Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rampage in Hawaii ii

Some notes related to my last post: First, I got to the airport OK. The doorman called me up in the morning to ask me if I needed my bags carried down to the shuttle. I said, "what shuttle" (just woke up), he said, "your airport shuttle" I said, "Do you know what time it leaves?". He did and so I made it.

Second, it seems that those long dress things are called mumus. I thought so, but wasn't sure that a mumu wasn't actually a kind of seafood which could have led to some terminological embarasment so I just said "long dress thing".

Speaking of seafood and women's apparel, I still haven't seen the clam-shell bikini tops but I got to see a hula show with grass skirts and coconut-shell bikini tops. It was nice. And the luau-style pork is really good, but it could have used some hickory barbecue sauce.

Third, it seems tropical fruits have seasons just like temperate fruits. Surprised the heck out of me, but that's apparently why I can't get anything except pinapple and papaya.

For new news:

Remember when I said Oahu has the highest BP I've ever seen? Well, Kawaii doesn't. I knew it was a bad sign when I took a walk around a mall near my hotel and all the women's clothing shops advertised that they carry plus sizes.

I took a helicopter ride. I'm glad I went but I'm glad it's over.

I went on an ATV tour where I drove a 4-wheel ATV. I'm glad I went and I'm sorry it's over. By the end of the tour I was just getting to the point where my motorcycle reflexes weren't constantly threatening to wreck me. Some people don't realize it, but when you ride a motorcycle (or a bike) you usually swerve and start turns by turning the wheel the opposite direction to where you want to go. It causes you to lean into the turn. We learn this so young that most of us don't realize we are doing it. But that kind of reaction is, well, non-optimal on a vehicle that doesn't lean. I actually crashed a three-wheeler once over that same thing. Apparently no one else has trouble adjusting, but I sure do (I rode a motorcycle for many years as my only transportation). It takes 100% concentration for me to turn the wheel the correct direction and to avoid turning into an unexpected lean. I also tried to put my foot down the first few times I stopped. Doesn't work.

I took a movie sites tour. I'm sorry I went and I'm glad it's over. They asssured me that this was a good general orientation tour to get to know the island. They lied. Not only did we see very little of the island, the guide didn't give us any maps so I have no idea where we went. I did see some nice scenery, but I have already seen most of it movies, so what's the point?

Tomorrow it's a riverboat cruise on Hawaii's only navigable river. It has hula dancers. I'm not sure why a riverboat cruise has hula dancers but it's probably related to why hardware companies put out calendars with bikini-clad women sporting power tools.

Still haven't been snorkling or diving. Really ought to do that some day...

I had Spam sushi. No really. You take a slice of spam, put it between two pats of sticky rice (sort of like a sandwich) and wrap seaweed around it. It's pretty tasty but I think it could have used some soy sauce and wasabi.

This island has chickens. I don't mean your garden variety penned-up chickens, I mean wild chickens. Thousands of 'em. They're all over the freaking place. I've heard they also have wild pigs, wild dogs, and wild goats, but all I've seen is the freaking wild chickens.

My hotel, The Islander on the Beach, has a sucky beach. It's extremely steep and there is a dangerous lava shelf just below the water with sharp jagged rocks. Instead of just warning visitors that the beach is dangerous, they put up signs that say something like "WARNING, this beach may have hazardous conditions, including strong currents, jelly fish, sharp coral and slippery rocks." It's pretty obvious to me that they are trying to make it look like this is just a generic legalistic warning to avoid liability when there is really nothing wrong with the beach. But there is. I recommend that if you visit Kawaii, you don't stay at any of the hotels at the Coconut Plantation. Or if you do, don't expect to swim at the beach near your hotel.

Well, I'm off to rampage further.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Rampage in Hawaii

Well, first, I'm flattered that fifteen to twenty people have been checking my site even though there are no updates. On the other hand I'm starting to wonder if twenty visits a day is what you get just from search engines and other robots. Hmm...

The minute I got off the plane, some broad in a grass skirt with a clam-shell bikini-top tried to strangle me with a noose disguised as a bunch of flowers. Being an expert in ninjitsu, I karate-chopped her hand and judo flipped her. Then I was getting set to strangle her with her own noose when another one blind-sided me with a flying side kick, knocking me to the ground. I rolled immediately to my feet, and another one came at me with a series of front kicks. I blocked the first, then the second, but by then I was getting so distracted by the legs kicking out of that grass skirt, that I leaned into the next one and took it full on the chin. Meanwhile, the first one was sweeping me, which is another distracing move in a grass skirt by the way, and I fell to the ground...

Or, if you prefer the literal truth, I tried to sneak by the lei girl, who was wearing a dress instead of a grass skirt, but she came over to where I sat down and threw a bunch of allergy-inducing flowers over my neck with a not-very-enthusiastic "aloha". I think she'd had a bad day or something.

I had to choose between being a deeply humiliated and nasally challenged guy wearing a bunch of flowers around his neck or being a curmudgeon and just taking it off. After about five minutes, Mr. Curmudgeon won. Mr. Nose thanked me.

If you are ever in Wikiki, don't try to use an ABC store as a reference. There are about forty of them in a square mile. Seriously, there is at least one place where you can walk down a street past ten stores and three of them are ABC stores. They're sort of like 7/11 for tourists. One guy owns all of them.

Jelly fish are cool. Not the ones in the ocean, the ones in the aquarium.

Oahu has been fun. Highest BP I've ever seen (that's Babe Percentage).

I've only been in the water once, and it's feaking cold. I'm going to have to get even with the guy who told me it was warm.

Haven't had any fresh tropical fruit, except for some papaya. It's amazing to me that the restaurants don't emphasise that stuff. In fact the restaurant situation here is odd. They have these little touristy streets lined with little touristy shops, with hardly any decent restaurants along them. I've been in the San Francisco Bay area enough that I expect a street like that to have a restaurant every third shop or so. And no freaking MacDonalds or Jack-in-the-Box.

Oh, and this is fun. I've lived in the San Francisco Bay area for three years without ever having a guy hit on me. Four days in Oahu and it happens. Just made me want to take a shower. Alone, I mean. So, we aren't allowed to hurt their feelings by pointing out how filthy and disgusting their activities are, but they can go around creeping us out at will. Hardly seems fair. Shudder.

But the biggest bummer of the trip is that I have yet to see a woman in a grass skirt with the clam-shell thingies. What's with that? I mean, don't these people know they have a cultural heritage to uphold? I saw a hula dancer but she was wearing one of those long dress things. Bo-o-o-oring. Well, OK, she made the dress thing look kind of hot, but still, I wanted the grass skirt.

I'm leaving for Kawaii in the morning. Hopefully. I can't get anyone to tell me when and where to catch the shuttle, so I may have to rely on city buses, and that's always a bit risky.

I've you don't hear from me in two weeks, tell the rescuers that I'm probably somewhere between Waikiki and the airport. Thanks.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

oh, one more thing before I go...

Why don't you conservative bloggers lay off of Chevy Chase's career? Sure, call him an idiot. Point out his lack of civility. Criticize his hosts for having him there. But he did some great movies. The scene in "Christmas Vacation" where he is running around with a squirrel on his back is one of the best ever. He was funny in the other Vacation movies too, and Fletch was good. And I even liked "The Three Amigos". The scene where Steve Martin has to talk Chevy Chase into playing the piano is one of the great 10-seconds of commedy history. And he was great on Saturday Night Live.

You guys dumping all over his career sound like junior-high girls talking about the girl they don't like. Nothing she does is right. Her clothes are stupid. The way she talks is stupid. The way she talks is stupid.

Hey, you sound like liberals talking about George Bush.

Please knock it off. You're embarrassing me.

Friday, December 17, 2004

I'm outa here

You won't have Doc Rampage to kick around any more. No sir. Not till I get back from vacation in two weeks or so. Blogging is likely to be non-existent unless I find that I can blog from my hotel and that I'm not so deluged with beautiful women seeking my attention that I have the occasional evening free. But in that unlikely event, I may end up blogging even while on vacation.

If so, I'll run a series "Rampage through Hawaii".

Yeah, I'm going to Hawaii instead of Central America or Asia. I've always wanted to go there anyway, and I procrastinated so much on my plans that the other choices were pretty much kaput.

That's the problem with the internet. So many choices that you can't decide on one. I eventually solved the problem by going to a travel agent and saying "I want to take a two-week Christmas vacation someplace warm where I can scuba dive." She took care of the rest. Leave it up to the experts, I always say.

