Friday, July 29, 2005


Joan is a self-confessed introvert:
I like to be by myself most of the time. I like sitting in a quiet room and writing. I don't mind going to the movies or a concert alone. I never have.
The problem is that when she does these activities she often attracts nutjobs.

I'm an introvert as well. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone. I like sitting in a room and watching TV or reading a book. Recently Amybear has been around a little more and we've had a surprisingly good time as well. She's an introvert too and we can generally do introverted things together without any kind of pretense towards having to entertain each other. We can just be. I like that.

Still, I don't really enjoy going out and doing group things by myself. I don't particularly like going to movies alone, although I will do it. I hate going to concerts and eating out alone. It just makes me feel pathetic. Plus concerts, theatre, etc are supposed to be group experiences. Going alone makes me feel cut off from the rest of the audience. It's psychological, but heh everyone has to have a quirk.

Fortunately I don't have her problems with nuts because despite my teddy bear interior I don't tend to look very friendly to others.

Words to Live By

One of my esteemed co-workers was just roasted into his retirement. To mark this occasion, I give you Jack's words of wisdom as you grow older:
  1. Never pass up a urinal.
  2. Never trust a fart.
  3. Never waste an erection.

Laptop Car Cradle

My mothers side of the family lives in Connecticut and we go up there fairly frequently. This usually entails piling my parents, brother, and I into a car after everyone gets home from work and making the substantial drive up there in the dark.

The problem with this is that generally my brother and I read on trips to keep us busy. Its hard to read in the dark without giving your eyes serious issues. So instead we have taken to folding down one of the middle seats in the minivan, strapping my laptop to it via a circuitous use of the seat belt, and watching DVDs.

Something like this might be a better alternative. It lets you hang a laptop from the front seats of the car for just this purpose. Seems like a good idea to me.

All God Bloggers are Baptists

So says Joe Carter. Well obviously I am, but from whence does this statement spring?
There is no synod, presbytery, diocese, or other ecclesiastical council that oversees Godblogs. Essentially, we are all Baptists. We set up our blogs, either individually or as a group, and begin to express our theological opinions, all without oversight from a higher level polity. We may choose to congregate together (what is the GodBlogCon but the blogging equivalent of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention?) but our little para-churches are answerable to no higher human authority.
He is right to a certain extent. I think the reason for this is that blogs are inherently personal forms of expression. Mine is no more a ministry than a discussion over the water cooler at work is a ministry. Blogs may be an extension of the Church as the body of all believers, but they aren't generally an extension of a church who meets in a building downtown.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Boxed out of the Box Office

Michael Medved, who I loved on Sneak Previews, has a reason why Hollywood is having a rough year: the morals of your movies suck. McQ at QandO doesn't dispute this, but comes to a simpler more free-market conclusion: your movies just suck. He notes that about half the A-list movies coming out this summer are remakes of Movies or TV shows.

Medved has a point. I am royally sick of both the power/money-hungry industrialist and the neo-fascist right-wing politico as villians. Just for once I'd like to see a villian that isn't a white male for a change. This is especially the case with children's films. Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold movie was basically about the neighborhood kids banding together to prevent urban renewal. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron didn't have a single good white guy.

But more importantly, movies in general are crap. I wonder how much the decline of talent in the publishing industry is affecting things. When paper prices skyrocketed in the late 1980s, publishers often neglected the development of new talent in order to milk the big names that they knew would still make money at the higher prices. Now the old talent is petering out and they have nowhere to turn. I can't help but wonder if the internet might be a solution to their problems via a digital distribution medium.

But I've digressed. Remakes are fine and dandy, especially if they fix problems in the original, but there used to be an old saying in Hollywood: you don't remake the good films. While War of the Worlds was great, just slapping new effects and faces on old stories generally doesn't do much for me. And many of the "original" films are just Michael Bey style retreads of the same action genre. At the end the hero beats the villian in a climactic battle in the Old Abandoned Flame Factory, roll credits.

I also can't help but wonder if DVDs and the increase in home theatre ownership isn't contributing to the downward trend as well. Taking Amybear to a movie costs $16 when I could wait and buy most of these movies for $10 in a year. If I invest in a decent sound system I might be saving money in under a year, especially considering I can rent for slightly less than I can buy.

Of course none of this whining on my part is going to keep me from seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Amy this weekend.

Over There: Iraq's ER

Over There is a new war drama on FX based on what is on in Iraq. I've been skeptical about this show for quite a while. Partly this is because I think it is too soon for a fair treatment of the subject. Emotional and political objectivity about the war will require time. Mostly it is because the people who are heralding the series are Newsweek and the New York Times. In short they are the people who I trust the least to get the story right.

Most Iraqi war vets think it is a bad combination of overly-sensational and poorly-researched. Many of the early shows are non-stop combat, a scenario that Iraqi Veterans call unrealistic. What is a soldier's life? Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait. Most of their time is spent waiting for orders, training, and performing humanitarian missions which are conspicuously absent from the show. They also get the tactics wrong in ways that the vets consider stupid. For instance the pilot has soldiers driving over a marked landmine.

Now these problems may not be entirely deliberate. ER suffers from similar problems. For those who have never worked an ER rotation, they generally involve sitting around and trying to find things to do. To make a single season of ER, you would have to compile the equivalent of every worst day in the ER ever from a staff member's entire career. I expect Over There to be much the same. I am very concerned about this show turning Iraq into Vietnam II because, for one reason, many of the creative staff members are from the Vietnam era and may project their own experiences onto this new war.

UPDATE: For a collation of reviews from actual military blogger who have been there, check out this post at Arghhhh!

Evangelical Fads

Joe Carter has a list of seven which the evangelical community should just decide not to do anymore. I agree.

Awful Alarm Clock

I woke up early this morning. It was because I was stung three times by a wasp who had decided to crawl around on my pillow. I am not happy about this. The good news is that I don't seem to be allergic, since you can't tell where on my arms I was stung.

I occasionally get wasps in my apartment. I believe they get in through my fireplace. This was the first time I have been stung though. They rarely make it into my bedroom, but unfortunately because Amy is visiting I wasn't sleeping in my bedroom.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Calvin and Hobbes

Thinklings is reporting that it will be back in papers for a limited run in September. I'm pretty sure that these will not be new strips but I'm looking into it. I miss Calvin and Hobbes.

UPDATE: It appears that there will be a Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection coming out in October. It will be 3 volumes, cost $150 total, and include every C&H strip that was ever published. It is possible that the new release in the papers will just be an advertisement for the book.

Earthshattering Inventions

Someone has reinvisioned the spork. If anything it may be even less useful than before.

Ask Dr John

John's "Ask Dr. John" segment is a hoot. Mark in Delaware's question really strikes home.
I'm a successful engineer and am engaged to a beautiful Jewish girl. There's one little snag in my plan: a couple of years ago, I got drunk in Vegas and woke up married to a girl that I met in a bar. And there's my mail order bride from the Ukraine. And my three other wives in Utah. I'm thinking that the reception line at my wedding would be a good time to break the news to my beloved new bride. What do you think?
Fortunately while I am also a successful engineer living in Delaware marrying a nice Jewish girl, I have no former wives I am aware of. Amy has indicated that despite some examples of polygamy in the Old Testament, I was a one woman man or else.

