Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Insomniac Theater

Watched To Live and Die in L.A. tonight, a super cool, mid-80s movie about counterfeiting and mirabile dictu it hit me that the movie is 22 years old (and, truth be told, it's sagging a bit). The director was old master William Friedkin, who's still alive today and making bad movies (this one was one of the last good ones) and whose highlights include The French Connection, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, and Rules of Engagement (maybe). He also made two early movies exploring, or exploiting, homosexuality--The Boys in the Band and Cruising. Hmmm?

This was back when lead bad guy Willem Dafoe was not yet thirty and looked pretty good rather than the outre thing he has going now. And portly 50 plus William L. Peterson, of popular TV show CSI, was thin and bad and oh so cocky at age 31. I liked Peterson's character a lot when I first saw this film. Now I just think he's a total asshole. He's secret service, who saves Reagan from a Muslim suicide bomber (funny we never heard about that) but then ends up back on the streets as a grunt agent out to nail Dafoe for killing Peterson's partner. Kind of trite plot now that I really think about it. But the movie has lots of surprises and since I'm a fan of Wang Chung (everybody blow chunks tonight), the music is delightful. More on that later.

The lead women are Dafoe's dancing, ambi-sexual squeeze played by cute, but never quite made it, Debra Feuer, who seems to have packed it in mid-90s, at least that was the date of her last movie, and Peterson's snitch bitch, whom he rapes repeatedly, played by rail thin Darlanne Fluegel, who made her last straight to video movie in 1996. The shelf life of starlets is hardly longer than NFL quarterbacks, is it?

Other guys in it are the replacement partner, one would think miscast in John Pankow (the friend Ira on TV series Mad About You) and unlucky bad guy John Turturro, who might have peaked as a lead actor in 1991, but is a solid character actor now. Former child star Dean Stockwell, pre-Cylon, plays a crooked lawyer (is there any other kind on film?), well, as usual; Robert Downy, Jr.'s dad is a bumbling agent in charge, and the guy I liked most (apparently for his authenticity) is former LA cop, Jack Hoar, who plays a very dangerous bodyguard to Dafoe.

Diomedes commented back in the 80s that this movie had the most kicks to the groin ever. He may still be right. It also was the first, at least as I recall, to have the fleeing car going the wrong way on the freeway, which adds a little stomach tightening to the chase scenes. The entire Hooker family was employed for the driving stunts in this film.

The FBI can't hit squat with an AR-15 (although in the agent's defense, you usually do overshoot when aiming down). Little friendly fire action as well. The FBI does not come off well here. Both Secret Service agents carry Smith & Wesson roundy rounders, probably in .357. Dafoe has a suppressed automatic I could not identify (it was not on screen long enough) but the top gun is the shotgun Jack the bodyguard uses to kill two secret service agents. SPOILER alert--he takes out Peterson with a realistic head shot and it's such a shock to lose the lead well before the movie ends. I say bravo to Friedkin for that--hardly Hollywood formula.

There was a sort of symbiotic relationship between composer Bernard Herrmann and director Alfred Hitchcock. In the driving scenes, before Janet Leigh gets to the Bates motel, in Psycho, there is almost an unbearable tension which comes completely from Herrmann's music. Watch it with the sound off and nothing emotional is going on at all. There is a kind of that feeling in this movie, especially when the agents are ripping off an Asian to get the front money for the counterfeit buy. The beat and bass lines are straightforward, but complex enough to seem to accelerate and the music revs you up for the action to follow. The movie opens with the song To Live and Die in L.A. (Listen) and closes with Wait (Listen), two of Wang Chung's best, and tasty bits of other songs appear here and there during the film.

It's no longer super cool, but it's not dreck either. You could waste time watching TV and not have nearly as much fun as this.


A Balm for Vitriol

There are some lefties who just rub me the wrong way. Nothing they say or do seems funny or witty or fitting or insightful. They can do no right, excuse the pun. But then they die of breast cancer or something and all my ill will and rancor towards them instantly vanishes and I try to remember the good, if any, they did. Like with Molly Ivins. All I'm left with is the ferverent hope she rests in peace and/or dwells with the Lord forever.


Friday Movie Review ( late, early? tough to tell)

Went finally to see The Fountain for 50 cents at the dollar theater with Sheila, as it is a science fiction movie. I was a little disappointed but probably mainly because I was so impressed by Pi and Requiem for a Dream, the director's earlier movies. Perhaps this will grow on me like the Cloony version of Solaris, which it resembles in theme and degree of difficulty. It was, by no means, disappointing per se. Indeed, it was challenging and beautiful, and the acting was adequate to good. Not bad for science fiction. Not bad at all.

It supposedly is three stories, linked in myriad ways, set in 1500, 2006 and 2500 (although that wasn't set out clearly, at least to me). The first problem with that is the Spaniards, we know from reviewing Apocalypto, did not get to the Yucatan until 1517 (Funny how the Mayan have made a big comeback in movie roles these past few months). Additionally Queen Isabella was 49 in 1500, not the raving young beauty (Rachel Weisz) as she is portrayed. Also, the star Weisz is looking at early in the movie, the setting (kinda) of the third part, is not a nebula around a dying star called Xibalba by the Mayans (which was supposedly their underworld) flanked by two bright stars, but the Orion Nebula, which is the birthplace of new stars. Did they think we wouldn't notice the belt of Orion in the sky just above it?

I was struck by several things of extraordinary beauty. The stars over the Yucatan, Isabella's dress, the 'floating' candles in her Moorish throne room, the nebula and the aging tree (in the right light) and perhaps a few other things I can't now recall, all look a lot alike and are beautiful. The narrative is fractured and interwoven between the three periods, so that it is challenging to figure out what was going on. I humbly think I got it. I'm going to leave out the interwoven themes which were mainly well done, but get in the way of a crisp narrative.

SPOILER alert: The first part is merely a story that dying-of-a-recurrent-brain-tumor Rachel Weisz is writing up to a point (flaming sword towards Hugh Jackman's head). In the story, there is a tree (the biblical Tree of Life) in the center of the Yucatan, the sap of which gives you eternal life (by nearly instantly turning you into growing plants). The Mayan creation myth has the first father killing himself to become the fertilizer of the tree of all life. Rachel Weisz's Mayan 21st Century guide talked of his father's becoming immortal by being buried under a tree to become part of the circle of life. In Spain, the Queen is being stalked by the murderous, self-flagellating Grand Inquisitor, who delivers an important homily while torturing and murdering the heretics. Our bodies, he tells us, are the prisons of our everliving souls which will only be released upon our death. Conquistador Jackman agrees to find the tree and gets to a hidden pyramid where he is the only survivor of the Mayan onslaught. He fights a priest Mayan at the top, gets stabbed, is about to get killed and the story ends. He is to finish it, because 21st Century author Rachel Weisz dies. When he finishes it, his 26th century self appear to the priest, who stops killing the Conquistador, allows himself to be sacrificed and Jackman drinks the sap of the tree and it transforms him into flowering plants. End of that story.

In the 21st Century surgeon/researcher Jackman, in a moment of inspiration, trying to find a drug which will shrink brain tumors, like his wife has, uses the sap of a Central American tree (with special preparation) so that in the poor rhesus or baboon test subject, not only does the tumor shrink but the shot gives nearly instant youth to the old monkey. Too late to save his wife, Jackman is destroyed, nearly, by her death, but finally gets it and plants a seed pod near her grave to feed her body into the world at large. He also, apparently uses the sap of the Tree of Life to cure at least himself of death. That's the middle story, briefly, with reasonable inferences.

In the future story, the, apparently, same, ageless Jackman (now bald)and the very Tree of Life are in a crystal sphere somehow traveling very fast towards Xibalba, the mythical nebula. They have been traveling for a while. The tree is very old and from time to time Jackman takes some sap, more tree than sap, and eats it. He's seeing his wife over and over when he did not take a last walk with her in the snow. He's tattooing lines on his arms with the extremely used pen his wife gave him to finish her manuscript of the Spanish story. It's that detail which causes me to believe this third part is real not a dream of Jackman, or a parable like the end of 2001. When he gets to the nebula, the tree dies, then the dying star explodes, the tree is revived and Jackman too dies and is reborn and gets to live with Weisz forever. That's because his death (much delayed by his use of the sap from the Tree of Life) frees his immortal soul to the next level where his wife has been for 5 centuries. Death is not a disease to be cured, it is the beginning of the road to awe.

A lot of people found it very sad. Not me though. I pretty much liked it. 96 minutes long--intellectually heavy and somber.


