Monday, February 28, 2005

Hives

If you are given the choice, pick this one and not the other. Trust me on this.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Very Light Blogging

Late last week I developed a bad case of the hives, brought on by what appears to have been an allergic reaction to an antibiotic I was taking for The Crud. I went into tbe Urgent Care yesterday, and was told to take an antihistimine, which does help, but of course is quite sedating. So, I'm off to bed. But don't worry, I will be back. Manana.

Narciss R Us

Fifteen year-old columnist Kyle Williams ponders New Media Narcissism.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Evil Or Incompetent?

We report, you decide: read the online petition to Impeach Judge George W. Greer of Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit, for dereliction of duty in the Terri Schiavo case.

Whuht Thuh Hay?

Michael Gorman, president-elect of the American Library Association, rambles on semi-incoherently on the Revenge Of The Blog People, proving once again that the California State University system is probably not where you should send your kids for their edjoomuhkayshun.

(Actually, the thesis of Mr. Gorman's original article in the LA Times wasn't all that outrageous, and contains food for thought. But his response to his critics - above - makes him appear to be a petty and silly man. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.)

A MInute Of Silence

Well, 63 seconds, really. Read it all here.

JVL

I'm not a Member Of The Tribe, but if I were, I'd find this site indispensible: The Jewish Virtual Library. As it is, I think it's pretty cool.

Holy Terrors

Yeah, I know they're poking fun at Dubyuh, but it's kind of funny - and he can take it. After all, he's the president, and they're not. Heh.

Subgenius, Indeed

As an impressionable teen you read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and even flirted with Objectivism, but you graduated High School, went on to get a job and raise a family. Perhaps you should reconsider Miss Rand and her mighty brain: read the story of The Floating Head Of Ayn Rand and tremble, courtesy Saint Aardvark The Carpeted.

[ It's Rational! ]

Friday, February 25, 2005

Common Sense

Janette explains Senator Clinton's worst nightmare. And all I can say is: wow!

Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?

From Korn's website, 02-22-05:
Korn has parted ways with guitarist Brian Head Welch, who has chosen the Lord Jesus Christ as his saviour, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end. Korn respects Brian's wishes and hopes he finds the happiness he is searching for.
Indeed.

Interesting

AP Offers Free RSS Of Its Feeds. (Free to non-commercial users. In other words, put it on your Blog.) Buzz Machine has the story.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I Want One

If only Paris Hilton had been using one of these...

Busted

Score! Free Wi-Fi.

Surprisingly Cogent

Lefty Bush-hating pundit David Corn has a refreshingly clear-eyed take on Gannongate.

Blogging News

Blog Herald.

For Your Consideration

Alot has been written about the Terri Schiavo case, including on this Blog. Some have commented that they wouldn't do to an animal what Michael Schiavo wishes to do to Terri. So I decided to look up the Florida Statutes covering animal cruelty, to see how the state of Florida would address this matter if Terri were a dog or a cat or a pig or a cow:

Here's what I found, in Section 828:
828.13

(3) Any person who is the owner or possessor, or has charge or custody, of any animal who abandons such animal to suffer injury or malnutrition or abandons any animal in a street, road, or public place without providing for the care, sustenance, protection, and shelter of such animal is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine.
and
828.14

(1) No person or corporation, or agent of either, engaged in transporting livestock on railway trains or on steam or sailing vessels, or otherwise, shall detain such stock for a longer continuous period than 28 hours after the same are so placed without supplying the same with necessary food, water, and attention, or shall permit them to be crowded so as to overlie, crush, wound, or kill each other; and any person or agent as aforesaid violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and any corporation violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.
and
828.22

(2)(a) The Legislature of this state finds that the use of humane methods in the killing of livestock prevents needless suffering, results in safer and better working conditions for persons engaged in the slaughtering industry or other livestock operations, brings about improvement of products and economy in slaughtering or other livestock operations, and produces other benefits for producers, processors, and consumers which tend to expedite the orderly flow of livestock and their products.

(b) It is therefore declared to be the policy of this state to require that the slaughter of all livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods and to provide that methods of slaughter shall conform generally to those employed in other states where humane slaughter is required by law and to those authorized by the Federal Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, and regulations thereunder.

(6) "Humane method" means:

(a) A method whereby the animal is rapidly and effectively rendered insensitive to pain by electrical or chemical means or by a penetrating captive bolt or gunshot with appropriate caliber and placement; or

(b) A method in accordance with ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

Proverbs 10:32.

I'll Link To That

The ever-lovely Peggy Noonan, blog-style.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

How To Destroy The Earth

I Don't Want To Miss A Thing: Sam's Archive has the low-down on the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.

For Your Google Right To Party

It's Google Fight

Always to Care, Never to Kill

Somebody, please show this to Michael Schiavo: A Declaration on Euthanasia.

(For the latest news and information on Terri Schiavo's situation, please check Blogs For Terri regularly.)

Tomb Of Saint Paul Found

Just across the river from Minneapolis? Nah. It's in Rome. Really. Read the story here. An official announcement from the Vatican is expected soon.

Me So Corny

Rapper Records Music Video Behind Bars.

Books

A friend recently emailed me the following question, to which I enclose my reply:

Who are your favorite writers and why?

As a teenager I liked fiction, particularly short stories: Mark Twain, Jack London, and Edgar Allen Poe.

These days I read mostly non-fiction. My favorite writer, bar none, is H.L. Mencken. He's been in the grave, awaiting the Final Trump, since the early fifties, but he lives on through his writing. With the possible exception of Mark Twain, he was the finest exponent of prose this country has ever seen. Even when writing a review of some book in a journal of arts and letters, Mencken's stuff was more poetry and music than most poets and musicians can muster.

Because he often wrote as a reviewer and critic, through Mencken I came to know and read the likes of Ring Lardner and Theodore Dreiser and Joseph Conrad, and became aware of the Chautauqua movement and the Comstock Act, which weighed heavy on Mencken's mind and are both still with us, I might add.

In the Dead Author category, I like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, as well as Will and Ariel Durant, and Thomas Merton.

Current fiction writers I like: Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities) and Richard Price (Clockers).

In current non-fiction, I like PJ O'Rourke (humor and politics), Christopher Hitchens (current affairs), Victor Davis Hanson (military history), Paul Johnson (history and art), Stanley Crouch (current affairs and jazz and blues), Ben Stein (chatty gossip and reflections), Thomas Sowell (sociology), Ellis Cose and Shelby Steele (racial issues), Paul Davies (physics), John Piper (theology).

When do I find time to Blog?

Idol Hands, Devil's Workshop

I taped the first two performance nights of American Idol and watched them with Mrs. Muzzy last night. I gotta say, it was a mixed bag. There were alot of pretty good performances, some lousy ones and a few standouts.

