Saturday, December 31, 2005

Under The Wire

Because I'm at an unfamiliar computer, and on vacation, and spending time with family and friends, my blogging on the holidays has been light. But it's 9 PM Local time, 7 back home, on NYE, and in desperation I intend to leave a few thoughts on what I received for Christmas while it's still 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

Nothing More Than Felines

For those who are curious, yes, I found a home for the cat. The Monday I posted my second request for help, I received an email from Bob at Eugene Rant. He and his family took the cat in on Wednesday, and by the time I checked my email on Christmas eve, I had the following message from him, sent on Thursday the 22nd:

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.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

The view from the front door of The Feared Redhead's childhood home in the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth:

Image hosted by

This picture was taken this morning. We'd received 5 inches at that point, and it's still snowing.


Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy. He and I are apparently of Like Mind, for I too am:

Jed Eckert...The Leader...

Which Red Dawn Character Are You?
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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Why Yes, Those *ARE* Our Asses, Thank You!

Congratulations to an obviously superior Oklahoma Sooners team on their defeat of my Oregon Ducks in the 2005 Holiday Bowl. I'm too drunk and heartbroken to watch OR go look up the final score.


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

God Bless Us Everyone

2:50 PM PST 21 December 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.

12/30/9:06 AM PST (Actually 11:06 CST, as I'm still in MPLS):
I'm dropping the date on this to Christmas Day, since I've posted since then and before New Years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cap Him

Thanks for the Memory to Bluto at Blogfather Rusty's.

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.

It's The End of The World As We Know It

And I feel... well, actually, a little naseous.

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

Drilling Rigs or Drill Sergeants?

Thanks for the Memory to GOP Bloggers:

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

Meme-y Christmas

Thanks for the Memory to Uncle Sam's Cabin.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
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.

Heartwarming, Heartbreaking

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man (Except Those Nasty Christians)

Thanks for the Memory to Daniel at Daniel's Political Musings.

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 of
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...
The next step down the path is into violence, and I'm quite sure there are those willing to take it.


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

A Real UFO

Thanks for the Memory to Admit One.

Actually, it's a UOO - an Unidentified (for now) Orbiting Object. It rotates once a minute and orbits the earth once every 48 days.

Image hosted by

Check out the article at the NASA website. Too cool.

Speaking the Truth to Power

Thanks for the Memory to Admit One via Y-2-DRAY.

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.

The Press and Hanlon's Razor

Thanks for the Memory to Bluto posting at Blogfather Rusty's.

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

Classroom Scrooge

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson. Yet one more reason to home school The Lad:

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?


Planned (Attack on) Parenthood

Thanks for the Memory to gopbloggers who link to the following press release from American Life League:

American Life League Says Planned Parenthood Conceals Rape of 11-year-old and Brags About it on Web Site

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."

The original comment can be found at Planned Parenthood here.

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

'Strine Times

Thanks for the Memory to Russell Wardlow at Mean Mr. Mustard.

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

The Natives are Restless

NW Republican has an interesting pair of posts up here and here. They started when Ron Saxton's campaign manager, Felix Schein, wrote NWR an email regarding MWR's post Saxton Redu(pe). The gist of Schein's email was to try to defend Saxton's credentials as a Republican, and to question the commitment of Jason Atkinson to the OR GOP. The first post above was originally just a reprint of Schein's email. But after a response from Atkinson, NWR edited the post, then added the second, to address several inaccurate claims in Schein's email. TRhe exchange, and the comments, have been interesting.

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

Oregon GOP Gubernatorial Debate

Thanks for the Memory to Gully at Resistance is Futile!

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 -
"Where do you stand on abortion and right to die?"

Atkinson -
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).
Exactly so -- Pro-Life, Pro-Rule of Law/Separation of Powers, and Pro-Small Government, all in one fell swoop. Good on ya, Jason.

I Walk the Feline

TFR rescued a small, wet, very scrawny kitten from the rain yesterday. We're not sure we can afford to take it in, so we're probably going to try to find someone to adopt it. If any of my Eugene readers want a cute, predominantly white tortoiseshell kitten, drop me a line.

