Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Suing Imams

"There is no way Mr. Mohammedi can possibly determine whether the John Does 'knowingly made false reports' against his clients 'with the intent to discriminate against them' without taking their testimony under oath, at least during pretrial discovery. That prospect alone, of being dragged into court proceedings, will certainly provide a great disincentive for other citizens to come forward with their own suspicions."

- Becket Fund Chairman Kevin Hasson

"It is unconscionable that those who report suspicious activity could be terrorized in our own court system in our own country."

- Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican

[both were quoted in The Washington Times]

Bilingual education

"The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. ... We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

- Newt Gingrich

Congress is losing the war

"The war's being lost in Congress by the people who give aid and comfort to the enemies that are killing our troops."

- John Stevens, 79, a disabled Air Force veteran of the U.S. conflicts in Korea and Vietnam

More corn

With demand for ethanol pushing corn prices to $4 a bushel or higher, it was not a surprise that farmers intended to plant a lot more corn this season.

- NY Times

I like corn.

Lights out for global warming

The Sydney Opera House's gleaming white-shelled roof was darkened Saturday night along with much of the rest of Australia's largest city, which switched off the lights to register concern about global warming.

The arch of Sydney's other iconic structure, the harbor bridge, was also blacked out, along with dozens of skyscrapers and countless homes in the 4 million-strong city, in an hour-long gesture organizers said they hoped would be adopted as an annual event by cities around the world.

Mayor Clover Moore, whose officials shut down all nonessential lights on city-owned buildings, said Sydney was "asking people to think about what action they can take to fight global warming."

- AP

Just think about what a great world it would be if we all sat around in cold, dark houses all the time.

Praying to dead people

For months she was known as the "mystery nun," an unidentified member of a religious order who told a Catholic Church investigator that she was miraculously cured of advanced Parkinson's disease after she and other nuns prayed to the late Pope John Paul II.

- Washington Post

Would this work for me, or do you actually have to be Catholic to get good results by praying to dead people?

Is praying to a dead pope more effective than praying to God?

Obviously, I should have taken more theology classes, and then I would already know the answers to these important questions.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Night Fights

Mary Jo Sanders vs. Valerie Mahfood for the IBA middleweight title at the Cobo Center in Detroit.

Sanders is the daughter of Charlie Sanders (NFL Hall of Fame Detroit Lions tight end).

Sanders won by a unanimous decision in a very lopsided fight.

The hand speed of Sanders was so superior that the outcome was never in doubt.

Mahfood is a very tough fighter who is willing to be a Scott Ledoux type of human punching bag.

In many ways, a very disappointing fight.

www.fightnews.com had this report:

"In the main event, local Mary Jo Sanders (24-0, 7 KOs) successfully defended her WIBA female middleweight championship against perennial opponent Valerie Mahfood (19-13-3, 9 KOs) with a shut-out ten round decision. Sanders was too quick and skillful for her brawling foe, but Mahfood (now 0-5-2 in her last seven) gamely took a beating to the end. Scores were 100-90 on all cards."

Under Armour

Under Armour general counsel Kevin Haley said the company was not aware the employees, who worked at its distribution center, were illegal aliens. The company is considering legal action against the employment agency.

"At Under Armour, we are patriots first and last, and we're fully committed to compliance with all laws and regulations," he said. "We're furious that apparently one of the temp agencies we use was not so committed or gave the appearance of being not so committed."

- Washington Times

This proves that you have to be careful who you do business with.

Obama respects the Constitution

"I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution. I believe in an attorney general who is actually the people's lawyer, not the president's lawyer."

- Barack Obama

Talk is cheap. I hope that we do not find out what he would actually do as president.

Lawsuits

Six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing not only the airline but the passengers who complained—a move some fear could discourage travelers from speaking up when they see something unusual.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed earlier this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the unnamed "John Doe" passengers free of charge. They say it is vital that the flying public be able to report suspicious behavior without fear of being dragged into court.

"When you drive up the road towards the airport, there's a big road sign that says, `Report suspicious behavior,'" said Gerry Nolting, a Minneapolis lawyer. "There's no disclaimer that adds, `But beware if you do that, you might get sued.'"

- AP

Right, but you might get sued anyway.

Corruption in New Mexico

Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said Friday he is troubled and saddened by the latest public corruption scandal to hit New Mexico.

- AP

This is part of a long tradition that goes all the way back to the infamous Santa Fe ring in the 1800s.

Minnesota blood

A Minneapolis city worker is worried about blood in the sewer system because he said, while he was cleaning the system, blood sprayed out of a hole and got all over him.

"We could tell it was blood, I mean large amount of blood," said Minneapolis Sewer Maintenance Worker Ron Huebner.

- WCCO Minneapolis

I have been blaming it on the water, but maybe it is the blood instead.

Tancredo

Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, will announce his bid for president on Monday.

Tancredo acknowledges that he is a long shot for president, but he has made no secret that he hopes to rattle McCain's campaign in Iowa by appealing to conservatives on immigration, abortion and other issues.

- AP

Tancredo is a good guy on the issues, but the lack of national name recognition is a real impediment.

Giuliani made a mistake

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani acknowledged again Friday that he made a mistake when he recommended Bernard Kerik to be the nation's homeland security chief.

- AP

OK, fine, he made a mistake.

Now, can we move forward from this point?

Or is this something we have to dwell on for the next several months?

Better MREs

"The standard Meal, Ready to Eat [MRE] does not provide adequate nutrition for dismounted operations in this type of terrain," Moore wrote in his report. "Many Marines and soldiers lost 20 to 40 pounds of bodyweight during their deployment. At least one soldier was evacuated due to malnutrition and a 60-pound weight loss."

Recognizing the seriouslness of the reports, the Combat Feeding Directorate is planning to ship about 4,000 prototypes of a new meal called the First Strike Ration to Iraq and Afghanistan. Designed for limited use, the ration contains about twice the calories of an MRE.

Troops on dismounted patrols often "field-strip" their bulky MRE packs, bringing along only part of the meals, to reduce the weight of their rucksacks and save room for cargo such as ammunition. In the process, they throw away calories, Young said.

- Chicago Tribune / AJC

Difficult problem to solve. It is a zero-sum game, food or ammo?

A crass commercial operation

As you may have noticed, this blog has become a crass commercial operation.

I have sold out.

Too close

Three homeless men mistakenly arrested last year on charges of sleeping too close to a pile of feces have settled a lawsuit against the city for $45,000.

- AP/AJC

There was no mention of who or what deposited the feces.

Why did Ralph bite the big one?

A day after the Georgia Aquarium released test results showing that Ralph, its famous whale shark, died of peritonitis earlier this year, questions remain about what caused a deadly perforation in his stomach, and critics again blasted the institution for trying to display the giant creatures in captivity.

"They blew it," said Naomi Rose, a marine mammal researcher with the Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington. "They took a huge gamble with a fish they knew little about, and now it's dead."

- Atlanta Journal Constitution

Running old DOS games

I have not tried this yet.

It would be beyond bizarre if it really worked well.

Firefighters vs. Giuliani

"We want America to know what this guy meant to New York City firefighters. In our experiences with this man, he disrespected us in the most horrific way."

- Peter Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association

We could see some really ugly commercials out of this.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Barbie Bandits

"You think you're the average, normal, everyday American family, and then something like this happens. It's just a smack in the face."

- Lisa Johnston, mother of one of the Barbie Bandits

They were just regular teen girls, then they robbed a bank.

What is a parent to do?

Russians

The UN security council yesterday released a statement expressing its "grave concern" at the capture of the sailors and marines. However, the wording of the statement was weaker than Britain had hoped after council members, notably Russia, balked at a draft that asked for the Britons' immediate release and stated that the navy boats were in Iraqi waters.

- Guardian Unlimited

The Russians are not our friends, and they are not our allies.

Every time something like this happens, the Russians prove it all over again.

Jackson backs Obama

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Thursday he's backing Democrat Barack Obama in his presidential bid, giving his support to a new generation of black politicians.

- AP

How important is this endorsement? Can Jackson persuade black voters?

Or is Jackson Mr. Irrelevant?

More water dog info

Bloomberg 2008

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire, has told friends more than once that his definition of good financial planning is making sure the check to the undertaker bounces when it's finally time to go.

So how does a billionaire spend all his money before he dies? In Bloomberg's case, he just might drop a cool half-billion on a long-shot bid to become the nation's first modern president from outside the two major political parties.

- Washington Post

Bloomberg wants to do for this Clinton what Ross Perot did for the other one?

Sons of Sweden

At a meeting of The Sons of Sweden, they were discussing declining membership and what could be done about it.

Finally, one of the members said, " I propose that we change our name from 'The Sons of Sweden' to 'The Sons of Bitches.'"

Another member asked, "Why would we want to do that?"

The first member replied, "Because then we could admit Norwegians!"

[Many thanks to Dr. John Malone for telling this joke at a small brunch gathering I attended. Dr. Malone pointed out that the same joke is told by Norwegians with the roles of Swedes and Norwegians reversed.]

The Other Steve Forbes

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani gained the endorsement Wednesday of a former GOP candidate - billionaire publisher and flat-tax proponent Steve Forbes.

- AP

Now the question is who will Steve Forbes (the boxer) endorse?

Not Christian enough?

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

- U.S. News & World Report

It is tough finding that perfect candidate.