Far and away the best of the ladies was Nadia Turner, and the best of the gents was Bo Bice. Both performed perfect renditions of up-tempo rocking tunes, and stayed away from the insufferable Stevie Wonder and Celine Dion ballads that so many others seemed to think were necessary to bore us with.

(Don't get me wrong, while they aren't my favorites, it isn't that I particularly dislike either Wonder or Dion, but you'd better not botch a song by either of them or you'll just look stupid. Same goes for Whitney. If you can't do it better than Whitney, stay away.)

None of the other dudes really stood out to me, except maybe Constantine Maroulis. Well, I did really like Scott Savol, though I thought his song choice was horrid.

And, of the rest of the ladies, only Carrie Underwood really shined. She delivered her song spot-on, as understated and lovely as she is herself. And Jessica Sierra did pretty well. As much as like her, Mikalah Gordon came off way-too-cabaret for my tastes.

(Highlight of the ladies evening, with the did-he-really-say-that? moment, was Simon Cowell's crack after Amanda Avila's performance, that he wished to come back in another life as her microphone. Yeah, it was kind of funny, but it's the kind of crack best reserved for a Frat House party, and not for national live television. I suspect Simon will get the opportunity to apologize to her for it.)

So, two guys and two gals: who will go home tonight? My call for the ladies is Janay Castine and Melinda Lira. They were both pretty bad. And of the guys, I'm calling for the hook for Joseph Murena and Judd Harris, although it could be Travis Tucker, instead.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Backsliding

05.02.22.Backsliding-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ted's Big Adventure

CSI, Twin Cities, on its new night: hilarity and hijinks ensue as Captain Ed performs a semantic autopsy on the career of the great American Philosopher and Artist, Ted Rall.

Psalm 41

Fox News reports that a one-day emergency stay has been issued in the Terri Schiavo case. More at Blogs For Terri.

Lemme See...

First you make and sell products full of security holes, then you sell customers the software to protect themselves. Now, that's chutzpuh! Or you could just Think Different.

Get On The Telephone!

The Doctor was an original, and a true character:


Four And Twenty Blackberries

It was all over the news today that Paris Hilton's Blackberry cell phone was hacked. Of course, you read that here two days ago. But I was baffled at what I heard on CBS this AM, that cellphones can be hacked just easily as computers can, that everyone is vulnerable.

Look, I haven't researched the matter in great depth, but from what I understand, Ms. Hilton's cellphone proper wasn't hacked - her data [redacted here] was hacked off the T-Mobile site. In fact, when the information was first posted to the Web, it was screen prints of her account information that was posted. I'm not saying it's impossible to hack a phone, but it's much easier to hack a website. And that's what appears to have been done here.

One more thing: alot of hacking is actually not that technical at all. In fact, if you read the exploits of (former) master-hackers like Kevin Mitnick, much of what they are able to accomplish by way of breaking into systems is done through what is known as Social Engineering. The would-be hacker simply picks up the phone and pretends to be someone he (she) is not, gains the trust of insiders and simply asks for password information. Yes, it is possible to break into a system with brute force - and this is done all the time - but it is often done by other means.

Additionally, most people are very sloppy about how they pick passwords and/or set up security on their systems. Many people will use their birthdate or even their last name for their passwords. And they will often use the same password for multiple systems. Once security for one system has been compromised, access to others can often be deduced easily. (Read this article by Eric Wolfram's for some good pointers on how to pick a better password.)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Limited Partnership

05.02.21.LimitedPart-X
Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Bush Dines With Chirac

Good Golly!

CNet's Ms. Molly spins a tale of why IE7 will out-fox Mozilla. Sorry, Molly. We won't be fooled again.

Vinyl ROM?

For Geeks only: Kempa Dot Com article about, well, um, just read it here

Virus Warning

New Sober worm spreading fast on back of Paris Hilton hack.

(One good way to protect yourself from the majority of this stuff: use Mozilla products only, Firefox for web browsing, and Thunderbird for email, especially given how these virii propagate. Here's another good way.)

Holy Remax!

Just one of many reasons why I live here and not there: in a tony Twin Cities neighborhood this wouldn't cost over 300K. (HT2Jill.)

You Say Good Buy

I stopped in to Half-Price Books this past weekend and found Goldmine's The Beatles Digest for two bucks in the clearance section. It is a collection of all the articles that were run about The Beatles in Goldmine, the venerable record collector's bible, up to the date of publication of the Digest, in 2000. It's a treasure-trove of data on the Fab Four and all things Beatles. If you are a fan of the band, and can find a copy of the book, get it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Deep Thoughts

Lorraine ponders What Is American? at American Lady, and Iraqi Democracy at Blogs Of War.

Dissed The Girls And Made Them Cry

Vox Day skates close to the open water: Why Women Can't Think. (But, is he right?)

Yellow Submarine

05.02.20.USSIronic-X
Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Submarine, named for Jimmy Carter, is last of its class

Minnesota Meddlers Mendicate Meth Mitigation

Limits On Cold Medicine Debated At Capitol.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

King Banian

Taking a break from his radio career, Doug posts a great interview with King Banian.

Not Exactly The Simple Life

Paris Hilton phone hacked - as seen on Drudge.

Looks Matter

The Enlightened Caveman explains his Appearance Delta and Gimmick Theory. (I can sum up the essense of his thesis in two words: Looks Matter. I agree. You may not, but read it anyway; it's worth your time, I say.)

Blog It Like It's Hot

Surfing the web so you don't have to: the history of shizzle.

A Toast To Minnesota

One more reason to be oh-so-proud of my state. But shouldn't we be the ones to host the country's first Toaster Museum?

Makes Me Wish I'd Been There


Visit Faithmouse.

Well Isn't That Special?

Satan to save Saddam?

This Would Be Very Cool

Condi to replace Cheney next year?

More U2




bono1
Click for larger view

Judging from the comments I got to my post about the U2 concert I attended some 22 years ago, it seems obvious that the band strikes some kind of chord with a wide variety of folks. This photo was taken by me on the 1985 The Unforgetable Fire tour. Bono was in his Johnny Cash meets The Alarm and wears a mullet phase, very much in evidence here. I had a press pass to shoot the show for a friend who published a U2 fanzine, and was nearly injured when the crowd rushed the stage shortly after this never-before-published shot (copyright mine) was taken.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

More On Terri Schiavo

Janette's daily post, with a link to Inclusion Daily's 12 questions for Terri's husband Michael.

Want A Head Ache?

146

No Crisis?

Regarding Social Security.

The Lefties say There Is No Crisis. I guess it depends who you ask. Take a look at the left side of the TINC banner. There isn't a crisis for Grandma. She's going to get her money. No wonder she's smiling. The baby, on the other hand, looks worried. He should be. He's going to have to pick up the tab, if nothing is done to fix the system.