Why would I want multiple wives anyway? I would just have more women banding together to keep me from buying guns and a motorcycles...

UPDATE: And in other news, this post is sheer genius. They have it correct, the proper answer to the perennial question "Does this make me look fat?" is "I love you and your beauty is unsurpassed in the entirety of the cosmos. Nothing you wear will change that." Should you respond this way enough, she may actually start asking that question only for fashion advice, not for emotional validation.

Necessary Evils

It is interesting to here free market advocates like Dale Franks discuss recent AFL-CIO goings on from a pro-union perspective.
Unionized labor can serve as a very useful counterbalance to the power of corporations. That might just be worth something, even something intangible, that we shouldn't want to give up, because corporations are not our kind benefactors, no matter how warm and fuzzy their TV commercials try to make them seem.

The trouble is, we're kind of limited in out ability to watchdog corporations. We can either do it through private organizations, like unions, or we can do it publicly, through government.
My feelings about unions are similarly mixed. Once upon a time unions existed to provide not only for collective bargaining over labor prices, but also to ensure a safe and healthy workplace environment. Now many of the roles formerly provided by unions have been assumed by the government under the mantle of OSHA and other regulatory bodies.

Because of this unions have gotten fat and lazy. Well ok, fatter and lazier. Several years ago, a Motiva refinery in Delaware City had a catastrophic failure of its sulfuric acid containment. It was a union plant. Many workers were injured and at least one was dissolved away into his constituent carbon-based molecules. This could have been prevented by either the plant owners being responsible or any union member or foreman dailing up the state to report the internally know safety problems. Neither happened.

Increasingly their role of unions has been to argue for more and more benefits for their members which would be fine if they took into account what their corporations could afford to pay. But they don't. Take this account of where unions would like to expand for example. They want to unionize Fedex, despite their knowledge that "many union shipping companies have gone under." They want to unionize the Japanese assembly plants in the US, because the union automotive plants are in decline. They want to unionize computer manufacturing after HP and IBM had to restructure in the face of revenue losses.

Air America: Protectors of the Little Guy?

Michelle Malkin and LaShawn Barber are both covering a finance scandal surrounding Air America and several New York charities for children and the elderly.

To make a long story short, Air America isn't really making money. Their ratings, even in liberal areas, are still well below rival conservative media outlets. The answer to this funding problem has been to rely on rich donors like George Soros and, of course, fraud.

You see liberals, especially rich ones, spend a lot of time on the boards of various charities. It is seen as giving back to the community and is considered a good thing. Generally it is a good thing by the way. In this case there is some overlap between the executives at charities like the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club and Air America. So when Air America needed money, individuals at Gloria Wise "invested" government charitable grants earmarked for helping children into the talk radio network. Sound illegal? Well it almost certainly is.

Now Air America is supposed to pay the money back of course, but now that the city has found out and terminated the grants to Gloria Wise. Not only is Air America going down, but it seems to be taking a bunch of children and senior citizens with it.

Blogger Hacking

Is anyone out there really annoyed with the Blogger navigation bar at the top of the screen? I'm not especially, but that's just me. If you are then Evangelical Outpost has a link to this Blogspot Blog which gives you several methods of removing or hiding the bar and fixing the trouble that will give your template.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Civil Service Politics

Michelle Malkin is noting that Joe Huffman was fired from his job at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Huffman is a computer research analyst, a blogger, and one of the founders of Boomershoot.

Why was Huffman fired? Well no answers are forthcoming, but Huffman contends it is because of his pro-second amendment political views. Huffman has the connection logs from his blog to back this contention up. Huffman was careful to keep his politics and work life separate. He is suing for wrongful termination and will probably win.

I don't know who this guys bosses thought they were, but they're idiots. You can't easily terminate a member of the civil service. You especially can't easily terminate one of us for political work completely unrelated to our jobs. There are laws against that sort of thing which have been on the books for over a century. There are strong protections in place for just such an occasion.

One of my coworkers got his picture in the paper, painted with the American flag, after demonstrating with thousands of others at an anti-globalization rally in Washington, DC. My boss wasn't happy, but there wasn't anythying he could do about it either. My coworker didn't mention that he was a government employee and kept his politics and job separate.

So hopefully Joe will have his job back or a big check or both. Hopefully those responsible for his dismissal will be held responsible and legitimately sacked for the misuse of their office. Good luck to Joe in the meantime.

Fellow Bloggers and the Bible

John, proprietor of Locusts and Honey and occasional commenter on this blog, was profiled by Gavin Richardson recently. So if you are interested in knowing what some of your fellow readers are like, follow the link. One of many noteworthy quotes:
What are you reading at the moment?

The Bible. That's not a flippant reply. I read the whole Bible, cover to cover, every year, out loud. It takes about 15 minutes a day. I read little other than the Bible, although I have recently finished Fool's Gold by John McArthur.
Amen to that. I often wonder what Christianity would be like if we read the bible more and, say, I Kissed Dating Goodbye or the Prayer of Jabez less.

When I first started graduate school I didn't have the money for a TV or even books unrelated to my education. Between food, rent, and car repairs I had committed all my funds. So I started reading my bible voraciously because it was what I had and could afford. You would be surprised how quickly you can cover the entire book. Later, when I started my long commute to work, I bought an NIV audio bible. Going through the bible that way took a few months.

However, I have found that casual reading of the bible is only good for a big picture overview. If you really want to get some good depth you have to punctuate this by slowing down. Take verses apart and put them back together again with the help of good reference materials like a Strong's Concordance and some commentaries. Some of these resources are now available for free on the web.

Delaware Humor

IMAO has some completely untrue trivia about my home state.

Someone over at IMAO stated that Delaware roads are over-taxed/tolled. This is ridiculous. Delaware roads are taxed/tolled if you are coming in from out of state. There are essentially 3 main tolls in Delaware:
  1. On I295 South coming in from New Jersey
  2. On I95 North and South at the Maryland state line
  3. On Route 1 which is the main tourist highway to the Delaware beaches
It should be mentioned that Delawareans only pay toll 1. Even we will pay to leave New Jersey. Toll 2 is easily routed around using local roads in Newark and Elkton. It may even be faster to do this because you avoid the awful toll traffic at the state line. Toll 3 is avoided using Route 13 to get to the beach and avoid the Route 1 traffic.

Delaware set this up deliberately. You see we don't have a sales tax, so people from Maryland and New Jersey come here to shop. They do it a lot and we ensure that the state still makes revenue from them when they do via highway tolls.

Pennsylvania is the only neighboring state Delawareans commute to for work (at least in large numbers). There are no tolls on that route.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Politician's Vows

Michelle Malkin is covering the dilution of wedding vows. Instead of "until death do us part" more and more people are being married using other durations like "for as long as love lasts." Quoth the Anchoress:
“For as long as our love shall last?” That could be three weeks! Why not say “’til the inevitable divorce does us part?”
These types of vows are being put forward by people who want, as the Democrats would say, an exit strategy. That way when it fails they're can say "Hey, this marriage thing is tough. It's just not fun anymore. So long baby, enjoy half my stuff."