By the way, I was trying to get in shape for an active vacation. I timed myself in the fifty-yard freestyle and came in at 33 seconds. Bummer. Actually, I guess it's not that bad for someone who hasn't trained in twenty five years and is moving a lot more water than he did back in the slim days, but it's still kind of disappointing. I used to be able to break 30 pretty reliably.

And don't forget the Storyblogging Carnival at Dodgeblogium. I can't give the exact URL until he gets the carnival up, but I'm sure you can find it.

Merry Christmas!

See you all next year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

color screens bad

I got a new cell phone a couple of days ago. All I asked for was the smallest clamshell phone that didn't have an antena sticking out (I've broken two of them now) and that wasn't AT&T (lousy service in my area) or Sprint (boycotting). There was only one candidate, and it had one of those humongous, bright, color screens.

I bought it, but that color screen is a nuisance. First, I can't turn off the damn wallpaper. All I want is a plain background that makes it easy to read, but they don't give you any choices except about ten enormously stupid images, and all of them have areas where it's hard to read text on that part of the image. Idiots.

In addition, thanks to the display, this phone has about 1/3 the battery life of my previous phone. Idiots.

Some glorious day, designers are going to start doing a mimimal level of user-interface testing before they put out a new product.

Oh, who am I kidding?

was that on purpose?

I can't tell if this is supposed to be a joke or not. Michele Catalano of A Small Victory writes (among other things):
I'm just a bit tired of men thinking that all women they date and/or marry represent every woman.
Uh, Michelle, I'm tired of women thinking that all the men whose blogs they read represent every man. OK, your turn.

that's right

According to NRO's Jim Geraghty:
It takes more to be a conservative in NY, DC, or SF than to be one in God's country... "the hotter the fire, the stronger the steel."
That's right. Uh huh. We're bad.

(Ten points to anyone who can tell me where the "we're bad" quote comes from.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

misleading headlines

Not all misleading headlines are motivated by politics. Here is an article with the headline "Taxi Driver Shoots Man in Bin Laden Mask" even though the mask was not relevant to the shooting. A more accurate headline would have been "Taxi Driver Shoots Idiot That Jumps Out Wearing a Mask and Brandishing a Rifle for a Practical Joke". You have to read the entire article to find out what actually happend. Or you could just read my headline. (link from the Corner)


Roscoe has a video of an F16 attacking some bad guys in Falluja.

UPDATE: Originally this said F14, not F16. Then on my way home last night, I recalled that Roscoe mentioned the Air Force. Does the Air Force have F14s? I don't know, but I always associate that plane with the Navy. So I looked this morning and sure enough, it was an F16, not an F14.

You know, I watched F16s fly when I was in junior high so that plane has to be at least thirty years old. Doesn't it seems like it's time the Air Force got a new new number or something?

Monday, December 13, 2004

killing can be funny

Here is is a hilarious story about dear hunting with a cannon (link from Mostly Cajun).

in sympathy for Scott Peterson

A local TV news show reported that Scott Peterson, the man on trial for murdering his wife and unborn son, became weepy after the guilty verdict. Up until that time he had been smiling and full of good humor, optimistic and joking with his lawyers.

The deaths of his wife and child could not bring down his spirits, but news of his own impending punishment brought him to uncontrollable tears. And why not? He could get the death penalty. If he does, then all that is good and worthy in the world will come to an end. For this is the personality of a man who would murder his wife and unborn child to be with another woman. This is a sociopath, a true emotional solipsist.

Is it presumptuous of me to presume to look upon another's heart. Yes, I suppose it is. But how else to explain the man's actions?

To Scott Peterson, other people are nothing but tools to work his own desires. He manipulates them like he would his car --turn the wheel clockwise and it goes left, turn it otherwise and the car goes right. Press on one peddle and it accelerates, another peddle causes it to slow. To Scott Peterson, Laci was just that: a vehicle for his pleasure, a beautiful prop for his self-presentation, and eventually, an obstacle to his sexual appetite.

There is nothing that matters to Scott Peterson except Scott Peterson. What a burden this must be! When Scott Peterson is unhappy, all the world is a tragedy. When Scott Peterson is frustrated, all the world is hell. There is nothing good when Scott Peterson is feeling bad. And when Scott Peterson ends, nothing worthy of note will go on. There can be no hope, no hopeful future. It is The End. How can a man live such a bleak existence?

Today, the jury has recommended the death penalty and the judge is likely to sentences him to death (link from Instapundit).

Pity the solipsist. For with his death ends not just a life but an entire world. And what could be more tragic?


Dodgeblogium is accepting entries for the next Storyblogging Carnival. I've already entered Zantar and Rolf's latest adventure.

If you write stories on your blog, I encourage you to enter one in the carnival. If you don't write stories, I encourage you to write one and enter it in the carnival. Writing stories is a great way to develop ..., uh, to learn to ..., uh, to get stuff in the storyblogging carnival. And it's fun too.

A Meating of the Mines, scene 5

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

Rolf and Zantar are sitting in the Barkley drawing room (very similar to the one in the TV series). Rolf is sipping from a wine glass and Zantar is gulping from a mug. Jerrod walks in and over to the bar while speaking:

JERROD: I heard you were attacked.

Zantar shrugs.

ROLF: Yes indeed! And a royal battle it was. A pity there were no crowds to enjoy it.

JERROD: (pouring himself a drink) This will be avenged, of course.

ROLF: We appreciate your concern, but Zantar and I handled it.

JERROD: I'm not concerned about you two. I'm concerned about those Cannons thinking they can get away with this. We have to respond with overwhelming force or they will think we are a bunch of weaklings! (he tosses back the first drink with one swallow and pours another.)

ZANTAR: Well, they're weaklings too, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Jerrod stops pouring and turns around to glare at Zantar.

ROLF: What my phlegmatic friend means by that remark, of course, is that the two of us easily handled a band of six of them, so they can hardly be feeling confident of their own puissance. In addition, I'd like to point out that Zantar and I interrogated a survivor quite thoroughly and we are persuaded that those who attacked us were rogues.

JERROD: (going back to his pouring) Rogues? You mean they were doing the job on their own?

ROLF: Yes. Our source was rather convincing.

ZANTAR: Their boss wasn't feeding them good enough.

ROLF: Quite. They wished to enhance their dining situation. And as all the ambitious diners became fatalities as a result of their efforts, there is no one left for you to take vengeance upon.

JERROD: I see.

ZANTAR: Besides, we don't do wars for no lousy two silver a week.

ROLF: Indeed. If you wish us to engage in an extended period of intense combat, you must adjust our compensation accordingly.

ZANTAR: "Accordingly" means up.

ROLF: Indeed.

JERROD: I ... OK, I guess as long as everyone knows they weren't working on orders from the Cannons...

ZANTAR: "Up" meaning the amount has to go up.

JERROD: I ... what?

ZANTAR: The amount you have to give us is a bigger number which is kind of like being higher. That's why I said "up".

JERROD: Higher?

ZANTAR: Of course it's also like being deeper. Like, if you're a hundred feet down you're deeper than if you're only fifty feet down.

JERROD: Yes...

ZANTAR: But if you want to start a war you have to pay us more money.

JERROD: Well...

ZANTAR: Up or down, it has to be more silvers.

There is a few seconds of silence.

JERROD: I'm going to want you two on every shipment out to the mines from now on.

ROLF: That seems prudent.

ZANTAR: I just thought I should clear up that "up" business because it didn't seem like a metaphor or hyperbole.

JERROD: Meta for her hyper what?

ROLF: Metaphor and hyperbole.

ZANTAR: Non-literal speech. The "up" wasn't either one.

JERROD: Does this mean you two aren't going to try to hang me up for more money to guard all the shipments?

ROLF: You wound me, sir! We had a contract. Nothing written of course, but a man's word is his bond. As long as the situation doesn't change too unexpectedly, that is.

ZANTAR: If it changes too much, we'll let you know.

ROLF: Quite.

JERROD: Well...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) But I guess it was kind of like a metaphor.

JERROD: (after a pause to see if Zantar has any more inscrutable wisdom to provide) Well, that's good. I was worried that you two would think you could just laze around drinking all day like a lot of the other hired spears, but you're making a lot more than them, so I expect you to pull your weight.

ROLF: Indeed we shall. We shall, however, have recourse to your stables for two more steeds. Ours were lost in the confrontation.

