Thursday, July 31, 2008

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla).... being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee. And what is his crime? Did he stick bribe money in the freezer like Congressman William "Cold Cash" Jefferson? Did he get his house remodeled for free like Senator Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens?

Nein, meinem Dammen und Herren! These crimes pale in comparison to Coburn's evil deeds.

He was delivering babies for free!

Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) office hit back Monday at new attempts to prevent him from delivering babies for free, arguing the Ethics panel might as well investigate Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) cameo in “The Dark Knight.”

This scoundrel, unlike Stevens (who has been in the Senate since I was 10) wants to return to his real job someday.

Coburn, however, wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession.


It's catching on, Spider.

Post of the year

Tracey meditates on hope, and its proper Object. Astounding.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

The ChiComs have had a lab set up for about a year to determine if women Olympic athletes are actually, ahem, women.

For more than a year, officials in Beijing have been designing a special laboratory to determine the sex of any athletes taking part in this year's Olympic games. "Suspected athletes will be evaluated from their external appearances by experts and undergo blood tests to examine their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes for sex determination," says Professor Tian Qinjie. The tests will not be conducted on every female athlete, but will be required if serious doubts have been raised about an individual competitor - invariably one competing in the women's events. "The aim is to protect fairness at the games while also protecting the rights of people with abnormal sexual development," he says.

Near the end of the article are stories of past Olympic athletes with gender issues. My personal favorite is the tale of Dora Ratjen, who was a 1936 German Olympic woman high jumper by day, and a male waiter named Hermann by night.

It's been a long month

Or, at least that's what it seems like in Chicago.

The above-referenced story (you're looking for the third of four) is difficult because it provides no attribution at all - no sources cited, something that NJ Lawyer is usually much better about, and a couple of very odd ideas thrown in for the kicks.

First odd idea, courtesy of the City of Chicago: "Four Chicagoans, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association are all suing Chicago to overturn its gun-control regime, and Chicago's principal defense seems to be that Heller is such a narrow decision that it applies only to the District of Columbia."

Emphasis mine, and boy howdy... I'm no lawyer but it seems quite a stretch to say that the Court is applying the Second Amendment only to DC. It seems like an amazing mental contortion to say that the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States of America has a provision that confines itself specifically to a 68.3 mi² hunk of ground.

There is exactly one provision in all of the US Constitution that applies only to Washington DC: Article 1, Section 8, listing the powers of Congress: "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States..."* Nope, it says nothing at all about the Supreme Court there.

The city may be correct in that this decision only specifically overturned one law as unconstitutional - but the principle by which that law was overturned is something that applies nationally and that can be used to challenge similar provisions.

And as an aside - "gun-control regime" is a peculiar way to put it. These litigants are suing to overturn a law, not kick out the mayor and aldermen. I find it a little disturbing, actually, to think that people who obsess over the precision of their words could be so slovenly with this description.

Second odd bit comes in near the end. I'm including something from way up near the top to give the context: "Based on past experience, [Chicago's gun buy-back program] had estimated this year's effort would rake in more than 14,000 weapons - but that was before the Heller decision put its laws into question. ... . In this post-Heller world, the gun buy-back this year netted only 6,800 weapons."

"Post-Heller world"? I'm going to sound kook-ish here, but that whole phrase looks wrong to me in this context - as if Heller has been around for five years and we're studying its impact with the benefit of some hindsight and reflection. Heller was decided five weeks ago. And then there's "netted only 6800 weapons this year." The year has five full months to go! OK, they're behind their expected pace, and I agree that Heller is a big reason. It just sounds like they're moving to this overarching conclusion - like nobody is going to turn in another gun for the rest of the year; or that they snuck in some subtle editorializing instead of just saying "in the wake of the Heller decision, the city has bought back only 6800 weapons so far this year." Does it sound off to anyone else or am I a little too touchy?

*Given the area, it's obvious that ten miles square means ten miles on each side. And it turns out that Congress punted on some of the everyday work in 1973, passing a law to give Washington DC a mayor and city council.

(I found this article about the case, written about a month ago. My apologies for the lack of timely bloggage, but I didn't hear about it until the NJL sent me an email alert. And if you really want some fun, read that for all the arguments against and in favor of the restrictions. The summary:

Against ban - "People can defend themselves better."
For ban - "It's scary, it'll be like the Wild West, it's frightening that America loves guns."

That isn't an exaggeration, either.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bad times

"In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

It's one of the last things anyone suffering wants to hear, of course, because it seems to invalidate the suffering and imply that someone can just "get over it." That's when it helps to remember that Christ himself said the above a few hours before the agony in the garden, His betrayal, and His torture and crucifixion. He went so far as to wonder why God had forsaken Him - so, I'm willing to guess that He wasn't so fond of "get over it" as a life strategy, either. The true comfort comes from knowing that our God also suffered, and took no shortcuts to feel better at the expense of true healing.

So, those of you with either (or both) inclinations, please pray and raise a glass for Damien, whose life is currently kicking hard.


The Creative Minority Report has the scoop. The persistent rumors of Obama's Messianic character are, in fact, not true. Obama does worship a higher power than himself:

The media.

"Jerusalem is not for sale! Remember what you see here." Indeed. Hope you can change in!

(Updated - went back to all the Obama posts and added "hope you can change in" as a tag to make it easier to find the stuff. The "persistent rumors" link above will bring you to the whole shebang.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Operative Phrase... "alcohol was involved".