Amy and I haven't got our vows nailed down yet. Ours will by necessity be an unconventional ceremony, but there will be none of this "for as long as love lasts" crap. We want to be together forever and when death should part us, I can only pray it will be only a brief time until the other's work is done and we are reunited on the other side.

MP3 Players

Is the iPod too big for you? Well Walmart is retailing a new mp3 player that is about one inch on a side. They come in half and full gig versions, in six colors, for about $130. It even has a small display. Not bad really.

Fun Mocking Others

Michael Dean sent me this Alanis Morrisette lyrics generator. I can't remember if she is famous anymore. I mean Jagged Little Pill was a great album, but I can't remember anything she did after it other than Kevin Smith movies. Now he brought out the acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill for the tenth anniversary. That just screams retread to me.

Oh and if you are so apathetic you can't come up with a post to write, try the Apathetic Journal Entry Generator from the same site.

Inflatable Pool Engineering

My cousin has one of these in her yard and they just seem like brilliant idea to me.

The way these things work is that you check your local building code. If the bureaucrats haven't taken away all your fun you go to the store and buy one. Now you find a sufficiently level space in your back yard and lay it out. Then you blow up the inflatable ring that forms the upper edge of the pool and start filling the pool with water.

The boyancy of the ring means that it floats on the water in the pool and holds up the side curtain walls. This way the sides are simple multi-ply walls of plastic which only have to resist the hydrostatic (and smaller dynamic loads) of the water inside. The hydrostatic static loads cancel each other out because of the round pool's symmetry.

Now your kids can still break the thing with anything sharp. Or they can do it more easily by grabbing the upper ring and just pouring the water out. I don't know whether the kids can actually create enough dynamic forces inside the pool to push the water out, but I kind of doubt it.

These pools even come with a filter unit and chemicals.

My cousin does have her backyard fenced, for those with concerns about that sort of thing.

Long Weekend

I've had a long weekend. Amybear came up thursday. She hit a rolled up tire tread that had separated from its big rig. It messed up the soft underbelly of her car, turning sound deadening materials into sound loudening materials as they rubbed against parts they shouldn't. The car is fine, but Amy wants to get it fixed and it severely freaked her out.

Friday we went to Connecticut with my parents and brother. We saw mom's side of the family over the course of two cookouts and some shopping excursions. More importantly my family got to meet Amy. Everything went well and Amy was able to bond with my cousins's kids. Her introverted nature really played well with even the quiet ones.

While the rest of my family stayed with my grandparents, Amy and I would have pushed them past their 3 bedroom/1 bath ranch's maximum occupancy. We stayed with my aunt instead. She has two bull terriers. One is older and deaf and the other is younger and annoying. Bull terriers are interesting dogs. They sort of resemble what I would imagine a cro-magnon canine to look like. Their bodies are solid muscle with a very odd shaped head. But we enjoyed playing with the troglodogs none-the-less.

The trip home was uneventful, excepting that I finished the new Harry Potter book. Amy and I got home, watched 4400 and Dead Zone, and then collapsed.

Then last night the thunderstorm woke me up and I got something in my eye at about 1 am. It felt like an ice pick, but it was probably an eye lash or something. We both woke up late, I felt bad and had to lay back down. In then end we got Amy's civic to the body shop ok.

Now I'm at work and Amy's visit is extended for 2 more days than I expected because of the car troubles. But I won't complain because I like having two more days with my Amy. Well I won't complain any more than I already have at least.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

NRA Snubs Columbus over AWB

So Columbus, Ohio decided to pass its own very stringent version of the assault weapons ban. The problem? They were holding the NRA national convention in 2007. Were. The NRA has pulled out and good for them. So far the net result of the Columbus ban is a $15 million dollar reduction in revenue for businesses in the city.

Kim du Toit is suggesting this:
Note to all the Second Amendment organizations: Stop even considering places like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other GFW cities/states for your conventions. Dance with them that brung ya—not with the ones who are trying to end your business.
Devil's advocate here, I'm not sure that is the best plan. While I wouldn't hold the convention in a city that bans guns like NYC, a neutral city may be influenced to be more pro-gun by an NRA convention. They could use the conventions as political event to spread their influence into new areas.

Now excuse me while I go drool over one of these. Mmmm. AR15...

The Philosophy of Humor

Joe Carter is quoting one of my mom's favorite comedians: Victor Borge. But he's doing it in the context of philosophy.


The ESRB has changed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas's rating from Mature to Adults Only, the rating usually reserved for pornography. Major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are pulling the game.

Michele is opining that ratings themselves are stupid. I don't think so. I realize that parents don't have time to do the research on everything their kids are watching. Ratings serve as a tool to give them an idea of what is in the content of the game. This is why the ESRB required Rockstar to submit the entire contents of the game for review no matter how easily they can be accessed. Rockstar failed to meet their obligations.

Here is a previous post on the topic of GTA:SA and hot coffee.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Screwtape Bloggers

Aaron has discovered missing Screwtape letter that instructs Wormwood on the temptation of bloggers. It isn't incredible, but is worth a read nonetheless.

Beam Him Up

James Doohan, Star Trek's Scotty, died today of a combination of Pneumonia and Alzheimers at age 85. Prior to becoming an actor, Doohan was a WWII vet who was wounded on D-Day on Juno beach. One of the bullets he was hit with was theatrically stopped by his cigarette case. Proof that smoking won't always kill you I suppose.

He described the character of Scotty as himself with Scottish accent. He initially chaffed at being typecast, but accepted it on the advice of his dentist (of all people) and made the best of it ever since.

Doohan married 3 times and divorced twice. He has a total of nine children, the youngest of which is only five.

John Roberts

So he's the man of the hour, the new nominee. In the words of Dan Fielding, he want's to wear black satin and send people to jail. Roberts with so little judicial record that few people know what he actually thinks. Kim du Toit has some good remarks on the confirmation process:
My bet: the Senate CommunistsDemocrats will discover to their horror that this man once put three spoons of sugar in his coffee!* and will therefore tirelessly campaign against his nomination.

Here’s what the People For The CommunistAmerican Way had to say about Roberts. (I’ll save you from reading their tripe. Translation: he’s not a liberal, vote against him.)

*Mark my words: their actual reasons to oppose him will only be marginally less idiotic than the one I’ve used.
Sounds about right. Iowahawk has similar commentary.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter doesn't like him simply because he's fifty and still an unknown:
Finally, lets ponder the fact that Roberts has gone through 50 years on this planet without ever saying anything controversial. That’s just unnatural. It’s especially unnatural for someone who is smart and there’s no question but that Roberts is smart. If a smart and accomplished person goes this long without expressing an opinion, they'd better be pursuing the Miss America title.


