Monday, June 30, 2008

NHL free agency starts at midnight

There aren't a lot of big names out there... The defenders are probably stronger this time around, with Brian Campbell and Brooks Orpik the best long-term values. For forwards, you can get a couple of years of Mats Sundin, who is still valuable but not the complete beast he was earlier in his career. Brendan Morrison, Martin Straka, and Brian Rolston could also be helpful for a few years. The only front-line goalie available is Cristobal Huet - Jose Theodore is either a great idea (former league MVP) or a disaster (nearly played himself out of the league until this past season); Ty Conklin helped save Pittsburgh's season but it's his only long-term success in the NHL.

There are other big names, but they all come with a catch. Jaromir Jagr is likely going to re-sign with the Rangers or leave the NHL; Peter Forsberg is likely to retire entirely because of his ever-increasing injuries; Joe Sakic, Sergei Federov, and Teemu Selanne are right at the ends of their wonderful careers.

Now, a lot of these guys are linked to the Rangers, but that's because they're the Rangers, and are always linked to everybody. The Isles are usually linked to nobody. When they do try to make a splash it usually backfires, such as the injuries that turned Michael Peca into a third-liner, or being unable to re-sign Ryan Smyth after getting him at the 2007 trade deadline. It's so bad that there are rumors that they may try bringing BACK Alexei Yashin - you may remember him as the guy they bought out a couple of seasons ago because his contract was a disaster considering his lesser output.

Of course, the Isles are in this position because the last 20 years have been an utter disaster in the draft. Strong teams draft well. The Isles dynasty was built on strong drafting: Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bob Nystrom, and Brent Sutter were all home-grown. The last 20 years, though - well, not so much.

The following list is not meant for the sqeamish hockey fan. In fact it's pretty much cover your eyes awful, and features a startling number of people you've never heard of, unless you're related to the players:

1989 - #1 overall, C Mats Sundin (Quebec). Isles pick #2 - LW Dave Chyzowski.
Ironically, the Isles now have the #5 and #11 players from this draft - Bill Guerin and Mike Sillinger. Both are good additions, but no longer front-line players. The Isles really could have used either of these guys from the get-go; or Stu Barnes (#4, Winnipeg), Bobby Holik (#10, Hartford), Olaf Kolzig (#19, Washington), or Adam Foote (#22, Quebec).

1990 - #1 overall, Owen Nolan (Quebec). Isles pick #6 - Scott Scissons.
The draft Isles fans still curse about. #2-5, by the way, were Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, Mike Ricci, and Jaromir Jagr; #7 was Darryl Sydor and #8 was Derian Hatcher. #19 was Keith Tkachuk, the kind of power forward the Isles haven't had since Gillies retired. But the galling pick came at #20 - the New Jersey Devils took Martin Brodeur. For that matter, Toronto took Felix Potvin at #31. The Isles made a habit of passing up great goalies in favor of dubious forwards. Excuse me while I douse my eyes in bleach, and drink the rest.

1991 - #1 overall, Eric Lindros (Qeubec). Isles pick #4 - Scott Lachance.
It's no wonder the Nordiques' franchise won the Stanley Cup after moving to Colorado, after three such drafts in a row. Foote was the only of these top players they kept, but the deals they made with them brought back a wealth of talent. Wendel Clark came over when Sundin left, and one of the players the Isles passed up went back when Lindros went to the Flyers: Peter Forsberg. Also passed up by the Isles: Richard Matvichuk (#8, Minnesota), Brian Rolston (#11, New Jersey), Alexei Kovalev (#15, Rangers), Markus Naslund (#16, Pittsburgh), and Glen Murray (#18, Boston). It's not that Lachance was terrible, but he never quite filled the promise the Isles hoped for, in no small part because he was not well-handled by the team.

1992 - #1 overall, Roman Hamrlik (Tampa Bay). Isles pick #5 - Darius Kasparaitis.
One of the better years for the Isles. Kaspar the Unfriendly Ghost was a quality pest, and the Isles eventually obtained Hamrlik and got good years from him. But Kasparaitis was part of the shameful dismantling of the team in the mid-90's. The Isles passed up on Sergei Gonchar at #14 and Martin Straka at #19 - though they did eventually have Straka for parts of two years and then, like so many other young players, simply gave up on him too early.

1993 - Isles pick #23 - Todd Bertuzzi. Another good pick, given up on too early.

1994 - #1 overall, Ed Jovanovski (Florida). Isles pick #9 - Brett Lindros.
The "better brother," as ex-GM Don Maloney dubbed him, turned out to be even more fragile than Eric Lindros, without the results... he retired from concussions after less than a season's worth of games. The Isles missed out on Jeff Friesen (#11, San Jose), Mattias Ohlund (#13, Vancouver), and Wayne Primeau (#17, Buffalo).

1995 - #1 overall, Bryan Berard (Ottawa). Isles pick #2 - Wade Redden.
The Isles swapped Redden for Berard on draft day (they also got Straka) and Berard was Rookie of the Year. Ever since, things have been worse. The Isles decided that he was going to be too expensive and they traded him at the age of 21. The next season he was injured horrifically, partially blinded in one eye and missing over a full season. He won the Masterson Trophy (awarded for perseverance and dedication to hockey) by returning successfully in 2003, but has bounced around since then. Now he's back with the Isles but is not what he once was. Neither is he Jarome Iginla (#11, Dallas) nor Jean-Sebastien Giguere (#13, Hartford).

1996 - #1 overall, Chris Phillips (Ottawa). Isles pick #3 - J.P. Dumont.
Horrible. Dumont has had the best two seasons of his career the past two years for Nashville. The Isles never got a game out of him, and got precious little out of the guy they got for him, Dmitri Nabokov, who wisely went to play in Russia in 2000. The Isles missed Marty Reasoner (#14, St. Louis), Danius Zubrus (#15, Philadelphia), Marco Sturm (#21, San Jose), and Daniel Briere (#24, Phoenix).

1997- #1 overall, Joe Thornton (Boston). Isles pick #4 - Roberto Luongo, #5 - Eric Brewer.
Given back-to-back cracks, the Isles get it right, only to give up on both players way too early. For that matter, the #3 guy in this draft, Olli Jokinen, was briefly an Islander as well. You'd think a guy that cost Zigmund Palffy would be someone to keep around, but the Isles sent him away after just one season, to Florida - WITH LUONGO - for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. I will now chew on a high voltage wire while standing in salt water.

1998 - #1 overall, Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay). Isles pick #9 - Michael Rupp.
Who? Oh yeah, the guy with 44 points in 263 career games. The guy better than Nik Antropov (#11, Toronto), Alex Tanguay (#12, Colorado), Martin Skoula (#17, Colorado), Robyn Regehr (#19, Colorado), Simon Gagne (#22, Philadelphia), Jiri Fischer (#25, Detroit), and Scott Gomez (#27, New Jersey). The four forwards in that list (Antropov, Tanguay, Gagne, and Gomez) have each had TWO seasons or more with as many points as Rupp in his whole career. In fact, Tanguay and Gomez have never scored fewer than 44 points in ANY season.

1999 - the Isles had three top-10 choices: Tim Connolly, Taylor Pyatt, and Branislav Mezei. All were sent away. That's pretty much all you need to know about the Isles - but I have more.

2000 - #1 overall, Rick DiPietro (Islanders).
The Isles take the guy that they don't need at all because of Roberto Luongo, and pass up on Dany Heatley (#2, Atlanta), and Marian Gaborik (#3, Minnesota). They then take Raffi Torres at #5, which is fine, except that all his best years are taking place out in Edmonton. Meanwhile, Brooks Orpik (#18, Pittsburgh) and Nicklas Kronwall (#29, Detroit) become great defensemen elsewhere, because Heaven knows the Islanders don't need defensemen, right?

Just imagine the Islanders keeping Luongo, Jokinen, Berard, and Bertuzzi, and taking one each of the above two pairs. Just that, with nothing else. That is a complete first-line starting six, even if Bertuzzi is not as good as he was with Vancouver. (This presumes that Berard would never have been injured against Ottawa had he stayed.)

2001- #1 overall, Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta). Isles pick #2... oh, wait, no they don't. They trade this pick to Ottawa in the Alexei Yashin deal. The Senators take Jason Spezza. The Isles don't. Neither do they get a chance at Stephen Weiss (#4, Florida), Mikko Koivu (#6, Minnesota), Mike Komisarek (#7, Montreal), or Ales Hemsky (#13, Edmonton). They do, however, pick Cory Stillman at #101. That's excellent value in the fourth round, right? Oh, what's that you say - he never played a game for the Islanders? I will now slide feet-first into a giant garbage disposal.

EDIT - heh. Should have been a little more careful. They did draft Cory Stillman in 2001, but not that one, who (had I read anything) has been in the league since 1995. In my defense, when I searched hockeyreference.com, the guy I found was the only one who came up, since the Isles' draftee never made the NHL - but still, I am rather an idiot. Never mind.

