Archive for February, 2008

This Is Good XLVIII

Friday, February 29th, 2008

This is better than good. It’s probably the funniest thing I’ve read all week, as well as successfully making the most salient and understated point…

My Solution to Iraq Is to Never Have Gone There
An Editorial by Senator Barack Obama

Iraq continues to be a serious problem, and the Bush administration has done nothing but increase the problem and cause unnecessary deaths. It is a mess, but I have a solution: I would never have gone there.

The Iraq War will be a big problem to inherit, but it would not be if we hadn’t have gone there. That’s why that is my solution.
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As for Al Qaeda in Iraq, I don’t think they would be a problem if we hadn’t had gone. Maybe they already were there and working with some support from Saddam, but I still think not having gone there is a risk worth taking. You may worry about all the terrorists there and whether they have intentions for attacking America, but you wouldn’t if we hadn’t had gone.
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The future. And not just any future; a future where we look forward and say, “We shouldn’t have gone to Iraq.”

Without Apology

Friday, February 29th, 2008

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, agrees with the nanny-state on one single issue and we stomp the bleachers as we bang our hands together in applause here

“It is universally understood that operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone is dangerous, and yet it’s almost a universal practice,” [Police Capt. Jeff] Gural said. “Unlike the seatbelt law, the violation of which puts only the violator at risk, violation of the cell phone law puts others at risk.

“Therefore, the Evesham police will be enforcing the law vigorously and without apology.”

Cinnaminson Police Lt. Robert Martens said it won’t be hard to find violators

“There are so many drivers that still talk on their (hand-held) cell phones that it’s going to be like shooting fish in a barrel,” Martens said of the number of potential violators traveling area roadways.

However, he said his department does not now plan any special details to look for violators.

“If we see someone violating the law and creating a traffic hazard, we’re going to enforce it,” Martens said.

The sight of people spending enormous gobs of money to make their car as cocoon-like as they possibly can, and then filling that cocoon with distractions, ticks me off like you wouldn’t believe. Worst of all is the sight of someone just jawing away on their cell phone…and I understand people are going to think I’m jumping to conclusions a bit too quickly, and they’re entitled to their opinion however wrong it may be. I insist you can tell certain things by the way they move. The way they hold the phones. The way their jaws move as they talk into them.

They are NOT receiving instructions on how to perform CPR on a baby, or how to defuse a bomb.

They are yakking away about stupid crap.

Because they’re used to driving this way. If they’re driving, and there’s no phone held up to their face, they feel that something is wrong. It’s like using a computer without drinking coffee. Quarter-pounder without the fries. The engine roars to life, and the phone has to be up to their silly ear if it isn’t there already.

Cardo ScalaBecause being ready for any ol’ thing to go wrong — the time-honored example of the three-year-old chasing the ball out into the street just yards in front of your bumper — that is unacceptably boring. To people who put ten…twenty…thirty thousand miles on their chariots, every year. Just consider the implications of that.

There shouldn’t even be a law needed, when you think about it. If you hold a cell phone up to your face, you’re advertising to the world that you don’t check your blind spots when you turn corners or change lanes. There can be very little doubt about it. Just watch people yakking away on their cell phones while they drive. Take a good look. Three quarters of them are holding the phone up to their left ears. Their left ears. They do head checks when they change lanes? They do? How? Law or no law, that’s worth a warning.

Pictured is the headset I use, which has worked wonderfully now for three years straight. There’s nothing unique about it except for the handy cord that you can use to keep it close by, like around your neck. You can get it for $25. Some others work perfectly well, and cost even less.

I’m always amazed by folks who drive BMWs or Lincoln Navs for the prestige factor, but can’t put together $15 to talk on their phones while they drive unobstructed. What’s up with you people? Are you afraid of losing the headset? Then keep the headset in your damn car.

Now that I actually agree with the nanny state about something, I have to go take a shower. But you see, I really have no choice but to agree with them on this one. It doesn’t matter how much “there oughtta be a law” is overused and over-abused…it applies here. This nonsense is WAY out of control.

WAY out.

Flashlight Gun

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Pretty cool.

Mayor Carmen Out

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Awhile ago I had added the misadventures of Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, Mayor of Arlington, OR to my “Flesh! Oh No!” archives in which we keep close tabs on the the sight of good-lookin’ women in skimpy clothing inspiring reactions from others that are…bollywonkers.

I do not mean to join ranks with those who mindlessly drivel out stale cliches, like…”in America, we’re sexually repressed…in other countries, they let women go topless on the beach…there’s something about America where blah blah blah…” To our minds, those babbling idjits are living proof that you can have a good point to make, but by relying on lazy thinking and favoring too much your initial prejudices, come to logically weak conclusions anyway. Yes, most of our localities insist the ladies wear all of their bathing suits in public — and your point is?

But at the same time, it is quite silly to indulge in any & all condemnation in the presence of a lady in the flesh, or of a picture of such a female — or of a suggestion of a picture of such a female — in less than complete attire. As if her judgment, or lack thereof, in what to wear somehow justifies any silly decision you have to make about how much to get worked up over it. This, we contend, is a problem in twenty-first century America. It is one of two subjects, wholly unrelated to one another, that reliably inspires large numbers of people to dribble out the most perverse nonsense as if on cue.

Carmen Kontur-GronquistAnd some of this nonsense has served as a “pretext” for bouncing out the Mayor of Arlington

According to the person who spearheaded the recall drive, Ron Miller, the vote was 142 in favor and 139 against the recall of Mayor Carmen Kontur-Gronquist.
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“My reaction is that the democratic process took place, and that is a good process that we have in the United States, and it’s fair,” she said.
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[Miller] said Gronquist will leave office immediately. The Arlington City Council President will take over as mayor until a new mayor is selected.

As for Gronquist, she said she is selling a poster of herself on eBay. A portion of the proceeds, she said, will go to the Arlington city ambulance company.

The ridiculous thing about this is that the real subject of the recall seems to have something to do with some decisions the Mayor made about golf courses. The underwear-picture thing, according to all the information I’ve been able to gather, was just the camel’s nose in the tent.

No self-respecting activist would say “I want the Mayor recalled because I found a picture of her in her underwear,” but they ended up doing that very thing. Had the golf decisions stood, but the underwear photo never come to light, this thing never would have gotten off the ground. And so her tragic tale goes into the file of evidence of modern busybody Dark Matter, the stuff that holds the cosmos that is the American Taliban together. Bible-thumping tightasses and jealous frumpy housewives who want to go out on their daily peregrinations without seeing any bare elbows and toes belonging to any ladies who might happen to look nice.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is rooted in jealousy, plain and simple, whether the complainant is a lady or a gentleman. If a female happens to come off as heavy, poorly-maintained or otherwise substandard, she can flaunt all she wants. You read about an unsuspecting lass getting in a peck of trouble over a swimsuit photo, and you know she’s lookin’ good.

H/T: Ace.

Bird Feeder

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

It’s currently making the rounds on the innernets

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it lovingly with seed. It was indeed a beautiful bird feeder.

Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the bird shit. It was everywhere; on the patio tile, the chairs, the table … everywhere! Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. And others birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food. After a while, I couldn’t even sit on my own back porch anymore.

So I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio. Soon, the back yard was like it used to be … quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now let’s see ….

Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, and free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen. Then the illegal’s came by the millions.

Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 or more families; you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by a doctor in an emergency room because it is filled with illegals; your child’s class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn’t speak English.

Breakfast cereal now comes in a bilingual box; I have to ‘press one’ to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than ‘The Union Jack’ are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties. Its just my opinion but: maybe, just maybe, it’s time for the government to take down the damn bird feeder.

I have not yet heard it suggested…not even once…that any other nation besides the United States of America would be doing anything “racist” by establishing, or continuing to establish, an official language. To the best of my knowledge, this is a rule that doesn’t make sufficient sense to be articulated outright anywhere — that the United States is engaged in an act of RAY-SCIZM by making English the official language of the country. But other countries can go ahead and have theirs. That’s all good.