JERROD: Both of them?

ROLF: Regretfully so.

JERROD: I heard they killed one horse. Nobody said anything about a second horse getting killed.

ZANTAR: They got Rolf's horse where you couldn't see it and it died later.

ROLF: Yes. I was heartbroken. Poor thing didn't have a chance.

ZANTAR: You think you're heartbroken! My horse saved my life! Saw the arrow coming and took it in the neck to save me.

JERROD: It what?

ZANTAR: I'll never get over losing a great horse like that. Here's to a genuine hero! (he drinks to the horse)

ROLF: (sounding a bit annoyed) Mine did not meekly turn its head. Rather the valiant beast reared up to take not one, but two arrows into its noble breast, saving me from certain death.

JERROD: Look ...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) Yeah!? Well _my_ horse caught the first arrow in its teeth. The second one came before it could spit out the first one. It had no other way to save me.

JERROD: Now see here...

ZANTAR: (interrupting) _Great_ horse.

ROLF: Indeed, your horse was agile, Zantar, but my own valiant steed reared up to take into its heart the two flaming arrows meant for me. I leapt free, fearing it would fall atop me in its death throes, but I had desperately underestimated the great, savage, pierced heart of the noble beast. Already dieing from its wounds, it charged our attackers! Two more arrows hit it! Then two more! Then a volley of four at once! Still the fiery stallion came on!

JERROD: It was a gelding!

ROLF: A juggernaut! A rampaging bull! Unstoppable! (Rolf stands and begins to tell the story with motions) It crashed into the attackers, crushing two or three to death (Rolf pounds his chest with both hands) against the chest that held it's magnificent dieing heart. It grabbed one in it's teeth and tossed him bodily over it's back! It caught up another one and reared up, shaking the poor man like a terrier shakes a rat. (Rolf mimics being held by one shoulder and shaken) I could hear the bones snap from thirty feet away! It dropped the corpse but stayed up, lashing out with its hooves. Crushing a chest here, a head there. Never have I seen a beast in such a thorough and perfect berserk rage!

JERROD: It was a mild-mannered, elderly, gelded pony! What ...

ROLF: (interrupting, completely lost in the tale) They surrounded it, cowardly dogs baiting a valiant bear, stabbing with swords and spears, piercing it's flesh in dozens of places. The horse's feet came down to crush two more men beneath it. It's powerful real feet lashed out, sending one man flying all the way back to me, thirty feet away, to land, a broken doll of rag, in the branch of a tree!

ZANTAR: (annoyed) Krikey!

ROLF: Again it reared up, spears and swords hanging from it's body like the spines of a porcupine! It was the archery target after the volley! The magnificent beast was weakened, but it’s great heart would not let it fall. It lived on nothing but courage now. But weak as it was, the terrified attackers could only the fiery eyes, the demonic ferocity, the unbreakable will. They panicked and fled! (Rolf's voice goes quiet) The valiant stallion ...

JERROD: (interrupting) Gelding.

ROLF: still reared, but it wobbled unsteadily, like a drunken man, confused at its unaccustomed weakness...

JERROD: (interrupting) THAT'S ENOUGH! (slamming his drink down) No more stories about heroic horses! I bred and gelded and trained those ponies to be gentle saddle stock! (heading for the door) Save your heroic horse stories for the children! Don't bother me with them! Just do your jobs!

Jerrod storms out and Rolf and Zantar stare after him for a moment.

ROLF: I wonder why he hates horses so much?

ZANTAR: Probably afraid of them.

ROLF: Of course. Doubtless a man of peasant stock seeking to put on the airs of a gentleman, yet fearful of the animal that is the very sign of a gentleman. It stirs understandable resentments.

Rolf sits back down and they go back to drinking for a while.

ZANTAR: Maybe it _was_ a metaphor.

ROLF: Or a turn of phrase. Sometimes these things are on the line and it's difficult to tell.

After another silence:

ROLF: It's a shame he cut me off before the heroic death scene. Would you like to hear it?

ZANTAR: Krikey, Rolf. Why didn't you have fire shooting from the damn horse's mouth and lightning from his eyes?

ROLF: Without magical influences...

ZANTAR: Farting deadly poisons too. Krikey. I expect after the death scene the gods would come down and resurrect the nag and make it a holy steed or something.

ROLF: You don't think that would have been a bit over the top?

ZANTAR: Krikey.

UPDATE: continued.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

preparing people for totalitarianism

Mostly Cajun links to a story about a ten-year-old girl who was put in handcuffs and carted off to the police station for having scissors at her school.

I'm generally pro-police, but what kind of asshole would do that to a harmless ten-year-old girl? She was crying and confused and hadn't done anything to deserve that treatment, and they just terrified the hell out of her. One thing is for sure, the girl and the other terrified kids who watched it happen are well on their way to becoming the helpless, frightened, perfect citizens that some people seem to want in this country.

Wonder what the kids are saying? I hazard they are reflecting, "You don't even have to do anything bad!". They have learned, "All you have to do is break some arbitrary rule and they come down on you like a brick wall! Don't cross where there isn't a crosswalk, don't say bad things about any non-Christian religions, and whatever you do, don't ever, ever do anything that any paranoid idiot teacher, might under any circumstances view as a threat to his or her authority."

Kweisi Mfume, moderate?

Armstrong Williams has a shocking article about how Mfume was kicked out of the NAACP for trying to get along with Republicans. No one else seems to be aware of this, given the anti-Mfume commentary from the right.

Did you know that Mfume nominated Condoleeza Rice for their image award? I didn't. Did you know that he sent a letter to Bush after the election saying he wanted to work with him? I didn't.

Instead of a sign of progress, this resignation may be a sign that the Democrats have just repelled a challenge to their iron grip on the organization.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

home invasion and Islamic terrorism

The Belmont Club links to this article in which a British writer, Dr. Ian Stephen, gives advice to people whose homes are broken into:
When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. In most cases the best form of defense is always avoidance. If this isn’t possible, act passively, be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle. This allows the victim to take charge of the situation, without the intruder’s awareness, through subtle and non-confrontational means. People can cooperate but initiate nothing. By doing nothing there is no chance of inadvertently initiating violence by saying something such as "Please don’t hurt me".
What strikes me about this advice is how much it reflects the reaction of many in our society to terrorism. Try to avoid (that is, run away). Failing that, don't resist because that will just make them mad. Don't even complain about them because you never know what will set them off.

It even has the feature of pretending that you are in control of the situation while you cower submissively. That's what's implied by the oxymoron, "active passivity" and the claim that by letting the intruder do whatever he wants, you are "taking charge of the situation". The plan, apparently, is to behave like an abject coward while telling yourself that you are really in control of the situation. That isn't as ridiculous as it sounds: the lie you tell yourself helps to control your fear, so it is perfectly in keeping with the overall theme of cowardice.

One thing that may strike you as you read this is the advice against even begging for mercy or doing anything at all to make the intruder see you as a human being. People who give advice about hostage situations often say just the opposite, that if you can get the hostage taker to see you as a human being, you will be safer. But that is a different situation: a hostage taker typically has his motivation and awareness outward-based. The hostages are merely tools to an end, and it is arguably in your interest to be seen as something more than a tool.

By contrast, a home intruder has nothing to think about other than the victims in the house. And more and more home intruders in Britain are deliberately choosing times when the house is occupied. This implies that having victims is part of their reason for being there.

This isn't historically unusual. Millions of people have lived for generations at the mercy of cruel and violent brigands. For these people it was a survival trait for a man to be able to stand passively while thugs vandalized and stole his property, humiliated and abused him, and raped his wife and daughters (and perhaps himself and his sons too, if the notion took them), and then to go on with his life producing more wealth for the brigands to steal so that they would let him continue to live, and probably raising the bastard children of the brigands as well. People once had to live like that. In some parts of the world, they still do.

In such situations it is reasonable to believe that you are better off if the brigands do not see you as a human being at all, but rather as a cow or sheep, an animal to serve their purposes. You don't want them to think how much they would enjoy making another human being suffer. And you certainly don't want them thinking that you might be considering ways to avenge yourself. No, much safer to be a sheep.

(According to reports, it hasn't gotten this bad in Britain yet, but if trends are allowed to continue, it will. Home intruders will become more bold and more cruel as they find that there are no consequences for their actions. And homeowners will become more frightened and more passive as they realize that they can do nothing to help themselves --in this case, not from fear of the brigands, but from fear of the their own government. This isn't historically unusual either. Very often the brigands that abused a population were officials of a larger government or otherwise protected by a large military force. That larger government prevented the private citizens from mobilizing a militia to put an end to the brigands.)

