Saturday, December 31, 2005
Sometimes it's best to NOT receive what you most wanted, In my case, that's because I prefer being surprised by something pleasant that receiving the expected ideal. Case in point: I thought TFR got me the Firefly boxed set. I was preparing myself to pretent surprise. Instead, she got me a magnetic spice rack. I was delighted -- especially when my mother gave me enough gift money to buy Firefly. clothes, and a creme brulee torch. TFR DID then proceed to present me with a stocking stuffer of Serenity.
There's plenty more I wish to say, but not tonight. Auld Lang Syne, Happy New Year. If people would follow Scottish tradition, I'd host New Years Day parties more often (the tradition is to present the host you visit on NYD with a bottle of Scotch). Incidentally, one BIL/SIL presented me with a sampler set of mini Scotches. I'd have preferred an entire fifth -- which I then got from the other BIL/SIL.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Just want you to know that she did really well last night and seems to have moved right in.
My wife likes her alot and wants to name her "Xiao Hua" which roughly translates as "little Flower"
Thanks for the update, Bob, and thank you for the compassion. Here's my Holiday wish that she brings you and your family joy comensurate with the love you give her.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
It was closer than I expected it to be. I'm proud of the Ducks for hanging in there (more faithfully than I did), they have nothing to be ashamed of. Congratulations again to the Sooners.
I still have my Seahawks to cheer for, and I'll be rooting for USC to clobber Texas, so the season isn't a complete wash.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
I hate to leave for the holidays on as dour a note as my previous post, so I would like to take a moment to wish everyone who bothers to read my blog... wait for it... Season's Greeting.
Now, for me and mine and many I know that's a Very Merry Christmas. Blessings to everyone as we reflect on the significance of the birth of Our Lord.
But in the spirit of good will toward men, I wish all of you a time of joy and love and warmth in the presence of friends and family and may they all be loved ones. Enjoy yourself as you observe your Christmas, your Navidad, your Feast of Stephen, your Boxing Day, your Advent, your Solstice, your Hannukkah, your Kwanzaa, your New Year.
And to echo the sentiments of the Llamabutchers, I leave the final words on the subject to that great philosopher, Linus Van Pelt, who concludes the matter by quoting the Holy Scriptures:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
This is just the sort of case that explains why I argued that assassination is, on specific occasions, a valid weapon:
Reuters reports that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is "questioning" US requests to extradite Mohammad Ali Hammadi.
No, I'm not saying we should assassinate Prime Minister Siniora. I AM saying Hammadi is a valid candidate for a SEAL's crosshairs.
Mohammad Ali Hammadi, a member of Hezbollah, served 18 years in a German jail for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight and subsequent murder of a US Navy Diver. He was released Tuesday. While German officials deny that there is any correlation between the two events, a German hostage was released by terrorists in Iraq around the same time, and many are not buying the line that "He served his time".
This man isn't just a criminal. Now even more than 20 years ago we should understand that we are at war with an insidious group of fanatics whose ultimate ends are the destruction of us, our friends, and our way of life. He didn't commit a crime of passion for which he's paid his debt to society and time to move on (even if I bought that view of murder). He's a murderous warrior who was waging and will continue to wage a war against Israel, the United States, and Western Culture in general. The US government has (I believe mistakenly) chosen a course of trying to get him extratited. Germany Refuses, and now Lebanon Refuses, saying, "You should have asked Germany". We did.
Well, this is one of these rare cases I was talking about where I believe that the right people to solve this problem aren't in Foggy Bottom, they're either in Langley, or better, Tampa.
As my good friend Vic at Darth Apathy points out, Hollywood has been going downhill for years, incapable of producing anything but "remakes, sequels, 2-hour long SNL skits, or bastardizations of television shows of years gone by".
Case in Point.
I expect to hear the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen any day now.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Filibuster Threatened Over Defense Appropriations Bill
The Defense Appropriations Bill is being met with threats of a filibuster by Senate Democrats, who are using the inclusion of drilling in ANWR as their excuse for opposing the bill.
The entry at GOPB goes on to argue that the ANWR issue is just an excuse to oppose the Defense Appropriations Bill. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that -- at least not across the board. To be sure, there are some Senate Dems who are far enough to the right that that might be the case (I'm looking at you, Nancy Pelosi), but for the most part I think that's an unfair characterization. In fact, I believe this is a case where everyday Americans should be equally angry with BOTH parties' Senators.
First of all, I'm all for drilling in the ANWR, and I think it's inevitable. While it's important to continue exploring other energy options, the oil in ANWR will help. And while those on the left who oppose it will point out that it will provide far less oil than is needed, they fail to prove to my satisfaction that it will fail to provide more of a benefit than a detriment. They paint a bleak picture of a raped arctic, but they fail to show that this doomsday scenario is even remotely likely.