This is an abuse of logic and common sense of monstrous proportions. That’s probably what it’s not articulated outright.

It doesn’t even begin to be rational.

What color is English anyway?

Diebold Accidentally Leaks the Results

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Yeah…Oh, Yeah…That’s Objective

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Two MastheadsVia Verum Serum, via Cartago Delanda Est, via Rick.

The stories are tragically similar. The Bush incident took place six months ago in Albuquerque, and Victor Lozada Tirado lost his life in the Clinton motorcade in Dallas last week.

At this time, I can’t locate the name of the officer who was killed six months ago in Albuquerque. Mostly because, even with the Clinton headline an unknown future event and the contrast therefore missing, “Bush Motorcade Kills Cop” was a shockingly irresponsible headline on its own. (Also, it should be pointed out that in some sources Sen. Cpl. Tirado is identified as “a policewoman” so it would appear more details are needed here as well.)

Now to tell the truth, I’m really ignorant about how the public-at-large perceives this problem. That media bias exists and that it slants to the left, seems to be something that can’t be doubted by anyone except the insane. But that’s just the way I see it. I can’t speak for others.

I think most of us acknowledge the leftist tilt — this Zogby poll pegs the quotient at two-thirds — but handle the issue with an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. In other words, when we aren’t constantly reminded of it, we have a tendency to presume the problem has gone away, and even to rely on our media sources for balanced coverage the very next day. Presuming that, then, I predict most people becoming aware of these two “dueling headlines” will conclude that sometime over the last six months Time Magazine “grew up” and can now be relied-upon.

How adorable. How charmingly naive. I have to blatantly steal a line from Rachel Lucas and gush that I could just pinch their cute little cheeks, really, really hard.

Birds

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

From Pics We Like (click for full).

Vote For –ism

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

The 2008 presidential election now has a clear front-runner. And that front-runner is the suffix “ism.”

Nobody else is having nearly as big an effect

Top Republican strategists are working on plans to protect the GOP from charges of racism or sexism in the general election, as they prepare for a presidential campaign against the first ever African-American or female Democratic nominee.

The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved. The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see for a party often criticized for its insensitivity to minorities in campaigns dating back to the 1960s.

The RNC project is viewed as so sensitive that those involved in the work were reluctant to discuss the findings in detail. But one Republican strategist, who asked that his name be withheld to speak candidly, said the research shows the daunting and delicate task ahead.

Republicans will be told to “be sensitive to tone and stick to the substance of the discussion” and that “the key is that you have to be sensitive to the fact that you are running against historic firsts,” the strategist explained.

FacepalmWow. Is it racist or sexist to infer from this that, when you’re a candidate to become the nation’s next President, it’s an enormous advantage to you to have dark skin or be female? Because if your opponent has to be sensitive when pointing out your faults, but you don’t have to be sensitive when you point out his…gosh, ya know, I think anybody who’s successfully graduated from the seventh grade should be able to say “I think that might be a tactical advantage.”

GOP operatives have already coined a term for clumsy rhetoric: “undisciplined messaging.” It appears as a bullet point in a Power Point presentation making the rounds among major donors, party leaders and surrogates. The presentation outlines five main strategic attacks against an Obama candidacy, with one of them stating how “undisciplined messaging carries great risk.”

“Republicans will need to exercise less deafness and more deftness in dealing with a different looking candidate, whether it is a woman or a black man,” Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway said. “But at the same time, really charge back at any insinuation or accusation of sexism or racism.”

But since we’re talking about campaign-land and not about the planet I call home, which is Earth…I guess really charging back at these insinuations will have something to do with bluster, bravado and bumper sticker slogans. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with saying “nice name-calling now will you please address my question” or something favorable to finding the truth about things.

I wonder how much per hour these strategerists are pulling down for cobbling together these Power Point presentations.

Yes, Let’s Become More Like Europe

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

There seems to be no down-side to it.

Who is allowed to break in to your house?
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It may sound suprising, but according to a 2007 report by Harry Snook, a barrister for the Centre for Policy Studies, there are 266 powers allowing officials to enter your home, and not all require a warrant. Those who can break in include firefighters, in an emergency, and police arresting a suspect. The Environment Agency can gain access without a warrant where there is danger of pollution or damage to public health.

Electricity and gas companies can come in to inspect equipment or change a meter but have to give at least two days’ notice (though they can enter in an emergency).

Landlords are allowed to enter their property and seize goods in lieu of unpaid rent, and local authorities can enter your home for a number of reasons, including to turn off a continuous burglar alarm or pest extermination.
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Then there are the more unusual Acts. Under the Bees Act, officers can enter to search for foreign bees. Under the Hypnotism Act, the police can enter a property where they suspect offences related to stage hypnotism are taking place. Stage hypnotism, strangely, is not an offence in itself.

Are We There Yet?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

That’s what I call quite a trip.

It is the furthest galaxy on the record. The galaxy Abell 1835 IR1916 is located about 13,230 million light-years away. Hence, it is seen at a time when the Universe was merely 470 million years young, that is, barely 3 percent of its current age.

But don’t feel so dejected, young-earth creationists, there’s something for you too…

Scientists are finding extraterrestrial influence in this galaxy. It seems the galaxy was engineered and fit into place by artificial forces. This is the furthest galaxy ever discovered. Therefore it is also the earliest galaxy that we can view through gravitational lenses.

Some 13.7 billion years ago, after the big bang, the Universe plunged into darkness. Neither stars nor quasars had yet been formed which could illuminate the vast space. The Universe was a cold and opaque place. Some thing went wrong, according to some scientists. Intervention was needed by the Type IV civilization that created the big bang in their massive inter-universe particle colliders. The big bang created a black hole in the hyperspace – our universe with three spatial dimensions and a forward moving single time dimension. According to scientists this was the start of ‘dark ages’ that was eventually corrected through the intervention of the Type IV civilization.

Type IV is a reference to the Kardashev Scale; specifically, to something on par with the Q Continuum.

On the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Statement from President Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998 on signing the Iraq Liberation Act.

Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.” This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are:

The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq’s history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.

The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council’s efforts to keep the current regime’s behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

Clinton talked. Bush did.

Star Wars According to a Three-Year-Old

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

What I Learned Today

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

One. It isn’t butkus; it’s bubkes.
Two. There’s a little bit of a pain-in-the-ass side to having a professional editor perusing The Blog That Nobody Reads.

During our off-line I was given cause to think about this exchange

The final proposed revision to the Declaration is brought by Adams himself. He indicates that the grammatically correct term would be “unalienable,” not “inalienable.” Jefferson insists that “inalienable” is correct. Adams defends his assertion with his Harvard credentials, which Jefferson counters with his studies at the College of William and Mary. In the interest of proceeding with the vote, Hancock asks Jefferson if he will agree to the revision, to which Jefferson says no, grinning at Adams. Annoyed, Adams withdraws his request, earning Franklin’s praise, but retorts that he will speak to the printer later.

Three. Even with Seattle natives, it seems a linguistic disagreement may occasionally be settled with broadswords (whether it looks like this is something that will remain unknown for now).
Four. “Bubkes” is Yiddish! It also is a reference to goat droppings. Who’d a-thunk.
Five. It isn’t good enough to use the urban dictionary to make sure you’re doing it right. It’s always been one of my favorite reference materials. I claim ignorance. Nobody told me bubkes about it.

On Angry White Men

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Buck sez

I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh but I used to once upon a time, and I don’t particularly like Rush Limbaugh but I agree with about 97.6% of this rant…

Limbaugh is reading an editorial by Gary Hubbell that appeared in the February 9th edition of the Aspen Times Weekly, so this is old news. Still and even, old or not…there’s a lot of truth in that, eh? If you disagree, I’d like to hear about it…with an emphasis on “why.” If you have the time and inclination, of course.