Spooky Synchronicity

Last night I watched a documentary on the sinking of the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. The documentary followed the progress of a commission that was investigsting just what type of attack caused the sudden, fiery death of such a huge ship. The conclusion was that the Arizona had not been struck by torpedo, nor had a bomb gone down her stack to take out the boiler. The explosion seen spouting out the stack is secondary -- the death blow was a single armor piercing bomb that penetrated her decks and exploded directly in the forward magazine, setting of the powder supply for her main batteries.

Here was the spooky part: The investigators gave their final report on their findings at 7:30 AM Eastern Time, September 11, 2001.

American Hostage Murdered?

Thanks for the Memory to The Jawa Report.

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.

Rusty reports:

Reports have begun circulating that Ronald Schulz has been murdered.
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
the group.
Tune in to the Jawa Report for details as available.

It Was An Awesome Dream

Night before last I dreamed that Chevrolet took a cue from the new Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger, and redesigned the next model Camaro so that it was stylistically reminiscent of a 1967 Camaro SS.

Image hosted by

Now THAT would be boss!

WAY Too Much Time on their Hands

Thanks for the Memory to Careful Thought via The LlamaButchers.

Dear Canada,

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

Silent Night, Watchful Night

Thanks for the Memory to Subsunk posting at Blackfive.

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:


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 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,'
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.

When the Karma Runs Out of Gas

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson.

An excellent essay on why Tookie Williams should die. And from an Oregonian, no less.

Air Marshal Shoots Passenger on Flight from Columbia to the US


December 7, 1941.

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.

My Least Favorite Weather

38 Degrees and rainy. Don't get me wrong, I love rain. But if it's going to be colder than 40, the least it can do is have the decency to drop a couple degrees and snow.

Maybe I Should Just Say It Was a Bar Fight...

...'cause that would sound more macho than, "Oh, this fat lip? My 10-month old head butted me last night. You should have seen the blood. No, not his, mine."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just Out of Curiosity...

Who keeps visiting my blog from NDSU?

I ask because The Feared Redhead attended UND, and has friends from school in Wahpeton.

Small world.


Thanks for the Memory to Two Babes and a Brain via Blackfive.

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:

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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 Best Crow I Ever Had

Being first year new parents, The Feared Redhead and I don't often get a chance to get away from the house to pursue grownup activites, especially not together. Before last night, the last time we were able to do so was on our anniversary back in July. Last night was a welcome change. The occasion was TFR's work Holiday (twitch) Party. We left the house about 6:55 and arrived late, but didn't get home until almost 10:00. It was wonderful.

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

Bowling For The Holidays

So Oregon is going to the Holiday Bowl. And a lot of Oregon fans are upset. Me, not so much.

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.

Not Exactly Ducky

Thanks for the Memory to the Llama Butchers.

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.

The Real Winners

Saturday was a good day to root for Navy. A very good day indeed. It didn't start out as promising as one could hope for, as Army scored first (never mind that that was the first Army lead in any Army-Navy game since they last won in 2001), and seemed able, at least for a quarter, to answer each Navy threat. But starting in the second quarter, Navy began to pull away, and never looked back.

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

News Item

Thanks for the Memory to Blogfather Rusty.

He reports that Al Jazeera has broadcast a new video that was released on a jihadist website and which threatens the four latest American hostages with death.

Go to the Jawa Report to keep up.

Cue Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again"

The Feared Redhead, The Lad, and I will be traveling to Minnesota for the Holy Days to visit The (not so) Feared In-Laws. My family will aso be coming out. This means two things:

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.


This week I've been informed that the upcoming CotR is all about appetizers, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites. They're all pretty easy, so just one seems a shame. Maybe you can make a platter:

One of Brian's Favorite Appetizers
1 baguette
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 baguette
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.

and finally...

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.

The New Media Interviews a New Politician

I Am Coyote NW Republican had a chance to sit down and interview Jason Atkinson.

It's worth a read, and it reinforces my support of the Senator's gubernatorial campaign.

The Scarlet Letter

I carry a scarlet letter, and carry it with defiant pride. Anyone who knows me well can see it. To the people it affects most, my family (especially my wife, my child, and pet), it is not only visible, it is glowingly obvious, almost as if it were brightly aflame.

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

For Mary

Born That Men No More May Die

It hardly seems like a year ago that I blogged on "The Tree" at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Portland's Tree for the Holidays that isn't called a Holiday Tree, let alone a Christmas Tree -- just "The Tree". No, stop, don't try contemplating that one. I have few enough readers as it is, I can't afford to lose any to aneurysms or spontaneous combustion.