One of the more popular ways gun control advocates have been "getting guns off the street" is by staging regular buy backs. This story is an interesting tale of what happened when an old WWII vet sold a rare rifle for $75 in Target gift cards. It highlights a few of the main problems which are:
  • The guns being bought back are often coming from WWII veteran's closets, not the hands of criminals.
  • It is possible to get a gun for less than $75 on the street. At least in this case the kids can't run out and buy a new gun with their gift card. However some buyback programs pay cash and may actually be funding efforts by gang members to up-arm to better weapons.
  • Some of the guns being bought back have significant historical and collector value. There are lots of fine old guns sitting in people's closets. And they will be melted down, destroyed, and lost forever.
What is unusual is that when collectors realizes that this vet was sending a rare and expensive rifle to the junker (one of only fifty ever made), the police actually gave it back. Good for them.

More Engineer Jokes

For those of you craving a few more engineer jokes you can check out Frontier Net and The Humor Vault.

Amybear has some suggestions on why us geeks are worth it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Open Software

I like to use it but sometimes the developers can say things that aren't especially bright. Take one of the people in charge of the Firefox project:
Even if we stopped supporting Windows 98, a company can support [Firefox on Windows 98] themselves as it is open source. This is one of the advantages of open source — you can avoid the forced update cycle.
No you can't. Self-supporting isn't free when you now have to pay that coder money to get the product you require. Granted you don't have to update, but chances are that updating due to loss of outside support is cheaper than paying a guy to keep the old code running. Unlike in open source, in the real world businesses have to pay people to code.

The new staffer might be cheaper if you are a large company with a larger install base. Still, if that is the case you are probably updating incrementally as new computers are inventoried in and out of the system. That way you are paying the same price for the new stuff as the old.

Bag Handles

These are ingenious. No more plastic bags cutting into the meat of your hand. So ingenious in fact that OXO has been selling them on and off for years.

But they are ground breaking and revolutionary. That is why they sit in my kitchen junk drawer somewhere. I think.

Fortune Cookies

My branch secretary has many in the sweets jar. The fortune I received was:
You will bring sunshine into someone's life.
This a nice sweet fortune until you realize that Sunshine is the name of my M1 Carbine.


It's baaaack. San Bernadino, California is adding an ebonics curriculum to help motivate troubled yoots. The problem:
  • This isn't educating. You aren't teaching kids what they need to know, you are teaching them what they might be able to pass.
  • The leading cause of poor achievement is the parents, not anything the schools can do.
Now the "urban" English dialect isn't that bad. You can usually tell who grew up in the city, but you can also tell who grew up in the South too. It isn't a problem since we're all engineers and our college careers have left us with only a passing acquaintanceship with good grammer anyway. The problem is that youze can't write no technical reports likes that when youze representin' yo' work.

But hey maybe they don't think those kids will be working behind a desk anyway. That certainly isn't the career path they're training them for.

UPDATE: Kim du Toit is weighing in and his comments section is full of good stuff. To sum it all up, Ebonics (or African American Variant English, AAVE) education is a great way to train kids to be the next generation of food service workers, garbage collectors, and bums.

Threat Levels

Arthur Chrenkoff is revealing the UN terror alert system to the world. It seems to have a lot of levels ranging from "ignore" to "give them a seat on the security council". Compare this to, say, the french system which only has four levels: run, hide, surrender, and collaborate.

Nonviolent Resistance

I've found myself praying for Muslims a lot lately. Back when Grand Ayatolla Sistani was both keeping the lid on violence in Shiite Iraq (specifically on Mohammed al-Sadr) and having health trouble, I was praying for him. Another man to pray for is Akbar Ganji, an Iranian dissident on a hunger strike after being imprisoned for protesting the latest sham elections in that country. He is near death although Iranian news media are lying about it.

I like non-violent resistance. It could be argued that nonviolent resistance is a very Christian concept. Christ's comment "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" from the Sermon on the Mount is a direct reference to a practice of impressment by Roman soldiers. This is where the term "go the extra mile" comes from. Solomon also had this to say in Proverbs:
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
So non-violent resistance is all well and good.

That said I don't think it is the end all and be all. The bible is also full of examples of people defending themselves through force of arms, the most prominent of them being the book of Esther where the response to an attempted pogrom was:
The king's edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.
I'm in favor of a balanced view of biblical interpretation. As Solomon said, there is a time for every purpose under heaven a time to resist peacefully and a time to make war.

What is my point here? My point is that if you are going to resist peacefully, it helps if you have two things:
  1. Political opponents with a conscience.
  2. The threat of violence to back your peaceful strike up.
When Ghandi used non-violent methods in India, he was fighting the British who had morals and who feared that should Ghandi die rioting and revolt would ensue.

Monday, July 18, 2005

War of the Worlds

Went to see it with the future in-laws this weekend. It was good. Amy and I enjoyed it although Amy's mom was pretty freaked out. Donald Sensing wrote a good review a couple of weeks ago. I share his opinion that the force field is officially the most hackneyed plot device in science fiction. I also share his opinion that the movie itself does not make good sense. For instance, if the Martian war machines were put here ages ago then: (1) Why haven't we accidentally dug one up (2) Why are they all appearing in population centers that didn't exist millenia ago?

Oh by the way, the copyright on the original work has expired so you can read it for free here along with many of Wells other works like the Island of Doctor Moreau and the Time Machine.

Oh and I've posted a spoiler in the comments, avoid them if you have an adverse reaction to such things.

Auto Helmets?

Feel free to chime in if this seems like a really stupid idea to you: a safety helmet for children to wear inside a car. The reason for this is that automotive accidents are the number one killer of young children and head trauma is prominent among these accidents.

But they're inside the car for God's sake. My question is: What is the chance that these kids were wearing seatbelts or other restraints? If they weren't, why would they wear a helmet?

My guess is that they weren't wearing belts or that the kids are so small that seatbelts wouldn't restrain them properly. I remember when I was a kid, I had horrible trouble with shoulder belts. They went straight across my neck. Even at four, Jeff the Baptist was smart enough to know that a crushed trachea is bad so I figured out a way to buckle up across my lap and stick the shoulder belt behind my back. As you get older, I can assure you that the teenagers who are dying in car accidents aren't buckled up. I lost 4 kids my junior year in high school for just that reason.

UPDATE: Joan has a list up of many of the stupid and dangerous things she did as a kid often while being supervised by grown-ups. Her readers are adding more as I write.


Blogger Chris Byrne aka Anarchangel has had a fatwa issued against him threatening him with all sorts of vile things. This is because of this post where he shoots, defiles, burns, and blows up several copies of the Koran. The post has video clips, but they may not be worksafe.

Chris goes on to say that he can defend himself, etc, etc and show some of his guns. Now that may be true, but given the character of most terrorists, do you think they will break in and attack head on?

I doubt it. The guys who carry out these sorts of things generally either zealots who don't care if you kill them or cowards who would much rather use explosives from afar. The kind of guts it takes to look someone in the eye on equal footing seems to be lost on them.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What is your Battle Cry?

Who is that, sprinting through the tundra! It is Jeff The Baptist, hands clutching a jeweled meat hammer! And with a mighty scream, his voice cometh:

"I'm going to flog you until there are no limbs left to break!!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Exportation and Immigration

Kim du Toit covers the deportation a large number of Mexican nationals from the DC area.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention and Removal Officers deported 120 Mexican citizens this week.