2002-2005 - more of the same. Isles take Sean Bergenheim (enigma), Robert "Shmilsson" Nilsson (currently a productive forward in Edmonton), Petteri Nokelainen (currently an awesome center in my NHL 2004 game, and nowhere else), and Ryan O'Marra. They do not take Cam Ward, Jarret Stoll, Jiri Hudler, Zach Parise (a son of one of their former players!), Ryan Getzlaf, Mark Stuart, Mike Richards, Travis Zajac, Wojtek Wolski, Rob Schremp, Mike Green, Martin Hanzal, Nicklas Bergfors, or Andrew Coligliano.

2006 - Isles pick #7 - Kyle Okposo. This they got right, at least if early returns are anything. With luck he'll be the guy they can finally use to anchor a reliable first line. But they lost their 2007 pick (#6 overall) and couldn't get any help for the guy: not Sam Gagner, Zach Hamill, Logan Couture, Brandon Sutter (son of Isles great Brent Sutter) or Colton Gillies (son of HALL OF FAMER Clark) (!#$^*&%!!^#%&~!).

2008 - help? Well, they took Joshua Bailey at #9. But they had the fifth pick. They traded it for #7, and traded THAT for #9, and got three extra picks out of it: a second-rounder next year, and #40 and #68 for this draft. And what did they get with the dealt-down pick? Not Luke Schenn, Nikita Filatov, Mikkel Boedker, or Cody Hodgson. No sirree, they went with Joshua Bailey, who is hopefully good, but was rated lower than any of those four guys. The Canucks grabbed Hodgson at #10, and probably were high-fiving themselves when Boedker was announced at number 8, knowing that the Isles were picking ahead of them.

These guys aren't an NHL team anymore. I still root for them, but they're bush league at this point, and they have clearly not hired the proper front office if in the past three years their big scores are Kyle Okposo and a month-long Ryan Smyth rental. They haven't won a playoff round since 1993; their record since the day David Volek beat Tom Barasso in overtime of Game Seven is 427-542-147 (.448), and their playoff record is 7-24 (.226). The most frustrating thing is that they hit on a decent number of those draft choices and still managed to piddle away nearly every last one of them.

DOUBLE EDIT - more of their lower-round choices hit than the first-rounders. They got Palffy, Travis Green, Bryan McCabe, and Blake Comeau in various second rounds; Zdeno Chara (3), Marty McInnis (8), Vladimir Malakhov (10), Andreas Johanssen (7), Tommy Salo (5), Brad Lukowich (4), Dick Tarnstrom (11), Radek Martinek (8), Franz Neilsen (3), Bruno Gervais (6), and Chris Campoli (7) were or are productive players, with many enjoying good seasons in New York. The last four from that list (and Comeau) are still there, and hopefully leading the team up and out over the next couple of years. You'll have to forgive me for working the first rounds only: twenty years of drafting is a lot of research when you're busy busy. But this does give me a little hope that the scouting staff is pretty good and are digging up useful players. I will take it all back if Bailey turns out to lead a decent draft haul; maybe (dare I dream?) on a par with 1980 (Brent Sutter, Kelly Hrudey, Greg Gilbert), 1977 (Bossy and Tonelli), 1974 (Gillies and Trottier), or 1972 (Harris, Henning, Nystrom, and Howatt).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is Google going to shut us down...

...for blasphemy against the Obamessiah?
See update below. It's not Google's fault!
It looks like Google has officially joined the Barack Obama campaign and decided that its contribution would be to shut down any blog on the Google owned Blogspot.com blogging system that has an anti-Obama message.
Yes, it sure seems that Google has begun to go through its many thousands of blogs to lock out the owners of anti-Obama blogs so that the noObama message is effectively squelched.
Thus far, Google has terminated the access by blog owners to 7 such sites and the list may be growing. Boy, it must be nice for Barack Obama to have an ally powerful enough to silence his opponents like that!
Update: It appears that someone is taking advatange of a flaw in Google's Blogspot system. Whew! It appears that the Republic is still solvent for now.
I have been hesitant to post this update because I cannot find a link to prove the claim, but it is starting to look like this Blogspot shut down of anti-Obama sites occurred because of a concerted effort by Obama supporters.
What they did was go to the Blogspot addresses found on the site of the NoObama coalition called Just Say No Deal and constantly hit the "mark as spam" link so that Google's Blogger would be flooded with spam warnings. This caused Google/Blogger to freeze the sites marked.
Apparently, this campaign merely took advantage of Google/Blogger's flawed system of finding spam blogs. So, it looks like what we have here is an Obama dirty trick to shut down political opposition. Looks like Obmatons aren't much for that whole democracy thing, eh?
Once I find a link to an Obama site talking about this attack, I will post it.
h/t Newsbusters

The Rays are in first.

At the halfway point,the Rays are 49-32, a game up on the Bosox and tied with the Cubs for the best record in baseball.
The Bosox come into the ratdump known as Tropicana Field.
(okay, it's not as big as ratdump as the old Veteran's Stadium in Philly, especially when all the Mets fans came down to see there team in hostile territory. It was more dangerous in the stands than on the field)
Where was I? The Bosox come to the Trop 6/30-7/2, and if the Rays can sweep these beaneaters my head is going to explode. The old Devil Rays have stunk on ice for the entirety of their 10-year existence, and I don't think the mind of mortal man can fully comprehend what is going on. Heck, the guys aren't even hitting yet.

Now I've Really Got To Behave

Before church this morning, one of my pastors came up to me and said, "I've been to the Hive". I said, "Boss, you should have posted a comment". But he's a little bit of a Flintstone when it comes to the blogosphere.
Fly, he's one of us, from the Bronx, NY. He's bivocational - not in an Episcopal bishop sort of way; it means he has a weekday job at a quality Tampa restaurant. Which means he feeds people both literally and spiritually.
I'm still going to try and get the guy to hit the comment section.

He Wasn't a Heavy Drinker

….so says his girlfriend.

Eric Morris had spent time in prison and was working toward a better life.

But he died this week after downing more than 20 shots of cherry-flavored vodka in a shot-for-shot drinking contest with a co-worker at a Seffner bikini bar.

His girlfriend, Amber Rust, said he wasn't a big drinker.

"Two to three beers a night," she said. "That was it."

The 26-year-old took a challenge Tuesday from a co-worker at Angels Show Bar. The challenger stopped drinking shots after the fifth round, she said. Morris continued.

Now the Bible says that God provides wine, ‘which makes man’s heart glad” (Psalm 104:15), and many of us, as demonstrated by Mr. Bingley, enjoy this gift in the manner in which it is intended.

The Bible does not prohibit the drinking of alcohol. It does talk about not doing what this guy at the bikini bar did. And one of the consequences of the fallen world is that some folks like this guy (and of course, me) need to deny ourselves this pleasure.

This bar is 400 yards from my place of employment. It is a bikini bar, where the dancers have to keep some cloth on so that they can have a liquor license and sell shots of cherry vodka. I bring this up because the girlfriend's name, Amber Rust, sounds like a stage name.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Score one for free speech

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has decided not to pursue Maclean's magazine for the excerpt of Mark Steyn's America Alone.

Not bad. We still have to wait for British Columbia's own thought police to rule on the matter, but that's one for human liberty; always a point gained.

Great statement from Maclean's on the matter can be found here. They sum up the inanity of the HRC's recent actions thus:


Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media. And we continue to have grave concerns about a system of complaint and adjudication that allows a media outlet to be pursued in multiple jurisdictions on the same complaint, brought by the same complainants, subjecting it to costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the inconvenience.

Spot on. As Ezra Levant mentions in his own post on the subject, the ones who are most easily hurt are the ones without the resources to fight back - who can't spend the many thousands of dollars. Of course the accusers can since they're often taxpayer-funded.

Folks, free minds require free speech and free writing. It's that simple.

So where have you been, Fly?

I've been a bit busy, capable of insufficient thought or leisure for a real post. Moving Day had arrived.

Tuesday was a big deal packing and hauling and even more packing. Wednesday was the day the movers came and the furniture went.

It's wonderful how inadequate a professional can make you feel. For several weeks we've been bringing small items over: lamps, our dishes and clothes, small appliances, books and books and books and BOOKS! (Look at me, I'm in tatters!) We moved all the food on Tuesday. In between there was all the electrical upgrading that had to be done before we could move in, the appliance replacement, tons (or is that gallons?) of painting - still in progress... It has felt like trying to walk up a hill of quicksand.

Then the movers showed up with their truck at eight am Wednesday. This truck was BIG, friends - they could have set up all of our furniture inside it in the same layout and let us move in there. We shook hands, gave out some bottles of water, and the two guys went to work with gusto.

Everything was inside the house by 11:30.