MADEIRA BEACH -- Dale Roberts thought his new pistol wasn't working properly, Pinellas deputies say, so he decided to test it.

Around 2:45 a.m. on Saturday Roberts, in jest, pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger, deputies say. It turns out the pistol worked well enough to send a .25 caliber bullet into his skull.

The 20-year-old was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was expected to recover.
Roberts' girlfriend, Ambert Howell, also 20, was not injured. The accidental shooting occurred in the kitchen of their one-bedroom apartment at 107 145th Avenue, and alcohol was involved, according to deputies.

Friday, July 25, 2008

He Ventured Forth....

.....To Bring Light Into the World.

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the Tampa Bay area, the two local fishwraps are doing a little counter-programming. The Tampa Tribune has actually spoken ill of His Lordship on occasion, while the St Pete Times' Adam Smith has drunk deeply of the Obama Kool-aid.

A charismatic messianic figure speaker before huge crowds in Berlin. Lord, let me remember Godwin's Law.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let's hear it for atheism

It's kind of hard to follow a thread when half of it disappears, so reading this will seem oddly one-sided.

This is not to blame the brothers Archbold - I believe them when they say that Bill, their provocateur du jour, has proven unable to play friendly in their comboxes. Hence his most recent complaint, which will probably be gone before I hit "publish":

I daresay, a few dirty words here and there really shouldn't be call for such censorship. They are perfectly ammenable [sic] to good writing and not destructive of sensible argumentation.

I've been known to read blogs with cussing, and use the occasional cuss myself. CMR chooses to hold a stricter line, as is their right. But if I asked someone to tone it down and they replied "f'k yourself," they wouldn't be welcome here either.

And you'll notice that "f'k yourself" is neither good writing nor sensible argument, so I am not convinced that you have a defense here.

Terry said: "Also, making a sensible argument, in a sensible way helps?" Well where am I not making sense. Its hard to improve without knowing what exactly is wrong. And I think this charge can be made more accurately at nightfly who will never be accused of keeping his focus narrow with statements such as, "there is a great deal of evidence that there is a God and that Jesus his begotten Son is the Christ. One of the strongest bits is that Christianity is a religion of promises - and many people find that those promises are kept. Who is keeping them? If there is no God, then how could anyone claim that He would bless, or curse, or bring about His will?" Huge swathes of history and nothing to back it up.

His argument is that Christianity (and indeed all faiths) are "untainted by even a shred of evidence." Well, that's not true. There is a great deal of evidence. Yes, that is a broad statement. But it is no less broad than "there is absolutely zero evidence." It's poor thinking to complain about other people's generalizations on the grounds that they're general, while letting one's own generalizations stand "on the merits." It's also poor thinking to make a broad attack and then complain that the defense is of like scale.

Besides, I can't help that my reply is so broad - because the evidence itself is broad. Christianity IS a religion of promises. If those promises could not be kept, then Christianity wouldn't have lasted 20 days, much less 20 centuries. But, if there is no God, then obviously there is no way for His promises to come true, except by chance - and the testimony of millions of Christians throughout history are that those promises do come true. Complain that it's a broad statement all you wish - though no doubt, if I highlighted specific instances you would dimsiss them as mere happenstance. (Or simply ignore them - because I did go on to say: "Yet as one lives faithfully one sees those things happening; it suggests strongly that somebody is making it happen. And that those acts do not always take the forms we would expect strongly suggests that it isn't merely a self-delusion or a subconscious, after-the-fact rationalizing." In other words, I did make it specific, and was ignored.) It is dishonest to demand a large weight of evidence and then complain that the evidence presented is too large.

Think of it this way: human friends make promises. I'll watch your dog while you're away, I'll be designated driver, I'll pick up the tab for dinner. Well, when you come back from vacation, if the dog is well-fed, do you chalk it up to chance? If your buddy foots the bill and drops you off afterward, do you wake up in the morning saying "Wow, it's lucky I made it back last night!" Which is likelier as a credible explanation of fulfilled promises - random events or an act of the will?

One need not go even as far as a friend's promise. What of one's personal acts? Whatever a hardcore materialist may say, they certainly talk and behave as if their own actions are a product of their will, and not merely the latest turn of the cosmic clockworks. And they will certainly hold you to any promise you have the misfortune of breaking.

Likewise, when it comes to nearly two thousand years of Church history, I find that "it just happened" is even less of a good explanation than it is for friends or self. It's far more likely that there is really a God who does act in the world. Yes, it's a huge swath of history; but there's a good deal of sense backing it up.

Nor do you avoid God by saying that all those good things are just like the promises of your friend - human acts, not divine. What motivation would someone have to say that it was an imaginary God who wanted them to make and keep a promise, instead of just making and keeping it oneself? And this gets trickier when you consider promises made that no human could keep. I'm not talking per se of miracles. I'm talking about the things people say to each other every day of the year - "I will always be there for you," or "Don't worry, it will be all right," or "When I get back from the war everything will be fine." It is not within the power of any person to survive a car crash or desperate illness on command; beyond anyone's ability to know that some tragedy can be consoled; well outside the soldier's own skill at arms to defeat any danger in battle.

Those promises are made anyway because of faith, and many of them are kept; and clearly not by those who make them, whose own power over the events is so obviously limited. Random chance is again a lacking explanation: why make the promise, then?