This Day in the History of German War Mistakes

On this day in 1915, Germany first uses poison gas in an attack against Russian troops on the Eastern front in WWI. The Allies retaliate and casualties (which are surprisingly light in my view) are actually slightly worse for the Germans.Even though WWII was far more savage, gas was not used as a weapon, at least not widely (although it was part of our plans for the invasion of Japan). This is proof, to my mind, how ultimately ineffective a weapon poison gas is.
On this day in 1917, Germany announces that it will wage unrestricted submarine warfare. Germany was being starved by the blockade on the seas (indeed almost as many German civilians died of famine in WWI as died in the bombing in WWII--around 800,000) so this was a desperate move which backfired big time as its effects (on top of the Lusitania in 1915) finally got us into the war, much to the detriment of the German cause.


Thought of the Day

It is not the business of generals to shoot one another.

Arthur Wellesley

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


What I Did at Work Today

I made argument to the Colorado Court of Appeals, for about 13 minutes, today. The subject was so boring (statutory interpretation of the Colorado Government Immunity Act) that I won't impose any details of the arguments on you. I will say that my baby pool argument reached at least one of the judges. I could prevail; weirder things have happened.


Former President Carter Must Be Proud


When even the NY Times, pans his book, I imagine that he can only hope, that terrorist organizations, will understand the real value of his literary magnum opus on the Palestine / Israel conflict.

Islamic Jihad is pimping Carter's book.

Do you recall, Michael Moore's "masterpiece", Fahrenheit 911, being offered over seas distribution help, by organisations related to Hezbollah in Lebanon ?

Anybody see a pattern here ?

I do.


Next Sucker, Indeed

The Radio Equilizer and Neal Boortz had congruent thoughts on the news that bankrupt Air America has a new buyer, New York real estate baron Stephen L. Green and headliner Al Franken will be leaving the air in a few weeks to run for the Senate from Minnesota. I'm with Boortz, if the other owners of the 'network' had run it like a business rather than as a political party adjunct, the move to reinstate the stalinistic Fairness Doctrine wouldn't have the legs it appears to have. I'd listen to Air America, but I like facts and logic too much, apparently.


This Day in the History of Design

On this day in 1951, vehicle designer Ferdinand Porsche, who in 1935 designed the Volkswagon 'beetle,' among other things, dies at age 75. His son (with the same name) and other kin continue the family talent for auto design and create the classics of the 356 Porsche and the 911. The auto company he started in the heart of Germany seems to be there for the long run. Here is my favorite design by him, the first king tiger (Pkw VI--Ausf B).

NOTE: I've corrected my mispelling of Porsche throughout after Doug Sundseth pointed out yet again what an idiot I can be.


Thought of the Day

If you are afraid of loneliness, don't marry.

Anton Chekhov

Monday, January 29, 2007


What Lies?

Jane Fonda, looking very little like Barbarella, alas, spoke at the poorly attended anti-war rally in Washington, DC this past weekend. YouTube video is here. I've taken the liberty to transcribe her statements about 2 minutes ten seconds in. She says:

I haven't spoken at an anti-war rally in 34 years, because I've been afraid that because of the lies that is (sic) have been and continue to be spread about me in that war, that they would be used to hurt this new anti-war movement, but silence is no longer an option.

What lies have been spread about her in "that war" 34 years ago (we presume the Viet Nam War)? Has she complained about lies? Did she not go to North Vietnam in 1972. Was she not photographed on a KS 19 100 mm anti aircraft gun near Hanoi, which was to shoot at our bombers? What frickin' lies?

On the contrary, she told Leslie Stahl on 60 minutes a year and three quarters ago that, regarding her photo on the gun outside Hanoi: "I will go to my grave regretting that. The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda's daughter, just a woman sitting on a enemy aircraft gun, was a betrayal." [...] "It was like I was thumbing my nose at the military. And at the country that gave me privilege. It was the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine. I don't thumb my nose at this country. I care deeply about American soldiers."

Does anyone know what she's referring to?


This Day in American History

On this day in 1861, Kansas became the 34th state, as it entered the Union a free state, that is, one that did not allow slavery, and all that was left up in the air was how many of the slave states would withdraw from that same Union.


Thought of the Day

When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Not Polo Ponies

It's a good story: Lady Astor says to Winston Churchill, "If you were my husband, sir, I'd put poison in your tea" and Churchill replies, "If I were your husband, madame, I'd drink it." Of course, I doubt he would have if the tea was both heated and treated with Polonium-210, which is how Russian operatives, we strongly suspect, killed Alexander Litvinenko last year. That one's not a good story. If there's enough of it, like a couple of grams, polonium-210 heats up to over 500 degrees, so if anyone hands you some really, really hot tea...


Mark Steyn With More Depressing, Correct Analysis

Now that we've absorbed the bad news from Mark Steyn that Europe is doomed due to differential reproduction (no, that's too Darwinian--evolutionary law doesn't apply to human society) due to demographics and we here in the US are saved from that sad fate only because of immigration--Steyn points out the bleeding obvious, yet still painful, point that too many people in this country (hint: it's not most of the right, albeit it's some) have no clue what the governmental priorities should be. But at least he does it in a humorous way. Money quotes:

The only energy displayed by Nancy Pelosi was the spectacular leap to her feet within a nano-second of the president mentioning Darfur. Up went Madam Speaker and the entire Democratic caucus like enthusiastic loons on a gameshow. Darfur! We're all in favor of Darfur. People are being murdered! Hundreds of thousands! We oughtta do something! Like, er, jump up and down when it's mentioned in a speech. And, er, call for the international community to mobilize. Maybe one of those leathery old '60s rockers could organize an all-star concert or something. [...]

Darfur is an apt symbol of early 21st century liberalism: What matters is that you urge action rather than take any. On Iraq, meanwhile, the president declared: "Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory." And the Dems sat on their hands. [...]

The open defeatists on the Democrat side and the nuanced defeatists among "moderate" Republicans seem to think that big countries can choose to lose small wars. After all, say the "realists," Iraq isn't any more important to Americans than Vietnam was. But a realpolitik cynic knows the tactical price of everything and the strategic value of nothing. This is something on an entirely different scale from the 1930s: Seventy years ago, Britain and Europe could not rouse themselves to focus on a looming war; today, we can't rouse ourselves even to focus on a war that's happening right now. Read 100 percent of the Democratic presidential candidates' platforms and a sizeable chunk of the Republicans': We're full of pseudo-energy for phantom crises and ersatz enemies, like "global warming.'' [...]

The civilized world faces profound challenges that threaten the global order. But most advanced democracies now run two-party systems in which both parties sell themselves to the electorate on the basis of unaffordable entitlements whose costs can be kicked down the road, even though the road is a short cul-de-sac and the kicked cans are already piled sky-high. That's the real energy crisis.

Double ouch.


This Day in the History of Democratic Treachery

On this day in 1979, in an early milestone of what now seems an inevitable Western-Muslim extremist clash, the leader of Iran since 1941, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, flees his rapidly westernizing country, having been stabbed, metaphorically, in the back by horrible president and person Jimmy Carter. Within a few weeks, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini enters the country as a hero and soon thereafter declares war on America--Death to America. Iranian extremists, on November 4, commit the barbaric act of taking our embassy personnel hostage (an action which Carter does nothing effective to correct or punish). The Jihadic war Carter helped start has now spread from Iran and continues today under new Muslim extremist leadership.

UPDATE: As he is wont to do, Dinesh D'Souza makes the same argument, in a much better way, right here. Money quote:

When the Shah petitioned the Carter administration to purchase tear gas and riot control gear, the human rights office in the State Department held up the request. Some, like State Department official Henry Precht, urged the U.S. to prepare the way for the shah to make a “graceful exit” from power. William Miller, chief of staff on the Democrat-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, said America had nothing to fear from Khomeini since he would be a progressive force for human rights. U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan even compared Khomeini to Mahatma Gandhi, and Andrew Young termed the ayatollah a “twentieth century saint.”

As the resistance gained momentum and the Shah’s position weakened, he looked to the United States government to help him. Carter aide Gary Sick reports that the Shah discovered many enemies, and few friends, in the Carter administration.


Thought of the Day

The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

Thomas B. Macaulay

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Anecdote Involving Queen Elizabeth II, Peripherally

I went a while back with Beata and saw The Queen, which was an OK movie with a great performance by Helen Mirren, whom I can remember looking forward to seeing wander around naked in movies, as she was wont to do in her early career (Age of Consent, Savage Messiah, O Lucky Man!, Caligula), but I digress. This is about the real Queen.

