thing. The threat was there, no question about it. He's delivering a warning to us, no question about that. And certainly, I don't think there's any reason to feel that we can take him to our bosom just because this speech at all. He's perfectly capable of blowing us up.

I knew Cronkite had lost what mind he had after reading this column, in which he says:

I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities - the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated.

We reached our intellectual adulthood with daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism - that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased. That clearly doesn't apply when one deserts the front page for the editorial page and the columns to which opinion should be isolated.

Cronkite knows very well reporters and news people in general tend to be liberal because liberals tend to want to be in newsrooms. And he knows just as well that the people who really get a taste of the low life, police and firefighters, tend much more to the conservative side. So it's a silly argument. Silly, but not cRAZy like "Osama shaved and wore a nice outfit, give him a break!" Isn't someone in charge of Walter's medication?

UPDATE: "Nearly clean shaven as those folks get"? Not sure what tape you were watching, Walter, but how nutty and/or backwoodsy racist are you exactly?

UPDATE 2: How did I miss this? More Cronkite: "So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."


Friday, October 29, 2004

Tribble on the loose

fred's oliver 1
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Oliver once looked like this, and acted just like you'd expect; bouncing, biting and yelping. Tomorrow I'll post a recent pic of his grown-up sexy haircut.

Finally, a powerful Kerry endorsement

From Ace of Spades, some words on the new OBL tape. Like me, he wondered aloud not too long ago about whether Osama bin Laden was dead or alive at this point, and figured he was not. I'm still not convinced OBL's extant, since I still don't know how they got Woody's hand to look so real in Toy Story, or made those people fly in Twister and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and I should imagine even more is possible today in the way of cinematic trickery.

But if it is him, John Forbes Kerry finally has a confident, in-your-face endorsement from a "foreign world leader." Whoopee for him.

Even his supporters can't get excited about Kerry

Beautiful Atrocities has assembled a collection of very sad "endorsements." Some bits:

Writer Dan Chaon: Seems like a decent fellow — perhaps capable of rising to the occasion.

John Perry Barlow, Reason: I'm voting for John Kerry, though with little enthusiasm.

Diana Kerry: John Kerry's promises are not empty. I'm his sister & an educator & I can vouch for that.

Dan Drezner: I remain completely unconvinced that Kerry understands the limits of multilateral diplomacy.

John Rennie, Scientific American editor: Of course, I'm keeping my expectations low.

Paul Boutin, Slate: I'll take a chance on Kerry, but if he wins I'll skip the victory party.

Now that's what I call a pep rally. And from Sara Dickerman, Slate food writer: "I'd like to see the right to choose preserved for my newborn child." How's that for confused thinking? Or this one from the increasingly nutty Sharon Stone: "Women, if you vote thoughtfully ... for violence against women to be thoughtfully considered, then vote John Kerry."

Another Beautiful Atrocities masterpiece. Check it out.

Morbid humor is often the best

This is good stuff. Check it out.

Watch your head

Brian at Peeve Farm posts a video that looks like fun, and kind of scary too. Festive music, that's for sure.

The Fourth Estate does its best to elect Kerry, again

Greg at Belgravia Dispatch has the goods on the major media's complicity in pimping the RDX "story" just in time to give Flippy a boost. Far too well-written, well-researched and linkalicious to excerpt, so read the whole damn thing ASAP.

We're all going to need to ask ourselves some questions after the election, no matter who wins. First, why have the mainstream media abandoned their principles so publicly to get George W. Bush out of office? And how can we ever trust them again? Finally, what are we going to do about it?

Good news about bad News

Gerard at American Digest brings us a post about the LA Times' circulation drop since last year, which is odd since election years generally have the opposite effect on newspaper sales. GVDL points out that the national Do Not Call list has negatively impacted all newspapers' marketing departments, but in a large city where one has a monopoly, if you're losing ground in an election year, it's about your content as much as anything else.

This is what you get for trying to quash the Governator. Hasta la vista, bitches.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sneaky Instapundit

Dr. Ray at Dissecting Leftism catches Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit sneaking a column into the UK Guardian. I like this part:

At any rate, it has been America's experience - and you can bet that plenty of Americans have noticed it - that when the chips are down it's usually other members of the Anglosphere, and particularly Britain and Australia, who can be counted on, and who are worth standing beside in turn. (Canada has been a bit dodgy in recent decades, ever since the Pierre Trudeau era and the Quebecois ascendancy). This is, of course, the reason why Tony Blair and John Howard wield such influence, while Chirac can barely get his calls returned. As Mark Steyn observes:

"The result is that, even though he's hardly ever in the souvenir photo line-up, Howard's a more consequential figure in world affairs these days than Chirac. Indeed, he's a transformative figure. I know this, because my nation has been on the other end of the transformation. I'm Canadian and, for those who remember when the Royal Canadian Navy was once the third largest surface fleet in the world, it's sobering to hear Australia spoken of as the third pillar of the Anglosphere.

"Under Howard, Australia is a player while Canada is a global irrelevance."

France's problems go deeper, of course. Even within the European Union, it is described by some observers as 'increasingly isolated' in opposition to the more dynamic nations of the East. But the extent to which French behaviour has forfeited American goodwill over the past few years is poorly appreciated among French leaders, I'm afraid. America would go to the mat to support Britain and Australia. But - though it has done so before, twice - I'm no longer sure that it would similarly exert itself on behalf of France. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in the Times last year: "I've lived in the United States for almost 20 years and have rarely heard anything but condescension towards successive French governments. But now that condescension has turned to contempt.

Amen. Now even some of France's most stalwart supporters in this country and the UK are turning their backs on France. What took them so long? It is apparently infuriatingly shameful to let your country, and frankly the whole continent, fall to a dictator while doing nothing to stop it, only to have those blasted Anglos come bail you out. France has never forgiven the other Allies for winning World War II, and probably never will.

Reynolds looks kind of spooky in the picture, very Halloween. Check it out.

What a dick

What a dick
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Sure you're from around there. Sure you break out a ball and glove every time you come near airport tarmac. But you ain't no Red Sox fan.

No real Red Sox fan would say he was a fan of "Manny Ortez," or opine that "my favorite Red Sox player of all time is The Walking Man, Eddie Yost," who was never on the Sox either, although he is an actual person, unlike "Manny Ortez." Stop glomming on, poseur, or you'll curse them again.