Perhaps this tendency toward actively passive behavior (also known as "cowardice") is partly genetic. If so, there have been powerful environmental influences to make it a common trait and such a genetic trait would help to explain the European/leftist approach to terrorism. They are in many ways mimicking a helpless homeowner confronted by a cruel and brutal foe. They speak bravely when they think the foe cannot hear. They cower in silence when the foe is threatening them. They give the foe whatever he wants and avoid even criticizing him. They tell themselves they deserve the abuse to make it easier to take and to excuse themselves from self defense. They take the part of the foe against their neighbors, terrified that if the neighbors are not passive enough, the foe will be angry at all of them. They make cowardice a virtue and courage a vice. No matter what successes their neighbors have in attacking the foe, they only fear that it will make the foe more angry.

It seems not to matter whether you are a householder in a small village or a nation on the world stage. Some of your neighbors will want to band together for self defense, and other neighbors will want to submissively give up their wealth and women (as in allowing Muslim immigrants to abuse women) to appease the attacker. And when the courageous men of the village actually fight back, the cowards will hate them for it.

This has all happened hundreds of thousands of times before. There is nothing new under the sun.

Friday, December 10, 2004

George Soros owns the Democratic Party

The Moderate Voice notes (pointer from Instapundit) this comment in a letter from Move On to its membership:
In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive, ... Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back.
But the single largest contributor was George Soros with, if I recall correctly some 10 or 20 million dollars in contributions. More than that, it was his initial investment of 10 million dollars that made them a big-time organization able to raise the rest of the money. They own such a huge debt to Soros, that I don't think it's unreasonable to view it as Soros's organization. So what that quote really amounts to is an agent of George Soros saying on his behalf: "Now it's my party, I bought it, I own it, now I'm going to take it back."

What else did anyone expect, when one man invests tens of millions of dollars for one political party? And where are the campaign-finance reformers who so feared this kind of effect?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

kid's games

Monday Afternoon has some fun posts about games he played as a kid. I'd write about my childhood but it was so long ago I can't remember it...

peeing and the sense of smell

Jonah Goldberg links to this story about a sheriff's deputy that was fired because he made a habit of peeing in a public elevator.

When I read stuff like this, I wonder how it could happen. Couldn't the guy tell he was smelling up the elevator and that people would notice? Of course it's possible that he did notice and just didn't care. But another possibility is that he just has a lousy sense of smell. I wonder if any reporters are going to investigate this...

Monday, December 06, 2004

on calling someone a racist

A commenter, Kevin, on the Belmont Club responds to David Horowitz's accusation that liberals use the word "racist" improperly. His response is to point out several times that David Horowitz has used the word and then to accuse him of a double standard.

David Horowitz has one standard: you can call someone a racist if he is a racist. You shouldn't call someone a racist just because you don't like him or just because he disagrees with you on social policy. When David Horowitz uses the word "racist" he actually means that the person is a racist --that is, the person believes that blacks are less human than whites in some sense (for example, because they hold blacks to a lower standard) or believes that race is an important property for judging people, or something similar.

By contrast, Kevin calls Horowitz a racist because of Horowitz's position on reparations. There is nothing in Horowitz's position that implies he holds blacks to a different standard (quite the opposite) or that he thinks race is an important property for judging people (quite the opposite).

It is this cavalier use of the word that Horowitz criticizes, and not the proper use of the word. Can this really be so hard to understand?

Due to the common misuse of the word, if you are going to call someone a racist today, you owe the reader an explicit account of what you mean by that accusation. And if all you mean by it is someone that doesn't believe the government should give special privileges to minorities, then the word, as used by you, is empty.


Storyblogging Carnival Seven is up at Tales By Sheya.

I had a hard time getting my entry in on time, but Sheya let me slide a little. The number of entries seems to be shrinking a bit. I kind of expected that since it's not easy to produce a story every two weeks. I've had about half new stories and half old stories in my entries, but I'm running out of old stories so now I'm on the hook to write a new one every two weeks. That's probably a good thing.

After I finish episode two of Heroes for Hire I think I'm going to go back to Torus and start writing that as a series. I always liked that story, but I've had trouble making up my mind about the approach. I had some cool technology ideas, but they would give the story something of a comic-book superhero flair, whereas I wanted to write something a bit more serious. If I'm forced to write every two weeks, I have to finally make up my mind.

We'll see.

Until then, be sure to check out the latest Carnival.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

am I a conservative?

Andrew Stuttaford quotes the following from an email
"... Conservatism, as I see it, is ultimately about acknowledging and respecting the lessons of experience in shaping and preserving the social, political, and economic institutions that make a society "work." ...
I've read things like this before, and the most striking thing about it is that by this quite reasonable definition, I'm not much of a conservative.

I do think there are good reasons to respect tradition, but I have no compunction about overthrowing long-standing traditions that I find repugnant. Honor killings are one example. There may be good social effects of such extreme intolerance of sex outside of marriage that it carries an automatic death sentence, whether voluntary or not. It may be very effective in keeping marriage strong and families intact. And it certainly carries the weight of long tradition in some parts of the world. But it is a repugnant practice and I want it ended. Tradition can bite me.

I think the only real description for my point of view is liberal-in-the-old-sense. I believe in liberty. I believe that people should not use force on other people except in self-defense or the defense of others. And I think the government is just a bunch of people, so they should follow the same restrictions.

A Meating of the Mines, scene 4

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines.

The heroes are riding horses through a forest. Zantar’s saddle has the seat built up so that his feet are actually on the horse’s back.

ROLF: … OK, so you hypothesize that the mine that the dwarves are working has silver…

ZANTAR: The bigs wouldn’t know about it because they can’t smell the difference, but lots of lead mines have silver. And that would explain why the dwarves are there. If we play our cards right, we can get a chunk of it.

ROLF: Fine, but then why are we out here guarding a wagon train for the other party? You know, the party that doesn’t appear to have silver in their lead mine?

ZANTER: (obviously trying to think up an answer as he talks) Because … that way … we can … like … make deals with the dwarves at the other mine … (In sudden triumph) AND THEY WON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE!

ROLF: And that matters because …

ZANTAR: Because it’s more sneaky-like?

An arrow takes Zantar’s horse in the neck. The horse rears up and Zantar whips his axe off of his back and buries the head in a nearby tree in an instant. As the horse falls under him, he is holding the axe handle and it keeps him from falling. He then puts his feet against the tree and tugs his axe out to drop to the ground. Meanwhile there are war cries and Rolf shouts:

ROLF: Ambush! To the trees!

Rolf leaps from his saddle onto a nearby branch and disappears into the tree. A half-dozen men with bandanas over their faces charge out with spears and swords. One hurls a spear at Zantar, who catches it one handed, flips it around and hurls it back. It strikes the leader in the chest, hurling him back like he was hit by a truck. Suddenly, Rolf swings down from a branch (he is holding the branch with one hand and one foot and has a sword in the free hand) he sweeps and slices in two the head of one of the attackers, then he is back in the trees, all in one motion.

The attackers all stop and look into the trees, but Zantar is suddenly there, swinging. As the attackers jump away from him, another gets his head sliced by Rolf. In a moment they are all down.

Shift to a view of the battle over the shoulder of an elf, Ronold. He is standing behind a tree and aiming a bow at Zantar as the last attacker falls. He’s shaking a little and having a hard time aiming. Suddenly Rolf’s voice comes from behind him:

ROLF: I say...

Ronold shrieks and releases the arrow which thunks a tree near Zantar.

ROLF: I hate to be rude …

Ronold drops the crossbow, and turns around. Rolf is just standing there, leaning against a tree with one hand. His sword is in the other.

ZANTAR: (from a distance) Now cut that out!

ROLF: … but I must take exception to the direction in which you were aiming that weapon.

Rolf is interrupted by the sound of running horses and a shout. Four men in armor on horseback ride up to Zantar who is still standing in the midst of the carnage, glaring at Ronold.

GUARD1: Hey, you lillies all right? Who are those guys on the ground?

ZANTER: Yeah, we’re OK. I sure hope the ambushers weren’t smart enough to have two groups, cuz if they were, then the other group is running off the cows right now.