I wouldn’t call myself an Angry White Man. But I am disturbed at the way things are going in this country, so I most definitely relate to the sentiments in Mr. Hubbell’s piece.

I would characterize some of the images in that LiveLeak clip to be work hazardous. That is to say, I’d regard any decision to embed the clip without such a warning as an entirely meritorious decision, so I don’t mean to chastise Buck or anybody else for leaving the warnings out. But if you work around a whole gaggle of foppish snots, you’ll probably appreciate having a warning. But of course you’d have to be a sniveling scatterbrain to be watching videos on the innernets around a crowd like that. There. Warning complete. Now then.

I never did agree with calling these guys “white men.” One of the things I’ve been noticing happening in the last few years, let’s say since the first term of Bill Clinton, is that people in general tire quickly of the “diversity” argument. It seems to be a stew that remains tasty only in very light doses, and whenever a diner is served a heavy banquet of whitey-bashing, the palette grows weary of the flavoring without regard to the diner’s gender or skin color.

And so we had the 1994 midterm elections. Which were also blamed on the angry white male, but I don’t think it happened that way quite so much.

The things about which Hubbell is writing, all have two things in common. One: To the lazy mind, they can be presented as positive things. Two: Under the surface, they’re all bitingly, acridly negative. Each and every single one. A perfect example is the flood of illegal laborers. The lazy mind hears of such a thing, and it seems like this is a positive thing, opposed only by negative people. Giving jobs to poor people who cross an arbitrary line in the sand to make a better life for their families. But waitaminnit…what is the consequence of allowing this to happen? What is the consequence of stopping it?

Noodle on that for a little while, and you see the issue is far greater than illegal labor. It has to do with whether laws are to be enforced equally, or selectively. To suppose that laws should be enforced equally, is just a natural conclusion you reach when you proceed from the premise that fairness is a good thing. To flood these work sites with illegal laborers who broke the law to get in the country, and are allowed to stay only because corrupt businesses and law enforcement agencies look the other way — that’s downright nasty.

It can seem “fair,” but only if you started evaluating fairness with an ingrained hostility toward those who are injured.

Ditto for the “Press 1 For English.” It seems fair — if you start evaluating fairness with an ingrained hostility toward the English language. If you flavor your evaluation with a sneering “What’s So Great About English?” attitude. Imagining the same situation with an imaginary country and an imaginary language, to remove the passions, the conclusion would naturally drift to the other way. This is why so many other countries, around the world, are allowed to keep their native languages. To have “official” ones. And nobody says bubkes about it.

I suppose to characterize this as a “white guy” thing is fair, for now, because Hubbell is talking about voting. He’s talking, therefore, about numbers. My anecdotes about black guys I’ve met who appreciate these sentiments, or women I’ve met who also nurture these passions, may therefore be relegated to sideline status.

But even with voting, the white-guy dominance of this phenomenon is on the wane. In 2006, the democrats won, and they won with their “Down With Whitey” nastiness (the irony being, that the positions that really count for a lot in the democrat party, are all occupied by white people).

But has there ever been a more hollow victory in American politics? Ask a dozen loyal democrats what they thought they’d get out of the 2006 victory, you won’t get a single answer about what it was supposed to be. But you’ll definitely get a single answer as to whether they got it or not: NO.

I think what Hubbell is really writing about, is a fatigue that has set in against negativity and nastiness. We see this fatigue in our white guys first and foremost, because they are the objects of it. But the folks pushing this anti-white-guy nastiness and negativity are also white guys.

Across all the colors, a hunger has set in and it is not being satisfied. The hunger is for leaders in our government that are FOR something. I’ve been wondering this about Hillary Clinton for the longest time, now: What is she FOR? You don’t have to do much listening at all to hear all about this-or-that policy that was stupid from day one and hasn’t worked and is bad bad bad bad bad…but when it’s time to hear what these guys & gals support, all I hear of is this word “CHANGE.”

So I think there is a multi-hued passion for something that has not been delivered and cannot be delivered soon. But Hubbell is right on the point where he implies the white male will deliver some surprises on election day, because this is the class about which nobody is asking, or answering, any questions. Not unless it’s about that angry self-hating left-wing type of white guy.

On Dogs in Purses

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Gerard is interested, again, in our snarking about technology, post-Y2K. The issue under discussion is/was the snotty atheist movement.

How come atheism waited until the twenty-first century to really bask in the limelight? Wouldn’t it be more fitting if it came to popularity half a century ago, when we were launching satellites and smashing atoms? This is the age of fifty gazillion wonderful new inventions, all of which are dedicated to finding new ways to play personal music collections and carry dogs around in purses.

Dog in PurseAnd this is the era in which the atheist’s view of the cosmos, is most popularly thought to be the correct one. If I were an atheist, that would be sufficient to make me seriously question my atheism. I’m glad I’m not one.

No moonshots. We may land on Mars someday, but if we do it will be like a thief in the night. Nobody cares.

Our kids all want to be rap stars and basketball players when they grow up, which would be alright on some level if they had to overcome some approach-approach conflict to get there, but one gathers the impression they lit upon this dream just because nature abhors a vacuum. Rare is the child nowadays who has ever fiddled with a chemistry set or used a calculator just for fun.

Technology is useful when it gives us something we can leave under the Winter Solstice Tree for each other. Technology is wonderful when it’s about ME. When it plays MY music…when it displays MY photographs. By doing things that are, conceptually, not new. Years and years ago, we figured out how to pass a digital file through a solid-state device and get stereo music out of it — and if by noon tomorrow ten exciting inventions are unveiled, you know at least nine of them will have something to do with performing this old task in some fancy new way. It isn’t real innovation.

The tenth will have something to do with dogs and purses.

I thought I would provide a link to how the dog-in-the-purse became a metaphor around here for stale technology. It is a technology-related thing, after all, because for the most part a dog-in-a-purse is not a natural component. It is artificial. It is an expenditure of our anemic twenty-first century “atheism is cool” technological wherewithal. One of the very few.

Though the teacup toy poodle is easily less than 5 pounds, some breeders specifically select their smallest dogs for breeding to bring down the size and weight of further generations.

While a purse dog may look cute, there are some inherent problems with breeding a dog to be small, specifically as a fashion accessory. First, bladder control is a major issue for most of these dogs, as they have tiny bladders that won’t hold liquid for long. Dog owners, this writer among them, often wonder how many times purses have to be replaced if you’re carrying a tiny dog around for long parties or events and forget to give it ample opportunities to urinate.

Second, as breeds get smaller, reproduction gets more challenging. Tiny dogs usually have to have cesarean section deliveries of young, which is more risky for both the mother and her pups. Further, there are unfortunately many unscrupulous breeders who attempt to breed very small puppies and do so in unsafe or unhealthy ways. Puppy mills frequently produce purse dogs, and allow larger dogs that don’t fit size requirements to languish without proper care.

Did you catch that? The artificially bred dogs have problems with pissing and crapping. I’m sure if you’re like me, the first time you saw a purse dog the first thought in your head was “I wonder how the dog tells his mistress it’s time to be walked?” And the answer is — he doesn’t! The dogs are soiling expensive purses left-and-right. Not cheap purses, either. Designer purses. Suede purses. Purses selected specifically according to the criteria that they cost a lot.

The dog-in-the-purse is a wonderful concoction of disparate components, each one tossed into the stewpot that becomes a dog-in-a-purse because that component is impractical. The objective, therefore, is impracticality — and no small measure of what might be called animal cruelty.

It is, in a darkly upside-down way, an innovation. An exercise in seeing how many impractical things can be offered in a single new trend.

It is the very picture of what suits our fancy in the twenty-first century.

Because we’re BORED.

I believe one suspect might be Y2K. I remember, in about ’97 or ’98 or so, the trend started that if you worked in Information Technology you were probably engaged in a project or two that had something to do with Y2K upgrades. By the third quarter of ’98, everybody was neck-deep in it. To bring in something genuinely new, was an effort that would’ve run into a stiff headwind.