It could happen to you

Gerard at American Digest had an incident, and is healing nicely. Get well, big daddy.

He'd rather switch, and fight

From Viking Pundit, a liberal gives us ten reasons Bush will win. All worth a read, and most solid perception on the part of said liberal, a former Air Force officer named Martin L. Gross.

I think it will surprise us all how many people will vote for George Bush, despite election funny business everywhere you look.

France strikes again

Yasser Arafat, who can't die soon enough for me, is getting a medical hand in France, and French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier wants you to know that France will always be on his side of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. A quote:

"'It is with concern and sympathy that I keep informed of the development of your health,' said Barnier.

"'I wish to express my most sincere wishes for your recovery, hoping that you can return rapidly to your place to lead the
Palestinian Authority,' he said."

I can't say I feel bad about the possibility of disappointing them on November 2nd.

The fun never stops

So terrorists have made a tape threatening bad things if Bush and Cheney win the election. Go see Ace's take, in which he points out, "Kinda shoots to hell John Kerry's argument that Bush hasn't been effective against Al Qaeda. Apparently Al Qaeda begs to differ."

There's more. From the original Drudge story:

"The CIA and FBI have authenticated a new al Qaeda videotape which warns of retribution for Americans electing Bush and Cheney.

"'What took place on September 11 was but the opening salvo of the global war on America and that our Lord willing, the magnitude and ferocity of what is coming your way will make you forget all about September 11,' the man, whose face is covered by a headdress, warns in the video.

"'After decades of American tyranny, now it's your turn to die.'

"The alarming tape which warns the next terror attack will dwarf 9/11.

"The CIA and FBI late Wednesday authenticated the tape, federal sources tell DRUDGE.

"ABCNEWS, which obtained the tape from a source in Pakistan, has been informed of the government's standing.

"A top goverment source said from Washington that ABC withheld the final 15 minutes of the tape from the feds -- the portion of the tape where the man warns of retribution for Americans electing Bush and Cheney.

"'The FBI did not see the last 15 mins,' the source claims.

"ABC stongly denies the charge."

(emphasis mine)

Of course they do. And if true, it looks a lot like they were hiding it to prevent Kerry from being negatively impacted at the polls by any implication that terrorists prefer Kerry. Which is not really a surprise, unless you didn't know that this is what he meant when he said he had the support of foreign leaders.

Astronomic proportions

Here comes the Sun
Originally uploaded by GustavoG.
A post at Boingboing links to a collection of lunar eclipse photos at, where they host your photos for free at a rate of 100MB per month. As the Boingsters say, some of these are breathtaking.

On a related note, I guess, here's an excerpt from an astrology essay my sister Clare sent from Houston:

"This Cosmic lineup of five events in a 5 week period is, quite literally, an earthquake between two major realities here on Earth. Like the plates that slide up and past one another as continents floating on the surface of Mother Earth, we have our own
tectonic plate adjustments going on from October 1st through November 12th, 2004. And these are tremors. They aren't even a quake. These are mega quakes coming. And with Saturn in this mix representing the old guard, it is retrograding, so with both Neptune and Uranus, representing the new reality, going direct in this same time frame, you have the more hopeful one surfacing more

"Not with this gathering storm of huge, outer planets bracketed by two powerful eclipses thundering toward us right now. The ball starts rolling with the New Moon Eclipse of 10.13.04. This is a very nasty, hard-edged solar eclipse; far more butt kicking than normal. Why? Because the Moon is conjunct Mars and that portends towards violence, action, fire, guns, wars, terrorism, tempers out of control, for starters. More than anything, you can call this eclipse the ACTION trigger for the entire cascade of events that is to follow. Here's what it is going to trigger off:

"FIRST BOLT: New Moon Solar Eclipse: October 13, 2004 at 21 Libra (Aries by opposition) 06, at 7:48 PM PDT

"SECOND BOLT: Neptune goes DIRECT on October 24, 2004 at 12 Aquarius (Leo by opposition) 37 at 4:47 AM PDT

"THIRD BOLT: Full Moon Solar Eclipse: October 27, 2004 at 5 Taurus (Scorpio by opposition) 02 at 8:07 PM PDT

"FOURTH BOLT: Saturn going RETROGRADE: November 7, 2004 at 27 Cancer (Capricorn by opposition) 21 at 10:54 PM PDT

"And the last one that's going to finish it off as if lightning were striking us:

"FIFTH BOLT: Uranus going DIRECT: November 11, 2004 at 2 Pisces (Virgo by opposition) 52 at 11:11 AM PDT

"You take a look at this line up of rough and tumble bolts of lightning in this cosmic storm that's almost on top of us right now, and all you can do is gulp and hope that you got what it takes to get through it in one piece.There is no accident that this lineup is taking place right in the middle of USA presidential elections, either. You can expect the unexpected. I believe an assassination attempt or a terrorist event(s) in the USA, will take place at some point in the middle of this storm we're going to have to weather together.I have never seen three huge, outer planets like this, trip off one, two, three, in a row within 2 1/2 weeks of one another ALONG WITH two major eclipses pushing them into frenetic action. This is simply an amazing chain of sky events. And then, to put two kick-ass, butt kicking eclipses at the front end of this storm to
trip it off, you know it is going to be one hell of an EMOTIONAL time as few you have ever had to experience.Those most caught up in this storm, are the sun signs that are noted above. You (and the opposite astrology sun sign) will be most effected. So, prepare for changes in your life; sometimes
feeling as if, indeed a bolt of lightning has stunned you, thrown you off balance and you're staggering around, not sure about which way to go any more. Already, I'm seeing sudden announcements of people wanting a divorce from one another, beloved animals suddenly dying, people dying other words, with the two eclipses, our emotions are running hard and strong. And it's not all good news. On the other hand, I've seen people get something they've been working for and they are overjoyed. These eclipses are a
giveth and taking away on a grand scale in each person's life who is touched by them. Whether you have something coming into your life, or leaving, one or the other--or both--will be experienced by you personally. And it will alter your emotions and you will go, potentially, through a 'storm' of feelings because of it.No one is going to remain untouched by this cannonball express roaring down upon us in October through early November, 2004.
You might as well get over the fear factor and decide how to handle this chaos that's speeding our way like a runaway freight train."