Among the 120 deportees, officers said 56 are convicted criminals. The agency said 36 were convicted for violent offenses ranging from malicious wounding to manslaughter, 15 were convicted of drug-related crimes, and six are classified as child sex predators with convictions ranging from child molestation to indecent liberties on a child under the age of 13.
The problem is that thanks to our porous borders, many of these people will be back in the country in no time. The 15 drug runners have incentive and some of the violent felons may be gang members who also would seek to re-enter the US.

Which brings me to my proposal:
  1. Lets tighten up border security. How about we build a fence/wall that is actually capable of keeping people out? Or how about we give the border states the freedom to do so at least, since they suffer the worst from illegal immigration.
  2. Make it a capital crime for a convicted criminal to re-enter the US after their deportation. That's right a capital crime, meaning if we catch any of those murders or sex offenders in the US or entering the US, they get tried and dead.
I do have some sympathy for Mexicans who enter the US illegally. Most of them are good folks just looking for a better life. This is especially true considering the epidemic corruption along the Mexican border.

The US immigration system is also seriously screwed up. Even if they wanted to come here legally, the hoops they have to jump through are ridiculous. I know this from working with international students in college and grad school. When they got their current visa, the they would immediately apply for the next one. This was because it would take years for the forms to be processed and they couldn't risk their visa running out. If it did run out, it generally be no fault of their own, but they would have to start all over anyway.

Harry Potter 6

It comes out tonight at midnight, but I'm in no hurry. I didn't end up pre-ordering it, mostly because of my own laziness. We'll see what Amy wants to do.

While I didn't love the last book, I thought it was pretty good. Harry was very petulant but he's also supposed to be 16 or 17 at this point. That sounds about right for an outbreak of exasperation.

I'm not sure if Rowling's writing is keeping up with the material she has to cover. She really wasn't a writer until the Potter books and while her abilities have developed, I'm not sure she has kept pace. Granted she isn't writing as far above herself as David Weber, but still...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

7/7 the UKs Oklahoma City?

While the events of last week are often being compared to 9/11 in the US, McQ at QandO and others are proposing that a better analogy would be the Oklahoma City bombing. This is both because of the scale of the event and the fact that the terrorists were homegrown.

Firearms Imports

Kim du Toit is indicating that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives may be cracking down on the import of semi-automatic rifle components. They will be expanding the list of non-importable components to include the barrel and frame along with the receiver. Kim has some suggestions for American made alternatives to get around this.

I'm not too worried about this. I already have an M1 carbine which isn't effected and I will probably be buying an AR15 derivative within the next year. Those are all made in the states so is import ban doesn't apply. AR15s are not just scary assault rifles, they make for phenominally accurate target guns too by the way.

But that has to wait until my car is paid off in a few months. Until then I'm going to keep non-essential purchasing to a minimum. Then I'll probably splurge on a RIA 1911 and start saving for (1) a house downpayment (2) the Ar15. In that order.

Scenic Vacations

Part of my on-going and unfulfilled motorcycle obsession is that I have been lurking on a Kawasaki board. I won't be buying a bike for a good long while (a house to keep it in comes first), but I'm enough of a gearhead to enjoy the mechanics of motoring even if I can't actually do it.

Anyway someone took his Kawasaki 800 on a ride through Canada. He has pictures of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

I went on a trip through that area a while ago with my parents and grandparents. It was late summer, but the weather in Canada is much more conducive to being outside than in the mid-atlantic states. The Cabot Trail (and Nova Scotia in general) is just beautiful and, being Scottish myself, was very homey feeling. We did the trip in a minivan, but I can only imagine how much better things would have been on the back of a motorcycle. This is a pretty popular motorcycle route as well as there are a horde of people going around Cape Breton on their Goldwings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Grand Theft Porno

Greg Costikyan has a discussion on the recently revealed sex mod/easter egg inside GTA: San Andreas.

Long story short, it should never have been there and Rockstar North, the game's designer, should face sanctions by the ESRB for breaking the rules. I agree. Their contract with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board indicates that they must disclose all content no matter how it is accessed. Rockstar failed to do this.

I have GTA:SA by the way. I played it last night and killed a couple of cops and a whole lot of gang members for old times sake. I won't be installing the patch since (1) I have the PS2 version which would be a pain to mod and (2) why would I want it.

Tactics of the Enemy

When thinking about topics like spiritual warfare, I often like to think back to the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape gives Wormwood specific advice on how to subvert man and so ensnare the soul.

I often think christians lack a deep understanding of the nature of warfare. We have this viewpoint that if we have good intentions and a light in our hearts, then we can do no wrong. How niave. While striking against the enemy anywhere may not return void, this doesn't mean that it will produce the most beneficial results. Christians are soldiers with Christ as our General, the Father our Commander in Chief, and the Spirit acting as our communications officer.

Where am I going with this? Well I've read two very good posts that you could look at as briefings on the tactics of the enemy. This is how the Devil fights. It is vital intelligence on how he leads us astray.

The first is Feeble Knees's Baby Christians and Decoys. In it she discusses how the good intentions of young christians are lead astray by providing them with a responsive individual in need of their help. However ultimately this person is a decoy. They are using the Christian for emotional or physical support while absorbing their time, time which could be put to better use with others they should be far closer to like their friends and family.

In the end the decoy doesn't come to any lasting faith. The family and friends of the young christian are left with a horrible impression of God because he took away their loved one and gave them to a stranger. The young christian's faith is damaged because she worked and prayed so hard, yet had no results to show for it. It is bait that so many people take.

The second is Joe Carter's discourse on theological arguments. Joe discusses arguing over the desire to prove the existence of God and the need for Christ to others. To the Christian it seems possible to argue someone into faith. To impart the understand of God into them through reason alone. If only you can come up with a better argument or a stronger proof, then that person will have faith and believe.

In the end this is futile. While sharing our knowledge of God is a good thing, you can't argue someone into faith just as you can't beat them into it with a Bible or with peer pressure. Only God can restore a person's soul. Arguing has a purpose (which is the real topic of Joe's article), but sometimes it is far better and more productive to pray that God will work in someone from the inside rather than trying to work upon them from the outside.

Google Earth

Its neat. But I have a growing distrust of Google and unlike Google Maps, this one requires installing Google software on my computer. So I'll enjoy it from afar.

Bottled Water

Penny Arcade had some keen observations about the knick-knack economy.
I can't even imagine the excitement that must have coursed through those halls when they invented this. I would imagine it was similar to the joy felt at Coca-Cola when they realized they could just sell the water without carbonation or syrup for the same amount, if not more. I can picture them out on the front lawn all throwing their hats into the air in unison.
I don't usually buy bottled water, but I've realized that I drink way too many highly processed soft drinks and water makes a good alternative. So I went to my local supermarket and picked up a case. My God that stuff is expensive.

It pissed me off in two ways:
  1. Yes you do pay as much or more money for bottled water than for that same fluid with things in it.
  2. I already pay for water and I pay for it in bulk. I have a utility bill every month for the gallons I use. That I have to pay someone else for more water says that those utility guys are doing a really bang-up job with my money.
It really makes me wish that the logistics of getting water to millions of homes wasn't such an issue. I bet if we could just introduce more competition into the marketplace, the utilities would actually get in a race to improve their water quality.