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:


Everyone is invited to join us as we begin a new tradition at Pioneer Square, “The Christmas Cross” sponsored by The Portland Area Christian Churches and the Lars Larson Show 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 ‘Christmas Tree’ as a ‘Holiday Tree’ is an insult not only to Christians everywhere, but to other religions as well. You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer in order to say ‘Merry Christmas.’”

The Cross will be on display in the Square from the morning of December 19th and available for viewing through Christmas Eve, December 24th 2005. The Lars Larson Show can be heard Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm in Portland on Newsradio 750 KXL and throughout Oregon, Southwest Washington and parts of Idaho on 17 affiliate stations via the Radio Northwest Network.

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.

Once A Year

I was going to wait until Friday to post this until Friday, but given the recent source of traffic to my blog, I'll do it a day early.

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:



The Oregon Men's Basketball team suffered their first loss of the season last night, when the Vanderbilt Commodores beat them 76-75 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Congratulations to Vandy and their fans on a hard-fought, hard-earned, well-deserved victory.


I resemble that remark!

take the WHAT BAD BOOK ARE YOU test.

and go to 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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sedition 101

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson.

What the hell is this doing on the wall of a public high school in Newport, Oregon?

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Is there an equally large display of recruiting material and accounts of the heroism of those who wear or have worn this country's uniforms? That's what I thought.

And no, don't tell me this is a Freedom of Speech issue. This is a public high school, funded by taxpayer money, and as a taxpayer, I don't particularly appreciate having my pocket picked to display such blatant hatred for our military. To steal a phrase from Billy Joel, you can speak your mind, but not on my time (or dime)!

And if the entire project was done extracirricularly, then again, I ask, has the same access to the school's walls been offered to those who support the military? If there's anyone reading this from Newport, especially a student, I'd like to know that -- is there a similar display of an opposing point of view?

The Return of Fake But Accurate

Thanks for the Memory to Wizbang via The LlamaButchers.

Paging Mary Mapes, paging Mary Mapes. Your legacy's on line 2....

Wizbang comments on an email that was sent to James Taranto at Best of the Web.

Apparently (Can't they just) is pushing a new anti-war ad that shows US Soldiers eating from a dusty mess tent in Iraq, while their loved ones cry at home.

The problem is, the troops in the picture aren't Americans, they're British. Wizbang's article has the before-and-after shots.

Now, that's not to say that plenty of US troops weren't eating Thanksgiving dinner in dusty mess tents in Iraq, and God Bless Them for the sacrifice that was. But here's the point:

The Left (not liberals, the LEFT) claims they support ther troops, but oppose the war. But how am I to believe they give a tinker's damn about U.S. Servicemen (and women) if it's obvious that they haven't even taken the trouble to learn how to recognize them??????

So Much Owed

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader.

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Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was born on this day in 1874. A Very happy posthumous birthday wish to the Bulldog who saved Britain, and who recognized the threat posed by Communism long before most of the rest of the world did.

It's Life, Jim, But How Do We Know It?

Thanks for the Memory to Ken at Upper Left Coast. I'm not sure how he found my blog, but I'm glad this fellow Oregonian did, because his comment led me to his blog, and I'm enjoying it daily.

Those of you who read both my blog and Naked Villainy may have followed a discussion I had with Smallholder in the comments of a post of his regarding (among other things) abortion. The gist of our conversation was on the merits of arguing abortion on the ideas of "Soul", Humanity, and Life. In it, Smallholder holds to the position that abortion opponents are basing their convicitons on the belief that the fetus has a soul. I argue that the abortion issue comes down to one important question: When does human life begin? Smallholder's response was, "I rarely hear people making the "when life begins" argument, and when I do, the speaker's opinion is almost always reflective of their idea of the soul."

And to a certain extent, I suppose he's right. But I also believe that to a certain extent, it's beside the point. And here's why:

ANY set of ethics that supports the position that murder is a crime is predicated upon the intrinsic value of Human Life. "We hold these truths self evident" etc. Call it a soul, a spirit, a spark of the Divine, consciousness, conscience, reason, self-awareness, sentience. Say it's God-endowed, a result of higher evolution, both, or part of the Cosmic Consciousness. Whatever religious, spiritiual, or philosophical reason you have for believing it, the fact is, that most people believe that life, ESPECIALLY Human life, is precious, and should not be ended without just, reasonable, and compelling cause.