Sure are a lot of weird things going on around me and most of the people I know. Maybe this explains it . . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Glad to hear it

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Haaretz has a story tonight that Yasser Arafat may be dead very soon. I hope the Palestinian people understand what an opportunity to actually make progress this can be. As for the old buzzard himself, the one guy who could have made the difference and didn't even think about it, the end can't be unpleasant enough.

WMD perspective

James S. Robbins of National Review runs us through a primer on WMD in Iraq. It's muy interesante, linky as a mofo and powerfully persuasive. We could all use a dose of demytholigization, which I know very well isn't a word thank you. Some Jimbo Robbo:

"The cache at al Qaqaa was not the only WMD-related material in the news recently. Another IAEA report came out two weeks ago that did not get as much play. According to this account, dual-use equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons was taken from various locations inside Iraq. The Duelfer Report speculated this equipment could have been taken during the chaos of the invasion. The equipment was "professionally looted" by another account, and may have gone to Iran or Syria. Isn't it significant that equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons was there in the first place? Don't these constitute components of a WMD program?

"As well, if CBS wants to recycle old news in an attempt to influence the election, how about this story: 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium and other nuclear material at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center (Saddam's main nuclear research and development center) was secured by the United States and flown out of the country last July. According to the Energy Department this material could have been used to make a radiological dispersion device (a.k.a. a dirty bomb) or "diverted to support a nuclear weapons program." The only thing we found in Iraq that was more hazardous than this haul was Saddam Hussein. The United States was able successfully to deny this dangerous material to terrorists, rogue states or anyone else. This good news story dropped like a stone when it came out. And unlike most of the hype of the last few days, this story has the benefit of being true."

Mikey like.

Getting out of hand

This election has roused powerful emotions, and not a little nuttiness. Drudge posts a Smoking Gun arrest report of Democrat Brian Seltzer of Sarasota, FL, who saw Katherine Harris in the street as he was driving and accelerated toward her and a group of Bush supporters, swerving at the last minute. "I was exercising my political expression!" he apparently said, while admitting to the act.

Right below that, Drudge posts this story about Steven Scott Scoper of Lake Worth, FL, who threatened his girlfriend with stabbing if she voted for Kerry.

I think the old joke goes, "without Texas, Florida and California, Jerry Springer would have no guests." At least one of those is accurate.

Blogger seems to have indigestion

First time I've been able to get on here, sorry. More to come.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Steyn does it again

If I could meet five people alive today, Mark Steyn would be one of them. This guy is so good I'm not even jealous of his writing ability. Read today's offering and love it. A tease:

"In Saturday's Guardian, Charlie Brooker concluded his analysis of the presidential election thus: 'On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?'

Well, wherever they are, they're probably saying: 'Why bring us into it? When ol' Lee Harvey decided it was time for JFK to get assassinated, he didn't sit around whining, "John Wilkes Booth, where are you now that I need you?" Get off your butt and do it yourself, you big Euro-pussy.'"


Here comes the future, and it's adorable

Another Drudge find, this piece about genetically bred hypoallergenic cats. Also see his flashback link to an August '04 piece on Foreverpet, an affordable ($19,500) cat cloning service.

I hate to be anti-pet lover, but don't you people have some diseases to cure before we deal with this silliness? No? Never mind.

So that's what this is all about

Drudge posts a story about the "missing high explosives" story that he and the Blogosphere have already debunked:

"News of missing explosives in Iraq -- first reported in April 2003 -- was being resurrected for a 60 MINUTES election eve broadcast designed to knock the Bush administration into a crisis mode.

"Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 MINUTES, said in a statement that 'our plan was to run the story on October 31, but it became clear that it wouldn't hold...'

"Elizabeth Jensen at the LOS ANGELES TIMES details on Tuesday how CBS NEWS and 60 MINUTES lost the story [which repackaged previously reported information on a large cache of explosives missing in Iraq, first published and broadcast in 2003].

"The story instead debuted in the NYT. The paper slugged the story about missing explosives from April 2003 as 'exclusive.'"

Drudge's subhead is "In 1992 it was the Iran Contra charges brought days before the election... In 2000 it was the DUI charges a few days before the vote... And Now..." which seems appropriate. He's got links and video, check it out.

Spinal solutions, or How I Fixed my Broken Back

Skinny Bean from Denver, knowing I smashed my back in a car wreck as a child and many times since, sends a story about the first FDA-approved artificial spinal disc. Here's a quote from the story:

"The Food and Drug Administration granted approval Tuesday for the first artificial spinal disc for use in patients suffering from persistent lower back pain.

"The Charite artificial disc is made by DePuy Spine, Inc., of Raynham, Mass. Artificial discs have long been used in Europe.

"The disc, a plastic core sandwiched by two metal plates, is intended as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. The operation eases pain, but can put more pressure on other discs."

I have a grade two spondylolisthesis (click "Isthmic" and then "play animation") from a head-on wreck at high speed without a seat belt at age 10, and never knew I damaged my spine as they didn't X-ray your whole spine after an auto accident as a matter of course in the '70s and there were plenty of bloody holes to contend with. I didn't want to go through a spinal fusion to fix it even though that seemed to be the only long-term mechanical solution to my L5/S1 vertebra resting on top of my sciatic nerves. I hunted around for a while and with the help of Dr. Bob, a friend in Austin, found this guy, who is a doctor at this clinic, where they do something called prolotherapy.

Prolo is a non-surgical method of growing soft tissue where it has been worn or damaged, or has lessened with age, specifically ligament and even cartilage. They inject you at problem sites with dextrose and other irritants, which cause more ligament or cartilage to grow where needed. It's been done since the '50s and used to be called Sclerotherapy since it was believed that scar tissue was grown in place of missing connective tissue, but it is now understood that actual ligament and cartilage is grown. Amazing things are possible through prolotherapy, and it has healed many for little expense and not much time spent.

Although I led a very active life (high school football, mountain biking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, general jackassedness) until fairly recently, my back started to turn on me about fourteen years ago, and about three years ago I couldn't leave the house for very long and was in miserable pain all the time. In my case, the actual treatment was pretty awful at first, 100+ injections at a time sometimes. Then again, I've talked to a lot of spinal fusion patients, and it has its own drawbacks, some catastrophic. Fusing one area usually puts considerable pressure on the spine above and below too, and often results in more fusions surgeries. I know one guy who's had seven, and the last one didn't fuse. Yowch.