GUARD1: Damn! I didn’t think of that! Back to the wagons! Now!
The guards charge back in the direction they came from.

ZANTAR: (to himself) Probably stealing the draft horses too. Idjits.

Zantar walks toward where Rolf is holding Ronold.

ROLF: Oh dear. The dwarf is possessed of a rather hostile and intractable disposition. He certainly intends to subject you to extreme indignities, not to mention maimings, in an effort to gather information.

RONOLD: Indignities? Maimings? Completely unnecessary I assure you! Whatever information you wish, you need merely ask! I am eager to comply! Anxious even!

ROLF: Anxious?

RONOLD: Quite! In fact, “anxious” may be too paltry a description of my enthusiasm for the project! Ask me a question! (looking sidelong at Zantar who has just arrived) In all my life there has been nothing I craved more than I now crave to answer all your questions. The suspense is quite unbearable.

ZANTAR: Who are you?

RONOLD: (doffing his cap) I thank you most passionately for allowing me to answer a question. My name is Ronold. I am a bard, a traveling man-of-action, and sometime briggand, as you are no doubt aware, but I would not seek to hide it anyway, so eager am I to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. I am currently employed as an agent of the family Cannon. So pleased to make your aquaintence.

ROLF: And what was your intent in attacking us?

RONOLD: A perceptive question indeed! Yes! May I say what a pleasure it is to be interogated by an elf of such fine discernment! Well, as you may be aware, you two fine upstanding gentlemen were riding scout for a wagon train of comestibles, including two fine corn-fed steers.

ZANTAR: Got spies at the stock-yard, huh?

RONOLD: I am stunned, stunned at your penetrating intellect, sir! Yes indeed. I am truly honored by the high quality of interview I am facing. The covert agent at the stock yard is one Benjamin Bowley. A cowpuncher, as they say. Although to my knowledge he is not actually employed to punch cows, nor to assault them in any other way. We paid him half a pewter for the information as to your cargo and itinerary. No doubt you will wish to avenge yourself horribly on him. He has two small children that might make excellent …

ROLF: Yes. Yes. Back to my question please! What did you want with a wagon train of commestibles?

RONOLD: As to that, of course. Thank you for making your wishes so clear. It makes my job as the questionee so much more enjoyable! It seems that the dwarves have been threatening to leave the employ of the Cannons if they are not fed larger quantities of meat. Myself and my late companions were commissioned to meat the mines, as it were. We were allocated certain funds for this purpose, but it occurred to us that if we were to find meat at a lower price, say free, for example, then the untapped funds would naturally accrue to those of us agents who were so frugal.

Ronold stops talking expectantly and Zantar and Rolf just look at him. After a moment, he sighs and reaches into his pouch.

RONOLD: Here it is, forty silver, minus a few small expenses such as the commission paid to Mr. Bowley. (he looks very dejected now for the first time) This is going to make it difficult to meet my obligations to my employer. No doubt I shall lose my position.

Rolf takes the money.

ZANTAR: Not necessarily. Was the meat just for the dwarves?

RONOLD: Primarily.

ZANTAR: Did you know that dwarves like horse meat better than cow meat?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this disturbing bit of information.

ZANTAR: Did you know that they like it a lot better? Maybe enough better to give a tip to the guy who gets it for them?

RONOLD: I was unaware of this also. And the information is becoming a bit less disturbing.

ZANTAR: Did you know there is a dead horse right over there?

Zantar points to his late horse and the two elves look over speculatively.

UPDATE: continued.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

deep sigh

I put down my morning soda to open the blinds and take off my jacket. Then I forgot it and sat down. Now I'm sitting on the other side of the room, gazing forlornly at it and wishing it was over here so I could drink it.

Life is just hard some times.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

my business may be taking off

None of you probably recall my efforts to found an enterprise for the profitable exploitation of romance. The level of response was quite disappointing. However, I am excited to be able to report that I have finally received an order for one generic Simulated Squeeze(TM). Just to keep you all up to date on how the business is going, I reprint my reply to the perceptive and no-doubt beautiful young lady:
Dear Ms. ---

Thank you for your interest in our Simulated Squeeze(TM) product.I can't begin to express how excited we were to receive your email. It represents more than a 1000% increase in expressed customer interest. More importantly, it finally validates the days of effort and dollars of investment that were put into the Simulated Squeeze(TM) project.

Unfortunately, we had production geared up and ready to go at the time of the announcement but we were not able to reach our marketing goal, which was modestly set at one respondent. After the disappointing level of customer interest, the company officers made the difficult decision to put the project on hold until the economy had improved and the world culture had evolved to the point where our product might be more socially acceptable.

Now, as a result of this unexpected surge in customer interest, we are considering ramping up production again. If we do make the decision to go ahead with the project, we will promptly notify you of our decision.

Once again, we thank you for your interest.

Doc Rampage
Vice President of Public Relations

Saturday, November 27, 2004

vacation blogging

No, this isn't the Belize vacation, it's my Thanksgiving vacation. I'm back in Arizona visiting the folks. For those of you that don't speak midwestern, that means I'm visiting the relatives. No, Arizona isn't the midwest, but that's where my family came from. Actually, that's where the majority of Arizonans seem to have come from.

It's been an on-and-off vacation. My university, Arizona, beat Arizona State in the anual post-Thanksgiving grudge game. Arizona's football team has a really lousy record this year. Somthing like 2 and 8 going into the game, and ASU (also known as the "Scum Devils") is bowl-bound. But we sent them to the meaningless bowl game with a bloody nose. Hah.

Then the basketball team lost the NIT for the first time I can remember. On the other hand, they lost by three points to the number one team in the country, Wake Forrest, so that wasn't as terrible as it could have been.

My dad has a video tape with the title "Girls, Girls, Girls". Hmm. Turns out, it's a barbershop chorus that he joined recently. There is something a bit unsettling about hearing fifty men in their seventies and eighties singing about making love. Mom made the usual great meal but decided that we didn't need pecan pie this year, only pear and pumkin. Pear pie is great, but my brother and I gave her a hard time any way. "Oh, I can hardly wait for the pecan..., oh, I forgot. No pecan pie this year." Great fun was had by all because mom is a good sport. Aunt and sister-in-law helped her out and sister-in-law guilted my brother and me into helping a little too. She didn't say anything, but you know how it goes: "sit down mom, I'll take care of the dishes. You should just take a break and play with your grandkids..." The aunt is too sweet to use those kind of strong-arm tactics, but not the sister-in-law.

One nephew is taller than me now, but I can still beat him up. All of those years of weight lifting are finally paying off. Another nephew just had a birthday last week and thought I ought to give him a birthday present. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to obligate myself to keeping track of birthdays and sending everyone birthday presents now. In his dreams. My third nephew won a hand of 3-11 in on the first round. He was pretty pleased with himself, but hey, anyone can get lucky cards. I try to keep my nephews from getting swelled heads. The fourth one was too shy to talk to me or I'd tell you what grade he's in.

Oh, and I'm working without a spell-checker, so cut me some slack here.

I probably won't be blogging agiain until Tuesday. Until then, happy what's left of Thanksgiving.

God bless.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Storyblogging Carnival P(1,1) is up. Go check out the stories.

Incidentally, P(1,1) is prime-factors notation for 6. I've been trying to get Donald to give up those archaic Roman numerals by showing him all the great alternatives.

wounded prisoners and doing the right thing

Kevin Sites, the man who took the footage of the marine killing a wounded Iraqi, now has an account of the incident up at his blog (from Instapundit). If things are as he described, the marine did, in fact kill a wounded, helpless prisoner and ought to face the consequences.

But Sites's explanation of why he released the film rings hollow. He writes
We all knew it was a complicated story, and if not handled responsibly, could have the potential to further inflame the volatile region. I offered to hold the tape until they had time to look into incident and begin an investigation -- providing me with information that would fill in some of the blanks.
He doesn't say what answer the Marines gave. I expect that if they had said "No, don't worry about it. Go ahead and publish it and inflamed passions be damned!" then Sites would have reported it. Why didn't he?

A careful reading of this quote suggests that Sites actually offered to hold the video for a limited time and then only if he were given some sort of exclusive information on the investigation and potential court martial. If so, the Marines turned down his offer because it made no difference to them if the tape were released the next day or the next month. Either way, it was likely to get more Marines killed. Not to mention civilians.

Am I reading too much into this? Maybe. But the fact remains that Sites remembered Abu Grahib. He knew what was almost certain to happen when he published the tape. In fact, the potential for inflaming the region is exactly what made the tape so valuable to him. He knew it would make him famous.