What's interesting is that this Mother Jones article from 1996 records the efforts of "The Social Security Advisory Council, appointed by President Clinton to propose solutions to the Social Security shortfall expected in the year 2030..."

And apparently Allen Greenspan agrees that we do have a problem. But not so the Democrats. Still, they wouldn't behave this way just to obstruct a President they hate, would they?

U2 - First Avenue - 1982

December 1981 was a very hard time for me.

One of my very best friends - also one of my roommates - had just that month begun dating a young woman with whom I really, really wanted to make a Love Connection. As it turns out, she was kissing him, and had decided she and I would never be more than just 'good friends.'

And my other best friend - and former roommate - was killed in a car accident on December 17th. Keith had just come back from a trip earlier that day, and had gone to play basketball with some friends that evening. He was traveling home on Highway 12 when he was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was traveling East-bound in the West-bound lanes. The cops said that Keith probably never saw what hit him. Keith and I had made plans to get together on Friday evening, December 18th. Obviously, we did not. I was a pall-bearer at his funeral.

Like I said, it was a hard time, that winter. And then something happened that made things just a small bit better: I discovered U2.

I can't remember when I first heard tell of U2, but it was probably sometime in late 1981, when their second album 'October' was released - somehow I'd missed 'Boy' altogether, when it first came out. But I didn't end up hearing any of their music until early January of 1982. I bought 'October' on a trip to Chicago early in January, and only picked up 'Boy' a few days later.

It's hard to describe, these many years later, the affect U2's music had on me. Like so many other young people - then and now - I lived for music, and through music. Many an artist's lyrics spoke to and for me, articulating thoughts and feelings and stirrings within, things that I could barely identify, let alone express.

And when I first heard the somewhat poorly-enunciated but joyful lyrics to 'Gloria' - the first track on 'October' - it was awe-inspiring and breath-taking. I'd never before heard the like. It was a hymn, it was a prayer, it was a shout, it was rock, it was Celtic, it was sad, it was mournful, it was rejoicing, it was, well, Glorious. And, for the next few days, 'October' and 'Boy' were all I listened to at home, and in my car, again, and again, and again.

So, imagine my excitement a few days later when I saw a handbill on a lightpost, announcing that U2 was coming to town on February 21, 1982 to play a show at the legendary First Avenue nightclub, the very venue where funkmeister Prince would later film his movie Purple Rain.

John - one of my other roommates - and I arrived at the club around 8:00 pm. For some reason I now forget, we thought that the fact that the doors opened at 8:00 meant that we should show up then. We walked into the dark and cavernous hall - no chairs, standing only - and stood around for nearly two hours, people-watching and listening to the PA play various Police and Joe Jackson songs, along with whatever the DJ happened to want to play that night.

Then, just a little before 10:00 pm, the lights went down, and the band took the stage. There were no special effects, just a white follow-spot on Bono, and some basic stage lighting. There was no fog, no smoke, none of PopMart electronic wizardry that took over the band's shows during its techno phase, just pure, unadulturated rock and roll.

None of the band members was much more than about 20 years of age, and yet they were utterly confident and self-assured, fully in control. The Edge stood nearly motionless with his guitar, in the shadows, occasionally playing a simple line on a keyboard set up at his side; Adam Clayton was also nearly motionless, with his feet planted wide and his bass slung low, playing with authority; Larry Mullen pounded away at the drums with a kind of Bonham-like precision; and Bono, like some kind of proud Centaur, standing astride the stage monitors dared the audience to resist: they could not. He owned the audience, and they were his. I've never seen such a command of a room, before or since. I knew then that this young band was destined for Rock and Roll greatness.

Writing this, some two dozen years on, I couldn't for the life of me remember exactly which songs that were performed that night, or in what order. As luck would have it, the Internet now functions our collective adjunct memory, and u2tours.com has the set list:
Venue: First Avenue

Main Set: Gloria, Another Time Another Place, I Threw A Brick-A Day Without Me, An Cat Dubh, Into The Heart, Rejoice, Electric Co., I Fall Down, October, I Will Follow, Twilight, Out Of Control

Encore(s): Fire, 11 O'Clock Tick Tock, The Ocean, Southern Man, I Will Follow
Then, at around 11:15 pm, as the last ringing, echoed, chiming notes of 'I Will Follow' ended, the lights came up to the sound of some disco tune playing over the house sound system. Although the audience hooted and hollered for another encore, the show was over, and the crowd emptied out slowly into the street. John and I drove home, ears ringing, commenting quietly to each other on what a great show we'd just seen. I recall thinking that - together with a thousand other friendly strangers - we'd witnessed something very special that night. I felt thrilled, and yet frustrated: how could I properly explain it to anyone else who'd not been there?

I still can't.

Zelig

Like Minnesota's very own Zelig, Doug - he of Bogus Gold and the mellifluous radio voice - popped up on the NARN remote broadcast today, answering Hogan's Heroes trivia for a chance to win stuff. He says radio's not in his future, that he's saving himself for TV. I have to wonder if Doug thinks I'm as dumb as I look. (Careful, homie. That's a rhetorical question.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sure, Reggie

Prospective Minnesota Vikings owner Reggie Fowler admitted today to making mistakes, and that he doctored his resume, but states that those 'mistakes' weren't intended to deceive, nor did the false claims on his resume constitute any kind of 'embellishment.' In his words: "When you don't pay attention to what you put out, you're subject to errors. I'm a perfect example of that."

Huh? Errors? Well.

In a related story, Reggie also admitted that, despite what some may have understood, he hadn't actually been runner-up for Miss Arizona in 1980, that he'd actually only met a guy who'd dated someone who'd attended the pageant. Additionally, he admitted that he had visited Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, but had not actually been part of the 1944 D-Day invasion. Mr. Fowler stated he regrets those mistakes and misunderstandings, and asked out loud just how many more times he will be expected to apologize for making up Tall Tales in a desperate attempt to draw attention to himself.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Black Wedding

05.02.17.BlackWed-X

Iran, Syria Partnership Raises Eyebrows.

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Does The World Need This?

SpringerOnTheRadio.com -- Listen, Call in, & Blog

I didn't think so.

Confession

I am an American Idol - that's Pop Idol, for you Brits - addict.

I didn't watch the first season, not a single show. In fact, I don't think I even knew Kelly Clarkson had won until it was all over the news, the next day. But for some reason I started watching the second season, in 2002, and I don't think I've missed a show since. (I usually end up taping the shows and watching them later.)

Alot of people I know hate the show and the whole concept - they loathe it, in fact, particularly those who believe they have more refined and sophisticated tastes. They huff that they object to the fact that the whole thing is phony, that the singers aren't artists and that the music is mostly pap. To all that I say, true enough.