Mr. Water Dog

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hearing Voices

Daniel B. Smith is the author of “Muses, Madmen and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination,” just published by the Penguin Press and from which this article is in part adapted.

- NY Times Magazine

This is a very interesting article on auditory hallucinations.

The Rise of Mammals

The mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and other life 65 million years ago apparently did not, contrary to conventional wisdom, immediately clear the way for the rise of today’s mammals.

- NY Times

This is apparently another one of those science facts that is no longer a fact.

It was the dogma of the day.

BeerAdvocate

For people who are serious about beer.

The grabber gets grabbed

Pike grabs pike

Returned

I survived another trip to Michigan.

Nine hour drive to get there on Sunday. Saw a pair of (sandhill?) cranes in Wisconsin around Oconto. Saw a flock of wild turkeys along Hwy 35 in Michigan.

Had fun in Michigan. 40 pounds per load (sand and rocks) times 50 loads = 2,000 pounds = 1 ton. No wonder I feel tired.

Red squirrels and black squirrels around the property. Lots of deer tracks on the hill.

Eight and a half hour drive to get home today. Two deer crossed the road in front of me around Gulliver, Michigan. Saw a pair of cranes in Michigan, and then another pair in Wisconsin.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Michigan trip

I am off to Michigan tomorrow (Sunday), so no blogging until I return on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mysterious migrations

New studies report that modern humans from Africa launched cultural advances in Europe at least 36,000 years ago and reached what's now western Russia more than 40,000 years ago, although those conclusions generate much scientific controversy.

- Science News

This is a "subscribers only" article so I cannot read the full text of the article.

Articles like this make me consider subscribing.

John Hawks Weblog

Paleoanthropology, Genetics, and Evolution

Most of it is so densely packed with information that I cannot even understand it.

Invisibility cloaks

Harry Potter fans, do not despair! Invisibility cloaks may be a long shot, but last year physicists demonstrated technology that might someday hide you from radar. Now, two groups of researchers have taken steps toward performing the same trick with visible light.

- Science News

Friday Night Fights

Delvin Rodriguez vs. Jesse Feliciano in a USBA light middleweight title bout in Ledyard, Connecticut.

This was a very interesting fight. Rodriguez was clearly winning the fight, all he had to do was stay on the outside and box.

But Rodriguez got careless in the 8th round and Feliciano landed a big punch, then proceeded to knock Rodriguez down three times before the referee ended the fight.

Analyst Teddy Atlas kept saying that Rodriguez should add a left hook to make an effective combination, but he never did and that omission may well have cost him the fight.

Ancient rocks

Over Earth's history, most of the original crust has recycled by sinking into the planet's hot interior, melting, and heading back toward the surface. However, a few pieces of the ancient crust never sank.

The oldest such area is the Greenland formation known as the Isua supracrustal belt, with rocks from 3.7 to 3.8 billion years old. It's "by far the oldest material on the planet that is structurally coherent, [but] people had never really found these telltale signs of oceanic spreading," says study coauthor Hubert Staudigel of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

Staudigel and his colleagues recently observed ancient outcrops of oceanic crust marked by long, parallel cracks filled with volcanic rock. Tension caused this ancient piece of seafloor to split, the researchers propose, allowing magma from the hot interior to rise and seal the cracks. Those physical characteristics, along with the chemical signature of oceanic magma, indicate that the rock was part of a spreading oceanic plate—a sure sign of tectonic activity.

"It's a marvelous case of solving a jigsaw puzzle, and a very difficult one because these rocks are all very old and have been badly mangled," comments Gustaf Arrhenius, also of Scripps.

- Science News

Hard to judge this without reading the original article, but it sounds interesting.

Wichita

"Wichita was a rough-and-tumble place surrounded by an endless sea of grass that had long been the domain of Indians, buffalo hunters, and fur traders. It was not a milieu for the faint of heart. Folks in Wichita enjoyed pointing out to greenhorns that back in the bygone times of 1860, a mere ten years or so before, Osage tribesmen on a hunting expedition had murdered one of the first white residents in the area. The search party of twenty resolute horsemen scoured the prairie, but all they ever found of the missing man was a booted human leg and a severed head for his widow to bury."

- Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride (2007) by Michael Wallis, page 20

I wonder what happened to his other leg?

When the weather is trying to tell you something

Arizona UFOs

Former Gov. Fife Symington says now that those strange lights that appeared over Phoenix a decade ago were from another world and that he had a close encounter with an alien craft on March 13, 1997.

- Arizona Daily Star

Be Happy, Not Gay

Two suburban Chicago students filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming their high school violated one of the students' civil rights by not letting her wear an anti-gay T-shirt.

Heidi Zamecnik, 17, of Naperville, and Alexander Nuxoll, 14, of Bolingbrook, are students at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.

In response to a National Day of Silence event in April 2006, Zamecnik wore a shirt to school that read "MY DAY OF SILENCE, STRAIGHT ALLIANCE" on the front and "BE HAPPY, NOT GAY" on the back, according to the suit filed Wednesday.

- AP

The Koran gets friendlier?

A new English-language interpretation of the Muslim Holy book the Koran challenges the use of words that feminists say have been used to justify the abuse of Islamic women.

The new version, translated by an Iranian-American, will be published in April and comes after Muslim feminists from around the world gathered in New York last November and vowed to create the first women's council to interpret the Koran and make the religion more friendly toward women.

- Reuters

A kinder, gentler Koran?

How long before al-Qaeda and the Taliban start making death threats against this council?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

$48 million for a backup QB?

The Falcons' deal to trade backup quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans is now official.

Schaub has agreed to a six-year, $48 million contract with $7 million guaranteed.

At a news conference in Houston, Schaub said he was sold on the Texans during a round of golf he played with head coach Gary Kubiak on Monday.

- AJC

The game of golf is more important in the NFL than I ever thought.

On the Nature of Relative Safety

"People are walking around communities (in Iraq) as safe as they are walking around — at the very least — in Detroit and Chicago and other places," he said.

- Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)

Yeah, and Milwaukee would be one of those other places.

Italians sell out

An Italian journalist who was held hostage for 15 days by the Taliban in lawless southern Afghanistan was ransomed for five Taliban prisoners, the Italian government and Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday.

- NY Times

Thereby putting many more lives at risk.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fredheads

It appears the movement to draft Fred Thompson into the 2008 presidential race is gaining steam. The former Tennessee senator, lawyer and actor's appearance on Fox News Sunday a few weeks ago has re-energized the right in a way that no one else in the race has come close to doing. Why? Because he is truly one of us and because he can win.

- The American Spectator

A very optimistic view. Time will tell.

Rush vs. Arnold

I thought that Rush could have been a lot rougher on The Guv than he was.

Rush pressed him on a few points, but for the most part, Rush let The Guv blather on.

As Rush pointed out afterwards, Rush refuses to be rude, but maybe in this case, a little rudeness was called for.

Coalition of the bribed

More like most morally and patriotically bankrupt Congress in history!

- Gay Patriot

This is what happens when Democrats get control.

Looking for Jake

Looking for Jake (2005) by China Mieville

Some very creepy stories from one of my favorite authors.

Calling this "weird fiction" does not even come close to describing it.

The stories are:

Looking for Jake (having a hard time keeping track of your best friend?)
Foundation (buried enemy soldiers)
The Ball Room (the haunted IKEA store)
Reports of Certain Events in London (peripatetic roads)
Familiar (call up not lest it in turn call up against you)
Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopedia (wormword)
Details (Lovecraftian tale of lurkers)
Go Between (secret messages in the bread)
Different Skies (a cautionary tale against installing random windows)
An End to Hunger (hackers beware)
'Tis the Season (trademarks interfere with holiday cheer)
Jack (Jack Half-a-Prayer is betrayed and avenged)
On the Way to the Front ( a comic book)
The Tain (fighting that last lost battle against reflections)

If you are adversely affected by disturbing fiction, maybe you should avoid this collection.

For the rest of us, definitely worth reading, more than once.

No good deed goes unpunished

The mystery creator of the Orwellian YouTube ad against Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Democratic operative who worked for a digital consulting firm with ties to rival Sen. Barack Obama.

- AP

But then the poor guy loses his job?

How is that fair?

Global warming heretics

The moment anyone diverges from official church doctrine on global warming, he is threatened with destruction. Heretics would be burnt at the stake if liberals could figure out how to do it in a "carbon neutral" way.

- Ann Coulter

She is clever and she is funny.

Someone was offended

"The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in overdecorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers," he [Garrison Keillor] wrote. ". . . If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control."

Seattle columnist Dan Savage called the [Garrison Keillor] column "every bit as offensive as Ann Coulter's 'faggot' joke about John Edwards and (relying) on the same set of cultural prejudices."

- Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate

It is amazing how some people choose to be easily offended.

The Goracle

"I want to testify today about what I believe is a planetary emergency - a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth. The consequences are mainly negative and headed toward catastrophic unless we act."

- Al Gore

He is a prophet in the religion of environmentalism.

Which is a scary thought.

Kansas Senator Brownback

With the GOP's influential conservative wing still scrambling for a candidate to back for the 2008 nomination, Brownback presents a paradox.

He has the kind of unquestioned credentials as a family values crusader that conservatives have long sought in a presidential candidate. Yet he hasn't been able to leverage his credentials to break out of a crowded pack of White House hopefuls.