It took two years of prolo to make my back as good as it is now, which is to say about like a 40-year-old man's back, which it is. After heavy exercise or lifting it will be a little sore the next day, but that's it. My wife and I flew to Hawaii and back four months ago, and it didn't bother me a bit, and I can do most physical things except those that are brutal to the lower back (or rather I won't try them, so it's the same thing).

My neck started coming apart about two years ago and Dr. Harris is treating it aggressively now. Hurts like hell today because of the inflammation, but in a few months I will be done with it too, and feel like someone who didn't spend most of his life destroying his body. I strongly recommend prolotherapy, and think most people would be surprised to know that there is a cheap, effective way to solve structural problems without surgery. Check it out - almost every adult has soft-tissue problems of some kind or other.

Jupiter from Voyager

Jupiter from Voyager
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
A really cool picture of Jupiter from Voyager 1 from CoolGov. Hard to believe this isn't a painting. Such is the world around us.

Stop and think, says Tom Sowell. He's right

Read this column by Thomas Sowell on the importance of stopping and thinking hard about this election before you vote (if you haven't already), and why it may take some time and research. Sowell has laid many of the issues out for us, but hasn't given his conclusions, although I can guess at many of them based on his previous work. He's done the hard part, now do the easy part and inform yourself on the important stuff.

While you're at it, read part two of Sowell's thoughts on the matter.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The lie that won't go away

The "380 tons of lost high explosives" story, prominently figured all over the mainstream media as evidence that Bush is mismanaging the war in Iraq, has been misrepresented. From an NBC report:

"“April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army's 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing."

Not good enough for the New York Times, as Captain Ed observes. They're still running the original story as if it were true.

Modern art

Modern art
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Fred and Patton in a picture that I like but is not terribly well-lit. Oh the fun they had . . .

Another Kerry-crusher from Mark Steyn

Read this and pass it around. We can't let Flippy win. We just can't. A skosh:

"There are legitimate differences of opinion about the war, but they don't include Kerry's silly debater's points. On the one hand, the Tora borer drones that Bush 'outsourced' the search for Osama bin Laden to the Afghans, though at the time he supported it ('It is the best way to protect our troops,' he said in December 2001. 'I think we have been doing this pretty effectively.'). But, on the other, he claims he's going to outsource Iraq to the French and the Germans, though neither of them wants anything to do with it.

"As for this Bush-failed-to-get-bin-Laden business, 2-1/2 years ago I declared that Osama was dead and he's never written to complain. There's no more evidence for his present existence than there is for the Loch Ness monster, which at least does us the courtesy of showing up as a indistinct gray blur on a photograph every now and again. Osama is lying low because he's in no condition to get up.

"But, even if he weren't, that's a frivolous reductive way of looking at this war. He's not a general or head of state; he can't sign an instrument of surrender, and make all the unpleasantness go away. The enemy is an ideology that appeals to various loose groupings from the Balkans to Indonesia, as well as to entrepreneurial free-lancers like the shooter who killed two people at LAX on July 4, 2002. If Kerry's oft-repeated 'outsourcing Osama' crack is genuinely felt, it shows he doesn't get this war. And, if it's just cheapo point scoring, it's pathetic.

"Almost everything falls into that category. Iraq's messy. So? What isn't? America has no Colonial Office, no political administrators with decades of experience in far-flung climes; its occupation of Iraq was learnt on the fly, because there was no other way. But the ludicrous defeatism over what's at worst a partial success is unbecoming to a great nation. If the present Democratic-media complex had been around earlier, America would never have mustered the will to win World War II or, come to that, the Revolutionary War. There would be no America. You'd be part of a Greater Canada, with Queen Elizabeth on your coins and government health care."

Steyn is the best political writer of our time. Bookmark him here.

Ace lays it down for us bitches

An astute analysis of the Iraq war situation by the Ace of Spades. It touches on many themes familiar to supporters of the war, and by supporters I mean realists who understand that the best things we do as a nation are the hardest, and most costly.

Ace takes moral cowards like Andrew Sullivan to task, and points out that the magical thinking that makes liberals such miserably poor judges of what America can and should do in the international sphere is infecting even those who once understood what it takes to get things done. It's not a choice between the war in Iraq and a perfect war where everything goes right and US soldiers always act as perfect gentlemen, but a choice between doing nothing and doing something. Grow up or shut up, I say to the doubters and pooh-poohers. You're not being part of any worthy solution if all you do is bemoan the difficulties of bringing democracy and justice to a place where it has not been for millenia, if ever, without providing a better way to get where we all want to be.

Like Ace, I think endless talk of 'exit strategies' is lame and beside the point. Viet Nam (which in my view was a success in that it demonstrated a willingness to contest global communism wherever it cropped up) wasn't problematic because we didn't have an exit strategy, it was problematic because there were no concrete goals to be achieved. You can't just send troops over and have them hang around and get killed without objectives. John Kennedy is the one who made that mistake, and although LBJ and Nixon didn't fare much better, they inherited a war without strategy.

Iraq is no such war, and will not be, unless we cut and run. Let's not, mmmkay?

I couldn't agree more

There are many stories like the ones Brian at Peeve Farm has gathered here, and if I weren't so lazy/busy/allergic/having miserable neck pain I'd gather them myself, but believe me this is the tip of a huge, ugly iceberg that wants to steal the election because they are operating under the delusion that the last one was stolen from them (I will post a long screed about this some day, but I can't bear to think of such a task today - find the Miami Herald/Orlando Sentinel/New York Times postmortem of the 2000 election if you need convincing). Don't let such people win.

I'm starting to get pissed off about this. It's time to stand up and stop this bullshit.

Wisdom for the ages

Get thee to Protein Wisdom and read this immediately, for your own good and the good of all men and women. This election is the most important thing most of us have ever participated in, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Make sure the people around you know what the deal is with Kerry and his 'supporters' around the world, and why what they want is not what America needs.