That's a whole living room, bedroom, and most of our den - plus some random boxes we couldn't fit in either car - and all papers signed and carbon copies sorted. Less than four hours, and part of that was the 15 minutes' drive to the new place. So yeah... my ego, it is bruised. But we had a choice: hire movers, or hire painters. Ladybug and I figured that it was easier and cheaper to fix a painting mistake than to replace a smashed television or coffee table.

Good call. One particular piece took an hour for four of us to wrestle upstairs: a large cabinet for the TV and related electronics that we dubbed the Concrete Armoir. The two movers handled it like it was made of wiffle. Rugs were rolled and tossed off the second-floor balcony to waiting arms, and whisked off. Neither TV nor coffee table was smashed. There was an antique piece whose odd protruding legs made it impossible to drive over ourselves: they handled it with no difficulties.

Afterward we ate lunch made from our recently-relocated food, on our recently-relocated dining room table, in our recently-repainted dining room... and waited for the cable company to attach the necessary wires at the pole to get the computers, phone, and tv up and running.

Villa Diptera is now a going concern.

Small addendum - it's incredible to me that at this time last year we were hammering out last-minute wedding details and hoping that our security deposit for the apartment would clear. From there to this has been amazing. Wednesday night was the end-of-day routine: sorting unpacked boxes, then switching off the lights and locking up - only in our own place. We weren't going home after this to do more packing and cleaning; we were home already. I was filled with a great thankfulness for everything we've been trusted with.

It also occured to me that one of the big things about gratitude is that it doesn't just look back, but looks forward as well - part of being happy about the house is looking forward to having many years there. But even if I die on the way home tonight and never set foot in the house again, it does not diminish my gratitude.

We can wiirk it out, part four

Sorry about the gap in regular postage, folks. I have explanations in a separate post.

I did very little huffing and puffing this week. We had no hockey game, having been eliminated from the playoffs last Tuesday. The scale sits at the very upper end of my five-pound range. And here I sit at my desk eating french fries and caring not a whit, even though I could easily ball them up into love handles and wear them around my waist to save time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Surge in Iraq...

....made it safe for reporters to date again.

Sexy CBS siren Lara Logan spent her days covering the heat of the Iraq war - but that was nothing compared to the heat of her nights.

The "60 Minutes" reporter and former swimsuit model apparently courted two beaus while she was in Baghdad, and has been labeled a homewrecker for allegedly destroying the marriage of a civilian contractor there, sources said.

Passions got so hot in the combat zone that one of her lovers, Joe Burkett, brawled in a Baghdad "safe house" with her other paramour, CNN war reporter Michael Ware, a source said.

In drawing our Venn diagram of politics and whorism, where does the media fit in?

The "60 Minutes" reporter and former swimsuit model. Just meditate on that phrase for awhile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We can wiirk it out without me

No, just kidding. I kind of remembered late last week so I skipped it. I didn't remember at all this past weekend because the frost is off the ground, and moving day is at hand.

Yeah, pretty much all of my working out this past two weeks? Aside from an actual, honest-to-goodness quarter-mile JOG (with running and everything), it's been box packing, box hauling, box schlepping, box stacking, and interludes of taping and painting. Oh, and a little hockey. I play in two different divisions at my league - we went undefeated in regulation in each division (at least for games I played) - until, you guessed it, the playoffs. Then it was a shutout loss in the one, and a crushing shootout loss in the other. (We joked, somewhat bitterly, that we would get the pity point next season. This was a tough one to take.)

The benefit? We cooked real food in our real house yesterday. No, well, that's a little bit of a fib. We microwaved pre-fab food in our not-entirely-assembled house yesterday, but it didn't come off a take-out menu or a brown baggie, so I'm going to go ahead and count it.

We haven't packed the scale yet, but there's no real news there. I still fluctuate within the same five-pound range. Neither top nor bottom is willing to budge, primarily because most of my current activities aren't revving my heart up to any sort of sustained higher rate. In fact I found and unpacked a pair of shorts I bought a few years ago: now they're uncomfortably snug around the tummy. There's a wake-up call.

My goal isn't necessarily to lose weight - I just want to redistribute it a little so I don't wind up resembling a tall Weeble. Eventually I'd like to get back up to being able to jog a mile or go on a half-hour bike ride without feeling like a popped balloon.

See how SarahK and the peeps are doing!

Steven Weber shows us his O face

Or, "It was a dark and stormy blog" -

The Sleep of Monsters Produces Reason

The reason of monsters produces sleep, too, as we are about to discover by reading the article.

Change is seeping into our consciousnesses and Hope is entering our lives like amber rays dispelling the murk of a drugged sleep, the one which we endured so helplessly, so long.

This is the secret, kids - the sleep must be drugged in order to produce reason. And don't bogart the special brownies, man.

The movement headed by Obama is becoming an unstoppable juggernaut, fueled not by his leadership alone but by the gathering momentum of those individuals who feel the totality of the movement's righteousness within them. Obama is the face of the movement; the people are the movement.

OK, so they're ex-lax brownies. Should have warned you.

And while we are relishing our Obasm, we must nonetheless be aware of the opposing forces who peer jealously across the widening breach, who are becoming even more embittered, even more determined to prevent this movement from succeeding.

See! There's the O face. (Hey, HE used the word "Obasm," I didn't.)

This is such tremendously bad writing, it should come with a surgeon general's warning. I've changed diapers with smarter stuff than this in them. I'm tempted to oppose "the movement" based solely on this steaming stack o' sump cloggings, but there's the bonus of all the disastrous, marxist, anti-liberty "shut up we know what's best" policy proposals. None of this, you'll notice, is described here in Mr. Weber's leg-thrilling prose. It's all about the afterglow of beholding the Dalai Obama after the horror of the W years. I'm amazed he still has strength to write after the plague of festering boils and the scarabs that gnawed off the fingers of every registered Democrat, but that's just how transforming Obamania is. (Just look at him glow!)

I haven't got around to quoting the part where Bush uses fear the way Saddam Hussein used poison gas on the Kurds. (Yeah, really.) Nor how he forgives Obama for sounding like a clueless stooge, because that's how you have to get elected in America. (With guys like Steve voting, it's actually hard not to agree.) In fact, Obama may actually be a clueless stooge - it's only his vision for America that's "virtually without fault," not him.

At least, it's without fault until someone points out the fault, and he furiously insists that 1. he never noticed that part of it over the last twenty years and 2. such questions are off-limits! And 3. HOPE and CHANGE!

Really, it's like "Vote Quimby" only with a real person. Or the "None Like It Hot" film from Futurama, where the narrator insists that a stopgap done every once in a while, with less benefit each time, is a permanent solution.

But what ab-

I SAID HOPE AND CHANGE! Yes we can!

(My sincerest thanks to Rachel for the story.)

Mein Katzenjammer..

..has an explanation.

'People have come to expect that if they spend a lot of money on a fifth of premium whiskey, and they drink a good bit of it on a Friday night, that they ought to feel terrible on Saturday morning. The most important part of my job is to see to it that just the right amount of fusel is added to the beverage so that their headache the next morning will meet their expectations. If we make our beverages too pure, too free of impurities, then our customers will feel cheated when they hardly have any headache at all the next morning, and they'll start to think that we're watering it down. They want their pain, so we add enough amyl alcohol to ensure that they get what they expect. The morning-after aches and pains are a key part of our brand identity.

There is no human language to describe the agony, the bedspins, bowing to the porcelain altar while your stomach was being wrung out like a wet towel. To realize that it was part of the marketing....

Twenty-four years of sobriety and still the sight of a bottle of Wild Turkey still turns my stomach. Heck, I was at the zoo last month and even the wild turkey exhibit got me queasy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mote, meet beam

Ricki talks about "winning the Good Person Olympics."

Great stuff - funny and smart. It also reminds me of the "Truck Farming" short from MST3K. The South starves while the North eats healthily. Hail Truck Farmer!

It's Pitiful...

...when even this guy has better luck with the ladies than I.

John Hinckley Jr., the lovestruck gunman who shot President Ronald Reagan in a bizarre attempt to impress Jodi Foster, is still trying to impress the ladies, and federal officials warn that his obsession could again turn violent.

An affidavit filed by federal officials trying to restrict Hinckley's movements claim the would-be assassin has at least three girlfriends and possibly as many as five.

Would girls like me more if I tried to whack a famous person? Would I be able to record a music CD?

Also alarming to authorities is the fact that Hinckley recently recorded a song on a CD entitled, "The Ballad of the Outlaw," a tune about suicide and lawlessness that he wrote before the Reagan assassination attempt.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hopefully Your Kids Won't Be Reading This.

They may get ideas.

An appeal will be filed in a Montreal court after a Quebec judge overruled a father who grounded his 12-year-old daughter for dangerous Internet use.