But most of pop music in our culture is precisely all that. Except that on Idol the process of bringing such pap to the fore is a little more transparent, and a whole lot more entertaining. By bringing the public into the Pop Idol manufacturing process, the producers virtually guarantee a return on their investment by pre-selling the artists to the public, and the public gets to share in the comedy and drama of the process.

(Just a note about art and pap. As a kid I adored The Monkees, a manufactured Boy Band if there ever was one. No one would ever mistake what they recorded for Great Art. But I loved Last Train To Clarksville as a kid, and I still love it today.)

So, for those who care, this is the line up of this year's AI 24 finalists. And I'm picking the following to be the last ones standing: Of the guys, Anwar Robinson, Anthony Fedorov, and Constantine Maroulis. And of the gals, Mikalah Gordon, Vonzel Solomon, and Carrie Underwood.

Of course, to quote Dennis Miller, from his Rants: that's just my opinion; I could be wrong.

Q & A

Three Crystal Clear questions and answers about Terri Schiavo.

Draw Your Own Conclusions

I'll know great art when I see it, right?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Firefox And Friends

Chief Blogging Officer Christopher Locke tweaks Gates and Co. with this post on the virtues of Firefox.

Third Rail

05.01.17.ThirdRail-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

What's The Frequency Kenneth?

First in a series: Spitbull's got the the Blog Swarm Scorecard here.

Blondes Have More Fun

Well. Libertarian Girl is really Libertarian Man Of Mystery. Hats off to Catallarchy for finding the pix.

Cool

Google does maps.

Put The Lime In The Coconut

Marion Barry to Teach Chemistry Class.

Words Of Wisdom

Peggy Noonan and Brent Bozell explain a little about the blogosphere to those who care to listen. And those who won't listen, do so at their own peril.

Terri Schiavo Postings

The Bandwagon has a list of recent Blog Postings made on the Schiavo case. (Thanks to Janette.)

Wild Thing

Hockey Season Cancelled. I just hope the city and state are willing to pony up money for lotsa youth programs, because it's going to be a Long Hot Spring in Edina; riots could ensure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And Speaking Of Ben Stein

Read the whole thing, but especially the last section of this article by Ben Stein, the section titled Tuesday Night, from The American Spectator Online. It was posted 01-20-2005, but appears to have been written on election night, 2004. There are alot of Blue State Type folks who won't understand what he's saying. But I do.

Winning Ben Stein's Money

Ben Stein explains why Walmart is not a four-letter word.

Well, Well, Well

After the ugly display this past weekend, the Kos Kiddies step back from the edge and show a little compassion for Arlen Specter in his hour of trial, even if he is, well, a Republican. Of course, he's not a Conservative Republican, so maybe that makes him worthy of an expression of sympathy, after all. I have to wonder if they'd manage to show the same level of concern for, say, the President Bush or for Justice Thomas, like the Wingnuts expressed for Senator Clinton, after her fainting spell. As for me, I'm no fan of Senator Specter, but I wish him well, and I hope he makes a speedy and full recovery.

Excitable Boys

More Multicultural Mischief from the Netherlands, courtesy Dutch Disease Report:

Hindu temple under attack.

Out Of Steam

H.L. Mencken wrote the following Elegy in the American Mercury, September, 1931, published most recently in the Knopf collection, A Second Mencken Chrestomathy:
The steam locomotive, it appears, is doomed to follow the horse and buggy. It has disappeared from the N.Y., N.H. and H. up to New Haven, and it will presently disappear from the Pennsylvania down to Washington. Westward it will transform itself into an oil-burner, with no sparks on dark nights--or, worse, into a gasoline-burning flivver. A tragedy indeed, my masters! Something to moan and mourn about! For what other machine ever seen on earth is as stupendous as a locomotive thundering down a long stretch of track, with black smoke bursting from its stack and its mighty drivers pounding the rails? Where is there another such sight, at morning, noon or night? What other contrivance of human hands is so stately, so regal, so overpowering? A great ocean liner, at sea, is appallingly trivial looking; it thumps the imaginations only when it is tied safe to a dock. A Zeppelin is a floating sausage. An airplane is not even a bird, but only a bug. An electric locomotive remains a toy, even though it weighs a hundred tons. But even a lowly yard engine, if there be steam in it, somehow fills and delights the eye. It belongs to the noble company of massive and gorgeous creatures--the elephants and whales, the mastodons and behemoths, the certopsia and sauropoda, monarchs of land and sea. There is something fearsome and prehistoric about it: it is nearer to the dinosaur than to any living animal. It breathes flame like a volcano, and it rumbles like an earthquake. When one stands by the track side as it thunders by, belching its acrid smoke, every sense is arrested and excited--sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. It stuns the mind, and coagulates the marrow of the bones. It is not a mere thing; it is a kind of cosmic event.

And now it is headed for the scrap-yard.

Time's Up!

Andy Warhol once said that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. Lindsay Lohan is at about 14:59 in her quarter-hour, and has gotta be hoping that this will give her an extra minute or two. I really don't think so.

Pajamas At The Gate

05.02.15PajamasGates-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Congrats

Once again, congratulations to Doug from Bogus Gold, who got through the crush of callers to represent Minnesota on Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday. I'm telling you, kids: the boy's got a good voice for radio, and I gotta wonder if there isn't a Golden Microphone in his future. My suggestion for a name for his show: MOB Tales-Stories From The Front. It's gotta nice ring to it.

Calvinists Predestined For Mischief?

I was raised the son of a Presbyterian minister, who - I am reasonably certain - must be spinning in his grave: Presbyterians host 'anti-Israel' meeting. (For a bit of context, please re-visit my post of January 8th, 2005.)

Dutch Treat

This, on the results of Radical-Multiculturalism-Run-Amok, as quoted from the latest issue of The Week:
Several Dutch high schools have forbidden students to display the Dutch flag or Dutch national colors, for fear of offending immigrants, Amsterdam’s De Telegraaf reported this week. School officials said that relations between ethnic Dutch and Muslim students were so tense that they were forced to curtail any display that might provoke a fight. Students at schools with a history of ethnic tensions have been barred from sporting Dutch flag decals or patches, and they are to be sent home if they wear red, white, and blue clothing. Even blue shoes with red and white laces can be considered provocative, the newspaper said. Muslims, mostly Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, make up about 6 percent of the Netherlands’ population.
There's more on the story at Peaktalk, Dutch Report and Down East Blog.

And don't be so smug. It can happen here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Isn't It Romantic?

05.02.13.IsntItRom-X

Saudi Morality Police See Red Over Valentine Roses

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Tales From The Dating Crypt

It's Valentine's Day , when a young man's fancy turns to love - well, an old man's, too, I suppose. But mine also turns to memories of the dating life, and why I'm glad I don't have to face that Hell anymore.