Second, I am a firm believer that one of the key functions of the Federal Government is, as the Constitution states, to "provide for the common defense". I can think of few, if any, more important functions, or with more dire consequences if the Government fails in those duties.
And so, yes, I'm angry with the Senate Democrats for their reaction. Not because I believe that more than a portion of them truly oppose Defense, but because so many of them are unwilling or unable to risk alienating the far left of their base and take their lumps. They are more interested in "being all things to all fringes that by all means they might save some of their voter base" than in doing what's right for the country.
But I'm also angry at Senate Republicans for putting the Dems in this position. In today's political climate, they had to know what the Democratic reaction would be. The ANWR is one of those hot-button topics for the left, a rallying cry against the eeevil Rethuglikkkans. the more their central base slips away, the more the Dems have to cater to the far left in order to remain relevant. Slipping this measure into the Defense Appropriations Bill was imprudent. The GOP Senators were more interested in putting one over on the Dems than on doing what's right for the country.
So here is my message to both sides of that august body.
To the Dems, I say, stop dropping the F Bomb every time you don't get your way. Stop demanding that the majority make concessions to you, and calling THEM divisive, when they don't, that just sounds petulant. You're the minority party right now, grow a pair and deal with it. If you truly oppose drilling the ANWR, work to get moderate Republicans to join you in removing that provision from the bill. Seek common ground, find compromises, make deals. And in the end, if you can't get it removed, buck up and accept it. The Nation's defense is more important than your pet crusade.
To the Republicans (and I speak as a registered Republican), I say, stop trying to be sneaky when it isn't necessary. Stop trying to optimize every measure as a way to make yourself look good and your opponents look bad, that just looks like posturing. You're the majority party right now, grow a pair an act like it. If you want to drill the ANWR, get it through on its own merits. Press home the agenda, flex your muscle, use that clout. And in the end, if you can't find the courage to do so, buck up and forget it. The Nation's defense is more important than your pet crusade.
Friday, December 16, 2005
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.
What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Well, yeah. Reading the description of Silent Night people at Sam's blog, I would have been ok with that result, too.
The first day of this month, I mentioned how excited I was by the Lars Larson-backed Christmas Cross project, which was intended to respond to Pioneer Courthouse Square's "Holiday Tree" by reminding people of why we celebrate the birth of Christ.
So I'm heartbroken to report that the Cross is being cancelled due to threats of violence. Apparently the folks at Portland Indymedia took exception to this "Fascist Christian" activity, and there were threats, among other things, to crucify Lars on the Christmas Cross. I'm not sure how much of it was hateful, ignorant jackasses blowing smoke, and how much of it was real, but apparently it was bad enough that Lars has decided to cancel the project.
Am I the only one who notes how ironic it is that a group of people threatening to use violence to suppress an expression of an opinion they disagree with would refer to their OPPONENTS as "Fascists"? Maybe the thugs commenting at PI should head for their bathroom mirror nexct time they want to go looking for parallels to oppressive political movements.
Lars just sent me an email regarding an incident that reinforces just how willing some of those who oppose the current President and his supporters are to resort to illegal action:
The Air Force Reserve plans to discharge a lieutenant colonel accused ofThe next step down the path is into violence, and I'm quite sure there are those willing to take it.
defacing cars that had pro-Bush bumper stickers, the military said
Friday. Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, a pilot with 500 combat hours in the
first Persian Gulf war and the Balkans, is charged with criminal
mischief for allegedly using paint stripper to write a profanity about
Bush in 18-inch-high letters on cars at Denver International Airport.
The cars had bumper stickers supporting President Bush and conservative
talk-show host Rush Limbaugh...
Lars' email to me was in response to discussion that's currently going on via email among several Oregon conservatives, myself included. I won't go int othe details of who said what, but the gist is similar to the question raised by Patty-Jo in the comments section of this post: Why is Lars giving in to the bullies?
I have to side with Lars on this one. There's a lot at stake here, and if things got ugly, innocent bystanders could be harmed and Lars and his employers held liable. If people want to direct the criticism anywhere, direct it at the Indymedia commenter thugs and the innefective city government of Portland who inspire so little confidence in their ability/willingness to enforce the law that Lars had to make this decision.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
You know, maybe there is some merit after all to the argument that the solution to the problem of terrorism is to understand our enemies, to find common ground from which to dialogue.
If you don't believe me, and before you criticize me, go read this story, full of hope for all humanity.
Press passes pulled from Pilot's Iraq duo
NORFOLK -- The military this week pulled the press credentials of an embedded reporter and photographer for the Norfolk-based Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Kuwait, saying they had violated ground rules by photographing battle-damaged military vehicles.