Timeless Advice

Evolutionists like to talk about the nature of man and how we are constantly improving. I'm not a big fan of evolutionary theory and this is probably a reason why. When I was still in college, my advisor had these six mistakes on his website:
  1. Individual advancement is made by crushing others
  2. Worrying about things that cannot be changed
  3. Insisting things are impossible because we cannot do them
  4. Refusal to set aside trivial preferences
  5. Neglecting development of the mind
  6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do
Sounds familiar? While you may not agree with all of these, many of them come up in modern politics. What is funny is that this list is attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman orator who died 43 B.C. Cicero moralized about how divorce, and specifically no-fault divorce, was destroying the Republic. Sound familiar?

While they are not quite so timeless, the songs of Tom Lehrer hold up quite well too. Most of these were written in the late fifties and early sixties. Kim du Toit makes reference to his song Folksong Army:
We are the Folksong Army
Everyone of us Cares
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares...
Sounds familiar to the recent Live8 concert? It should. I find myself referring to several of his songs a lot like the Vatican Rag, MLF, and National Brotherhood Week. What is funny is that Lehrer is a democrat, but of the older pre-Vietnam mold. Lehrer stopped performing because of the shifts in the political landscape cause by that war, as he put it politics stopped being funny.

Oh and on a completely different note: Have you noticed that despite the fact that third world debt relief has been advocated by many of the G8 leaders (like George Bush) Live8 is taking the credit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Church Corporate

A lot of people have commented on church spending within the last few months. Messy Christian commented on large church buildings and Joan did something similar. Now Feeble Knees is critiquing spending on high tech megachurch gadgetry.

Maybe leaving this stub of a post here will get my ass moving on writing an actual response/commentary on what I think.

Blogging on Blogging

Joe Carter has had a bunch of good posts lately. For instance this one is on blogging metrics and how they influence blogging as a whole.
On Instalaunches -- I’ve been linked by Glen Reynolds exactly once. Being mentioned on Instapundit will not increase your site traffic for more than a few hours. Also, being mentioned on Instapundit does not impress as many people as you might think.
I've been linked by Instapundit twice. Unfortunately this doesn't mean I'm twice as good as Joe Carter. I can attest to the fact that you will get a traffic spike for about a day. It has a more powerful effect on my blog's readership than Joe's because an Instalanche nets me almost as many hits in a day as I would normally get in a week. I've been linked by Michelle Malkin, LaShawn Barber, and the Volokh Conspiracy as well. It is much the same. Things go back to the way they were and perhaps I gain one or two regular readers.
On the TTLB Ecosystem -- I spent a year attempting to rise to the level of Mortal Human in the TTLB Ecosystem. ... Though I rarely check TTLB anymore, I looked at it today and noticed that I was ranked #12 (oddly enough, behind two fellow evangelicals, Andrew Jackson and LaShawn Barber). ... From this lofty perch I can now share with you what such an honor means:

Absolutely nothing.

No, actually, that’s not quite true. What it means is that lots and lots of people link to my blog. I’m flattered beyond words that so many people would consider me worthy of inclusion on their blogrolls. I’m not sure why they do so, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
I agree. I drift between Marauding Marsupial and Large Mammal on the TTLBE. It is my experience that your TTLB rating is basically a measure of how many other bloggers have you on their blogrolls (and list your most prominent blog alliance) and not any real reflection on your influence or readership. Sitemeter is a little better. At least I can tell how many people are reading.

In the end, I don't really care anymore though. Blogging with the aim of getting popular doesn't do it for me anymore. Even if I got to the top, then what? Recently I've turned back to just blogging to blog. Perhaps it will get me somewhere, perhaps not. I'm glad you guys read this of course. If you want me to touch on a topic, let me know. But if you didn't I would probably still write because it keeps my mind moving and the words coming, which is why I started writing in the first place.

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No Grill For You

Glenn Reynold's backyard barbeque was put out of commission by some industrious avians yesterday.

Oddly enough, despite having a metric ton of birdfeeders in the back yard of the old homestead, my parents haven't had problems with birds nesting in ill-advised places. Instead squirrels have taken to chewing through the gas lines on the grill. I don't know why but it has happened twice. Perhaps it is some sort of interspecies conspiracy.

NES DVD Player

I wouldn't do this to my old Nintendo, but mine still actually works. I mean DVDs are neat, but I'd much rather beat Amybear at Super Mario Brothers. Again. ;)

Monday, July 11, 2005


Let it never be said that this blog doesn't break exciting new ground. Today, typefaces! How do you tell Helvetica from it's bastard cousin Arial? For more typesettery check out these articles. And for our exciting next post: paint drying!

Via: What Attitude Problem?

Minimum Wage vs Living Wage

Having worked at close to minimum wage a few times in my life, I'm not sure if I agree with this posting over at QandO. Like most free market guys, McQ opposes the minimum wage and any other wage standards. I don't think I can go that far.

Minimum wage is generally paid to people performing essentially unskilled labor. I spent several summers after high school working as a retail cashier at a department store. Training for the job took about ten hours. It paid about $5.50 an hour and minimum wage is currently $5.15 in most areas. I lived at home and had no bills to speak of. Yet between buying lunch, department store grade professional attire, getting to work on public transportation, and my voracious reading habit, I was unable to save much money at all.

To shorten my ramble, I think that ideally the minimum wage is slightly above the break point between employment and exploitation. Employment below minimum wage is often costing you more than to stay home. Will the market fix this? No, because there are always a lot of poor dumb bastards out there that won't do the math until it is too late. The employment pool is huge compared to the actual number of these jobs. As such the minimum wage serves as a price floor for the job market that many employers can easily index from. I don't think that this is an especially bad thing.

Currently, the wage is so low that I don't think you can consider it a detriment to the workplace meritocracy. Nobody that actually has regular expenses (i.e. not the elderly or teenagers) and any sense works for the minimum wage. It doesn't happen because you can't feed yourself and provide yourself with housing.

That said I don't like the concept of "the living wage". In a living wage, you would presumably earn enough to pay all your expenses with some money left over. But who's expenses? Mine? The two parent family down the street with four kids and big house? The single parent family next to them with two kids? If it is a national standard how the hell do you account for the wide variance in the housing market across the country? If they have different standards then aren't you paying unequal salaries for the same level of work? It is a regulatory nightmare and essentially Communist. From each according to his ability to each according to his needs? No thanks Comrade.

Now if someone wanted to compile a non-binding value for the local living wage of a two parent, two and a half child family, I wouldn't complain. It would give employees and employers another number to index off of for bargaining purposes. But a mandatory living wage, no thanks.

Deaths in the Family

One of my coworkers lost his mother this weekend from Kidney failure. He lost his father less than a year ago. Roy (name changed to protect the innocent) is no spring chicken himself so this wasn't a sudden event, but please send some prayers his way.

