Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Good evening, and this is it, folks. I would request that you all join me at the news digs, since this is the last post I make at Blog* Spot. Please adjust your bookmarks and permalinks immediately to the new address and domain at http://www.drumwaster.com

Comments will be activated (since I can now selectively ban the worst of the trolls), and most welcome as appropriate. Good-bye, Clog*Spot, and
Good morning, all. Perhaps-not-so-Loyal-Reader Garth Blacker refers to my last Saturday's post when he points out (in this Seattle Times Article) that the tiny peninsular emirate of Qatar has decided to go with Airbus, rather than Boeing, and how the American economy is "dependent on foreign investment". Far be it from me to claim any kind of specialized training in International Economics, but I feel it important that I clear up a misunderstanding. A huge trade deficit with France existed long before this crisis - on the close order of $10.54 billion for 2001 (the latest complete year for which figures were available) - and while airplanes (and airplane parts) are one of the largest trade surplus items in the economy, even combined, it still only makes up only 7% of the total "Manufactured Goods" category of exports, and the (approximately) $20 billion surplus it brings in is a proverbial drop in the bucket to the $411 billion trade deficit the nation is operating under.

That works out to better than $1,128,400,000 per day. Every day - rain, shine, or Federal Holiday. So the trade surplus brought into the United States by the aviation industry is used up (and then some) in less than 2 1/2 weeks by all of the other trade deficit items. Such as fuel to push all those aircraft through the skies.

I also need to point out that much of the damage being done to the French economy is not through the aviation industry but in the high-end luxury items (such as wines and cheeses), and tourism. Another item worth pointing out is that the Paris Air Show is not the only marketplace for Boeing, and, further, that Boeing was having troubles before the no-show in Paris.

However, the troubles in France have very little to do with Boeing's troubles, and more to do with the fact that their economy has been shrinking for quite some time, as this report suggests, and this BBC story from last November also speculates. They have their own troubles with labor unions who make it almost impossible for their industries to lay off workers in slack times, and general strikes for increased benefits.

Here in the US, more companies are starting to see how unions can cause more problems than they solve, but in Europe (especially France), they have almost become a fourth branch of government, demanding mandatory retirement benefits after 37.5 years of work, full medical care by the government, and many other benefits that would seem extraordinarily excessive by American workers, including the ones up at Boeing. More information can be found on Steven Den Beste's site: here, here, here, and here. I agree with him, I just can't write as well as Mr. Den Beste does...

In other news, I note with extreme sorrow the passing of yet another screen legend, Hume Cronyn, of prostate cancer. He was 91. While his film career started almost 60 years ago, he is perhaps best known to modern movies audiences as the crazy great-uncle to Richard Pryor in the remake of Brewster's Millions, as the diner owner in *batteries not included, and as one of the senior citizens who were rejuvenated by the aliens in Ron Howard's Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return. (Those last three were alongside his then-wife, Jessica Tandy, before she died.)

He will be missed. May his family be comforted in their time of grief.

I've got to run, because I have an appointment in about 45 minutes. Have a great day!

Monday, June 16, 2003

In yet another display of namby-pamby UNcompetence (the new buzzword to describe the UN's standard level of inability to actually accomplish anything it is supposed to - spread it around), Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has "appealed" to Iran to "cooperate with additional inspections to prove the peaceful nature" of its nuclear weapons program.

I could answer that in one sentence. The Ayatollah has said (repeatedly) that "... the day Iran gets the [nuclear] bomb is the day that Israel ceases to exist..." A quote from this article: Addressing an Islamic conference in Teheran in 1992, the Iranian vice-president, Sayed Ayatollah Mohajerani said, "Since Israel continues to possess nuclear weapons, we, the Muslims, must cooperate to produce an atomic bomb, regardless of U.N. efforts to prevent proliferation."

The inherent contradiction between the Iranian claim that "... its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity for energy needs as oil supplies wear down." and the fact that Iran owns approximately 9 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia, has yet to be questioned by the UNcompetent IAEA. But this might be because this is the same IAEA that had official seals and monitoring equipment in place in North Korea. The DPRK had undergone inspections and monitoring under the very same team, and now they have nuclear weapons. This is the same team that wants to take "soil samples" outside the power plants, without bothering to monitor what is going on inside the plants.

This is the same guy who was "taken aback by the advanced stage of a project using hundreds of centrifuges to enrich uranium." But hey, Iran isn't quite ready to use it in a nuclear weapon, so it was no big deal. {/sarcasm}

Nothing to worry about, people, there's nothing to see here, and they might even bother filing a report once their meeting is over with. But the good news (yes, there is some good news) is that Iran's younger crowd, who grew up under the thumb of the Ayatollah's theocracy is going to get a chance to see what real freedom is like, once we get Iraq back up and running under a really free system of government. Even the WaPo is reporting that the younger crowds are starting to make their voices heard, especially after the US has shown that it can kick ass, and take names, in two nations, both of which border Iran (perhaps not coincidentally).

We shall see. We may get regime change in Iran without ever having to fire a shot. And North Korea's Kim may collapse from internal rot. I think the world will be a VERY different place by my next birthday.