I'll go further and say that the act of promising anything, large or small, becomes impossible if everything is random, because it relies on a freak of chance to keep that promise - to say nothing of the random act the promise itself is.

Or: "The evidence is quite the contrary - the saints have all been extraordinarily joyful, despite the most dreadful hardship. Those in the Church who have spread misery are usually found to be in obvious defiance of the Church's actual teachings - in fact, one of the chief accusations of nonbelievers is that Christians disobey their own teachings. But of course it doesn't mean the teaching is wrong: in fact the teaching is proved right when disobeying it brings evil to oneself and others." Again huge generalizations with not a sliver of evidence brought.

Again, the key part of the quote was omitted, this time from the beginning. Let me help you. "If Christianity were merely a set of rules made to dominate and control people, and enslave their minds, then living by those rules would result in misery for the believers and those around them. The evidence is quite the contrary - "...

You left out the whole basis for the argument, Bill. It's easy to knock down the conlcusions if you ignore the premise.

Try to follow. Atheism claims that religion is a huge exercise in controlling other people. I think this is preposterous on its face - what would I gain by convincing people to follow Jesus? I would stand to gain much more by convincing people to follow ME, and give ME the money rather than give it to charity. It's been tried that way, and what happens? Well, exactly what you'd expect. Those guys are eventually exposed as frauds. And the inevitable smash comes precisely because of what I mentioned before: they make promises beyond their power to keep, and not surprisingly, they are not kept.

So why doesn't this happen to the Church? They make even wilder promises about how people can find joy in the midst of suffering, and transform their lives, and thus transform the world. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was just a solitary nun taking in dying beggars and giving them food and comfort in their final hours; how is that suddenly an order of religious numbering thousands, in countries across the world?

This is kind of the pattern he follows. Makes huge statements that forbid engaging and are merely platitudes of the church.

It doesn't forbid engaging. Go ahead and dispute it. If you think it's a mere platitude, poke some holes in it. It shouldn't be hard. You have a lot to go on here. I propose that Christianity is true. I find the accusations of atheism against it are self-contradicting and uncredible. I submit that the experiences of real, everyday people, both as individual examples and as an aggregate, weigh heavily in favor of a personal God who created the universe - as described above, people find that the faith makes and keeps promises, of a kind and in a manner that precludes chance or solely human will; that therefore there is a real God who acts in history.

Ultimately, if you want an argument to reply to - as a doubter I found that half of my life didn't make any sense. There was no explanation possible for any sort of disinterested acts of kindness. What's more, there was no real explanation for acts of cruelty and malice. People told me that goodness and evil were illusions, or subjective, or relative; they told me altruism was ultimately selfish and crimes were ultimately for a greater good. Then I was simultaneously told that I should nonetheless be good and altruistic, and not commit crimes - but that I shouldn't judge criminals or promise breakers, and that generous people were dupes.

Not only did life make no sense lived that way, there was no way to explain why people would tell me to live in a way that made no sense. There was no way to understand why people would live that way themselves, obviously unhappy and making others miserable, and yet think that they were good people doing the best they could.

The faith had the answer - the Fall of Man. It was faith that explained both good and evil truthfully, while evil could not even explain itself. It was also faith that offered a solution that has thus far proved beyond anyone else's power to provide: Christ is the solution. It is ultimately not just how one lives but Whom one lives for. I don't just think this is true because He said so; I think it's true because I've tried both faith and the alternatives - including "being a good person" and living the faith without the God at its heart - and the faith is the thing that works.

All of the things He says that I can see with my eyes are true, and that suggests a trustworthy source. So when He makes certain promises that are harder to verify (such as eternal life), I don't think of Heaven first; I think of giving up sin for virtue and seeing a benefit; I think of prayers being effective, and how I am brought closer to other people (whom I can see) as well as God (whom I cannot). I think of how much more rational and sensible life is when viewed as a part of faith, rather than as a series of lucky breaks or an iron chain of causation. And once I returned to the faith, it proved itself by keeping two of its bigger promises: first, that the faithful find joy, even in the worst circumstances; and second, that the faith is freedom for the mind and soul. To paraphrase Chesterton, as a Christian I am free to think that one or the other miracle is not true; as an atheist I'm not allowed to believe any single one, ever. Christians can believe that sometimes God, as a Being with will, chooses not to act, nor to give His reasons; an atheist must deny every last possibility that He can act.

Alas this will also be deleted so I am going to make a habit of copying and pasting my comments into word documents whenever I engage a thread so I can just rapidly repost them.

No need. For one thing, it's incredibly rude to spam a blog. For another, you have a place to reply here, if you see fit - and if you play nice. (This goes for anyone else joining in too, please.)

I have Internet Issues @ Home

I recently moved to a larger apartment in the same complex (same rent - can't beat it) and I am having issues with my phone service. The Verizon guy came over on Wednesday but you see, the folks who schedule this failed to tell me that I needed to be there. I thought all he had to do was throw a switch outside, but I guess I was wrong.

The challenge was to get this scheduled on a day that I already was taking off work. I was already spending the morning of 7/31 @ the VA hospital for a routine tune-up and oil change. Normally Verizon splits the day in half 8am-12n and 12n-4pm. Except on the very day I needed an afternoon they could only promise me that whole day.