Well, my theory is that Y2K killed technology. One would presume after the crisis had passed, we’d go back to finding creative, innovative, powerful new ways to do things, previously undreamed-of. Like we did pre-1997.

Well, one would have presumed wrong. When one has been creating and there is suddenly a need to preserve, the urge to preserve is a powerful one. When one has been preserving and there arises a need to go back to creating, it turns out that urge is not quite so strong. We leaped out of the Age of Brahma into the Age of Vishnu…and in the Age of Vishnu, we remain. Technology, to the technology professional as well as to the man in the street, is something that works when it — simply works. It’s like a pencil. The damn thing writes or else it doesn’t. We really don’t care how to make a better one.

Another culprit I have in mind, is the 640k memory limit. We did an awfully sloppy job of getting past that one. It was an issue when the IBM PC first came out, and fifteen years later it was still an issue. It worked out well for Microsoft, which released a whole string of Windows versions that people had practical reasons to buy.

The guy who just wanted to buy a nice gadget for his sweetie to put under the Holiday Tree, would have to contend in some way with the 640k memory barrier because some programs would run on some operating systems, and others would not. Now, we don’t have to worry about this. Supposedly, that’s an improvement. But is it really?

In the 1990′s, we had Windows 95. What an amazing thing it was. I don’t mean to say you’d go back to it now, but think about when it first came out. Contrast it against what came before. Of course, everybody cared…we had to…and once we had it, the sky was the limit as far as what we could put on it.

Now, we have Vista

Microsoft’s biggest competitor is itself. In a market where one product dominates, older versions compete with newer ones. The problem exacerbates as a product improves and more people use it. Windows XP reached the “good enough” threshold, in terms of features and usability and market saturation. To displace XP, Vista needed to be a whole lot better, not just the same or even a little better. But Vista isn’t the “WOW” operating system Microsoft advertised. Vista is a very good operating system and arguably better than XP. But Vista isn’t a great operating system and, therefore, a whole lot better than Windows XP.

Which is a pretty big problem, because the time window of dominance by Vista’s successor, XP, was already much longer than what would have been considered normal pre-Y2K. Windows XP is a Fourth Quarter ’01 product; presuming it can retain a dominant toehold because its successor has done a lackluster job making a name for itself, we’re now into the eighth year of essentially one operating system.

The dominant Windows operating system has been the trunk of the technology tree. If there’s rot in the core of this trunk, the branches aren’t going to do too well either.

And so, in 2008 we don’t look to scientists…engineers…programmers…for an awful lot. Nothing at all, really. If you have a home computer at all, you probably have a pretty good idea on what you want it to do and you’re not like some guy in the 1980′s running in to Egghead Software to find some new tricks you can teach it. If you do have a new program in mind and the computer won’t run it, you probably just need — more RAM. The day you finally need to trade up your PC, it’s probably a decision driven by hardware and not by software. The old unit wouldn’t support a SATA hard drive…or some such.

As everyday folks, we’re just not that connected on what goes on in the guts of technology. Not like we were. Technology cannot gratify us anymore…it cannot spark our imaginations…all it can do is disappoint us, by not doing exactly what we had in mind.

The Age of Brahma is over. It is the Age of Vishnu. We have no interest in creating, we only want to preserve.

That’s why your kids want to be rap stars instead of doctors.

Boom chicka boom.

How Many of Me

Monday, February 25th, 2008

There are no Morgan Freebergs other than yours truly…according to this, anyway.

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
0
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Best Sentence XXVI

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

There is a round-about way we stumbled across the winner of the latest BSIHORL (Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately) award. Follow along…

Michelle Malkin linked to a curious item in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, which was crying crocodile tears for the illegal aliens who couldn’t find any work leaving any parallel dilemma faced by the people who actually belong here, mostly uncommented-upon.

And the story contained this curious undertone. Like trout in a plentiful pond, it would break the surface when you least expected it, and elude capture by vanishing almost instantly. And then do it again. And again.

The bad times are trickling down to the lowest rung of the work force: the illegal labor pool, which has long been tapped by both contractors and homeowners for convenience and low cost.
:
“Everybody is going to suffer in a recession — from the top on down,” says Patti Decker, a branch manager with Labor Ready in Soquel, whose number of Spanish-speaking customers, she added, has been on the rise in the last few months, in part due to the poor economy.

This recurring reference to verticality. I think it’s relevant, because if you accept that the illegal aliens are the lowest among us — rather than the children who are brutalized by some of them, more often than we’d be led to believe — this would mean every time a politician makes reference to our goodness being defined by how we treat the least among us, that politician is saying our goodness is defined by how we treat our illegal aliens.

Which would be groundbreaking, because I’m hearing it from them every goddamned day. Society is to be regarded according to how it treats the weakest…the least…the lowest…the poorest. Many saying this is so. Few saying why.

Not sure if this comes from The Gospels or any other part of the Bible. This seems to be a misattribution based on Luke 9:48, “…the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”

But thankfully, I don’t see this attributed to the Bible too much. Most of the time people are claiming to come up with it themselves, which is funny because there are so many original authors of this one bromide.

Including one Helen, cited by Don Quixote while guest-blogging at fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm Room.

A nation is only as powerful as its weakest citizen, as prosperous as its poorest, and as decent and moral as its empty jails.

Whereupon commenter Lissa wins the BSIHORL award with this apropos rejoinder:

Why should we judge a society by its poorest and weakest? Why not judge it by its best, and the opportunity for the poorest and weakest to become neither poor nor weak?

A question for the era, Lissa. WELL done.

Update: In another example of wonderful/wretched irony, I see the overall liberal mantra is a short dialog of sorts, in which an interested outsider applies for assimilation into the liberal collective union, inseparable from adoration and adulation from those already therein — and is granted it.

It can be distilled into the following brief exchange:

APPLICANT: I believe we are all equally worthwhile in every conceivable way, without regard to gender, race, creed, credo, sexual preference, income, net worth, or place of birth.

COLLECTIVE: That clearly makes you far superior to those who don’t believe the same. Enter when ready, New Member.

The theoretical egalitarianism is an indispensible component. So is the practical non-equal stratification of “We’re Better Than You.” Neither one of these are tangential or optional. They are BOTH core, even though they are opposites.

Self-mockery, thy name is liberalism.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

On Hiring Women

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

The guidance from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine comes to our attention via FARK…and lest anyone question some shenanigans a-goin’ on, be advised the Oracle of Snopes smiles upon it.

Smack!I’m particularly fond of the following selection of bullets…

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
:
4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination – one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
:
6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.
:
8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

You’re looking to me for further comment? C’mon. I do need a wheelbarrow to carry around my balls — but not a freakin’ minivan. There’s a time to pull the pin, there’s a time to walk away…even if one allows oneself a chuckle or two.

Update 2/24/08: Just an interesting thought exercise.

It goes without saying the above isn’t even close to fitness for reprinting now, so it’s clear we have a “line”; you can step over it — in which case those with “dirty hands” will be compelled to apologize and re-apologize, and probably see their careers ended anyway — and you can fall short of it and walk away clean. And so the thought exercise is to imagine a duplicate of the above material appearing in a modern magazine, Cosmopolitan being ideal, with the genders flipped.

Think about an article within the glossy pages offering a few bullets of advice. Now that women have sought for, and acquired, power, envision a lady in management who supervises an all-female staff, thinking about hiring her first man. Some re-imagining and re-morphing of the Transportation Magazine article is then aimed at that theoretical female-management construct.

Where is the line in that scenario? Way freakin’ out there. The 1943 article is torn to shreds in the time machine that is the web page…simply by, it could be inferred, observing that difference between men and women. “You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology” and all that — definitely over the line. For the female supervisor to be advised that she needs to make some allowances for male psychology…nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. It has ample precedence. Hand me a stack of ten old Cosmos, chosen at random, and I can prove it faster than you think.