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Good morning! It's a very warm Father's Day here in SoCal, and I have just seen an extraordinary example of the rift between the US and France. It was a TV commercial for a local restaurant chain. I'm not sure how far the chain extends, but certainly throughout the Southwestern US. It's called Carl's, Jr., and it used to specialize in hot dogs and burgers. It recently (within the last few years) began expanding to chicken sandwiches. It's latest creation is the 1/4-pound chicken breast sandwich, and the commercial voice-over goes something like this: "At the battle of Waterloo, the French surrendered. In the Franco-Prussian War, the French surrendered. In World War Two, the French surrendered. Don't be a big chicken, eat one. Introducing the new quarter-pound Chicken Breast sandwich at Carl's, Jr."

The fact that a local fast-food restaurant has created a new sandwich isn't the amazing part. (That happens about once a month.) The fact that they have picked up on the zeitgeist regarding the French to such a point that making fun of the French is used as a selling point is. But I suppose their government officials are going to complain about it as an indication of American governmental policy. I suppose since they are used to governmental control of industry to the point where a government agency has final authority over commercial content, they would assume that it works that way in the US, too.

But a free-market economy, where individuals can make their own choices about what they want to buy and why, is one of the most powerful forces in the world. Combine it with Free Speech and the general contempt that the average American has for the way France has tried to interfere with the War on Terrorism and to aid, abet, and assist Saddam's Reign of Terror in Iraq, and you have commercials like the one described above. And there's not a damned thing the US government can do to stop it, even if they wanted to do so.

In other news, the descendents of the most famous family feud in American history, the Hatfields and the McCoys, have signed a truce. As the story mentions, "Reo Hatfield of Waynesboro, Va., came up with the idea as a proclamation of peace. The broader message it sends to the world, he said, is that when national security is at risk, Americans put their differences aside and stand united. If these two feuding families can come together, anyone can, he said." Good point.

Have a wonderful Father's Day. I've got to go pack now...

Saturday, June 14, 2003

One of the busier days of my life has just concluded, and I'm sorry I missed posting this morning. I had to go out to a customer's house and enter in a bid for a very large job. All told, it would be about $5,000, but he decided to "sleep on it", and told me that he would get back to me on Monday or Tuesday. I can hope, but it would take several stages, and several visits. With the move coming up, we're trying to plan for a garage/moving sale next Saturday, with anything not sold to be given to a local charity. I've been thinking of giving it to the local Hospice chapter, but my wife thinks well of the local Goodwill. Six of one, half a dozen of the other...

Anyhow, I'm just a bit miffed, because the French Defense Minister has decided to chastise Don Rumsfeld over the decisions of the American people. Y'see, the French government is trying to smooth over the rifts between the US and France over the clashes regarding Iraq. It came to a boil when the French Air Show (normally one of Europe's finest) fell flat on its Gallic face because no American companies participated. Normally, crowds thrill to the sights and sounds of American-made jets performing precision aerobatics, but (as the aricle points out) "European and American planemakers traditionally battle for airline orders at the Le Bourget air show outside Paris, but top executives from firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have all decided not to attend this year."

When added to the sudden loss of American dollars (adding up to several billion over the year, according to some projections), the loss in airplane orders, and the strikes by French labor unions over increasing unemployment, the French economy would be lucky to last for very much longer.

I guess Chiraq is learning what happens when the American public decides to stand up and say, "arrĂȘter! (Stop!)" I'm too busy giggling.

In other news, my mother-in-law will be turning 81 a week from Monday. I'm trying to rack my brain to come up with something nice to give her for a birthday present. I did the "When you were born" thing for her 75th (not to mention a weekend trip up to San Francisco, driving across the Golden Gate, and down Lombard Street. We also visited Pier 39, and had a wonderful weekend.

It's probably going to be something small and personal, but I'm soliciting suggestions.

Anyhow, today is was Flag Day, and tomorrow is Father's Day. Since my father died 10 years ago next month, I would ask that you give your own fathers a hug in my place (if it is at all possible for you to do so). Have a great weekend, and I'll be back tommorow morning, before I get back to packing stuff up.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Howdy, y'all. I'm a little under the weather this morning, so forgive the briefness of this entry. I've been busting my ass trying to get stuff taken care of with the upcoming move, and the new domain started (even though I haven't actually heard back from the hosting company yet). I also have to renew my auto insurance, update the auto registration for the year, get the brakes worked on, find some boxes for my books, get a prescription filled (my pain pills), etc., etc.

So, I hope you will be patient for a while longer, since this will probably be the last Friday I post using Clog*Spot. It's almost appropriate that it's Friday the 13th, huh? (For those of you who were wondering, there is a long pseudo-Greek term for "fear of Friday the 13th" - "Paraskavedekatriaphobia". Now your lives are complete...) Have a lucky day!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Good morning, one and all. This is the third time I have tried to get in this morning's entry, and I hope that "the third time's the charm", as the old saying goes. Of course there is always the contradictory saying that "bad things always happen in threes". Have you ever noticed how all the major proverbs have another major proverb that contradicts it?

"He who hesitates is lost" vs. "Look before you leap"
"Many hands make light work" vs. "Too many cooks spoil the broth"
etc., etc.