It must have been in Summer, 1967; the whole world seemed to be listening to Sgt. Peppers. I was 14 and still a boy scout and we had sponsored two British scouts who had attended the World Scouting Jamboree in Idaho and were going home slowly. They stayed with us about a week, it seemed. They were Pip, the blond cockney, who wanted to be the new Tommy Steele and couldn't believe he was too young to get a drink in America, and Alan, upper class, competent, but a bit icy, who dreamed of chartered accountancy, I imagined. I went with them to meet the mayor of Richmond, VA and my whole family went down with them to Williamsburg, which they still claimed to own somehow--at least the Governor's mansion.

On their last night in Richmond, at our beautiful old home, now vanished into the maw of Mammon, my dad proposed getting out the good crystal and toasting the Queen with wine or port or something alcoholic. Pip was immediately up for it, but Alan held things up so the two could retire to their room to spruce up a bit before they did the honor. My dad was so impressed that he wrote the Queen to tell her about the gallantry of her young subjects and darned if a few weeks later we received a response from Balmoral Castle, signed by the Prince Consort, Philip, praising the two scouts and thanking my father for his gracious act of proposing a toast to Her Majesty.

He still has the letter displayed, next to the one from Reagan and the one he worked so hard to solicit from Secretary of State Rice.


My Family Connection to American Armed Forces

01/18/07 - U.S. Navy Sailors take their final walk down the brow of the rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 52) at the ship's decommissioning ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Jan. 12, 2007. The ship was transferred to the Military Sealift Command (MSC) upon decommissioning and will be manned by MSC civil service mariners and is now USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52). (U. S. Navy photo by William R. Goodwin).

The Salvor was commanded for just under two years prior to decommissioning by my younger cousin Colby--that's his family name--by Lt. Commander John C. Howard, whom I last saw when he was 6 running around his living room in Norton, VA, busting caps (real caps) in his six-shooter replicas at imaginary Indians and assorted bad guys. He has a great family--his mother, who is my father's youngest sister, Francis, a finally showing his age dad, who has the obligatory southern double first name, Joe Tom, and two beautiful and talented older sisters, Rebecca and Caroline, with whom I always look forward to playing charades at reunions; and his own family of which I remember too little to post. I wish I knew Colby better. I admire him greatly for his career choice and success there. And I hope he gets a new ship soon.


This Day in the History of Perseverance

On this day in 1944, the nearly 900 day siege of Leningrad was fully lifted by Soviet troops. Nazi Army Group North had sidestepped the Soviet forces in late Summer, 1941, and on September 8, 1941, fully surrounded the city. Apparently most of the citizens never thought of surrender, but fought on, designing and making guns (the excellent PPS-43 sub-machine gun) and building tanks in the city factories as part of the heroic defense. It cost them--the range of estimates of the dead range between 640,000 and 800,000. The nadir came in the depths of Winter, 1942, when some in the city turned to cannibalism. Some relief began flowing in over Lake Ladoga when the siege was partially lifted in January, 1943,


Thought of the Day

Be not ashamed of thy virtues; honor's a good brooch to wear in a man's hat at all times.

Ben Jonson

Friday, January 26, 2007


More Good News From Afghanistan

War blogger The Strategy Page has a good report about how things are going in Afghanistan now, just months from the Dreaded Spring Offensive of the Taliban (which I call the antithesis of guerilla warfare--sort of a "Come out, come out, wherever you are--Blam). Money quote:

In the south, NATO commandos are having success in finding out where Taliban commanders are, and killing or capturing them. There are about three dozen Taliban commanders in the south, and if enough of them can be taken out of action, this year's Taliban offensive will collapse.

I wrote recently about the state of the Taliban fighter's shoes, in a prediction that the particular front in the global war against Jihadists in Afghanistan was soon to end well for us, and got a raft of abuse mainly from an ex-pat reader in the Czech Republic. Go ahead and throw it in my face, Mike, when what's left of the Taliban comes out of the caves and gets absolutely slaughtered yet again. I dare ya'.


What's in a Name...

During the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Bush refered to the opposition as the Democrat majority. And several Democrats, like always pleasant Paul Begala, objected to that. They want to be called the Democratic majority and the Democratic Party. Sorry, I'm not going to do it. The name of the members of the party don't transfer into an adjective because the name of the members merely is followed by the word 'party.'

I'll attempt to explain. The party on the right is of course the Republican Party. The members of the Republican Party are Republicans. It's not the Republicanic Party--it's the party of the Republicans, the Republican Party. Just so, it's the party of the Democrats, the Democrat Party. Democratic is an actual adjective, as in a democratic vote or a democratic process, and it's clear that the Democrats want us to think of them as that good thing, being democratic--even though we're a republic and not a democracy. Those uses of the adjective, however, have nothing to do with who belongs in the Party of the Democrats. I don't care what they want us to call them, I refuse to abuse proper grammar for the vanity and 'branding' of the lefties. Get over yourselves.

UPDATE: Other equally pompous about their names political parties in American history: The Federalistic Party; The Whigic Party, The Progressiveic Party 1912 (also know as the Bull Mooseic Party); The Greenic Party; The Farmeric-Laboric Party; the Greenbackic Party; and, the Anti-Masonic Party (that last one is real).


More Proof of Global Warming*

In earlier comments on my very skeptical posts about global warming, one Warmie used the unseasonable warm temperatures--nearly 70 degrees--in New York City at the time (December) to rebut my postings. So here's what Drudge reports: Record low of 9 degrees at Kennedy Airport this morning.

Of course this record low temperature is also proof of global warming because any single, particular weather event is proof of global warming. The Warmies claim it all.

*(caused primarily by human activity)


Virginia Senator is Not a Thoughtful Man

I've always liked the new Virginia Senator, James Webb, ever since I read Fields of Fire in 1979. He's a usually good man and a talented writer; he served his country very admirably in Viet Nam and later in politics as Reagan's Secretary of the Navy (who quit because they wouldn't build enough ships). He was a good Republican. I'm almost finished his Scots-Irish book Born Fighting in which I learned that his people come from the area around Gates City, VA, where I lived for several months shortly after my birth oh so many years ago. I know this guy, but I can't figure out what's energizing his thinking. He's gone all populist on us. His short "rebuttal" to the recent, decent State of the Union address, which has been highly praised by such Democrat stalwarts as E.J. Dionne and Jonathan Alter, however, gave us some insight into the limits of his recent political philosophy.

First, he decried that CEOs of major corporations earn a lot more than the average worker at those corporations. No kidding, and what's wrong with that? Quarterbacks with cannon arms earn a lot more than the guy who moves half of the first down chain. Why is that? Is it because millions have the skills and talent to move the chains but only a few have the ability to be a successful NFL quarterback? Just so, millions can do all sorts of things for the corporation but only a few have the leadership skills and other talents it takes to run a large business organization successfully. They, like quality quarterbacks, can hold out for a lot of money and they do. Not only is this OK, this is the way it should be--talent and hard work should be rewarded, there never should be any governmental impediment to getting paid well if you are talented and work hard. It is scary to me that Webb thinks the government should do something about it. It is a truism that conservatives believe in equality of opportunity, while liberals believe in equality of outcome. Webb has fallen for the latter in a big way. It is socialist thinking and to my mind, at least, anathema to the American way of life.

The other revealing part was his praise of the end of the Korean War by President Eisenhower. There was no end to the Korean War, just a cease fire very like the cease fire at the end of the Gulf War. We had saved South Korea from being placed under Communist tyranny but we had been unable to hold on to North Korea when Chinese Communist forces poured in to keep at least the North unfree (and poorly led--perhaps a million North Koreans have died under the Great and Dear Leaders' less than kind hand, and untold suffering has held sway). Oh yeah, and we've kept thousands of troops in South Korea for the last 54 years. Forgive me if I think that such an end to the Gulf War would not be so great. But of course we've seen the Democrats since the Korean War willing to throw our former allies to the Communist wolves, just as they did after we bugged out redeployed out of Viet Nam. So Webb is for carrying on another Democrat tradition. It's just one which I find particularly shameful. I hope we on the right don't let them do it again in Iraq.

Jonah Goldberg, I'm happy to say, thinks just the same way.

UPDATE: Senator Webb (D-VA) also said: The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. (Emphasis added).