There was no issue here of exposing a cover-up. By his own account, the Marines were already taking the issue very seriously:
I told the unit's commanding officer what had happened. I shared the video with him, and its impact rippled all the way up the chain of command. Marine commanders immediately pledged their cooperation.
Although the matter was apparently being handled he tells us
Hiding this wouldn't make it go away. There were other people in that room. What happened in that mosque would eventually come out. I would be faced with the fact that I had betrayed truth as well as a life supposedly spent in pursuit of it.
So what if the facts came out? The Islamists are waging a war of propaganda against the US. Sites is not so naive that he doesn't understand that. And he is not so naive that he doesn't understand how much more valuable to this war pictures are than words.

Sites knew very well that the pictures would have a far greater impact than a mere report of an investigation and possible court martial. What kind of propaganda could the Islamists make out of the fact that an American Marine was being tried for mistreating prisoners? Nothing. For their propaganda coup, they need pictures. Motion pictures showing an American Marine killing a helpless prisoner. Pictures they could show over and over to make it seem like an atrocity had been committed over and over.

Kevin Sites gave them that. And he did it with full knowledge and deliberation.

He knew that what he was doing was wrong. You can see it in his decision-making process
That doesn't make the decision to report events like this one any easier. It has, for me, led to an agonizing struggle -- the proverbial long, dark night of the soul.
Kevin Sites had a choice to make: did he take the action that made him famous and might lead to many deaths of innocent people or did he make the choice to sacrifice this great personal opportunity in order to do the right thing?

Worded like that, of course, any man with pretensions to being a good person would have no choice. So that's when you start inventing moral principles to justify what you really want to do. That's when you come up with rationalizations like this:
In war, as in life, there are plenty of opportunities to see the full spectrum of good and evil that people are capable of. As journalists, it is our job is to report both -- though neither may be fully representative of those people on whom we're reporting. For example, acts of selfless heroism are likely to be as unique to a group as the darker deeds. But our coverage of these unique events, combined with the larger perspective - will allow the truth of that situation, in all of its complexities, to begin to emerge.
You just ignore important questions like how important this emergent Truth is when compared with civilians being kidnapped and brutally murdered. You rely on a higher morality. Something with a fine name like "The Truth". Something so high that it isn't even comparable to worldly considerations of screaming people having their heads sawed off with a big knife.

Kevin Sites found his reasons. He appealed to a higher, if arbitrarily constructed, morality; one that will serve for the moment and then be discarded when it is no longer useful, to be replaced by yet another morality to justify the next awful thing he wants to do.

Or who knows? Maybe his job will be such that this particular principle will serve him well for years as it has other journalists, salving their consciences with high-sounding rhetoric to justify their own self-interested ambitions.

It has worked well for Dan Rather. Why not Kevin Sites?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

introspective adventurers

I've been holding off on saying anything about Donald Crankshaw's story-in-progress now titled Dreams and Visions because I prefer to do a comprehensive review when the story is finished. Partly it's because I don't want to influence the author's thinking about an ongoing story and partly it's because I'm lazy and don't want to do it twice.

But I did want to remark on this section, where one of the heroes is coming to grips with the existence of magic. He takes a very clinical approach to analyzing his experiences. I've always wished authors would do this more because it seems more realistic to me. Sure, there may be moments of wonder or horror at the first experiences of magic, but when it's over and you have time to think about it, wouldn't you try to analyze what had happened? Wouldn't you wonder what sort of laws govern this new phenomenon? Wouldn't you think about experiments you could do to understand it better?

Well I would. Or at least I think I would. Maybe this is just because I'm at the extreme range of introspective personalities, but shouldn't introspective types have adventures too? That seems to be what is going on in Donald's story. I'm really looking forward to what comes next.

regrets of a well-spent youth

I complained recently about not having the motivation to write and Mostly Cajun suggested that I regale you all with stories of my misspent youth. The problem is that I didn't have a misspent youth. I was a good kid. Didn't get into any trouble. Was beloved by pastor and teachers. It's one of the great regrets of my life.

Of course there was this one incident... Oh, and then there was ... Oh, and the time that I ...

Well, OK, parts of it were misspent, but I have to look up statutes of limitations and things like that before I tell any stories about it.

conspiracy theology

A lot of what passes for political essays on the left look a lot like whacko conspiracy theories. I see these things all the time on blogs, but here is a site specifically dedicated to promoting the author's own whacked-out theories about the religious right.

The author pounces on an obscure doctrine called "Reconstructionism". You've never heard of it? Neither had I. This is odd because according to the author of Theorcracywatch, Reconstructionism is the most influential doctrine of the religious right.

Reconstructionism is basically the doctrine that Christians are called to take dominion of the world in this age. There are some serious problems with this view from the point of view of every evangelical church I've ever attended. If someone really wanted to know how Reconstructionism is regarded among the religious right, it only takes a few minutes on google to find out.

But that's not important. A dedicated conspiracy theorist can trace the evil threads of influence. Christians encouraging other Christians to run for office? Reconstructionism. Christians want their kids to be educated in Christian schools? Reconstructionism. Christians think their values ought to be reflected in law and public policy? Reconstructionism.

It's all this underhanded, concealed miasma of that evil Dominionist doctrine, you see. There is no other possible explanation about why people would want to see the government reflect their values. It's not like any other group feels that way, after all.

You can see the signs of conspiracy theorizing in the way that almost all of the detailed quotes to explain the purposes of the religious right are taken from opponents of the religious right. It's too hard to find those wily conspirators convicting themselves in their own words.

The exceptions are usually short and out-of-context, and invariably either 1. from an obscure author, 2. decades old, or 3. followed by an odd interpretation to help you see the villainy in an apparently innocuous passage.

One entire page is dedicated to the technique of guilt by association. George Bush just hasn't given them enough quotes to use in vilifying him, so they tell us portentously, "The Texas Republican Party Platform can be read as a blueprint for Bush administration policies..." and proceed to vilify that. The platform states that the United States is a Christian nation and Theocracywatch thinks they have found the smoking gun, a quote proving that the religious right wants to take over the country.

Apparently they are having problems with verb tense. The platform doesn't say the US will be or should be a Christian nation, or that it is a goal of the party to make the US a Christian nation. The platform just says that the US is a Christian nation. No action is required by this quote, although it implies resistance to the ongoing program of removing all vestiges of Christianity from public life. What Theocracywatch's complaint amounts to then, is a panic that the Republican party will resist parts of the leftists proactive agenda. Big surprise that.

Then of course there are the obligatory completely off-the-wall slanders like this (quoted without support from another source):
They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order. One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious freedom.
or this
One of the tenets of Reconstuctionism is that prisons will be empty because the death penalty will be applied to all capital crimes. Some of the more extreme leaders of the Reconstructionist movement include as capital crimes unrepentant homosexuality, abortion, adultery, blasphemy and even incorrigible children.
He forgot the Arabs. Doesn't he know that Christians want all the Arabs executed too?

Now in all seriousness, I do think some Christians are a bit too aggressive in pressing for a "Christian" agenda. For example although I believe it is valuable to ask God's blessing on the coming day of school, as long as a large portion of the country doesn't agree, I think that insisting on it is a bit tendentious. God does not glory in conflict for its own sake. Even if a majority want it, what Christian value does it serve to force it on the rest? Even to force on them an implicit acknowledgement in the form of an official moment of silence and meditation?

But even so, the hyperventilating response by Theocracywatch and others to such a trivial thing can hardly be explained by mere annoyance at a cultural oddity that they don't like. No, there is something far deeper going on here. The left is proactively trying to stamp out Christianity --or at any rate traditional Bible-believing Christianity-- and they are panicking at the fact that Christians seem to be successfully fighting back.

Besides that the left threw the first punch in the fight. In fact the opposition threw many punches before the religious right roused itself to fight back.

By now, the left has gone full swing into the next phase of the fight: fighting dirty. Lies and slander. And the Theocracywatch website is just one tiny eye-gouging thumb in a melee where there are so many that it seems fruitless to point one out.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I'm not the only one

It seems that a lot of bloggers have the post-election blahs. About half of the ones I visit regularly have cut way down on their updates.

It's funny in my case, because I have several things I've wanted to write about. Drawing connections between the hostility and lack of civility surrounding the election and the Pistons/Pacers riot, for example. Or discussing some of the election-related violence. I have some facinating thoughts on that. Or describing my new perpetual motion machine.