Anyhow, I wanted to briefly mention the recall efforts surrounding "Shades of" Gray Davis. It turns out that his main opponent will most likely be Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is socially a liberal, but fiscally a conservative, which is what the state of California needs right now. Plus his wife, Maria Shriver, who is the niece of President John F. Kennedy and the daughter of Sargent Shriver (the founder of the Peace Corps and a former Ambassador to France), might provide enough of a shield against Democratic attacks (which have already started, by the way) to get him elected.

We shall see. In other election news, your humble host has been informed that I will be serving as a Precinct Inspector in the upcoming election on November 4th. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, that means that I will be running the polling place, and I will have 3-4 "Judges" working for me. More money, but more responsibility, too.

In sad news this morning, I am sorry to report that esteemed veteran news anchor David Brinkley has passed away. He was 82. He set the standards for TV news anchors, and he will be missed. May his family be comforted in their time of mourning.

(UPDATE: I also note with extreme sorrow the passing of screen legend Gregory Peck. He passed away in his sleep earlier today. He was 87. His legend will live on. May the family of Mr. Peck also receive comfort during this time.)

And finally, I have just about had it with all the claims from the rabidly ranting rats on the Loony Left whinging about the lack of WMD in Iraq. After all, Saddam hasn't been found either, and so, by their logic, he must not have existed either, eh? A few of the most seethingly anti-Bush screechers have even called for Articles of Impeachment to be filed against Bush for "lying" to Congress (even though they can provide no evidence to back up their claims) and for leading us into an "illegal" war. I agree. Let's prosecute all of the people who claimed that Iraq had WMD. Every single one of them, but since Bush wasn't the only one, let's start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we? The full list can be found here.

I've got an important meeting in about half an hour, so I'm going to run now. Hope you have a good day. Oh, and for those of you who wished the missus pleasant birthday wishes yesterday, she sends her thanks. (You know who you are.) We rented the new Harry Potter movie last night, and she enjoyed it so much she wants to watch it again tonight. See you later!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Good Morning, everybody! Today is my wife's birthday, so if you want to try to talk your boss into giving you the day off in celebration, feel free. (It's not likely you'll succeed, of course, but it doesn't hurt to ask, right?) I'm still trying to get her to decide what she wants for dinner. So far, all she has said is that she wants "breakfast for dinner". (We do that occasionally - eggs, sausage, biscuits, home-made gravy, orange juice, the works.) (Don't look at me in that tone of voice...)

It's an easy clean-up, and only about 15-20 minutes of cooking, plus a few extra minutes for the gravy, but I'm going to have to do a little shopping, because we're out of milk and juice. No matter, she's worth it.

In other news, I see that Hans Blix has decided to lash out at the Pentagon and the White House for allegedly running "a smear campaign". I guess that would be like Clinton complaining about a smear campaign for mentioning Monica Lewinsky. Blix had all the resources of the Untied Nations (again, that was NOT a typo...) but repeatedly said that he was more worried about global warming than Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). I guess if I were the UN's Chief Inspector for enforcing the ban against WMD in a country with more than a decade of sanctions, while that country has been caught (and has admitted to having been) in possession of those very same weapons, and other weapons programs that were also in violation of more than a dozen Security Council Resolutions, I would want to admit to the world press that I didn't care about doing my job, too. After all, Global Warming is going to be stopped by the entire world going back to the peace-loving days of the (Pre-Industrial Revolution) Agrarian Society, when we all traded with barter ("I'll give you two bushels of corn and a goat for your dairy cow."). Never mind that even the proponents of the Kyoto Treaty (who vilify President Bush for refusing to sign, despite the fact that the Senate has stated in a 98-0 vote that they would refuse to ratify it) admit that the best they could hope for is only a slight delay in the effects of global warming, which is affected more by the sun than by anything man has done or could do.

Anyhow, "Ignorance Is" Blix has complained that low-level Administration officials were trying to ruin his reputation, as well as that of the UN. I guess that is why he finished up with saying, "It's true that the Iraqis misbehaved and had no credibility, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were in the wrong." Of course not, Hans. They were simply doing everything they could to violate international law, lie about it, bribe your own officials, and everything else they could do (including the occasional murder) to cover up their activities, but there's nothing wrong with that, right, Blix-ie? Your fifteen minutes are up, Hans. You can go now.

In a follow-up from earlier this week, Tim Russert of MSNBC said on this morning's "Today Show" that Shrillary has ruled out a 2004 bid, but has already set the wheels in motion for an '08 run at the White House. Either her statement from Sunday night's interview hasn't percolated through Tim's hairpiece yet, or she was (gasp!) lying to us. Again. Because she had claimed Sunday evening that she wasn't planning on running in '08.

A third possibility has occurred to me. She may have changed her mind in the last 48 hours and only told Tim Russert (or, more accurately, one of her people told one of the people who work for MSNBC who do the grunt work). It wouldn't be the first time she has changed her story mind. It's also kind of late in the game to run in the '04 election, especially with the 9 candidates already muddying up the waters, and an extraordinarily popular President who has won not one, but two wars, and is bringing the economy back out of the doldrums. She is very aware that History is heavily tilted against people who have made an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency ever coming back and winning a later election. There has only been one in recent history (who lost an election only to come back and win), and I'm sure that she really doesn't want to have the inevitable parallels drawn between herself and this person. (Maybe you remember him? Richard Milhouse Nixon - he was Eisenhower's VP from 1952-1960, lost to Kennedy in 1960, and came back to win the 1968 election against Hubert Humphrey.)