I'm doubting that last part a lot. Is there a poll of servicemen he's referring to here? The war Webb is referring to is not the Global War against Jihadists but the ending of the Gulf War, the war in Iraq (although it doesn't really make a difference--I'm sure Webb is just as critical of how the President is fighting the broader war). I'm reasonably sure that history will see the fighting in Iraq as just a front in the world war, just as Mesopotamia was just another of many fronts during WWI. Webb won't recognize this, either from ignorance (tough to believe) or from his famous Scots-Irish stubbornness and loyalty to his new party. In the polls, some of the dissatisfied are dissatisfied because we're not fighting hard enough, because we're fighting with our arms tied behind our backs. That's not lack of support for a new focus and strategy with more troops in Baghdad and al Anbar, it's just the opposite.

UPDATE II: Lefty commenter peter b points me to the Military Times Poll at (Thank you very much). And it's just as I suspected. For example, 50% said we're really likely or somewhat likely to succeed to 41% who think it's somewhat or very unlikely. 35% approve of the President's handling to 42% who disapprove but 22% had no opinion or refused to answer. 42% is not a majority, unless my math skills are really gone. And there is no follow up to see if the disapprovers think we should run away or put in more troops. We have to guess about that, but here's a clue: 26% think we should have less troops in Iraq, 13% think the current number is fine and 38% think we need more (with a large 23% no opinion). So the majority (an actual majority with more than 50%--not a Jim Webb majority with less than 50%) think the number of troops is fine or too low. Not exactly majority support for the cut and run redeploy crowd.


This Day in History

On this day in 1945, Soviet forces reach the Auschwitz-Birkenau
concentration camps in Poland and liberate them the next morning. The Nazis had evacuated from the camps on January 17, 1945 and murder on an industrial scale (over a million) finally ceased there after nearly three years of full operation. Arbeit macht frei nicht, Armee Sovietische macht frei.


Thought of the Day

All movements go too far.

Bertrand Russell

Thursday, January 25, 2007


My Trip to the New Art Museum

I guess art is supposed to challenge you, but is it supposed to creep you completely out? This painting at the Denver Art Museum, Epiphany (Adoration of the Magi) 1996 by Austrian artist, Gottfried Helnwein, was like a bloody car wreck. I was disgusted but I could not look away.

Oh yeah, and our super duper new, looks-like-a-chrome-explosion, Libeskind-designed wing which just opened--workmen were scrambling over it trying to repair the damage the recent snow storms had done, and from the look of things, it was substantial damage. They just don't build them like they used to, I guess. Still, I had a good time and I remain proud of our little Art Museum, the new part of which is shown below.


Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight, Fight, Fight!

The State of the Union speech on Tuesday, about which I had no expectations, wasn't half bad. However, it did reveal something we on the right side of the political aisle had strongly suspected for a while--that is, that the Democrats don't care if we win the war we're in; they are, at best, indifferent to victory. Lorie Byrd said it pretty well.

The most dramatic statement in the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night did not come from the president, and it was made without speaking a single word.

The President said:

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

At the word "victory," the Republicans stood up and cheered, the Democrats stayed seated in the main and did not cheer, many did not clap.

If you don't enthusiastically support the very concept of our country's victory in a current armed conflict, I have no use for you, politically. I won't support you. I won't stop criticizing you. I won't forget your inaction.

Hugh Hewitt is recently fighting against the defecting Republicans who feel they must hurt our troops' morale and build up the enemy's resolve by undercutting our commander in chief with a bit of political theater called a non-binding resolution. As bad as the Republicans messed up over the past few years, at least you could count on them really to support our troops by standing united and strong against the Jihadists who want to kill us. Maybe not all of them.

I support a slightly smaller but stronger party, with a metaphorical 'night of the long knives' purge of the weak of spirit. Republicans do best when they act like true Conservatives and completely screw the pooch when they act like Democrats of the early 1960s, as they are doing now. No wonder we got slaughtered last cycle.


This Day in Spanish-American History

On this day in 1898, the second class battleship USS Maine arrives at Havana harbor, Cuba, having sailed there from Key West, FL on orders of President McKinley so there was some relatively safe way for Americans to leave Cuba if the ever simmering revolution flared up. The Maine was a strange warship with the main gun turrets (with twin 10 inch guns) well offset from midline--bow turret to starboard and the stern turret to port. I'm not sure anyone knows why.


Thought of the Day

It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.

Mrs Patrick Campbell

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


In Praise of Younger, Southern Women

There was a time, years ago, when I thought that the women who would talk to me were inferior to me and my male friends intellectually. I was the idiot though; it was just that the women had different interests and so could not engage me enjoyably on subjects of conversation in which I was interested, indeed, passionate about. They just didn't care about what I cared about. Many of them were actually smarter than I was. No, duh!

I've looked at the blogs I read regularly and noticed this bit of spatial congruity: Three of the four women bloggers I like best are all southern women, many years my junior, and they're all in North Carolina: Betsy Newmark, Sister Toldjah and Lorie Bird at Wizbang (formerly of Polipundit). Well worth reading, every day.

Oh, and the fourth is Michelle Malkin, who lives near DC, which technically is in the South, but not really. I'd read more if I had the time.

UPDATE: Forbes magazine on line listed the 25 most influential people on the Web and only 4 were women and of them only two were actual bloggers. Xeni Jardin (from Richmond, VA--yeah, a hometowner makes good) and Violet Blue (from San Francisco) who only writes about sex. The other two were Jessica Lee Rose, an actress who had a huge following on YouTube pretending to be videoblogger Lonelygirl 15 (Bree) and right cute Amanda Congdon who also used to videoblog as a sort of news reader.

A paltry 16% of the list women? Do I detect a whiff of my old chauvinism at Forbes?


The Return of the Stone

I know this is of interest almost certainly only to me, but my kidney stone is back, with a vengeance. It actually never went away, but after about 45 days of absolutely no pain, it hit me on the drive home--grinding pain in my back and groin, and the dry heaves from the pain. The first pill knocked it down a bit, but I think I'll have to take another soon. Wonder if it's moving down my ureter at last?

You also should see my medical bills. The price of a CT scan is nearly a crime. Un-freakin'-believable. Not that I'm complaining.


Even a Blind Hog...

Near the end of last month, I predicted that the North Carolina Bar's Ethics Complaint against Mike Nifong for improper pre-trial statements would be just the first of three complaints; the second two would concern not turning over exculpatory DNA evidence and misrepresenting facts to the trial judge during pre-trial motions, and that these latter two complaints would make Nifong's disbarment much more certain.

Ring the 'right' bell for the first of my predictions.

Raleigh/Durham TV station WRAL is reporting that the Bar has amended its original complaint against Nifong to add charges of not turning over exculpatory DNA evidence and for misrepresenting facts to the trial judge. You can see the amended complaint at the top link on the WRAL site, just below Nifong's photo..

We'll have to wait for the last part of the prediction, but this is a very serious matter now and I believe Nifong is in much greater jeopardy than the Duke Lacrosse three accused, who are almost certainly innocent. More evidence, if you needed it, that the Medieval concept of the Wheel of Fortune was always sound.


Ahmadinejad...... Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day.

As a child at the age of 10 years old, I recall one of the more tempestuous of politcal climates in the USA, during the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the run up to the 1980 presidential election, between incumbent Jimmy Carter, and former California Governor, Ronald Reagan. I also recall, my father, being a retired career navy man, shaking his head in anger and disgust, every night during the news, as another redundant update was given, regarding the hostages still being held in Iran. The absolute most vivid memory I have of that campaign season, was when a reporter asked candidate Reagan, during a very lighthearted Q and A session, as Reagan was walking towards his waiting limo, " What will you do about the Iranian Hostage Crisis if elected ?? " (paraphrased of course ) Reagan's face became almost angry, as he answered something to the effect of "Oh.....I have a plan for Iran....don't you worry." I'm not sure why that memory sticks out in my head to this day, but right now, I can't think of a more needed moment in our history, that a "plan for Iran", specifically the plan I believe Reagan to have been inferring, be implemented....stat.

I am not a war monger, by any means......however, when a leader of a nation state, on numerous occasions, not only calls for, but decisively says that the destruction of another country is their goal, not to mention should take notice. Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly threatened Israel with such an specifics....just threats. Now, he seems to want to throw the USA into the mix........

Israel and the United States will soon be destroyed, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday during a meeting with Syria's foreign minister, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) website said in a report.
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… assured that the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives," the Iranian president was quoted as saying.

Yet Iran's nuclear program is for "peaceful purposes".......I'm sure it is.....seeing as how Iran has no natural resources for energy at all......sarcasm meter way on..............Reagan sent a message to Iran 27 years ago, and whether by coincidence or just plain common sense, the Iranians released the American hostages after said message........Although I am no advocate of the USA ever sending troops into another islamic country for regime change or nation's time to make Iran flinch.....maybe writhe even. No more messages.