One potential reason: Some Republicans fear he may be too conservative to win a national election.

- AP

Seems to be a good guy, but no national name recognition.

John Backus obit

John W. Backus, who assembled and led the I.B.M. team that created Fortran, the first widely used programming language, which helped open the door to modern computing, died on Saturday at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 82.

Fortran, released in 1957, was “the turning point” in computer software, much as the microprocessor was a giant step forward in hardware, according to J.A.N. Lee, a leading computer historian.

Fortran changed the terms of communication between humans and computers, moving up a level to a language that was more comprehensible by humans. So Fortran, in computing vernacular, is considered the first successful higher-level language.

- NY Times

Fortran was my first computer language.

It was a truly awful language by modern standards, but at the time it was developed, it was a breakthrough.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Total sellout

"To these people in the Drive-By Media, Republican and conservative equals the same thing. I have said he's not a conservative -- and, by the way, I want to remind all of you people in California, from the get-go I have told you he was not a conservative. He's a good guy, but he's not a conservative. He's a Republican. "

- Rush Limbaugh, referring to Arnold Schwarzenegger

The poster for the movie "Total Sellout" is very well done.

Two parasites

"Bill and Al's excellent adventure" ended tensely in the Clinton impeachment crisis and the Gore election loss - the heady '92 campaign a distant memory. Now they're back in Washington, two policy wonks cutting up the rug in the capital once more.

- AP

Hillary wants to make Bill "ambassador to the world?" So he can replace Carter as the worst ex-president we've ever had?

And The Goracle is now a "sage?"

Beyond pathetic.

Hitler comparisons

The co-chair of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's finance committee contributed to a group that used the money for a newspaper ad comparing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to Adolf Hitler.

- AP

Once again, the double standard. Liberals routinely compare Bush to Hitler and Republicans to Nazis. The leftmost media could care less. Business as usual.

Move On

"Gonzales' legacy at the (Justice Department) has been one of misplaced priorities, political miscalculation, and a failure to enforce the laws which he has sworn to uphold. I think that it is time for him to move on."

- Tom Tancredo

Maybe it is time to move on.

Edwards tries another scam

Labeling global warming an international emergency, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called Tuesday for a cap on greenhouse gas pollution and stricter auto emissions standards.

- AP

Translation = By raising taxes and exerting more governmental control, the cause of liberalism can be advanced.

Kerry's petty revenge

It's looking more likely that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) could get an ounce of revenge against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group that helped ruin his 2006 presidential quest. Sources tell the Sleuth that Swift Boat donor Sam Fox's nomination to be ambassador to Belgium is in real jeopardy.

- Washington Post

Never underestimate how petty someone like Kerry can be.

Lack of return fire

As long as the administration and Republicans allow Democrats a monopoly on righteous indignation, it's doubtful they'll make headway in convincing the electorate they hold the moral high ground on the important issues of the day. If this were merely a game of political one-upmanship, it would be one thing, but national security consequences are involved.

From the war on Iraq, to Gitmo, to the NSA surveillance program, to the Wilson-Plame fiasco, to global warming, to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, deceitful Democrats engage in relentless warfare against Republicans, and Republicans -- way too often -- roll over without even returning fire.

What is a half-attuned public to surmise about the relative integrity of the two parties when one party is forever accusing the other of misconduct and the other barely defends itself, much less turns the tables on its wrongful accusers?

- David Limbaugh

Valid points.

We need some improved mental toughness on the Republican side.

The dead fly first class

The body of a woman in her seventies, who died after the plane left Delhi for Heathrow, was carried by cabin staff from economy to first class, where there was more space. Her body was propped up in a seat, using pillows.

- The Sunday Times

This seems like an odd perk. If you die during the flight then you get a seat upgrade?

Ben & Jerry recall

Ben & Jerry's, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration, is voluntarily recalling 250,000 pints of its Ben & Jerry's Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream: Peach Ice Cream with Cinnamon-Sugar Shortbread Pieces & a Peach Swirl ("Country Peach Cobbler"), because it contains undeclared wheat.

- AJC

I like wheat.

Courage and Resolve, or lack thereof

President Bush asked skeptical Americans for additional patience as the Iraq war entered its fifth year yesterday, saying that the United States can be victorious, but "only if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."

- Washington Post

I am not optimistic. There is a "cut and run, peace at any cost" mentality that is all too prevalent in this country.

Clinton vs. Obama

[Clinton strategist] Mark Penn and Obama strategist David Axelrod engaged in a pointed and occasionally heated exchange during a public forum at Harvard University over the issue that has become the central point of dispute between the two leading candidates for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

Axelrod continued to question Penn's recounting of events and his decision to attack Obama. "I did not comment on Senator Clinton's decision in 2002," he said. "You found it necessary to draw Senator Obama into this discussion. Are we going to spend 10 months savaging each other, or are we going to try to lift this country up?"

- Washington Post

We can only hope that it will be the 10 months savaging each other.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

But in an interview with PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" recorded just before Obama's February announcement, Wright said he warned the senator that their association could pose political problems, partly because of his history of supporting Palestinian causes.

Wright also told The New York Times in an interview published March 6: "When his (Obama's) enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli" with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to visit Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, "a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell."

- AP

Interesting spin on the subject by Rev. Wright. That might explain why Hussein's political handlers did not want Wright speaking at the presidential announcement.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pandora in trouble

I received the following e-mail today:

**************************************


Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

I'm writing today to ask for your help. We've had a disastrous turn of
events recently for internet radio: Following an intensive lobbying effort on the part of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has just dramatically increased the fees internet radio sites must pay to the record labels - tripling fees and adding enormous retroactive payments! Left unchanged by Congress, this will kill all internet radio sites, including Pandora.

Tomorrow afternoon there is an important U.S. Senate hearing on the future of internet radio. Senator Herbert Kohl from your state is part of the hearing. I hope you'll take a minute today to call his office to voice your objection to this ruling.

Senator Herbert Kohl's phone number: (202)224-5653

If you decide to call, please be sure to tell them your name and home town, and mention Senator Herbert Kohl's name. We encourage you to tell them how much you enjoy listening to internet radio and that, left unchanged, the fees passed by the Copyright Royalty Board will kill internet radio. Please ask them to act to reverse this decision.

Remarkably, this rate applies only to internet radio, exempting both broadcast radio and satellite radio. It is a pure and simple reflection of the difference in lobbying power of each industry. It is not only unfair and without legal rationale, but will completely wipe out internet radio.

I hope you'll take just a few minutes to call - it will make a difference. As a young industry, we do not have the lobbying power of the RIAA. You, our listeners are by far our biggest and most influential ally.

As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.
-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)

***************************************************

Like a good soldier, I called Senator Kohl's office and registered my concerns.

We will see what happens. If Pandora crashes and burns, I will be deeply disappointed.

Sheetheads

[A bus driver was fired after a Muslim couple complained that he insulted members of their religion over the loudspeaker.

The driver, whose name was not released, was fired Thursday after Hilal Isler of upstate New York said she and her husband, Volkan Isler, were offended. The Turkish-American couple say he launched into a monologue after they boarded the I-Ride Trolley bus March 5.

Hilal Isler said he greeted passengers, told a blonde joke and then one about Muslims.

``And now they're telling us we're supposed to be nice to these Muslim terrorists who are trying to kill us all,'' Hilal Isler recalled him saying. ``Here in America, we call them 'rag-heads' or 'towelheads,' but that's not right. What they wear on their heads is more like a sheet. We should be calling them sheetheads.'']

- Chicago Tribune/sun-sentinel staff & wires

I thought it was humorous, but then I am not Turkish. Maybe their guilt over the genocide against the Armenians causes them to lack a sense of humor.

(Thanks to Rush Limbaugh for calling my attention to this story)

The Magic Negro

"Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him."

- LA Times

Once again, the double standard. If a conservative said this, the conservative would be vilified as a racist.

(Thanks to Rush Limbaugh for calling this to my attention.)

A slimmer Goracle

A leading indicator of his intentions could be Gore's waistline. The theory is that slimming down will be a signal he intends to run. "He has lost a few pounds, and Hillary can read into that what she wants," says a longtime adviser who declined to be identified discussing his boss's figure.

- msnbc.com

An already interesting Democratic primary could get more interesting.

Hillary 1984

It may be the most stunning and creative attack ad yet for a 2008 presidential candidate -- one experts say could represent a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising.

Yet the groundbreaking 74-second pitch for Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, which remixes the classic "1984" ad that introduced Apple computers to the world, is not on cable or network TV, but on the Internet.

And Obama's campaign says it had absolutely nothing to do with the video that attacks one of his principal Democratic rivals, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The video is a sophisticated new take on director Ridley Scott's controversial Apple ad that caused shock waves with its premiere during the 1984 Super Bowl, and shows the same blond young female athlete running with a sledgehammer toward a widescreen -- where an ominous Big Brother figure drones to a mass of zombielike followers.

But this time, the woman is wearing an iPod -- and has her candidate's slogan on her chest. And the Big Brother -- whose image she defiantly smashes with a wave of her sledgehammer -- is Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner.

The tagline for the attack: "On Jan. 14, the Democratic primary will begin. And you'll see why 2008 won't be like 1984."

- San Francisco Chronicle

Never underestimate a guy named Hussein.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Real Deal

Saturday night, four-time heavyweight champion Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield showed boxing fans that his quest to be the first five-time heavyweight champion could be valid, as he destroyed Vinny Maddalone from Queens, New York, in three rounds at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

- Fightnews.com

Four times is already impressive.