Which brings us to the question of just what defines life, or more specifically Human life, and when does it begin? Does Human Life begin when it gains a soul, or does it gain a soul as a result of beginning? That's the question at the heart of the abortion debate, no matter what else either side tries to tell you. If the fetus is a human being, then it's right to live takes precendence. If it isn't a human life, then it is of no consequence what a pregnant woman chooses to do with it.

And this question is the reason I make reference to Ken's blog. In the comments to a post he made day before yesterday, I addressed a question to another commenter, which echoed Ken's own thoughts. Ken then went on to post two posts yesterday on the same topic. They ask two very important questions:

When does life begin?

Who sets the standards?

So, back to the question of when human life begins, when it gains a "soul". There are four concepts that tend to be discussed when this topic comes up, with certain individuals taking different of these positions. They are: Conception, Awareness, Viability, and Birth. Let's take them one at a time, starting with the argument that life, or specifically, the right of the individual to life, begins at birth, then moving back through viability, to awareness, to conception.

Personally, I find the argument that life begins at birth the least defensible given what modern science has accomplished and shown us, and I'm glad that Smallholder agrees with me. He likes to use the phrase "Magic Thinking", and that's exactly what this position is. Let me use my own experience as an example of why:

As most of you know, my son, The Lad, was born 5 weeks premature. While it was necessary for him to spend a week in the NICU, and another month on a heart and respiratory monitor. Yet from the moment the doctor caught him and then placed him in my arms, to this day, there has never been any doubt in my mind that he was anything but a baby. Yet, had he gone full term, there are those that would argue that TFR should have been free to end his life right up to the moment he was born. This despite the fact that during those intervening 5 weeks, he would have been just as fully developed as he was in the NICU and at home (or more so -- babies' development accelerates during the last few weeks of pregnancy), would have had the same heartrate, the same brain activity, the same physiology. Somehow, I'm to believe that the passage through the birth canal, or the exposure of the uterus to the air in a C-Section, imparts to the infant some quality it lacked only moments before? Who's being superstitious now? I find this particular view not only intellectually untenable, but personally offensive as well.

That brings us to the issue of Viability. This position argues that any fetus that is not capable of surviving outside the womb is not yet truly alive. I have two main objections to this:

The first is well addressed by Smallholder when he comments, "viability is achieved much prior to birth and the window of viability keeps shifting backwards." The simple fact is that modern medicine allows us to sustain life ex utero at an earlier and earlier stage in gestation all the time. There was a time when significantly premature birth was tatamount to a death sentence. Now, that's not the case - while The Lad was in the NICU, he had a neighbor baby who was barely third trimester, yet was expected to survive. If we are to accept the Viability argument, we must also accept a set of shifting goalposts as to when abortion is allowed. To be certain, anyone who advocates abortion on the grounds of viability cannot agree with the widesweeping standards for abortion advocated by groups like NARAL.

The second objection I raise to the viability argument has to do not with the period of gestation at which viability begins, but with the time before that. Specifically, I also object to the viability argument because non-viability is, in the vast majority of cases, a temporary condition. What I mean by that is this: while a fetus before a cetain stage is not viable, barring abnormal circumstances, it eventually will be. This is decidedly different from the issue of, say, removing life support from a brain dead individual, who was viable, and aware, but never will be again. This is also a point at which I depart from many of my fellow abortion opponents -- in that in cases where it is a medical certainty, or even a likelihood approaching certainty, that a fetus is so malformed that it will not survive outside the womb, I believe that abortion is and should remain a painful but legitimate option (I hold to the same belief in cases where there is a serious threat to the life of a mother if the pregnancy is carried full term, since the choice to abort or not to is almost equally likely to end in the termination of a life -- but that is beside this point).

This brings me to the last two arguments, and again, I must disappoint my fellow pro-lifers by confessing that while I lean towards conception, I am not 100% decided between these two, and my leaning is swayed in part by a tendency to "err on the side of caution".

The third criterion that is proposed by some as the standard for when life begins is Awareness. This position argues that until the fetus reaches a certain level of development, and has a certain level of brain activity, it is not aware and is not truly human. On the face of it, this would seem to be the argument that most closely adheres to Smallholder's argument about the soul. And to some extent, I can see the point.