Time for a proverbial Dirty Harry moment, with the islamic republic of Iran.


An Invidious Comparison

As Dr. Walter E. Williams pointed out in his column today at TownHall, there is a movement to compare skeptics of Global Warming (caused primarily by human activity) to the evil geeks who deny that German troops murdered 6 million Jews during WWII, Holocaust deniers. He was not the only one to notice it:

Cullen's call for decertification of TV weathermen who do not agree with her global warming assessment follows a year (2006) in which the media, Hollywood and environmentalists tried their hardest to demonize scientific skeptics of manmade global warming. Scott Pelley, CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent, compared skeptics of global warming to "Holocaust deniers" and former Vice President turned foreign lobbyist Al Gore has repeatedly referred to skeptics as "global warming deniers."

Scott Pelley is among the most fatuous of the broadcast journalist and indeed when you look in the dictionary under the term "undeservedly pompous," there's a picture of him. And Gore has been pretty looney every since he won the popular vote but lost the election in 2000. Despite these seriously flawed sources, it remains a horrible comparison which we cannot just write off to un-serious sources. First it demeans the death and suffering of the Jews and, to a much lesser degree, Gypsies, et al. during the war, which industrialized murder still stands high in the ranks of worst governmental crimes ever. Second, the Holocaust actually happened, years ago. There is human memory, documents, photos, and physical locations to make denying its existence both foolish and wrong.

The predictions of a substantial and terrible future climate change are just the opposite of history. They are predictions, from meteorologists no less. My weatherman barely knows what the weather will be like tomorrow. He certainly doesn't know what it will be 30 days from today and to believe that anyone can know what the weather will be 100 years from now is like believing in magic. There are only computer models in support and they are flawed computer models. To compare a non-belief in a demonstrable past to skepticism about predictions of a non-existent (yet) future is to turn logic and good sense on its head. So of course this scandalous comparison is coming from the left.


This Day in the Literary History

On this day in 1913, Franz Kafka stops working on a novel tentatively titled "Amerika"; it will never be finished. However, the spelling with a 'k' survives and becomes the pet term of the counter-culture in the 1960s and the blame America first crowd thereafter.


Thought of the Day

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Proof That Some on the Right are Depressed

The President is giving the State of the Union address tonight. I cannot recall when I was less excited about a Republican doing that. Now I know what Cassandra felt like. I'll watch, but I'm not expecting a thing, not a thing.


Blowing the Nominations

If I have any talent at all, it is for picking the winners of the Academy Awards. Here's the list of nominees. I note that Babel got nominated for best picture, best director, best original screenplay and two of five best supporting actresses. I wouldn't have picked it for anything. Pretentious and boring would be a kind description.

The absolute joke category of the Oscar shows recently has been the original song. Three of five nominees this time come from Dreamgirls along with the obligatory Randy Newman song and what I predict will be the winner--Melissa Etheridge's I Need to Wake Up from Al Gore's droning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I noticed that I was humming that song just the other day.

For anyone who wants to take me on with picking the winners, I'll give up my advantage right off the bat. The awards are Hollywood patting itself on its ever less deserving back. The Oscar goes not to the best, but to the film which will put Hollywood in the best light, as viewed by Hollywood. It's that last part which is a little tricky. Good luck.

This will be a dreary Oscars; that's an easy prediction.


This Day in the History of Natural Disasters

On this day in 1556, the most deadly earthquake ever kills 830,000 in Shansi (aka Shanxi, Shaanxi) Province, China.


Thought of the Day

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.

Thomas Henry Huxley

Monday, January 22, 2007


Short TV Post

Rome started up last week but Sunday's episode got it back on track, I think, after a shaky restart. Gaius Julius Caesar's body is burned and, as we learn from Brutus' stunned reaction and a plebian retelling, Mark Anthony's eulogy went about as well as the Shakespeare recreation of it. The mob is with Anthony and the conspirator/tyrant killers have to leave the city. Those who had to memorize Roman history in Latin class know what's to come. Anthony was clearly smitten with Cleopatra. He's sleeping with Atia, mother of Octavian and Octavia (who experimented last season with incest--euyech). SPOILER alert: How is Anthony going to get Octavia to marry him so he can later abandon her for Cleopatra? Little soap opera coming on there, as history requires.

I hear that Max Pirkis, who has played a young teen Octavian, is about to be replaced with an older portrayer of the first and possibly best Roman Emperor. That will hurt. Octavian's getting involved in the ruling of Rome is about the best thing of the Patrician story line. Back on the Aventine hill, Lucius Vorenus is a little depressed over the death of his very hot wife Niobe and his belief that his children have been horribly murdered. I might end up a month in bed with a stinking head of the murderer my only comfort with that sort of news. He's to become the underground "mob" ruler of that part of the city in order to keep the various gangs from disturbing the real trade in the area. I'm sure that the 'free Jerusalem' brother of non-observant Timon will absolutely screw things up for him. They've added some new characters, who seem OK as well. 8 episodes to go. Boy, am I going to miss this one.

Battlestar Galactica continued its 3rd season with the end of the participation of Kiwi actress, Lucy Lawless (who is looking good as a blond--Xena who?). I'm all at sea about the politics of Cylon society. Is it a pure democracy, with the 7 types voting on what to do--the type there representing, somehow, the wishes of all the others of that type (but we've seen dissent between identical members of the same type--I really am lost) or is it a republic, with each type represented by one member (but we've seen meetings where things were decided attended by multiple members of the same type) or is it a type of anarchy with any individual doing exactly what it wants, at any one time? Who can freakin' tell?

Serious soap opera coming with the possible re-shuffling of the two handsome couples. I don't really care. Is there a feeling, thinking male on Earth who even likes Starbuck? She's a completely amoral bitch--a horrible person for whom I feel not a jot of sympathy. Good pilot though. D (Anastasia Dualla), on the other hand, does not deserve what she's about to get. She's much tougher and smarter than they let her be in the early episodes. Apollo got the better part of that deal, by a wide margin.

Also, you know the humans are the good guys by the incidence of ethnic types. There is a black Cylon type but he has all but disappeared and doesn't even attend the planning sessions anymore, while the high priestess, a blast from the past pilot and D, the com girl, not to mention Mr. Gaeta, are all non-whites. Maybe the Galactica should paste on one of those rainbow stickers on the back.


Re-evaluating History

One of the readers I apparently chased off from this site (with the tough question of how many Canadians were in that country's armed forces), had previously commented that before March, 2003, no one in Iraq was ever a threat to American soldiers (the pilots enforcing the no-fly zones, being shot at nearly every week, might disagree with that one) nor was there any chance of them attacking us in America. Oh, really?

What's all this then? Money quote:

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently testified that documents captured by coalition forces during a raid of a safe house believed to house Iraqi members of al Qaeda six months ago "revealed [AQI--al Qaeda in Iraq] was planning terrorist operations in the U.S."

Of course, these plans were after we finished the Gulf War. What about plans that existed before the war resumed nearly 4 years ago? Captain Ed had this post about 9 months ago about a March, 2001 memo which contained the following:

A confidential letter of Qadisya Military Branch, that holds the number 2205 dated on 4/3/2001, notified upon a confidential letter issued by Thi Kar military command, that holds the number 246 dated on 8/3/2001 and notified to us upon a confidential letter issued by Ali squad military command, that holds the number 154 dated on 20/03/2001. Kindly provide the aforementioned squad with the names of persons desiring to volunteer in the suicidal act in order to liberate Palestine and to strike the American interests in accordance with the following details. You are informed and we therefore expect you to notify us.

"Strike the American interests" with suicide attacks by Iraqi military volunteers. Sounds like attack plans to me.


Tardy Concert Posting

As some of you may know, I am a professional musician. At the young age of 37, I have been playing guitar professionally around the country, for 20 years, logging close to 2,500 gigs. At this point in my life, there aren't a whole lot of gigs, acts, or events that really evoke any excitement from me, much less boyish exuberance. However, last week, was a guitarist's weekend of weekends for moi'. My band opened for Styx on Friday, January 12th, and then the following Sunday, I got to see Eric Johnson......the latter being my all time favorite guitarist / musician.