But writing is non-trivial, and presenting a coherent argument is downright hard work. I guess I just haven't had the motivation.

war games

Mostly Cajun has a great war-gaming story.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

ascii movie

Somebody has way too much time on his hands (link from SpaceMonkey).

bribing Congress

OK, this makes me angry enough to blog again (link from the corner). Congress is trying to pass a law that makes it illegal for DVD manufacturers to help viewers bypass the promos on DVDs.

I hate those promos. It's not like TV where I'm getting the broadcast for free. In the case of a DVD, I paid for the damn thing. It's my property and I can do whatever I want with it. What kind of jerk tries to sell you something and then try to control how you use it? This is just beyond the pale.

This is typical of the entertainment industry, which is constantly trying to extend their control over their customers. From trying to block the sale of tapes to arm-twisting of DVD chip makers to persecuting innocent free-software writers that had nothing to do with piracy, they have become more and more obnoxious in the name of preventing piracy. And from the Disney copyright extension to the Digital Millennium copyright act, they have bribed congress to use the power of the federal government in helping them to extend their power.

And make no mistake; this is bribery. Nothing else can explain Congresses complete lack of concern for consumers. In other areas, Congress has passed consumer-oriented laws that are actually so pro-consumer that they punish industry. But the entertainment industry has so many members with so much money, that they have successfully bribed Congress like few other groups.

Just who's interest is served by this legislation? Certainly not the voters. Certainly not the consumers. Certainly not the DVD manufacturers. The only people who are served by this kind of legislation are the big-money contributors in the entertainment industry. It is blatant. And shameful.

And I'm ashamed that this is happening with a Republican majority in both houses and a Republican president. It's egregious abuses like this that let the Democrats bash Republicans for being pro-business and anti-consumer (Never mind that lots of Democrats are supporting this too).

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

go bother someone else

Well, I've really been trying to come up with something to say today but nothing is clicking. Not that there isn't a lot going on to comment about, but eveyone else seems to be saying pretty much the same things I would be saying. I direct you to Back of the Envelope, La Shawn Barber's Corner, the Belmont Club, Hugh Hewitt, Soxblog, Beyond Salvage, and the Volokh Conspiracy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

don't forget your carnivals

Donald is accepting submissions for the next storyblogging carnival. This is lots of fun and I'd like to see more people enter, even if you don't blog. So if you write stories but don't blog, why don't you send me one? I'll post it (with due credit, of course) and then enter it into the carnival.

And don't forget the Christian Carnival. Nick is accepting submissions for that.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Meating of the Mines, scene 3

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of the Mines. The meaning of the title should become clear in the next scene (unless I decide I need more build-up).

Zantar is alone at the tavern imbibing his evening meal. There is a mug and an empty chair for Rolf who is not there. Buck Cannon approaches.

BUCK: Good evening sir, do you mind if I join you and your friend? (he pulls up a third chair to sit backward on it)

ZANTAR: It’s kind of a small table…

BUCK: (half the way to sitting on the chair) I’d like to buy you each a drink.

ZANTAR: …but there’s always room for a pal.

BUCK: (sitting the rest of the way down and shouting across the table) Bring three more of whatever my friends here are drinking. (he looks at Zantar and smiles) My name is Buck Cannon, I run one of the local mines.

ZANTAR: Zantar. Rolf is doing some kind of a constitutional thingie.

BUCK: Constitutional thingie...

ZANTAR: I think that means he’s draining the lower level.

BUCK: Er, ah…

ZANTAR: You know. Taking a whiz.

BUCK: Ah. No doubt. I hear you had a bit of trouble earlier today.

ZANTAR: Yeah, that sheriff don’t have no sense of humor.
A waitress lays down some drinks and Buck tosses her a coin during the following exchange.

BUCK: I meant earlier.

ZANTAR: Earlier?

BUCK: With the Barkleys.

ZANTAR: Don’t ring a bell.

BUCK: Five or six ruffians?

ZANTAR: Oh, them. They had some trouble today. All I had was a little exercise.

BUCK: (grinning) Excellent point. I salute you. (he raises his drink and takes a swig).

Zantar joins him.

BUCK: So, do you know why they attacked you?


BUCK: Do you want to know?


BUCK: (surprised) Oh… Well, it’s … Well. Ah… It’s because we employ only dwarven miners at the Cannon mine and the Barkleys would like to drive us out of business by chasing away our miners.

ZANTAR: That’s smart all right.

BUCK: Employing only dwarven miners?

ZANTER: No, chasing away the dwarven miners.

BUCK: Ah, yes.

ZANTAR: A dwarf must pull in four or five times the ore of a human. They chase away the dwarves, they take away your edge.

BUCK: Ah, yes. That’s the reasoning… So are you interested in helping out your brethren by doing some work for us?


ROLF: (just returning to the table and sitting down) What sort of remuneration are you offering?

BUCK: A silver per week. Each.

ROLF: We shall discuss your offer, sir.

BUCK: Of course. Allow me to buy you another round while you talk. Waitress! Another round for my friends!
Buck tosses a coin on the table then gets up, nods to the heroes and leaves the bar.

ZANTAR: A sliver per week. Not bad pay.

ROLF: My thoughts exactly. Yet it is hardly the big money that our ranger friend so cryptically alluded to.
A voice speaks from the background:

JEROD: No. I wouldn’t call it big money. You gentleman are worth twice that.

ZANTAR: At least. (Neither hero turns around)

JEROD: (moving around in front of the heroes) Allow me to introduce myself …

ZANTAR: Are you going to buy us a drink?

JEROD: Oh. Well, I suppose I could…

ROLF: Well then, by all means sir! Have a seat. Introduce yourself. My name is Rolf and my surly compatriot here is Zantar.

JEROD: Well. Pleased to meet you. My name is Jerrod Barkley. I run the Berkeley mines around here.

ROLF: And you pay very well, I presume?

JEROD: Yes, of course. But first I’d like to clear the air about that little misunderstanding this afternoon.

ROLF: What? The thing with the sheriff?

JEROD: Ah, no…

ZANTAR: He means those guys we trashed when we got here.

ROLF: Them? I felt that by the end of the encounter everyone understood one another quite well.

JEROD: Yes. No doubt. Anyway, I hope you harbor no ill will toward the Barkleys just because a few of our boys got out of line.

ZANTAR: Haven’t thought much about it.

ROLF: Nor have I. But now that you bring it up, I suppose a certain dose of resentment might be in order.

ZANTAR: Yeah! They were pretty rude and all.

JEROD: (clearly bewildered) You mean you were fine about until I came over to apologize? Now you’re getting upset?

ROLF: Well, if the incident merits an apology then it takes on greater weight, don’t you think so Zantar?

ZANTAR: Yeah! I mean I thought it was no big deal, but that shopkeeper at the dry goods store thought it was a big deal, that Cannon guy thought it was a big deal, …

ROLF: The ranger mentioned it as well.

ZANTAR: Yeah. And now here you are apologizing over it. I’m starting to feel insulted.

JEROD: Then I withdraw my apology. If you two pussies can’t handle a little bit of rough fun, who needs you?

ROLF: Excellent riposte, sir! Are we men or mice, Zantar?

ZANTAR: Well, I’m a dwarf and you’re an elf. Elves are kind of squirrelly, but I wouldn’t say they’re micey.

ROLF: No one ever has. And squirrels are certainly not mice.

ZANTAR: Nope. They’re sort of rats with bushy tails.

ROLF: Very agile and intrepid rats with bushy tails… Hey! Elves aren’t squirrelly! We’re just a bit arboreally inclined!

JEROD: Excellent, excellent. And of course I can assure you that the Barkleys have no hard feelings over the matter either.

Closeup on Zantar staring bemusedly at Jerrod. Pan to a closeup on Rolf staring bemusedly at Jerrod. Pan around to Jerrod shifting his eyes bemusedly between Rolf and Zantar.

JEROD: I mean… There is no need for you to apologize or anything.

Closeup on Zantar staring bemusedly at Jerrod. Pan to a closeup on Rolf staring bemusedly at Jerrod. After a moment:

ROLF: OK. Whatever. So, you’re offering us two silver per week each?

JEROD: (sighs) That’s right.

ROLF: And what opportunities will there be for auxiliary compensation?

JEROD: Auxiliary compensation?