Anyhow, that's neither here nor there, since Hillary feels she is above the rules, she's going to do what she feels would advance her own power base, and her constituents be damned. Just ask the citizens of Arkansas.

I hope you have a great day. I need to run to the store and pick up some stuff for tonight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Good morning, and how are you today? (Don't bother answering, it was a rhetorical question, since I know I won't hear any reply.) It's a TUesday, so that means it's time for this week's episode of "This-or-That Tuesday". It's about "TV shows and Movies", so let's get started, shall we?

1. "The Munsters" or "The Addams Family"? If I had to pick, I'd say 'The Addams Family'. I loved Cousin Itt.
2. "The Sopranos" or the "Godfather" movies? You'd never see the Godfather going to therapy for panic attacks...
3. "The Jetsons" or "Lost in Space"? The Jetsons. I want a car that can fold up into a briefcase, too. And what's the point of having a robot that can recognize danger, but then can't do anything about it? (Except spin in circles, flailing its arms...)
4. "Superman" or "Batman" (either the TV shows or the movies)? Batman manages to fight crime as effectively as Superman, but doesn't have any superpowers to help him. That's pretty impressive.
5. "Sex & The City" or "Friends"? Friends. The ladies from S&TC are obsessed about nothing but sex & nudity, and hearing Sarah Jessica Parker scream just sets my teeth on edge.
6. "The Wizard of Oz" or the "Harry Potter" movies? I'd be too tempted to punch the Cowardly Lion, but I wouldn't mind having a flying broom.
7. "The Simpsons" or "King of the Hill"? The Simpsons, although I'm beginning to wonder how long the crest can last.
8. "Grease" or "Saturday Night Fever"? Grease. My wife just LOVES the way John Travolta can dance, by the way.
9. Old prime-time soaps: "Dallas" or "Dynasty"? Neither. I don't watch soap operas. I never understood how some characters could leave for a Halloween party, run into some trouble along the way, and because of the way the storyline played out, they arrive just in time to open their Christmas presents. There's just the feeblest stab at continuity.
10. Not very thought-provoking this week...do you prefer TV shows or movies? TV shows, because there is more of a variety, and more chance to develop the characters.

That's it for the game, and I just wanted to mention the booking of Martha Stewart. She tried to sneak into New York's FBI office for her fingerprinting and mugshots, but se got taped and photographed coming back out. We'll see how much time she will end up serving. Like Richard Nixon could have told her, "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.".

Have a great day!

Monday, June 09, 2003

I'm fighting with my computer again this morning, and (so far) I'm managing to keep up a holding action. I need to pick up a CD-ROM cleaner set, because a few of the CDs I've burned (for strictly archival purposes) are not being read properly for some reason. Only part of the data I put onto the discs is now legible, and since I know that they haven't gotten scratched, the only other option is that the drive needs cleaning. Living out on the fringes of the Southern California desert as we do means that dust settles everywhere. Including inside the computer. I have to clean it out on a regular basis, but I haven't gotten inside the CD drive yet. I am also going to need to pick up a new keyboard and mouse, since they have put up with a lot of respective clicks. Fortunately, I can find good replacements for low prices. About $30 ought to handle both easily, and if I shop around a bit, I can find even better deals (I remember one time when I bought a new mouse for $10, and got a $10 rebate coupon, so, in effect, the mouse was free, except for the 78 cents in sales tax.)

I'm almost through with the second Harry Potter book, and it's plain that the books were written with "young adults" in mind. It's still an interesting read to see how they differ from the screen adaptation, and it's always interesting to see which parts the director/producer/screenwriters decide to cut. Kind of like reverse-engineering a movie. I know a smidge about the Special Effects (SFX) in a movie, and the first time through a movie I usually get taken by surprise by the effects, but the second and third times through, I usually watch it to see how the effects were done, whether it was through computer graphics, or stunt doubles, or some other means. I'm ocasionally wrong, but I don't watch to destroy the illusion, I watch to learn a bit about the thought processes that went into creating the illusion in the first place.

One of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time (from a technical standpoint) was one released a few years back called Timecode, which shows the movie in quadrants. The screen is split up into four sections, with each segment focusing on one particular storyline, but the cool part is the improvisation between the characters and the fact that all four parts are shown in one long unbroken take, from start to finish. They occasionally interact, and the spoken dialogue is emphasized from one quadrant, then the next, as the story progresses, even though you can still (barely) hear the conversations from other quadrants. They shot the film in 15 long unbroken takes, over a period of about two weeks, and then spliced it together. If you want to watch a cool film, rent it sometime.

I also hear that Shrillary has decided that she really isn't going to run in '08. I think its because people are realizing just how much of a liar she really is. Bill O'Reilly pointed out one of the most obvious when she claimed that BJ woke her up one morning and told her that there were "some irregularities" in his "relationship" with Monica Lewinsky. Shrillary states that this "revelation" took her totally by surprise, but O'Reilly pointed out that the Lewinsky story had made the front page of the NYTimes the day before, and it seems so unlikely that she would be surprised by this (after her infamous "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" allegations) the morning after, that she was either 1) admitting to deliberately sticking her head in the sand over a political fiasco inside her own family, or 2) surrounded by a staff so incompetant that her own management skills are called into question, or 3) ignoring one of the nation's largest news organization's headline stories (one that had been bubbling for several months).