Virginian-Pilot Editor Denis Finley said the incident arose from a misunderstanding. Military escorts had taken reporter Louis Hansen and photographer Hyunsoo Leo Kim to a compound in Kuwait where they worked on a story about a unit whose job was to clear battle-scarred Humvees and other vehicles for shipment home. Under those circumstances, the journalists believed they were allowed to photograph the vehicles, Finley said.
But after the paper published the story and photos on Saturday, the Kuwait-based Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Forward, pulled their press passes, noting that one of its ground rules prohibits video or photos of battle-damaged vehicles.
Finley said the incident happened on the final day of the men's two-week trip to the Middle East, "so we were done anyway." He said he was waiting to hear the full story from the two, who were in transit back to the U.S., before deciding how vigorously to protest.
-- Bill Geroux
The journalists shouldn't have assumed anything. If they were not given explicit instructions that the rule about damaged vehicles was suspended, they should have stuck to the rules. As for the editor, how vigorously he protests is a direct indication of what an idiot he is.
Look, this isn't about Freedom of the Press. These reporters aren't being arrested, aren';t being told they can't be reporters, and aren't being punished for their opinions. They agreed to abide by a set of rules in exchange for the privilege of accompanyong the troops and having access to them and their facilities. The broke those rules, they lost the privilege. It's as simple as that.
And the rule isn't about the negative propaganda value of the photos. As Bluto pointed out, those photos could provide useful intelligence to our enemies. The extent of the damage, the way in which the damage occurred, the part of the vehicle where the damage occurred, all can provide insights into the strengths, weaknesses, and design of the vehicle, thus making them more vulnerable to a better informed enemy, and eventually increasing the risk to American soldiers.
Since the Vietnam War, people have complained that the press has been in bed with America's enemies, acting as a de facto propaganda organ for them (a view I do hold to some extent), while others respond that the press is merely enforcing the people's "right to know". But this goes beyond providing propaganda to providing tactical intelligence to the enemy. Considering the level of duplicity with the enemy this would require, I am inclined to apply Hanlon's Razor to this case. Hanlons Razor states:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Which means this incident raises the meaning of the term Useful Idiots to a whole new level, don't you think?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Teacher to first-graders: There's no Santa
RICHARDSON - Guess what, kids? There's no such thing as Santa Claus!
That was a Richardson music teacher's holiday message to first-graders Monday -- a remark that angered parents and prompted the school district to issue a pro-Santa statement.
The rest can be read here.
The issue of Santa Claus is one that has generated much discussion between me and The Feared Redhead. We're still not exactly sure what we'll tell The Lad about Father Christmas, or how we'll tell him, or when. But one thing is for certain: Despite what the Ninth Circuit Court or Planned Parenthood or some asshat in a Houston grade school think, that's up to US to decide as his parents, NOT them! Is that clear?
American Life League Says Planned Parenthood Conceals Rape of 11-year-old and Brags About it on Web SiteThe original comment can be found at Planned Parenthood here.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- "People may be skeptical when pro-life groups accuse Planned Parenthood of violating the law and protecting rapists," said Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's STOPP International. "However, when Planned Parenthood itself seems to brag, on one of its official web sites, about doing just that, it is time law enforcement agencies in every state address the situation."
In the "Shared Stories" section of the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate web site, the group published a letter in which a young girl praises Planned Parenthood for not telling her parents that she was raped by her 17-year-old boyfriend when she was just 11 years old. Neither the letter itself nor Planned Parenthood made any mention of Planned Parenthood alerting law enforcement to this sexual abuse of an 11-year-old child.
"Attorneys general in several states are trying to get records of young Planned Parenthood clients to see how widespread this practice of protecting rapists is at Planned Parenthood." said Sedlak. "Planned Parenthood is fighting each of these efforts using its high-priced lawyers.
"An in-depth expose done a few years ago by Life Dynamics Incorporated seemed to show that more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation clinics around the country routinely advise underage girls how to avoid the mandatory reporting requirements of the various states," Sedlak said. "It is time that authorities everywhere addressed this threat to our children. STOPP calls on pro-lifers nationwide to do all they can to get local district attorneys to investigate local Planned Parenthood offices."
This is disgusting. We're talking about RAPE, folks. Let's set aside for a minute my disdain for their willingness to provide Birth Control and Abortions to CHILDREN without parental notification. This isn't little Jenny getting pregnant during "Consensual" sex (though how "consensual" sex can be for an 11-year-old is dubious, unless you're Ruth Bader Ginsburg), this is RAPE. And there's no indication they ever reported it to the POLICE EITHER. So how many more little girls did that boy rape while this 11-year-old "coped in her own way"?
The girl, now a teenager, goes on to write:
I've been with my current boyfriend for about two years. During that time i've been HIV and STD tested four times. Right now I'm sitting in the waiting room while my boyfriend gets the results for his HIV test. We love each other so we're responsible and Planned Parenthood helps us to do that.