Actually, a quick Google of “male ego” within Cosmopolitan returns six results, all of which appear to be satisfactory examples. So on that side, the line clearly extends well beyond this. I would expect in our imaginary scenario, you wouldn’t even have to worry about it until you got into George Carlin’s Seven Words. Maybe not even then.

Conclusions? Perhaps it’s belaboring the obvious, but we can exclude the possibility that people think for themselves on issues like this. For a gazillion of us to think on it as indepedent beings, and autonomously nurture a bias that remains consistent across so many of us that lists so sharply to the same side, is quite out of the realm of serious consideration.

Our ladies are sensitive. Our gentlemen are poorly organized, thick-skinned to the point of cluelessness. There really aren’t too many rules on how we are to be treated, nor is there any need for such rules. Not unless the gentlemen in question are members of some externally designated hypersensitive class.

There is a bittersweet irony here. We got all these rules about how to treat our ladies when it became socially unsuitable to communicate any comparison between males and females that reached any conclusion other than equivalent. To say men could do anything that woman couldn’t do, was to shoulder the blame for all nasty things done toward the fairer sex, across a variety of cultures, all around the globe for thousands of years — it was to identify oneself as a contributing agent toward the problem. And yet, to infer that women might be able to do things men couldn’t do, was almost equally atrocious. It became regarded, on a social level, as an exercise in calling out “womyn’s work” like cleaning and sewing, nevermind if this was notably different from the speaker or writer’s intent.

And so outside of the smartest and most craven option, avoiding the subject altogether, the only one left was to pronounce women and men as the same.

From that convention, implied but not articulated outright, we dredge up our theatrical apoplexy to be directed toward the Transportation Magazine article.

That’s my explanation for the double-standard, addressed to a space alien, man who woke up from a centuries-long slumber, or some other hypothetical being capable of rational thought but unaccustomed to the social ravages of recent past generations. There may be a way to provide this rational explanation that makes our recent enlightenment look like something other than………self-contradictory and patently silly. But I don’t know what that might be.

Therein lies the intellectual danger of deploring things for reasons that just “should be obvious.” A lot of the time, it leaves so much unexplained, that when reason is ejected few are left in a position to realize this is what has taken place.

Economic Stimulus

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Phil says “for the sake of showing a pulse, I’ll go ahead and post,” and then sets himself ablaze with five great pieces:

Economic Stimulus
Beliefs and Religion Politics
Meet the New Boss
McCain Hit Piece
PhobiaPhobia

An excerpt from the economic stimulus, and then a few words from myself about it…

Why is not taking money from us so we have more to spend in the first place not going to help the economy, but “giving” us a “gift” of our own tax dollars so we have more money to spend … will? Riddle me this, mmmmm?

Well, I agree with the progressives about this election: Conservatism has been found not to work, and will therefore be sidelined for a time. I disagree with the progressives on the “for whom” part of it. I maintain that conservatism has been found not to work for those who want cheap and easy political power. And so on that foreign planet inside the beltway, people with R and D after their names have pledged together to promote liberalism because they’ve found it is more conducive to their own ambitions.

For the rest of us out here on earth, conservatism is the better choice. Too bad we won’t see anything of it for a time. Our “leaders” don’t like it.

And Phil touches on something that proves this point nicely — the war may be controversial at this time, but supply-side economics are definitely not. They are factual. The notion that a lower tax rate can bring in increased revenues, has been proven time and time again.

If the conservative plank was communicated this way, advertised this way, I maintain everything would be different. Imagine a few recitations of Winston Churchill’s quote about a man sitting in a bucket trying to pull himself up by the handle. Imagine hearing that as many times as you’ve heard that phony Jefferson quote about dissent.

Just imagine it. It would change everything.

But it isn’t going to happen, because in 2008, phony feel-good-ism is in vogue.

We cut taxes. We experienced economic growth. We applied what we learned from this lesson by electing a left-winger who’s going to sell us some nonsense about the globular-wormening boogeyman, and certainly, definitely, absolutely, fer sure, will raise taxes.

Just try to explain that one to your grandchildren.

CAIR Loses Tax-Exempt Status

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Via Always On Watch, via The Amboy Times.

Somewhere in the dead of night, without any known announcement from the organization, the highly controversial Washington DC based group CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations has apparently lost the tax status which enabled it to conduct lobbying activities. The organization was registered for many years under the IRS tax code 501c(4) which allowed the organization to conduct lobbying activities, campaign funding, legislation and candidate backing, and many other government and litigation related activities. A 501c(4) tax status is very difficult to maintain, requiring quarterly public filings, and is very regulated under strict lobbying laws, yet is the most powerful tax status for organizations wishing to influence government. CAIR, who was under this status, had numerous members of their leadership indicted on terrorism related charges in the past, and had received large amounts of funding from questionable foreign sources. Many critics of the group often wondered how CAIR was able to hold on to such a highly critiqued tax status such as 501c(4).

Hope on the mend…?

Managing the Economy

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

An annoying platitude commented-upon by Michelle. And Stossel.

We’re losing our republic because the people who ask candidates questions have the real power right now; they demand detail where there is no detail to be demanded, and let things slide right on by when a little bit o’digging would be most appropriate. Their spotlight is vertical when it should be horizontal, and vice-versa.

Peace Plan

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Last summer I had to salute FrankJ’s peace plan for its potential, its viability, and for the point it made, which was similar to one I had made but more charmingly stated, and much earlier.

Kate has another peace plan which is just as likely to work as Frank’s — and may be a good deal less expensive.

I see we have a lot of people among us who are energetically promoting exactly the opposite: the more languages the better. And I can’t help but notice that Kate has the balls to state exactly what benefits we are to get out of her plan, and why we are to think this is the case, whereas the multi-culti crowd can’t even begin to say what’s good about a twenty-first century Tower of Babel. Something about “diversity” and then their argument ends right freakin’ there.

Meanwhile, nobody can understand what anybody’s saying.

The Pretty Piehole

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Rachel Lucas takes the Obamamaniacs to task. It’s a wonderful bit of rightful snarking, the only hitch in the giddy-up being that she’s saved some words for yours truly as well.

You rightly feel no pointless need to burden yourselves with any responsibility for anything – that’s why you vote Democrat – and hell if this guy doesn’t fit the bill perfectly! You’ll put him in office because life’s too short to waste time learning about important issues and understanding the world at large. Oh, it’s so cute, I just want to pinch your faces! Really, really hard.

Hope!

Change!

Oops, sorry – go ahead and go change your panties, I’ll wait. I know how those words make all the blood run from your brain to your nether-regions. It’s perfectly understandable that you’d have a physical reaction at the thought of having your soul fixed by a politician.

But you don’t get all the credit, Democrats. Easy there! – don’t bogart all the glory. You may be the ones giving the Idea-Less Wonder the nomination but you’re gonna have to share some praise with a big chunk of the Republican base once he wins the White House.

See, a lot of Republicans, they HATE the guy who might defeat your Sexy Prophet of the Second Coming. This guy is known as the Great Satanic Eye-Poking Back-Stabber, and enough people will refuse to vote for him – on principle – that it pretty much ensures our souls will be safe and that we can finally be proud of our country again. Those people deserve our gratitude, too.

Well no, speaking on behalf of my fellow rats-off-the-ship, I don’t hate John McCain. I just damn sure don’t trust him.

I’ve written about this already plenty of times. Conservatism can have a shot at staying in, if & only if it re-defines itself through The Maverick. Which means all the classical points of it are done — for now. The personal responsibility, the deliberating about cause & effect before this-or-that social program is put into place. The notion that the individual is a glorious, wonderful creation of nature, capable of good judgments about his own life, entitled to freedom and the ability to defend his family.

People want, as the Obamamaniacs tell us, “change.” I say, go for it. Fight terrorism with a universal healthcare plan. Go ahead and make it prohibitively and artificially expensive to hire new people to a business or, God forbid, start a new business. Give ALL the money and power to our trial lawyers. Take all our guns away and punish violent crime with a finger-waggling and wrist-slapping or two, if you punish it at all. Pay criminals money to not misbehave. Negotiate with tyrants around the world — no exceptions. Let me know how that works out.