I suspect that it is an attempt to clear the decks for Chelsea. BJ is utterly tainted by the scandals and failures of his Administration and Shrillary has been splashed so thoroughly, she'll never get clean again. Just like Teddy Kennedy can hold onto a Senate seat despite his own personal scandals, Shrillary can desparately cling to her seat, hoping for enough people to forget about Billy Jeff to allow her a shot in 2012 or 2016. However, just like Chappaquiddick has killed any chance that Teddy has at the White House, Whitewater (and the questions around Vince Foster's death and Travelgate and the Hasidic Jewish vote-buying scandal in New York and the Marc Rich pardon (that "just happened" to coincide with a multi-million dollar "donation" to the Clinton Presidential Library and Hillary's election campaign by Marc's wife Denise) and that it has been alleged that she wrote not a single word of her own book, et al.) will forever kill any chance that she has at occupying the Oval Office on her own dime, so to speak.

An amusing story that recently developed was that there are some Democrats who are so hepped on Bill's reputation that they are looking for ways to amend the 22nd Amendment, so that while Presidents are limited to two consecutive terms, they can wait a term and then run again. After looking at the field of nine the Dems have gathered to represent them, I'm not surprised that they would look to BJ as the best they have to offer. However, since he has already done as much as he can legally do, they need to amend the Constitution to allow him to even run for dogcatcher. It'll never happen. That's why I think that Shrillary is stepping aside, to allow Chelsea (who has maintained a VERY low profile for the past decade) to start by running for some safe Congressional district, and then the Senate when she hits the right age (30, according to Article I, Section 3, Paragraph 3). That should happen in 2010 (February 27th, if it matters).

We shall see.

Anyhow, I hope you're having a good day. The weather here is fairly cloudy, although I expect it to burn off later on.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I've been trying to get into Blogger this morning, and I've not been able to until now, so that's it. Thanks to the kick in the pants from John Q. Public (who sent in the MovableType entry for the Carnival last Wednesday) and the utter generosity of Dean Esmay, I will be switching to Verve hosting within the next week to ten days. The delay is not due to their hesitancy, or even my own, but of circumstances beyond all our control. It is going to take a few days for snail mail to catch up, at which point I will make one last post, and send out e-mails to any and everyone who wishes to be notified. If you wish to be notified of the move, just drop me an e-mail (as soon as possible, because the clock is ticking now), and I'll be sure to let you know the instant the move has been completed.

I'm also going to be looking for ways to switch the archives over, but at this point, if it can't be done due to ClogSpot's incompetance programming quirks, then I won't worry about it. I will just do a cut-n-paste a little at a time. Be patient, neighbors, the process has begun, and it just depends on how quickly mail can cross this great land of ours. Well, most of it, anyway.

I know I'm probably going to receive large amounts of ridicule for admitting this, but I went out yesterday and bought the first three Harry Potter books. IMHO, the first movie (HP & the Sorceror's Stone) was better than the book (which I just finished this morning). I was just curious about the hubbub, and wanted to see if the books lived up to the hype. The jury's still out...

I had gone out several weeks ago to buy the boxed set of the four books of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (yes, I said 'the four books of the trilogy' - go look it up) and those movies are surprisingly accurate adaptations, with only minor changes so far. I drove my wife crazy since I managed to get through all four books in a very studious weekend. (Yes, I read very quickly. That ability comes after LOTS of practice.)

Anyhow, I'm just starting the second Harry Potter book (HP & the Chamber of Secrets), and expect to have it finished by this evening. I'm not going to publish any spoilers of any of the books or any of the upcoming movies, so you can look elsewhere for those if you happen to pop up from a Google search for the young hero of the series.

The weather has turned fairly humid for the region and time of year, and I'm tempted to go down to the local park and watch the seniors (senior citizens, since there are a LOT of them in this area) play some softball. maybe there will be enough of a breeze to make it worth the trip. I need to go pick up some blank CD (for data storage) and cases, and some other stuff. It's a good day to hit up the local 31 Flavors for a triple dip bowl of ice cream.

My wife's birthday (as well as one of the step-daughters) is coming up this week, so I've got to start planning for her birthday dinner, and decide whether I want to bake her cake myself, or just go to the local bakery and let them try not to screw it up. And don't forget to pray (or just think good thoughts, if you wish) about my upcoming VA hearing. It's coming closer and closer. I really want to win this one. (I also want to punch that jerk right in the nose, but I'd better restrain myself, because since he's a government employee, I'd likely be arrested as a terrorist or something equally inane.)

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Just got a head's up in my e-mail from MiniLuv, who has made the move that I'm still trying to work out. (Lucky girl!). Please adjust your permalinks and blogrolls accordingly to her new digs over at www.miniluv.com. Then stop by and say "Hi!".
Good Heavens, and good evening. I just got back. We had to run into town to visit my mother-in-law for the day, and she and my wife did a little shopping, then we all went out to lunch at a local restaurant (Sizzler, for those of you who would recognize the name - it's a Steak & Salad Bar place, for those of you who don't), and then they went to do a little more shopping while I laid down and read for a while.