This is when I lost my military bearing. I reminded the Verizon scheduler that Verizon is already in trouble with the state for poor service because they are diverting resources to make a gazillion dollars installing Fios instead of taking care of the great unwashed who are only spending thirty bucks a month for basic phone service. I don't mind capitalism, but Verizon is the only choice we have for local phone hookup and it would be nice if they could take care of that before cashing in.

The doc @ the VA is going to yell at me a little. I'm supposed to lose some weight - which I haven't. But my blood sugar is okay, so I'm looking forward to that A1c number.

Getting Your Priorities Straight

I'm the biggest right-wing nut around, but if I am about to meet the Almighty, the last thing I'd have on my mind would be a presidential endorsement.

Before he died Wednesday evening, death row inmate Dale Leo Bishop apologized to his victim's family, thanked America and urged people to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice," Bishop said.

It would take an Obama Supreme Court Justice or two to make Mr. Bishop's wish come true. It would be easier for the Obamessiah to raise him from the dead.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama's VEEPstakes

Former Senator Sam Nunn & The Breck Girl.

Former presidential candidate John Edwards and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn are on a list of potential running mates for Democrat Barack Obama, according to a Michigan Congresswoman.

Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said on Thursday that members of her caucus suggested the two at a meeting with the officials who are vetting candidates. The vetting team, Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, indicated that the two were on the list.

Maybe not The Breck Girl anymore.

Is the National Enquirer credible with the mainstream media? It depends on who the subject is. Now, they are ignoring the Breck Girl's activities, but in the past the MSM had no problem with the credibility of The National Enquirer, and happily followed up the scandal rag on stories about this guy.

Just an observation.

The Curious Case of the New York Metropolitans Base Ball Club

In the local papers there's been a lot of hand-wringing over Mets ace Johan Santana, last season's big haul in the trade market. Santana has won the Cy Young as a Minnesota Twin and his career numbers are sparkling, to say the least. With Santana (only 29), the Mets had one of the stronger pitching staffs of the entire National League: John Maine (27) building on two good seasons, the erratic but talented Oliver Perez (just shy of 27), a (hopefully) healthy Pedro Martinez, and (hopefully) a breakout year from oft-maligned Mike Pelfrey.

Disclosure: I've done my share of the maligning. As usual, I'm an idiot - the kid's only 24, and thanks to his past two months, he's become the second-best starter the team has. (But I still think he needs to strike out more guys to be a reliable front-line starter.) But there are a lot of fellow idiots out there, apparently, since everyone's down on the first-best guy, Santana. Some have even taken to calling him "ace" in scare quotes, as if he should be putting up Gibson's 1968 numbers or something.

The truth is, Santana has been excellent, but has been repeatedly let down by his offense or his bullpen. He's "only" 8-7, so is something wrong? Yes, but not with how the guy is throwing. His WHIP is a little up, but he leads the team's starters; his ERA is right about 3.00 (league average is 4.11). Last night's implosion against the Phillies was more of the same for the guy.

This is what's so curious about the Mets these days. From an objective standpoint, the past decade has been pretty good, all things considered: they made the playoffs three times and won the National League pennant in 2000. They had a downturn during the transition from Piazza/Ziele/Alfonso to Wright/Reyes/Beltran, and have been one of the most competitive NL clubs since 2005. Besides the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees, there aren't really any teams' fans with LESS right to complain about the past ten years, actually.

The fans do it anyway. We look at 2006 as a failure, and 2007 as a debacle, and 2008 as an ongoing antacid commercial. All these are not inaccurate, but they miss the point. This has been a team with a lot to look forward to for the past few years, and a lot to look forward to in the future.

* 2006 was a total upset, not indicative of a fundamentally-flawed team.
* 2007 was (admittedly) terrible, but was it a surprise? Seven of the eight regulars were worse in '07 than in '06 (only Wright improved), the pitching staff was patchwork, the bullpen was overworked... if the Phils had gotten hot in July instead of September it would have been the same thing, only much less dramatic. (Remember the Mets played .500 ball for four solid months.)
* 2008 is hard to watch sometimes, but the team is right in the race despite sacking the manager, suffering more injuries (especially in the outfield), and a bullpen taking turns at being Armando Benitez.

Seriously, would we rather have the past ten seasons of Kansas City, Milwaukee, or Pittsburgh? Would you rather be a Reds or Padres fan right now? I think that people forget results in favor of how (and to whom) those results have been achieved. The 2000 World Series had to be against the #%$^&%$^! Yankees. The Cards were much better in '04, but somehow the '06 guys snuck through their mediocre division and got a hot month when it counted most. And of all teams to cough it up against, the Phillies? Why us? seems to be the reaction.

Last night was a microcosm of that feeling. If the Phils had simply hit a bunch of homers the way Howard and Burrell always do against them, well - that happens from time to time. But Endy Chavez thrown out twice at home? Utley's diving grab with the sacks full? Reyes' brain fart in the ninth, getting nobody out, while Shane Victorino grinned and nodded and made "safe" motions on second base? (I almost punched him in the head through the TV screen.) Then Chavez' late break on Taguchi's double, a ball he could have caught, sealed the deal.

But they're still in it, and it's mostly because of two very good breaks, and good breaks aren't typically noted by fans as such. (People tend to notice the unlucky breaks and credit the lucky ones to themselves.) For one, Pelfrey has pitched as well as he has yet in his big-league career; for another, Carlos Delgado has rediscovered his bat speed and is hitting credibly again. Last month I would have gladly traded the both of them for a decent stick in the outfield (still sorely needed). Now I would probably think twice. (Remember, I'm not sold on Pelfrey's long-term career - this may be the time to sell high, while he's young and has appeal to rebuilding teams trying to part with a good veteran. If he can help bring back a guy like Adam Dunn, make the deal.) (BTW, this is hugely unlikely, but a fellow can dream.)