But I have problems with this position as well. By what standard do we judge awareness? Awareness of external surroundings? response to stimuli? Self-awareness? Brain wave activity? Is there any objective way we can determine what level of awareness is required? And are we willing to reconsider such a position as our understanding of the brain increases? My other objection is similar to my second objection to the viability argument -- awareness is something that an unborn child develops into, and so any prior lack of awareness is a temporary state or condition. I have a hard time allowing something as permanent as the termination of what is or could be a human life, simply because of a temporary condition.

But that brings us back to the crux of the issue -- Is it a human life, or just a potential human life? And, not coincidentally, it brings us to the last criterion -- conception. And while that position is the most favored among people who oppose abortion for religious reasons, I would also submit that from a non-religious, purely biological standpoint, it's also the position that makes the most sense. If we've already established that Humans are, for whatever reason, in general deserving of life, regsrdless of our belief in religion, God, a spirit, the supernatural, and we wish to leave those issues out of the equation (for First Amendment reasons if for no other), then we must look to empirical science for a standard by which to judge whether we're dealing with a human or not. And modern genetics tells us that at the moment of conception, the baby can be recognized from its DNA not only as a human, but as a genetically distinct individual, with a DNA signature different from its parents (which to me is a less important point that the fact that it is a human, but interesting nonetheless). Ken makes the same point.

In fact, I'd like to conclude by quoting one of Ken's comments in which he restates the argument at the heart of the issue:

The question of what a woman should do with her pregnancy is irrelevant until — look out, here it comes again — we answer the question of what "it" is: "If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate."
I couldn't say it better myself.

Happy St. Andrews Day

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An Ace Shoots Himself Down

This breaks my heart:
SAN DIEGO -- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned his office today after pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion in a political corruption case.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns accepted the pleas from Cunningham, 63, including the congressman's admission in federal court that he had accepted bribes in exchange for performance of his official duties
I remember, living in San Diego in the 90's, how greatly I admired Randy Cunningham. He was just breaking into national politics as a maverick. He wasn't perceived as part of the political machine -- he was a straight-shooting, take-no-prisoners, New-Sherrif-in-Town figure who revitalized the GOP in San Diego County.

And his initial claim to fame was even more admirable. He was the first US Navy fighter ace of the Viet Nam war, one of only Two US aces overall, and what's more, he acheived the most spectacular of feats -- he made Ace in one day. He was a key figure in the formation of the US Navy's Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), and was an advisor on the movie of the same name. He was an active supporter of the military and of veterans.

Now, he's just another crooked politician. This, sadly, is the memory we'll have of him. Not of downing the PRV's top pilot, not of challenging the Status Quo of politics on the Left Coast, but of selling his vote to the guy with the nicest yacht.

I'm sorry, Randy, but even if you voted exactly as I would have on every issue that ever came up for a vote in Congress, it wouldn't excuse this behavior. I used to consider you a political hero, I used to think that if I lived in your district, I'd vote for you. No more. I remember hoping you'd win your first election, now I hope you go to jail.

Hostage Names Revealed

Thanks for the Memory to The Jawa Report.

Blogfather Rusty has obtained video of the hostage who were captured by Islamic terrorists this week. He's also obtained the names of the four hostages:

American Thomas Fox of Clear Brook Virginia
Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, who resides in Auckland, New Zealand
British citizen Norman Kember
James Loni (last name unclear) of Canada

Rusty has pointed out in the past why it is important that the names of such hostages be made public and kept public -- the more attention they get, the more likely their survival. Let's keep these four in our prayers, and in our hearts, and in the public eye. They were in Iraq as peace activists, and while I disagree with their political views, I wish no harm upon them.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Variations on a Theme (Or At Least a Slogan)

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What if they held a war (protest) and nobody came?

Thanks for the Memory to The Jawa Report.

Don't Question His Patriotism!

Thanks for the Memory to Mean Mr. Mustard.

You know, every time the debate about the War in Iraq comes up, if those of us who support the decision to go to war criticize the actions or rhetoric of those who oppose it, we're immediately reminded that dissent is patriotic, and that those who oppose the war don't resent the troops, just the leaders who send them to war. They remind us that they support and love the troops, they just oppose the war.

So how do you explain crap like this?