Apparently you're not THAT responsible, or don't trust that your boyfriend is, or you wouldn't have needed more that ONE HIV test, now would you?
But that's beside my point.
It's scary that PP is able to further their agenda of completely eliminating a parent's right to have any say in the upbringing of their children, while cloaking themselves in a mantle of "Responsibility" and "Compassion". Anyone who knows the story of MArgaret Sanger knows that PP has been all about Social Engineering from the very beginning, and not all of it has been of a kind that their modern "Liberal" supporters would be pleased with, if they would open their eyes and see.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Wretchard at The Belmont Club is "Boots on the Ground" in Australia, and gives an excellent account of what's going on with the riots over there. Go gove it a read, and follow the comment thread (if you have the time), where he answers reader's comments and gives insight into what 's happening that you won't hear from the American media.
Friday, December 09, 2005
But here's the part I would like to comment on:
In Schewin's email, he tells NWR "However, your posting on December 4th (Saxton Redu(pe)) requires a response, both because it was factually inaccurate and unusually personal."
Yeah, right. NWR has been posting for some time on the campaign, and has been openly critical of both the Mannix and Saxton campaigns, but this one particular post just stuck out? I find that hard to believe. Here's what I think is really going on:
Remember that yesterday I mentioned the debate between Oregon's three Republican Gubernatorial candidates and linked to others who had been there and reported on it? If you do, you'll recall that we were fairly impressed with Jason's performance. To be fair, we're a pretty biased bunch, being Atkinson supportes. But I find it interesting that this email came in the same time frame as the debate. Could it be, perhaps, that Saxton is starting to recognize Atkinson as a valid threat? I can understand feeling a need to defend ones own candidate, but why combine it with an attack on Jason, if he's not a real contecter.
Saxton and Mannix are both canny veterans of the political arena who have tried painting Atkinson's inexperience as a reason to not take him seriously. Well, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt about their own wile and guile. But that merely reinforces my suspicion. A canny political candidate is not going to waste time and resources attacking an opponent who has no chance of beating him -- especiall not an extraneous candidate in a three way race. If Atkinson was as insignificant as their supporters might have you believe, they would be ignoring him and going toe-to-toe.
No, I think they, or at least Saxton, take Atkinson more seriously than they let on. I think they recognize the groundswell of support he's getting, the attraction of the grassroots nature of his campaign, the advantage he has in having so many blogging supporters, and the strength of his message and his qualifications. I think they think he has a shot. and I think that means they'll be gunning for him more and more.
I think he can take it, and I think he gan give it right back.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
NW Republican attended the first debate between the three front-running Republican candidates for the upcoming gubernatorial race, Here and Here.
The more I hear coming out of Jason Atkinson's mouth, the more I'm sure that, win or lose, he's the guy I'm voting for. I was particularly impressed with his response to this question:
Questions from the crowd -Exactly so -- Pro-Life, Pro-Rule of Law/Separation of Powers, and Pro-Small Government, all in one fell swoop. Good on ya, Jason.
"Where do you stand on abortion and right to die?"
I'm prolife. I'm against right to die. I will uphold right to die and work toget the voters to undo it. As governor I will fight for right to die because I believe in states rights and disagree with the Federal government telling us what laws we can pass. I will fight for this on principle though I will also work to undo it. Same with initiatives as the people's will should be done by their public servants.(This is paraphrasing in a nutshell).
Here was the spooky part: The investigators gave their final report on their findings at 7:30 AM Eastern Time, September 11, 2001.
Blogfather Rusty is reporting that the terrorists have made good on their threat to murder the latest American hostages -- or at least one of them.
Reports have begun circulating that Ronald Schulz has been murdered.Tune in to the Jawa Report for details as available.
The website used by The Islamic Army in Iraq, though, has not carried
this message. Instead, it was posted at an Islamic bulletin board. It
sometimes takes a few hours for these messages to become 'official'.
We had earlier reported that the deadline had passed without word from
If you're this bored:
Margo Lillie, a doctor of zoology at the University of British Columbia, and her student Tracy Boechler have conducted a study on the physics of cow-tipping.
Ms Boechler, now a trainee forensics analyst for the Royal Canadian Mounted Corps, concluded in her initial report that a cow standing with its legs straight would require five people to exert the required force to bowl it over.
A cow of 1.45 metres in height pushed at an angle of 23.4 degrees relative to the ground would require 2,910 Newtons of force, equivalent to 4.43 people, she wrote.
Dr Lillie, Ms Boechler’s supervisor, revised the calculations so that two people could exert the required amount of force to tip a static cow, but only if it did not react.