So, 2008 is not a lost cause. Then next year the Mets still have Wright/Reyes/Beltran, who are an excellent three-man core, with Santana/Perez/Maine fronting the rotation. They have Fernando Martinez in AA and ready to contribute in a couple of years. They can hopefully sign Mark Teixeira and deal Delgado for some sort of prospect - hopefully a catcher, which they'll need soon. (A lot of teams have good young catchers lately, and the Mets have to get with the program.) This is not a team that looks to fall off a cliff.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rachl Lukis, we feel ur pain

Ur mad wit IRS? U can has help!

Admit it: you'd hire CPA Cat if it meant no audits.
Pros: works for catnip and purrs when finished.
Cons: tends to fall asleep on the pile of receipts.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They could have played all night

As you probably already know, Tuesday's All-Star Game went 15 innings and came down to a very close play at the plate. It also nearly became a pitcher's duel between Mets third baseman David Wright and Red Sox outfielder JD Drew. (Rumor has it that National League considered using Brett Favre in the 15th, but he refused to play if he wasn't starting.)

This is kind of ridiculous, seeing as only six years ago, the All-Star Game ended in a tie because the teams ran out of pitchers. Bud Selig's famed shrug summed it all up then; and even then it seemed odd that the commissioner of the entirety of Major League Baseball couldn't think of some way to keep the game going.

Now, with six years gone by and people STILL shrugging, it's just sad. Why wouldn't you have a provision in place to re-use a few pitchers at need? Granted that there's a problem in pitching a couple of innings, sitting for three hours, and then coming back into the game - it is an injury risk for what is essentially an exhibition - but at the same time, some of these guys were saying that they'd already warmed up three or four times during the course of the game before coming in.

Sadly, in a game to remember one man had a night to forget. Dan Uggla, the world-class second baseman for the Marlins, made three errors afield, and went 0-4 at the plate: three strikeouts and an inning-ending double-play. It was almost a Nick Anderson moment, except Anderson's infamous four missed free throws came in the NBA Finals, and this was just an exhibition.

(PS - Jerry Crasnick, in the above article, writes, "And despite an ending that could have been scripted by M. Night Shyamalan, Uggla acted like a player whose confidence is still intact." Because he's secretly a DEAD ALIEN! What a twist!)

(PPS - sorry, certitude again. I just can't help it. And really I'm more mad at Crasnick. The twists all came earlier, with dozens of stranded baserunners, escapes from three-on and none-out jams, and Yankee Stadium's "ghosts" seemingly putting the whammy on the Red Sox' Jonathan Papelbon and the Mets' Billy Wagner in successive half-innings. Of course, I think that the Yankee Mystique had zippo to do with either of the Yanks' rivals having bad days - 1. Papelbon's wife had been threatened by fans [stay classy, New York!], 2. Wagner's been blowing saves at a Benitezian rate this year, and 3. Boston's JD Drew won the MVP award. Still, that was more of a twist than the ending - Crasnick's never seen a sacrifice fly to win a ball game? It's not like Otis Nixon bunting into the last out of a World's Series.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Covet...

...thy neighbor's starting pitcher.

The parade turned out to be quite entertaining for Kazmir, who said he was especially popular among fans of the Mets, the team which traded him to the Rays in July 2004 (for Victor Zambrano) and still hears regularly about it.

"They were really passionate, put it that way,'' Kazmir said. "It was crazy. There were guys tossing their Mets caps to me saying "Just try it on, see what it feels like, we know you'll come back.' A couple made it (to the truck) and they were like, "Just keep it, you'll be wearing it soon." And they were all asking me when I'll become a free agent.

Scott Kazmir, who won last night's All-Star Game, is locked up for about six years.

Obama ist ein Berliner

Why doesn't this guy just go to Israel and preach another Sermon on the Mount?

'Odd." That's what the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, said when told of Barack Obama's plan to deliver a major campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, right where the Berlin wall used to be, where Ronald Reagan once famously called upon the Soviet Union to "tear this wall down," and not far from where John F. Kennedy once said "Ich bin ein Berliner" — "I am a Berliner" — to show his solidarity with the citizens of what used to be a divided city.

One of the problems that Frau Merkel has is that the Obamessiah is worshiped more in Deutschland than here. The mayor of Berlin is all for Obama making this speech.

This NY Sun writer does not speak German. God bless President Kennedy, but when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner" He was actually calling himself a type of doughnut called a Berliner. "Ich bin Berliner", is what he meant to say. It's like, instead of saying "I am Danish", you say "I am a danish".

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


...or, "What's Right is Right."

Anyone reading here for anything north of ten minutes knows that I do enjoy staking out my ground. Funniest rebuke I ever got - while we were still just dating, Ladybug nearly bought me an antique wooden soap box: "You can keep stuff in it when you're not standing on it!"

(That may have been the first moment I thought to myself, Please marry me forever! Anyone who can dig you like that, lovingly, is a keeper.)

Well, I still try to be certain of things; and if I have any defense it's that I'm usually good about revising my certainties based on further evidence. One thing I'm still poor at, however, is holding forth when uninvited. Granted that people expect a little of that in a blog... now and then.