McCain

"I'm older than dirt, more scars than Frankenstein, but I learned a few things along the way."

- John McCain

My concerns about McCain have nothing to do with his age.

He has a tendency to be somewhat "shifty" about conservative issues.

300

“300” is not sufficiently ironic. It takes its themes (duty, loyalty, sacrifice, the preservation of Western civilization against enormous odds) too seriously to, well, be taken seriously.

All of the good guys are white people and many of the bad guys are brown. (How this could have been avoided in a film about Spartans versus Persians is never explained)

Lefties can’t abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women’s rights).

- Neal Stephenson, commenting on why reviewers did not like the movie "300"

Neal Stephenson is one of my favorite authors.

Home Again

Finally made it back home again.

Had tons of fun in the desert.

I really love the desert.

But it is also good to be back home again.

Napolitano

[Gov. Janet Napolitano's recent statements supporting military operations in Iraq and saying she has no plans to call for a troop withdrawal are drawing criticism from members of her own Democratic Party who've lost patience with the war.

Napolitano made her first visit to Iraq this month at the invitation of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. After two days of conversations with soldiers, military commanders and other officials, she came away cautiously optimistic about the country's security situation and the potential for success with the recent decision to increase troop strength in Baghdad.

"People that I met with were cautiously optimistic that they're at least seeing improvement," Napolitano told reporters at the time. "I think we're restoring stability."]

- The Arizona Republic

No surprise that a lot of Democrats do not like hearing comments like that from a Democrat.

Counter-protesters

"Much of the passion yesterday was supplied by thousands of counter-demonstrators, many of them veterans who mobilized from across the country to gather around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some said they came in response to appeals on the Internet to protect the Wall against what they feared would be acts of vandalism; no such acts were reported.

Others said they were tired of war protesters claiming to speak for the country. "I'm here because I think we need to commit to our troops in the field," said Guy Rocca, 63, a veteran who drove nine hours from Detroit."

- Washington Post

Of course, my sympathies are with the counter-demonstrators.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Goracle

"...in Belgium, Al Gore is looked upon as a hero, a superman, the only man in the world who can save the planet."

- The Brussels Journal

This is a very sad comment on Belgium.

B.O.

"I am proud of the fact that I opposed this war from the start. That I stood up in 2002 and said this is a bad idea. This is going to cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives."

- B. Hussein Obama

I am proud that I opposed Obama from the start.

Bill & Belinda

[As potential girlfriends go, Belinda Stronach would rank as a true catch. She is single, youngish (she just turned 40), attractive, wealthy, impeccably well-connected and politically ambitious - glamorous in every respect. Two years ago, Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 most powerful people on the planet. The tabloids cut to the chase: they called her the "blonde bombshell" or "Bubba's blonde."

Bubba, of course, is Bill Clinton. He has been photographed with Stronach ... several times. The sightings seem to be getting more frequent, leading to press speculation that their relationship has moved beyond official "friendship" - the description used by Stronach's PR people - to true romance. Poor Hillary Clinton. In the run-up to her presidential campaign, the last thing the New York senator needs is lurid stories about her skirt-chasing husband.]

- The First Post

Maybe this is part of Hillary's scheme to get the sympathy vote.

Hairy Reed

[The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint a conservative group filed against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his use of campaign money to pay holiday bonuses at the hotel where he lives.

A Citizens United spokesman said the group was disappointed in the outcome.

"The FEC's decision sends the signal that as long as you're a powerful member of Congress and you only cheat by a few thousand dollars, it's OK," said spokesman Jonathan Rick.]

- AP

I agree with Jonathan Rick.

However, if it was a Republican, there would be a completely different spin on it by the leftmost media.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another huge squid

Three weeks ago, while working the waters south of Key West, Fla., a chartered fishing boat hauled in a surprise: the fresh carcass of a huge squid unlike anything that the people on the boat had ever seen. In fact, according to marine biologists, the gelatinous creature is unlike any known in the Atlantic Ocean.

- Science News

Tar baby

The term dates to the 19th century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br'er Rabbit. It has become known as a way of describing a sticky mess and has been used as a derogatory term for a black person.

- AP

So, we cannot use the term "tar baby" for describing a sticky mess?

Pathetic.

Another case where the leftmost media has tried, and apparently succeeded, to invalidate part of the language.

Minnesota dog's head

[A 17-year-old girl who spent weeks looking for her missing dog unwrapped a box left on her doorstep and found the pet's severed head inside, authorities said.

Homicide investigators were looking into the case because of the "implied" terroristic threat, St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim Gray said. The Humane Society of the United States said Wednesday it was offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

"This was extraordinarily heinous," said Dale Bartlett, the Humane Society's deputy manager for animal cruelty issues. "I deal with hundreds and hundreds of cruelty cases each year. When I read about this case, it took my breath away. It's horrible."]

- AP/azcentral.com

Do not drink the water in Minnesota.

Cruise jumper

A flying leap from a Bahamas-bound vessel into the Atlantic Ocean resulted in a collapsed lung and minor hypothermia for a 35-year-old Orlando man.

The Coast Guard says his lung was probably injured during the fall, ''When you fall from a very high distance and hit the water, it's very hard. It's like hitting cement,'' said Luis Diaz, a Coast Guard spokesman.

- Miami Herald

Ouch.

Voter fraud

The accusation that United States attorneys were insufficiently aggressive about voter fraud is a way of saying, without actually saying, that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections.

- NY Times editorial

Once again, the NY Times has it 100% wrong.

This is the liberal double standard. Pro-Democrat voter fraud is good voter fraud.

If it were pro-Republican voter fraud, then the analysis would be completely different. We would be hearing that democracy is at risk, that the entire history of western civilization is at risk.

These people are the worst sort of hypocrites, and since they are liberals, that is to be expected.

Goldfield

It was another busy day in the desert today.

We visited Goldfield, a mining town/ghost town/tourist attraction.

It was the location of the old Mammoth Mine, one of the richest gold mines in history.

We panned for gold (got a few nice garnets).

We went on the train tour (the only narrow gauge railroad still in use in Arizona).

We went on the mine tour (the original mine is flooded).

Tons of antique mining gear lying about.

Well worth the trip, and I would do it again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gay babies

The [Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr.] president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has incurred sharp attacks from both the left and right by suggesting that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.

Mohler's argument was endorsed by a prominent Roman Catholic thinker, the Rev. Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., and editor of Ignatius Press, Pope Benedict XVI's U.S. publisher.

"Same-sex activity is considered disordered," Fessio said. "If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb, and a way of treating them that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science."

- AP/azcentral.com

This raises a number of interesting questions. How many parents, if given the choice, would choose to have a gay child? What happens to the political power of the far-left gay community if their numbers decrease?

The politics of global warming

["It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth," said Andresen, an expert on thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

He says the currently used method of determining the global temperature -- and any conclusion drawn from it -- is more political than scientific.]

- UPI

I think that is a fair summary of the Goracle: more political than scientific.

White powder at the Edwards campaign

The campaign headquarters of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards reopened Thursday after authorities determined the white substance found in an envelope wasn't dangerous, campaign officials said.

- AP

The campaign workers were probably just snorting laundry detergent.

Brownback & Pace

"We should not expect someone as qualified, accomplished and articulate as General Pace to lack personal views on important moral issues. In fact, we should expect that anyone entrusted with such great responsibility will have strong moral views."

- Senator Sam Brownback

I agree with Brownback and Pace.

Nice Guy Obama

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama vowed Thursday not to make the marital and other personal troubles of political rivals a campaign issue.

- AP

What a nice guy.

Another busy day in the desert

It was another busy day in the desert.

Attended the Brewers game at Maryvale against the Angels. The Brewers won 6-1. Saw Suppan get the win and home runs by Braun and Fielder.

Walked around the Mill Ave. "downtown" of Arizona State University. Very quiet because of spring break.

Finished the day at the Desert Botanical Garden. Beautiful sunset.

Incoherent

"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z."

"I'm not happy that 3,000 been killed in America. I feel sorry, even. I don't like to kill children and the kids."

"The language of war is victims."

- K. S. Mohammed

Maybe he is angling for an insanity plea.

Rats in Washington

The Democrats' response is: We must pass even more stringent rules to ensure that all government employees get every single break so that public-sector unions will continue giving massive campaign donations to the Democrats.

- Ann Coulter

Once again, Ann Coulter lands a solid punch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

San Francisco Peaks

Several Arizona Native communities hold the San Francisco Peaks sacred in their religions. The judges wrote on behalf of the Hopi and Navajo, whose creation stories and other beliefs center on the peaks, and to a lesser extent on behalf of the Hualapai and Havasupai tribes.

The tribes objected to making snow in general as disruptive to the deities on the mountains and to the treated water in particular because it came from sewage and may even include water reclaimed from mortuaries.

"To get some sense of equivalence," Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the panel, "it may be useful to imagine the effect on Christian beliefs and practices - and the imposition that Christians would experience - if the government were to require that baptisms be carried out with 'reclaimed water.' "

- The Arizona Republic

No apology

"I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe that the armed forces of the United States are well served by saying through our policies that it's OK to be immoral in any way."

- Marine General Peter Pace

No apology necessary.