ROLF: Yes. You know: bonuses, benefits, bounties, commissions, cuts, gratuities, honorariums, percentages, perks, premiums, prizes, rake-offs, rewards, royalties, supplements and subsidies.

ZANTAR: He means, like extra money we can make for doing stuff.

JEROD: I believe your weekly salary should be adequate compensation.

ROLF: You, sir, are obviously confused.

ZANTAR: The two of us cleaned clocks on six guys and didn’t take a scratch doing it.

ROLF: Quite. So each of us is worth at least three as you know. And besides that, I am a famous wizard.

JEROD: I’ve never heard of any wizard named Rolf.

ROLF: The opinions of small-time bumpkins such as yourself are hardly relevant.

JEROD: Well, famous wizard and all, I’m afraid lead mining is a bit mundane for that kind of extravagance.

ZANTAR: Lead mining?


ROLF: I’m afraid your compensation terms are…

ZANTAR: We'll take it.

ROLF: … inadequate to … What, Zan?

ZANTAR: We'll take it.

Fade out on Rolf, staring at Zantar in consternation.

UPDATE: continued.

protest and violence

Andrew Stuttaford points to this Guardian article about violent anti-Muslim protests in the Netherlands. I blame the Dutch government. They stifled open, peaceful protest so what did they expect? It found an outlet in anonymous, violent protest.

In the article, a Muslim man is calling for more limits on speech. That is likely to lead to even more violence. The Netherlands is a Western Democracy. The people are used to the idea of using peaceful protests and voting as a way to express themselves. If the government would just get out of the way, that is how most of them would do it.

But leftists (the so-called centre-right government of the Netherlands is still leftist) don't get that. Their view of humanity is that the rabble is an unstable, dangerous beast that must be carefully controlled for its own good. They have this model that passions work higher and higher until they explode into violence like the baiting of a dog before a fight. You keep poking and prodding at it to make it angry enough to fight.

But have you ever seen how a chained-up dog reacts to a stranger? It'll bark and jerk at its chain, trying to get at the newcomer. The dog quickly becomes frustrated and angry. It's hackles come up. The barks get lower pitch and you start hearing growls and snarls. If the stranger stays around for any length of time or does anything the dog considers provocative (and that can be almost anything) the dog goes wild, jerking at its chain and giving every appearance of wanting to tear the stranger to pieces.

But let the dog go. It will run over to the stranger, sniff a little and maybe snuffle and harrumph a bit to let the stranger know not to get out of line. It was the frustration that made the dog angry. Remove the frustration and you remove the anger.

If the government really wants to head off mass violence, they need to avoid frustrating the population. First of all, that means they don't stifle protests. Second, it means that they see the same problem the people do. The Dutch government has given every indication that they think the problem is not Islamic terrorism in the heart of their cities, but the reaction to the terrorism by the victims. That is going to frustrate the hell out of people.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

ambition and God

Kathleen Parker has an article about the Democrat's new strategy of exploiting God for political purposes. This is bad news for the Church. When it becomes politically expedient to call yourself a Christian, it creates an incentive for the most ambitious and ruthless people to worm their way into the Church under false pretenses.

Of course there always have been and always will be birds (evil people) nesting in the branches of the great mustard shrub/tree that is the Church, but under normal circumstances the harm they can do is limited. But when the Church becomes a source of political power, the damage that can be done grows enormously.

This, incidentally, is one of the reasons that evangelicals oppose large church hierarchies --they create political power centers that will naturally be coveted by unbelievers. They create an incentive for unbelievers to become counterfeit believers.

Secularists have accused "Christians" of all sorts of evil: the Crusades, the Inquisitions, inter-Christian religious wars, Nazism, the Oklahoma City bombings, and others. Nearly all of the accusations about events after the enlightenment are historically ignorant or otherwise mistaken. But accusations about earlier events have some merit.

Some of these earlier events have been twisted by the prosecution. The Crusades, for example, were a defensive war against a dangerous religious movement that fully intended to wipe out Christianity. Many people don't realize that most of the Middle East and Mediterranean were Christian at one time and that they were violently converted by Muslim armies. The Muslims had no intention of stopping at Turkey, and if Europe had not gathered together to fight back, the Muslims would likely have conquered all of Europe, piece by piece. Yes, there were atrocities, committed, but nothing that was uncommon for warfare in that day and age.

But that still leaves the inter-Christian wars and the Inquisitions. Both of these are enormous stains on the honor of the Church. And both of them happened because the Church was politically significant, a source of power and prestige that was coveted by ambitious men.

If there had been no incentive for ambitious men to join the Church and seek promotion within its ranks then these things wouldn't have happened --or wouldn't have involved the Church. If the only powers of the Church were to grow believers and to spread the Word, then the only men seeking Church leadership would have been men who were ambitious to do God's will.

UPDATE: La Shawn has some comments on the Democrat's new strategy too, and she quotes something from David Limbaugh on the subject. So far I haven't seen anyone else worried about the influence of power though...

Friday, November 12, 2004

some called him a genocidal lunatic

Where I work out there are five TV's running and you use headphones to listen to the sound from the one you want. Actually, there are two rooms with five TV's each and oddly enough, Fox news is always one of the five channels in each room. Did I mention I live near San Francisco?

I tried it today for the first time. Oddly enough, the Fox channel sound was at a lot lower signal strength than all the others. So much so that you can't hear it at all at normal volume settings and I spent quite a bit of time playing around before I realized what was wrong. It's almost like a conspiracy.

While switching around, I caught an announcement of Arafat's death on a local news program -- Arafat, "a man some called a terrorist".

Yeah, just like Hitler, a man some called a Nazi. Or Stalin, a man some called a communist. Like that, I guess.

who's smarter

The leftist blogs are passing around a table purporting to show that the people in blue states have higher IQs than people in red states. Unfortunately for their desperate self-esteem-generating ploy, the table is a fraud.

Michelle Malkin responds with an interesting generosity index that shows (with real, actual data) that red states tend to be more generous than blue states. This won't impress the leftists. Since when have they ever cared about people sacrificing to help others? No, the left is only impressed when someone forces others to sacrifice to help others. It's so much more fair when everyone is forced to do it, you know.

So, not willing to let the IQ thing die, I decided to look up SAT scores by state and see how Bush did. If Kerry had done better I wouldn't be posting it but...

So here it is. Real actual data from the College Board (which, by the way "strongly discourages the comparison or ranking of states on the basis of SAT scores alone". That's probably why I couldn't find this table for 2004 and had to go with 2003 data.)

Now, if I were going to be act like a conservative, I'd be honest and explain why this comparison is probably not valid (even though the data is real, actual, data as opposed to made-up data). But instead, I'll leave it to those brilliant leftists to figure out why the states are not really comparable.

Meanwhile I'm going to act like a leftist: Nyah, nyah! We conservatives are smarter than you leftist wingnuts! You're all so stoopid you can't find your butt with both hands. And you come from stoopid states too. If you were smart like us you would vote Republican. Nyah, nyah!
State Average Vote
North Dakota 607 Bush
Iowa 591 Bush
Illinois 589 Kerry
Wisconsin 589 Kerry
South Dakota 588 Bush
Minnesota 586 Kerry
Missouri 582 Bush
Kansas 580 Bush
Nebraska 575 Bush
Michigan 570 Kerry
Oklahoma 565 Bush
Tennessee 564 Bush
Utah 562 Bush
Louisiana 561 Bush
Arkansas 559 Bush
Mississippi 558 Bush
Alabama 555 Bush
Kentucky 553 Bush
Colorado 552 Bush
Wyoming 548 Bush
New Mexico 544 Bush
Montana 540 Bush
Idaho 540 Bush
Ohio 538 Bush
Washington 531 Kerry
Oregon 526 Kerry
Arizona 524 Bush
New Hampshire 521 Kerry
Massachusetts 519 Kerry
Alaska 518 Bush
West Virginia 516 Bush
Nevada 513 Bush
Vermont 513 Kerry
Connecticut 513 Kerry
Maryland 512 Kerry
Virginia 512 Bush
California 509 Kerry
New Jersey 508 Kerry
New York 503 Kerry
Rhode Island 503 Kerry
Indiana 502 Bush
Maine 502 Kerry
Hawaii 501 Kerry
Pennsylvania 501 Kerry
Delaware 501 Kerry
North Carolina 500 Bush
Florida 498 Bush
Texas 496 Bush
South Carolina 494 Bush
Georgia 492 Bush