Just a couple of nights ago, I was trying to figure out what this blog was about, actually. There's such a forested tangle of categories. Should I be pruning them? I don't want to, particularly - I enjoy hockey, I like posting goofy pictures of cats sitting on chessboards, I enjoy debates about church and culture. Why narrow myself? I quickly ditched that idea, and instead decided to try to think of an overarching theme that tied it all together.

Eventually I decided that there wasn't one. It was just me and a buddy I've known half my life, talking about the things that grab our notice, be they momentous, trivial, exasperating, or fun. Heck, the sidebar is pretty much all about whatever strikes my fancy. There's no reason to change that.

BUT here's where the BUT comes in.

One thing I have noticed is that I get lots of lurkers but not a lot of talkers. In the past that would kind of bug me, because I love long conversations and big debates. It could be about the Anglican Communion or the DH rule or what-all. I would be upset if I upset someone, and would fret if people didn't hobnob in the combox. In short, the reason I began blogging was to connect to folks, sort of like hanging out in college until they shoveled us out of the Student Center and locked the doors. And that really doesn't happen that much around here.

It doesn't bug me now because of two reasons: first, that there's the downside of having to police the unruly, a job for which I'm not well-suited; second, because people DO read, and that's a great compliment. Still, there's the BUT. And thanks to Sheila's awesomeness I've found out what it is. The truth is that being certain about things is just fine, but having certitude sucks. Folks, I'm just full of certitude.

[At this point I wish to totally exonerate the Barking Spider from what follows. Please don't lump him in with me on this - I'm on my own shrink chair here.]

I'm certain about some stuff. In fact I give rather the impression that I'm certain about a lot of stuff because I tend to say how I'm feeling about things, unbidden - when in fact there's plenty on which I can change my mind. Also, I tend to post about stuff I'm certain about. Hence the soapbox. In fact, I nearly called the blog "Born on a Soap Box," so this is hardly a great mystery I'm sharing. Trouble is, I sound much too certain: in fact, so certain that nobody is free to disagree, and that's the certitude I'm talking about. It's enjoying my rightness as if it was inherent to me. But the first thing I should be certain of comes right on top of the list of Big Important Certainties - "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me." Right is inherent to only one Being in creation, and anything that comes my way is a gift, to be shared with others, but not inflicted on them. To quote an old joke from college, when my friend likened the Bible to a pillow instead of a stone - "PILLOW FIGHT!" Well, no, not so much. Or at least, not without the knowledge and consent of the other people. It's fun at a campout; not so much fun in an office, or while walking about busy with the day, bereft of your own pillow.

So, yes, there I am, hoist on my own Blinding Flash of the Obvious. The reason I don't have many conversations is that I don't start them. I simply pronounce. People hear that and think, well, that's that - and you know, I can't blame them at all. They think they're being yelled at. And if one thinks that, then why disagree and invite further yelling? It wasn't fun before, it's not going to be more fun the more one gets.

So, while I still think I'm going to be sure, and I'm still going to stake out my ground, I don't want to keep everyone else out. I'm going to make an effort to hold more conversations, or even step back and let other people have them without my two cents. I'm broke, anyway.

Obamessiah hat kein Kueglen

It appears that before going to Iraq, the Obama campaign is cleaning up the website.

Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.

The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a "problem" that had barely reduced violence.

"The surge is not working," Obama's old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks - not U.S. military muscle - for quelling violence in Anbar Province.

The News reported Sunday that insurgent attacks have fallen to the fewest since March 2004.

Obama's campaign posted a new Iraq plan Sunday night, which cites an "improved security situation" paid for with the blood of U.S. troops since the surge began in February 2007.

It praises G.I.s' "hard work, improved counterinsurgency tactics and enormous sacrifice."

Campaign aide Wendy Morigi said Obama is "not softening his criticism of the surge. We regularly update the Web site to reflect changes in current events." GOP rival John McCain zinged Obama as a flip-flopper. "The major point here is that Sen. Obama refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong," said McCain, adding that Obama "refuses to acknowledge that it [the surge] is succeeding."

Right before visiting GIs in Iraq, Obama removes his criticism of their mission. This guy doesn't have the huevos to tell these soldiers to their faces that he thinks their mission is a disaster.

Revvum Jesse can't cut out what Obama doesn't have.

Song of the day

I'd let you watch, I would invite you/ But the queens we use would not excite you
Pic courtesy of ICHC. Song courtesy Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice. Idea courtesy the man with the best blog name evah, A Boy Named Sous.

Global Warming......

...will bring more kidney stones.

More Americans may develop kidney stones as global warming raises the risk of dehydration, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Warmer temperatures predicted by climate scientists may lead to a 30 percent increase in kidney stone cases in some U.S. regions, researchers at the University of Texas wrote in the study published today. That would result in a $1 billion increase in annual treatment costs by 2050, they said.

Dehydration is linked to the condition, which can develop when people don't drink enough water to flush stone-forming salts from the body. Higher temperatures may lead to more dehydration and expand the ``kidney stone belt,'' an area of the Southeast U.S. where men are twice as likely to develop the disease compared with the Northeast, according to the study.

In 1983, when I was stationed at Homestead AFB, south of Miami I passed a kidney stone. I was telling my boss my Mom's phone # because I thought I was going to die. The pain was so bad that surely I would have given up government secrets if I had any to give up.