This is World War IV we're experiencing, people. Don't forget that for a minute. The enemy is as committed as anyone has ever been to anything, and won't stop until they get what they want, which isn't what you, or I, or even Michael Moore and Sean Penn want. Changing leadership right now sends a clear message that we're not capable of affecting the outcome.

I think I know things like this, but I may be crazy

Have you ever listened to Bud Powell or Thelonious Monk and wondered, "what is that weird moaning/groaning sound I hear from time to time?" I have, and I think it's just Bud and Thelonious making involuntary noises while they rip the keys off that piano. Like a hacky sack player who can't control the spastic movements of his or her hands, they just moan and groan while they're playing. Or that's my theory.

What do you know, Kerry's a liar

Power Line bring us the story they teased over the weekend, which I double-teased a couple of posts ago. The Washington Times runs it here, and it details another Kerry lie. The lead, plus a little more:

"U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

"An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.

"At the second presidential debate earlier this month, Mr. Kerry said he was more attuned to international concerns on Iraq than President Bush, citing his meeting with the entire Security Council.

"'This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable,' Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

"Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the 'real readiness' of the United Nations to 'take this seriously' because he met 'with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein.'

"But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either."

It just never ends with Kerry. Frankly I have to wonder why at the debate, Bush didn't respond, "So what? You talked to them about how serious they were? What good did that do? Damn you're an amateurish asshole. They had more than a decade to be serious, and most of them had probably been bribed many times over. Let's just do this presidential vote right now and get it over with, the adults have work to do."

Bill Maher, another unfunny jackass who imagines we care what he thinks

Gerard from American Digest brings us this observation that Bill Maher is a bigoted know-it-all who you'd throat-punch if you ever got stuck in an elevator with him. Well, he doesn't exactly say that about Maher, but I'm pretty sure that's what he meant.

How did Maher get crowned the new George Carlin? He's not within a thousand miles of that mad genius, and even Carlin grates occasionally. Maher is made of grated bitterness, with a sprinkle of dumbass. Embarrassing. That's what embarrasses me about America: Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are supposed to be our idea of funny. Ugh.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Something wicked Kerry's way comes

I don't know what all this is all about, but it sounds interesting. I guess we'll all know tomorrow.

Austin American Statesman endorses Bush

I am utterly astounded at this, since I've lived in Austin for years and have read the Statesman with some regularity, although I do not subscribe. Here is the text of the piece as they have a really annoying registration nightmare to contend with:

"A country so deeply divided over such an array of issues should pause a moment and take a serious, sober look around.

"Americans should ask themselves whether they really believe that European nations critical of the war effort will intervene in Iraq if Sen. John F. Kerry is elected president. They won’t.

"Further, we should ask whether they really believe that anything less than a fundamental change in the way Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs are funded is adequate to meet future demands.

The war on terrorism

"Redirecting the focus to the world as it is, Libya has given up its nuclear program and Afghanistan held its first free presidential election ever, and the process — the first in which women took part — went rather peacefully. A changed Libya and a changed Afghanistan were the direct result of President George W. Bush taking action.

"We generally have supported the war on terror as well as the decision to go to war in Iraq, but we have never been shy about criticizing the prosecution of them either. The judgment of the president and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as well as Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, has been clouded at times, and if Bush wins a second term, changes are certainly in order.

"Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz need to go. Changes at the top of the Defense Department hierarchy would signal not weakness but a commitment to break from the mistakes of the past three years. The young people bearing the brunt of the burden and their families who share that burden deserve no less.

"But there is no guarantee that a change in administrations would bring either stability or security to the Middle East in the foreseeable future. In fact, changing administrations now might embolden enemies who believe that Americans don’t have the stomach or the patience for the kind of protracted, unconventional warfare in which we are engaged.

"Three years after terrorists struck at targets in New York and Washington, we live in a world that looks familiar but is vastly different from the one we knew before Sept. 11, 2001.

"President Bush got some things wrong, but there is much he got right. We are faced with an unrelenting foe who strikes from the shadows and won’t be deterred by diplomacy or international resolutions. Bush’s resolve and commitment to stay the course are clear. As Winston Churchill once said, 'When you’re going through hell, keep going.'

"Though Kerry is an honorable man who knows firsthand the horrors of war, he is deluding himself if he thinks a different administration will change the outlook of a foe that doesn’t make war on an individual administration, but on the West in general and the United States in particular.

"Dubious also is any notion that the United Nations will suddenly start enforcing its own sanctions and resolutions if there is a different occupant in the White House in January."

Amazing. I never would have guessed. Good job, Statesman.

From Little Green Footballs

I'm pretty sure this scares me

From Wired News, a story I won't try to explain:

"Somewhere in Florida, 25,000 disembodied rat neurons are thinking about flying an F-22.

"These neurons are growing on top of a multi-electrode array and form a living 'brain' that's hooked up to a flight simulator on a desktop computer. When information on the simulated aircraft's horizontal and vertical movements are fed into the brain by stimulating the electrodes, the neurons fire away in patterns that are then used to control its 'body' -- the simulated aircraft.

"'It's as if the neurons control the stick in the aircraft, they can move it back and forth and left and right,' said Thomas DeMarse, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Florida who has been working on the project for more than a year. 'The electrodes allow us to record the activity from the neurons and stimulate them so we can listen to the conversation among the neurons and also input information back into the neural network.'

"Currently the brain has learned enough to be able to control the pitch and roll of the simulated F-22 fighter jet in weather conditions ranging from blue skies to hurricane-force winds. Initially the aircraft drifted, because the brain hadn't figured out how to control its 'body,' but over time the neurons learned to stabilize the aircraft to a straight, level flight.

"'Right now the process it's learning is very simplistic,' said DeMarse. 'It's basically making a decision about whether to move the stick to the left or to the right or forwards and backwards and it learns how much to push the stick depending upon how badly the aircraft is flying.'"

This is how the Matrix begins, isn't it?

From Vodkapundit, who seems to know most of the F-22 pilots in existence and think they will be unmercifully ribbed about this. Agreed.

Kerry dodges Bob Woodward

Which is odd, since he could probably count on some pretty tender treatment. An excerpt from the Washington Post article:

"At the end of last year, during 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days, I asked President Bush hundreds of detailed questions about his actions and decisions during the 16-month run-up to the war in Iraq. His answers were published in my book 'Plan of Attack.' Beginning on June 16, I had discussions and meetings with Sen. John Kerry's senior foreign policy, communications and political advisers about interviewing the senator to find out how he might have acted on Iraq -- to ask him what he would have done at certain key points. Senior Kerry advisers initially seemed positive about such an interview. One aide told me, 'The short answer is yes, it's going to happen.'"