The lawyer for the father, who can't be identified to protect the girl, told The Gazette newspaper that Justice Suzanne Tessier overstepped the court's bounds last Friday when she ruled in favor of the girl's legal challenge and said she would be allowed to go on a school trip her father had forbidden because of misbehavior.

"I don't think this tribunal was the proper forum for a decision like this one," lawyer Kim Beaudoin said. "If we don't learn at the age of 12 there are rules to follow, when do we?"
He said he was preparing an appeal based on the fact the judge acknowledged the girl's repeated defiance of her father's house rules.

They included bypassing security settings to block Web sites the father didn't trust, then using a friend's computer to access those sites. Beaudoin said the girl also posted online photos of herself "inappropriate for a child her age," the report said.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's only fair

We got on Tiger Woods' case for this nonsense, but give him his due - winning the US Open after FIVE rounds and a sudden-death hole, with a stress fracture in his knee that requires major reconstructive surgery? What's more - he called it ahead of time. Holy smokes.

I can't figure out why Tiger disses hockey. With his kind of athleticism, coordination, killer instinct, and a full brass set, he could be in the NHL himself.

So yeah, I got nothing

update, 6-19: Cullen suggests "kwizatz haderach" as a preferred career option. I'm not sure I could handle my name being a killing word, but...

We have wormsign!
(pic courtesy of ICHC)

So I may as well meme along with Kate and Word Girl.

1. If you could choose one career, regardless of your natural-born talents/station in life, what would it be?
I can already tell that this is going to be the Meme I Constantly Correct. First, this is hardly an "if" question - don't most people already choose their career? And why on earth would I choose a career with no regard to my natural-born talents? Sure, I drop stuff and my hands twitch at random, and I flunked out of shop class because I cut the power cord of my own circular saw - but hell, brain surgeon sounds fun!

If you still want an answer, then it's "professional writer." Unless Jedi Knight is available, because, you know - guardian of peace and justice in the Republic? Mad powers? Bitchen lightsaber and a sweet ride - in outer spaaaaace? Full of awesome. (And to hell with the PC ninnyhammer pferdkaese that Lucas is peddling right now, I'd do this RIGHT.)

2. Do you have a tattoo? If so, what is it? If not, would you get one? What would you get?
No, and Do Not Want.

3. Movie theater or DVD rental?
I like the theater experience, especially for certain "event" movies where a whole group of friends goes together. Otherwise, I love the freedom of pausing, reviewing, and devouring special features.

4. What's your current pet peeve?
I really don't have one. Life's good. But I would like an actual pet - at least, besides the hamster.

5. Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction - currently writing like nobody's business, so I need light fare. I've been rattling through the Bond books. (There's a post in that, too.)
Non-fiction - Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex. I'm as far as the Brownsville Riots.

6. What's your typical breakfast?
A bowl of oatmeal and some coffee. Bagels if we're having a meeting at work.

7. Vegetable you hate?
Can't think of one. Honestly. Even Brussels sprouts are good if you cook them correctly. (And lima beans are legumes.)

8. If you could magically play a musical instrument as well as a professional, what would it be?
Tough one. The dynamic frontman in me says guitar (and especially if the related instruments are included, such as bass, mandolin, banjo). (Sorry Cullen.) But if I'm in a background mood, or just want some light cocktail music, I lean toward the piano, so I can tuck away in the corner and play Brubeck at some swank soiree.

9. Do you believe in luck?
Luck is the residue of design - or in other words, I don't when I'm catching the breaks, but if not - wicked bad luck! Fate! Anything but me!

10. Are you overly concerned about your physique?
Not overly. I don't need to look like an underwear model. Mostly my concern is for my health, and not having to buy larger pants every year.

11. Cat or dog?
Why yes, thanks - one of each. (I do prefer cats, for the record, but grew up with both and have a good appreciation for the virtues of each.)

12. Do you like manual labor?
"Fresh air, exercise.... hells yeah." My job involves a fair amount of it, and I also enjoy doing yard work and home projects. Good to finally have a home and yard in which to do them...

13. If you are female, do you wear makeup?
Not applicable.

14. (Male or female) Do you pluck or wax your eyebrows?
I only have the one, and it is untouchable. Lay off my monobrow.

15. What's your ultimate vacation?
Meaning, the last vacation I took, or my "dream" vacation? (OK - it's pet peeve time after all - "ultimate" does NOT mean "fantasy," it means "final." Can't stand "Ultimate" Sporting Event or "Ultimate" Product or any such ingoramus description - next season everybody starts all over again, and there is going to be another, better product in about fifteen minutes, so knock it off already.)

The last vacation I took was my honeymoon. I'm looking forward to getting away during the summer for a little bit to visit friends and catch up with the Adorables.

16. If you could retire to anyplace, regardless of money, where would you spend your twilight years?
Arrrrgh. At least it's a consistant usage. And I should lay off the crotchety grammarian shtick, or use the "get off my lawn" tag. Anyway, I do know what this means - if money was no object, if it didn't cost me anything, where to, pal?

I would stay close to family; or else, I would stay close to where I could go to them (or bring them to me) whenever we felt like it. Perhaps a big ol' Gaia-whuppin' RV, so we could travel wherever and see what-all struck our fancy.

17. Who do you envy?
WHOM, consarnit! But half-credit for using "envy" instead of "jealousy." (Tag updated. It's just too late for me.) And really, I don't envy anyone. Remember "Richard Cory"? I have enough to do living the life I already have without wanting someone else's life for my own.

What is the point in worrying
Hardly seems worth the time
Make yourself sick with wondering
If yours is better than mine
-- "Partridge," the Anderson Council

18. Do you wish you were filthy rich?
No - but I often wish that I could do the things that require filthy richness. I'd love to endow a big charitable foundation as a private alternative to government programs: probably in education, since the world needs strong schools focusing on classical knowledge, achievement, and equal opportunity; or else pro-fatherhood and pro-family concerns.

Also, I would own the New York Islanders.

19. Is your house clean and tidy or dirty and disorganized?
It's disorganized, since we've had workmen scuttling about, filling all the holes with electrical sockets and appliances and such. But the parts that are finished are tidy and well-organized.

20. What do you miss about your twenties?
I miss HAVING twenties. Andy Jackson hasn't seen the inside of my wallet in months. As for the age, the only thing I miss (kinda sorta) is the extra time. I should have gotten off the starting line a little more promptly. Now I have to make up for it with a little giddy-up around the far turn. (That's another post, by the way, but not for now.)

Anyone else who wishes, feel free to jump in.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wrenching

No words are enough, Josephine. I hope that the writing was a solace to you - and may the limitless, undying Father grant you all abundant comfort and strength.

I Ask Forgiveness...

...for ignoring the other presidential candidate. The McCain might not be the Obamessiah, but he should not be ignored. He recently met with some Clinton die-hards in D.C.

Bower said he'd liked McCain's answer on judges, in which he "pointed out that he supported Bill Clinton with both Ginsberg and Breyer."

Another person who was present, but asked not to be named to avoid conflict with fellow Democrats, said he'd pressed a McCain staffer on McCain's position on same-sex marriage.
The staffer "said it was the same as [John] Kerry's position," he said.

Ginsberg? Breyer? Heck, McCainiacs are using Obama's potential Supreme Court nominees to try and scare me into the voting booth. Who's getting the straight talk, the Clintonistas or the GOP base?

Message to you religious GOPers out there. McCain is going to try to do to you what the Dems have been doing to black voters for years, to scare you into the voting booth.

This guy, and McCainkissers like Mel Martinez, Crist and Lindsay Grahamnesty are the reason why I am no longer a Republican.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Karma Sutra gonna get you

In moving to the DC area, Dawn Eden winds up getting closer to the action - in a manner of speaking. The action is represented by a column by Ms. Ally Pregulman in The Hatchet, the student newspaper of George Washington University. Be warned, this is tough reading for anyone who has a daughter or younger sister, but it needs to be read.

(Aside - nice touch not calling it the Daily Hoya or something. The name shows more imagination than much of the content.)

Ms. Eden quotes a few standout items and asks for a kindly rebuttal...

At the outset, let's get the dull business of "prudery" out of the way. This is not going to be a post full of naive disbelief that college students are actually (gasp) having ess-eee-exx with each other. In fact, I find that the naivete is usually from the kids towards the oldsters. Whenever one tries to talk sex with the younger generation, they assume "you don't know how things are nowadays," and forget a few facts. For one, we oldsters (or not so oldsters) were once youngsters ourselves - we remember our own days of frolic. In fact, we are many of us not quite removed from those days. (Where do you kids think you came from, anyway? Didn't we have that talk?) In fact, it is usually teens who are horrified that their parents are actually (gasp) having ess-eee-exx with each other. So much for prudery.