UPDATE: Amybear noticed that Freda Sorce, the wife of one of her favorite shock jocks, died suddenly this weekend in a car accident. Today's show is a tribute program in her honor. Her husband, Mike Sorce aka Don Geronimo, will not be participating for obvious reasons. He indicated that the show must go on. Sorce has a son, Bart, who is in college. Freda and Mike were married for over twenty years.

The Don and Mike Show isn't my favorite program. Sometimes it is funny, but more often it is just sophmoric. One of their more infantile programming ideas are shows that piss on the graves of famous celebrites like Barry White or Elvis, often as in the former case, shortly after their deaths. Lets hope no one does to them as they have done to others.

For the record though, I really liked Freda. She was probably my favorite part of the show, because when she was on the phone Don stopped being his arrogant jackass radio persona and was actually himself. He would treat Freda with the respect she was so obviously due, unlike every other caller who was treated like they were barely worth his time. It was obvious that Don loved her very much. My prayers will be with him as he and Bart are surely in the worst agony they have ever known. Freda will be missed by everyone who even knew of her, but by her son and husband most of all. I hope that they can weather the storm, because Freda seemed to be the peacemaker of the family and now she is gone when they need her most.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


So I finally got around to putting some of my pictures up on flickr. I use this one as my desktop background at work. Amy has some great shots on her account too.

Civilians vs. Military

Instapundit is linking to this Strategy Page story.
The army is scrutinizing every job they have, and deciding which could be done by civilians. While the media reports a "recruiting crises" in the army, they are missing the real story of how the army is reorganizing so that it can get along without the people it is having trouble recruiting. ... The army is using a lot more civilians now. In a war like this, it's cheaper to hire additional civilians, on short term contracts, than it is to recruit and train more troops.
The Great Steven Den Beste opines:
It used to be that those job were done by civilians. Problem was that they were hired under civil service rules, and if they turned out to be incompetent, or lazy, or corrupt, it was damned near impossible to get rid of them. The structure ended up so rotted out that eventually the Pentagon switched over to using servicemen for those tasks. ... But if they go back to hiring those civilians under civil service rules, then in the long run they'll be back to the same rotted out useless structure they had before.

It may be that by using contractors instead of civil service hirees they can avoid that. That's really the question.
As an Army Civilian, let me interject a little light on the situation. Increasing the civilian presence in the military services is not a bad thing. Frankly, person for person, civilians are capable of doing as good a job as the green suiters and in many cases can do it better.

This is not because uniformed military is lazy or uneducated. They aren't, we have the greatest and smartest military in the world. The competency on both sides of the green line is equivalent. The primary reason is that the military duty cycle at a given position is one or two years. In extreme cases it can go as high as four to five, but that is truly extreme and requires special circumstances. On the Civilian side, we commonly work in a given position 5 to 7 years just like in private industry. We don't stop being the new guy until a year or two in, but by that time the green suiters are already moving on to their next posting.

The military has realized this. They have been increasingly training civilians in technical and decision making fields because they realize civilians maintain the expertise in a program far longer than with equivalent members of the military. This is also why the National Guard is trained in a lot of technical fields like communications. Their deployment rotation is also much longer than the regular military so they can get very good at their jobs.

Will this use of civilian labor result in performance rot over the long term? I'll be honest, it's possible. However keep in mind that most of these personnel are signed to "short term contracts." This is very common in the military. When I came aboard I was signed on as a two year intern. If I had turned out to be a slacker or an idiot, my contract would not have rolled over and they would have let me go. Also keep in mind that the Department of Defense is taking the lead in switching from the seniority-based General Schedule system to more meritocratic Pay Banding systems. While some old timers don't like this (for obvious reasons), generally it means that you either pull your weight or you get left behind.

In dealing with performance rot, we need to be careful not to destroy government employment stability. I went into this in one of my first posts from over a year ago. There are three advantages to working for the government; job satisfaction, job stability, and vacation time. I took my current job after my father had been bounced around the aerospace industry every seven years until he was too old to be employable. Why would I put myself through the same experience?

Employing contractors is a mixed blessing. Contractors work well if you pay them for services rendered. They make great cooks, truck drivers, and even analytical assistants. They make horrible decision makers because of a fundamental conflict of interest. Contractors are most interested in making the taxpayers' money on their company while the government should be most interested in spending the taxpayers' dollar efficiently. Now when employing the contractor is the most efficient solution, everything is great. But, as you can guess, this isn't always the case.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Small Group Reactions

We talked about the bombings a bit last night. The odd thing about bombing public transportation in London is that everyone uses the tube and the double deckers. Especially the tourists. And the terrorists picked high traffic areas to increase the lethality of their attacks. What this means is that even in Delaware (or Texas as Kim du Toit demonstrates) people have memories of these places. We're personally involved.

We also mentioned skyrocketing gas prices. If you didn't notice, they jumped fifteen to twenty cents yesterday. The interesting thing with gas is that while prices are going up, the absolute difference between regular and the higher grades is remaining pretty constant. So in relative terms, the hit to step up to premium is getting smaller.

Now good gas burns better than cheap gas, so with the same engine you get a little better fuel economy with premium. Probably not enough to justify the extra cost yet. However if you rework your engine to a higher compression ratio that requires premium gas, the effect becomes even more pronounced. This requires new engine internals so it ain't cheap, but at some point this might be worth it.

In the meantime I should think about picking up a new performance exhaust for my Protege. My warrantee is up, the cost of the parts isn't especially high, and it will pay for itself in better fuel economy. Maybe putting it in would help me bond with my Dad too.

Of course another way to blunt high gas prices is to go to more fuel efficient transportation. I think there will be a market for commuter motorcycles soon. I think urban populations are going to see the return of low displacement scooters and small bikes. Meanwhile longer distance commuters like myself may look towards middle displacement bikes (like the 800cc class) to get us where we want to go at highway speeds. I think adoption will lag the economics because of safety concerns.

North Winds Bwoe

We're getting a lot of rain right now in my little part of the northeast. My usual commute in to work is kinda fun. Traffic is usually light. Speed limits are high. I know where the speed traps are so I can go fast where they aren't. You know, the usual.

Not today. Traffic was heavier than usual and visibility sucked. There was enough water one the roads to give you the shimmy of death if you broke 60. And there were the idiots. In tractor-trailers. Weaving through traffic. Shudder.

Well I'm here now at least.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Judicial Idol

In satire today, Paula Abdul has emerged as a frontrunner for the nomination to the Supreme Court. This is based on her exemplary performance as a judge on American Idol. "In effect she is presiding over the most prominent court room in the United States, the court of public opinion..." says Whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan. No word as yet on whether Abdul's Syrian-Palestinian heritage will emerge as an issue.

If confirmed Ms. Abdul will apparently forswear the traditional black for judicial robes in a nice pastel chartreuse. "Black is Simon's thing," said Ms. Abdul in a press statement today.

Of course I don't think she'll get through the Senate. I mean they'll just bring up that whole Corey Clark scandal from last year. She also dated Arsenio Hall. It was back when he had his talk show, but still. No way she'll get through after that.

Via What Attitude Problem.

An Engineer, a Physicist, and a Mathmatician...

For the rest of the joke go here.