Modern worship

Following ancient tradition deep inside one of India's oldest and holiest temples, he chanted Vishnu's names 108 times to beseech health, wealth and good fortune -- not for himself, but for an Indian emigrant living in London who had purchased the prayer with her credit card on a Hindu Web site.

"If you wish to make an offering, the god will accept it -- even if it's on the Internet," said Balaji, standing barefoot in the hot sand of the South Indian temple.

- Washington Post

Right wing conspiracies

"So if anybody tells you there is no vast right-wing conspiracy, tell them that New Hampshire has proven it in court."

- Senator Clinton

It would be humorous if it was not so pathetic.

In the desert

In the desert, so busy having fun that I cannot find time to blog.

Saturday, got up at 430am to get organized to go to the airport to fly to Phoenix.

Arrived 1030 local, then drove up to the Grand Canyon. Saw several pronghorn antelope along the road between Williams and the park.

Saw several mule deer along the road in the park.

Saw a couple of desert bighorn sheep along the cliff face below Mather Point.

Watched the sunset, very impressive.

Sunday, too tired to get up for the sunrise, spent most of the day hiking along the rim trails. Hiked a short distance down the trail at Hermit's Rest. Watched the sunset at Hopi Overlook/Hopi Point. Very impressive.

Drove out of the park after dark, saw several elk along the road and a lone coyote cross the road.

Monday, drove to Sedona. Hiked Little Horse Trail just outside Sedona. Awesome redrock scenery.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Edwards seeks leftwing bias

"Fox News has already proven they have no intention of providing "fair and balanced" coverage of any Democrat in this election."

- Edwards blog

Translation = Fox is not going to provide the leftwing bias that has been provided for decades by ABC, CBS, and NBC

Environmentalism is a religion?

"Environmentalism is a religion that is based more on political ambitions than science, the president of the Czech Republic warned Friday."

- UPI

I agree with him.

David Obey & the idiot liberals

"House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) berated a woman who approached him in a Congressional corridor, claiming that “idiot liberals” don’t understand the war supplemental spending bill process."

- thehill.com

I find it an exceedingly odd comment from David Obey, who is himself an idiot liberal.

I guess it takes one to know one?

More Union troubles

"One of the nation's largest firefighters' union has accused Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, of committing "egregious acts" against firefighters who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

- AP

Left-wing union leadership, just getting warmed up.

We need more Thompsons?

"Fred Thompson, the character Arthur Branch on NBC's drama "Law & Order," is being urged to pursue the GOP nomination by several Tennessee Republicans who also have been trying to drum up support for a candidacy."

- AP

Tommy and Fred? Can never have too many Thompsons, I guess.

Clinton radical methods

[Hillary Clinton’s political methods were founded on the theories of a 1960s radical about whom she wrote her college thesis in 1969. It may take a village to raise a child, but Clinton’s college thesis seems to say that the village politicos need an enemy to mobilize against.

She titled the paper, written to fulfill her Bachelor of Arts degree at Wellesley College, “There is Only the Fight.” It praises the work of radical activist Saul Alinsky, a man who epitomized a self-interested no-holds barred campaign style that Hillary has emulated in later years. Clinton’s savvy-but-ruthless politics, including the “politics of personal destruction” she so often condemns but more often practices, seem rooted in Alinsky’s famous rules for radicals.]

- Amanda B. Carpenter

Exactly correct. No one is more hypocritical than the Clintons about the politics of personal destruction.

This Carpenter column is worth reading more than once. The Clintons exemplify the no-holds barred, win at any cost methodology used by liberals.

Conservatives need to devise effective counter methods.

Wildlife sightings

The first chipmunks emerged today.

A lot of snow cover makes it tough for them to forage.

Funnies

Muslims get prison in FBI sting

[Two leaders of an Albany mosque who were snared in an FBI sting involving a fictional terror strike were sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison. The former imam, Yassin Aref, professed innocence before his sentencing and criticized the government's treatment of Muslims.

"I never had any intention to harm anyone in this country," said Aref, a 36-year-old Kurdish refugee. "And I don't know why I'm guilty."]

- townhall.com

He criticized the government's treatment of Muslims? Really? He thinks he should get complete immunity from prosecution based on his religion?

I know why he is guilty. He committed a crime.

And then he got a light sentence. He should be thankful for that. I would have given him the maximum.

Moose & wolves on Isle Royale

"Because of its isolation, the Isle Royale National Park is an ideal setting for wildlife study - and researchers are noting a troubling development: the island's wolf and moose populations are declining."

- AP/WRAL

The Goracle better look into this.

Unions throw temper tantrum

Stung by Gov. Bill Ritter's veto of a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize, the AFL-CIO threatened to recommend the Democratic Party move its 2008 convention from Denver.

- AP

Internet radio threatened

"Internet music broadcasters worry that a new ruling could put many of them out of business by drastically increasing the royalty payments they have to make to record labels and artists.

The ruling could have the greatest impact on startup companies that make their living from broadcasting music online and selling advertising to pay for it."

- AP

Bummer. It would be a major loss if Pandora crashed and burned.

IT matters

[Typewriters were dusted off, hand-held radios were tested, and Anne Arundel County employees reported having to walk between offices rather than sending e-mails yesterday after a virus led to the shutdown of more than 2,500 computers.

The county's office of information technology began fielding calls from employees about 10:40 a.m. Wednesday. The virus, called Rinbot, spread quickly. County officials decided to shut down the entire network rather than allowing the virus to spread.

County contractor Symantec, a virus protection company, was called to examine the problem and provide a cure.

According to Symantec's Web site, the Rinbot virus exploits vulnerabilities in the network, including components protected by weak passwords. Once it infects a computer, it opens a back door in the computer, which can cause further problems, and scans the network for other computers it can infect.]

- Washington Post

Gingrich's message

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Bill Clinton over the Monica S. Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.

"The honest answer is 'Yes,' " Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson to be aired today, according to a transcript. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."

- AP

The problem here is that the message is weakened if the messenger talks the talk, but does not walk the walk.

It does not invalidate his message. I still believe in what Gingrich says. But it would help if he could get his personal life in order.

Why is it that brilliant people, and Gingrich certainly is one, almost always seem to have tragic character flaws?

Asteroids

"The risk that an asteroid capable of wiping out humanity will crash into Earth is minuscule, new calculations suggest, but the chances of a smaller one destroying a city or setting off a catastrophic tsunami remain unclear and may be higher than previous estimates."

- Washington Post

The Goracle is already hysterical about global warming, so what does he have to say about this?

Mr. Sorry

[Sorry seems to be the hardest word, unless you're presidential contender John Edwards trying to claim a top spot in the 2008 Democratic field.

While politicians campaign on their successes, the former North Carolina senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee keeps reminding people he was wrong to vote for the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq.

His reason is twofold. He's indirectly criticizing front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also voted for the resolution but has refused to say that it was wrong. He's also trying to distinguish himself as a straight talker who belongs at the top of the race with attention-grabbing rivals Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.]

- AP

Edwards is about as far from a straight talker as it is possible to be.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Immortal Game

The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science, and the Human Brain (2006)

by David Shenk

The author is a descendent of Samuel Rosenthal, one of the legendary chess masters in France in the late 1800s.

This is a very interesting history of chess with a particular emphasis on The Immortal Game between Anderssen and Kieseritzky in 1851. It is somwhat ironic and tragic that it was Kieseritzky who made sure the results of the game were popularized, yet he never recovered from the loss.

The author discusses the origins of chess in India, the parallel development of chess and Islam, the spread of chess through the Middle East into Europe, and the evolution of chess through the four great eras: Romantic, Scientific, Hypermodern, and New Dynamism.

While playing chess improves the mind, an obsession with chess often ends badly. The author discusses many painful cases, including Marcel Duchamp, Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer.

The author explores the development of computer chess AI, with special emphasis on Kasparov vs. Deep Junior in 2003.

The author discusses chess in schools, and the positive effects that chess can have on students.

There are appendices on the rules of chess, the six greatest games of chess in history, and Ben Franklin's "Morals of Chess."

The six greatest games are:

The Immortal Game (Anderssen vs. Kieserittzky, 1851)
The Game of the Century (Byrne vs. Fischer, 1956)
The Opera Game (Morphy vs. Brunswick/Isouard, 1858)
The Battle of Hastings (Steinitz vs. von Bardeleben, 1895)
Polish Brilliancy (Rotlewi vs. Rubinstein, 1907)
Karpov vs. Kasparov, 1993

This is a fascinating book, definitely worth reading, more than once. And probably worth buying.

Whodunits

The Mammoth Book of New Historical Whodunits (2005, 2006)

Edited by Mike Ashley

This is an odd collection of short stories spanning 3,000 years of murder.

It is also an uneven collection. Some of the stories are very good, others not so good.

It starts, not at the beginning of the chronological order, but with a Templar during the crusades.

From there, it goes back to the earliest tale, featuring the Queen of Sheba, then through ancient Assyria, Egypt, Rome, and Celtic Ireland.

The stories then jump to the European Middle Ages, then to the mathematician Fibonacci, Chaucer, Prince Henry the Navigator, and witch trials.

Then the stories jump to colonial America and issues of slavery, Benedict Arnold, and Ben Franklin.

Then to Edinburgh, Australia, England, and then back to America.

Then to the Deep South for another story involving slavery, then back to England, then back to Australia.

The book ends with a story that features British and Nazi agents aboard the Titanic.