Dating wasn't easy for me. On one hand, there was the thrill off meeting someone new, the anticipation, the intrigue, the possibilities. But, on the other, there was the paralyzing terror of trying get up the nerve to ask Her out. I'd either succeed or fail in making a love connection, but most often I'd come away bruised and battered. I'd have to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and then: rinse, repeat. A guy has to kiss alot of Frogettes to find a Princess, you know.

So, to celebrate Valentine's Day, I wrote up the following about a truly bad date that I had with one such Frogette, back in 1988. I've tried to be as accurate as possible, or at least as much as my memory will allow. But it is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent and, well, my date.

As I wrote up this chronicle over the weekend, it turned out to be longer than I'd anticipated, at nearly 2000 words. I didn't want to post it all here, so I set up an account at Livejournal under the time-honored Blogizdat name, and posted it there.

Do humor me, and read on.

Primate Programming Inc


Primate Programming Inc: The Evolution of Java and .NET Training

Terri Schiavo

Why Is Terri Schiavo's Life Worth Less?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Grammy News

Ray Charles Wins Album Of The Year. Cool. Very cool. You got the right one, baby.

(But what's up with giving Best Rock Album to a bunch of has-beens like Green Day? Oh yeah, almost forgot: Billie Joe hates Dubyuh. That's good enough for the rawkers, I guess.)

And, in case you wonder, after that kind of a night for Ray Charles at the Grammys, my money's on Jamie Foxx to win big at the Oscars, for his portrayal of Mr. Charles, in Ray. I haven't yet seen the movie, but I've heard great things about it, and since it just came out on DVD, I might have to rent it.)

Day Of A New Dawn

This may be old news to some - it happened this past week - but I just read it today: it appears Dawn Eden, she of The Dawn Patrol, is no longer in the employ of Old Man Rupert. The New York Observer explains.

Consider This

Doug posts this (Un)Civics Lesson For The Left at Bogus Gold today. Read it.

Bloglines

I registered for a free Bloglines account this AM. I'm not sure exactly if this will help me live a more productive life - as they claim - but I'll play around with the feeds and see what I come up with. (Bloglines claims to accept both ATOM and RSS syndication, which should make things simple for Blogger users, like me.)

As I looked through the Bloglines site, a couple of things stood out:

1) Bloglines has been recently purchased by Ask Jeeves. It's funny, I'd forgotten entirely about Ask Jeeves, and even thought they'd gone out of business. I guess they - like Google - understand that Blogs are important. And I wonder why Yahoo appears to have stayed on the sidelines, in the race to leverage the Blogosphere.

2) As I looked through the list of recently-listed blogs I was surprised - though I don't know why I should have been - at the large number of blogs that are not on Blogger. There are alot listed from Livejournal, and alot with Japan domain registrations, and a significant number with standalone domains, probably run on Movable Type or some such. (The Japanese blogs, of course, are not written in Engrish, so they are completely unintelligible to me. I wonder how they'd come through in a Babblefish-type translator...)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Terri Schiavo

Janette, from Common Sense Runs Wild, is convinced the Terri Schiavo case merits your attention. From what I've read, I agree with her. You can read Janette's very well-written post on the story here. And you can also read for yourself what Terri's family has to say, as well as what Dr. James Dobson said today.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinal has reported the story, and had this to say today:
A Pinellas Circuit judge dealt another legal blow to the parents of Terri Schiavo on Friday by refusing to set aside a prior ruling that calls for the removal of a feeding tube that has sustained their daughter for 15 years.
Read the rest of the Sun-Sentinal's report here.

Please do consider Janette's suggestions for action; a woman's life is at stake. We aren't the Netherlands - yet.

Whose Birthday?

The Impudent One reminds us of what we lose by celebrating President's Day instead of the birthday of a Great President.

All Is Vanity

I've been on Daddy Duty this whole weekend while Mrs. Muzzy is at work, and I'm still giving mano-a-mano combat to a flu-like virus that I contracted sometime last weekend. Since I'm still feeling under-the-weather - wicked sore throat, congested sinuses and lungs - I decided to lay low yesterday and today. Grandpa came over to fetch the two munchkins for an outing this afternoon, so I had a couple of hours to just hang out and relax. Anyway, I'm not really in a politics mood right now, so I'm just writing about whatever comes to mind, which is not of much consequense.

OK, so I received the latest issue of Vanity Fair today. I've been subscribing some fifteen years and in recent times, with nearly every issue, I ask myself if I shouldn't just cancel the thing.

I don't object to it being a women's magazine - if you doubt it is a women's magazine, just look through the ads - and in fact, on some level it's a nice break from the typical fare I usually read. Being an old-school, retro sort of guy that I am, I cannot stomach the utter banality of most women's mags like Cosmo and Glamour. So VF is how I keep in touch, albeit on a minimal level, with what goes on in the world of fashion. I don't care that much, but it comes in handy when someone around the office mentions Gucci or Prada - at least I have a clue.

Under the editorship of Tina Brown the magazine was always a little left-leaning, but it had a certain verve and penache. OK, Tina insisted that every issue have at least one article with a photo showing an exposed woman's boob. Or, um, so I heard... But, seriously, now, it was a great read, well-written and interesting, to a fault, covering the political world, as well as fashion and high society. I would read the magazine cover-to-cover, usually starting the moment I received my copy from the mail carrier.

But about a decade or more ago, Ms. Brown left to start the now-defunct Talk, and Vanity Fair ended up in the editorial hands of the snide and nasty Graydon Carter - Canadian expat and formerly of the snide and nasty now-defunct Spy magazine - who has since tacked the magazine hard left, and downhill.

In recent years, every issue of VF has a snide and nasty editorial - written by said Mr. Carter, under the heading For Your Consideration - excoriating the Bush administration for all manner of wrongs, real and mostly imagined.

Recently, I suppose, in some small way it makes sense. Since the election cycle ended, Carter hasn't exactly seen copies of his snide and nasty anti-Dubyuh screed What We've Lost flying off the store shelves. Perhaps he can content himself with taking potshots from behind his editorial desk. (Read one less-than-glowing review of the book here, which casts a jaundiced eye on Carter's purposes.)

VF still publishes the nearly-always-excellent Christopher Hitchens and Dominique Dunne. But the entertainment and press columnists James Walcott and Michael Wolff are pedantic bores, wrong in nearly every pronouncement they make, and the much of the rest of the magazine has gone to the mutts.

(Want one current example of how out-of-the-loop these folks are? Wolff manages to write three pages in the currrent issue of VF on what he calls The Twilight Of The News, discussing Moonves and Rather and Jennings and Williams and Couric, and not once does he use the words blog or blogosphere.)

So, why do I read?