Yes, I know I’ll probably be around to see the wreckage in the wake of liberal policies — again.

Yes, I know that since the consequences this time might involve real bombs smuggled in by real terrorists, maybe this isn’t an appropriate time for the “go ahead and run away from home, sonny” approach.

I’m receptive to all these arguments. I agree with them. What I don’t agree with, is that McCain can spare us from any of this grief.

If he says he will, his policies will prove to contradict that.

If he names specific policies that will not, all Ted Kennedy has to do is say “stop” and McCain will do what Kennedy says.

Exceptions to that in history? I know of none.

My vision, you see, is exceptionally dark. I’ve come to think of liberalism is something that people just have to learn about every sixteen to twenty years. When a new generation runs for office, and (probably more to the point) a new generation starts voting, the first thing we have to try is a bunch of dumb ideas everybody already knows aren’t gonna work mixed up with a great big huge gob of emotionalism. I don’t think it’s a wonderful idea to embrace this tragic aspect of human nature; I’m simply unsold on the point in trying to avoid it.

But enough about my snivelling excuses. This one passage from Rachel is solid-gold:

My only regret is that we have to wait so long to install our new messianic overlord; I’m not sure my soul can wait that long for its fixin’. I’m broken here, people, broken!

And what if there’s another big terrorist attack before January 20, 2009? Our current Chimp-in-Chief might do something stupid like retaliate before sitting down with the world around a rainbow campfire and playing folk songs until harmonic convergence is achieved and they give him permission to kill the jihadist fuckers who did it. Can we risk that, America? Shouldn’t we accept the Rapture that is Obama and swear him in now? That way, there’ll only be potential action after possibly determining who might have potentially killed a few thousand people. Maybe. If France says it’s okay. We’ve alienated them quite enough.

Liberals will predictably say that Rachel has represented their position innacurately.

They will predictably be unable to say how.

This is exactly the same mistake we made with Carter and Clinton, and came very close to making with President Kerry. It’s a truism that applies to all aspects of life, outside of foreign policy. If something’s a great idea, there is no need to say “it’s a great idea because such-and-such an outside party likes it” — nor is there any need to say something’s a bad idea because so-and-so doesn’t like it. Good ideas can stand on their own, and so can bad ideas.

If you want to think rationally, you need to think about consequences. We all know this to be true. That’s why this dumb talking point prospers so well when we talk about foreign policy — in that arena, and in none other, the “what’ll happen if we do such-and-such” overlaps sloppily with “who’s gonna be mad if we do such-and-such.”

John Kerry very seldom said he’d actually fix anything, especially with regard to terrorism. I recall his preferred talking point to be that he’d bring credibility to the White House, and make people happy with the things he’d do…or more precisely, make them happy just that he’s him. These were “allies” — outsiders, people who don’t live here, people who can’t vote here and for good reason. Foreigners. And never, ever, once did I hear “allies” qualified as anyone besides France and Germany. The election in 2004 boiled down to this: Who elects Presidents in America, Americans or frenchmen? Answer: Americans. But that was then, this is now.

It’s the year of pretty pieholes. It’s the era of pretty pieholes. Pretty pieholes and bad ideas…bad ideas we seek to justify, not by arguing their merits, but by pointing out some external party would be pleased with them. The era of no-responsibility, bastard child of too-much-comfort and poor-memory. God willing, it will end slowly as we get tired of it, and not suddenly with a crash and an explosion and thousands of deaths and millions of tears.

Another Open-Minded Propeller-Beanie Egghead…

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Domestic Trouble…showing his open-mindedness to ideas, cultures, and value systems alien to his own…

In “Guys and Guns Amok: Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombing to the Virginia Tech Massacre” (Paradigm, 2008), UCLA professor of education and cultural critic Douglas Kellner argues that school shootings and other acts of mass violence embody a crisis of out-of-control gun culture and male rage, heightened by a glorification of hypermasculinity and violence in the media.

“The school shooters and domestic terrorists examined in this book all exhibit male rage, attempt to resolve a crisis of masculinity through violent behavior, demonstrate a fetish for guns or weapons, and represent, in general, a situation of guys and guns amok,” Kellner says.

So funny the way we do this. You look into the biographies of these young men who do this, you find the same stuff any cop is used to seeing after a career spent investigating slightly less horrible crimes: Not only an abundance of masculine energy, but a shortage of places to put it — with the second of those factors being key to the performance of whatever misdemeanors or atrocities are under discussion.

Masculinity itself is one of those things that is always to blame. Anyone my age & up, with a reasonable adequate memory should be able to recall the events for they are crystal clear: We made masculinity into a ugly thing to be assaulted, and then crime spiked. When masculinity was an okay thing, when you could put on a television show or movie where daddy dispensed sage wise advice and “always knew best” as they say, and nobody deplored what you were doing — violence and willful property damage were rare things, compared to now.

It’s so interesting. I thought you had to be smart to be a perfesser of edyoomakayshun. Or at least, broad minded enough to consider ideas that aren’t quite initially suiting your fancy. The older I get and the more things I see, the more I have to doubt this. Our edyoomakayted folks with all them fancy letters after their names and all, seem to share a handy talent for shoehorning the events around them into their pre-selected opinions, rather than the other way around. The hostility toward masculinity itself — it’s simply unwarranted. After all, we didn’t declare any kind of parallel jihad on femininity when Andrea Yates drowned her kids in the bathtub.

Credit goes to Miss Cellania for finding the cartoon.

Pull a Lieberman, or Throw It In

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

At this point, that’s my advice to the Republican party for this year.

How important is it that the guy in the White House has the letter “R” after his name, really? If he’s just going to do a bunch of democrat stuff. If there’s no advantage to what he’s going to do in the War on Terror. Even if he says the right stuff, when you know he isn’t going to deliver on it any better than Ted Kennedy himself. What’s the point?

Better Supreme Court appointments? Feh. As I’ve said before, our liberal Supreme Court justices appointed by actual democrats, have been relatively harmless. It’s the ones who were nominated by Republicans, and then turned around and fooled everybody, who’ve been responsible for the real damage.

Don’t miss Pam’s article in Pajamas Media about this problem we’re having…

Despite his impressive speech at CPAC and equally impressive roster of endorsements, John McCain still has to convince core conservatives in the Republican Party of his sincerity and willingness to work with them. This includes Newt Gingrich, who told Laura Ingraham on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor last Friday, “I don’t think we should have this leader principle that whoever gets to be the head of the Republican Party, we should all salute. … I’ll reserve the right to oppose [McCain] on issues where I think he’s fundamentally wrong.”

What’s interesting is that while intra-party rivalries are to be expected in any primary campaign, the rift in the Republican Party goes much deeper than “vote for the guy I prefer to win the nomination.” Democrats, while they side with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, are focused on winning the White House in November, no matter who goes on to run against the Republican.

The name of their game is often party over principle. In fact, back in 2004, Kerry was not the first choice for many Democrats, but they considered a vote for him to be a vote against George W. Bush — holding your nose at the ballot box and all that.

Will Republicans en masse put principle over party in November? It’s a valid question, seeing as on Super Tuesday there were 14 million votes cast by Democrats, compared to only 8 million by Republicans, indicating a crisis of conscience among the GOP. And core Republicans pride themselves on their support of certain principles, including limited government, pro-life, strong national defense, and the Second Amendment. While John McCain falls into line with many of these, a good number of conservatives think his willingness to “reach across the aisle” means more than simply working with Democrats on key issues — it’s working against Republicans. Charges of RINO (Republican in Name Only) are frequently uttered in the same sentence as McCain’s name. The old “maverick” meme rears its ugly head yet again.

The resounding examples that come up frequently are McCain-Feingold, (failed) McCain-Kennedy, and McCain’s vote against the Bush tax cuts several years ago.