My favorite stories were:

The Serpent's Back by Ian Rankin (Cullender in Edinburgh)

The Abolitionist by Lynda S. Robinson (Temple Forbes of Texas visits cousins in the Deep South)

The Gentleman on the Titanic by John Lutz (double agent Kolb/Wick sacrifices his own life to foil Nazi agents)

Bug warriors

Annoying as they are, you may want to think twice before you crush a cockroach or swat a fly—you could be killing a future foot soldier in the war on terror.

- Popular Science

I am in favor of this. Not just as threat detectors, but as actual warriors.

Bees with sniper rifles, just like the picture with the article.

DiCaprio coming to save us from ourselves

"Global warming is not only the number one environmental challenge we face today, but one of the most important issues facing all of humanity. We all have to do our part to raise awareness about global warming and the problems we as a people face in promoting a sustainable environmental future for our planet.”

- Leonardo DiCaprio

I feel better already just knowing that DiCaprio is on top of the situation.

With higher taxes and more governmental control, I am sure that he can advance the cause of liberalism.

Global warming causes cold February

The average temperature in February 2007 was 32.9 F. This was -1.8 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average, the 34th coolest February in 113 years.

- National Climate Data Center

I am sure that the Goracle has an explanation.

Farrakhan on Clinton

"Although black people looked at Bill Clinton as a black president, he did less for black people than other presidents."

- Louis Farrakhan, quoted from Nightline on The Drudge Report

I am amazed bordering on stupification that I agree with Farrakhan on something.

Thermopylae

In 483 BC Xerxes I, the leader of the Persian empire and son of Darius the Great, prepared to go to war against the Greeks. This war, considered part of the Persian or Medic Wars, could trace its roots back to 499 BC.

Earlier the Persians conquered the Greek city-states of Ionia, and in 499 BC the Ionians rebelled at their Persian masters. The
rest of Greece provided little aid to the Ionian rebellion and the Persians were able to crush the rebellion. Then, in 492 BC
the Persians, under General Mardonius, decided it was time to unite more of Greece beneath the Persian banner. Though
the Persians managed to raze Eretria they were ultimately brought to defeat at the battle of Marathon.

It was for this defeat, and the original Ionian rebellion, that Xerxes sought retribution through Greek blood. From 483 until 480 BC the Persians carefully marshaled their forces and prepared for battle. An alliance was made with Carthage, several Greek city-states sided with the Persians, and an army from 400,000 to five million, depending on the source, was raised. Logistic problems would indicate that the high end is the least likely, and the true number probably falls near the lower end of the spectrum. Regardless of the exact number, the Persian army marching into Greece was huge. Facing them was a force of around 7,000 defenders. Again, the exact number is unknown, with a low estimate of several thousand and a high end estimate of about double the 7K.

When the Persian army marched into Greece the Greeks realized that the Persians would need to go through Thermopylae ("Hot Gates"), a narrow passageway along the coast known for its natural hot water springs. It was a track barely fifteen yards across, and excellent defensive terrain. Besides the natural defensive offerings of the land, there was a small fort and a wall. It would be an excellent spot for a delaying action, and one that would not need a large force.

And so King Leonidas of Sparta took 300 hoplites (warriors who had all fathered sons that could continue the bloodline) and 700 Thespians to the pass of Thermopylae to face the Persian threat as an advance guard. Other troops also came, but it was these 1000 men who faced the brunt of the forthcoming attack.

The Persian army, supported by their navy, made their way up the coast and arrived at the pass faster than expected. When the Persians encountered the Greeks Xerxes expected that they would simply surrender or disperse against such overwhelming odds. He parlayed his intention and waited. Four days passed. The Greeks exercised and joked. No
surrender was forthcoming. On the fifth day the Persians attacked.

Sending a force from Medes, a recently conquered puppet state, in for the first wave the Medes failed to achieve any sense of victory, unless victory was being measured by how many deaths amongst their own forces they were amassing.

For the next assault Xerxes sent in his best legion, the Immortals. 10,000 strong, whenever a man fell he was immediately replaced, so that the Immortals would always be 10,000. According to the Greek writer Herodotus the Immortal's kit was:

"The dress of these troops consisted of the tiara, or soft felt cap, embroidered tunic with sleeves, a coat of mail looking like the scales of a fish, and trousers; for arms they carried light wicker shields, quivers slung below them, short spears, powerful bows with can arrows, and short swords swinging from belts beside the right thigh."

The Immortals, numerous they may have been, failed just as the lesser Medes had. There was simply not enough frontage for the superior numbers to make a difference. Only so many men could enter the pass to fight at a time, and as long as the defenders were able to maintain their shield wall, the attackers had little chance. They were waves breaking against the coast.

At sea the Persian navy was met by a Greek naval force. A Greek victory could have cut Xerxes supply line, but alas the Greeks were defeated. With control of the sea Xerxes could have taken root and essentially lay siege to Thermopylae. Instead a Greek traitor suddenly made victory seem possible in short order.

While many Greeks rallied against the encroaching Persian empire others didn't see it as such a bad thing. Ephialtes was such a Greek.

Ephialtes went to Xerxes and informed him that there was a goat path (actually one of several) that would allow the Persians to slip in behind Thermopylae. Xerxes listened, and after initial doubts, realized that Ephialtes was telling the truth. A new attack plan was drawn up.

The defending Greeks were aware of the goat paths just as Ephialtes was, and in fact Leonidas had set Phocian troops along the most likely path to be infiltrated. The Persians though came up another path, surprising the Phocians in their sleep. Under a shower of arrows the Phocians were massacred and the Persians continued towards their main objective, those guarding the pass.

In the morning Leonidas learned of what had happened during the night and knew the situation was grim. It was at this point he dismissed the majority of the Greeks. The Spartans had sworn to hold the pass and they would continue to do so. With the 300 hoplites 700 Thespians also stayed, along with several hundred Thebans (who were kept against their will).

At dawn, three days after the actual Persian attack began, the Immortals assaulted the remaining Greeks. With the attack not confined to such a narrow space their numbers finally made a difference. Knowing that their final doom was at hand the Spartans and Thespians fought bitterly. The Thebans, who were forced to stay behind, surrendered when the chance presented itself.

As the day wore on the last Greeks made one final stand. The Persians surrounded these last troops and sent wave after wave of arrow down upon them, until there was no more opposition.

After the battle Xerxes ordered the corpse of Leonidas recovered, whereupon he desecrated the body by both crucifying Leonidas' body and decapitating it. The Greeks would not recover Leonidas' body until forty years later, returning it to Sparta.

The last stand of the Spartans, though brave and worthy of being remembered thousands of years later, did not offer much militarily. The delay for the Persians was inconsequential, and their numbers still exceedingly large.

Another naval battle, the Battle of Artemisium, while not quite a Greek defeat, was also not a Greek victory. The Greeks retreated what remained of the fleet, giving total control of the Aegean to the Persians. The Persian army continued on their march, sacking Athens. After that the Greek navy finally had a decent showing, defeating the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. This was the turning point for the Greeks, and from that point on the Greeks were able to push the Persians out of Greece.

- FRAG! Newsletter March 2007

This is an interesting summary.

I disagree with his conclusions about Thermopylae. It was a psychological defeat from which the Persians never recovered.

He also omits the part where Xerxes had his commanders executed for desecrating the body of Leonidas, even though the commanders had done so on his (Xerxes) orders.

Democrats support the troops?

Hillary Rodham Clinton offered a new GI "Bill of Rights" for men and women in uniform, arguing that Democrats can do a better job of protecting and providing for U.S. troops than the Republican administration.

- AP

Democrats have never done a better job of supporting the troops before.

Why should we believe that they will suddenly start doing so now?

17 years late

[Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.

The Illinois Senator shelled out $375 in January - two weeks before he officially launched his presidential campaign - to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.

The story was first reported Wednesday by The Somerville News.]

- AP

Did he only pay because he was running for president?

Easy to be cynical on stories like this.

Traitor

A former Navy sailor was arrested Wednesday for allegedly releasing classified information that ended up in the hands of a suspected terrorism financier.

Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix, is accused in a case that began in Connecticut and followed a suspected terrorist network across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.

He was arrested in Phoenix on charges of supporting terrorism with an intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.

- AP

Moose wrecks helicopter

A helicopter is not necessarily a match for an angry moose. Instead of lying down after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, a moose charged a hovering helicopter used by a wildlife biologist, damaging the aircraft's tail rotor and forcing it to the ground.

- AP

Never underestimate a moose.

Dead man lives

[She chanced upon a 78-year-old man who had just been hit by a car and had stopped breathing. He had been shrouded head to toe with a blanket by a passerby who said she was a medical professional.

Yet something about Eric Eaton made Broward sheriff's Deputy Tina Lacertosa think he might not be dead.]

- Miami Herald

He was dead. And then he was alive.

Goodbye, William Henderson

[The Green Bay Packers released veteran fullback William Henderson on Wednesday. Henderson has spent all of his 12 years in Green Bay.

"We are releasing William at this point so he can pursue other opportunities within the National Football League," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson. "The Packers organization is extremely appreciative of his efforts over the past 12 seasons."

Henderson has played in more games as a Packer, 188, than every player in team history other than Brett Favre, Bart Starr, and Ray Nitschke.