The Air Force doctor gave me a wire strainer and sent me back to duty, telling me to bring it back when it comes out. I remember when that stone passed as sure as I remember my high school graduation. I don't want to say it was big, but it had "Titleist" written on it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good News and Bad News...

…about the Rays.

The good news is that Evan Longoria was the last selection for the All-Star Game. Scuttlebutt is that Bosox fans voted for him to keep Jason Giambi out of the game. He will join Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro in New York.

The bad news is that the Rays have lost their last seven games and as of this writing are waiting for the end of the Boston-Baltimore Game to see if they can be the first team other than the Sox or the Yanks to lead the AL East at the All-Star break since 1993.

The Spirit of God, which can still the wind and the waves has stilled the bats of the Rays, especially against lefthanders. The guys have off till Friday, when they host Toronto on Dollar Dog Night. Saturday, MC Hammer plays after the game.

Hey Fly, the Mets have won their last eight and are now among the playoff viable.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The economy in Tampa...

..hurts every business.
It seems the lousy economy is keeping guys away from strip clubs.
In Tampa - a city known for its adult entertainment businesses - attendance has dropped at usually thriving strip clubs.
Joe Redner, the owner of the well-known Mons Venus club, says his business is down 25%.
Angelina Spencer is national executive director of the Association of Club Executives, a group that represents adult entertainment clubs. She says she fields calls every day from strip club owners around the country feeling the pinch of a bad economy.
Spencer says entertainment is a luxury item and "one of the first things people give up."
But Redner says the economy is having another effect on the business - it's bringing out more women willing to give pole dancing a try.
When I was a youngster stationed at Dover AFB one of the civilian employees was also the chief of the local volunteer fire department. He kept trying to borrow the cars of young GIs because he didn't want his vehicle, a big red station wagon with flashing lights and "Smyrna Fire Dept" on the door seen at the strip joint.
Message to some of you cowards out there. Quit parking in the Taco Bell lot next to The Mons. Be a man and park in the Mons Venus lot. Afraid someone will see your car there?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Off the menu in China during the Olympics

Is a delicacy I once sampled on Guam.

Beijing has asked hotels and restaurants in the city to take dog meat off the menu for the duration of next month's Olympics and September's Paralympics.

Dog is eaten not only by the large Korean community in China's capital but is also popular in Yunnan and Guizhou restaurants.

A directive from the Beijing Food Safety Office issued last month ordered Olympic contractor hotels not to provide any dishes made with dog meat and said any canine material used in traditional medicated diets must be clearly labeled.

Concerned that canine dishes might offend animal rights groups and Western visitors, Beijing said restaurants expected to be popular among foreign visitors must stop serving dog meat "to respect the dining customs of different countries."

The directive "advocated" that all restaurants serving dog suspend it during the Olympics but made no mention of the many popular establishments with donkey on the menu.

Criticism from Westerners caused the dog meat-loving South Koreans to ban canine dishes for a period of time during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Good to know that you can still get some well-done donkey while you are at the Olympics.

Wiirking day and night

I found the scale, so I am able to report that I am still 175-ish pounds, and shall continue to be so until I do some heart-rate-raising activity more than a couple of times per week. Most recent activities include a shutout win and a horrible 5-1 loss in which I left rebounds all over the place. Fortunately the other team was kind enough to stick all of them into the net so I wouldn't lose them.

I live within walking distance of a lovely park. I can walk there and then run around in it. Nobody would complain about this. What is my issue, anyway?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The boo-boo's of running a blog

The Curt Jester has been added to the Pantheon. This post really put it over the top for me. (Warning - no drinking beverages while clicking over.) TCJ should have been in there a long while ago, however. Why the delay? Well, as the kids say nowadays, I'm a dumb**s.

I don't much like that term, so I went back and discovered that the phrase we render as "dumb**s" in the current venacular is the Latin "dorcus malorcus," better translated into English as "foolish wrongdoer."

See how much more understanding we get from a closer study of the older rites?

Obama Would Have to Have Some...

...before Jesse Jackson could do this.
Surely Revvum Jesse knows that when Joe Lieberman left the Democratic Party he took the last set with him.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Do nothing now!

The news on the radio this morning featured a spot about Jon Corzine, the Governor of New Jersey, holding some sort of press conference down the Shore with Sens Menendez and Lautenberg and Representative Pallone. This quote kind of stuck out at me (and forgive me if this isn't precise, as it was radio).

Gov Corzine: "The Bush-McCain team is on the prowl, looking for ways to increase our oil dependency... We stand here in solidarity to say no."

The above is, to me, completely bonkers.

"Bush-McCain team" - how often has Maverick butted heads with his own party in general, and the current administration in particular? How are they possibly a team now when W is leaving office for good in six months? But, hey - good strategy running against the guy you already lost to twice, and who is not running any more.

"is on the prowl" - OK, red meat for the partisans, but stupid nonetheless.

"looking for ways to increase our oil dependency" - OR, looking for ways to produce domestically what we currently buy dearly from foreign sources. Thus, reducing our dependency on others and our trade defecit and etc. etc.

"we stand in solidarity" - he makes it sound as if they're John Paul II, Lech Walesa, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, and he's telling Gorbachev to tear down the wall. You guys are talking about oil rigs 50 miles offshore, right?