But it didn't, denying the world a chance to compare what Bush did with what Kerry would have done. I find that extremely odd for a guy who said "I would've done almost everything differently," on September 1 of this year. The story is basically a list of the questions Woodward would have asked Kerry, if he had submitted to the interview.

From Wizbang

A piece of the liberal puzzle

From Belmont Club, a post about a UK Guardian (who else?) article about a BBC documentary which "claims that the perceived threat [of terrorism] is a politically driven fantasy - and al-Qaida a dark illusion." The gist is that the US government is perpetrating a scam on the world by pretending terrorism is a problem when it's really not.

As some Belmont commenters observe, try telling that to people in Beslan, or Madrid, or Bali, or to Kenneth Bigley, Nick Berg, and Paul Johnson. Again, what is gained by propagating such nonsense? I desperately want to understand this, because it seems common among liberals, and I really do want to understand why they think as they do about such things. We can't get anywhere divided as we have been.

A friend pointed out to me at lunch yesterday that most Americans didn't think WWII was worth fighting before Pearl Harbor. Terrorism today is absolutely a different deal from war then, but the willingness to see a threat where there is not one, and to not see one where there is, hasn't changed. Going on the offense against Islamic terrorism is the harder course, to be sure, but my father always told me that if I had two possible roads ahead, to choose the one that I wanted to take the least, because the harder road would more likely lead to success and fulfillment. Every time I've had a chance to test that theory, he's been right.

And as my lunch friend said, to get what we want in the world today, people have to bleed, and some will never be happy about that no matter what benefit such bleeding brings. Some people really do think that war exists only because we are willing to allow it to exist, and that the more people who abandon violence as a solution, the better we'll all be. I think those people are fooling themselves.

Which ribbon means what

Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine has found a chart of what all the different colors of lapel and car-magnet ribbons mean, and reproduced it here. Useful and informative. Did you know that orchid means Testicular Cancer, while purple could mean any of the following: Violence, Children with Disabilities, Domestic Violence, Pancreatic Cancer, Alzheimer's, Crohn's & Colitis, Cystic Fibrosis, Fibromyalgia, Leimyosarcoma, Lupus?

Thanks to Jeff for sorting it out.

I'm going to hell for posting this, and you're going to hell for watching it

But do it anyways. This is a movie of cat-tossing in zero-G, on the Vomit Comet, which is what they call the planes used to simulate zero-G with parabolic flights. They used the Vomit Comet to film a lot of "Apollo 13."

Check out the original link from Boingboing for more info on "educational" Air Force experiments.

UPDATE: Link to movie fixed

Rosie O'Donnell's sad little party

Rosie held an election rantfest in Ft. Lauderdale at Club Ovation, and almost nobody showed up. The night before, Cher tried the same thing at the Miami Beach nightspot Crobar, and the nobody showed up there either. Rosie tried to laugh it off, but Cher said, "There were supposed to be thousands of people here tonight. I'm not sure why that didn't happen, obviously the people putting on this thing were just not very good at it." Whatever you say, Cher. It couldn't possibly be because you talking politics is about as interesting as me talking makeup and plastic surgery. Never stop telling yourself it's not your dumb ideology but how stupid everyone else is. Keep that bag over your head, it's comfy in there.

But back to Rosie. Here's some of her, uh, humor:

""The best part to me in the entire debate was when John Kerry said we have to pass a global test before we enter into a war. And you see George Bush got all nervous because frankly the word 'test' terrifies him. He never passed one at Harvard or Yale, but whatever."

Sure, Rosie, Bush never passed a test at either place even though he graduated both. This from a woman who attended Dickinson College and Boston University "briefly" according to her bio.

It must be infuriating to know that you compromised your principles in every direction for a candidate you don't even like, and done everything you could to discredit a guy you and everyone else you know thinks is an idiot, and disabled whatever career you had left by pissing off half of your fans, but that it won't be enough. I guess you have to tell yourself things are not what they seem or you'll just collapse in a sobbing heap on the floor of whatever disco you're in at the time. Very sad.

From Drudge

I love to see this guy lose

I love to see this guy lose
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
There's just something I don't like about Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez. Some people say he's cocky, and I don't mind that. A Major League closer has to be self-confident, and he's a good one, so that's no problem.

He has a temper, and broke his left hand the other day punching a phone in the dugout, but I don't mind that either. Pitching is a lonely and often frustrating profession, and they should hang a couple of punching bags in the dugout to prevent this kind of thing (not to mention a padded seating area for the players, instead of a pine bench that puts everyone's ass to sleep, as my friend Shay J. so correctly observes). I don't even mind that he puts a little bit of pine tar or rosin on the corner of his hat bill (I thought it was rosin, but he was fined $10K earlier in the season for having pine tar there so frankly I'm not exactly sure what it is) and touches it a lot on the mound.

But he just looks weird. He wears a hat that's slightly bigger than it should be, and that irks me to no end. It's probably that he's got a small head, and it just looks funny in a baseball cap, but a friend of mine observed the same thing the other day. So there are two reasons I'm glad the Red Sox won last night, 11-9: Sox fans are happy, and Tavarez looked really unhappy about giving up the game-winning 2-run home run to Mark Bellhorn. Sorry, Julian. No good reason, I just don't like you.

Mainstream media notices something, finally

From Instapundit, a link to a US News and World Report article about the Duelfer report, in which Mort Zuckerman writes:

"The Duelfer report confirmed that Saddam had no stocks of weapons of mass destruction, no active programs of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. In short, Saddam was a diminishing threat. But there is more to this simple headline. There is, in fact, a much darker side, and here it is:

"Saddam wanted to re-create Iraq's banned weapons programs, including nuclear weapons.

"Saddam was determined to develop ballistic missiles and tactical chemical weapons when the U.N. sanctions were either lifted or corroded.