What's more, the young-uns don't draw the obvious conclusion - we were there, and now we're here. They'll age, too. Their bright vanguard of the hip and knowing will be inexorably overtaken by the ranks of the square and staid. As such, the advice that we have now is borne of the experiences we had then; those experiences are not nearly so foreign or unrealistic as their own. This isn't mere hypothesis that fails in the face of reality, but reality itself distilled into workable theory. It's they, not us, who are flying in the dark when they disregard what their elders have learned the hard way.

As such, when Ms. Pregulman starts her column by saying that "Mom and Dad's move-in day advice won't be anything like this," we can agree. For the sake of young adults everywhere, we certainly hope their parents' advice is different. What's offered here is, in short, a disaster - ironically offered up as the fruits of experience. In fact, one commenter at the Dawn Patrol calls it "harm mitigation," and that sums it up perfectly. Does anyone think it's wisdom to talk about mitigating harms that are simple to avoid? It's as if we decided to teach kids how to bounce off cars rather than teaching them how to look both ways and not to play in the street. What's more, Ms. Pregulman has utterly nil to say about mitigating the harms that following her advice will probably cause.

There will be fisking later, but first let's have some actual advice. Rather than mitigating one's risks when it comes to sex, it's simpler to avoid them. Chastity is not only perfectly acceptable, it is by far the most reasonable and charitable way for anyone to live.

To start, chastity isn't merely "abstinence ├╝ber alles." Just as honesty is a positive value beyond "don't tell lies" and temperence is a positive value beyond "don't overindulge," chastity is a positive value beyond merely not hooking up. It is, in short, integrity in one's sexual being.

We see integrity as very important in other areas of life. We need to be honest with others; with ourselves moreso, if we hope to understand what we desire out of life. We then need to be prudent, to understand what will and won't advance our goals. We need to be charitable, so that our pursuits won't harm others. We need to be brave so we won't turn back when opposed. We need to have understanding, so we can learn from life and know best how to apply those lessons. And we need willpower - both to chose, and then to persist. One simply goes further in life when all of one is moving in the same direction.

Damage to our integrity in those areas shows pretty quickly in the bottom line, so to speak: we don't get where our hopes would take us. We wind up being unhappy, and making others unhappy. It's usually obvious when the problem is telling lies, or failing to stick to our studies, or an overfondness for double-chocolate extra-thick chocolate chunk sundaes (with chocolate sauce). But when it comes to chastity, these simple truths have been pretty well obscured by a lot of talk about being well-adjusted, having control over our own bodies, and enjoying a great gift freely. As a result, if we fail to be chaste we not only wind up with the same troubles as other failures in integrity, we often don't know why we're unhappy. We're smart, work hard, tell the truth, care for others, and know where we want to be, so what's up?

For one thing, we have an integrity problem we don't recognize. For another, chastity involves not only sexual integrity, but a lot of the other areas of integrity as well. A deficit here starts draining the other areas of integrity as well - we start to lie to ourselves about our real problem, we become sidetracked trying to avoid something we need to practice, or else we become less sure that we need it.

We do need it. We don't often believe that utter fulfillment is to be found in lies, or in exquisite foods, or in ruthlessly trampling others. We can fall for it for the moment but it's hard to found a bedrock philosophy on such things. Those who show the least care for themselves in these areas are usually quite quick to cry foul when it's done to them; which shows that whatever they may say, integrity is important to them - at least, in other people. ("Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.") We do, however, fall quite often for lies about sex, as described above.

There's a good reason for that: the things we're told about being well-adjusted, having control over our own bodies, and enjoying a great gift freely are all true. The lie is that we gain all of that by indulgence in sex, whenever and wherever. But five minutes' thought should show us the reality: when it comes to sex, it is the chaste who are well-adjusted, controlling our own bodies, and enjoying the gift freely. Well-adjusted, in that their sexual nature is in accord with the rest of themselves, and not at odds; in control, in that the will chooses rather than blind moods; and freely enjoyed as I hope to explain below.

Setting aside for the moment all of the complications of disease and pregnancy, there's the question of emotional and spiritual involvement in sex. True sex demands integrity, not just in abstention but also in practice. It's meant to connect us in the body, but also in mind and spirit through the body. Sex whenever with whomever invariably runs in to a contradiction - because the mind and the spirit have to be divided to be thus completely given to more than one other person. This is not integrity with others - not in honesty, not in charity, and certainly not in sexuality. It's also not integrity with oneself, because one has to divide oneself into little boxes in order to keep the damage from spreading into the other areas of one's character: sex in this box, and all of things that sex was meant to connect in other boxes. One is no longer having sex to the full - it may be pleasurable but it is not possible to describe it as free enjoyment, because one is by definition not free to let one's full self flow into the union.

Nor is one capable of accepting all that flows in the other direction. How could one accept the full trust and vulnerability of the other in a sexual union and then betray them later? There are two answers: either one can't, in which case one must refuse to receive what is given; or else one can, in which case one is rather a total bastard - treacherous and untrustworthy, ruinous to self and others.

It takes a lot of integrity to be oneself instead of what other people expect. It takes discipline and self-command to take the direction that will do good for you and others, rather than the easy way. There's a saying that any log can simply float downstream; all the strength and willpower comes from heading the other way, first to choose that path and then to travel it. That holds true in virtue as well, and virtue about sex is no exception.

So a chaste person also gets a good amount of training in things like courage and prudence and honesty. The show respect for themselves and others, no less than they do by being honest or brave or thoughtful. They also gain in knowledge, because if anyone wants to their limits, they are best served by testing their strength against something that pushes back. Sex pushes on us from every angle - and most strongly from within. The outer pressures for sex would be far fewer, and weaker, if it were not so. Ads use the language of sex as a selling point because it speaks to us in a way we readily understand, for example. Simply indulging whenever we feel the urge can teach us little about ourselves. In fact, it simply means that sex (being strong) will push us anywhere the urge goes. We lose our power to choose when we simply go along. It's easier to laugh when the bully kicks the class bookworm; or to go along with a group lie when somebody starts to ask hard questions. We don't normally think much of ourselves when we do those things. Chastity should be no exception in our mind, since it is no exception in reality.

Feeling fisky

(Part one above.)

Keeping all that in mind, we can now read Ms. Pregulman's column with open eyes.

This may be your first time sharing a room. Respect your roommates by not hooking up when they are there - even if you think they are asleep.

Neither here, nor anywhere else, will you observe the author advising us to respect ourselves. One can at least congratulate her for her lack of hypocrisy.

So please, for the sake of your sex life, have a signal; put a ribbon on the door, anything to show the room is occupied. Even better, meet an upperclassman that has a single bedroom and go there.

This advice is in response to nearly being caught mid-frolic with her boyfriend. Now, many people would describe this as a wake-up call, but the author has hit the snooze button. Let us not be caught napping ourselves: a ribbon on the door is not a solution. My generation used a rubber band or some other subtle signpost. Believe me, when the roomie's dad walks her back to her dorm and she sees the ribbon (or whatnot), it isn't going to spare one the embarrassment: he is going to see it, and he is going to know. If one is worried about one's good reputation, one needs to actually preserve it, and not merely keep up the pretense. Pretenses slip - for example, when one writes a column exposing the reality behind the appearance, with one's name for a byline - or just when one grows incapable of keeping track of what one told whom, when. Here, the advice of Joe Torre comes into play: "I always tell the truth. This way, I never have to remember anything." *

And, under the heading of "harm mitigation" - if any young ladies are reading, please do NOT choose a beau simply based on how many other people are in the house with him. And if you do feel the utter and absolute need to frolic, do NOT give up control of your surroundings by going to his place, and ESPECIALLY if he lives alone. Should you suddenly feel differently, you have less resource to escape or refuse there, and less reason to hope that somebody will interrupt to your benefit.

Always use a condom. I know it's old news, but just do it. I have a friend who takes birth control and stopped using condoms to "see what it feels like." So far she has been lucky, but I don't want to be the one to take her to Planned Parenthood. The abortion clinics in D.C. have the most protesters because of their location - you don't want to be harassed while taking care of an unplanned situation.

This is high on the list of positive values in the zeitgeist - the Freedom Not to be Hassled. ** In fact, you can see it here before the author ever reaches her gripe about protestors: "I don't want to be the one to take her..." Why not? Better that she have to get harassed by herself, so the author doesn't have to be bothered? Being there for others means taking on some hassles; it comes with the territory. In fact, any attempt to achieve mastery (or even competence) requires that we take some trouble; we have to learn, we have to persevere, and we often have to stop our ears to people who tell us we're wasting our time. It holds true for education or athletics or hobbies or creativity, and it certainly holds true in love. Refusing this essential aspect of life is a major indication that the author isn't ready for sex at all, and her advice on the topic is not likely to be helpful.

A little bit of bubbly never hurt anyone's libido, but girls, don't go home with the guy you've been taking shots with all night. Get a number and call later.