The third-round selection out of North Carolina in the 1995 NFL Draft has 320 catches for 2,409 yards and 14 touchdowns in his career. He has also rushed 112 times for 426 yards and five touchdowns.]

- Sports Network

He was a good player and a good person. He was one of my favorites.

Killer robot

An Israeli defense firm on Thursday unveiled a portable robot billed as being capable of entering most combat zones alone and engaging enemies with an onboard armory that includes a machine-pistol and grenades.

- Reuters

I want one.

Half ton

A man who once weighed well over a half ton left his house for the first time in five years Wednesday — wheeled outside on his bed to greet neighbors and see a mariachi band. "The sky is beautiful and blue and what I want is to enjoy the sun," said Manuel Uribe, who had once been certified by doctors as weighing 1,235 pounds. Though still unable to leave his bed, Uribe has lost 395 pounds since he began a high-protein diet a year ago. He now weights about 840 pounds.

- ajc/ap

The Liberal Double Standard

"Senate Democrats said yesterday they are preparing to subpoena five senior Justice Department officials as part of a widening probe into whether eight U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons."

- Washington Post

If it was a Democratic president, a completely different standard would be used.

Same old same old.

Getting stabbed

["The Republican Party comes along every four years and whispers in our ears and, when the election is over, tells us to go away and to not bother them," said Mark Crutcher, founder and president of Life Dynamics, a Texas-based anti-abortion group who called the coalition "a functionary of the Republican Party."

Crutcher said he expects to be "stabbed in the chest" by Democrats, but it's getting "stabbed in the back by Republicans" that really angers him.]

- AP story

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pathetic Libby juror

[One of the 11 jurors who voted unanimously to convict Mr. Libby said in an interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC today that she would favor a pardon. The juror, Ann Redington, explained her thinking by saying that “it kind of bothers me” that no one was charged with the crime initially under investigation — exposing the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer — and that Mr. Libby “got caught up in the investigation as opposed to in the actual crime that was supposedly committed.”]

- NY Times

The juror should not have convicted Libby in the first place.

Then he would not have to be pardoned.

Sports Illustrated buys into global warming

"Global warming is not coming; it is here. Greenhouse gases -- most notably carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil and gas -- are trapping solar heat that once escaped from the Earth's atmosphere. As temperatures around the globe increase, oceans are warming, fields are drying up, snow is melting, more rain is falling, and sea levels are rising."

- Sports Illustrated

They forgot to mention how we are also causing global warming on Mars.

Edwards cuts & runs

"Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards won't participate in a debate co-hosted by Fox News Channel and the Nevada Democratic Party, his campaign said Wednesday, as party officials tried to settle a dust-up over their partnership with the conservative cable network."

- AP story

Edwards would prefer that one of the leftmost channels were involved? Or he just does not want to participate, and this is a convenient excuse?

Wisconsin idiots

"Attempts to do a movie stunt landed one man in the hospital with burned genitals and another facing criminal charges. The men were trying to do a stunt from one of the ''Jackass'' movies, in which a character lights his genitals on fire."

- AP story

Obama's investments

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he was not aware he had invested in two companies backed by some of his top donors and said he had done nothing to aid their business with the government."

- AP story

If it were a Republican, the leftmost media would put an entirely different spin on it.

Gutless appeasers

"Criminal prosecution is a surrogate for political warfare, but in this war, Republicans are gutless appeasers."

- Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter continues to land some solid punches.

Gates on immigration

“It makes no sense to tell well-trained, highly skilled individuals, many of whom are educated at our top colleges and universities, that the United States does not welcome or value them. America will find it infinitely more difficult to maintain its technological leadership if it shuts out the very people who are most able to help us compete.”

- Bill Gates

I am shocked that Bill Gates and I actually agree on something.

The Responsibility of Muslims

"Third, war has been declared, and is being waged, upon our nation by people who claim to be acting in the name of Islam. If they are to be denied the right to fly the flag of Islam, then it is Muslims who must deny it to them. It is Muslims who must be in the lead in condemning the attacks and in showing their false logic and utter immorality. It is Muslims who must be in the lead in calling for the American people to unite and to defend ourselves."

- Joseph Morris

I am not optimistic about this.

Giuliani & too many wives?

Calling the messy breakup of Rudy Giuliani's second marriage "divorce on steroids," a Southern Baptist leader said the Republican presidential hopeful's personal life may be too tempestuous for evangelical voters to tolerate.

Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Associated Press that evangelical voters might accept a divorced presidential candidate, but they have deep doubts about Giuliani, who has been married three times.

- AP story

Too many wives?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Global warming hits Massachusetts

"Certainly, today is the coldest March day since 1950."

- Meteorologist William Simpson, referring to the cold weather in Massachusetts

The coldest March day in almost 60 years is caused by global warming? I am sure the Goracle has a perfectly logical explanation.

Morbid obesity

"Renee Williams, the 841-pound woman thought to be the largest ever to receive gastric bypass surgery, died Sunday night of a massive heart attack."

- Houston Chronicle

Beware falling airplanes

[By the time Beth Johnson rushed to tell police that she suspected her ex-husband had abducted their 8-year-old daughter, it was too late.

Eric Johnson had already strapped Emily into the passenger seat of a leased single-engine Cessna and taken off from Virgil I. Grissom Municipal Airport, police said. Moments later, the aircraft slammed into the side of his former mother-in-law's house.

Johnson, 47, and his daughter died in the crash, which investigators suspect was intentional.]

- AP story

This story is so bizarre that it is beyond description.

No B.O. jokes allowed

"A disc jockey in Austin, Texas was suspended Thursday after he attempted to joke about the recent politically incorrect comments made by Sen. Joe Biden about Sen. Barack Obama."

- eurweb.com

B.O. is a very serious subject and in our rush to political correctness, we do not allow any jokes about B.O.

Horror in Michigan

Authorities said Stephen Grant, 37, told them he killed his wife in the couple's home and later dismembered her. He was arrested early Sunday and treated for hypothermia after he spent 10 hours hiding in a park at the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

- AP story

Like a bad horror novel.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Edwards the Hypocrite

"...Edwards' outraged indignation would still be [unintentionally] hilarious. I, for one, cannot fathom how a Presidential candidate who's less than a month out from the revelation that he knowingly hired two anti-Catholic bigots to be campaign staffers (moreover, campaigns spokespeople, after a fashion), can make a fundraising plea based on eliminating bigotry in politics with a straight face. Especially after both of the bigoted bloggers in question had their careers with the Edwards campaign end in "voluntary resignation" rather than "termination." Unless, of course, we are to believe that with $100,000, he could afford to hire a blogger who isn't, you know, either crazy or a Catholic-hater."

- Leon H. Wolf at RedState.com

More of the liberal double standard. Same old same old.

When Edwards talks about eliminating bigotry, he is not talking about eliminating left-wing bigotry, which is classified by liberals as the "good bigotry" of Bill Maher and Al Franken.

Farsi ballots

"Yes, federal law--inspired by illegal aliens--forces a city to produce ballots in Farsi, even when assimilated Iranian-American Jews don't want it.

Only in America."

- Debbie Schlussel

Yes, only in a Carterized and Clintonized America.

Revolution and foreign intervention

"A writer for the world's most popular liberal blog is calling for, "revolution and foreign intervention," in the United States and you know what? Other than at RWN, it probably won't even be covered.

You know why that's the case? Because the left in this country has become so profane, insane, and extreme that the sort of comments that would have caused liberals to be shunned as out of the mainstream kooks a decade ago are regular fodder at popular liberal websites."

- RWN

Another reason is that liberal blogs pretending to be conservative blogs are so busy mischaracterizing Ann Coulter's quote that they do not have time to cover profane, insane, and extreme quotes by the far left.

I am getting progressively more ill & exhausted by the rush to political correctness by people who call themselves conservatives.

Nifong and Murtha

"Sacrificing others’ lives for personal political gain, though most often publicly attributed -- incorrectly -- to so-called “chickenhawks” in the nation’s (GOP) leadership, is actually a distinguishing characteristic of the modern Left."

"People who wield such power that they have a legal say in others’ freedom -- let alone in others’ lives and deaths -- have an indescribably immense responsibility to exercise infinitely more wisdom, judgment, conscience, patience, reason, and moderation in the exercising of that power than the normal man. People like Nifong, Harry Reid, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, and their ilk hold that power over others, but have demonstrably a total lack of (and lack of interest in) those necessary qualities and requirements when exercising it -- and that may be the greatest transgression that a person entrusted with power over others can commit. "

- Jeff Emanuel

Very well said on both quotes. Could not agree more.

Gay Patriot sells out

"And I’ve been delighted to note how many conservative bloggers, pundits and politicians have criticized Ann Coulter for her lame attempt at humor. I have long been critical of Ms. Coulter, seeing her as more interested in provoking controversy than in promoting conservative ideas."

- Gay Patriot

What they meant to say was that they were delighted by how many liberals pretending to be conservatives have criticized Ann Coulter.

Ann Coulter has long been more effective at promoting conservative ideas than has Gay Patriot, and I suspect that they know that.

I give Gay Patriot an F- for their coverage of the topic.

Granite Grok sells out

Another conservative blog sells out in its rush toward political correctness.

I am getting progressively more ill & exhausted.

Which is worse? Ann Coulter's comment or Granite Grok comparing Ann Coulter to Brittney Spears?

The latter, of course.

Granite Grok's offensive behavior proves the truth of the larger context in which Ann Coulter made the comment in the first place.