I apologize for not posting something this morning, but I was running a bit under the gun and simply didn't have time. I didn't even have time to explain why I didn't have time, if you know what I mean, so my most abject apologies to all of you who came by this morning expecting a new entry.

Anyhow, I'll be back tomorrow morning, so have a great weekend, and I'll see you all bright and early tomorrow, okay?

Friday, June 06, 2003

It looks like Hamas has decided that it is in their better interest to keep killing Israelis, rather than giving up their intifadeh. I mean, if they have to stop killing J-E-W-S, there's no more need for them, and they would end up going the way of the kerosene lamp salesman. Once there is peace in the region, they would actually have to learn to get aong with teir neighbors.

Of course, the indoctrination of the Palistinean youth, where they actually pray for an opportunity to "die for Allah" (rather than grow up and raise a family in peace), is the inevitable result of decades of Arafat's micro-management of the Palestinean people. Of course, he's such an accomplished liar (saying one thing in English to Western leaders, then saying something else in Arabic to Hamas and Hezbollah) that he would probably try to blame all this on the Israelis. But a look at the timeline of recent events is enough to make one wonder about exactly how committed the Palis are to any kind of peace process. The US anounced its "Roadmap to Peace", with the first steps requiring that the Palis stop killing Israelis. There are 5 bombings within the next week, with the apparent specific targeting of foreigners and civilians. The Israelis attempt to capture some Hamas militants (who refuse to surrender, which results in their deaths). Now Hamas is saying that they aren't going to be following any roadmap.

Heaven forbid that they should stop killing each other, right? I would support an "eye for an eye" practice, with the price going up at every incident. Kill an Israeli civilian, a Palestinean is killed. Kill an Israeli woman or child, 2 Palis are killed. If Hamas and Hezbollah want a "Holy War", then give them what they want. They have shown that they are utterly uncaring of the Geneva Conventions, so let them begin to feel what it would be like to actually fight a war under the "no holds barred" scenario, where if you're not a friendly, then you're a target, and subject to a sudden case of acute lead poisoning.

In other news, indicted style maven Martha Stewart has charges being filed against her by prosecutors who claim that when she was asserting her innocence, she was actually involved in a stock fraud by making the value of her company go up. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, because even if someone is guilty of something like insider trading and stock market manipulation, the natural tendency is to deny it. The prosecutors are apparently alleging that her protestations of innocence were an attempt to manipulate the price of her stock. I don't think that one would fly, but the rest of it could send her to jail for up to 30 years, if convicted on all counts and sentenced to the maximum term. I wonder which country club they would confine her to, because they don't send white collar criminals to do hard time. Especially female white collar criminals.

I only hope she thought it was worth it. If she had waited until the news about ImClone was pubic knowledge, she would have lost a few thousand dollars, which is a drop in the bucket to her $1 billion+ personal portfolio. But it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

This weeks Carnival of the Vanities is still causing tremendous traffic through my site, with more than 400 visitors on Wednesday, and about 370 yesterday. That means more than 10% of this site's visitors have been through here in the last 48 hours. I can only say, "Thanks!" to all those who offered submissions, and again to those who advertised the Carnival on their sites.

Hope you're having a good day. Mine started out on a hopeful note, but is rapidly running downhill. Think good thoughts today, eh?

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Senator Shrillary is making a barnstorming tour to promote her book, which is being published next week, and in it she basically gives the impression that she was utterly taken by surprise by her husband's infidelity. That simple argument says that she is either lying, or a fool. After all the scandals regarding Gennifer Flowers, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, and the lawsuit by Paula Jones (et alia), for her to say that she honestly believed that her husband was the "innocent victim of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (TM)", and that she was taken by surprise by his confession literally hours before his testimony before Judge Starr's investogator (the taped interview that was released to the public, and aired live on multiple channels), means that she was either willfully ignoring the fact that he was spending an awful lot of "alone time" with a young female intern, or that she is not bright enough to have earned the public office that she now holds. "Ye pays yer money, ye takes yer choice..."

I wonder what the good people of Arkansas think of Bill and Hill now? They were all about coming from Arkansas when it was about Bill running for the Oval Office, but the moment it sunk in that she needed to be in the public eye and in high Federal office, they jumped that ship without ever looking back. That may have been the main reason that Arkansas voted for Bush in 2000. Other than Gore's utter lack of charisma, I mean.

No matter, I have no intention of ever buying a copy. I may go down to the library and borrow theirs (like I did with Michael "4F" Moore's autobiography, "Stupid White Man"), but I'm not going to spend a penny on a book that wasn't even written by the person whose name is on the cover.

In other (more personal) news, the Carnnival entry yesterday caused a traffic spike more than 250% of my previous high-water mark. I had more than 400 unique visitors yesterday, and when I woke up this morning and checked the numbers, there had already been more than 90 just since midnight, and the sun was just barely over the horizon. So thank you for coming by, and I hope many of you keep coming back, and to the new domain (if I ever get it off the freaking ground!).