"Hi, is this Ally? Hi. We were getting totally blitzed the other night, remember? Vaguely? Yeah, so, uhm... want to get together for some lunch after the polysci lecture?" This can't really be serious. Again, ladies - don't waste your time on a guy whose appeal rises as the bottle empties. You have to sober up sometime. Besides, a guy whose self-control can't keep him on his own two feet (or on the road) for the trip back home is going to reveal that little character flaw in a lot of other areas too.

And guys, too much to drink will seriously hurt your game. You don't want to be known as the freshman who couldn't get it up.

This is the second time the author mentions freshmen having sex. Again, not that it's shocking or anything, but seriously, what's wrong with being known as the freshman who isn't sleeping around? For that matter, is there anything wrong with not having one's prowess known at all? College should be about classes every once in a while. Nor do I see any sort of health in this catty dishing about other people's personal issues. The first part of this column said, in effect, "protect your good name." This part of it helpfully adds, "because nobody else will." This is more than a point in favor of sobriety; it's also a good reason to keep zipped.

Hooking up in bathrooms is never OK. If you wouldn't want to touch it, don't have sex on it. However, if your roommates are home and you need to get it on, the shower is a suitable alternative.

One is tempted to regard the whole column as parody at this point. Is this supposed to encourage us to have sex? First step - have no self-control as who else is around; second step - have no ability to stop once one is started; third step - go to a shower, where heck-all knows what else has gone on before one's arrival, and go to it there. Presumably, the shower is a far more public domain in a dorm or apartment than is the room itself, which at least has a lock on the door. In my freshman dorm, the bathrooms and showers for the whole floor were the same room; further, one wing was guys and one wing was girls, which meant that it would be 9000 times harder to make a clean getaway, no matter how much body wash one used. (But by all means, protect your reputation with a ribbon on the door that everyone knows the meaning of, including everyone else on the floor.)

Guys, don't text a girl you hooked up with a month later for round two. Chances are she's moved on to bigger and better and isn't interested in you anymore. Regardless of your intentions, call back within two weeks. After that, she's moving on.

If everyone followed all the rest of the advice, this isn't really going to make a difference, is it? Guys will also have moved on, to the next young woman who's reading the column.

If it's red and itchy, go to the doctor. Student Health Service has seen worse and it's never OK to leave something untreated. I know its uncomfortable, but you don't want to sit on the bench too long; get tested and get your head back in the game. Plus, they have free condoms.

At least this is slightly good advice. Never leave a health problem untreated. But here I think the author fails to notice an obvious contradiction - she knows this is uncomfortable but is giving advice that is guaranteed to land the reader in many future uncomfortable situations; and as she's said above, she doesn't want to be the one to help the reader through it.

Oh, and free condoms! Rather than, say, condoms that one must purchase oneself, thus taking ownership of what one will be using them for.

College is a great time to try new things.

A subject you've never read before? New foods? Yoga?

Ask your girl to bring over a copy of Cosmopolitan. There's always a list of 100 things you've never tried or even thought existed.

Or that you missed when it ran two years ago.

If you're feeling really adventurous, pick up the Karma Sutra and learn about ancient civilizations.

One would be better served in reading a history book. (One hopes that the kids won't get a similar taste for cannibalism, human sacrifice, ritual drug use, or other hallmarks of ancient civilizations; I know the hour is late on some of this as well.)

Girls, I know it's been a while since high school cheerleading, but I promise your flexibility will return.

And if you were just on the flag squad, tough. Sex is for pretty people!

With all this new learning, don't forget about studying! Give yourself goals and reward yourself for doing well. Guys, don't get discouraged. Every girl has different needs. If something tried and true lets you down, pay more attention in anatomy or discover it for yourself... you will be rewarded for your findings.

Lest anyone else miss that Blinding Flash of the Obvious, let's go ahead and spell it out: swapping partners every few weeks is an impediment to gaining skill, not a help. One is starting over every time - and not from zero, either, but from less than zero, because they have to unlearn the habits that were good for a previous beau in order to please the new beau.

How many people who are "lousy in bed" could have saved themselves endless trouble by waiting until they got married? Sure, they would have been awkward and ignorant; but they also would have only one learning curve. They would have been awkward and ignorant in a secure place, committed to the other, and committed to by the other, with a whole lifetime to learn and enjoy, in full freedom and peace. (If Cosmo is such fun, how about twenty years' worth of issues?) Best of all, they can show the same charity to their best beloved, and neither would have to worry about competing against the memories of sex with other people. They get full enjoyment of each other without wasting their mind and heart on comparisons and cold judgments. Again - that is the true reward for one's findings, and again, it is given not to the indulgent but to the chaste.

The fisking was, alas, grouchier than the column. That's inherent, I suppose, in criticism as compared to offering a sound positive alternative.

* As an example of what I mentioned at the beginning - Torre said this in the bygone days when he managed the Atlanta Braves; back when there was big-league baseball in Montreal and neither that nor NHL hockey in the entire state of Florida. Reagan wasn't even president YET. And where's my prune juice and tapioca, consarnit?

** If it came with the reciprocal Freedom Not to Hassle Others it would have more to recommend it. But instead it's paired with the Freedom to Hassle as We See Fit: it demands the right to lecture instead of converse, making the other person a target rather a participant in an exchange of ideas. As a result it makes people rude and ignorant, trampling other people while shutting off any possible attempt to learn from their reply. What if they have new or overlooked information? What if they notice a flaw in your thinking? If it's really that important to be right, then maybe that flaw is something one would like to correct.

One Way to Increase Circulation..

...is to bow the knee to a demon.

Miami Herald employees, worried about retaining their jobs due to severe cutbacks in the newspaper industry, have now looked to a Santeria 'rooster' (photo) for help. The rooster is actually a life sized replica with a note attached that says:

Brought in by a Santeria priest (the real deal from Hialeah) to help save our jobs. Leave an offering.

The rooster and the offerings were placed on a fifth floor counter last Thursday facing an elevator bank in the Herald building in Miami. Among the offerings placed on the counter by the end of that work day were coins, cigars, and a Virgin de Guadalupe candle. Perhaps the Herald employees need to make even more offerings since the McClatchy Company which owns the Miami Herald just announced big layoffs today:

The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) announced today that it plans to reduce its workforce by about 10% as the company accelerates efforts to manage through today's difficult advertising market and position itself for future success in an increasingly competitive environment.

Now I've had my criticism of my locals and other media, but I never accused them of worshipping various Baals (other than themselves and the Obamessiah). Maybe I'm giving them too much credit.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert (1950-2008)

A great loss for his wife and son. And a great loss for the mainstream media. He had a background as a staff member for Dems, but he gave Dems a tough interview on Meet the Press The MSM would be in a lot better shape if there were more Tim Russerts. Now we don't even have the one.
He was well liked by all. Even Rush Limbaugh loved the guy. The scuttlebutt is that NBC is going to ask Tom Brokaw to come out of retirement to handle Meet the Press until after the election.
But what about after that? Past Brokaw and Brian Williams NBC news is a circus act. Keith Olberman? Chris "Thrill going up my leg" Matthews?
One more thing. I am going to be 50 years old in January. It seems that after you hit 50 you can go at any minute. If you, like me, are near the half-century mark or past it, please take the time to consider your eternal situation. This is one area where you don't want any surprises.

Are You Smarter Than a Five-Year-Old?

If you're letting one put permanent marks on your body, maybe not.
Tiny Emilie Darrigade is the world's youngest tattoo artist — after inking an intricate design on her dad's arm at the age of just five.

Emilie etched the detailed picture of a bumble bee surrounded by a laurel crown on dad Dave's forearm at a tattoo parlor.

"It was quite impressive due to the weight of the tattoo machine," said Dave.

And he says the sight of Emilie working on his arm caused quite a stir in the busy parlor.

He said: "Everyone who was in the shop, and it's a big shop, came to see Emilie at work and were all amazed and stunned at her relaxed demeanor.

"Now she says she wants me to get a new tattoo of a skeleton head with cross bones and fire so that will probably be our next project."
I'm not a tattoo guy, and from what I understand they can be removed. But it's kind of like divorce (painful and expensive). Is this a procedure you want to trust with someone who can barely hold the machine?
One more thing. I'm not a parent so maybe I'm a little out of touch, but if my little girl liked the flaming skull and cross bones tattoo it would bother me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A quiz in the Mighty Marvel manner

Excelsior! We have our very own shell head, and he wears a toque over his helmet.

As for me? Well, I don't know. The quiz won't work for me for some reason. I will try again later, but in the meantime, you can jump in and let me know how it goes - which superhero are you?

UPDATE, minor bump - pretty cool.



This would make Spider into Luke Cage. Not a bad gig. We may have to update our costumes to be less disco chic, however. (And that should read Danny Rand, not "Danny R and." I have a reputation to uphold now.)

I think it's time for Chris Sims to finally answer this question once and for all. Is he going to turn out to be Thor? Or, more awesomely, Volstagg? Or will he use his vast knowledge of comics to cheat the quiz... ?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It Gets Better Fly

Chapters need to be added to God's Word to record His life.