"Saddam retained the industrial equipment to help restart these programs, having increased from 1996 to 2002 his military industrial spending 40-fold and his technical military research 80-fold. Even while U.N. weapons inspectors were in Iraq, Saddam's scientists were performing deadly experiments on human guinea pigs in secret labs.

"To what end? The overlooked section of the Duelfer report could not have put it any clearer: 'Iraq would have been able to produce mustard agents in a period of months and nerve agent in less than a year or two.' While Saddam had abandoned his biological weapons programs, he retained the scientists and other technicians 'needed to restart a potential biological weapons program,' and he 'intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems [that is, missiles] and . . . the systems potentially were for WMD.' These conclusions were based on interviews with Saddam Hussein, his closest advisers, and his weapons scientists, along with the kind of industrial equipment the Iraqi government imported and maintained."

The real question here is why so many are trying so hard to ignore the evidence of Saddam's, and the UN's, wrongdoings and intentions. What is gained by such efforts?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Butt-kicking machine

People who patent weird things are fun to read about, and this is the work of one such person. Joe Armstrong created a "User-operated amusement apparatus for kicking the user’s buttocks" and patented it in 2001.

Who our friends are

Not the UK Guardian, that's for sure. In this column, the author wonders, "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?"

Sad little socialists, wishing for a world even they don't want. I guess this is what democracy is all about, not that they understand the concept enough to realize that only because of democracy can they say or write such nauseating crap.

Team America: World Police is indeed awesome

If you're like me, you'll love it, and the theme song, and really all of the songs. And the moral of the story, which is dirty but kind of apropos.

Loved this movie. Face hurts. Still hearing the song in my head about how the movie "Pearl Harbor," and in it Ben Affleck, suck. Go see it now, and join in the gales of laughter that ensue when Hollywood jagoffs get their just deserts.

Babelfish rules, and waves it like it just don't care

From Boingboing, a Babelfish double translation of "Rapper's Delight" from English to Italian and back to English. Babelfish is an automatic translator that you run text through, often producing hilarious results, especially when you do it multiple times. Check it out. Here's the "Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn (say what?)" part:

"Goes the hotel, the motel, whatcha that it goes to make today? (opinion that what)
I am going to obtain a girl of Moscow, andante to obtain the somunchank, eliminate in def a OJ,
Everyone goes, 'hotel, motel, inn of festivity'"

Loves it.

At MSNBC, shouting people down is called "interviewing"

Good lord. Watch this and never say the press isn't biased. Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC should be fired immediately or resign. He's not a journalist, and probably never was.

From Power Line

Politics from the people who brought you Falco and Britney Spears

From the California College Republicans:

"Connect the dots to Rock the Vote: In February of 2001, Jeff Ayerhoff, Co-Founder of Rock the Vote, said: 'There are 5-6 pillars sustaining the foundation of the Rock the Vote organization -- and Judy McGrath is one of those pillars. Without Judy McGrath, there would be no Rock the Vote…'  Incidentally, Rock the Vote, including its draft scare tactics and Democrat bias, has been given over $10,000,000 of free air time on the so-called independent-from-Rock the Vote MTV.

“Comments and facts like those make it hard to find the line where MTV/DNC stops and DNC/Rock the Vote begins,” said CCR Chairman Michael P. Davidson.  'The exact same lies coming out of John Kerry’s mouth are the exact same lies being used by MTV/Rock the Vote to scare young voters about the draft.  First Dan Rather, and now MTV/Rock the Vote.  Thanks a lot Viacom.'"

Viacom is desperately trying to influence this election, with MTV, CBS News, and books from embittered former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, embittered former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and embittered former funny guy Jon Stewart. Disgusting, and worthy of boycott.

Hijacked from Instapundit

Friday, October 22, 2004

Tyrone votes for four more years of crack

From Cold Fury, a great Photoshop of my favorite Dave Chapelle character, Tyrone Biggams (sp?), if I'm not mistaken, making a presidential choice.

Possibly meaningless but well-researched IQ comparison between Bush and Kerry

Steve Sailer has gone to considerable time and trouble to explore the liberal meme that Bush is dumb and Kerry is smart, by taking the information available (which isn't much from Kerry as he refuses to release educational and military records that would help a lot here) and producing what are likely IQ scores for the candidates. You'll be surprised by the results. Check them out.

From Mickey Kaus

Your tastebuds, tools of cultural influence

As one who has always believed Coke tastes better than Pepsi or other colas because it just does, this is kind of weird:

"The preference for Coke versus Pepsi is not only a matter for the tongue to decide, Samuel McClure and his colleagues have found. Brain scans of people tasting the soft drinks reveal that knowing which drink they're tasting affects their preference and activates memory-related brain regions that recall cultural influences. Thus, say the researchers, they have shown neurologically how a culturally based brand image influences a behavioral choice."

There's more. Check it out.

From The Moderate Voice via Dean's World

Halliburton revealed

Go listen to Frank J's new anti-Halliburton radio commercial on IMAO. Hilarious.

Cool computer accessory

BoingBoing posts about a 512MB USB thumb drive (the manufacturers call it a pen drive, basically a tiny memory thingy) that has male and female USB ports so you can transfer files from one to another without needing a laptop, desktop, or PDA. Pretty cool and under $100.

What did they think would happen?

Also from Power Line, what happens when silly, pompous Brit know-it-alls try to tell Americans how to think and what to do. I hate to parrot a rednecky response, but don't you people remember the Revolutionary War? A smidge:

"Yesterday, the first of about 14,000 Guardian readers' letters started arriving in the mailboxes of Clark County, Mr Harkins's home region - chosen by the British paper as a pivotal election district where President George W Bush and Senator John Kerry are neck and neck.

"The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, Mr Harkins was delighted.

"He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. 'It's hysterical,' laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters.

"The Republicans' delight compares with the gloom among local Democrats, who fear that 'foreign interference' is hurting Mr Kerry."

Funny stuff.

Bush-bashing backfires could injure all of us

Power Line posts a letter from a Chinese teacher that explains, if explanation were needed, what the Democrats and our beloved media are doing when they tee off on our President for political gain:

"One of the things I find particularly distressing is how the careless and hateful rhetoric of Democrats and the media have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the Chinese, who receive it via (God help us!) the BBC. Bush evil. Bush stupid. That's what my students believe; the dismissive tone of their voices, when they mention President Bush's name, speaks more than any words can. Democrats and the media are so insular, that they do not begin to conceive of the impact of their propaganda and how that shapes the way the rest of the world views us. What has poisoned the perception of the U.S. abroad is not the actions of GWB, but that of the Democrats and the media who noised abroad their disdain and lack of support for Dubya, all for political gain. Had the Democrats and media done what was right, the U.S. would be in different odor around the globe."