Styx is still playing coliseums and amphitheaters, so for them to agree to play at our club, Wild Bills in Atlanta, was a bit of a coup. It also helps that we share the same manager. The show was sold out. After an enjoyable set on our part, I proceeded to shed my typical backstage cutty, and mingle with the throng of 4,500 strong. Styx dropped the downbeat at 11:00 sharp, opening with Blue Collar Man, followed up imediately with Grand Illusion, and then just proceeded to stomp the proverbial mudhole in the heart of Gwinnett County that night.....I stood in the same spot ( sans multiple trips to refurbish my Crown Royal and Diet Coke ), and watched in amazement at these "older guys" just rocking like it was still 1985. The absence of Dennis DeYoung as a member of the band was a tad bittersweet. Even though the classic lineup is always what I would prefer to witness, DeYoung's replacement does a better than satisfactory job of covering the original member's vocal and keyboard duties, but more importantly, guaranteed us that there would be no "Mister Roboto".......thank God.

The set ended with Tommy Shaw just belting out Snowblind, and then Renegade. Awesome.

Sunday January 14th, at the Variety Playhouse, Eric Johnson, took the stage again at that venue, for the third time in 12 months. I have seen Eric probably 13 times now, since 1990......and it NEVER gets old. Better yet, my 9 year old son, now gets to tag along with me and enjoy the shows as well. Bottom line, with the caveat that there is no such entity as the " best guitarist in the world " ( not even Jeff Beck, Roger )...EJ is absolutely the best guitarist that I have ever seen. His command of multiple styles, and other individuals' techniques, amalgemated into his own, is literally breathtaking. Johnson opened the show for the 1,100 or so, with his brazen head cutter, ZAP, then launched into his cover of Dylan's My Back Pages. Oddly enough, EJ tapped the Beatles Dear Prudence, to be another cover, as a vehicle for his wizardry, this go round. No complaints there. The sound was flawless, and literally made me feel like I was watching this at home, with a loud ass stereo.

Playing for an hour and twenty, EJ topped the pre encore set, with a 10 minute guitar solo, finished with an almost to the record, note for note rendering of his most popular song, Cliffs Of Dover. Topping off the evening were the first of 5 encores, that included two Hendrix tunes, and a tribute to EJ's friend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Awesome.

If you eiether of these acts come through your town.....go.


This Day in the Long History of Humiliating British Defeats

On this day in 1879, the central column of a three prong invasion of Zulu territory in Natal, South Africa by British regulars is met by several Zulu impis (12,000 men) near the mountain of Isandlwana and most of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot, nearly 1200 British troops, armed with Martini-Henry rifles in .577/.455, are killed by tough, black warriors armed only with cowhide shields and spears (assegais--short stabbing spears).

The three central reasons for this overwhelming defeat are British overconfidence; too stoutly sealed ammunition boxes that cannot be opened fast enough to pass out the cartridges in order to prevent the soldiers, out of ammunition, from being enveloped, overwhelmed and slaughtered; and, Zulu discipline and courage.


Thought of the Day

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.

Pierre Bosquet

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Skeptics of the World Unite!

There has been in recent times, an 11 year sunspot cycle on our sole source of warmth, the sun, and a 22 year cycle of reversing magnetic polarity. What has followed here on Earth, at least in this western part of the country, was a 22 year cycle of major drought--easily seen from Dust Bowl days in the early 30s, mid-50s, late 70s to just recently. Of course changes in the heat output from the sun causes a direct reaction here on Earth. Even the looniest of the Warmies could see that, I think.

So are there longer term sunspot cycles which cause measurable warming and cooling here on Earth? I don't know. I'm vaguely aware of a period of no blemishes on the sun during the Little Ice Age, but that's about it. Fortunately, there are scientists out there who do know. One of them is Nigel Weiss from South Africa, former head of the Royal Astronomical Society. He thinks that sunspot and other solar activity overwhelms the slight differences caused by traces of trace gasses in the troposphere, and that we are about to enter a period of no sunspots which will mean a major cooling period.

He's not the only solar scientist who is talking about cooling, as this Canadian paper, the conservative National Post, lays out. Other scientists (and popularizers) have branded these dissenting scientists as tools of the big energy hegemony (or whatever--ExxonMobile has been named by Mother Jones as a buyer of opinions for sale) but there is no real connection I can see and no, absolutely no, proof of any improper influence. Maybe the Warmies will help to enlighten us about this new, evil corporation conspiracy. I do see one of the Warmies, Heidi Cullen, embracing another Stalinist tactic of seeking to punish those who do not fully accept the Warmie dogma.

My paper yesterday had a big story on the expected report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which will "...provide the most compelling evidence to date that climate is changing and that mankind is responsible for that change." The report, which will be released on February 2 (and if it sees its shadow, we well have 6 more weeks of Warmie hysteria), is based on apparently cherry picked anecdotal evidence of warming here, and on 23 computer models. The sun scientists have flat out ruined the report for me by stating that none of the computer models take into account the changing heat output of the sun from the longer term cycles. (Not to mention the lack of accounting for water vapor "feedback" reaction).

Debate over the role of the sun in forcing temperature change is nothing new. Professor Ian Clark of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, wrote on this theme on this page in 2004. The climate models used by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change do not take adequate account of solar activity, Mr. Clark said. "Past and recent climate warming can be explained by changes in solar activity," he said.

I'm having trouble explaining why skepticism about Global Warming (caused primarily by human activity) is largely on the right side of the political aisle. Is it some sort of influence from the aforementioned big energy hegemony ? Is it that lefties, merely to be lefty, have already shown an ability to swallow whole incredible theories which history has debunked time and again (like socialism, for example)?

I'm going to have to look harder at that question.

I'm certainly not the only skeptic. Here is a good article from Australia with a blast from the past from Newsweek.

On April 28, 1975, Newsweek published an article stating: "There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically..." and "climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climate change, or even allay its effects".

These are strong words, and equally applicable today. Or maybe not. For the article was entitled "The Cooling World", and shows a graphemphasizingg how the average temperature had dropped 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit from 1940 to 1970. And so it seems, the media and science-supported climate cycle has fully turned in 30 years, but is still projecting disaster.

Voila, Les.


This Day in the French Revolution

On this day in 1793, Louis XVI, the French king since 1774, is beheaded by revolutionaries at age 38. They used the guillotine.
To the left is a portrait. I'm imagining that 214 years ago, as he mounted the raised platform which held the execution machine, he might not have still had that sneer on his face.


Thought of the Day

A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.

Herbert Prochnow

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Thought of the Day

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

Joseph Conrad


This Day in the History of Evil

On this day in 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's second in command of the SS, convened the Wannsee conference at a nice house (a large villa at Nos. 56/57) westsouthwest of Berlin, with 15 top Nazi bureaucrats, to coordinate the Final Solution (Endlösung) of the Jewish Question, in which the Nazis would attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated 11 million persons. They got over half. They also took notes at the conference. One copy survived.

HBO made an understated but excellent movie on the subject, Conspiracy which I urge those interested in history and culture to see. Chris Eccleston would have made a better Heydrich than Kenneth Branagh (just from resemblance alone) but Tucci was in fact an excellent Eichmann. The banality of evil indeed.

Friday, January 19, 2007


This Day in History

On this day in 1915, England suffers its first casualties from an air attack when two German zeppelins, the L.3 and the L.4, drop bombs on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn on the eastern coast of England. Because America had a monopoly on helium gas, which is not flammable but has less lift than highly flammable hydrogen, the Germans had to use the latter; and later in the war had to fly very high and at night in order to avoid British aircraft seeking to shoot them down with incendiary bullets in the plane's machine guns.


Thought of the Day

There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible

P.J. O'Rourke

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Refusing to Debate

Former President Carter wrote an awful book comparing Israel's treatment of Arabs outside Israel to South African apartheid of 20 years or so ago. Silly stuff really. Carter told critical rabbis why he wrote the book: "I wanted to provoke debate," Carter said. "I wanted to provoke discussion." Apparently he did not want to debate anyone himself. He refused to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University, where he originally refused to talk all the while complaining that the Jewish schools weren't inviting him to speak. Now he's talking, but not with Dershowitz on the same stage. Carter has to leave the stage before he will allow dissent. What a wuss.

Warmie leader, former Vice President Gore likewise refused to be in the same, long ago scheduled interview with Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg.

What are these guys afraid of? That people will see that the emperor has no clothes?

UPDATE: In researching this story I came across this lovely little site. My son refuses to believe anti-Semitism is on the rise. I should have sent him here.