Chess: Attacking with 1d4

Attacking with 1d4 (2001) by Angus Dunnington

As the author points out in the preface, this book is not intended to be a watertight chess repertoire book.

It features 30 complete games, heavily annotated to illustrate the principles of attacking with 1d4 versus various defenses such as Queen's Gambit Accepted, Queen's Gambit Declined, Slav, King's Indian, Benoni, Grunfeld, Nimzo-Indian, Dutch, and others.

The book is very densely packed with information. And like all good chess books, you cannot get a lot out of it without setting up a chess board and playing out the moves as you read.

An excellent book. Well worth reading, more than once.

Lack of consensus

"I've often heard it said that there is a consensus of thousands of scientists on the global warming issue, that humans are causing a catastrophic change to the climate system. Well I am one scientist, and there are many, that simply think that is not true."

- John Christy, Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center, NSSTC University of Alabama

The Great Global Warming Swindle

[The UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published in February. At the time it was promoted as being backed by more than 2,000 of the world's leading scientists.

But Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said it was a "sham" given that this list included the names of scientists who disagreed with its findings.

Professor Reiter, an expert in malaria, said his name was removed from an assessment only when he threatened legal action against the panel.

"That is how they make it seem that all the top scientists are agreed," he said. "It's not true."]

- Daily Mail

Bloomberg runs as independent?

"The scenario floated by Sheekey and other supporters has Bloomberg waiting until next year, when the front-runners for both parties are clear. If one candidate is way on the left and the other far to the right, some envision room for Bloomberg right down the middle as an independent."

- CBS

Bloomberg and the Republican split the anti-Clinton vote and Clinton wins?

Bloomberg sees himself as the next Ross Perot?

I heard Bloomberg speak at the University of Chicago in June 2006, and he used the word "independent" about two dozen times.

Dead Beat

Dead Beat (2005) by Jim Butcher

A Novel of the Dresden Files

This novel is set in an alternate universe Chicago where all sorts of fearsome creatures run amok.

Wizard Harry Dresden aids the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago PD to defend humanity.

Features undead, werewolves, and demons.

As Halloween night approaches, minions of a dead necromancer fight among themselves to see which one will ascend to a position of preeminence. Graphically violent and an impressive body count.

Note: There is a Sci-Fi channel TV series based on the novels. I watched an episode for the first time last night. That episode was set at an earlier point in the series than the Dead Beat novel. In the TV episode, Dresden is just coming to grips with necromancy, whereas in the Dead Beat novel, he is already a veteran of many battles against necromancers.

They Came From Way Out There

They Came From Way Out There

by Jahnna Beecham, Malcolm Hillgartner and Michael Hume

Starring Jill Anderson, Chip Duford, Michael Herold, Katherine Strohmaier, and Lenny Banovez

"The candidates for president of the Paranormal Society are set to present a musical comedy show reenacting actual paranormal events that have happened to them. Personal friction, a limited budget, the fact that they are amateur performers take this meeting to other-worldly levels of fun."

- The Rep website

A very entertaining little musical. I really enjoyed it. Some good moments of humor.

Dr. Allegre

[Claude Allegre, one of France's leading socialists and among her most celebrated scientists, was among the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming.

With a wealth of data now in, Dr. Allegre has recanted his views. To his surprise, the many climate models and studies failed dismally in establishing a man-made cause of catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates that most of the warming comes of natural phenomena. Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.]

- National Post

Catastrophe

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World (1999)

by David Keys

Exhaustively researched. The author draws together many diverse sources to document how the year 535 AD was one of the most important in human history.

A massive volcanic eruption in 535 AD at Krakatoa in the Sunda Straits area between Java and Sumatra had a world-wide effect. [Note: A lesser eruption at Krakatoa in the 1880s also wrought destruction, but on a lesser scale.]

The 535 AD eruption indirectly caused plague, famine, war, and revolution on an unprecedented scale.

The dreaded bubonic plague originated in Africa and spread throughout Europe due to drought and famine caused by the massive volcanic eruption. It started with gerbils, spread to rats, rats were carried on ships, and huge numbers of people died.

Drought and famine caused the Turks to throw off the yoke of the Avars. The Avars were driven westward where they weakened the Byzantine Empire.

The author documents how the disruptions caused by the volcano set the stage for the rise of Islam.

One of the most fascinating chapters is about the ancient Jewish empire of Khazar located around the Black and Caspian Seas. I have read a fair amount of world history, and this was my first introduction to this long lost empire.

Indirectly, the eruption resulted in the formation of the modern states of Ireland, France, Spain, China, Korea, and Japan.

In North America, disruptions caused by the volcano sowed the seeds for the growth of the Anasazi culture.

Drought and famine brought down the massive Mesoamerican Teotihaucan Empire, setting the stage for the expansion of the Maya.

It is absolutely fascinating how one massive volcanic eruption can change the entire world.

Clinton vs. Clinton

[Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton told the nation's leading gay rights group in an unpublicized speech that she wants a partnership with gays if elected president.

Clinton also said she opposes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military that was instituted during her husband's presidency.]

- AP story

Very interesting. That policy was a high priority with the previous Clinton adminstration.

The Edwards Camp

The Edwards camp is now seeking to capitalize on the slur by soliciting $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" to "show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire."

- AP story

Since when is Edwards a progressive leader?

What this proves is that the Edwards camp is a crass, commercial operation.

Montoya wins his first Nascar Busch race

''Of all the people to take out -- your teammate. That was just lowdown, nasty, dirty driving.''

- Scott Pruett, Montoya's teammate

Yeah, Montoya showed a real will to win. He is willing to wreck a teammate if that is what it takes to win.

He will fit right in with Nascar's dirtiest drivers like Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards.

I might be a Montoya fan soon if he continues to win races like that.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Liberal hypocrisy

"It's important for all of us to speak out against language of this kind, because it is a place where hatred gets its foothold."

- John Edwards

He could start by speaking out against liberal hate-mongering by liberals like Al Franken and Bill Maher.

But since he is a hypocrite, he is not going to do that.

Acting white

"... we get over the anti-intellectualism that exists in some of our communities where if you conjugate your verbs and if you read a book that somehow means you are acting white."

- B. Hussein Obama

Russian expert shot

[An expert on Russian intelligence was critically injured in a shooting in front of his suburban Washington home, authorities said.

The shooting of Paul Joyal, 53, came days after he accused the Russian government of involvement in the poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

In an interview broadcast last Sunday on "Dateline NBC," Joyal also accused the Russian government of trying to silence its critics.]

- AP story

Sounds like he was right about Russians trying to silence critics.

Ann Coulter responds to criticism

Ms. Coulter, asked for a reaction to the Republican criticism, said in an e-mail message: “C’mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.”

- NY Times

Heh. Classic Ann Coulter.

Young people do not vote

"Ah, youth, that fickle force in politics. Young people bring energy, passion, creativity and technical wizardry to the presidential campaign - everything, it seems, except impact on Election Day.

With their Web logs, Facebook profiles and college rallies, the 2008 presidential candidates are lavishing attention on a group that displays unbridled enthusiasm early in the campaign but tends to lose interest when the voting starts."

- AP story

This is a good thing, right?

Young people tend to be more liberal, so it is fortunate that they vote less than older people.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ankle Biters vs. Ann Coulter

Ankle Biting Pundits take great exception to Ann Coulter's comment about John Edwards.

The Ankle Biters are losing me on this one.

Politically correct conservatives. What a concept.

Global warming hits Mars

"Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human- induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory."

- National Geographic News

I am sure the Goracle can explain how humans are causing warming on Mars.

Howard Dean vs. Ann Coulter

Democratic Party boss Howard Dean demanded that Republican presidential candidates denounce conservative columnist Ann Coulter after she referred to Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards as a "faggot" during a speech Friday at a national conservative gathering.

Coulter, who was addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., said:

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I — so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."

- Fox News

First, I am always going to side with Ann Coulter against Howard Dean.

Second, what she actually said was more subtle and humorous than the way Dean mischaracterized it.

Global warming threatens maple sugar

"Warmer-than-usual winters are throwing things out of kilter, causing confusion among maple syrup producers, called sugar makers, and stoking fears for the survival of New England’s maple forests."

"There is no way to know for certain, but scientists are increasingly persuaded that human-caused global warming is changing climate conditions that affect sugaring."

- NY Times

Heh. There is no way to know for certain. Someone tell Al Gore, the infamous Goracle.

Female chimpanzees use hunting tools

"For the first time, researchers have observed wild chimpanzees making and using tools for hunting. What's more, it's mostly the female chimps and juveniles that adopt this style of attack, which occasionally nabs a small mammal that the chimp then eats."

- Bruce Bower, Science News

Hussein's family owned slaves?

[Democrat Barack Obama, who would be the first black president, has white ancestors who owned slaves, according to a genealogical researcher.

The researcher, William Addams Reitwiesner, says the discovery is part of his first draft of research into Obama's roots. Obama's father was from Kenya and his mother was a white woman from Kansas.

Obama wrote in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," that while one of his great-great-grandfathers was a decorated Union soldier, family rumors also say he is distantly related to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Reitwiesner found in 1850 Census records from Kentucky that one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two black slaves - a 60-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman.]

- AP story

The fact that B.O. is so far out on the left side of the bell curve bothers me a lot more than his ancestors owning slaves.