A few minor corrections, though. I misspelled Jack Cluth's last name (it starts with a 'C', not with a 'K'), so I owe him an apology for the error. I was also informed that Da Goddess' entry about giving birth was actually a fictional entry, but it certainly fooled me, so she gets all the credit for managing to induce the "willing suspension of disbelief" in a highly cynical person. (This is a good thing, because she made it seem so real.) She has some real talent, and I hope she decides to write a real book sometime. She'd probably put Shrillary to shame.

Thank you all for stopping by, and I'll chat with you all later. Hope your day is a good one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Welcome to this week's "Carnival of the Vanities", and we have quite an eclectic collection (all of it worth a look) so I will waste none of your time by trying to excite your anticipation. Our tour begins:

Graham Lester starts us off by showing us what the the Real Problem is with the United Nations and the European Union. (I especially like the soundbite about the "Coalition of the Billing".)

We next proceed to Daniel's intriguing little entry about a job search. He manages to describe the problems with trying to get people less experienced than oneself to judge one's talent.

And if you'll all follow me to our next entry, where Andrew has posted several comments about the short film he starred in, called The Fallen.

The Advice Goddess has managed to collect a set of humorous concepts she calls "Metaphysics for Dummies". (You'll have to scroll down to the May 26th entries, but it's worth the effort.)

Grasshoppa caused my wife to wonder about my sanity because of the sudden bursts of laughter, as he gives us our HTV. Drink alert is in effect for this one, so don't blame me for ruined monitors.

James Joyner of "Outside the Beltway" has two different submissions this week, both of them quite good. The first is about Webonomics and how most liberals have no clue about the concepts behind Supply and Demand, and the second is about how politics are being mis-perceived. He has shown himself to be worth an extended perusing, so feel free to take some time with his entries.

David Sims at Clubbeaux has an interesting story about an after-light's-out chat at a girls' school.

Da Goddess tells the tale about giving birth in the Town With No Name. Bless her and her new family.

Charyl asks the questions on everyone's lips. Where are the WMD's, Dubya? She then proceeds to sum up some of the information that the Coalition has collected.

MommaBear of "On The Third Hand" snarls about the problems inherent in bringing democracy to a region where theocracy has been the way of life for longer than can be easily understood.

Trish Wilson shows that statistics are being misrepresented by father's rights groups despite the facts on hand. I guess Twain was right when he identified the three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

David F. skillfully expresses the despair and anger felt by all sufferers of adult acne, so click here and sympathize. (He was also kind enough to link to me from his new site. Thanks!)

Kevin Aylward of Wizbang finishes his series on "Smart Growth." In "Smart Growth In Loudoun County, VA (Or How To Piss Off All Of The People All Of The Time) - Part II", he covers the fallout from the implementation of "Smart Growth" in a Virginia county and how it divided the Republican party.

Acidman tells an embarrassing story about one particular golf round. Warning, though, the embarrassing part isn't about golf, and a drink alert is in effect.

John Q. Public has included an entry (I think he was trying to tell me something) which links to a tutorial on MovableType. For those of us who are moving to our own domains, this would prove invaluable, but even for those of you who have been dealing with it on a daily basis, it might still teach you a thing or two.

WalterinDenver shares a post about an anti-gun woman who takes a firearms safety course. On a dare, no less. I wish I could express how proud I am of her effort. And his.

Eric Berlin tells us why ethanol is more wasteful than thermal depolymerization. One hopes that Senator Daschle would bother actually learning the facts, too, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Jeff Medcalf blogs about the possible results of the US putting pressure on Israel. A frightening scenario, to be sure, but worth reading (and pondering at length).

Solonor tells those of us who don't live in 'Tornado Alley' why "Oklahoma City is really pretty", and explains the stuff that everyone there needs to know. Drink alert is in effect.

Jack Cluth gives a heart-wrenching tale of "Love, Life, and Lost Friends" on 9/11, and coming to grips with the memories of that terrible and tragic day.

Chris of "The Noble Pundit" blogs about the Economy and the Market, in the fourth part of five. The other parts are worth reading, too, if you follow economic matters beyond your own bank account.

Tiger, in his first submission to the Carnival, rants about something that I agree with. I just haven't felt the urge to rant about myself, because it seems as obvious to me as water is to a fish. He does a wonderful job with it, too, so pay him a visit, and maybe he'll keep coming back.

The Yeti talks about Chivalry and Feminism, and why they are to blame for the problems between the genders. He does a good job, from both points of view.

Laura grumbles as a "fledgling Hawk" about being a "Liberal Lost". Go and read and share the sense of confusion.

Courtney asks us to "Remember the Bill of Rights?", and wonders why the press (which has been so gung-ho to hop on the gun control bandwagon) has completely ignored the attempted violations of the First Amendment.

In Jay's own words: "I grew up to be a social authoritarian who believed in the ability of the Church to determine the moral framework of the government and its people... I grew up with economic ideals that focused on an unsustainable socialist framework in the name of social justice... I have become a Right-wing anarchist as opposed to the communo-fascist that my Philippine upbringing taught me to be." You can continue reading here, although you will have to scroll down to "Metamorphosis".

Chuck Simmins sends along an interesting Archie Bunker quote: Patience is a virgin. Recommend it to all your "Not In My Name" crowd who are screaming about the lack of WMD proof in Iraq.