Pulling the Past Out of the Bog

I received an e-mail from my mom about the recovery of a German tank from a lake in Poland after 62 years. Here are some of the pictures she sent to me.
The sequence starts with a big modern Japanese bulldozer getting ready to pull out the tank.
In this photo the tank begins to emerge from the ooze. It's green (that's weird--the tanks at the beginning of the war were grey and either sand colored or camouflaged by the end of the war) but there's a clear Wehrmacht cross on the turret and a German type low cupola on top of the turret. Hmmm?
Here the tank is half exposed, but I'm having trouble identifying it. The back deck looks like no German tank I know and the shape of the turret is wrong. Most German medium tanks had a storage box at the back. No box here. No top hatch either
Here it is out of the mud and partially cleaned off. At first I'm thinking Pkw-38, the tank the Germans stole from the Czechs in the late 30s, but the front is a smooth slope, and the sides are sloped too. There's no big co-axial machines gun on the turret. Not a Pkw-38. The front fenders are missing.
More detail emerges. The open hatch on the front where the driver sat and the round enclosure for the machine gun in front are clearly Soviet tank design features. The details around the gun on the turret are classically Soviet. This is a T-34 of some sort. Must have been captured, modified and used by the Krauts.
The happy villagers have retrieved a piece of history from the near-by lake, a Soviet T-34 with German crosses on it. Quite a find.


New King Canute Versus the Linguistic Tide (Pt. 1)

It's probably much too late to make a stand against this, but the word 'hopefully' is being misused all the time. It's an adverb which should mean that the actor in the sentence was full of hope when the action was taken. The modern mis-usage has it replacing 'One would hope' or 'I would hope,' as in "Hopefully, the sun will come out today." The sun isn't hoping for anything. The speaker is hoping the sun comes out--own up to it.

Here is a proper usage: "Hopefully, I ask my girlfriend to marry me, because I hope that she will say yes."

Try to write better, you all.


This Day in Naval History

On this day in 1911, the first aircraft landing on board a ship, USS Pennsylvania, by pilot Eugene Ely, took place. From tiny acorns great oaks grow. However, if nuclear missiles, or even cruise missiles, have made the aircraft carrier vulnerable and therefore obsolete, what is the new ship type that will take over, just as the carrier took over from the battleship in WWII? I'm not smart enough to know.


Thought of the Day

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Short and to the Point Book Review

Finished Thomas Harris' new book Hannibal Rising and it was pretty disappointing. We see Dr. Lecter's childhood in Lithuania and France during WWII and after. Not a lot happens, at least not a lot of interesting things happen. Harris takes back the stupid thing he wrote in Hannibal (that young Hannibal knew his sister had been eaten because he saw her teeth in the latrine--who can recognize individual baby teeth, and who eats them?--just stupid). There is a stuka attack that goes wrong and Frenchmen being ineffably French. I like Hannibal best when he is working hard to help people or on a drawing or to prepare for anatomy class in Paris. I don't like him when he is killing people, even when they deserve it. It could easily be retitled Hannibal Yawning.

This was the result of 7 years writing?


This Day in American History

On this day in 1776, patriot Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense, which is 48 pages long and contains all the arguments Paine can think of for American independence from Britain. Pamphleteers were very important for about 250 years in the creation and dissemination of political ideas, but became eclipsed in the early 1800s. I like to think of bloggers as modern pamphleteers, myself probably excluded.


Thought of the Day

This result is too beautiful to be false; it is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment. If Schrödinger had been more confident of his work, he could have published it some months earlier, and he could have published a more accurate equation. It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one's work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further development of the theory.

Paul Dirac

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Good News from Afghanistan

One of the clues that Germany was losing WWI in All Quiet on the Western Front was that the German troops began getting less and less replacement equipment, including boots. Many American Civil War Yankees' diaries mention how ill clad, especially on their feet, the Rebel soldiers were. They lost too.

So a few days ago, AP reports that 130 al Qaeda types, coming over the border from Pakistan were killed in Afghanistan, and they were so ill equipped that some of them were wearing plastic bags on their feet.

The end is near in that theater.

Some people appear to look at the fighting in Afghanistan as they, and their ilk, looked at the fighting during Tet nearly 40 years ago. If there's fighting, they think or say, we must not be winning. If we were wining, there would be no fighting. They need to look beyond the mere fact that armed conflict continues to see how well each side is doing. The Taliban isn't doing so well. And the dreaded Spring Offensive will result in the slaughter of even more Jihadis, especially if the NATO troops start pulling their full weight.

Not that I'm complaining that European soldiers have taken the field against their mortal enemies.


This Day in History

On this day in 1991, four and a half hours after the UN deadline for Iraqi forces to leave Kuwait had expired, the current war against Iraq begins with about a month and a half of airstrikes against targets in Iraq, the modern equivalent of the pre-attack bombardment in WWI. Indeed, on February 24, 1991, the Coalition begins a broad ground attack and the Iraqis are so adept at defense that a cease fire was declared by the first President Bush on February 28 on humanitarian grounds to stop the complete slaughter of the vaunted Iraqi Army. The Iraqis, or more precisely the late Saddam Hussein, will keep nary a singly one of the requirements of the later, formal cease fire agreement and on March 20, 2003, a slightly different (and smaller) Coalition finishes the war in a matter of weeks. The occupation is more like the British occupation of Iraq in the early 20s than the American occupation of Japan in the late 40s and American and British take more casualties then than during the major combat of the second part of the war. However, the hardest hit are the Iraqis themselves as they are the primary targets of other Iraqis, who wage a dishonorable war apparently against everyone.


Thought of the Day

Sometimes when reading Goethe I have the paralyzing suspicion that he is trying to be funny.

Guy Davenport

Monday, January 15, 2007


Questioning the Baseline

In the recent past, as I began once again to explore the evidence supporting the theory of Global Warming (caused solely by human activity), I was willing to grant a rise in CO2 from 1850 to 2005 from 280 to 350 ppb. I am no longer willing to do that. Here is the reason--an article by Polish scientist Zbigniew Jaworowski which points out a lot of problems with establishing a baseline of pre-industrial CO2 in the atmosphere. We obviously did not have CO2 sniffers around in 1850 (the Mauna Loa observatory, whose data is the bedrock uderlying the central, Warmie belief, only began sniffing CO2 in 1958--although, to be fair, it does show an increase in CO2 from 315 to 377 ppb between 1960 and 2004). Absent instrument readings, we have to rely on other sources to establish how much CO2 was in the air of the past. We have to rely on air 'trapped in amber' (not really--that was a metaphor) and the first choice of scientists has been ice cores drilled out of deep ice around the world. Unfortunately, ice cores are useless for what the air contained before a certain date (because deep ice has no bubbles--the pressure squeezes them out), and ice cores often are contaminated by extraction and processing, and the data shown from ice cores are often fudged by the scientists and the results published are sometimes just plain fraudulent.

Zbig says global CO2 concentration in 1870 was probably just as high as it was in 1970. Yet the Warmies say average temperature globally increased about a whole degree Fahrenheit during that time. If the CO2 was the same at the beginning and end of the period during which the temperature rose, CO2 concentration could not have caused it. QED. Yet CO2 concentration increasing as temperatures rise is the sine qua non of Warmie dogma.

And then there's this data from Lawrence Hecht. If he's right here, the growing consensus the Warmies crow about is becoming an increasingly tattered tissue of lies.


- Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55% of the 625 mountain glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, some 70-95% of these glaciers were in retreat.)
- A comparison of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 1965 and 1990 Plant Hardiness Zone Maps, shows a southward change of one zone, or 10°F, between 1965 and 1990.
- Careful measurements of the oxygen isotope ratios in German oaks, which are rigorously calibrated to temperature data, show a 1°C temperature decline from 1350 to 1800 (the lowpoint of the Little Ice Age). Temperature thereafter increased by 1°C from 1800 to 1930, and has been declining since then.
- From weather stations in the Alps, and in the Nordic countries, we find the temperature decline since 1930 is also 1°C.
- Satellite measurements have shown growth in the height and breadth of the huge Greenland ice sheet, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere.

The statement that there is no dispute about Global Warming (caused solely by human activity) is bunk in the casual observers and a lie in the mouths of those who know the science.


This Day in the History of Science

On this day in 1908, scientist Edward Teller was born in Hungary. He got out of Germany, where he had studied physics, in 1933 and worked on the Manhattan project in the 40s. His work was instrumental in the development of the fission-fusion bomb (called the H-bomb), although there were plenty of important scientists on that project. He testified against Oppenheimer in a security clearance hearing and since that was kind of a pariah in the scientific community. Since the H-bomb is only effective in destroying cities (and killing everyone in them), I'm not sure the H-bomb is actually the bomb of inventions for the modern world (to use my daughters' vernacular). Teller, the king of the bushy eyebrows, died September 9, 2003.