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), son of the one-time presidential contender, said Obama’s victory overwhelmed him. “I cried all night. I’m going to be crying for the next four years,” he said. “What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. ... The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”

update from the 'fly - I said in the comments that I couldn't really blame Obama for the nitwittery of his supporters - but I can certainly blame him for his own nitwittery.

GG: Do you believe in sin?
OBAMA: Yes.
GG: What is sin?
OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.


It's from a 2004 interview Obama did with his hometown Chicago Sun-Times. Now it may be that he means that he feels he's sinned if he's violated his conscience - it would be a defensible enough position. But frankly, a lot of people's consciences are shoddily formed. It would have been helpful to know, as Matt Archbold asks in his own post, what are those values exactly?

Likely enough, Obama himself doesn't know, and doesn't care much to find out. But I suspect that his summum bonum is his own ambition, as an ends to pursue rather than a means driving him to greater ability to achieve good in the wider world. Service to ambition (rather than ambition serving him) would explain why he sat in Rev. Wright's pews for 20 years; why he accused his own grandmother of racism in order to exonerate Rev. Wright - and then kicked him curbside the instant it seemed the better move; why he exploits his wife's public pronouncements for gain but bristles when people question the pronouncements; and why he doesn't just come out and say that maybe Durbin, Jackson Jr., this unhinged fellow, the iconographers at Reuters and Rolling Stone, etc, are all getting a little carried away with this pedestal they're standing him on.

Basically, the poor man is pole-sitting on a second Tower of Babel. If its fate should resemble that of the first, he's got nowhere to go but awaaaaaay down, and he could land hard.

(hat tip to Creative Minority Report for the unhinged fellow's column; they may be looking at a blogroll in short order)

Makes sense to me

I mean, if his mere nomination becalms the seas and heals the land, then it must be doubleplus sinful to criticise his wife, right?

This must be where the new folks are headed.

(hat tips - Rachel Lucas for the original link, and commenter Pat Berry for the Onion story.)

Bonus fun - from the original link, a picture of Air America's Rachel Maddow, with the graphic "Will Women Come Home to Obama?" So many jokes, so little bandwith... But the larger question is, come home to Obama? As in, that's where they belong, and not doing anything like voting for McCain? I call that fishy, the suggestion that the women's vote is the bloc birthright of the Democrats, and not something to be asked for. And Heavens above, certainly not a matter of individual women making up their own minds, voting their consciences!

O rly?

You know what this means, right?

I swear I didn't type the wrong URL.

We need a lolspeak/textspeak week, that's what.

(hat tip to Barb Nicolosi, whose blog is somehow "junior high." Reeding kwiz - ur doin it rong.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today I Congratulate a Bosox Player

Three cheers for Big Papi!
Big Papi has found a new nation to call home. David Ortiz, the pride of Red Sox Nation, became a U.S. citizen Wednesday with 220 other immigrants from 57 countries at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

The 32-year-old slugger from the Dominican Republic posed for photographs and shook the hands of many other new citizens and their families before the ceremony.

"It's a great country. I'm proud to be here," said Ortiz, who wore a pinstriped suit and his signature dark sunglasses. He said he was eager "to be part of the American family."
Good for you! Just stay on the DL until after July 2, when the Sox finish a series in Tampa.

Sometimes it's good to miss all the fun

Whenever I miss one of my regular reads, a signal goes out across the Internet - call it the Blog Note - that leads to philosophical ranting, flame wars, and general mayhem.

Now, as a single bug, I loved me the ranting and mayhem, but I think I must have married the right woman. Ladybug doesn't get why I obsess over what "imaginary people" think. To her, all the blogosphere is like a virtual Foster's Home where we can triumph over the arguments of total strangers, thus feeding our egos and accomplishing precisely nothing.

She's right. Last year nothing would have stopped me from whipping up a response of some sort to this news about Terry Pratchett. (Be a MAN in the Night Watch!) Now? Well, in short - it sucks that he's not well, but it kind of sucks more to read the comments on the article at bottom. A lot of them are merely frantic assurances that he's still of the body, that he has not surrendered to the taint of "magic sky daddy." And of course, that phrase (and others yet sillier) are all over the page.

Sure, but that was a news article about some big famous writer guy, right? Well, what about a regular person suffering and asking for prayers? Ah, but far be it for any athiests to play favorites.

Oh yeah, and this.

One panel vs. the entire Bible and all of human history.  Christianity is pwned!!1!

It's not fair to pick on the xkcd guy, I suppose. He's done plenty of comics I love, and he's awfully expressive for a guy who works primarily in stick figures. I just use this as the quickest expression of the common thread in the disparaging comments of all sorts.

It just seems to be something of a logical fallacy to me: if any such claim could be confirmed by experiment, it would disprove the claim just as surely as refutation, by showing that the ability was natural rather than supernatural. Q.E.D. (There's more to it than that, but this in brief.) It's probably partly why Jesus turned down anyone who asked for a sign or wonder. It's certainly not because He couldn't do them, as thousands could give eyewitness accounts of His healings, commanding the weather, multiplying loaves, and raising the dead (including Himself). Rather I think it was that He meant to do those things for a reason - from love for His people and for His Father - and anything that didn't serve that reason was pointless. In the end I'm forced to agree. "Hey, I know you claim to be the Son of God and savior of Israel, so how's about a few parlor tricks to clinch it for us?" Yeah, that's likely.

So, did I have a largish, philosphy-lite rebuttal to atheism? I did and do. Am I royally ticked that people would hijack Rachel's thread about her boyfriend's family? It's Friday-level anger. But was any of that motivated by love for God and my neighbor? Honestly, not much. Certainly not enough to further trample the ground. I'll save it for a proper time.

UPDATE - Joe is improving. Amen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Having your high school graduation...

...in a Baptist church?

A Muslim student who sued because his public high school graduation ceremony was held in a Baptist church has received an apology from Newark's school district and assurances that it will not hold future events in houses of worship.

Bilal Shareef said he had to skip his 2006 graduation from West Side High School because his religious beliefs prohibit him from entering buildings containing icons of God.


We Bible thumpers here in Tampa would never dream of holding a high school graduation ceremony in a church. In Tampa, all the high schools use the USF Sundome for that purpose.

The good news is that 50 years ago a Catholic student would have freaked about having to set foot in a Baptist church.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Out of luck with Andreachuk if Andreachuk ain't good

Courtesy Ezra Levant, a story to make one sit up sharply.

The Rev. Stephen Boissoin is a Christian pastor from the province of Alberta, Canada, and landed himself before der komissars in the Human Rights Tribunal. Mark Steyn is perhaps the most famous pelt yet sought by the Arbiters of Offensivity, but along the way, a few smaller bucks have fallen into the bag, and the Rev. Boissoin is one.

His mistake was taking the stuff in the Bible as true and saying so - specifically the parts about homosexuality. There are plenty of people (including some believers) who disagree about the passages in Leviticus, Romans, and elsewhere, but in general I think that a free society that wants to have actual debate about ideas instead of just bobble-headed nodding should be allowed to talk about it. I've never been to Alberta, however. One Darren Lund, Ph.D., filed on behalf of the 'oppressed' and, six years on, Ms. Lori Andreachuk has obliged him.

(Mr. Lund seems to be attached to this particular group, whose rather fanciful slogan is "Promoting Diversity Through Action." All Canadians are diverse, but I guess some Canadians are more diverse than others.)

Anyway, Rev. Boissoin's sentence has been handed down (.pdf here), and Mr. Levant goes through some of the provisions:

- a total ban on both the Reverend and his organization from publishing in any way, shape, or manner "disparaging remarks" about homosexuality. Levant: "She didn't order him not to communicate anything "illegal" or even anything "hateful". She ordered him to say nothing disparaging. Ever. For the rest of his life."

- a similar ban making any such remarks about Prof. Lund. The man isn't even allowed to argue his case publicly. What's more...

-a written apology to Prof. Lund, published in the Red Deer Advocate, and $5000 cash damages; in addition, court costs for the prosecution's witness up to $2000 .

The best part about it is that five years ago the Alberta HRC ruled in favor of Rev. Boissoin. Lund had to appeal in order to win his case; in effect, he got a do-over.

No matter whom one agrees with in this case, I think it's obvious that the effect of the ruling is not to open debate, but to silence and stifle it. One can't even argue against Rev. Boissoin's side if one wished, because there is no way for that side to respond. It's like a hockey game in which one side is not permitted to have any sticks. Sure you can beat them, but does that really show that you have a good team? You only know when you come up against a team that can meet you on equal terms. Likewise, in order to prove Rev. Boissoin wrong you need him to be free to give you his best rebuttal; only then can you hope to eventually craft an argument that answers all the strongest objections and carries the day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I was wearing my Rays hat in Walmart.