Well, Hitch and Dunne, to be sure. There's usually a good article on some aspect of the art world. The ads are a hoot, with a couple of hundred pages of pouty young dudes and dudettes, pimping handbags and shoes and suits and perfumes. No magazine - aside from the specialty rags - covers the world's royalty with such panting and sighing. And every issue has at least one great article on some former member of New York or LA high society who's pissed away a fortune, and gone to seed.

But it's not the magazine it once was, and I really ought to let my subscription lapse. Instead, I just re-upped for two more years. I suppose it's kind of like staying in a bad marriage, long after the bloom is off the rose; it's just a lot easier that way. So, now that they've got me for another 24 months, I wonder if I can get them to mail my copy without the dozen or so blow-in subscription cards that fall to the floor, the moment I tear off the plastic wrapper. It's just a thought.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Arthur Miller RIP

Arthur Miller died yesterday. Yes, he wrote Death Of A Salesman and The Crucible. He also shared an ex-wife with Joe DiMaggio, and perhaps both Jack and Bobby Kennedy. For which do you think he was most famous? I'm guessing Marilyn.

Happy Trails Indeed

Jo has left the building - or the attic, at the very least. Best wishes and warm regards, Jo. (And thanks for blogrolling me.)

Easongate

Alot of blogs have got the story of Eason Jordon's resignation from CNN today (Hugh Hewitt, Bogus Gold, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, Captain's Quarters, to name but a few) but I haven't yet seen anyone reference this site: Easongate.

I'm a little surprised I didn't stumble on it earlier, since it shows registered with WHOIS on 02-05-05. It has comprehensive information on the whole Eason Jordan affair, with links to CNN's advertisers, and - even now - is worth a look-see.

(The Easongate site appears to be an elaboration of posts originally made to Bill Roggio's blog. Give him a tip of the hat, folks, for the effort expended in this matter.)

Now, let's view the tape.

Top 100

Pitchfork Media offers up the skinny on the top 100 albums of the new millenium - so far. Care to guess at what they picked as number one? No kidding.

PDF Creator

PDFOnline offers a free service to convert HTML and DOC files to and from Adobe's PDF format. (Of course, if you are using a OSX-based Mac, you already have the ability to create PDF files, natively.)

Guy's Side

Just in time for Valentine's Day, CT charms the ladies in his life.

And Now For Something Completely Different

The World English Bible in mp3 format, free download for personal use.

There Are Lessons To Be Learned

Simpson Denies Rumors of Split With Lachey. Well, that's, um, like, you know, a relief.

It's Not Fair!

demseal

Democrats slam RNC for Reid memo

The Anti-Valentine

Don't follow this Anti-VD link if you are easily offended, or don't like to laugh. Really. If you want your so-called humor bland and unfunny, please go here, instead. Go on, now. (HT2Michelle.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cease Process


05.02.10.CeaseProcess-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Mozilla Extensions

If you are using some variant of Mozilla like Firefox for your web browsing - and if you aren't, well, you should be - you may wish to review these lists of the various extensions, plugins and themes available. They offer expanded functionality, and all at a price you can probably afford: free.

(Also check the Extension Room for more information on Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird extensions.)

Baby's Got Back

I like Governor Tim, but WTH?

Minnesota To Ban Candy-Flavored Butts

Museum Info

New York has the Met, Paris has the Louvre, Madrid has the Prado, Saint Petersburg has the Hermitage, but only we, Minnesocold, can boast of having the Museum Of Questionable Medical Devices. We are blessed.

Photos Of My Hometown

Hundreds of great photos of the Twin Cities.

Good Morning America

I watched a little GMA this morning, as I was eating my breakfast pancakes. They did mention that the People's Republic of North Korea announced the possession of nuclear weapons, but they led with a much bigger story, that Prince Charles is marrying Camilla. At least they got their priorities right.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Three Cents

Doug, from Bogus Gold, is more than upset at language used by the president of the Minnesota State Troopers Association that compared the Taxpayers League of Minnesota to the radical Posse Comitatus, which for its part has been linked with Aryan Nation movements and armed insurrection against the United States government.

Let me make it clear that I share Doug's anger at the Trooper Union Chief's statements. It's a truly outrageous thing to say, whether it was meant for public or internal consumption. It is inflammatory language that serves only to muddy the waters of discourse and stir up discontent within the union.

But, I'm baffled.

I mean no disrespect, but I don't understand why Doug might be so astonished that such a thing would have been said. The public employee unions - the various teachers unions, AFSME, and some of the law enforcement unions - are little more than shills for the hard-core left in this country. They donate big money to left-wing Democrat candidates, who in turn will support higher taxes. The union bosses will say and do anything to scare the rank and file union members into line at election time, or during contract negotiations.

Understand this: in the eyes of the public employee unions and their bosses, the tax revenues that fund the various government agencies - some of which do good work - cannot and must not be threatened. If that pool of money dries up, even a little, it means layoffs or hiring freezes, which in turn means a reduced pool of dues-paying members of the union, which reduces the power and influence of the union. And, like the circle of life, so it goes.

So, by all means, call attention to such things, write legislators and newspapers. Complain. Alot. The story needs to be heard.

But - in a state that has no right-to-work laws for public employees; in a state that allows unions to make membership mandatory in order for public employees to work in areas represented by bargaining units; where even non-union members are required to pay 85% of full dues as so-called 'fair-share union members;' when dealing with left-wing unions whose very life depends on the circle of money that flows from member, to union, to left-wing democrats, to support of higher taxes - this will be a very hard nut to crack.

Although a significant number of the rank and file members do not share the view of the union bosses, those bosses are quite often a corrupt bunch, no more interested in the welfare of the rank and file than is the management of the organizations for which they work.

Therefore, don't expect too many of the rank and file who disagree with the union bosses to speak out publicly. Those who do speak out are often targeted for harassment, and suffer less aggressive representation by the local, in the event of a grievance. For the same reason they will not request a return of the share of their dues that are used for political purposes, even though the law demands it. The union bosses do not look kindly on such dissent.

(A friend of mine, an AFSCME member, an immigrant who arrived from the Soviet Union shortly before the fall of communism in Europe, told me once that his union used the same kind of demagoguery, the same kind of mind-control and intimidation, the same kind of manipulation of facts and truth, as he'd seen all his life from the Soviet government. I believed him.)

Quiz Meme

I generally find quiz-thingies annoying, so I don't know why I decided to riff on this one I found on a friend's blog. Chalk it up to the cough syrup, perhaps. (Man, my throat hurts!) Enjoy.

1. Your name spelled backwards.

yzzuM

2. Where were your parents born?

Mom: Minnesota
Dad: Korea

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?

Last week's iTunes song-of-the-week.

4. What's your favorite restaurant?

Shilla's, a Korean restaurant in Saint Paul.

5. Last time you swam in a pool?

About three years ago.