“The static physics of the issue say . . . two people might be able to tip a cow,” she said. “But the cow would have to be tipped quickly — the cow’s centre of mass would have to be pushed over its hoof before the cow could react.”
Newton’s second law of motion, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration, shows that the high acceleration necessary to tip the cow would require a higher force. “Biology also complicates the issue here because the faster the [human] muscles have to contract, the lower the force they can produce. But I suspect that even if a dynamic physics model suggests cow tipping is possible, the biology ultimately gets in the way: a cow is simply not a rigid, unresponding body.”
I'm sure I can find something for you to do. The garage needs to be cleaned out, and I haven't weeded in months.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
One of my favorite quotes is this one, often attributed in different variations to Orwell:
"We sleep peacefully in our beds simply because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
We would do well to remember that truth during this season when we celebrate Peace on Earth. There are those who will never show Good Will Towards Men, and as long as there are, the only way we will have any Peace is thanks to the efforts of those who go in harms way so that we need not. It is with that in mind I share this poem, found at Blackfive's:
A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS POEM
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at '
Pearlon a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of '
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?"
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
Merry Christmas to all, and especially to those manning the thin red line between us and all we fear.
The flight was headed to Orlando, but was diverted to Miami-Dade. The passenger was reportedly shot while the plane was on the ground.
As pointed out by the LB's, there's a reason we arm Air Marshals. Don't push it.
Apparently, the passenger claimed to have a bomb.
It's more than a defining event, it's a defining date. It's one of those few events in history that most people recognize just from the date itself. December 7th. July 4th. Now, September 11th.
This particular date marked the US entry into World War II, an entry than most historians agree was inevitable. It roused the US from an isolationistic fantasy that ignored the ever-shrinking nature of the world, and it brought us into direct conflict with an enemy with whom we had been inexorably shifting into conflict. This was an enemy whose culture was completely different from ours, who viewed its way of life as inherently superior to ours, and who had no mercy for those who opposed it. Its goal was total domination of all lands it viewed as its by Divine Right. It believed that the only options were victory or death, and neither asking for nor offering quarter. In the end, only its complete devastation and utter defeat eventually brought about an end to the conflict.
No, I'm not comparing Hitler to Hussein -- that is another discussion for another day. I'm talking about the uncanny similarities between the Bushido-driven Empire of the Rising Sun and modern Wahabist Islam. The parallels to the modern day are startling, from the use of beheading as a means of execution to the glorification of suicide attackers as holy martyrs. The most uncanny parallel, of course, is between the devastating acts of treachery that brought each conflict home to America. I hope that the similarities need not extend to the means required to end the conflicts.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The Babes recently visited Walter Reed Army Medical to give aid and comfort to our wounded soldiers. While there, they met a wounded soldier named Joshua Sperling who showed him one lovely card that had been sent to him:
Awwww... Now isn't that just sweet? It's so charming to know that there are people out there who are willing to express their respectful, "I-Support-The-Troops-But-Oppose-The-War" dissent. I'm sure it warmed the hearts of the soldier and his family. It certainly made my day.
Ugh. Even being sarcastic about it, that made me ill. How disgusting. Don't get me wrong, I know that not all opponents of the war are this vile. But increasingly, a certain fringe element is becoming more and more strident in their rhetoric, becoming more and more hateful. It's obvious that whomever wrote this is a truly disturbed individual, and sadly, a young souldier had to suffer futher at the hands of someone he was wounded defending. It makes me sad and angry and sick to my stomach.
But there's something we can do. We don't have to rail against the evil, we can reinforce the good. Michelle Malkin has provided an address where you can send the good soldier a PROPER card. Follow the link, jot down the address, buy a card, and mail it. Let the young man know that most of us wish him well, and appreciate his sacrifice.
The party was held in a new restaurant here in Eugene called Vaquero, which has the same owner as the excellent Red Agave restaurant just down the street, and Oh.My.Lord! This place is now on my top ten list of favorite restaurants.
I have several criteria by which I judge whether a restaurant is an excellent restaurant or merely a good one. They are: Proactive Service; Attention to Detail; and Exceptional Cuisine. In all three categories, Vaquero shone last night.
Proactive Service: The difference between Good Service and Exceptional Service is not only the speed and accuracy with which the service is provided, but the effort or lack of effort required by the diner to obtain it. Last night I could be very very lazy. The level of water in my glass never dropped below 1/3 before it was refilled, without my having to do a thing. In most cases, summoning the staff was as simple as making eye contact, and in the one exception it was even easier: I hadn't even made eye contact yet when they were ready to assist. The fact that our hostess was an extremely attractive blond with a voice like silk didn't hurt. The only shortcoming was the amount of time it took the main course to arrive, but given that we were a party of around 50 and the entrees were not precooked, I'm inclined to overlook that, especially since the aforementioned hostess saw fit to place her hand lightly on my back and keep me appraised of the status of my plate. Take your time, my dear, take your time.