Thought of the Day

I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This Day in American History

On this day in 1784, the United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris with England, signed September 3, 1783, ending the 8 year Revolutionary War. There would be a slight flare up in 1812-1814, but since then we've been on pretty good terms with the Brits.


Thought of the Day

In science we are really good at disproving things and are very poor at proving things. Theories like the Theory of Relativity go on and on because no one can think of anything better.

Richard Zayre

Saturday, January 13, 2007


A Nineteenth Century Representation of America's Fighting Spirit

This is one of the six nearly identical allegorical bronze figures, a martial lady in Greek dress, sculpted by Randolph Rogers around 1860, which surround the exquisite equestrian statue of George Washington north east of the Capitol Building in Richmond, Virginia. She is seated on cannon and cannon ball, with a sword in one hand, backed by flags, spears, axes, a drum, armor, helmet, shields and more swords. She has an unrolling scroll in her other hand.

In your wildest dream, could you imagine such a bellicose public decoration being commissioned at this time? More evidence, if we needed it, of how wimpy most of us have become.


More Sure Signs of Global Warming

It's about 2 degrees now, heading for a high of 6 here in Denver. Perfect, and typical, stock show weather. There's a cold snap coming to the Los Angeles area with predictions of snow and record low temperatures (hope the oranges are all right). These are both evidence, we are told by the Warmies, that Global Warming (caused solely by human activity) is real and harmful. Just seems like Winter to me. Some Warmies, however, think Global Warming can cause an unnatural new ice age; so these record cold temperatures are more evidence of global warming to them.

I will readily admit that it is now on average about a degree warmer than it was in the mid-1800s. I will also admit that the yearly average of naturally fluctuating CO2 levels have risen since 1850 from 280 parts per billion to 350 at present. But we were coming out of a prolonged cold period by the mid-1800., That period even has a name, the Little Ice Age; so who is to say that we're not just getting back to an average temperature over the long term more close to normal? The Warmies look at 150 years of evidence and say the sky is falling because of a 1 degree rise. I say look at the long term before you go all chicken little. And look at the real science before you believe the Arctic and Antarctic ice are melting away.


This Day in History

On this day in 1916, British troops numbering nearly 20,000, under the command of Lieutenant General Fenton Aylmer, attack Turkish lines on the Wadi river in present day Iraq in an unsuccessful attempt to releive Sir Charles Townshend and his 15,000, surrounded men a mere 20 miles away in Kut. The Turks on the Wadi, under the command of Nur-Ur-Din al Sheikh Sa’ad, have more men, more guns, and are on defense. Even though the British take the banks of the Wadi that day, they are stalled there and Kut is never relieved in time and the British there suffer yet another humiliating defeat three months later.


Thought of the Day (twofer)

I guess I think of lotteries as a tax on the mathematically challenged.

Roger Jones

[A] lottery is a tax on those who wish to be taxed.

Thomas Jefferson

Friday, January 12, 2007


Lincoln in Richmond, 1865

This is a statue of Lincoln talking to a boy near a newish Confederate States museum at the Tredegar iron works on the James (the armor plates for the Virginia/Merrimack ironclad were rolled out there). It's an OK piece of statuary, but the interesting thing is the news nearby that Lincoln was in Richmond on April 4, 1865, barely 24 hours after rebel troops had burned and then abandoned the Confederate capital and 5 days before Appomattox. That would be the equivalent of Roosevelt touring Berlin a day after the Reichstag fell but well before the formal surrender. What a mensch Lincoln was.


This Day in American Radio History--Twofer

On this day in 1951, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Limbaugh is the most listened to conservative radio host in the United States with over 13.5 million weekly listeners on nearly 600 stations.

Also on this day in 1954, Howard Stern was born in Roosevelt, New York. Stern has a great talent for interview but a very weird sense of humor and decorum so, although popular, he is not very well respected.


Thought of the Day

To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you too may one day be president of the United States.

George W. Bush, at a graduation ceremony at his alma mater Yale

Thursday, January 11, 2007


A Great Wave Crashes

Mendacem oportet esse memorem. Quintilian *

There are about 6 good things today on the web regarding the Duke Lacrosse Black Hole of Justice (not a racial reference, but one from science), in which the truth is sucked down into nonexistence due, apparently, to the overwhelming ego and ambition of DA Mike Nifong, who appears to be changing the case to fit the yet another new version of the story, and which changed story, I'm sure just by coincidence, happens to defeat some of the falsely accused boy's best items in their defense. This case is now, figuratively of course, swirling down the toilet bowl.

Coulter, as usual, is snarky, funny and pretty much right on the mark.

In lieu of a gang rape perpetrated by high-stepping white male athletes against a poor black woman, the Duke lacrosse case has turned out to be another in a long string of hoax hate crimes in which whites are falsely accused.

The lacrosse players denied that any rape had occurred and immediately submitted their DNA to the state, confident that the DNA would prove them innocent.

It did: Not a trace of DNA from any of the lacrosse players was found on the accuser, though this girl had more DNA in her than a refrigerator at a
fertility clinic.

She had DNA from five other men, which ought to have raised suspicions about her story that she had not had sex with anyone for the week before the alleged gang rape. Well, that was one of the several versions of events the accuser has offered police to date, although my personal favorite was the one in which Elvis came back from the dead and sexually assaulted her. (I think that was version No. 3--I'd have to check my notes.)

This is the second time this woman has accused a group of men of gang-raping her. One more time and it's officially considered a hobby.

K. C. Johnson has a good analysis of the most recent Defense Motion.

...the accuser now recalls Dave Evans wiping her off with a heretofore unmentioned "white" towel (and the police just happened to have taken a white towel from Evans' room, which had the DNA of Evans and someone wholly unconnected with the case, not the accuser). The towel also was used to clean up the "crime scene," another item previously unmentioned

The Mockery

Putting the December 21 version together with the accuser's other version brings us into the theater of the absurd, as the motion explains:

To believe the accuser's present claim that her vagina was wiped with this towel, that her face was wiped with this towel, that Dave Evans was wiped with this towel, and that the floor was wiped with this towel, would require the belief that this towel could wipe away all DNA from her attackers on the accuser's body, but leave the DNA of other, unknown males. It further requires the belief that the accuser's face and vagina could be wiped with this towel, but leave no trace of her DNA on the towel. Further, it requires the belief that the floor could be wiped with this towel, but that it would only wipe Dave Evans' DNA, leaving Matt Zash's DNA behind on the floor. Finally, the towel, while apparently obliterating any DNA left behind by the alleged attackers on the accuser's body, somehow contained only one of her attackers' DNA, despite her multiple claims that two of her attackers penetrated her rectum and vagina with their penises.

The ABC story concens discrepancies in the 10th or 11th "new" version from the disturbed, apparently free form lying accuser.

The accuser in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case told prosecutors in December that one of the three players charged did not commit any sex act on her during the alleged attack, according to papers filed Thursday by the defense.

The News and Observer has a straight report on the further destruction (it that was possible) of the accusers' credibility.

In her latest statement to investigators, the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape case changed her account again about when the alleged gang rape occurred, who attacked her and how.

Dorothy Rabinowitz on other travesties of justice based on transparent lies.

Mr. Nifong is no anomaly--merely a product of the political times, a prosecutor who has absorbed all the clues about the sanctified status now accorded charges involving rape, child sex-abuse and accusations of racism. Which has in turn ensured their transformation into weapons of unequalled power. Like others before him, the DA quickly grasped the career possibilities open to him with such a case and proceeded accordingly--denouncing racism, and the rape and assault of a helpless black woman, and the Duke athletes guilty of these crimes in every media interview available to him (and they were many).

The Defense Motion itself. It is long, but well constructed.

*A liar must be good at remembering. The liar must remember what really happened, must remember what parts of the truth the liar does not want to come to light, must remember the false details contained in the lie, and, in this case, must remember the multiple contradictory versions given and try to resolve the contradictions in subsequent versions. The accuser in the Duke Lacrosse (Never Was a) Rape case apparently does not have a good memory.


This Day in American History

On this day in either 1755 or 1757, Alexander Hamilton, 1st U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, is born, a bastard son, on Nevis in the Caribbean. He was forever ashamed of his humble beginnings among the New York and Virginia snobs. He also apparently had an Ann Coulter like problem with his birth date. Hamilton, a federalist, is on the $10 and died July 11, 1804, having been shot by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel in New Jersey, on the same location, and with the same pistols (still extant today), where Hamilton's eldest son Philip had been killed two years before.

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