Suburban Blight talks about nailing that Bigot Bastard, Eric Robert Rudolph. I was thinking that the rookie cop who nailed him deserves a HUGE commendation from the FBI. Many of you might agree. Those that don't are welcome to walk westward until your hat floats.

James DiBenedetto, submitted not one, not two, but three different submissions this week. He is obviously a big baseball fan, even though there is no love lost regarding Commissioner Bud Selig. (I can't really blame him, either.)

"The Smallest Minority" asks an interesting question: "Is the Government Responsible for Your Protection?" You might be surprised at the answer...

John Greyhawk talks to us about "Heat, Speed, and the Johnny Lightning Special", even though he insists it's not all about cars. He's not kidding, and I wonder when we're going back to the moon, myself.

The two co-writers for "Across the Atlantic" have managed to submit an entry each. The entry by Mandrake (the British half) can be found here, and is an interesting 12-step program on how to write sex scenes (for those who could never get it quite right). The American entry, by Shell, is here, and is about Right Wing Terror and Abortion, and talks about Eric Robert Rudolph.

Joe Dougherty sends a message to the waste of oxygen who robbed his parent's home. If I were that waste of DNA, I would steer well clear of that region in the future, 'cause he wants your head. In thin slices. (Luckily, I'm not, and I would cheer him on.)

"The World According To Pete" wonders if Dubya is a raging Power-holic. An interesting left-wing point of view, and one I might not personally agree with, but an intriguing read, nevertheless.

Saltwater has requested a mention of a few URLs in lieu of a regular entry, since she is shifting domains this week, and I am happy to oblige. The first blog, titled "Brazos Cantina", can be found at http://www.brazoscantina.com, and the second, where she is a regular contributor, is titled "Girls! Girls! Girls!", and can be found at http://www.ondragonswing.com/journal/girls. Swing by, and tell them that Drumwaster sent ya!

The Raving Atheist examines the mischief that can arise when jurors in a death penalty case decide to consult Bibles found in their hotel rooms.

David Russell discusses the problems that he has with the religious right complaining about President Bush. I don't blame him, and I even agree. Unfortunately, BlogSpot doesn't like permalinks (no kidding, huh?), so scroll down to "Oh, Please!" under June 2nd.

And, finishing up with this week's Carnival, Jay Solo is wonderfully kind enough to share tips and tricks to those of us (and I'm including myself, by the way) who need to get off of the BlogSpot servers, and onto real domains (and bless him for thinking of us).

Next week's Carnival can be found at (and submissions should be sent to) Overtaken by Events. I hope you have as much fun reading all these entries as I did, and if you have a wish to help out by hosting the Carnival of the Vanities for yourself, please feel free to contact Bigwig at bigwig (AT) nc.rr.com, and he will be happy to add you to the rotation.

Thank you all for stopping by, and have a wonderful time cruising the Carnival!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Just a brief entry this morning (and I hope you're having a good one) to bitch at Jacqueline Chiraq. He is still condemning the United States for attacking Iraq, even though he says he's "ready to move past it". Mighty big of you, Chiraq, but just because your initials are 'JC' doesn't mean that you share the peace-making qualities. You can attempt to maintain your national and personal relevance on the world stage, but your 15 minutes are up, and just as soon as the people of France (who only elected you because your opponent was just a little too openly Nazi in his politics for the WW2 veterans still in your population) get another shot at you, you are (in the phrasing of that world-famous game) going to "Go To Jail, Go Directly To Jail, Do Not Pass 'Go', Do not collect $200". Once you leave office, they have a nice cell waiting for you.

The other part of this morning's entry is the weekly This-or-That Tuesday. I've got to leave in a few minutes, so let's get rolling, shall we? It's about animals (disagreements over which have spoiled more relationships than anything but money)

1. Cats or dogs? I'm a cat person, but my wife is allergic. Oh, well.
2. Butterflies or birds? Since butterflies are actually self-propelled flowers, I'll stick with birds.
3. Horses or cows? I used to own a few horses when I was a kid, so I'll stick with them.
4. Turtles or snakes? My wife's boss has some of the BIG pythons (ranging from 6-15 feet long), but turtles are just cooler.
5. Frogs or grasshoppers? Grasshoppers. They work better as bait when fishing, too.
6. Lions or tigers? Lions.
7. Elephants or mice? Elephants. After all, how often do people line up to see the circus mice?
8. Porcupines or aardvarks? Aardvarks. Anything that was named just to get the first listing in the dictionary deserves some respect.
9. Unicorns or dragons? Dragons are cool, but unicorns are pretty cool, too, so let's call this one a toss-up.
10. Thought-provoking question of the week: You live in a rather dumpy apartment. A friend offers you a chance to be a roommate at a new place s/he is moving into, but they don't allow pets. You have a pet. Do you find your pet a new home and take the new place, or do you keep your pet and stay put? I would probably stay put.

That's about it for this morning. I'm up to about 30+ entries for tomorrow's Carnival of the Vanities, and tonight is the last chance to send in your submission! The deadline is Midnight tonight (Pacific, GMT-8:00), and I can't be held responsible for delays in receiving it. Whatever the received time is at my e-mail box is the final arbiter. If it arrives at 12:01 a.m. (or later), it will be forwarded to next week's host over at Overtaken by Events. (I promise!)

Thanks for stopping by!