6. Have you ever been in a school play?

Yes, both junior and senior years in High School.

7. How many kids do you want?

I've got two, I'm of the opinion that's enough for me.

8. Type of music you dislike most?

Wagnerian Opera. Too heavy for my tastes.

9. Are you registered to vote?

Yes.

10. Do you have cable?

No. Had until about three years ago. I miss it.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped?.

No.

12. Ever prank call anybody?

Yeah, in college. It was pretty cruel, and I felt a guilty for it afterwards.

13. Ever get a parking ticket?

Yes.

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?

Nope. Scared, scared, scared of heights.

16. Do you have a garden?

Well, we do. My wife tends to it but not enough, by her estimation.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?

Dilbert, or Day By Day.

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?

I think so.

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night?

Shower, most always. And mostly always in the AM.

20. Best movie you've seen in the past month?

Well, I don't go to the movie theaters anymore, but I do watch videos and DVD's. I watched a James Bond flick, Tomorrow Never Dies,' and a Showtime movie, 'The Passion Of Ayn Rand.'

21. Favorite pizza topping?

Pepperoni.

22. Chips or popcorn?

Love em both, but if I had to choose, it would be hot buttered popcorn, without a doubt.

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear?

I don't. Except that I did, in the school play.

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?

Say what? I did try to roll a joint of Eucalyptus leaves once. Don't ask.

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

No. They'd reject me at the door.

26. Orange Juice or apple?

Love em both, but I like OJ the best. In fact, I just had a glass of the not-from-concentrate pulpy variety. Yum!

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?

A sit-down dinner? Went out to dinner to Shilla's, the Korean place, with Mrs. Muzzy, and my best friend and his wife.

28. Favorite type chocolate bar?

Well, I love Dark and White Chocolates, European or South American Style. You can't get them in the US, except as imports.

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls?

2004 Elections. And I figured out how to do it, all by myself. Didn't even need a lawyer.

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?

Not recently. But it sounds good.

31. Have you ever won a trophy?

A couple of times.

32. Are you a good cook?

Not really. But if left to my own devices I wouldn't starve. And, if you were left to my devices, neither would you.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas?

Well, duh.

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial?

No, but I've bought items in stores that had been advertised on infomercials. Wanna know? It was a salad washer, ok?

35. Sprite or 7-up?

I'll drink either but to win my heart, you gotta serve me a drink with caffeine in it.

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? how about school?

Yes, we had to wear uniforms in grade school.

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?

Pseudaphedrine, for my cold - yesterday AM.

38. Ever throw up in public?

Oh yeah. On airplanes, roller coasters, out the window of a car. I get motion sickness easy.

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?

Is it ok to fall in love with a millionaire? They need love too, you know.

40. Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. But lust at first sight? Absolutely.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number?

Yeah, once, only to a recorded-message line, when I was a young pup, in my twenties. It was kind of creepy and really over-the-top. And not really sexy at all.

42. Can ex's be friends?

I think it's possible, but only because I've been told so. It's never worked for me.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?

I visited my niece last October, after an operation.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby?

I'd say I was so-so, neither bald nor hairy.

45. What did you eat today?

A bowl of Honey Nut Cheerio's and a glass of milk, for Breakfast, and various snack items for lunch.

46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character?

Geez, there have been so many. I loved pretty much anything Eddie Murphy did. The Bush/Gore appearances during the Campaign2000 standoff were pretty good. I thought John Belushi was genius. And I loved Billy Crystal's Nando.

47. What was the name of your first pet?

Bootsie, the cat. He was killed by a pickup truck on the highway, when I was about four.

48. What is in your purse?

Dude, I'm Retro, not Metro. And I wouldn't admit to carrying a purse, even if I did.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?

Brush teeth and read.

50. What is one thing you are grateful for today?

I'll lump them together: my two gorgeous little girls.

Well, I guess that wasn't so bad.

Cox & Forkum

Sometimes I post the C&F cartoons here, but today I'm of a mind to just link to their site, as they write a good blurb on the background for their most recent creation. Enjoy.

Tech Support

Something for the gents, and something for the ladies.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Old Music

If you're a fan of recordings of early 20th century music, you'll probably enjoy this site.

You Heard It Here

Well, not here, really. If you were listening during the last half-hour, you heard it on the Hugh Hewitt show, as guest-hosted by the NARN gang: Doug, from Bogus Gold, got through to pitch this idea on air, to the teeming millions. You know what the old song says: "Beans Don't Burn On The Grill..."

Kid Talk

My lovely five year-old has been a big sister for a couple of years now and, although she sometimes acts a little jealous and engages in an occasional inter-sibling squabble, for the most part she's the sweetest big sister a baby sister could have. But from time to time it seems she feels a bit neglected.

The five year-old will often ask for something, only to be told that we are too busy, that we have to tend to the toddler, so I try to spend time with her, one-on-one, as much possible. Sometimes she and I go 'on adventures.' Other times we just hang out. In all cases, it's about time with her. Although I know she enjoys spending time with me, I sometimes wonder just how much she appreciates it.

But the other evening she asked me if she could listen to one of her tapes, the one with some silly songs about colors. I was sitting on the futon and she asked if she could climb up next to me, and Snuggle With Daddy. So we sat there and listened to her tape for a while, then she turned to me, smiled, sighed and said, "I like it when you give me attention."

I guess I needn't wonder.

It's Bad, All Right

It's been several months since my last visit. Won't you join me as I wander through the online Museum Of Bad Art?

I Pod, U Pod

We all pod for iPod - even in Redmond.

Design Flaws

Asktog has pages that address a variety of system design flaws. One section discusses what they consider to be the Top Ten Most Persistent Design Bugs of all time, while these other two sections discuss Mac and Windows bugs.

Interesting Wired Article

It doesn't necessarily apply directly to blogs, but if you are creating your blog or website for the teen set - church, school, scouting, etc - you might want to give some consideration to this article.

Nice Doggie...

Check out this mutt. (HT2Jezzy.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good

Saint Nick takes time a break from helping the down-trodden, and starts his own blog. Or maybe not.

New Direction

05.02.05.NewDirection-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Chrenkoff's Good News #9

All the good news from Afghanistan the networks don't want you to know.

Take A Pill

This just might work. Also available in generic.

TV Stuff

I'm home sick today, with what around my office is affectionately called 'The Crud:' head and body aches, coughing, lung and sinus congestion, and just general all-round general malaise.

I got up early this morning and went through my AM routine - shower, breakfast, checked email - and realized I not only felt rotten, but that I seemed to have nearly lost my voice. What's even worse, I even lost the will to blog.

I called in sick to work and went back to bed, and let Mrs. Muzzy proceed with her day as she would have, had I not been home. I didn't wake up again until afternoon. Although I am feeling only slightly better, I had to get up to get something to eat. And thus fortified, I blog.