Attention to Detail: This was evident in many areas: The decor of the restaurant was an eclectic yet oddly tasteful mix of modern and classic elements: Dark wood and dim light, with floors of highly polishes particle board -- you'd think it would look unfinished, but it gave the decor an edge I really liked. The hardware in the bathroom was hammered copper with just a hjint of patina -- gorgeous. The aforementioned service was not only proactive, but also devoted to said details. At different times TFR and I left our seats to use the facilites, in both cases, our waiter had replaced our silverware and refolded our napkins. The presentatrion of our plates was understated but precise -- no wasted effort, but nothing left undone either.
Exceptional Cuisine: Three things make the food itself exceptional in any restaurant. Those three things are: Preparation, Presentation, and Palate.
When it comes to preparation, I expect an excellent meal to be cooked precisely as it should be, nothing even a bit overdone or underdone. Such was the case last night. I ordered my Petite Filet Mignon medium rare, and it arrived at my seat, wait for it.... medium rare. It was cooked exactly as I wanted it, pink in the middle but not bloody, tender and just the right temperature. The vegetables were cooked to the point that the no longer had that raw crunch, but they didn't show a single sign of wilt.
As for Presentation, that's a subjective issue, it's like art -- either you like it or you don't. I liked it. A steak dinner should not be overly fancy in it's presentation: Perfect grill marks on the meat, a little sauce pooled next to it, a bit of overlap of the elements, perhaps a small green garnish. That's what I got. Dessert was, appropriately, another matter, a baroque swirl of flavors and sauces, a medley of pastry and ice cream, with just a tasteful hint of powdered sugar giving support.
What I expect from the Palate is twofold: I want flavors tha compliment and complement each other, and I want to be served food I normally wouldn't or couldn't cook for myself -- if I wanted more familiar foods, I'd be at a more pedestrian restaurant. I got what I wanted. Don't get me wrong -- I cook a mean steak, but this one was an effort of love, and the accompanying dishes were both new and delicious, ant they neither upstaged the steak nor were they eclipsed by it. The one dish I did not like was the potatoes, and that was simply a matter of personal preference. It was obviously well made, and everyone else loved it. The sauce on the steak was some sort of tangy/spicy/sweet sauce, perfectly done, enhancing the steak's flavor without masking it. I've never before bit into a tender, sucvculent peppercorn. And the vegetables -- again, perfect. They were a grilled mixture of red bell peppers, zucchini, and King Oyster Mushrooms. I didn't get any peppers, which is just as well, because I don't really like them. But here's the thing -- and this is where I get the title of this post -- I don't really like Zucchini either, and I *HATE* mushrooms. Or at least I did -- until last night. The squash was just right, and the mushrooms? Well, they were ALMOST better than the steak. they were not mushy at all, but rather tender with a bit of a crunch, and they tasted meaty, and had absorbed the flavors of their baste, which I believe was the same sauce as that on the steak.
The beverages were a mixed bag. Because we were a huge party, the whole menu was pretty limited, not the regular menu of the restaurant. We had a choice of three complimentary cocktails, and I chose poorly. But again, this was a matter of personal taste, and I just picked the wrong beverage. TFR's was delicious. From there we moved on and purchased a glass of wine with the meal, selecting a blended red from Northern Spain that included Tempranillo grapes and which our waiter/sommelier informed us would go excellently with the steak. He was absolutely right. It was bolder and more full-bodied than our regular Pinot Noir, but not a heavy, overbearing wine. Is was also very smooth, and laked a lot of the bite of tannin that I don't like in stronger reds. The flavor lingered longer at the back of the mouth, and was very fruity, with hints of plum and berries. Almost perfect -- it stood up to the steak without taking over.
The appetizers, salad, and desserts were excellent as well. The appetizers consisted of coconut praws with a guava dipping sauce, bacon-wrapped dates, and sweet potato fritters. All were delicious, and cooked to perfection. While the prawns were the tastiest, I most enjoyed the fritters, because they were interestingly delicious -- an intriguing blend of sweet and savory, with one dominant herb flavor I could almost but not quite identify -- the waiter suspected it was the cilantro. I normally don't like salad dressing, but the savory dressing last night was actually tasty -- sorry if that's faint praise, but coming from me that's a high compliment. The desserts consisted of a banana cake (which tasted like banana brad would taste if it were made by the angels) with banana ice cream, a lime tart, and a chocolate espresso decadence with coffee ice cream that even The (normally coffee-hating) Feared Redhead thought was delicious.