The sad part, or rather the unrelentingly tragic part, is that liberals will claim, when we have to pay the butcher's bill on all of this, that it's because of the war in Iraq, or Halliburton, or "root causes," or some such nonsense. It's like a kid who uses a wrist rocket to smash streetlights and then protests at City Hall about how it's dangerous on the unlit streets of his neighborhood. Stupid, counterproductive, and downright dangerous.

Yearning for the mud, a lesson in why Kerry is himself

Go read Gerard Van der Leun's poetic essay on what John Kerry is really interested in doing for America. This is what the mainstream media can't or won't provide: context. Without context, most news and almost all opinion is meaningless. When I was in Journalism school, all we ever heard from the crusty old newsmen who were our professors (most of whom are dead or gone now, tragically) was that we must provide context.

Say you've written a story about a neighborhood in which there seems to be a larger-than-normal incidence of brain cancer in children. Doctors have diagnosed nine brain tumors in children under fifteen in a certain Zip Code in the span of two years. Is that the story? Of course not.

How many kids in other, similar sized neighborhoods in the area have had the same thing happen during the same time? What about neighborhoods in other places with similar characteristics? What factors other than the ones the parents have decided are at fault could come into play? What is or isn't statistically significant in a sample of this size? And so on. And that's just straight news.

In political analysis, one must go much further, because the fabric of modern society and recent history is so rich and vast that it takes a highly educated, experienced and developed mind to gather the information and behavioral cues necessary to figuring out what the hell is going on out there. Gerard has that mind, and he's willing to share it with you and me. Take advantage of his generosity.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Irrefutable proof that Bush will win, or something

More Halloween masks of him have sold than those of John Kerry. You might think that's a ridiculous way of predicting the winner of a presidential race, but it's been accurate every election since 1980. I think it's part of the tripartite portents: Halloween masks (53%-47% for Bush), the Hiphop Debate (57%-43% for Bush) and the Onevote mock election decided by US school kids (55%-45% for Bush).

Mask story from Ann Althouse, Hiphop debate from the unstoppable Instapundit, and the Onevote story from Little Green Footballs

Don't miss this one

Kevin at Wizbang posts excerpts and a link to an article you absolutely must read about the Bush Tax Cuts, and how they're unfair . . . to the rich. A tidbit:

"I know there's a lot of hype to the contrary, but look at the numbers. If you and your spouse have a taxable income of $60,000 a year, you've had almost a 24 percent income tax cut since President Bush took office. (And ditto if your income was just $20,000.) Meanwhile, the folks who make $350,000 a year got a cut of only about 12.5 percent; those who make $1 million a year got an even smaller cut.

"Pre-Bush, the $1 million a year couple paid 33 times as much as the $60,000 couple; today they pay more than 38 times as much."

Get thee there and read, for it is good.

Allah is back in his house, finally

Did you miss him? I sure did. He must have been exhausted with all the Dan Rather and debate coverage he was doing. Everyone deserves some time off, and I know a lot of people who aren't able to take any now even though they desperately need it. Good for you, Allah. But very nice to have you back.

Worth every penny

George J. Esseff, Sr. spent more than $100K to run an ad, linked in the title of this post, in the Washington Post. Read it and realize that he and I and many others pay for our conservative beliefs in subtle ways that simply should not be allowed to happen in a free country. Nothing is more repugnant than racial, religious, or political discrimination, and while it's a good thing that most people understand the first is wrong, the second and third are celebrated, frankly, by journalists, entertainers and other opinionated bigots. If we experience it and just let it go, we're complicit. Don't be a party to bigotry.

Harvested at the Peeve Farm

Erik, you sank their battleship

Erik at No Pasaran has absolutely crushed the "No WMD in Iraq" argument so many ninnies on the left have been blathering since late 2002. It astounds me that otherwise intelligent and logical people can be so dense as to believe Saddam wouldn't have the smarts, time and wherewithall to ditch, move, or otherwise dispose of any WMD or WMD production capacity in the four months that passed between Bush saying "let's go get Saddam" and it actually happening. The only victory he could hope for is to make us look bad in the eyes of the world, and it appears he got that done.

Think of how long it takes you to find your keys in your own house sometimes. Now imagine giving someone four months to hide them in your house or yard. How long would it take to prove they weren't there, and never had been? That's what we're up against. I'll say (and steal) it again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (thanks to William Safire for the quote). Read the whole thing, and there's much more on the topic if you're interested. Google it up.

More antisemitism at American Universities

From Pejmanesque, a story in the New York Sun about an underground film made at Columbia University. The first few paragraphs:

"At a history class, a professor mockingly tells a female Jewish student she cannot possibly have ancestral ties to Israel because her eyes are green.

"During a lecture, a professor of Arab politics refuses to answer a question from an Israeli student and military veteran but instead asks the student, 'How many Palestinians have you killed?'

"At a student meeting on the topic of divestment from Israel, a Jewish student is singled out as responsible for death of Palestinian Arabs.

"Those scenes are described by current and former students interviewed for an underground documentary that is causing a frisson of concern to ripple through the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University, where the incidents took place."

Some readers may remember Columbia professor Nicholas DeGenova's speech to 3,000 students and faculty in 2003, when he said:

"Peace is not patriotic. Peace is subversive, because peace anticipates a very different world than the one in which we live--a world where the U.S. would have no place."

And later:

"The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."

And then:

""If we really [believe] that this war is criminal ... then we have to believe in the victory of the Iraqi people and the defeat of the U.S. war machine."

And at another rally:

"The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The state of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust."

I never really understood the "milllion Mogadishus" statement, since that would mean 20 million American soldiers dead versus a billion of the bad guys, but the point of my post here is that this is what goes on at our institutions of higher learning. And you're paying for it whether you like it or not. Hit the title of this post and read all of it.

Then again, Noam Chomsky said, "in the West anti-Semitism scarcely exists now," so I must be imagining all this.