Ted Rall's a horse's arse. And considering the quality (or lack thereof) of the drawing, he can't even fall back on the excuse that it's "art." Well, I take that back. They give paintbrushes to chimps and call the result art, so I guess that Rall's published Pooh-flinging earns the same aegis.

But Judas Freaking Priest on a Polo Pony, can we at least request he (and others who use similar rhetorical devices) drop the freaking charade of "patriotic dissent" and call themselves what they are -- ugly, troop-hating sedition-mongers? Please?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

No Fooling!

This is so cool!

As a kid, one of the first pieces of Christian literature I read was the comic book version of Through Gates of Splendor, the story of five missionaries from New Tribes Missions and Mission Aviation Fellowship who were killed while trying to espablish contact with the Auca tribe of South America. From that time on, those five were among my heroes, especially Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, who made a comment in his diaries that has become well-quoted among modern evangelicals: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.

Well, now they're releasing a movie based on the story. I suspect from the trailer that it combines elements of Through Gates of Splendor with Elizabeth Elliot's epilogue, The Savage My Kinsman.

I'm looking forward to the movie. If you haven't heard this story before, I highly recommend both books.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

If you're going to dream, Dream BIG.

Dissent is Patriotic, But So Is Dissenting With The Dissenters

Thanks for the Memory to Jeff Goldstein via the Llama Butchers.

Some excellent points and a long quote from VP Cheney's speech regarding Dissent and Patriotism. Jeff writes:

Clearly, the important administration arguments are beginning to coalesce:

And then he does us the service of distilling them for us:

1) Criticism of the war is not by itself unpatriotic 2) Similarly, answering anti-war critics is not challenging their patriotism 3) But opportunistic and cynical anti-war critics who are trying to walk back their own votes and level spurious charges at the Administration (they lied to take is into war) are themselves lying 4) These lies are hurting the country and the troops. 5) The burden of proof, in a post 911 world, was on Saddam Hussein to prove he’d disarmed; we could not wait for the threat to become imminent before acting 6) The cause the troops are fighting for is just and right 7) Iraq is moving toward freedom; and things on the ground are improving daily, regardless of what the MSM and prominent Dems would have us believe.
As an aside, the Comments section for the Llama Butchers' take on things includes an excellent discussion, I was especially impressed with KMR's response to certain memes about the war.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold (and Foggy)

You'll remember that I mentioned Friday that Saturday was the 109th playing of the Civil War, the longest-running rivalry game on the West Coast, as my beloved University of Oregon Ducks hosted the Team from Up the Road, the OSU Beavers. You'll also remember I mentioned a few pieces of Trivia about the game. One little tidbit I didn't mention was the fact that LAST year's game included the highest score by either team in the history of the game, as OSU handed us a 50-21 drubbing.

Well, as The Manolo might say, if he were to care about such things as football, the payback, she is the bitch.

That's right, 56-14. It's probably a good thing for Beaver fans that the weather was so foggy -- they really didn't want to see this.

To give you an idea of how thoroughly the Ducks dominated OSU, a few things to consider:

  • Oregon started both halves of the game by scoring before their offense had even taken the field. During OSU's first offensive series, Aaron Gipson returned an interception 60 yards for the score. Then, Jonathan Stewart returned the opening kickoff of the second half 97 yards -- TD.
  • Late in the game, the Beavers blocked a punt by the Ducks, recovering the ball on Oregon's 8 Yard Line. They failed to score.
  • The Beavers lost one fumble, and threw 3 interceptions. Oregon lost none, threw none.
  • Oregon outscored OSU in every quarter.
  • The Ducks were 2 points short of winning by the biggest margin of victory in Civil War history.
The only sad thing for Ducks fans is that Saturday was probably the last time we'll see junior Haloti Ngata play in Autzen Stadium. Scouts predict that if he goes pro, he'll be a First Round pick, maybe even in the top 5. This is one scary Defensive Lineman. He has the size and strength of a DL, the speed of a Linebacker, and the intelligence of a quarterback. I've seen him break through O Lines, then run fdown RB's from behind. When he rushes the passer, it's with the quickness of a blitz, and NO ONE runs up the middle on him. Furthermore, because he must be double-teamed, he frees up the rest of the line, as well as the linebacking corp, increasing their ability to rush the passer and cover outside runners and receivers. I may not root for whatever team picks him up, but I won't BET against them.