Newt certainly speaks for me, and for common sense as well. Think about it. There is NO down-side to this.

Whatever we stand to lose policy-wise by opposing McCain…the War on Terror…the Supreme Court…we’ve lost it anyway. It’s already long-gone. And we’ve deserved to lose it, because this cultural climate has been allowed to continue for too long, unopposed, where bumper-sticker slogans are more important than upholding beliefs and principles, where agreement is more valuable than clarity, and people get mired down into a “my side versus the other side” mindset.

Well now there’s even a positive aspect to this. If conservatives were all about my side versus the other side, there wouldn’t be a split, would there? How to explain this? Well, I’m sure that as long as there’s a perceptible split, the “Republicans are racists” card will be played a lot because it’s unavoidable that there are deeply held principles at work…and there are people out there with big cameras and microphones whose job it is (as they see it) to make sure any principles they call out on the conservatives, are dark and ugly ones — even if such observations clash with truth.

A principle, on this subject, is a value system you keep in place even if a bunch of people disagree with you about it.

And one thing about the conservative movement that has never stopped being appealing, is that the conservative principles are, by nature, positive. People are capable of great and wonderful things. And before people actually do the great and wonderful things, most of them are worthy of trust.

They don’t need some phony re-interpretation of Christianity to do right by each other. They don’t even need altruism. Pure and naked self interest will do fine. Support your neighbor’s right to keep his own property, and you will end up better off. In short, conservatism is all about…friendship. It’s about the stuff that was beaten into our heads when people my age were children: Don’t worry about sex or skin color, all the kids on the playground are your friends, or can be.

Some of those kids grew up and decided in adulthood, they should go back to paying attention to skin color. And now they go by the name “liberals.” Must have forty-percent this…must have twenty-five-percent that.

I’m sorry to notice in 2008, we wouldn’t know what a “Constitution” was if it walked up and kicked most of us square in the ass. I’ve heard the words “trample the Constitution” used so many times in the last seven years. Near as I can figure, the phrase has something to do with finding out someone is doing something that’s against the law and/or could hurt thousands of people, by methods and techniques that would not be approved-of by the person who got busted.

Folks, that isn’t what a Constitution is. You don’t have a right to do illegal things. From conspiring to set off dirty bombs, to smoking pot. You don’t have a right to ‘em, and that’s why we make them illegal.

What the Constitution really is, is something we’re losing. Within the last hundred years, we had a right to keep all our money. And then the Constitution got amended. And then we had a right to transact intrastate commerce free of interference by Congress. That one got changed through shenanigans and skullduggery on the Supreme Court. And now a bunch of people want to “change” what’s left. We’re already perilously close to losing our rights to the thoughts in our own heads, with the hate crime legislation that’s popping up like dandelions. What else do we own, if we don’t own that?

Once we’ve paid our taxes, in theory we get to keep what’s left. Maybe that’s what these changers want to change. Our feds, or our state or county or municipal governments decide there’s a crisis of some kind…and people are on foot patrol, knocking on doors, asking “citizens” how much cash they have in their wallets, bank accounts, stock portfolios. That kind of change?

The conservatism I know is all about protecting people from that. People — own the government. What little of it there is supposed to be. Not the other way around.

And John McCain will not support that. John McCain has a new friend in the beltway…or a potential new friend…and whatever he said the day before, changes. He’s become the very picture of a politician who shouldn’t be trusted.

If the United States isn’t ready to become just another Europe-Lite nation full of “subjects” and not citizens, where we have to pay global-warming taxes to drive anywhere and let inspectors into our houses to make sure we’ve paid usury taxes on our television sets — it’s not to late to pull a Lieberman, and nominate a real “maverick.”

The message behind a vote for McCain is that nobody on the conservative side cares about anything beside that letter “R”.

The message behind a vote for someone else is there are, as Sean Hannty calls them, “core beliefs.” The conservative split has become painful and awkward for a lot of people who aren’t conservatives. They don’t think we should be having them, and yet if we didn’t have them, a McCain nomination would not be an issue.

January 17, 1982

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

That’s the answer to the question on the minds of so many this week.

That question being…

…when exactly did Michelle Obama become a legal adult?

For the uninitiated, the rest of us began to mull that one over when we heard this.

What a wonderful world in which we’d be living if, right up until election day, every time someone asked Michelle’s husband a question, they’d immiedately follow with “by the way Senator, I’ve been proud of America all my adult life and then some.” Do it until he starts squirming, and then keep right on doing it.

Our nation’s next President issued a statement about this thing his boneheaded wife trotted out to embarrass the bejeezus out of him on Monday…

What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America…Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.

Michelle herself made sure her own explanation was properly synchronized on this point…

What I was clearly talking about was that I’m proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process…For the first time in my lifetime, I’m seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out — and that’s the source of pride that I was talking about.

One problem, though: This is not consistent with Ms. Obama’s remark.

I’ve noticed there is this tendency for the last four years or so on both sides of the fence, although democrats have been specializing in this somewhat because they’ve been forced to. Embarrassing things are qualified, subsequently, as having been taken out of “context” when if you actually take the time and trouble to look up the context, you’ll see that they were not.

And furthermore, when the invevitable “what he/she/I meant to say” statement comes out, you’ll see it isn’t a more careful phrasing of an innocuous statement that was worded a little bit unfortunately. No, you’ll see the backpedaling is something that says a completely different thing, often about a completely different subject.

And then you’ll see this snotty derision directed at anyone who might have taken those original remarks at face value. Not just political opponents. Anybody who took the words seriously.

There’s something else going on, something I first noticed when Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife’s so-called husband first began running for President sixteen years ago. Although it had been going on since before that. It’s that name “America,” and it concerns other political figures, people who have good things to say about it. The word itself requires more specificity, it seems to me. Too many people are allowed to shower great-feeling platitudes upon what they call “America,” such as “greatest country in the history of the world” or some such. And if you analyze that all-important “context” you see they’re talking about a vision of something that exists, today, only between their ears. They’re proud of that. They see this opportunity to change the country into something that will make them proud — their pride has nothing to do with anything that presently exists.

But if you listen to their remarks casually, you might be tempted to think they’re talking about pride in the country now. The pride that comes with love. The pride a mother has for a newborn baby. And that’s not what’s being said there…what’s under discussion is the pride a football fan has for his team which he is sure is about to win a game. But if it doesn’t happen, forget it.

A very critical delineation which is not being made. This is a bad thing. A lot of us who are genuinely proud of the country and think at least some of what the country does, should remain unchanged…are being fooled into supporting candidates who want to change exactly that.

But that doesn’t have much to do with Michelle Obama — who is not proud, up until now, and is not afraid to say so. Unless there are some actual consequnces involved, and then she’ll play John Kerry’s patented “you’re such a drooling clueless idiot for hearing what I said and making me actually responsible for it” card.

I’m tempted to say more, but there’s no way I can take our future First Lady down any more pegs than another woman of diverse racial background named Michelle did yesterday.

Car and Driver

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Car and DriverI have a soft spot for the picture to the left. Part of the reason is it’s one of the few pictorials of me at the wheel of Bessie, my faithful mare. This is in October of ’05, which means I’m 39 years old and the car is a year beyond the 300k mark…maybe 312 or thereabouts.

Here and there another driver has been more seasoned, but you’d have to search far and wide for a car/driver pairing that has carved through more history together. And the seat under my butt? It’s just about had it. I believe it had bare metal springs poking through clear back then. But the seat belt hasn’t sprung quite yet…it’s about a year and a half away from that.

The other thing I appreciate about this photo is that it somewhat conceals my enormous Buddha-like gut.

This is about five or six months before my sweetheart moved out here permanently, and in this shot I’m showing her the sights during one of her many fly-ins. We took turns back then, sometimes me over to New York, sometimes her out here.