The Star-Ledger story does not have this quote. It starts with Pallone, who has opposed offshore drilling for many a year. At least he has a principle at stake in this, though I think that he may be mistaken. For example, he says, "Every time we try something to create energy independence, we are fought tooth and nail by these oil guys." Strictly speaking, this is claptrap, because the moratorium has nothing to do with energy independence - rather, it has guaranteed the reverse, because the same cast of characters has opposed nuclear power pretty much my entire lifetime.

(By the way, got a letter in the mail the other afternoon, offering me beaucoup savings if I covered my roof in solar paneling - I can even sell the excess power back to JCP&L. Those darned oil guys!)

The story also has this bit, I think from Corzine, though the article makes it tricky to follow who's saying what: "We are really talking about something that is irrelevant to the overall dependency on oil." [oh, so it isn't a way to increase our dependency? It's irrelevant?] "What we need to do is (to) be moving to alternative energies and most importantly (to) conservation."

Agreed, but what do we do in the meantime? Do we light our homes exclusively with hand-cranked generators, candles, and a roaring fire? Buy horses for the hour commute? Build more nuke plants? (Eeeeeek!)

Corzine, again: "I can't think of an idea whose time is less appropriate than this one."

The appropriate time would have been fifteen years ago, so it would be making a difference now, right? Even less appropriate: waiting fifteen more years, or thirty, or when it's the only possible oil to be had. So what's wrong with doing it now even if it takes another fifteen years to see the benefits? Remember, these are the guys passing green legislation on the hopes that it will might hopefully make a difference (possibly) in the future, even if there's no noticeable effect now (or then).

"For New Jersey, where we have a $38 billion economy in tourism ... it makes absolutely no sense for us."

I almost didn't believe it when I read it. People reach the shore BY DRIVING. Jon Corzine wants to preserve the $38 billion tourism trade in New Jersey by NOT drilling the oil that could be the gas that future tourists use to get here. And what's worse is that he is full aware of this, considering the concurrent news that the state wants to sell the individual lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike to raise cash. (And how is a state with a $38 billion tourist trade somehow broke?) They wouldn't do that if people weren't using the (already tolled) highway. (The money will be used to expand the highway, because we need the capacity, because of all that driving that people aren't doing anymore because of expensive gas.)

The stated threat to New Jersey's beaches was the possibility of a tanker or rig accident. Fair enough - but you guys, again, cited the medical waste fiascos of the mid-80's as a precedent... an event that hurt for a little while, until New Jersey's ruined tourism trade pulled in $38 billion.

In other words - yes it's a risk, but we can clean it up and then people will be back.

Senator Lautenberg: "A plan to drill here is no plan at all. It's a handout, simply a handout to the oil companies," he said. "It's a terrible idea. And drilling will do nothing to cut today's gas prices."

I shouldn't pick on the guy, but I can't emphasize this strongly enough - this is exactly why I don't trust any of these guys. To them, it's a handout when a private enterprise risks enormous sums of their own money to gather a valuable resource, process it, and then sell it to people who need it. At heart he really does think that it all belongs to the state to dole out as it sees fit.

Drilling today won't result in $1.50 gas next Friday. Neither will anything else we do today. To say "no drilling" because it won't be an immediate panacea amounts to an admission that the politicians don't care if they won't be around to take credit for it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A study in silliness

Not entirely family-friendly, but really funny stuff from Cracked: the fictional imdb page for an ex-girlfriend.

What I found especially funny about this was the reaction to item #5. Nearly none of the comments deal with any of the other items, but #5 sparks this huge debate about spirituality, religion, and whether God exists.

First conclusion - Jesus was right about "bringing division." Not only is transcendence important, it is so important that people flip their gourds when even a whiff of it floats by in passing, even in a farce post on a comedy website.

Now, contrast that knicker-twisting with the brilliance of this post.

Second conclusion - Christians are not nearly as humor-deprived as their critics would have us believe.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Saw The Rays on the Fourth

After getting my head taped back together, I went to the Trop to see the Rays play the Royals.

KC isn't as big a draw as the Bosox and a 4th of July 5pm game crowd wasn't that big (16,000 I think) but the cheap seats were filled with kids and babies.

And there was no letdown by the home guys, beating the Royals 11-2. Edwin Jackson pitched 8 innings of two-hit ball. Carlos Pena drove in 5 runs with a 3-run homer, a single and a sac fly. Even shortstop Reid Brignac got on base and scored in his big league debut.

There are challenges ahead. Our closer went on the DL again, look for the Rays to trade for one. There are a lot of road games.

And will the Rays, who on July 4th are 13 wins away from matching their total for all of 2007, choke in September?

There is only one way to find out. All I know is that for the first time ever no one here cares about the Bucs training camp.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

There is no connection....

....between the Democrat Party and devil worship.
The North Carolina case of an alleged satanic torture involving a Democratic Party official and her husband has now expanded to include a third suspect, an even higher-ranking Democrat.

Diana Palmer, the first vice-chairwoman of the Durham County Democratic Party, joins her political colleague Joy Johnson, the third vice-chairwoman of the party, and Johnson's spouse, Joseph Craig, in facing charges.
Palmer, 44, surrendered to police in Durham, N.C., this afternoon and was charged with being an accessory after the fact of assault with a deadly weapon. She's being held at the Durham County Jail under $95,000 bail.
Seriously, there is no connection. But if you can forgive me - I just couldn't resist.

Everlasting Kitteh

This funny picture made me smile.

Thanks, as always, to ICHC, kthxbai!