The adult company, pleasant conversation, and festive atmosphere of giving and receiving gifts, and just plain getting out for the evening, only increased the pleasure of the evening. Indeed, a good time was had by all.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Oh, don't get me wrong. I think Oregon deserves to be facing Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. I think they're a better team than Notre Dame, I KNOW they have a better record and better rankings in the polls AND the BCS standings, and I believe that Notre Dame too often gets a pass just because of their name -- in both bowl pairings and in things like ref calls. The last time the Irish got such a free pass into the Fiesta Bowl, the Oregon State Beavers handed their arses to them. I hope the Buckeyes do the same this year.
But I have a special place in my heart for the Holiday Bowl. I lived in San Diego for 12 years, and remember what a good time the city shows to the players, coaches, and fans of both teams. And a Holiday Bowl is the only bowl game I've ever attended.
Back in December of 2000, Oregon went to the Holiday Bowl. It was Joey Harringtonm's first bowl game. Oregon faced Texas, and we were the underdogs. My mom treated me, my dad, my brother-in-law, and my nephew to tickets to the game. The Longhorn fans were loud and boisterous going into that game, but when the game ended with the Ducks winning 35-30, they got real quiet. That game was a tight one, full of emotional rollercoaster minutes, and ny the end I was horse.
My father died the next summer. It was the last football game we ever went to together. Back in high school, my dad announced my school's games, and I'd often join him in the announcer's booth. Football was one of many things we had in common. To this day, I miss watching the game with him, discussing the game with him. Every time Oregon wins, or USC beats Notre Dame, or Navy beats Army, or an NFL team either of us root(ed) for wins, I get this itch to call him and discuss the game. But of course, I can't. I miss my dad, I miss my football buddy.
So on December 29, when the Ducks take the field at Qualcom (which to my dying day i'll think of as The Murph), I'll be glad to see them there. And a little sad that my father won't be too.
|All American Kid|
Popular but not plastic. Athletic but not a jock. Smart but not a brain.
You were well rounded and well liked in high school.
Funny, that's not how I remember it. I would have pegged myself as a "Brain" or "Nerd", but after having talks with former classmates as adults, I have learned that this is, indeed, how OTHERS perceived me. Very interesting.
In the end, though, do you know who the real winners were? We were -- this country, our military, our way of life. And that would have been true regardless of who won the football game.
I was thinking about it as I watched the game, as I sat there impressed that I was watching two of the least penalized teams in college football, as I watched the determination with which both teams played from the first kickoff to the last tick of the clock. I was amazed at their team spirit, their sportsmanship, their resourcefulness. As I watched this with the knowledge that these are the future leaders of our armed forces, I kept having one recurring thought:
We're in good hands.
There are many reasons bandied about for why the U.S. Military is so successful, has won so often, lost so seldom. The weight of our industrial might, our level of technology, the fighting spirit of the American solider, the motivation of the freedom for which we fight. And these all certainly have their place in explaining our success. But devotees of military history will tell you there's another reason we fight so well and win so often, especially in the context of specific battles:
The quality of American officers.
And I don't just mean our general staffs (though we've had some damned good generals and admirals, to be sure). Most of the graduates of our service academies will never acheive that rank. Some will, many will make colonel. Others will be majors, captains, lieutenants. Or in the case of the Navy: captains; Commanders, Lieutenants, Ensigns. But those are the very men to which I refer.
Our service academies have a tradition of producing officers who are bright, motivated, and confident. Of course, the enlisted ranks will tell you that means OVER-confident in the early days of their careers, but hte good ones take their lumps, learn their lessons, and truly lead. It's that quality, leadership, that makes the difference. Unlike the command structures of many of the totalitarian regimes we have fought, where power is concetrated at the top, US junior officers are created in a culture where they are expected to take initiative and make decisions on their own, on the spur of the moment, when the crisis demands. Sure, they're given guidelines and boundaries for their behavior (Standard Operating Procedures and Rules of Engagement), but when the chips are down, they know that they have the authority to react to the immediate situation without waiting for detailed instructions from above, if the situation warrants. And they are confident that they have been equipped with the right information and the right decision making skills to identify those situations. The history books are filled with countless tales of battles we won because a lower officer made a spur of the moment decision in the heat of battle that changed the course of events. Even in our darker moments, this quality in our officers shines through -- the massacre at My Lai was uncovered not by the press, but by a lowly Lieutenant who knew what his duty was -- to report the incident to his superiors.
In a way, Navy's victorious Option Offense on Saturday was a splendid example of just this kindo f thinking -- the Quarterback was given a goal to acheive, and general guidelines as to how the play would go. But as it unfolded, it was on his shoulders to make the ultimate decision as to whether to pass the ball, lateral it, or keep it. He was confident that the other 10 players would execute their part of the play, and he was confident in his own ability to make the right decision at just the right moment. And while he was wrong on a few occasions, he was right far more often -- often enough that his team won.