An interesting conundrum developed when my son asked about the new car, “Is this Bessie II?” Answer: NO. Yes, it’s very snazzy and has a lot of features the Real Bessie never had. It’s missing that busted old hand crank window on the driver’s side, in its place it has a quiet, powerful, zippy electric window. Moon roof. CD player, XM ready, yadda yadda yadda. One problem — Bessie never was “Bessie” until she was something past 250k. There are some dues to be paid, dammit, and until then the new car is just “The Car.”

Besides, I’m really going to miss those pop-up headlights Bessie had. I kept them working, in sync with each other, ship-shape until the last bloody yard.

The new car does have its advantages. We’ll get a portfolio uploaded on that one of these days. And it was nice spending $40 on a wash-and-wax, for the first time since…I think 1995, if I remember right.

This is a local shot, I think we had just finished a trip to Lake Tahoe.

Why We Have Faith

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Via Boortz: University of Oxford researchers will spend nearly $4 million to study why mankind embraces God.

The grant to the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers and other academics together for three years to study whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind’s makeup.

“There are a lot of issues. What is it that is innate in human nature to believe in God, whether it is gods or something superhuman or supernatural?” said Roger Trigg, acting director of the center.

Four large, huh? I wonder how much of that goes to the guy who simply thought of doing this. Five percent?

Because at 200k a pop, seems to me what follows are bullets flowing from solid gold keystrokes.

Why do people take the words “increase in minimum wage” literally, when with just a little tiny bit of thinking they could see what really happens is that jobs are outlawed unless the jobs meet a specific criteria. It’s easy to explain how nice folks could fall for this once or twice. How does it continue to happen for the better part of a century?

Why do people like to do things lots of other people are doing at the same time those other people are doing them, even when, because so many other people are doing them, the activity becomes an exercise in misery and little more? We do we have this inclination to believe orbiting endlessly around a sweltering parking lot at the state fair or a rock concert searching for a parking spot in vain, will be “fun,” and driving out to a deserted beach watching a sunset in solitude, won’t be?

How come a young available lady is so attracted to bad boys and rebels, and once she manages to snag one of ‘em, works so hard to get him to be just like everybody else, eventually hittin’-the-road if he doesn’t shape up?

We were kids. We had chores. If we mouthed off we got a smack across the mouth, and if we kept doing it we got spanked. Kids today don’t have as many chores and you can’t spank ‘em. We all know this. So when they can’t pay attention to a goddamned thing, how come we’re so quick to rivet them into the “autistic spectrum”?

Why do people want stoicism and cool-headedness in their presidents, and pulse-pounding excitement and charisma from the people who are looking to become the next president?

More from whence those came. Much more. And I have the answers to some of them…that doesn’t mean the questions aren’t fertile grounds for study, and they’re worth at least as much grant money as the faith thing.

The faith thing actually seems pretty easy to me. I think the egghead strayed pretty close to the truth when he said,

“One implication that comes from this is that religion is the default position, and atheism is perhaps more in need of explanation,” he said.

It all comes from appreciating things. If/when we do something required for our survival, like planting and harvesting a crop, there’s an understandable impulse to look back and contemplate what was done. Why on earth wouldn’t there be? You’ll probably have to do it again. And when you do that, you have to think about the stuff that was necessary, that was already done before you got started. And to naturally be thankful for it.

So yeah, atheism is more in need of an explanation. Atheism says the reason fertile soil causes plants to grow in the ground is…process of elimination. If the plants didn’t grow in the ground, they would not be here, so if they’re here, of course they grow in the ground and we can use them to feed us. And if we couldn’t then we would not be here.

Just like the sculptor who explains that he simply starts with a block of marble and carves away everything that doesn’t look like a horse. Niiiiiice and simple…with a “you idiot” tacked on to the end, and the sculptor is explained-away.

But with the sculptor and with the deity, common sense says things aren’t quite so simple. I think the egghead’s second-thought is the right one. We need to study our atheists. I’d be particularly interested in the following conundrum: If rational, cool-headed thinking nods approvingly toward secularism, what has that to do with the last three or four years? How come atheism waited until the twenty-first century to really bask in the limelight? Wouldn’t it be more fitting if it came to popularity half a century ago, when we were launching satellites and smashing atoms? This is the age of fifty gazillion wonderful new inventions, all of which are dedicated to finding new ways to play personal music collections and carry dogs around in purses.

And this is the era in which the atheist’s view of the cosmos, is most popularly thought to be the correct one. If I were an atheist, that would be sufficient to make me seriously question my atheism. I’m glad I’m not one.

One Second Questions

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

This morning, I had asked something that gave me cause to think about things later in the day. My query was…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it became impossible to moderate a presidential debate in 2008 without asking “Senator, this next question is for you: Should Americans be proud?” And…a simple yes or no will be just fine. You have one second for this one.

For the same situation to exist in all the elections from here on out, would be even better. Might not change anything. But it couldn’t hurt.

And here’s what I was thinking: The whole one-second-for-the-response, yes-or-no thing.

We’re already doing that, you know. The thing is, we’re being selective about which questions to ask. Actually we aren’t being selective about it. Granola-eating schoolmarm twits like Carolyn Washburn are doing exactly this…with Republicans…except one second for the response, is exactly one second longer than what Washburn will allow. The lady wanted a “show of hands.”

And so I must disclaim any copyright I would have to this concept. But in exchange for that, I’m able to note there is precedent for what I’ve proposed above.

So since this trail is already blazed…

…let’s get some more things going. They’re all fair questions. They can all be answered with yes or no. Or a hand raising, if you prefer.

And in all cases, for the same question to be asked in all debates “from here on out, would be even better. Might not change anything. But it couldn’t hurt.” And so I propose that we allow one second — if that — for each of the following. From here on out. In 2008, and beyond…seriously, now.

Here we go.

Senator, did we have it coming on 9/11/01?

Senator, should people be punished for being rich?

Senator, after we pay our taxes, should the government be concerned about how much money we have left over?

Senator, is atheism a religion?

Senator, should “In God We Trust” stay on our money?

Senator, is An Inconvenient Truth a “documentary”?

Senator, is the Boy Scouts a hate group?

Senator, do you believe in the Laffer Curve?

Senator, should we confront evil?

Senator, should we repeal the death tax?

Senator, does the United States have an interest in extending aid to Israel?

Senator, does the minimum wage work?

Senator, do you believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — since 1981?

Senator, do you support capitalism and free enterprise?

Senator, is war ever necessary?

Senator, should the military recruit — in places like Berkeley?

Senator, should we even have a military?

Senator, should the government regulate talk radio?

Senator, is the moral authority of bereaved parents absolute?

Senator, is George W. Bush an idiot?

Senator, do you believe 650,000 Iraqis have lost their lives as a direct result of our invasion?

Senator, should we abolish the death penalty?

Senator, if we don’t take opportunities to educate ourselves are we going to get stuck in Iraq?

Senator, would the planet be better off if humans were extinct?

Senator, would humanity be better off if America went away?

Senator, would America be better off if we got rid of money?

Senator, are all your political opponents evil?

Senator, if I have five persons of color working for me, and one of them quits and I replace him with a white guy, have I increased the diversity of my workforce?

Senator, do the people of our country have an inalienable right to keep and bear arms?

Senator, is Fahrenheit 9/11 a “documentary”?

Senator, are you concerned about the Gini Coefficient and the “wealth gap”?

Senator, should the government commit to providing jobs to anyone who can’t find any, for whatever reason?

Senator, should the citizens try to exist in such a way that it’s easy for the government to manage them?

Senator, does the Constitution guarantee us a right to vote?

Senator, is anyone anywhere making a profit off our recent concerns about global warming?

Senator, should the military ever do any fighting?

Senator, is there a difference between men and women?

Senator, should we ever instigate military action on a pre-emptive basis?

Senator, do you think a vote from a single foreign nation on the United Nations Security Council should nullify America’s ability to protect her interests?

Senator, does Bill Cosby have a point with his pound cake speech?

Senator, do Supreme Court justices have any business looking to foreign law to justify their decisions?