Terrorist Attack in London

The death toll has reached forty-five in attacks that mirror those against Spain last year. Al Qaeda has taken credit. Analysts believe they were planned to coincide with the G8 summit. Instapundit and The Command Post have more.

UPDATE: I'll be praying for the those wounded and the families of those killed in London.

Honestly, I think this was a miss-step for the terrorists. They may have hoped to cut the British out of the "coalition of the willing" as they did Spain, but I don't think that will work. The Brits are made of tougher stuff.

What they have done is hammered home to many of the European populations that they are vulnerable. They are not only vulnerable to terrorists coming out of the middle east, but more importantly, they are vulnerable to terrorists being born in their own countries. Mosques in London and Paris have been cited as possible recruitment centers for western terrorists. If you think that the west will be putting up with that for much longer, you have another thing coming.

Even more importantly, if the problem is these radical mosques Europe is likely far better equipped than the US to fight this sort of battle. We would have our hands tied by the establishment clause of the 1st amendment. Most European nations do not have an establishment clause. Some western nations still have state churches receiving taxpayer dollars. They can regulate religion and that gives them a powerful weapon in their fight.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

International Kissing Day

It is International Kissing Day and my lady is 2 hours away. How annoying.

Federal Gun Ranges

While it would be nice for some military ranges to be open for public use, I'll go out on a limb and say that it would not generally be good for all military ranges to be open to the public. There are national security issues there among other things.

I work at one huge military weapons range, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Having the public on a range where you are testing classified weapon is a problem. The requirements to actually get on the test ranges at APG are stiff. It requires security clearances and a need-to-know among other things. This is important to keep weapons development under wraps.

There is also the problem of idiots like Ward Churchill advocating that soldiers murder their superior officers. This is called fragging. Can you imagine the problems that could arise if armed civilians were given free reign over a military base? All you would need to attack an Army base is a cover story as a gun club. Generally the military also regulates personal weapons pretty heavily as part of general base security for this reason.

Unauthorized possession of a deadly weapon (like a firearm) is prohibited in government buildings under Title 10, USC, Section 930. I'm guessing the government can prohibit public use utilizing that ordnance should they desire to do so.

UPDATE: It seems the law in question directly applies to rifle ranges, which are a small subset of the weapons ranges operated by the military.

Good To Go

While Amybear was up over the weekend, we hit Taco Bell and tried the new Crunch Wrap Supreme. It is quite good and a good size for a meal. Amybear still prefers her stuffed burritos but I may switch over to the CWS from my old standby, the Gordita Supreme meal. We heard a lot of these things ordered while at Taco Bell, so it seems that stupid add with the nerd and the silly hand gestures is working well. Hmmm Taco Bell sounds good to go for lunch.

Old Man Music

I'm feeling old. I don't "get" a lot of popular music. Someone actually called in to request "Holla Back" by Gwen Steffani on the radio last night. Why? For heaven's sake why? Its just people chanting the same nonsense over and over again. If I hear it going home today I may have to inflict physical injury on myself just to keep sane.

And have you seen R. Kelly's latest video "Trapped in the Closet (Part 1 of 5)"? The song itself is so bad it's campy and the title implies there are 4 more tracks out there somewhere. My god, they only made two Attack of the Killer Tomatoes movies.

One a different note (pun intended) my rant on worship music came up at Bible Study thursday. Some of the guys read the site. They thought a lot of it hit the mark but here are the highlights:
  • I don't really have a problem with contemporary guitar worship. We did it before study. It is what you do with 5 guys and a guitar at a bible study. But I think that large scale corporate worship can be better served with a mix of hymns and contemporary worship styles.
  • There are now many in the youth group who have never really heard hymns sung. They have been in contemporary services their entire life. That is kind of a shame.
  • Not only are hymns often better theologically than a lot of contemporary music, they have superior musical depth as well. Contemporary music tends to be simple melodic stuff. Hymns are routinely written in four part harmony. A lot of the guys, including myself, have singing backgrounds and enjoy singing in parts. That harmony has to be sung purely ear with most contemporary tunes, if sung at all. Singing worship in multiple parts was even used as a metaphor for the body of Christ. Each part performing its musical function, merging together into a deeper, more wonderful whole.
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Gas Prices

Why are gas prices so high? I have heard this a lot. Especially since gas stations prices seem to increase overnight at their whim, not in relation to when the tanker pulls in. Well here are my thoughts.

First, gas stations do not make money selling gas. Or to be more precise, they don't make much money. They're like movie theatres. Movie theatres send most of their gross to the film companies and make their real money on concessions. Gas stations generally make a lot more money off their convenience stores or, back in the day, service center mechanics than they do actually sell gas.

So why do the prices change so much and so suddenly? Well I believe the answer is that the gas stations are not selling their gas for the price they paid for it on the last tanker truck. They are selling the gas for what it will cost them to replace it on the next tanker truck. Otherwise they would be effectively taking a loss when the price of gas is on a steady increase like it has been for years. It is a speculation thing.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


It's going on here in Philadelphia and several other cities. Amybear and I will be staying home or going where it isn't. We considered watching it on MTV or VH1, the only problem is that the coverage on cable TV really stinks. It is all crap politics (perhaps I'll write something on that later) and no good music.

Fortunately the AOL internet coverage is much more flexible. They're streaming each stage individually so you can watch the music and skip the political indoctrination.

UPDATE: We watched Live8 for most of the day. The best coverage seemed to be the AOL roll-your-own and the ABC highlights in prime time. The MTV coverage was so bad Amy and I went shopping. A few notes to MTV/VH1:
  • Your stations are about MUSIC. Show the MUSIC, not talking heads and celebrity interviews which is why...
  • My local radio station, 93.3 WMMR, had better coverage than the cable guys. They actually aired the music, only cutting in celebrity interviews to fill the dead air.
  • You have two cable channels. There are 10 stages across the world. Why are you showing the exact same thing on both channels?
I don't really know what Live8 was supposed to accomplish politically. As a charitable organization the Live Aid of the '80s was a failure, Geldorf raised $2 billion and only $500 million actually got to the starving kids. $500 million is great but that means only 25% on the money actually got to starving children, mostly because of rampant corruption mostly within the nations themselves.

Which brings me to the real problem with Live8. People aren't starving in Africa because of poor economic development. They aren't starving because of disease. It isn't because of the mammoth government debt they cannot afford to pay back. These are problems yes, but they are fundamentally just symptoms. The solutions proposed by Live8, debt forgiveness and foreign aid grants (not loans), have been going forward and will address these symptoms. They do not address the disease.

The disease is rampant and systemic government corruption. Many of the people in Africa are starving because food, water, and medical care is used as a political weapon against opposition to the government. The cure is free democracy across the continent. If the G8 wanted to eradicate poverty in Africa within a few years (or at least reduce it to developed world levels), there are two things they could do. They could train and finance democratic rebels (the Afghan model) or they could use their militaries to unleash a wave of violent regime change (the Iraq model). Simply giving money to corrupt regimes will be as unprofitable as it was at Live Aid twenty years ago. Yes a pittance will help the poor, but the majority will actually go to supporting the oppressive governing class that is the real problem in the first place.

UPDATE2: QandO has similar thoughts about the problems in Africa.