The guy behind me in checkout was wearing a Bosox hat. We looked at each other briefly and I thought, "Does he want to throw down?"
The Rays were unhappy with the severity of the discipline handed out for Thursday's brawl against Boston but remained unrepentant about their actions.
Major League Baseball acted swiftly and severely against the Rays, suspending five players for a total of 23 games, including James Shields (six), Jonny Gomes and Edwin Jackson (five each), Carl Crawford (four) and Akinori Iwamura (three).
Only three Red Sox were suspended for a total of 15 games — three for Sean Casey, five for pitcher Jon Lester and seven for Coco Crisp, who started the melee by charging the mound after being hit by Shields' pitch.
This isn't the old Devil Rays anymore; these guys aren't going to be pushed around anymore. Coco Crisp started it - he tried to take out Aki and Shield hit him in the leg with a pitch for payback. It should have ended there but Coco charged the mound and got what was coming to him.
The Rays are 1/2 game behind the Bosox. They have 36 wins after 61 games; last year it took 100 games to reach that mark.

More Love for the Obamessiah...

...in the St Pete Times. Here is a paragraph in an areticle in today's paper about McCain and the environment.
Democrats also questioned how McCain could portray himself as a defender of the Everglades while a major fundraiser in Florida, developer Al Hoffman, has fought efforts to protect the so-called River of Grass. Democrats said McCain should return the money Hoffman has raised. "It's not worthy of reaction," McCain said. With a smile, he dropped the name of a Chicago developer whose relationship with Obama has caused problems.
"A Chicago developer?" The writer (Alex Leary) has such a mancrush on the Dali-Obama that he cannot bring himself to type the name "Tony Resko".
I think I'm going to be ill.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wiirkout Blog Club

That is not an Icelandic cabal of internet hooligans, but SarahK's idea (and her neologism). She has a Wii, got the Wii Fit program, and is dedicating herself to fitnessing up. I own no Wii, but I am also interested in fitnessing up, so every Friday I will report to all y'all on what I've done (however shoddy or haphazard), and the (lack of) effect it had.

As a baseline, I can tell you that over the past week, I've played a couple of hockey games (two wins, huzzah), packed a whole mess of boxes, schlubbed said boxes from the apartment to the house, helped paint or prime three rooms, and have lost a grand total of no weight whatsoever. Truth be told, I'm not really in it to lose a lot of weight anyway - I haven't that much to spare, thankfully - but I'd love to recover some of my lost aerobic capacity. Morning jogs are the next step, as well as a good old-fashioned 50's gym class regimen: stretching, push ups, etc.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Someone praised Mark Steyn tonight

Absolutely brilliant.

Do They Make This For Humans?

Some days I could sure use it.

New Zealand scientists claim to have developed a "flatulence inoculation" aimed at cutting down on the massive amount of methane produced by its sheep and cows. Such animals are believed to be responsible for more than half of the country's greenhouse gases, causing huge environmental problems.

But Phil Goff, New Zealand's trade minister, told an Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris yesterday that a solution was in sight.
"Our agricultural research organisation just last week was able to map the genome ... that causes methane in ruminant animals and we believe we can vaccinate against" flatulent emissions, Mr Goff said.

Scientists in New Zealand have been working around-the-clock to reduce emissions from agriculture, such as changing the way fertilisers are used on pasture land, Mr Goff added.

Sheep, cattle, goats and deer produce large quantities of gas through belching and flatulence, as their multiple stomachs digest grass. Ruminants are responsible for about 25 per cent of the methane produced in Britain, but in countries with a large agricultural sector, the proportion is much higher. The 45 million sheep and 10 million cattle in New Zealand burped and farted about 90 percent of that country's methane emissions, according to government figures.

In comparison, livestock are responsible for about two per cent of the United States's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the Kyoto Protocol to combat global warming, New Zealand must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. In the past New Zealand's farmers have showed their disgust at government plans to impose an animal "flatulence tax" by sending parcels of manure to members of parliament.

The OECD conference is discussing climate change, trade and the global economy.


Flatulence tax? Don't give Corzine any more ideas.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tiger says "They'rrrrrre lame!" to hockey

Oh, that's nice.

The world's top golfer appeared via teleconference on Monday, promoting August's PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit.

Woods was asked if he was rooting for Detroit or Pittsburgh. Woods started to laugh, then landed a zinger. "I don't really care. Let's talk about the Dodgers," the California native said. "I don't think anybody really watches hockey anymore."

There is many reasons why Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world, and one of those is both glaring and unmentioned: he is easily the best athlete in golf. It's a huge advantage over the rest of the relative pudge-pots who tour with him.

To wit, picture this: Phil Mickelson or John Daly handed a baseball bat and standing in against Randy Johnson. Riiiiiiight. Now picture Tiger up there. Johnson would definitely get him, but Tiger would never give in to him; and had he played baseball in his youth instead of hockey, I have little doubt that, given his drive and physical gifts, Woods would be a Dodger himself, probably a regular, and possibly even one of their better players.

But Tiger will have to forgive me for calling shenanigans on his opinion of the Lord's Own Hockey. He's marvelous to watch but his chosen profession is a game, not a sport - however demanding and technical it is. For one thing, nobody plays defense. For another, he is allowed to demand utter silence while he performs, to the extent of snarling at cameras snapping in the background.

It would be much harder sinking that five-foot putt with Daly whacking him with his putter and Mickelson trying to knock the ball aside, while 18,000 people shrieked at him. Oh, and while skating on ice.

PS - from DJ Gallo at ESPN. Heheheheheh.

Obamawan Kenobi

George Lucas finds Obama's inner Jedi.

George Lucas has created legendary film heroes like Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones, but the US director says that in real life, his hero is Barack Obama.

Lucas was in Japan on Wednesday to promote his latest film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," as Obama clinched the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

"We have a hero in the making back in the United States today because we have a new candidate for president of the United States, Barack Obama," Lucas said when asked who his childhood heroes were.

Obama, "for all of us that have dreams and hope, is a hero," Lucas said.

Lucas is the creator of the blockbuster "Star Wars" series, as well as the adventures of the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford.

Sorry to spring this on you before lunch, but I couldn't resist.

Who is He...

...that even the wind and the waves obey him? The end of the Obamessiah's speech last night.
"We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Does Cardinal George read this blog?

Apparently, he has the huevos.
CBS 2 News has learned that Francis Cardinal George is temporarily removing Father Michael Pfleger from his position as pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church on Chicago's South Side.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the move comes after several days of deliberation and consultation by the Cardinal, who first learned about Pfleger's racially charged comments about senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from the pulpit of Trinity Unity Church of Christ last Thursday night.
The Cardinal immediately contacted Pfleger who agreed not to refer to the presidential candidates by name, but as CBS 2 reported at the time, there remained the possibility of some further disciplinary action against Pfleger. The Cardinal reportedly spoke to Pfleger again Tuesday morning.
"I have asked Father Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina's Parish, to step back from his obligations there," the Cardinal said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, "and take leave for a couple of weeks from his pastoral duties, effective today."
When one takes the priestly vows, is humility one of them? When the story came out that Fr. Pfleger said that his cardinal didn't have them, it forced the cardinal to show that yes, he did have them.

Here's a guy who could replace Fr. Pfleger

Except that the Army owns him for now.



The Rev. James Betz is a bridge between two embattled organizations: the cash-strapped Diocese of Camden and the war-weary U.S. Army.


Last fall, the Army offered to bring the veteran of both Gulf Wars out of retirement for another stint as a chaplain, this time for three years at the Army's European headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Betz accepted, knowing that his own parish, St. Nicholas Church on St. Louis Avenue, faced the prospect of merging with another.


Betz was to preside over his final St. Nicholas service Saturday, fly to Germany overnight and hold a service Sunday afternoon. The diocese has ordered his now former parishioners to combine with those of Church of the Assumption in Galloway Township, worshipping there in English and here in Spanish.


The 62-year-old priest and lieutenant colonel is anxious about St. Nicholas' fate and uncertain what's needed of him in Europe, where he is replacing a young priest headed for deployment. But Betz is "very content" nonetheless, he said during an hour of conversation on one of his last days in the St. Louis Avenue rectory.



LtCol Betz is over 60. He volunteered for this duty; the Army couldn't activate him against his will. What he is doing is called backfill, replacing a guy who is going to the sandbox. According to the article he has spent time there himself.

If he needs a job when he gets back, there may be an opening in the Chicago area.

When I was in the USAF and the New Jersey and Florida Air Guard, I've found that the chaplains are the greatest guys around. One year at the Air Guard Base in Jacksonville, FL the chaplain's office organized the Black History Month celebration. They shamelessly pushed the Gospel of Christ. Some of my fellow guardsmen formed a black gospel choir and the guests from the cililian community were all believers and made no bones about it. The ACLU must have been asleep at the switch.