So the next time you want to thank or honor the military, remember the officers as well. They may not be as common as enlisted men, but they are just as deserving of our gratitude.
Friday, December 02, 2005
1. I will be in VLBM (Very Light Blogging Mode), yea, nigh unto not blogging at all, from the day we leave Oregon (Thursday December 22) through the day we return (Tuesday January 3).
2. If any of my faithful readers live in the Twin Cities area, drop me a line and maybe I'll let you buy me a beer. Or an Egg Nog. Or something. Or not -- our schedule's tight, so I don't know how feasible it is, but we'll give it a shot.
One of Brian's Favorite Appetizers
1 wheel brie
1 jar sundried tomatoes
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slice baguette into thin rounds about 1/4" thick. Cut brie into 1" square thin slices. Julienne the sundried tomatoes. Spoon a small amount of pesto onto each slice of baguette. Place a slice of brie on the pesto, top with several slices of sundried tomato. Place on a cookie sheet, set in oven and cook until the brie is melted and the bread is toasted.
Another of Brian's Favorite Appetizers
1 wedge Spanish Manchego cheese
10-20 slices Spanish Serrano ham
1 bunch fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slice baguette into thin rounds about 1/4" thick. Drizzle each slice with olive oil. Roll Serrano ham slices, place 1 ham slice and 1-2 basil leaves on each baguette slice. Grate Manchego cheese over the top until well-coated. Place on a cookie sheet, set in oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.
One of The Feared Redhead's Favorite Appetizers (that Brian can't stand, but has to admit looks really Christmas-y)
5 thick cut slices corned beef
5 medium sized dill pickles
1 package cream cheese, softened
carefully spread the cream cheese over the entire surface of one side of each slice of corned beef. On each slice, place one of the dill pickles across one end of the slice.roll the pickle up in the slice. Refrigerate for at least one hour, making sure the cream cheese has stiffened back up as much as pssible. Slice the rolls into 1/4" to 1/2" rounds, pierce each one with a toothpick.
It's worth a read, and it reinforces my support of the Senator's gubernatorial campaign.
No, it's not the "A" of adultery, sewn on my breast. My scarlet letter?
As in "Sucker". And it's stamped on my forehead. No, Really.
Little Big Dog displayed her ability to read last night when she jumped up on the couch, crawled into my lap, and began using my knee as a TV tray for her chew bar. Yes, I just sat there. Until, that is, The Feared Redhead asked me to go into the kitchen and get her something (can't remember what it was). See? She has seen it for years.
And the lad, he sees it. TFR confirmed my fears last night when she pointed out how quickly I rush to pick him up when he squawks, the way I put up with being not only a human ATM and Chef and Personal assistant, but also human furniture and playground equipment.
Yup, That's me. I am branded for life. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
But this year, common sense and a little bit of boldness are combining to offer the public a visible contrasting viewpoint. I just received the following press release:
I admire that man more and more every day. I just wish I could get added to his list of Lars Blog Fans. I love it, and if we make it to Portland before Christmas, I'll definitely be there.
"THE CHRISTMAS CROSS AT PIONEER SQUARE"
Everyone is invited to join us as we begin a new tradition at
Pioneer Square, “The Chri stmas Cross” sponsored by The Portland Area Chri stian Churches and the Lars LarsonShow of radio station 750 KXL. When asked about the display Larson said, “we’re putting the Cross in the Square to remind people of the real reason for the season. Letting local government re-define the ‘Chri stmas Tree’ as a ‘Holiday Tree’ is an insult not only to Chri stians everywhere, but to other religions as well. You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer in order to say ‘Merry Chri stmas.’”
The Cross will be on display in the Square from the morning of December 19th and available for viewing through Chri
stmas Eve, December 24th 2005. The Lars LarsonShow can be heard Monday through Friday from to in Portlandon Newsradio 750 KXL and throughout Oregon, Southwe stWashington and parts of on 17 affiliate Idaho stations via the Radio Northwe stNetwork.
Normally, when it comes to the military, I try to keep my comments to expressions of gratitude and support. Because I have never served and never can, I avoid discussions on my blog of the relative merits of different branches, units, etc., and any sort of conjecture about what military life is like.
But this is one of the few weeks of the year when I make an exception. I AM the SON and GRANDSON of late veterans, and so today I honor my forefathers by saying:
GO NAVY! BEAT ARMY!
Congratulations to Vandy and their fans on a hard-fought, hard-earned, well-deserved victory.
take the WHAT BAD BOOK ARE YOU test.
and go to mewing.net. not as good as reading a good book, but way better than a bad one.
Though I do disagree that The Hobbit is a "bad book". OK, so it's not as wonderful as LOTR is, but it's not bad.
Thanks for the memory to The Maximum Leader.