I have a cofession to make: I have a guilty pleasure. I am an addict, a fan of Nicole and Paris' show, The Simple Life. Yeah, I know it's trash TV. I know I should quit, cold-turkey. But like a dog returning to his own barf, I keep coming back.

This season has the girls chasing all over the North East on a Greyhound bus, staying with 'real people' and messing up internships. You'd think the schtick would have worn out by now, but it still works: glamour girls arrive late for work, screw up royally, get paid and leave town.

I must say, I think the first season was the best, because the girls didn't leave town. Even if they didn't really ever have to deal with the consequences of their actions, there was an ongoing story-line of the family and the town that carried the show through, from week to week. It was more charming, in a way. Now the show is a bit more like a variation on Punkd, a sort of hit and run. But, as Paris would say, it's still hot. And I still watch.

And, speaking of which, I watched Saturday Night Live this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see Paris Hilton as guest host(ess). She was surprisingly good, didn't flub her lines and actually showed alot more spunk than she does on The Simple Life, where she's often overshadowed by Nicole. She did a good job.

Also, I didn't watch but about ten minutes of the so-called Super Bowl yesterday. Yeah, I know it's a ritual and the manly thing to do, but I've just never really been that much into football. Sorry. I did, however, tune in for the half-time show. While it was nowhere near as, ahem, titillating as last year's, it was far better.

Sir Paul McCartney
performed, playing several of his Beatles' hits (Drive My Car, Get Back and Hey Jude) as well as the Bond theme-tune, Live And Let Die, recorded by Macca with Wings in 1973, but best known to a younger generation for its excellent 1991 Guns N' Roses version. There were fireworks galore during both Live And Let Die, and the closer, Hey Jude.

My five year-old watched the show with me, and pronounced the music interesting, but said she'd never heard of Paul McCartney, Wings or The Beatles. I'll have to do something about that.

Targeted

05.02.06.Targeted-X

Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday To The Gipper

On this, the anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's birthday, I can't let the day pass without some comment on his life. I wrote the following in my private journal, on his passing last summer:

Like most of my peers, I was a liberal during my high school and college years. Vietnam and Watergate weighed heavy on me during that time; I was rabidly against both. My notebooks in high school were plastered with George McGovern bumper stickers and I held as true all the usual liberal shibboleths.

My leftward political leanings were not born out of any deep pondering of the issues of the day, but were merely a reflexive and adolescent reaction to the powers-that-were; since those powers were generally conservative, I was therefore a liberal. But I was utterly convinced and utterly sincere.

I proudly cast my first presidential vote in 1976 for Jimmy Carter, convinced that he was a good man, and that his caring about the 'politically correct' things was enough. In fact, President Carter was a good man, but he was a weak and ineffective president. And by the end of Carter's only term in office, the country was mired in deep recession, and the nation seemed to be adrift. I lost faith in both Carter, and in his party.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan, former two-time governor of California and the Republican nominee for president, strode confidently onto the national stage. Although I was disillusioned with the Democrats, I couldn't bring myself to betray all I held dear and vote Republican, so I voted for John Anderson, a Democrat who'd defected and run as an Independent. Anderson lost and Jimmy Carter was trounced. Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States.

I was horrified. I genuinely believed President Reagan would lead us into World War III. I believed he was evil and I hated him with every bone in my body. And I thought no better of him at the end of his first term. I felt he was appalling, and I cringed at the thought of yet another four years of the Reagan presidency. Yet I couldn't bring myself to vote for the whiny-voiced Walter Mondale, the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, so I abstained and didn't vote at all.

(Oddly, when I listen to the rhetoric out of the mouths of liberals today about G.W. Bush, it sounds surprisingly similar to what I was saying of Reagan at the time.)

It was sometime in the beginning of Reagan's second term that I began to seriously think about the man and his policies. He'd been elected twice to the presidency and the sky had not fallen. In fact, in spite of the all the doomsayers, his tax cuts seemed to have improved the economy. (Reagan never really cut taxes, he merely reduced the rate of the projected tax increases.)

And even though it didn't happen during his presidency, the cold war ended precisely for the reasons he said it would: we outspent the USSR and the eastern bloc on defense, causing its economy to crumble. By the middle of his second term in office, I had changed my mind about Reagan altogether. I later came to regard him as one of the top ten presidents we've ever had.

So, what made him so great?

He was a wonderful speaker and a personable man, utterly without guile or malice. His detractors mis-characterized him - as I did for some time - as being a cowboy and a simpleton. That was unfair.

He had been an actor, and had played cowboys on screen, but since when did that make him unqualified to do other things in life? How many of the leftist actors who despised him noticed the irony of their pronouncements, as if merely being famous actors made them competent to speak on political matters?

As for the simpleton charge, yes, Reagan was a man of only a few big ideas, but he held those with great conviction. He understood the power of projecting an heroic image of the presidency, something Carter had failed at, miserably.

Reagan was called lazy, but in fact, he was merely a good delegator, and chose to give his subordinates enormous latitude in doing their jobs.

He was called a warmonger, yet it was precisely his 'peace through strength' principle that caused the ultimate collapse of the Evil Empire.

And his sense of humor was priceless. After he'd recovered from John Hinkley's assassination attempt, Reagan was at a rally when a balloon popped behind him, with a loud bang. Reagan was momentarily startled, then smiled, leaned into the microphone and said: 'you missed.'

Ironically, the Republicans seem to have been haunted by the success of the Reagan presidency. They have since elected two good and decent men to the Oval Office, who have held to a number of Reagan's ideals, but they simply don't measure up.

Neither Bush father nor son is the first-rate man Reagan was, and neither comes close to filling Reagan's shoes. But then again, perhaps I'm being a little harsh. After all, who could have lived up to the Reagan legacy?

The Democrats, bless their hearts, couldn't do any better. They had their own great communicator in Bill Clinton, who was every bit as savvy a speech-maker as the Gipper, and had a golden personal charisma, as well. But in his personal failings, Clinton was perhaps the shabbiest scoundrel to have ever haunted the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(Despite all the carping about the Courts and Jeb Bush and Nader, Al Gore lost the election in 2000 as much due to the stain of Clinton's misdeeds, as to anything else.)

In the end, it was Ronald Reagan, and his quiet influence as president, who helped me cross the Rubicon and become a conservative libertarian. In his own political journey, he had been a registered Democrat for decades, but finally realized he'd grown beyond what they represented, and that they, in turn, had moved away from his beliefs, as well. He declared himself a Republican in the early 1960's and went on to do great things.

So, for helping me learn and grow and change by his example, I am forever in President Reagan's debt. I pay tribute to a great man and a great president, and here say my final 'Thank You.' We shall not see his like again, too soon.


Indeed.